Reward: The Life He Lives

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Life’s uncertain dance seems no more luck than chance. So a gambler rolls the dice in his hand, hoping to find the promised land. Each loss is a lessons pain and each win shows a lessons gain. This is the cost he must pay for the life he lives.

The sunny days warming light touches his eye and he realizes it was worth every day he had to cry. The rains will always return a new just to remind him of what it’s like to feel blue. This is the cost he must pay for the life he lives.

As he understands this cycle that helps to lift, he watches the stars dance around appreciations gift. All settles into ease as he sits with the breeze and considers all he sees. A calm knowledge of torments worry allows him to remove it from his story. This is the reward for the life he lives.

 

“The glow of one warm thought, is to me, worth more than money” ~Thomas Jefferson~

 

A Calm Storm

I found a seed in an unlikely place. I knew at first glance it was more than ordinary. Nurturing it we began to bond with each inch it did grow. Fast and pure it rose reaching out to take my hand. The warmth of a seasons shine allowed it to flower and in our eyes we found the sublime. Soon though, the clouds cast out the sun and a storm did rage with a violent howl. When it passed the flower was gone, wilted into a memories vision. The seeds it dropped fell to a tainted soil and only grew a thorny weed. Through this winters struggle the soil was tended with loves light and eventually it began to thrive. The weeds of thorn slowly, carefully being removed revealed in it’s absence the flower that once bloomed. Now the tender nurture begins anew as the flower starts to slowly grow.

 

“I don’t want to protect the environment. I want to create a world were the environment doesn’t need protecting” ~Bahar Dutt~

Story Book Pages: Loves Reunion

Here is a little about my personal life and a recent trip I made back to my home state of Ohio.

My trip to Ohio was smooth, fluid, and enjoyable. I was fortunate enough to find a direct flight both ways (San Jose to Cincinnati). On the flight to Ohio I sat beside a young college student who was returning home for the summer. She resides Northeast of Cincinnati and was excited to be returning. She also had a three and a half  hour conversation with me on a four hour flight. How lucky am I? Once I landed in Cincinnati my friend, Clayton, and my brother picked me up. We made the two hour drive north to reach the small, midwest town I called home the majority of my life. It’s strange to say, but I realized this town, Urbana, is like Mayberry from the Andy Griffith show. It’s a small farming community in the center of the county. It also boasts as the county seed, i.e., largest city in the county. In 1990 the population was 11,444 and in 2016 the population was 11,425. It’s the type of small town that not many people leave. It hasn’t grown much since my youth and it looks like it’s going to stay that way. It’s an honest, friendly, know your neighbor type of place where the park isn’t locked, the schools aren’t fenced, and there isn’t a single residence or shop with barred windows or bullet proof glass. Definitely a step back to a much slower time and atmosphere.

After the two hour drive I arrived at my grandmothers. This is also where I grew up. As I suspected, even though she goes to bed at 7:30pm on a regularly scheduled program, she was sitting up in the living room waiting for me. To be honest: this woman is my rock. She is the foundation, backbone of love. Through her I have discovered how to love myself as well as others. She as well as my grandfather also inspired me to be honest, hardworking, considerate, compassionate, kind hearted, and just an all around good person. These are my parent figures and the ones I am closest to above all others. I know they aren’t my paternal parents: they are far beyond. I greeted her with a hug, kiss on her forehead, and a loves smile that was reflected as emerald eyes danced with earth tones of ages wisdom. We talked briefly then she retired and I unpacked. Before I could get all the clothing out of my carry on my grandmother was beckoning for help. I knew that call, that tone, that voice like I know my name. My grandfather was having a seizure and she isn’t able to help him like she once did. *NOTE: My brother is living with them as an in home health care type. He’s a former EMT and is now a nurse for animals* It broke my heart to see my grandfather so helpless and incoherent. No matter how many times I witness this it never gets more easy. I would actually say it becomes more difficult. I should also mention my grandfather is epileptic so this is a normal, natural occurrence. Once he was back to “normal” we all decided to settle in for the night.

I spent the next day with my grandmother, grandfather, great uncle, great ucles husband, and a couple friends of theirs, Brenda and Dave. This was an unexpected welcome for me. Everyone met at my grandmothers the day before. It’s my understanding they had planned this get together months in advance and it just happened to coincide with me visit. As everyone arrived I found myself being a chatterbox. I have always gotten along with an older generation and found conversation comes rather naturally. We all talked and laughed for about an hour before someone, I can’t recall who, mentioned lunch was calling. They had all decided to spend it at “The Farmers Daughter” a local, hometown eatery. As they got up to leave I bid farewell and thanked them for the much enjoyed sparkling conversation. Before I could get my last thank you in Roger and my Great Uncle were inviting me along. At Rogers invitation I saw my grandmothers eyes light. How could I turn down such a gift? I accepted and we were off. Once at the restaurant I explained I wouldn’t be eating, but I would be enjoying beautiful people, wonderful laughter, light hearted conversation, and a delightful water. I know the only one who truly understood, besides myself, why I wasn’t eating was my grandmother. Nonetheless we moved on and enjoyed a beautiful lunch where I heard a rather funny joke from an 82 yr old woman. I’m going to paraphrase it, but imagine this coming from a modest, grandmother in her 80’s.

“Two cowboys were out camping when a snake bit one on the DingDong in his sleep. The cowboy that got bit awoke his buddy and said, “I got bit on the dingdong by a snake, what should I do? His buddy looked at him in shock and said, “I don’t know but I will ride into town, it’s only a few miles, wake the Dr. and ask him”. It was a short ride by horseback into town where he found the Dr and awoke him. The Dr. invited him in and asked to the urgency of his call. He quickly explained his buddy had been bitten by a snake and he needed to know what to do. The Dr. replied, “you have to suck out the poison where the snake bit him. If you do this he should be alright”. Unsure if he heard correctly he asked the Dr to repeat the treatment one more time. After the Dr finished repeating the treatment the cowboy said thank you and made his leave. He rode back to his buddy who was obviously still in pain and stared at him for a moment.  “Well what did the Dr. Say?” the cowboy asked in eagerness. His buddy looked at him with serious eyes and said, “He says you’re gonna die.”

When she completed the joke the entire table, and a couple around us broke into laughter. I am pretty sure I laughed the hardest out of all of them and I’m certain no one had a clue as to why. After the joke the food arrived and it got rather quiet around the table except for the ensuing argument about who was fitting the bill. It took me a whole half second to figure out how to end the argument. I silently, and swift as a snow leopard, walked up to our waitress and asked to pay they bill. I gave a brief explanation of what I was doing and why which she told me was sweet and led me to the cash register. I paid and returned to my seat. Shortly after the plates laid empty and the conversation was pleasant. This ensued for about thirty more minutes before my great uncle Bob asked for the check. She said it had already been taken care of. Within a span of a fraction of a second every eye at our table was staring at me with a penetrating gaze. You know the one that makes you turn red and want to run and hide? Although there was a brief moment of protest eventually acceptance arrived. We all headed back over to my grandmothers and sat for another couple hours until everyone ventured back to their own homes. It was a rewarding dance I shared with beautiful people. I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. The rest of the day I spent hanging out with my grandmother and playing a round of disc golf with my brother.family

The rest of the week was occupied with seeing friends. I helped my buddy Mike work on his derby car. I’m not very mechanical, but that didn’t matter when you just have to take things apart. It was nice to see mike and get to catch up. He’s a life long friend and one I have had since elementary school.  IMG_20180512_115336.jpg

I also went on a canoe trip with my Brother, friends Clayton, Sean, Pamala, Tim, and Sean’s two children Adeline and Samuel. This was a super fun trip and I found myself acting like a parent for a brief moment. Sean, Tim, and Clayton had taken the vehicles to the end of our route so we would have a way to get back to pick up the drop off car. While they were gone I got to spend some one on one time with the children. They’re our future and I will seize every opportunity to perhaps inspire them. I was sitting and talking with Adeline when Samuel came over, picked her life jacket up with his oar, and used it like a trebuchet to launch her jacket 40 feet. She went over and picked it and he laughed. She had a slight chuckle as well. This is where I just wanted to plant a seed so I asked him why he did what he did. He said he was only having fun and his sister just looked at me curiously. I took this time to explain to him that it’s ok to have fun and if that’s fun to him that’s fine, but consider that actions create certain outcomes and the reason behind the action needs to be understood if one wishes to understand the outcome. He wasn’t quite sure what I was trying to say so I elaborated more. “Consider this: Had you gone over and picked up your sisters life jacket after you threw it and returned it what would that have created? How would that have made your sister feel and how would that have made you feel? Or, if I threw your life jacket and had you go pick it up how would you feel versus if I threw your life jacket then I went, picked it up, and returned it? With this I saw his eyes widen and understanding express itself. I smiled at him and he grinned in a way young boys do. Shortly after everyone returned and we went down the river. It was a fun, relaxing trip which everyone enjoyed. It was nice too. We all had much fun made many wonderful memories.coneo.jpg

This brought me less than 12 hours away from mothers day. The following day I would be having lunch with my mother, sister, two brothers, and grandparents. It was a pleasant lunch and it was the first time all of my mother’s siblings were in the same room in roughly five years. I must confess it took some convincing for me to persuade my brother to attend. I couldn’t think of a better mothers day gift. I’m pretty sure my mother knew I had a hand in everyone getting together because she pulled me to the side and said, “thank you!”. I was just grateful for the chance to give back. The next day I packed, said farewell to my family and friends, and flew back to California.

 

“Every story is us” ~Rumi~

Acceptance, A Gratitude gift

 

In a memories dream is where I find you

Floating on a hearts song across the sky

You are one of but a select few

Who can show the flower in your eye.

 

A gift of the finest creation

Wasted and lost to irrational behavior

A fools unwitty machination

Will I ever regain your favour

 

The lessons of life, a constant dance

Showing me i can do the drunks stumble

Or learn the Bolero, not by chance

All the while teaching to be humble.

 

Now I toss the regrets far away

I give the forgiveness of love

Finding myself in a new day

Look at me now, flying far above.

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Dehydrating: A Backpacker Paradise

My life, like creations natural world, is a constant change, giving and taking both being able bodied contenders. I can measure and see this natural occurrence in each phase associated with backpacking. The first phase, and most challenging for me, is where I see the most giving from myself. The second phase, where I take, take, and take, is the moments reward. And the final, third phase, is successes bittersweet candy.

Phase one consists of all prehike activities, e.g., purchasing gear, logistics, preparing food, packaging mail drops, etc. etc. This is the most time consuming portion. I must devote my “free time” to completing a resupply route, i.e., what post offices I am going to mail packages containing my food to, dehydrating meals, preparing meals, vacuum sealing meals, and creating a budget so as to not come off trail without any financial stability. The resupply planning, purchasing of gear, and creating a budget are relatively easy tasks. Not to bothersome and easily achievable; however, the food prep is a monster of the grandest.

Preparing the majority of your food, when hiking with Celiac, can be daunting. Every dinner is a dehydrated creation that originates from my own culinary abilities. Mind you, I plan on hiking from June through October. That’s over 150 meals one must make, dehydrate, vacuum seal, and package. Good thing for me I have a Monique to help. She’s going too so that’s actually 300 meals we require. Not only does the preparation take time, but we both must work as much as we can to have enough money for the purchasing of all the supplies. I give all my free time, that means when I’m not working, to this part of the planning until every last meal is made and accounted for. It is time consuming, extensive, and tedious, but the reward presents itself in phase two.

Welcome to the most rewarding and enjoyable phase, two. This is where I take, take, and take. I place myself in a timeless moment that runs parallel with harmony and I take my free time back, I take back my freedom, and I accept creations gift that is nature. This is where I can see most clearly the balance of give and take.

I have given months of my life to arrive at this point and by doing so I am going to be given the same. It is a gift for my efforts that I can accept/take or pass up. For my efforts I am going to be able to have time to meditate more, practice creative efforts at my leisure, and relax in a stress free environment. Yup, you heard me correctly. A STRESS FREE environment. As nice as this is it will not last forever. One can only take so much before they have to give back and this giving back will take us to the next phase.

Phase three is the bittersweet candy of life that I find irresistable. It is so intoxicating that I find myself continuously going back for more. It comes at the end of every hike, adventure, or vacation, and leaves a longing for the sweetness. It lets us know we can achieve that which we desire but refuses to just hand it over. We have to earn it through the toil of a lesson. It is true that in life we must have the bitter so we enjoy the sweet, but with enough practice, reflection, and learning one will find that the bitter isn’t so bitter. More of a mild blah.  

 

“Love truly never leaves your side. it’s just hanging out on the inside, waiting for you to find it” ~Team Juice Box~

Grossly Incompetent: Self-Righteous Idiocy

A few weeks ago, Friday March 16, I removed a tick from my inner  thigh. I am unsure how long it was attached, but I can confidently confirm he/she was sucking away. I immediately attempted to remove the tick and found it to be a little more difficult than I had envisioned. When I would tug on him/her the skin on my leg would completely lift up and I could feel the pull. I decided to give a nice big yank and see what happend. I was in luck. I pulled the parasitic abomination out in entirety. I immediately ran to the kitchen and grabbed a paper towel to place the infectious varmen in. I took one quick look and become so overwhelmed that I went directly to the fireplace and tossed it in.

I know ticks carry Lyme so I decided to take pictures of the bite; I would be able to monitor and have a record of what transpired this way. At first it didn’t look bad, but by early Saturday Morning I was a little concerned. The area was still red and had a rashy look. It still was nothing like the horrific google pictures, but it was looking a little conspicuous. I decided to take morning and evening pictures to help my documentation and by Saturday night I was a little concerned.

I sent the pictures to my brother, a medical employee who has years of service as an EMT and a veterinarian technician. His reply was simple, “go to the Dr. and get some Doxy. Time is critical”. Well heck, that’s not what I was hoping to hear. I also sent the pictures to Monique who was out of town for the week volunteering at an event for at risk children. She is also a Lyme recovery and has been symptom free for 6 years. She promptly called and expressed her concern. She also expressed her concern that many doctors do not listen and for me to be cautious to arrogance. Hmmm. I know that battle as I suffered its appearance during my Celiac Diagnosis. I wasn’t going to go to the ER, cost reasons, but I would go, on Monday, to a doctor.

By the time Monday morning rolled around there was no mistaking it. There was a tiny, about the size of my pinky nail, bullseye on my inner thigh. I promptly looked up an infectious disease specialist and gave them a call. I was informed that without a referral I wasn’t going to be seen and they are unwilling to give any advice over the phone. There only advice: go to Urgent Care. Wow, these people could care less whether I was ok or not. I took the advice and went in to our local Urgent Care in Santa, Cruz. It was operated by a large health care chain.

It took about an hour for the Dr. to come in and see me. I explained what had happened and he looked me in the eye and said, “Yes, it looks like a bullseye rash, but it isn’t one. It isn’t big enough. Also if the tick wasn’t on you for over 24hrs you can not contract Lyme. I’ve been doing this for 20 yrs and that isn’t Lyme. However; since you don’t know how long the tick was on you I’m going to give you a dose, two 100mg pills of Doxy, to take care of it. If any Lyme did get in this will prevent it from developing and you will be fine.” What the BLEEP! Monique was livid. I brought her with me as she has dealt first hand with the disease and cares about me more than the Dr. To him I am #6219544. The doctor assures us it’s not Lyme by saying it doesn’t look big enough. No test is ran, no discussion of possible symptoms, and no concern is shown. With this we make are leave.

Monique and my brother are both furious and urge me to start a treatment of Doxy, twice a day, until symptoms are not present. Both are sure I have Lyme; now, I am sure I do as well.

It’s been roughly three weeks since I was bitten and I can honestly say it has not been the easiest. Herxheimer reactions can be down right debilitating. The fatigue I experience is difficult to transcribe, the ache in my joints is beyond bearable, and nothing helps take any of the symptoms away. It’s just part of the die off. The last one I had lasted for two and a half days. I managed not to let it keep me out of life though. I went to a Shen Yun performance and helped collaborate on the development of a childrens pirate ship; however, my external expression was no less than ailing. I can say that I am feeling better now than I have since I was bitten.

I’m not sure how long I will be afflicted with this dreadful disease, I have read some reports of it being chronic, but I’m determined not to let it put me down. Yes, it did knock me down, but it hasn’t put me down. Oh, and I have continued planning and prepping for our long distance hike. I’ll have more to come on that in the near future.

 

“There is nothing so stable as change” ~Bob Dylan~

Soap Box Truth: A Hasty Retreat, Avoidance, Dismissal, and Shunning

Current world events are staging to redirect the entire populace of this beautiful planet towards the vulgar, grotesque, repugnant, cringeworthy, abominable, nauseating, and insufferable disgust that is war. Don’t plan on being informed of this by your local news outlet, e.g., newspaper, journalist, news station, or any other form of controlled, artificial news. These types and forms of news are designed to distract and persuade to the point of control. It is their “job” to drive how the populace thinks. Check for yourself. All one needs to do is tune into a news station and try to find a story that is beyond, or far removed from, sensationalism. Find a story promoting a coming together of nations, a unifying of people, or a conflict solution through synergy created by collaboration. All very tough finds.

Truth is a kleptocratic governing body will steal more than just your wealth. They will also rob you of your free will and oppress you to the utmost while increasing privation all the more frequent. This governing body is made up of more than politicians. It includes news anchors, journalist, police officers, military personnel, teachers, supervisors, managers, sales representatives, and any other position that places morality on the back burner for purposes of economics and blind obedience. These perfidious parasites spew their mendacious venom in all directions and play biase to their income generator. In doing so they divide humanity, incite riots of race, spark violence as a solution, and educate for conformity. So how do we help change this course of self destruction?

Simple, we change ourself. When we do this and operate within a construct of moral, righteous behaviour we inspire our self; however, that inspiration isn’t limited to our self. It touches others as well. This wouldn’t be a bad thing to perpetuate. Yet how many will take up the call for the betterment of humanity? How many will be courageous enough to follow their true, inner self?

As unpleasant as the truth is it is still no less than truth. I would encourage all, myself included, to stop and consider the moral implications of what we each do in our day to day lives. Consider as well: One does not have to follow an order because it is demanded of them. Fear oppresses freedom, obedience oppresses free will, and oppressed liberty is slavery’s welcome.

“If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of “clear and present danger,” then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.” ~John F Kennedy~

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