Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Making jet lag work for me

On our trip over to Ireland, we did all the jet lag prevention things we'd been told. We slept a little on the plane, drank water, rested, ate lightly. When we arrived (11 am), we stayed up and kept moving. We went from the airport to the train station and took a 4-hour train trip to our destination. We settled into the airbnb apartment we were renting and went for a long walk and got some dinner. We played cards and stayed up until our real bedtime in the new zone. And while we were tired the next day or so, we were on the new schedule without any real difficulty.

Not so with coming back. It was an equally long day and an equally long flight. I slept a little twice on the longest leg into Portland and then stayed up when I got home and went to bed at my regular time. But I only slept about four hours, and at 2 am, I was wide awake and wired. And while the nights did get incrementally longer (2:30 am, 3 am, etc.) as time went on, it took most of a week to get back on schedule.

At first, I was really annoyed when I couldn't get back to sleep. I knew I'd get dreadfully sleepy in the midafternoon and be wide awake in the deep dark night, but then I just relaxed into it and started getting all kinds of things done. I started a new novel, cleaned most of my drawers and closets, got laundry done, my checkbook reconciled. I made the most of the time. It's amazing what you can do in those hours.

I'm back to regular sleep now and having to give up the afternoon nap habit, but I was glad I could make jet lag work for me. My place hasn't been so tidy in a long time.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

An experience with medical care in Ireland

My travelling companion on the Ireland trip had an eye problem that grew worse as the days went by, and a week into our trip on a Sunday afternoon, we looked for an urgent care center or whatever the Irish equivalent was. We found something listed on line but couldn't figure out how to call it, so we just went there. We were very glad to have a rental car and one with GPS because we knew nothing about the town except how to get to the supermarket.

It was a little house and we entered into what was clearly a waiting room and we could see an exam room to the left. A big man came out and asked if we had an appointment and we explained we didn't, that we were travelling and her eye needed attention. He tried to explain the set up to us, that we had to have an appointment through a clinic in a city 60 miles away, but finally he just called that clinic and my friend talked to a nurse and explained what was going on and that seemed enough to get an appt. The appt turned out to be right away (there was no one else in the building) and a young man came out a few minutes later from the exam room. He was 30-something, dressed in jeans and a fleece jacket and trainers. He'd have been right at home here in Portland.

He examined her eye and talked to her about her symptoms and told her she needed antibiotics and to get it looked at when she got home. My friend is a retired nurse and that was what she had suspected. He took down some information from her passport and asked for 65 Euros (about $77), which we paid in cash, and sent us off to a pharmacy right by the supermarket. The whole thing had taken about 25 minutes.

Given our knowledge of the complications and expenses of the American medical system, we were astonished. The prescriptions (ointment and pills) cost her $27. No hassles, no forms, just help. Amazing.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The kindness of the Irish

In May, I took a long-awaited trip to Ireland. Spending time in the Irish countryside had been on my wish list for decades, and I finally arranged the time to go with one of my very best friends for 10 days. We travelled by train and rental car to three different places on the Atlantic Coast. 

Everywhere we went, people were exceptionally kind and friendly. On our first train ride out of Dublin, a young woman saw us trying to figure out which car we had seats for and she asked to see our tickets, took charge of our luggage, got us in the right car and the right seats, and put our luggage in the overhead racks. She did all this with a cheerful curiosity about where we were from and where we going. 

We met this kind of friendliness everywhere, in small towns and cities alike. People chatted with us, answered our questions, helped us out when we looked lost or concerned. The manager of the fish and chips place where we ate one night gave us directions to a supermarket and spent 10 minutes talking to us about where the fish came from (their own boat, caught two hours before we ate it) and wanted to know about our travels. This was in a little working class town where we saw no other tourists. 

It is hard not to compare this to the guarded indifference of most Americans totally absorbed in their phone screens. It made me come home determined to be kinder to all I meet and proud to have Irish blood. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Another April poem

In a culture
of false urgency
it’s revolutionary
to feel the breeze
against your arm
to hear the love song
of a robin
to notice the delicate perfume
of a passing lilac

In a culture
of competition for
it’s extraordinary
to offer tenderness
in a chance encounter
to offer connection
to a lonely stranger

In a culture
of isolated desires
it’s astonishing
to pause
although it’s what
we all long for
and what we too often
hold back

Jill Kelly,  April 28, 2018

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The crippling power of yeah-buts

I recently taught a day-long workshop in Springfield, IL, for a women's recovery retreat. I always go well prepared with an outline but at the same time I'm willing to go with the flow of ideas as they occur to me. My topic was creating a life that supports our recovery with an emphasis on meaningfulness and spaciousness.

I presented a lot of ideas, got some good questions, but when I asked people to make a list of what was in their way of having what they wanted, a lot of yeah-buts came up, all those obstacles that we believe in and cling to.  It was interesting to watch the energy drop in the room, to see the frowns on the faces of so many of these women. So I asked them go a little deeper, to look at which obstacles were factual (I have a disabled child) and which were not (my partner won't like it, I'm not smart enough). I asked them which ones led to possibility and which ones led to more stuckness.

It was amazing to feel the energy shift again and we moved on to talk about commitments: choosing one change, one shift, one goal towards something each really wanted and dedicating a few minutes (just a very few) to that commitment each day.

What yeah-buts are holding you back? What one commitment would bring you closer to the life you want?