Here I sit two years away from my last post. I’m dumbfounded! Where have I been? Actually, I’ve been busy but not letting folks know what that means on a more timely basis is not a good thing…mostly because it doesn’t allow me to be accountable for my new life and at least those who are or have a big part of it. Sorry to me and sorry to you. When ‘I’ say such things, ‘we’ (the me and you) have to know that ‘I’ (the me) mean I am speaking to Innate (the God within). When I am deliberate like this, I take the attitude that this is my best Self, the Self of what I hope is a higher self. I know that this must sound like a lot of esoteric bull shit but it isn’t really with what I have come to know as not only who I am but how I am. I have come to appreciate my life as mystical.
There is not a way right now to catch up to two years of lack of posting realistically anyway, so I’ll try to make a long story trite.
In the beginning of 2017 I was just beginning to appreciate a life with my body acting like it was healthy. I had just completed one year of those medical/GI interventions (ERCP) where Dr. Balmadrid was inserting a series of stents keeping my exit point of bile from my liver to my small intestine from closing/stenosing. So technically, from then on my body was on it’s own with no more help other than the rejection drugs. AND from then on I began to push for lowering those medications in an attempt to ultimately get off rejection drugs altogether when I discovered that about 1% of transplant recipients do. Me being who I am, that’s the group I sought to be like. All that was going quite well. I was beginning to get my vitality and my mind back. I was beginning to work again (more later). Over the next year and a half I was slowly lowering my meds and my blood tests were staying in the healthy ranges. Last fall, September 2018, however, right when I was (to be more than forthcoming) noticing that my attitudinal heart was beginning to harden which means that I was beginning to take for granted, my life, my labs went south again. Over the ensuing months the transplant team and myself learned that ultimately my precious liver was in rejection. The meds were raised back up to a former level, prayers increased, uncertainty increased, celery juice, homeopathics, CBD oil all played into my liver returning to normal just a two weeks ago. What a great relief, a blessing to know that the Universe (whatever the Universal Word means to me) is really to be acknowledged!…God blessed me again! So whenever you see me use the Universe word you can take it to point to God and everything that is; God, He/She, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Universal Intelligence, Innate, Nature, the Word, All That Is, Allah, Jehovah with me/I in there somewhere. The mystery continues its mystical ways.
So I’m good now.
My heart is softening again. With a little effort or letting go, I can cry out of appreciation again.
Other ancillary details are I have cobbled a work world of work I could find that allowed a degree of flexibility and decent pay enough to let me put away Clare’s last year of college tuition and housing costs = about $23K. I finished this project this month! For this part of my mind’s reason for still being here on the planet is complete. In the process I’ve learned to enjoy the beginning job of ushering at an event center for $7.35/hr. that morphed into being a substitute teacher for $11/hr., to being a elementary school basketball coach for $incalcuable/hr., to a volleyball and softball sports official for $20/hr., and Uber/Lyft driver for between $15-20/hr. I’ve found a good amount of joy (although not jubilant joy) enough too in it. It helps too that Clare and my life with her was Roni’s main reason for her most generous donation to me in August 2014! Whew!!!
That said Clare continues to be one of my new incarnation’s great joys. She is not simple to talk about because her life is so full, so amazing, so humbling, so soulful, so meaningful to me, her and my guess, the world and it’s future, our future. It is her and young people like her that give me hope. My remaining purpose is not to keep fucking it up as much as before but to contribute the Me that I am. Please help!
She happens to be 6+ months into a year long Adventure Learning Grant (ALG) that her Fairhaven honors college awarded her. $20K to create a year of well…adventure learning…in Australia, New Zealand, and soon Ireland. If you are interested in some of what that is about you can go to her website/blog: clareityexpressions.com.
My writing has taken a back seat sorry to say for these last two years. It’s not that I have stopped altogether but my focus is subject to fits and starts of major proportion. I thankfully have been consistently meeting with a friend I met at a writer’s workshop at our Log Cabin writers meeting place. Now that I have completed one of my purposes, the new plan is to devote 4-5 hours a day to writing starting no later than June 1. For this I would love support and prayer. When this level of devotion becomes daily routine, perhaps I’ll become readable.
I shall end now. Later there will be more.
When I was a boy, I couldn’t understand the God at church. I apparently had to dress up for that God. That God was completely a mystery. Didn’t know where He was…up, down, inside? No one else had a real good explanation where exactly he is either? Didn’t know how to have a relationship except through that lonely, incomprehensible process called prayer. All the answers to life apparently also were in a book. That was the God all the adults introduced us to. No fault to my parents. Bless them. They were still living with that God. It was just not real to me. I couldn’t see or touch or feel heard with that God.
But I came to know a real God that lived just 10 feet from my bed growing up. It was called Outside. There was marvel all round! There were life and death struggles every minute on our 50 acres of land and lake. Streams and woods and lots of dirt. Teeming with discovery, wonder. One day I could be a giant peering into and playing in the world of the very small. When you get your eyeballs inches away from almost anything, it teems! On a dark, winter night I could be lying in the middle of our frozen lake, alone, looking up at the heavens filled with the Milky Way. From out there, now I’m the very small one. I could be out in tornado weather with trees fighting to stand upright, lightning filling the sky or stand in 3 feet of snow and not be able to see 20 feet through the blizzard pelting my face. I could look out my bedroom picture window and see the sun rise then see it set in the evening on the other side of the house at dinner.
Our parents gave us this. God obviously gave us this. But I really don’t think parents, in general, connect these dots. I don’t remember our priests talking or showing us this God in a book. Yet, it is in this most amazing, glorious creation where God lives and breathes and bathes every minute of everyday that this boy took in his first gulps.
Is there a message in this story? My mother without knowing it threw me and my sibs out into that Outside magic kingdom where He/She stands with open arms. Once Outside tho, mom and dad both had to pray to their God we’d come back.
My prayer to all parents, “If ever anyone doubts there is a real God, quick!, take your kids and run for the hills!” and, “May that awe of creation be the prayer of praise and gratitude that starts the conversation.”
About this time last year I committed to making a serious attempt at writing a memoir about my faith journey over the last 6+ years that began with the period of a liver disease where it’s failure became, let’s say, obvious. I took a 6 week workshop in memoir writing through one our local literary groups called the Log Cabin. I began to realize the scope of what this might become and the immensity of this project. I began reading much more earnestly and deeply. Reading first for pleasure and connection to various memoirists mostly, then with some I began to reread to see as much as my inexperienced eye could gather about style and form but in that I began to discover ‘voice’. Each author had a certain voice that either connected or not to me. Or maybe only sometimes would connect. My early writings were geared to finding my voice. Turns out that is an ongoing wonderment.
Now having been ‘at it’ for a while with relatively brief moments of inspirational writing, I began to pile up a number of short pieces, notes, lists, themes, etc.. I then found a writer’s app that was recommended and will do for the project (Schrivner).
A latter spring and summer was filled with starts and stops. In the fall I began various substitute teaching assignments as I get closer to finding a sweet spot of income generation and meaningful work but with some time freedom for writing. Not totally there yet but it is improving almost daily toward this sweet spot.
I have taken on with the teaching a real mental and physical stretch with being in radically different settings with kids and schools. I’ve interacted with K-12 students in PE, almost any type of class I can think of, special ed, playground and recently coaching basketball after school. I have challenged myself with learning without instruction how to play sudoku. My goal was to be able to finish the most challenging level at least once. Thankfully, it is pretty common now. Then I got it in my head that maybe doing logic puzzles would be another good way to keep my mind hopefully learning/expanding. Over the holiday time I did master a set of puzzles that said I had achieved 12th grade level expert status. What a carrot I put out there! Now I found another set of puzzles that have rendered me almost ‘stupid’. What used to be a fun challenge is now a bang my head against the wall deal. Now I see why some people used to look at me like I was ‘stupid’…I apparently was!
Also, over the holidays I set a goal of completing 6-8 pages of script that at the very least indicated to me that this project was possible, worth the effort and had potential. I was able to write over 3000 words and much of what will most likely be chapter one. I’m hoping within a month, I’ll be willing to share it with a few people to get their feedback. I am interested if it carries enough compulsion to read it and a voice that is distinctive of the ‘moi’ in memoir.
And I hope to make some entries from now on in this new improved blog from the light of these new developments, and much less about my medical condition and coping mechanisms.
Cheers and thanks for listening.
The mission is to bring a story to light that will take the reader on a life time journey and tell a journey of faith and its lack as loss and disease beset almost my entire life with various resurrections and how I learned to respond.
One day I awoke to find myself without faith, without hope, without my father.
Since my anniversary post in August some interesting new directions emerged from the deep recesses of my “golly-now-what-?” In May I began renewing a professional life by taking care of a few former patients with the possibility that many patients former and new might get word of all this experience with dying and resurrection and fill my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. Huh. Well. It didn’t happen. I am left to only accept and find more to do.
Rather suddenly and usually in the middle of the night a compelling idea might descend on me to make tennis headbands or be a customs agent for dinner exchanges between middle class Americans and refugees or go be a teacher again! The ‘be a teacher’ idea took hold and since my teaching certificate expired along about say 1979…I’ll be a substitute teacher in the meanwhile. Yeah. That’s a good plan. One of the first people I spoke with was a Dr. who said she enjoyed, the word she used was ‘volunteering’ as a substitute since this for her was pocket change. It’s kinda true. But to me teaching elementary PE back in the mid-70’s was the best job with the biggest joy factor I’ve ever had. Maybe some of that joy I’d hoped for, flexibility to work or not as I felt my health and new found energy would allow, and I could earn actual money again. Last winterI hadn’t ‘earned’ any money when I took a job as an usher at one of our local entertainment/sports arenas a few nights a week at $7.25/hr., it just basically caused my low income housing rent to increase. But it was kinda fun to be out there again. The reactions from the occasional person who knew me when they would see me at the arena was pretty…interesting, let’s say. But it was the only job I could get literally about a year ago following the first stent procedure that started me experiencing ‘normal’ again.
I can most favorably report that the subbing has been engaging and to a limited degree fulfilling as I entered that environment again. I have been averaging 4-5 days a week since the beginning of the school year. And I’ll be coaching a 5-6th grades boys basketball team this winter and well as a little tudoring a few nights a week. It has led me to put in application for teaching positions for 2017. Who knows? The most ideal situation would be to get a part time teaching position and continue to focus on my book. That is what I am doing this winter break.
Regarding the health journey, I just got back from Univ. of Washington on Nov. 22 and the final step of the stenting project. All stents removed and I’m now on my own without artificial props holding the liver duct open. I feel wonderful. There are no guarantees but Dr. Balmadrid is pretty positive in the near term (1-3 years). If it shuts down again, he can start the stenting again for a year. I pray that that won’t be what happens. Gratitude has been my norm and I hope yours as I/we stand in the middle of creation looking for something to do at least a good bit of the time.
Thanks for all you given me and Roni and my daughter. As Sly and the Family Stone used to sing, “We Are Family” and ‘Celebrate, Celebrate”!
Let me know what’s happening in your lives with a blog comment, please. I wish you all the best and most meaningful Christmas and holiday cheer.
This is a letter I wrote to John Martin, MD who’s dedication to his life’s work began saving my life since Feb/2011 through Nov/2014, and continues to care for others like me. No one can see the tears of gratefulness I’ve poured out because of him but their joy have been released into our world of suffering.
I know its been a while and I can only hope that this new email address is correct. If you have any new contact info you would like to send me, I would appreciate it. I hope you, Angela and Owen (an probably by now another child) are all well and thriving.
I couldn’t sleep a few nights ago which opened the door to get a cold, go through various crazy symptoms (as this particular body is wont to do) and come out okay again. But tonight I woke up again in the early morning hours to remember that Today, two years ago, I was on a plane coming back from Chicago following the Halloween day I wished I didn’t have with you doing your last and most amazing ERCP! I just read the report on it again. Wow! I am learning to read so much between the lines. In the same moment, I am so, so grateful for what you provided me and hope I never stop staying in that gratefulness. This little note is In Memory of You.
I can only assume that you are not in the loop about my progress anymore. It would be too much to follow all the people you have cared for but I thought I’d just reach out and shout out to you what’s up a bit. Maybe you read it, maybe not but Life is so much about just putting it out there without concern for results…kinda like love.
Quite a journey for both of us. On Nov 28, 2016, Byran Balmadrid takes out the year long stent procedure and I begin to live the great experiment without the props again. The stents have given me one whole year without significant ‘issues’ and I have enjoyed the vitality and learning what it’s like to not have my life go into the tank every few months. I have a certain growing amount of internal ‘freedom’ that informs me to be and give more unconditionally than ever. One of those manifestations is to go back into teaching. I’ve renewed my teaching certificate from 38 yrs ago and have found work substituting almost everyday in our local schools and so love to be with kids and educators again. I still see a few patients at the end of the days just in case God wants to make something more significant out of that someday. I don’t know where else this will lead me but it’s all very good. I am still committed to writing a memoir and have poured a fair amount of work into that very challenging endeavor.
We shared so much through our journeys with out kids. I’ll attach a pic of Clare and me just in case you may be interested. I made it to her high school graduation! Which was perhaps the driving force to make it through all I’ve been through. She is a sophomore in college and really thriving there. I couldn’t be more grateful. Yes, now I am setting more goals for our future that will keep me reaching but peace is already mine and all this is just…extra!
I wish for you the goodness, God can bless on us from time to time keeping us held as in the arms of a great parent watching a child grow. You are a very special soul and I continue to be blessed by your life.
This pic was taken a while back before the stent process was started (everyone says I look much better now) but it has very special meaning to me.
Well isn’t Life so amazing…ly wonderful sometimes. At this point I’m appreciating not being compost.