Thursday, December 27, 2018

Mid-life crisis and the mental block

As is the case when I've been gone for so long, I feel like I need to explain myself to you all.  I feel I need to fill you all in on my life and my podcast.  Yes, I do have a podcast now.  I have a new website now, with my name on it.  Yes.  My actual name.  As my husband asked me when I pondered the concept of eventually moving Theythrowrocks there, "But you won't be anonymous anymore!"  Hmmm.  Anonymity.  I thought it would give me the strength to be true.  To speak my mind.  To just say it as I see it, with judgement and all.  To bear myself.  To bear my true self.  While I "decided" that I was going to give it all up, then again, in true TTR fashion, I think about it.  Should I?  But don't most of my readers know who I am already?
OK, so that's something that I shuttle back and forth in my mind, but lately, my mind and even my life has felt like a mess.  Imagine a set of long tiny wires all tangled together and as you remove one knot, you create several others and after trying for as long as one does, you just give it all up.  You realize those wires will not ever be untangled and there's nothing you can do about it.  No amount of patience was going to help you.  Funny thing with mid-life crisis or just life crisis is that it jams your brain and like the tangles of wires, you try and try and nothing works.  Except with your brain you don't have a choice of trashing it and picking a new piece of neuronal networks.  I worked with the tangles and it became my new reality.  Simple questions became difficult to understand or respond to.  What are you doing with your life?  What do you want?  The answer was always, I have no flipping clue.  Seriously.  I wanted to give it all up and start over.  Then there's the finances to consider.  I couldn't think straight to try to salvage my reality and my job.  I looked for something new.  Maybe I want that.  No.  I want that.  In this mayhem, I cannot imagine how I started and kept consistent with a podcast.  Something that doesn't pay me at all.  It can't be a profession or a job.  I know you have to be famous to make it that way, but I'm a nobody right now.  I'm just TTR who's still struggling to understand the reasons for my own anonymity.
I just returned from a fabulous vacation to Sandals Grande Antigua.  Sandals, a chain that my husband and I have chosen, has been fun.  Has been a week of beach and sand and great food.  This time around, I decided it better be more.  I didn't know what I wanted from the beach but I looked up "beach meditation" online just in case.  So, first day out, we do our breakfast and I make it to the water.  I tell my husband that I am going to meditate and be one with the Universe and he laughs rolling his eyes because he knows his wife is crazy.  I don't care.  I feel the sand under my feet.  I look at the water, the small waves, the tiny ripples.  I look at the light greenish blue color of the water, as it turns bluer towards the horizon.  I look out at the shore line of white sand and the waves crashing.  I kept doing this.  Day 1.  Day 2.  Day 3.  And sometime around Day 2, some things started making sense in my life.  The twisted network that refused to work started sending signals.  I felt a change within me.  A clarity, if you will.  Suddenly I was able to see my work and what I wanted from it and also from my podcast and my blogs.  Yes, blogs.  I plan to have 3.  This one which is going to continue to be a lifestyles blog.  A wandering spirit blog about my travels and the third one, the script of my Living A Life Through Books podcast.
And I think about my office and what will make it work.  Everything that felt like a crushing feeling within me, was slowly releasing away and I could see clearer.  There was still a question I had in my mind that I was not finding the answer to.  I couldn't connect completely.  Day 4.  Better clarity.  I need to get a dot journal or whatever those things are called.  Or just a TTR style journal.  Day 5.  As I lay down to bed, the one question about my office hits me.  The why I do what I do.  It may seem crazy but you know how parents tell you not to touch a hot pot or just stuff like that and you learn it instinctively and it becomes a part of you.  What if someone asked you why you don't touch the pot anymore and you just didn't know why?  What if you didn't remember that pot was hot, but you just didn't touch it because of habit.  And when someone asks you, you say, that's just how it is, but you stumble with the why of something as simple as that.  Well, similarly with my job there was something I did and there was a reason.  Except, I did not remember what that reason was.  I think I starred at the blue ocean and felt the waves for a long time looking for that one last answer and it was the night of day 5 that it came to me.  More than just the answer.  A conviction about why I did what I did.  I spent Day 6 floating in the ocean and thanking the Universe for giving me answers that I couldn't find anywhere else.
Now, here I am, in a lounge at Miami International Airport, feeling a renewed sense of clarity.  OK.  I would be lying if I said I sorted every answer out.  As I sorted answers out, more questions came up and most of them have been sorted out.  The most important thing is the clog in my brain that has cleared up.  I can answer questions now.  My brain actually feels like it got a jump start.
Is is all mid-life crisis?  Is it all a mental block?  Who knows?  I know one thing for sure.  Everyone says they need the beach, that they need a vacation.  I feel my definition of a vacation has been to get away from it all for a while.  A panacea for a week and then back to the grind.  A bandaid that doesn't cure that which is your reality.  That used to be vacation for me.  This one was a first.  I can look at the beach with a renewed focus and a new set of eyes.  The eyes that allow me to return.  The eyes that want me to return and live the life I set out to live.
Before I go, I will say that I am not clueless to the stresses that are going to hit me as I get home.  I know the brain will unfortunately get clogged again.  I also know that, for me, a week of beach meditation and gratitude for being able to experience it has gone a long, long, long way.
I wish you all the best in this coming New Year.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How to cut a jackfruit

Dear friends,

Here's a crazy video I decided to post.  Hope you all enjoy it.  It's just one of those wild things that I thought about sharing and said, "why not?"

I could talk about the LONG Facebook live video that my husband posted of myself cutting a different jackfruit.  I would have loved to add the elements from that video, but my camera cut off while recording and I had to re-record some stuff so some stuff just didn't get recorded and the sequence got cady-wompused (is that a word?)

Before I go, on a totally different note, for those of you not following my Facebook page, a lot of changes are coming my way.  I have a podcast now called "living a life through books" and I'm going to do a TTR podcast also.  And I'm going to be having a new website and all that jazz.  I know I have been MIA, but please bear with me and it's going to be fun.

Hope you all are having a great day.  Catcha all later,


Monday, June 4, 2018

All over the place

Dear readers, first off, I want to thank you for being there and putting up with my rambles.  For those of you who have been with me from the first day, I cannot tell you how much your support means to me.  Usually, when a post starts like this, it's usually a post about an end, but I'm not here to end this blog.  Far from it.  I'm just here to give you a tiny window into my crazy brain that is all over the place.  OK.  You've figured it out from my posts already.  I can hear one of your go, "have you finished your ship yet?".  No I haven't, although I have been thinking about going back to the basement and start working on it again.  It's just that my brain keeps hopping from one thing to another.  I'm glad I've even stayed half way consistent with this blog.
Last year, in efforts to tame my crazy mind, I started a project.  It was to read a book a month.  I finished it.  It was a big deal for me.  Well, it was also motivational to me because for the first time I felt that I can finish things.  That's why I was thinking about the ship again.  Finish one task at a time, I tell myself.  It's all a great idea but with all great ideas, more ideas pour into the mix and my brain goes on a scrambled mission yet again.  I have tried to keep focus with my books and that focus alone has helped me stay on a path.  A path leading to a new venture.  I'm planning on starting a podcast.  No.  It's not going to be like this blog and all over the place.  It's going to be about my journey through books.  It's not necessarily a book review.  Maybe I discuss some books, but mostly it's about how this journey of reading one book a month has changed me and how it makes me process my relationship with books.  So, while I'm all over the place, I do plan to keep up with this blog.  I will be starting another new blog also, which will essentially be the script of my Podcast and of course will be doing the Podcast.  I'm hoping to start sometime in July and I would appreciate your support.  And again, thank you for sticking with me through my many adventures.  Here's to many more adventures together.
Best to you all,

Going around in circles

Everyday for years now, I have taken the same path to work.  It's timed to be about a fourteen to sixteen minute drive depending on the lights.  I don't know why I settled on this path because there are 3 different ways to get to my office from home.  Everything was all smooth until last week when they decided to close, for 3 months, the main path that I used.  Like I said, there are 2 other paths to my office.  I picked a different path, which ended up being a eleven to a thirteen minute drive except, it's not always that way.  Let me explain.
When you drive the same path everyday, you don't pay attention.  Muscle memory kicks in and your car just drives itself.  When that path is blocked, changing a habit becomes tricky.  I have to repeat to myself over and over, take a left, not a right.  This is a left here and yet, I forget and lose myself.  I think I have taken a couple of right turns and then had to take a U-turn around and added time to my commute by 1 - 2 minutes.  Interesting enough, that's happened only couple of times to get to work.  Getting back is a different story.  I think there may have been only one day so far that I made it the right way.  One day, I turned the wrong way and then I cut across the parking lot and turned around and was about to turn back the wrong way but I remembered.  Today, I turned the wrong way all the way until I hit the sign that said "road closed ahead".  How did this happen?  When will I be able to drive and pay attention to where I'm going.  After all, I just realized this new path would save me 3 minutes.  It would make sense to just do it, but my mind just wants to go to autopilot when I'm driving, especially when I'm driving back.  Today I kept repeating to myself that I had to go the other way, after I made one turn around.  Well, repeating and focusing helped, but I never thought driving to and from work would be so much effort.  I wonder if one day I'll just drive around and around and around and how many circles I'd have to make before my mind can focus and actually go home.  I wonder.
That's it for this post.  Nothing deep but it is what it is.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Thoughts on Mother's Day

Mother's Day is almost over and I've been musing about this post.  I want to write something, but what?  I thought, I could start with the definition of "mother", but then in reality, I unfortunately do not know that definition.  I know it from one side of the story - watching and learning from my own mother.  The other side would be the true understanding of motherhood that only comes from being a mom.  I think in my life, I've gotten micro slices of that feeling of intense love that fills your senses and takes away all common sense where a child could have you wrapped around their little finger and play you like a violin.  I've seen that happen also and have watched mothers be oblivious to the power yielded by their little monsters.  Alas, am I straying off course?  Maybe.  Maybe not.
Today, on Facebook I saw a post from a mom advising other moms to "milk it" for today anything was fair game.  I personally, felt bad for that mom.  I thought about the moms who might have felt the need to "milk it".  It's like they give their whole life and sacrifice and deal with the crap of the wonderful nature of motherhood and they get what in return?  A day!  Out of 365 days, they get ONE day.  My mom always said that everyday was Mother's Day and that's what I feel.  A mother is more deserving of being special everyday and it's almost an insult to give her one day.  One measly day.  It's like saying, I love you and I appreciate you and I'll take the time and effort on this day.  The other days, well, don't expect much.  It's not mother's day and we did all that stuff for mother's day so get over it!!!
My niece asked me this morning if I wished my mom a happy Mother's Day.  I told her I'll get to it.  And then after going around and running errands, I went to visit my mom.  I don't know if I did it for mother's day or if I just wanted to go visit with her.  No.  I think I went because I felt obligated for Mother's Day and the sad part of it is that I almost feel like it absolves me of my duties as a daughter because I took the time and effort to go visit her on Mother's day.  If she calls, I can always say, hey, I visited on Mother's Day so don't complain.  See, my mom would tell me off and tell me that there is no such thing as Mother's day and the fact I visited her on Mother's Day doesn't count.  Everyday should be just as special.  I guess that's why I didn't send her flowers or do anything different.
For those of you who think that I'm a horrible daughter for not doing something out of this world on Mother's Day, well, you are entitled to your opinions.  My mother, has done more for me, than I could ever hope to do for her, even if I spent everyday and treated it as a special day for her.  Ya.  That's a mother.  My mom has worried about me and still worries about me when I get sick.  She's the only one who prays for me and wishes for my health, happiness and success.  I won't say I have the best mom in the world.  I think my mom is far from perfect and to live thinking that she's infallible is an error.  She has, however, despite her mistakes, always wanted and hoped for what was best for me.  Even if I didn't agree with her, she hoped and did what she felt was the right choice for me.  So, that's mom.  She's hilarious, crazy, smart, silly, caring, loving, the best cook and everything else.  Doesn't she deserve more than a day?
Alright.  Rant over.  Go on about your own business.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Influenza B changes your life perspective

I don't know where I got the flu from.  Before you ask me about the flu shot, let me just tell you that I did not do it.  This is not about a "serves you right" post.  I have never had the flu shot and for years I've had flu like symptoms but never the full blown flu.  Well, I guess you live and learn.
What does the flu feel like?  I couldn't walk.  I couldn't talk.  I couldn't sit up in bed for longer than an hour.  I was too exhausted to brush my teeth.  Being a dentist, that was something that hit me.  Way back in the days of my residency, with kids in the hospital, the last thing that would be taken care of would be the brushing of teeth.  Now, I understand.  I was too groggy and confused to think about standing and brushing for a good 2 mins.  I'm also asthmatic and the flu triggered my asthma and so I wasn't breathing well either.  My muscles hurt and spasmed randomly.  Oh yeah.  I couldn't hold down food.  I even threw up a sip of gatorade.  All of this and coughing lead to a headache also.  Basically, I wasn't a happy camper.
All I'll say is that there are a lot of things we take for granted everyday.  The ability to breathe normally is something that I still don't have, a week later.  I think about having the energy to walk normally and just enjoy the weather outside.  I think that's life.  We don't see what we have until it's taken away.  A lot of times I'm thinking about material things I want - a new Kindle for instance.  Wanting puts me at a position of not having.  After having the flu, I want nothing more than my health.  Having all systems working normally is a gift indeed.
I'm not saying we shouldn't shoot for the stars with our goals or that we shouldn't want.  I just feel that we don't recognize what we have so readily as our focus is not on what we have but what we don't have.  A little gratitude goes a long way.
Here's hoping your lives are filled with plenty and you have no want.
Wishing you all the best in health and happiness,

The Travel Conundrum

I've heard people say that I'm well travelled.  I disagree, but that's not the point of this post at all.  Or maybe it is.  Hear me out.  I enjoy traveling and getting to experience new cultures and new worlds.  It's just fascinating.  On my last trip to Portugal, I had a fabulous time navigating the narrow cobblestone streets, but yet, I find myself thinking about the beach.  I think about lounging all day, reading a book, or writing and doing absolutely nothing.  Two very different prospects of travel.  For the past few years, my husband and I have been doing the all-inclusive adults only chain of Sandals.  It started with our honeymoon.  I remember it clearly.  Brad said to me, "we should come back here!".  I replied with "Here?  Here as in another Sandals or here as in here, this place, this same resort."  He said, "This same resort."  I told him that there were so many other resorts to explore, so many other islands to explore, even in the Sandals chain.  We could stick to the chain, I told him, but we should really try the others.  That was 5 years ago.
Today I find myself waiting for a Sandals vacation.  My mind will skip past fantastical vacations I've scheduled, waiting to return back to Sandals and back to the beach.  Yet, I plan future non-beach vacations also. So many places to visit.  I mean, countries.  If you've visited parts of a country, should you return to other parts of the same country?  Is that repeating?  Or should I just try a different country because part of travel is about new and exciting?  Is it about getting a notch on your belt?
As I get older and find myself wanting to be at the beach and as I discuss with my husband about the one Sandals resort we want to continue to keep returning to every year, I think about vacations and travel.  I've heard people criticize me about going back to the Caribbean over and over.  I've heard comments about why Sandals, over and over.  I wonder if at 45 years, peer pressure is still getting to me or should I just do what I damn well please?
There is comfort in the familiar and yet there's excitement in the new.  I would say, familiar to me would be Sandals - a resort chain that has been tried and tested for us.  Recently, we were at Puerto Vallarta at one of the Vidanta resorts - The Grand Bliss.  It wasn't all inclusive and while the resort was large and the room was fabulous, it was next to impossible to find a beach chair.  Yes, we took long walks along the beach and we had a tamarindo daiquiri, which we hadn't had at any other resort, but the resort was too large for my taste.
I return back home and get online to check the deals at a Sandals.  Yet, there's a part of me that wonders if I want to go back to a Viking river cruise.  I think to myself that it was rush, rush, rush and a lot of bus travel but then again, we got to see a lot in a short time.  Sure we didn't have time to breathe or take it all in, but hey, it was a great way to get a sampling of the cities we visited.  I can always argue that we love the hop on hop off bus tour in the cities we visit.  Isn't that a bus tour and isn't that a slice of the city in a short time?
The other grand travel factor is of course the F word - finances.  The places and trips that I have my eyes on, do not sit well with my wallet.  So, it's a factor of actually saving money, a little every month to be able to experience the unique, in a relaxing setting.  The time factor is critical as well.  I'm not retired yet.  Far from it.  Owning my own practice gives me the freedom to take time off as I choose, but it also limits me in that I don't get paid when I take time off.  So, there's only so long I can be gone before the office needs me to make an income and take care of the little pesky things called bills.
I took a travel test a couple of months ago on Facebook.  It recommended my top places to visit as Banff and Iceland!  Maybe I won't be walking along the beach there, but the hiking and canoeing can be quite relaxing.  I remember canoeing in Alaska.  We were on a small ship cruise (max 36 passengers) with Fantasy Cruises.  The canoe was part of the trip and couple of days we were on the canoe and they pretty much let us canoe for as long as we wanted.  So, we canoed for almost 2 hours watching the bald eagles above us.  It wasn't the beach, but it was peaceful and ultimately I think when it comes to travel, I just want my mind to clear and to connect with nature and forget the world that I've left behind briefly.
So, maybe it doesn't have to always be the beach.  Maybe, if finances allowed, time to rejuvenate my soul may just be my most valuable asset, wherever that might be, in whatever country that might be.  It is a blessing to look at the mirror and live an honest life.  A life of your choosing.  Not one that is riddled by the comparisons that we frequently find ourselves fighting.
Wishing you all a well travelled and well experienced life of your dreams.
Best to you all,

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A few kind words can keep you going

I was between patients today when I checked my phone and my email.  There was one new email from my theythrowrocks account.  Usually, such emails are junk, but not this time.  It was someone I did not know and it was someone who did not know me either!  The message goes as follows:  I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.  I don't know who you are but certainly you are going to be a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!
Wow, I thought.  Me?  Famous blogger?  When did this happen?  Not yet, but someone believes it as a possibility and that someone put a big smile on my face.  The post was "Moth Pitch" and I wondered if the video in the post was the kicker, but I need to slow down and stop wondering.  I think I need to just enjoy the moment.  Of course, when someone comments on your blog, it's a huge compliment.  They read my blog!  They READ my blog.  Awesome!  One tends to get carried away for a bit and then I have to plant my feet firmly on the ground and plug along.  I realized that I hadn't done a post this whole month.  Now was as good a time as any to write one.
This past weekend I was at a wedding and for whatever reason, I decided to do most of the events on Facebook live, instead of taking pictures.  Well, family from around the world who could not attend the wedding were thanking me for the live videos.  At the same time, my Facebook friends who had never been to a desi wedding were confused about what was going on.  I got a private message asking me about the wedding and I told her that I would have to blog about it.  Well, I do need to make a post about it, but my schedule is super tight.  I'm out of town next weekend also.  A lot of the days, I'm just tired.  Today's email gave me that shot I needed to get on here and post something.  I figured it doesn't have to be earth shattering.  As long as I keep it going, I may accidentally cross paths with someone else I do not know and hopefully that kind of thing will keep happening over and over and over again.
So, with that said, I wish you all a life filled with kind words.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Columbia Titanium Story

It's winter here in St. Louis and it's a cold one.  Temperatures have been dropping into the single digits and while I'm working, I see patients walk in all bundled up in their jackets.  I take an active interest in what my patients are wearing.  Why?  That's a whole different story but a couple of days ago, I noticed this dad wearing a really neat bright colored Columbia Titanium jacket.  I didn't make any comment about it but I wondered about the whole brand.  I'd heard of Columbia, but was this the new thing?  Columbia Titanium?  Don't get me wrong.  I see North Faces and Patagonias and I just hadn't seen the Columbia Titanium brand.  Well, with that dad, I didn't say anything.
The next mom that had a black Columbia Titanium had me curious.  "So, tell me what's with the Columbia Titanium.  I know the brand name Columbia, but what's with the titanium?"  I had to know.  I got a real story and a lesson in that simple curious question.  She started with, "Oh this thing!  I don't know about the titanium."  She unzips her jacket to reveal a shiny inner layer.  She proceeds to talk about how warm it was and she thought it used her body heat.  She told me that the jacket was so warm that she needed to cool down while skiing.  She raised her hands and there were zippers there to open up the armpits, to cool you down if you get too hot.  I said, "Wow!  That's pretty neat!" and she replied with, "Yes, and we got this free.  Columbia just mailed it to us!"
OK.  Now she had my attention.  A nice Columbia Titanium jacket (now that I figured out how warm it was) was mailed to her for free.  How does that happen?  There comes the story.  She laughed and said, "My husband and his friend were just messing around in our basement and making YouTube videos with camping gear. They were comparing all kinds of camping things and they had never been camping themselves, but we got tons of beef jerky mailed to us.  Once we got 3 kayaks sent to us!"  The Columbia jacket was one of their mailings!  I'm still not completely buying this story.  I'm buying it, but there's more.  There has to be.  I can't just have a YouTube channel and things coming through my door?  "How many viewers did they have?  How often did they do this?  There is no way they are getting all these goods just because."  She explained that they did a video every 2 weeks consistently and they would mention that they are comparing products and ask for companies to send them products to be included in the comparison and that's how they got the products sent to them.  She said, "People want their products talked about!"  Then she continued to talk about how the whole thing was a joke and they didn't do it anymore.  With that kind of innovative mentality, they took it to marketing and motivation and I can't recall, but they made a lot of contacts on LinkedIn and they apparently have a multi-million dollar business currently.  Very cool.  I think Tony Robbins was one of their contacts (a friend of a friend) but still I sit back and listen to the story and I told her that they were deserving of everything because they were consistent.  I told her about this blog I write and I talked about how I would write 4 blogs one day and then nothing for the next few months.  I said, "it's consistency that gets you places" and I believe that.
I remember watching a video where this person talks about the ONE factor that made high school kids succeed in their future.  It wasn't their grades or anything like that.  It was their "grit".  That was the word she had used.  Call it what you want.  Grit.  Consistency.  Sticktoitivity.  It doesn't matter.  A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  That's where success lies.  We know about it through a very famous childhood story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  Another great example of progress - small, dragged out, tedious, micro step at a time progress, non quitting progress.  The progress that gets you to the destination.  I bow down to the tortoise.  I'm a hare.  I move fast and can move 20 paces forward at lightning speed.  And then I can move 50 paces sideways and diagonally backwards at that same speed, while I watch my husband, the tortoise, make slow, steady deliberate steps forward and he has made it to destinations (published plays) while I zip back and forth in my confused state of a pseudo-progress.  Ah.  Wouldn't it be great if I could just use my own lessons?
I will say that my personal progress, micro steps, is coming along.  Last year, I had a goal of reading one book a month.  I know.  It's nothing for most of you, but for the hare here, it's focus and consistency.  The destination was 12 books.  I gave this hare, the choice to read 12 books in a month or spread it out in a year.  Some months I read 3, some months none, some months one but I finished the goal.  12 books done!  This year is destination 24 books.  We're in the first week of Feb and I'm at 3.  So far, so good.
Here's to a more consistent life to all of us!
Best to you all,

The Empathy Story

Hello all.  This is my first time actually trying to post from YouTube directly into Blogger.  I hope this works!  This was a story I did in the Fall of 2017.  Just hadn't published it yet.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The book vs the e-reader

I haven't even written a word yet and I can already hear the screams in the distance.  Book!  Book!  Book!  Book!  Book!  Funny thing.  A few years ago, I might have been one of those screams.  Now, in 2018, I have 3 e-readers (Kindle, iPad and Nook) and I have several books that I am reading.  I even purchased several books in 2017.  I've been going back and forth.  I'm an Amazon Prime member and with that I get a free e-book a month.  So, my e-book account is filled; Almost like a book shelf with unread books.

Here's my story.  I used to be a reader through my childhood and even to my late 30s.  Only books then.  I don't remember when e-readers came to be.  Somewhere there I had some significant life changes - a new job, a divorce, a marriage.  Ok fine!  Minor detail!   A couple of years ago, I realized that while my life changed, some of my behaviors did also.  I stopped reading.  I stopped writing.

Well, the writing part is true and not so true.  I did start this blog in 2014, I think.  Wow!  Really?  So long ago.  Back to the story, I haven't worked on my novel and it was a note to self.  I needed to write more.

Second part, I needed to read more.  I had seen/read something on Facebook (the time suck) about how the average person can read 400 books a year, easily.  I think this was a video because the guy in the video did the math.  It was basically about replacing Facebook time with reading time.  I thought about it and decided to give it a try.

Every night, I would do Facebook for an hour or more before going to bed.  I know.  Blue light.  Unhealthy.  That's not the point.  The point is that I replaced my Facebook time for book time.  And soon, I was done with a book.  I think in less than a week.  I was blown.  I couldn't believe it.  How?  I thought to myself that I would love to read my Kindle in bed, because it won't affect my eyes, but my bedroom is not very well lit.  That idea did not work.  At that time, I did not have an iPad.  I considered getting a Kindle White light (with the back light), but I just didn't want another Kindle.  Electronic waste of the old one.  I got an iPad instead.  There goes the eyes argument!  I made a pact to myself that I would read a book a month.  12 books.  I know, for you readers out there, it's little.  Piddly.  For me, going from 0 to 12.  That was something.

2017:  I finished my 12 book reading goal.  This year is 24 book goal (2 books a month).  In this process, I have been switching between iPad and iPhone using the Kindle app.  I have used the Kindle (need sunlight and outdoors for this one) when the weather was better.  The last book I read was long.  About 600 pages.  Palm trees in the Snow.  This was one of my free Prime books.  I guess, I decided to do it because I wanted to get the big ones out of the way.  Well, I read it and read it and read it.  It took me a couple of weeks, but I got it done.  I got my 2 books for January read and I was all good to go.

February books I have picked, I started early.  It's an actual book.  So, now, when I'm reading in bed, I'm constantly adjusting the reading light (that I purchased), but more importantly, as I'm reading, all I can see is the page number.  I can visually see how much more there is.  I guess if I really wanted to calculate, I could pull out a calculator and see what percent of the book is remaining, but I'm fascinated.  In the past, a page number would have been enough.  Now, I wanted to know, the time remaining to finish this chapter.  To finish this book.  And books don't come with that information on the bottom.  And I found myself missing the Kindle.  It would learn my reading speed and tell me how much longer I had.  I could very easily think to myself, "Oh!  15 more minutes to this chapter.  Let's finish now."  I know the argument can be made that you can actually see how many more pages there are to the chapter, but then you are flipping through (that has its advantages) looking for where the next chapter is.  Here, the information is all on the little tab where the page number would be.  One click and I can revert to page number.  Or time left in book.  While I'm reading my book, somehow, I don't have the "there's only so much more time to finish this" thought to propel me.

I do find change funny.  I remember when I first started reading on the e-reader and it had time remaining, but didn't have page numbers.  I had percent left.  That drove me nuts.  I guess the app must have updated to page numbers also, but change can be a glorious thing!

Of course, there is the space issue.  The other day, I tried to carry a book in my purse and that didn't work out so well.  I ended up buying a bigger purse, but if that book was on my e-reader, that would be a no brainer.  I wouldn't need to carry it.  I could just carry my cell or even my other larger readers.

I do think about the time I had the e-reader and I just wanted to flip through the pages and go back to page 1, really quick to verify something and I didn't know how to do that in my e-reader and I thought.  Ahhhh, the fast flipping back and forth of pages.  That does put a book in an advantage, but there are so many other advantages to the e-reader that you have to pick a side.

Also, as I have more books, I realize that I don't have much shelf space left.  I think I'm going to donate some of the books I don't "love" that I've already read.  That may clear space for what I have now.  I have read several books on my e-reader and I do not miss them on my shelves.  I just don't.

Disclosure:  I haven't opened my Nook yet.  But after I'm done with reading real books, holding them and actually turning the page and feeling the paper and all that medieval, classical, nostalgic feelings are done, I'm registering my Nook and buying more books on them.

Change is a process.  I'm getting there.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Syrian refugee Uber driver

His name was Akhram and he was my Uber driver.  I usually try to make conversation with my drivers so I asked him how long he had been in this country.  I don't know what the giveaway was.  It might have been his accent.  He said, "18 months."  I asked him where he was from and he responded, "Syria.  Do you know where that is?"  I said, "yes" trying to process his experience through the fog in my head of travel fatigue and through my continued sickness.  I asked him if he liked America and he talked about getting used to the new language and culture and customs.  No, he did not like it.  He told me that his son would cry everyday for 2 weeks before going to school.  His kids didn't know the language either.  He talked about bringing his 85 year old mother here.  He said that his move here was for his children.
He talked about the jets that flew over everyday, bombing Syria.  He said, "We were just waiting our turn to die.  Which bomb was going to kill us.  Was it the next?"  He talked about faith and how he didn't mind dying and that death was a reality.  He said that his children however did not understand that death was a reality.  They were constantly terrified with all the bombing and he had to get out of there.  The first step of his journey lead him to Jordan for 3 years.  He didn't have a work visa there.  They didn't issue those so his move to America was about survival and working.  He talked about working and making an honest living.  As an upper end electrical engineer/project manager from Syria, at the end of the day, he was just happy to have his family.  He said, "for people, America is cars, money, things.  For me, security.  I have my family and that's all I need"
He talked about how some people in Phoenix didn't know what was going on beyond their little circumference of the city.  He smiled wistfully, then he chuckled and said, "That's good too, you know."  He talked about passengers canceling rides when they see a Muslim name.  He talked about passengers asking him if he were ISIS.  He said he tries his best to educate his riders that ISIS is not Islam.
Part of me wished I would have just recorded the conversation.  Part of me was hoping he would someday make a Moth story.  Why not?
The ride did not take long, but I had to record as much as I could remember.  It might be my health but I was trying to wrap my head around a life of constant bombing and moving to Jordan and then to the US.  He talked about the region in general and how it's a mess because of the dictators.  He said that Assad only wanted power and oil and full control;  in the process only a million people were killed.  Yes, I'm being sarcastic here.
I'm typing this trying to focus despite my coughing and difficulty breathing.  I hope I have managed to capture some of the essence of my conversation with him.  Perhaps, my writing is not as effective, but today, once again, I'm reminded of the International humanitarian crisis that the world faces while we continue in our little cocoons sheltered from it all.
Best to you all,

Invisible, visible, love.

A long time ago, I read something motivational that looked like a short poem.  It was about love.  I can't recall how it went, but it was basically a "at this moment someone is" type of poem.  So, it would go like this:  At this moment someone is thinking about you.  At this moment, someone is praying for you.  At this moment someone wishes they could be you.  At this moment, someone is looking up to you. And so on and so forth.  You get the message.  At this moment, someone loves you.
When I read the poem, I thought, awwww.  And then the reality of my situation hit me.  Is it true?  Seriously?  At "this" moment someone is actually praying for me?  That can't be.  Who would be actually praying for me?  My mom?  Who else?  Ah.  It's just one of those posts.  It's not true, but the concept is really sweet.  That's where I left it, several years ago.  The post did not cross paths with me, like so many other Facebook reposts and memes.  I could see that post from a distance, mock me.  You don't believe me, the post would tell me.  Why should I show up in your life, oh ye of so little faith?  I would reply back to the invisible post, that almost appears like an imaginary person in my mind and say, I love the idea.  It would be awesome if it were true, but I just don't see it.  I only have one person in my life who truly loves me and cares about me and that person is sleeping right now as it's night time, so there you have it.  How can you be true?  The post would smile back and say something.  I can't hear it, but I would drift off to sleep wishing for the poem.
Recently, 3 months ago, a friend of mine that I had met only once in London, lost her mother.  I know about it because she posted it on Facebook.  She used to be avid on Facebook.  She even started a blog and a Facebook blog and that's how I got the idea to take my blog on Facebook.  Well, over night, when her whole life turned upside down, in my corner of the world, I started noticing her absence and starting feeling sad for her grief.  There were no more Facebook posts, and no more blogs.  It all ended over night.  There I was, thinking about her and praying for her.  It was instinct to pray for her and wish her the best.  Did she know it?  No.  Not at that time.  It was later that I messaged her to tell her that I missed her digital presence.  Then I realized the poem; at this moment...
As though that was not enough, I've been fighting a sickness and these past couple of days, I went to Arizona to attend a conference I had signed up to attend a few months prior.  I was getting more sick. In fact, the day before the conference, my husband asked me, "should you be going?"  I said, "I'll be fine."  I don't know what I was thinking.  Deep down, I asked myself the same question.  Should I be going?  Why am I doing this?  How important is this meeting to me?
Long story short, I went.  Yesterday was the first day.  I was not well.  I felt like I was sinking, rapidly.  My energy was down to 5%, if I had it and after fumbling through the information, I returned to my hotel room, early, shaking.  I was secretly chiding myself for my stupidity.  I was feverish and weak and I just wanted to talk to someone.  Usually, I could call my husband and whine about feeling badly and he would tell me to go to bed and he would tell me that he would meet me the next day and I would feel a bit better.  That didn't happen.  I called.  No answer.  I called again.  No answer.  I texted.  No response.  I texted again.  No response and finally after 10 minutes of trying to text him, I get a text back.  He was at The Last Jedi.  Oh well.  I would have to crash without anyone to talk to.  The truth is that I really didn't have the energy to talk.  I just wanted to whine.  I was miserable.  I felt more miserable knowing that the one person who understood my sickness and who loved me enough to put up with me was not available.  I was suddenly feeling like no one cared.  I wasn't about to just randomly call people and whine.  I didn't have a list like that.  The poem, was wrong after all.
And just like that, my phone rings.  It's my cousin.  She wanted to check on me and see how I was doing.  She knew I was sick a couple of days back.
Wow!  She was thinking about me.  That was so sweet.  It's not true that no one cared.  People did care.  I just didn't know about it.  It was then that the poem shows up while I'm trying to huddle under the blankets and she's trying to figure out why I'm so stupid to have gone to this conference.  At this moment...  I would have never guessed that she would have called to check on me, but she did.  I didn't even know that she remembered I was sick.  I figured, she would have just assumed I got better.  The poem smiles at me.  I was right, wasn't I?  Yes, you were, I say, as I slowly try to breath and drift to sleep.
Just because we don't "see" it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  Even invisible love, turns visible.
Oh and about that post saying something to me earlier, that I didn't hear.  Now I know what it was.  All it said was, "just you wait!"  Indeed.
Here's wishing you all lives filled with visible and invisible loves.
Best to you all,

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Pick-pocketing strategy

Hello everyone.  Before you stress out, let me clarify a couple of things.  First off, no, I'm not quitting my day job to be a pick pocket.  Secondly, again no, I was not pick pocketed.  So, where does this post come from?  I was recently in Portugal, and our tour guides kept reminding us that while tourism was increasing, so were pick pockets.  I didn't believe it.  And then I heard a story of a woman having her purse pick pocketed or stolen.  Whatever you want to call it.  I feel badly about it.  She's on vacation and loses her phone/credit card and whatever else was in her purse.  On the boat, I kept hearing that someone got their purse stolen but I didn't know who, until I was standing in line for the bookstore and the mom was the one who was pick pocketed.  So, I got curious and asked HOW?  It just seemed unrealistic.  Most people are quite aware of their surroundings and would know if someone is taking something.  She started her story by telling me that she is a seasoned traveler and that she takes all the usual precautions, but the pick pocketers worked together.  It was a team effort.  3 men working out a plot to distract and take.
Here's how it worked.  First person randomly approaches with a cigarette that looked like a joint and asks for a light.  She turns him down.  While mom starts arguing with someone at her table that it was a joint, another person comes up and asks to borrow one of the chairs at her table (close to her purse).  A few minutes later, person number 3 approaches for a light but it looks more like a joint.  While mom is trying to figure out what is going on, person number 1 (we think) made off with the purse sitting on the floor with no chair blocking access.  And by the time mom figured out that her purse was gone, the pick pockets were long gone.
We were walking through the famed Alfama district in Lisbon, famous for Fado.  Extremely narrow and crooked streets.  It is like a maze and that it historically intentional, but the point of the story is that our tour guide told us to hold on to our purses because this place is known for pick pockets.  Well, as we walked through these narrow streets, we saw 3 women hanging around a small square.  The tour guide said to us almost as a pleasant surprise "Well, hello ladies!" and she continued to tell us "Those ladies are pick pockets!"  She is the tour guide.  I didn't ask how she knew but there were 3 ladies gawking at us.  Perhaps planning their move, but it didn't work on us that day.
How do you tell a pickpocket?  Well, for starters, they are not looking up at the nice building or tiles.  They are looking at the purses of the tourists.  Makes sense?  I could have sworn that on our walk through a famous railway station in Porto, I saw a man stare at our group.  He was by himself but he wasn't really going or coming anywhere.  Didn't seem like it.  His eyes seemed more focussed on our waistlines.  Who knows?  Maybe from now on, everyone is a pick pocket to me.
Last pick pocket story - my parents got pick pocketed in Madrid several years ago.  My dad refused to travel for a few years after that incident.  I guess the pick pocket bumped into them or "accidentally" poured stuff on them and tried to help them clean up and by the time they were done, my dad was out of a wallet.
So, while travels to Europe can seem glamorous, they come with the price tag of stress.  I am constantly dividing my cash - both Euros and Dollars and putting them in different locations.  I travel without a purse.  I put my cash/wallet on the inside pocket of my zipped up weather jacket - an inconvenient location even for me to get to.  If the weather was hotter, I would wear an inside carrying bag, tucked inside my t-shirt.  Worse case scenario, I would tuck it inside my underwear - I know, eww and tmi.  At the end of the day, who knows.  Maybe I've just been lucky all along.  Word to the wise - don't trust a stranger (duh!) and always keep vigilant of individuals or people in small groups of 2 - 4 people.
I'll stop here.  I'm just quite surprised that I'm starting this year off with 2 posts in the same week.  Whoa!  What causes these fingers to type?  Your guess would be as good as mine on that one.

Gotta run, Best to all,

Monday, January 1, 2018

Anti-social non sickness

I've been on a river cruise for the past week.  Let me talk about seating for breakfast/lunch/dinner.  It's not assigned seating and so my husband and I just sit in a corner with a window view.  My husband thinks I'm going to throw up from motion sickness, but I just want the seat with the view.  Interesting enough, in our little corner, we could potentially appear anti-social.  Lot of other couples were sitting with other couples, getting to know each other and we were quite content where we were.  Once in a while, when the dining area gets crowded, a couple will request to join us at our table and we had no issues with that, but for the most part we kept to ourselves and everything was just fine.  Most couples just figured we were anti-social and kept away from us.
On our second to last day, on a tour of Porto city, we waited in line to see the library that was the inspiration for JK Rowling's Harry Potter.  You guys have heard of that book, right?  The line to get tickets was 10 minutes long.  The line to enter (after you have purchased tickets) was about 40 minutes long and we only had 50 minutes to hang out in the city.  Being the Harry Potter fan, I was not leaving without seeing this staircase.  The plan was this.  My husband waited in the main line.  I waited in the ticket line.  So, by the time I got tickets, the main line had moved a bit, maybe.
Well, we were about 20 minutes out into entering this fabulous bookstore when we saw this mother and her daughter.  They were both from our cruise and the little girl was a Harry Potter fan.  Her mom  asked me about the process to get to the store.  I explained.  By now the back of the line was a 50 minute wait.  The mom told her daughter that they couldn't make it.  The poor girl was dejected.  I felt bad.  I couldn't let that happen.  Gosh!  They were all the way in Portugal, at the bookstore that was the inspiration for Hogwarts staircases.  I said to the mom that I would allow her to cut the line and join us.  She let her daughter wait with us and got tickets and well we all got to see the fabulous bookstore.  Yes, that's me standing in front of the staircase.  The bookstore was so amazing.  I can see how she got inspired by it.
Well, the mom was coughing on and off and on our last lunch, she and her daughter joined us.  So much for us being anti-social.  Before we left the cruise, she gave me a hug and told me she had a great time and thanked me again for letting them cut in line and all that good stuff.  I got on the airplane and I knew something was wrong.  I wasn't feeling well.
I don't know if it was the first connection or the second one but I was coughing and almost throwing up while coughing so fiercely.  My husband was worried.  I needed to start my antibiotic immediately but we had a long journey in front of us.  Well, 14 hours later we drove straight to Walgreen and I got my antibiotic.  There's another story in there about always carrying your ID for being a doctor, but I'll spare you.  I came home and wondered.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to be anti-social.  Maybe I should have not been so kind as to let them cut the line.  All that time on the boat, I was fine.  I was perfect.  We sat in our little corner and I was healthy.  Then you get to meet more people and hang out more and come home sick.  More anti-social behavior from me coming right up!

Best wishes to you all.  Happy New Year.