“Home. I’ll Go Home to Memphis,” She Said.



About two weeks ago, I realized I needed an infusion of love. I get love in Louisiana but it’s not really the kind of ‘known you a long time and like you just the way you are’ kind of love that I was craving. It happened all of a sudden – like a flash of genius. It was sort of like the Scarlet O’Hara moment after Rhett tells her that he doesn’t really give a damn. “Home. I’ll go home. I’ll think of some way to get him back,” she proclaims with hope in her eyes and the sounds of ghosts of the past reminding her of the luring call of home. But, I wasn’t wanting to get HIM back. I’m trying to get ME back. I’m longing for that happy-go-lucky gal that moved down here to this swampland 15 months ago. Home. I’ll go home to Memphis. I’ll think of some way to get me back.

I counted the days until it got here, and I did the hard things I needed to do this week to start me on the road home … the road back to myself… the road that I took when I got myself back after my divorce. I may even have to go back to that little apartment in Memphis where I metamorphosed 6 years ago. Maybe there is something there I need. Or maybe I can find the secret ingredient at Central BBQ inside a pulled pork sandwich. Or just maybe I’ll find the magic key on Main Street among the streetcars and tourists. I don’t know where I’ll find it, but I know that I started up I-55 – the same road that brought me down – at about 5 PM this afternoon. The sky exploded in pink just about dusk as I crossed the Mississippi state line and completely lost cell phone coverage while talking to my friend Jo Ann.

I turned up the country music. I chatted for about an hour with my Houston friend Alayne. I let go of the idea that I needed to fix things at work in Louisiana and let myself slip slide into an easy acceptance of the way things are. Ahhhh … that felt good. Maybe a little distance will help my spirit bounce back. I spoke with Jo Ann and thought of last week’s river float. Ahhhh … that felt good, too. Maybe a little distance will purge the bad from my memory and let the dust settle only on the good. “This is how we ro…ooo…oooo ……oooll..” the radio blared.

I wanted something healthy for dinner. I didn’t want a slug of a burger and fries in my gut. No, I wanted to feel good. The goal is to take care of myself in the hopes that I’ll feel safe in my own skin. I stopped at the Picadilly for some veggies and gumbo and got a stellar meal for $5.34. You can’t beat that. The nicest people in the world staffed that restaurant, and in 20 minutes I was back on the road again. I got just past Brookhaven and realized I didn’t want to drive another four hours. As much as I wanted to make it to Memphis tonight and wake up in her arms in the morning, I realized that I wanted to take care of myself and get rest so I could hit the ground rolling in the morning. I called my hotel expert Gretchen to hunt me down a hotel in Jackson that would take me and my girl without breaking the budget. We ended up in Pearl MS at a La Quinta Inn and Suites.


I took care of myself. I’m glad I stopped. I’ll be in Memphis mid-morning to deliver two turduckens to my friend Sharon’s husband Jeff. I called him to tell him I had two turduckens for him. He had absolutely no clue what a turducken was or that I was bringing them, so it was a hilarious conversation with him imploring, “What are you bringing? Who is this? What? What?” The party will start around 11 AM and will continue non-stop until Monday at around 11 AM when I say goodbye to Keri at coffee and head back down the road home. All I can say is I hope the girl that left Louisiana is not the girl that comes back. I think I may find her in Memphis. If I don’t, I’ll at least find a lot of her friends. I’ll find a few of her trails at Shelby Farms. And I’ll find her favorite BBQ sandwich. I may even find her smile over a sunset or two on the northern end of the Mississippi. Look out Bluff City….. here I come. Oh, and if you see my friend Sharon, please tell her to find me. :)


Making Peace With Amends

FullSizeRender-4-1I got to make an amends today. I had treated somebody badly because I had some bad information. Well, maybe it was more like incomplete information. I had acted in anger about the situation and blamed this person for it. I mean, I didn’t hit him or steal anything or kidnap his kids, but I really didn’t treat him in the way that I should have. It’s taken a long time to understand the underlying reality of the situation and why he acted the way he did. So, after taking care of business with my boundaries with another party, I felt totally convicted that I needed to apologize to this man.

There are times that I don’t like to say that I’m sorry or admit I’m wrong. Most of the time I feel stupid or mean, and I don’t really want to admit that I didn’t show up in kindness and grace. If I say I’m sorry, I’m still in so much shame for not being perfect that it’s more of a begging for forgiveness so I can clean up my mess. But there are times that I understand exactly where I messed up and why, and I just feel guilty. When I feel guilt as opposed to shame, I can show up and right the things I did wrong in confidence. That’s how I felt today, and it felt really, really good. We had a nice long conversation afterwards and cleared up misunderstandings on both sides. I still have a bit of an afterglow.

This week I’ve had a chance to practice boundary-setting, conflict management and making amends. All three are very difficult emotional conversations. My bout with the paramedics last week was the catalyst that made me realize that I had some work to do, and I needed to do it cleanly and swiftly or I was going to suffer for it. I went from an all-time low to feeling a surge of power rise up inside of me that gave me the power to overcome some really big fear. I have to acknowledge what an accomplishment this was for me because – dammit – I deserve a pat on the back. I prayed a lot, meditated and waited for answers and connected with people that love me to provide me support.

I feel a lot of closure right now. I love closure in relationships and conflict. I don’t often get it. It was one of the hardest things to give up on after my divorce. I think I longed for a conversation or series of conversations where we understood each other and could close it out. Many of my friends struggle with the same things when relationships end or when they are fighting with a partner or friend. I recognize their rehashing of the argument and explanations as attempts to somehow get some closure so that their insides will calm down. I know that my gut gets all twisted when I’m in conflict with somebody and can’t get closure. I hate that feeling more than the fighting itself. At least the fighting somehow feels powerful as I’m taking my stand. Needing closure feels like I’m begging for something that I may never get. It’s a much more vulnerable position.

I believe this is why recovery programs emphasize the process of making amends. As addicts, we can’t stand those feelings of vulnerability and fear, and we often use over them. If we’re codependent, we keep trying to make it right by doing things for them or apologizing or even picking more fights because it feels more powerful. If we’re a food addict, we’ll eat sugar and high-fat foods to try to settle our stomach. If we choose other substances, we just don’t want to feel, and we’ll use to change our mood. If we didn’t have the step of making amends, there would be a lot of stuff left without closure. We do a lot of damage to our relationships. I mean, everybody does a lot of damage to relationships – addict or not – but we make things even worse. So, the amends step helps to clean some of that up, close out some lingering emotional debt and gives us practice on a way to move forward in the future with integrity by taking responsibility for our actions. Knowing that I will have to make amends later often stops me from doing things that might hurt someone. But, if I do it anyway, I can lovingly clean it up afterwards.

I don’t know if I’m glad the last 7 days happened the way they did, but I’m glad they are over. Tomorrow will probably start a whole new pile of garbage, but at least I feel like I have a clean slate and a new, improved operating plan. I understand a little better where I begin and the other people end and where my responsibility and my boundaries lie. I’ll bet I sleep good tonight. That wild boar turned out to be quite the teddy bear in the end. Who would have known he’d be so comforting.

Confronting Brutal, Bloody Fear


I’m not looking forward to today. The boundary I set last week is laying there like a time bomb that could either fizzle to nothing flat or blow up in my face. After a weekend of being supported, I’m in a pretty good place, but if something blows up in my face, I’m going to have to rise to the occasion. My mantra for today will be Rise Up. I can remember my surfing experience and having to pop up to ride the big waves in Costa Rica. I know how to step into that power and how to endure the ‘washing machine’ when it’s over. It’s why I took that trip … to physically get a metaphor for those times when I have to go with the flow but stand in my own power.

This morning I mentioned to God that I was needing guidance on how to deal with whatever I need to deal with today. In my Medicine Cards, I pulled the Wild Boar. I have friends who hunt wild hogs, and I know that wild hogs are brutal, bloody fighters who sometimes take the lives of the dogs that are sent to fight them. It was easy for me to think that this card was calling me to fight. Apparently, this card is about fighting. It’s about fighting the most deadly brutal beast I encounter on a daily basis – my own fears. I’ve been in this gripping fear that I’m in before. It is the fear that kept me in an abusive marriage much longer than I should have stayed. It is the fear that tells me I will lose my security – maybe eventually my life – if I stand up for myself and set boundaries. It is the paralyzing fear that keeps me stuck, stokes my anxiety and begins to make me ill. I realized it last week when I had that anxiety attack. My health was starting to suffer.


In the work I’ve done in the past, I know that this fear of speaking up comes from the little girl inside me who is afraid to stand up to angry, vengeful people. She is terrified – as most little girls are – of being alone or on her own. Because kids, you see, can die if they are left alone. It is the core fear that I have of disappointing people, particularly authority figures. It is, in my mind, exactly the kind of fear that would resemble a wild boar in nature. What I’ve learned that works is to assure her that I will take care of her. I know, in my adult mind, that confrontation – of an internal or external nature – is a job for adults. They are not matters for children. The fight is mine and mine alone. She can take her teddy bear and take a nap.

I pulled the card in the contrary which warns that I may have denied something for so long that it’s about to blow up in my face. It also warns that I may have to step into integrity and take ownership of my part in the situation. And, certainly, I do have a part. When I let something go on too long, I may have survived with passive-aggressive coping behavior or set up a pattern of interaction that is very difficult to correct. I have to be cognizant that part of this relationship issue is my own, and I have to face up to that, too.

I’m getting the oil changed in my car and the tires rotated. It’s a simple way of taking care of myself that sends a message that my safety is important … to me. The first thing they did is pull the old cabin air filter trick. I was ready for it. Any trick in heels is worth a shot with this one. I said no, I’d change that myself but said yes to the wiper blades because I need them. I can say no, I don’t want that. It’s a practice. I wonder if he sensed the wild boar in the room before he left. I’m not sure. But, I know I did. And that’s really all that matters.

Sunday Night Check-In: Feeling Supported

Me and my friend Mary Beth at homecoming.

Me and my friend Mary Beth at homecoming.

It’s still too hot. I sweated all day on Saturday at my college’s homecoming game. The first quarter of the game, I had to take off my shoes and roll up my jeans in order to keep from fainting. I felt like the air wasn’t moving, and I couldn’t breathe. Finally a breeze kicked in, and I was much more comfortable for the rest of the game, but I dearly wish I’d opted for shorts and a t-shirt for a homecoming football game. It’s not right, I tell you. It’s just not right.

Me and Gretchen at the game

Me and Gretchen at the game

I got my 10-miler in on Saturday and felt great. Ashok only got to do 3 miles with me because of the heat, but I managed to get the rest in and still felt full of energy for the game. My energy started to dip about the end of the third quarter, but with a bonfire to attend, I pulled myself through like a trooper. Lion’s win 41-24 against Central Arkansas. It was an exciting, heart-stopping game which I’ve come to enjoy. I love this team. And, quite a few of my old friends made journeys from across the south to be there. Ken and Lisa came from Houston and Mary Beth and Randy came over from north Florida. A newcomer to the reunion group was Johnny who came over from Forth Worth. Russell and Pam took the short jump from Mississippi to Hammond. And, of course, there were the usual local suspects as well. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. It was a day and evening full of good food, good friends and good football. I got back to Baton Rouge about 2 AM and slept until 11 AM this morning.

Homecoming Fun

I discovered a new gathering place just a mile or so away from me called The Red Shoes. They hold workshops, yoga, meditations and various types of circles for women especially, but men are welcome, too. I went to a workshop there Friday which dovetails with my Medicine Cards, and I attended a prayer circle tonight. I met some fabulous women, some of them in their 90s. Smart, open-minded, spiritual and active, I came away from both events inspired and feeling supported. I’d say that if this weekend had a ‘word of the weekend’ it would be supported. I felt supported and encouraged spiritually, socially, physically and professionally.

Are you ever getting out of bed?

Are you ever getting out of bed?

After a day of running errands and taking care of business for my weekday meals, I met my brother and his family for yogurt. I ended the weekend on a happy, light-hearted note. I set some hard boundaries with some people last week, and I really needed a weekend that supported me as an individual. When I set boundaries, I really feel good about taking care of myself, but I still often have lingering ‘afterburn’ where I worry that I did the wrong thing or did something that might hurt someone else or make them mad. I’m feeling a little of that right now. I have to acknowledge how difficult it is to speak up for things I need even with people who don’t understand. I need to be gentle with myself around my people-pleasing tendencies and realize that if I let my life be governed by whether or not other people would approve, it’s actually not my life. I’m a big girl and have to figure out how to adapt to others’ needs. They’ll have to adapt to mine. For the moment, I’m feeling okay about that. Besides, I have a pumpkin and sweet potatoes roasting in the oven. It’s going to be a delicious autumn week.

Have a great week, y’all. Take care of yourself even if you have to do some hard things. You are worth it.

My niece and nephew playing with Ashok

My niece and nephew playing with Ashok

Stress Busters … Doctor’s Orders


She takes plastic now!

This week has been the week from hell. With the health insurance worries of last week on my mind, the Ebola virus running rampant around our neighboring state of Texas and ISIS percolating over in the Middle East, I’ve finally melted down. Momma fell this weekend, and I’m worried about her. Ashok even tried to kill me earlier in the week. Like my friend Gerry says, I’m a worrier. I don’t mean to be. I try to let things go, but my body latches onto them, and I get anxious.

I had two anxiety attacks this week. I’m sure I’ve had them in the past, but these were bad because I know someone who died of a heart attack because they thought it was anxiety and didn’t get help. So, as soon as my heart started palpitating, my palms started sweating and my breath got short, I started to freak out that I was having a heart attack. It didn’t help matters. I was able to talk myself down out of the first one by realizing that I don’t have any heart disease markers, and I do have a history of anxiety. Besides, I was really worried about how much it would cost me to go to the hospital if nothing was wrong. I finally decided it was worth the risk to wait it out. But, when it happened again yesterday at work, I got really scared. This time, a paramedic named Spanky talked me down by showing me that my blood pressure and heart rate were well within normal parameters. What a relief! When he told me his name was Spanky, I told him that I didn’t want some guy named Spanky saving my life. He’d have to do better than that. He asked if Mack Stone would be better. “Yes, that’s better,” I said. The whole thing scared me to death.


I immediately went to my doctor’s office ready to shut this stuff down. She has a much calmer head than I had, and she gave me a paper with some tips for busting stress and anxiety. A lot of it I’m already doing, but I wasn’t taking magnesium or this natural supplement called Anxiousless that promises to keep me from getting anxious. She said that every patient she saw yesterday had the same problem. There’s just too much going on and some freaky energy in the air. I asked her before I left how to tell the difference between a heart attack and a panic attack, and she said I couldn’t. She assured me that I did the right thing calling 911. She said the symptoms are exactly the same. Now, I just need to keep from getting into that state so I don’t have to worry about it.

I made an emergency trip to the acupuncturist yesterday afternoon and that pretty well took care of the immediate crisis. I was floating on a cloud when I exited. This morning it was back to some extent, but I knew what it was. I went to Whole Foods and got some magnesium and some herbal tea for the day. So, my day has been spent gulping chamomile, lemon balm and passionflower, chinese herbs, magnesium and lots and lots of water. It was still a rough day, but no paramedics showed up, so that’s an improvement.

Ashok is worried about me!

Ashok is worried about me!

I scheduled a facial with my friend Lisa for tonight, and I’m so glad I did. I need human touch. Being single, I don’t get touched much. And, I know that when I’m stressed, I need hugs and non-sexual touch. So, I arrived at Lisa’s place and she went to work on my skin. Her gentleness and pumpkin facial special was just what I needed. I was breathing free when I left. I even felt a smile come over my face. One of the things the doctor told me was to start recognizing the things that I’m grateful for. Lisa and her pumpkin facial is at the top of my list. And she even accepts credit cards now.


The last thing on that stress buster list is to add humor and pleasant activities. I can’t wait for the weekend to catch up with old friends at SLU’s homecoming. If you see me there, please give me a hug and make me laugh. I really need it…. doctor’s orders.


Ashok Tried to Kill Me and Other Sordid Tuesday Tales


Portrait of a Killer

Well, I must say I’m thrilled with the change of weather today. I’m wrapped up in my gray hoodie and my yoga pants, and I am a happy camper. I had some pumpkin soup for dinner that made me feel like I’d been transported to middle Tennessee. It was warm and rich and just a tad spicy. I paired it with some chipotle cheese that I’d gotten at Trader Joe’s. I must say that it took me awhile to get attached to Trader Joe’s this time around, but I’m hooked now. The quality and selection of their unique offering is outstanding when you consider its low price tag.

I ran this morning. I actually ran intervals for over 3 miles without dying or drowing in the humidity. Ashok almost killed me, though. There’s a couple that walks their dogs every morning. The lady has two of those white snippy snappy obnoxious dogs that bark and lunge and run around trying to ‘get’ Ashok. My dog is not very dog-friendly, and it takes everything I have to keep her calm while all of that nonsense is going on. It irritates me that I’m working so hard to keep my dog contained, and they don’t do anything to keep their dogs out of my space. Well, I was running and intent on hitting my mark, and I got too confident about Ashok’s composure. She darted out in front of me to lunge at the little snipper snappers, and I fell right over the top of her. I got away with a skinned knee and a bruised ego, so I’m lucky. It’s not the first time she’s tripped me, and the last time was much worse. She never even said she was sorry.

I’m making plans for my holidays. I have the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, and last year’s stint at home was as miserable as I can ever remember. I promised myself that I would do something different this year. One thought is to have a stay-cation and actually get out and do things in New Orleans or take a trip down south to Fuchon or Venice or Grand Isle. I haven’t checked off those bucket list items. The other thought is to rent a little house in Bay St. Louis or some other scenic low-key area where I can take long walks everyday and chill with my girl. I thought of going to the mountains, but I’m afraid it might be too cold or snowy to get out much, and I need the exercise to keep the blues away during the holidays. At any rate, I’m looking forward to making some plans and having some fun this season.

I met my friend Beth at Whole Foods for a chat outside right after work. It was sunny and cool, and the company was great. Ashok came with me, and the lady that sat next to us was astounded as to how good she was.  For a dog that tried to kill me this morning, she was exceptionally sweet and patient this evening. I know she wonders why I like to talk so much. Sometimes I wonder why I like to talk so much. I guess it the E in the ENFP. My friend Beth is also an ENFP, and we can hardly ever break away from each other because our conversations flow so freely. We meander all over the place, and we say “I have to go in a minute” about 15 times before we actually ever start leaving. I love friendships like that. It’s so easy that it feels like we’ve known each other all of our lives. I’ve only known her for about 6 months although we met initially over a year ago. I guess with the same personality makeup, we have sort of known each other all of our lives.

It’s been a fairly pleasant day with lots of interactions with a lot of different people. That’s the way I like it. There was not enough chocolate, though. I may have to remedy that tomorrow. I know one thing. I’m going to have more of that pumpkin soup tomorrow. That stuff was really good. And just think of all that orange nutrition I’m getting in each creamy bowl. Oh, yeah, and it’s Homecoming at Southeastern this weekend! Ill get to see lots of old friends in this fabulous weather. That is truly something to look forward to. Lion up, Y’all! Homecoming is almost here!

Digging an Outdoor Shower

Me in the outdoor shower in Kona.

Me in the outdoor shower in Kona.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to enjoy an outdoor shower after my kayak trip down the Bogue Chitto. One of the things on my list at my dream home is an outdoor shower. I don’t mean I want a shower faucet outside to rinse off after gardening, I mean I want a lovely, high end outside shower. There is nothing like having fresh air, hot water and the feel of a natural surface underneath my toes while I’m sudsing up with a sweet smelling lavender or peppermint soap. I imagine I’d take a lot more showers if I had one.

The first time I ever used a real outdoor shower was at Gray Bear Lodge in Hohenwald TN. It’s a yoga retreat center complete with outdoor sauna and hot tub – clothing optional. The center is set in the mountains of Tennessee, and the buildings are all log cabins of varying shapes and sizes. The yoga studio is probably the most beautiful yoga studio I’ve ever seen. It was all wood inside and out, and we had to hike 1/4 mile up the side of a mountain to get there. Huge windows took the place of lighting during the day. Whenever you wanted a shower, you could shower in the outdoor shower in the middle of the cabins. A beautiful rainshower faucet hung over wooden decking and a sand foundation. The shower walls were wooden slats with a tiny bit of space in-between for air circulation. The fencing or whatever you would call it surrounded the shower in a spiral enabling you to walk in and shower without being seen. I supposed someone could come look between the slats but if you can go out to the hot tub and see nudity, why be so nosey? Lovely soaps and gels were displayed in large sea shells in sand. It was there that I fell in love with the idea of an outdoor shower.

When I went to Kona on my Women’s Quest, we had an outdoor shower. Our accommodations were basically outdoors, and the only room that was totally enclosed was the toilet hut. Plants and vines enclosed this shower.  There was some issue with privacy there, too, but we were all women, so who cares? It had a sand and rock bottom to match the ‘flooring’ on the footpath back to our sleeping hut. It was simpler in design, but it was in Hawaii, so who needs design? Just breathing in the ocean air and Hawaiian sunshine is ambience enough.

Yesterday’s shower was a bit less elegant, but I loved it just the same. The wooden structure let the air through, and I still felt the feeling of the wood floor on my feet. Any shower where I can see the sky overhead makes me happy. I wasn’t expecting it to be anything special as it was just a functional shower at a canoe outfitter, but when I stepped under the hot water, my memories of Gray Bear and Hale Kai came flooding back. I found myself drifting away in a sweet bath of sunshine, carbon dioxide and liquid softness. I thought of my trips back to my little sleeping hut at Hale Kai in my sarong and flip flops. The ocean breeze pushed through the Bogue Chitto forest and creeped past the wooden siding. I could almost hear the laughter of the other women who swam with dolphins and manta rays with me. The mountain air from Tennessee filled my lungs, and I swear I spotted a seashell. I reached for my sarong and was shocked to see my Athleta-wear hanging nearby.

It’s not really the shower that matters, I don’t guess. It’s not the siding or the place where it resides. It’s whatever it is about the experience that taps into something deeper that grips my heart. In one afternoon after a beautiful float trip, I visited the mountains of Tennessee and the black sand shore of Kona in a trip as real as the day’s kayaking. Now, that’s what I call a travel bargain. I’ve just got to have one.

Sunday Night Check-In: Perfection



I’ve noticed a pattern lately. My weekends are good. I’m feeling good. I’m feeling happy. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I feel okay. It’s the work week. I get tired. But I get through. Thursdays and Fridays have become somewhat of a walk through hell and back. I talked with a friend about this a few weeks ago. I know it’s my J…. O …. B. I know that it’s wearing on me by the end of the week. It was so bad this week that I decided I have to do something different. I have to find the old me who is happy and playful and adaptable. Where is that girl who loved adventure and running and laughing all the time? This weekend I set out to find her. And, I decided to go with that old adage of ‘fake it ’til you make it’.

Corn Maze

A friend told me that the corn maze was open out by Kleinpeter Farms. I called up my niece and nephew and we went out to the starlit countryside for some hayrides, cow-rides and corn mazing. We were out ’til midnight soaking up the moonshine and spending all my hard-earned money. There’s nothing like playing with kids to get me back in the spirit. I spent Saturday doing things for me. I cleaned my house, took care of some tasks that were weighing on my shoulders forever and went to a yoga class. It was a quiet day, and I even had a nice visit with my sister-in-law in my very own home. I felt rested and grounded.

Today, Ashok and I got up really early and headed to the Bogue Chitto River to go kayaking with my friends Jo Ann and Robbie and an unexpected interloper, Jeff. We were traveling with a local paddling club, the Bayou Haystackers. I knew it was going to be one of those days when God shows off as I was passing through Albany in the early morning light. Fog danced lightly on the grass like a cloud that had decided to snuggle up against the tree trunks. Above the smoky cloud, the treeline splashed into the crystal blue sky illuminated by translucent rays of sunlight. “You’re showing off,” I said, looking at the heavens. “And thank you,” I added quickly just in case He thought it was not appreciated. I breathed in deep and accepted my sudden rush of gratitude.

The Bogue Chitto

The Bogue Chitto is as beautiful a little river as I have ever seen. The weather could not have been more perfect. It was warm enough for a swimsuit, but it seemed that every time I started to get warm the sun would duck behind a cloud to give us a break. A breeze blew softly the entire day. The humidity was low, and there were moments that I forgot I was in the deep south. It seemed more like a Smoky Mountain day in the late spring or late summer. Wildflowers danced on the banks along with an eagle that treated us to an up-close viewing early in the trip. The river was sandy and pebbly all at once, and the water was cooler than I expected. I took the opportunity three times to swim and duck completely under the water to remember what coolness felt like on my skin. It’s been a long, hot summer, and this trip felt like an antidote or maybe even a promise that it was over for awhile.

 The Outpost

The company was great. Old friends and new friends took turns paddling together and sharing stories of former adventures. Familiar chatter about who’s related to who percolated behind me as one of the Haystackers mentioned to my friend Robbie that he grew up in Hillsdale. They had mutual friends in Hillsdale and went down the list to see if they knew more. At one point, Robbie asked our Hillsdale friend if he was related to a certain Miller, and he replied, “Well I’m not real kin to him.” I giggled to myself to think that you might be ‘sort of’ kin or ‘real kin’ to somebody, and then I went down the list to see who I thought I was ‘not real kin’ to. This Whose Your Daddy? talk is so prevalent here but it surprises me every time I hear it. It’s familiar because I grew up with it, but it’s one of those things that I forgot about for 30 years. It’s a bonding dance that never fails to result in transforming new acquaintances into real friends.


Me, Jo Ann and Robbie

Me, Jo Ann and Robbie

I was happy to see the end of the 11-mile trip because I was tired, but I hated to see it end. The lazy river meditation grounds me in a way that nothing else ever does. The necessity of focusing on the here and now to avoid getting stuck under a log and the physical skill required to navigate dispel thoughts of anything else but the present moment. If I could do that every day, I know I’d live in a different place emotionally. We showered in the beautiful little outdoor showers at the Canoe and Trail Outpost in Tylertown MS. On the way home, we met up at La Carreta in Amite. We snagged a lovely little table on the patio next to a fountain and ordered up four different versions of shrimp, Mexican-style. A storm blew over while we laughed and talked about the day. We were surprised at a lovely rainbow that presented itself. It was a perfect magic ending to a perfectly magical day. On the way home, the sky shattered into a billion different colors of pink and yellow and peach. “You’ve been showing off all day, haven’t you?” I asked. Oh yeah ….and thank you.

The Ridiculous Cost of Health Care


Photo courtesy of Blog-ism Fever Blog on WordPress


I’ve been receiving an inordinate amount of emails with information on our upcoming open enrollment for health insurance. It was such a crazy amount of email that I decided I’d better watch one of the webinars to see see what was happening. It was obvious that there were some major changes and not for the good. I determined which plan I needed, and I’m relatively healthy – or so I think – and I made my choice.  A friend called me excitedly complaining about the big changes in the state’s insurance and how much more it was going to cost his family for health care coverage. It seemed everyone I talked to that was impacted by the changes were either choosing to ignore it or they were downright livid.

I have a girlfriend who is undergoing chemotherapy, and this is not her first go-round. I asked her if she ever thought about skipping the treatment and letting the disease take its course. She said she had. She said that the dying doesn’t really scare her. In fact, she said that dying would actually solve a lot of problems. She added, “It’s not my health I’m uncertain about, it’s fucking money. I hate money.” She’s not the only friend I have that is reeling under the financial impact of cancer’s grip. It has shocked me how expensive it is to treat the disease. I had absolutely no idea.

My parents went to an informational meeting this morning because they are on the state plan. It was of such concern to them that they got to the meeting 2 hours early. They were worried sick about the changes and how it might impact them if they had a serious health issue in the next year. She told me 60 Minutes investigated the cost of cancer drugs last night. I looked it up and watched it today. I was horrified to discover that there is a law that Medicare cannot negotiate the price of drugs. Whatever price tag is on them is the price they pay. My friend told me that some doctors were beginning to push back on the drug companies about the cost of cancer drugs, and one particular case is the lead in this story. You can watch it here.

I’m not saying that our health care players are evil. I am saying that something is terribly, terribly wrong. In what fantasy did our lawmakers ever think that corporations of any kind would monitor their own prices and price fairly. Everybody wants to make money. Doctors have enormous student loan debt, and we need our doctors. We need great sources for pharmaceutical drugs. We need research, and we need innovation to keep up with all of these illnesses that we have like Ebola. But, why can a pharmaceutical company cut the price of a drug more than half because some pressure is put on them by an article in the New York Times. And between them and the customer are doctors, pharmaceutical representatives, Pharmacy Benefit Managers and insurance companies. The end user is a nameless number on a market analysis. And if the pricing isn’t random, why do the same drugs cost less in other countries? Why do doctors get a ‘commission’ for using their drug over a cheaper one? No wonder our medical costs are rising faster than any other nation’s health care system.

I don’t have any answers. It’s way too complicated for my brain. But, I know this morning my heart was breaking. I told Momma I would meet her and Daddy over at the meeting. When I drove up into that parking lot 40 minutes before it started, I thought I’d arrived at Tiger Stadium on a Saturday afternoon. Cops were directing traffic, and the parking lot was overflowing. They moved the meeting because the first room had filled up. When I entered the lobby where the larger meeting room was located, about 200 people were jammed into the lobby. A man came out and said the room was full with 750 people in it. I walked out and was greeting by hundreds of elderly people with anger and fear in their eyes. Men in LSU shirts on their scooters passed by me. I told one that the meeting was full, and he despairingly went over to his car to load his scooter back on it. Groups of women and couples kept walking when I told them the room was full. They were going in to wait for the next meeting in 3 hours. These people were worried, and I felt really sad that people should have to be so scared about something like their health … and it wasn’t their health that worried them. Like my friend said … it’s the f*cking money.

I saw my acupuncturist this evening. I asked him if they had Western Medicine in China. He said they did. He said they usually share space with Eastern Medicine practitioners. Some hospitals will have one floor for Eastern Medicine and the next floor for Western. Or they may have buildings that are connected in some way. They make room for both. I wish that our country was not so dependent on a system that is designed to keep you in its care for life. Certainly, Western Medicine is needed for diseases like cancer and to control issues that can’t be managed with herbal medicine. But, aren’t there many other conditions that can be treated by holistic practices that aren’t so costly and scary? Why don’t we have both? Yes, my acupuncture costs me money. My insurance providers ONLY incentivize me to go to doctors and take drugs. I’m not given incentives to take care of myself in other ways. Western Medicine treats symptoms. When you get off the drug, you still have the problem. When I got off my anti-depressant that I was on for 20 years, I still had anxiety. I started on an herbal medicine that costs $20 per month 6 weeks ago and my anxiety is better controlled than it ever has been. And I have NO side effects. Herbal medicine is designed to heal the disease and support the body in healing itself. Why are we so fixated on this one dysfunctional system that keeps us dependent and allows predators to hold us hostage? If I wasn’t outraged before, I am now.

Happy Stinkin’ Monday, Y’all!


I had to drag myself out of bed this morning. I needed to go for a run, but I didn’t. I had trouble waking up, and I ended up taking Ashok for an hour walk. It’s good exercise, but I needed to run. To start off my week behind on my exercise schedule is not ideal. I started to brush my teeth and realized I had a cold sore. I rarely get them anymore, and I used to keep some oral medication around for when they appeared. But, I haven’t had any outbreaks since I’ve been here so I haven’t gotten a new prescription. I’m sure my run and my long day on Saturday wrecked my immune system, so I was vulnerable for a Herpes Simplex Virus breakout. Ugh… I’ve been using my essential oils on it, but it’s a pretty bad one. I’m not looking forward to this.


I felt off all weekend and this morning was no exception. I got my cards out and pulled the Skunk card. Really? Figures I’d pull it on a stinkin’ Monday. The little critter will feel right at home. I muttered to myself about what a rotten draw this was, but then I remembered there is no bad animal medicine. I got curious about the message the skunk had for me for this stinkin’ day that was already stinking pretty bad. Apparently, skunks are respected because they have a nasty reputation. They get to have a lot of fun and play because other animals give them a wide berth. They have a REPUTATION. Skunk says to carry yourself in a way that shows others that you respect yourself. The little black and white critter urges me to walk my walk and talk my talk in order to create a position of strength and honored reputation. Well, that’s not so bad. And skunk medicine people apparently are very charismatic. By being strong and assertive in who they are, they attract the very people that they want to attract. It’s efficient. The people who are not attracted to someone like me will give me a wide berth. I won’t have to mess around with their stinkin’ drama. I can deal with that.

It was hot and humid again today. It wasn’t August hot and humid, but it was still hot enough that I was daydreaming about the coolness of Saturday. I made a big effort to take care of myself today since I wasn’t feeling on my game. I cooked yesterday, so I ate really well today. I made a smoothie for a morning snack with that Trader Joe’s pumpkin pie spice, cottage cheese, baked apple chunks and coconut milk. It was really creamy and tasted like a pumpkin shake. It was very filling, too. I couldn’t even drink the whole thing in the morning. I spread it out through the day. I had a nice lunch of last night’s leftovers on my front porch. For dinner, I cooked a veggie burger in some coconut oil and roasted cauliflower and potatoes. But even all of that healthy eating didn’t fix my stinkin’ energy level. I did not feel well enough after work to go do the Monday night workout class that I usually enjoy. So, I was a lazy bum all around in the exercise department all day. In that area, it was a stinkin’ Monday. I came home and did a 45-minute yoga nidra instead. It felt like great self-care. And I got up smelling like roses.

OMG ... you farted???

OMG … you farted??? That’s disgusting.

While I was preparing my cauliflower tonight, Ashok was standing by for her treats. She loves veggies because that’s almost all she gets in this house, and, when I chop veggies, she gets the ends and the cores. She crunched on her cauliflower while I chopped. A few minutes ago I sat down to write, and she was sitting in front of me. She farted,  jumped up and looked around to see who shot her, I guess. Bella’s face was priceless. Even on a stinkin’ Monday, I can find something to make me laugh.

This stinkin’ Monday is almost over, y’all. Have a good week.