Saturday, December 19, 2009

"To Thine Own Self Be True" or not?

Have you ever tested how truthful you can be with yourself?

While the question may immediately strike you as silly, in only a moment you will realize what is being asked. If you have ever decided to change a habit, face an unpleasant reality, or been caught red-handed but decided a bluff was at least worth a try, then you know that “to thine own self be true” is often a tough test to pass.

As we approach the new year (regardless of culturally determined date issues), the idea of “resolutions” will rear its (ugly/beautiful) head; just overhearing words like “resolution”, “goal”, “objective” or any variations or related terms demand attention. The problem is the attention demanded is directed at self.
My physical with a new doctor resulted in news demanding some changes in my lifestyle. So, December 15th was my cigarette quit date.  I had already started to develop an exercise regiment with Pedro Cruz Rios, my personal trainer here in Miami. My logic was based on my [youthful] vision of my past when exercise meant I would not smoke. Here is where we get to the truthful part. Today is only five days since my quit date, and I’m finding the being true a bit tough.

Why did I pick a date before the holidays, when I know I’m inclined to feel down? Was I deliberately setting myself up for failure? One cigarette isn’t really cheating, is it? If I walk an extra fifteen minutes, will that make up for it? Oh, and I also decided to keep a food diary. If you think you are truly honest with yourself, try keeping a food diary.
At this time of year we need to remember no one is perfect. Okay, I need to remember no one is perfect, especially me. In fact, I need to remember that none of us can reach perfection and striving for perfection can have dire consequences. In fact, the drive for perfection can, well, to be honest, drive you crazy.
Well, then, in the interest of being truthful with myself, maybe I can delay my cigarette quit date just a couple more weeks while I amp up my exercise routine. Honest. Cross my heart and hope . . . well, you know.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Amazing Conversation

The gentleman to the left is my new oncologist, Dr. Eugene Anh. Before I moved to Miami, I had another fantastic oncologist, Dr. Kathleen Toomey of New Jersey. This past week I had to establish contact with a new oncologist to track my progress; so I met with Dr. Anh at the Sylvester Center for Cancer of the University of Miami.

What is amazing is that I had never, ever ,had a conversation with a medical doctor like the one I had with Dr. Anh. His interest lies in understanding the connection between the spiritual self and the physical self when it comes to healing. Dr. Anh seemed to hone right in on the personal, social and ethical issues I had as a cancer survivor and how they connected to my current physical issues which could put me at risk. He is the first person outside of my immediate family members (as in two people) that I admitted having issues about how to deal with what I feel is my lack of spirituality and therefore my lack of connectivity.

I cannot begin to explain how refreshing it is to speak to someone who is not bound by the constraints of scientific medicine. Dr. Anh is writing a book, putting information online, conducting research, and obviously actively interacting with his patients in an effort to relate to the whole person.

His blog is worth the time of checking out the past entries: . You will undoubtedly see how his approach to medicine may be realized in my own writings.

Thank you, Dr. Anh. I look forward to my work with you.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Do You Ever Get Over High School?

Recently I connected with a high school friend on Facebook. Of course, this is a phrase many others have echoed of late. The highlight of this possible contact was the reminder that our 40th high school reunion would be held next year.

There are a few people I would like to meet again. Teddy, our valdedictorian, who was the English teacher's son, and a cool dude. [Okay, yes I admit to a bit of a crush.] Michelle, the daughter of a local rabbi, who was the best friend a girl could have during junior and senior year. A boy whose last name was Ott -- he took me on my first real date. We both worked at the local library and with his first paycheck he took me to a Japanese restaurant in the next town. His father, an editor for Sports Illustrated, chaffeured us in a Mercedes Benz. It was elegant.

But I question if we ever really get over high school? Those adolescent years full of turmoil and angst, to put it kindly. Why else would we freak out about the possibility of a reunion? For most of us, high school was not a musical. It was an endurance race, filled with enough fears to make a monk reconsider his vows.

I did go to one high school reunion that was fun -- probably because it wasn't mine. My husband grew up in a farming community in Oregon. When he was notified about his 25th reunion, he wanted to go even though we were living in Alaska. The reunion was held in his original hometown. Like me, he had been a bit on the chubby side and was everyone's friend, and no one's "boyfriend". His entire class was 99 students, almost divided 50-50 by gender; and they had lost more than half of the boys to the Viet Nam war. About 1/3 of the rest succumbed to drugs and were either in rehab or prison.

Many of the students had stayed in the area, taking over their parents' home. They saw each other on a regular basis, went camping, skiing and on golf trips together. Together they had invested in Willamette Valley Vineyards and made it a success. And my husband? Well, he has beautiful wavy white hair and was the hit of the party. Me? I enjoyed the envious looks of all those long-ago girls who "just wanted to be friends".