52 Weeks, 52 resolutions in my humble quest to be a better wife, mother, friend, survivor

Week 16: In the land of rocks and water April 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lputhenp @ 3:06 pm

There was a moment on Tuesday morning in Yosemite when we crossed the line from being good parents to being badass parents or possibly just bad parents.  In my mind, it was when the paved road stopped and the dirt road began.  We were trying to find a trailhead and the dirt road seemed reasonable especially given the four-wheel drive vehicle we were driving.  The real turning point may have been the wrong turn ahead.  The guidebook we were using was, in retrospect, written before the second “road” was built.  This first attempt landed us at the edge of a strip of concrete covered with a waterfall.  Pretty, but not passable.  After turning around on the very steep and narrow patch of dirt just before the certain doom falls, I did have thoughts about scrapping the entire thing but I guess that is what Rob is for. To push me to do something, even when I am scared, because it could be amazing.  I’m pretty sure that’s how we ended up with three kids instead of just one.  We finally made it to the trailhead traversing rutted muddy paths and snow.  To say that we were the only ones around is not quite correct.  There were at least two people at a campsite visible from the trailhead but they didn’t seem like the kind of people who wanted company so we passed without a word.  We headed off into the trees with purpose.  We were seeking something special, something amazing.  As we walked, we joked about the children’s book Going on a Bear Hunt.  It was funny until we noticed some animal prints in the snow.  No, they weren’t bear prints…..mountain lion.  We tightened up the group and walked on.  The next patch of snow brought us to the bear prints.  I understand that most reasonable people probably would have turned around at this point but we were so close that we were compelled to continue.  A few jokes about bears and we were at our destination.  We turned a corner, looked up and in front of us was the most amazing tree I have ever seen.  It is called bull buck.  It is the second largest tree in the world.  Now, to be fair, I am a big fan of even the most ordinary tree.  I am easily impressed, but this creature would give a lumberjack pause.  You have to stand hundreds of feet away just to take a picture of it.  It is awe-inspiring.

There is a wonderful concept in Hasidic tradition that expresses the idea of balance.  “Keep two pieces of paper in your pockets at all times.  On one write, ‘I am a speck of dust.’  On the other, “The world was created for me.'” Staring up at that massive tree I truly understood this edict.  The tree was roughly 2700 years old.  It had been alive for the entirety of man’s modern history.  Every human I had ever known or read about was alive during it’s reign of the forest.  It’s size and status completely dwarfed even the most productive human let alone me.  I was completely humbled.  Yet…..yet, there was the unmistakable feeling that this tree was planted 2700 years ago but an unseen hand just so I could gaze upon it on a Tuesday morning in April and feel loved.  That probably sounds crazy but that is, in a nutshell, the feeling of divine love I felt while taking in the sight of bull buck.

The largeness and longevity of such a creature puts things into lovely perspective.  What am I going to make for dinner tonight seems like a laughable question in the face of such a creature yet this question torments me on a near daily basis.  Complaints about bad drivers and coworkers, perceived slights and kids schedules all pale in the face of bull buck.  These things seem to bounce from him and disappear fulfilling their own insignificance.  Even a big thing like, my daughter had cancer last summer didn’t stick to him, though it didn’t bounce either.  Instead, bull buck seemed to absorb it as if to say don’t worry I got this one.  Mixed in with the 2700 years of witnessed sorrows and joys it felt like a good place to leave it.

As we turned around to head back to the car I felt lighter.  Though we still had mountain lion, bear tracks, snow, and rutted paths to cross before we reached the road, the worst felt behind us.  Sharing worry and sorrow with a 2700 year old tree might not be for everyone, but if you find yourself on this path in the woods one day, I highly recommend it.


Nothing but pine trees as far as the eye can see April 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lputhenp @ 11:25 pm

We are sitting in our hotel room near Yosemite.  Joe is playing with the crappy toy contents of his Easter eggs as though they were beloved treasures. Jack and Rob are having a rousing game of go fish.  Jack is winning. Olivia is covering her body with stamps.  Life is good.  The trip has had some bumps.  Jack threw up the very first night and his health went down from there.  I’ll spare you the details but suffice to say that he is going home with significantly less clothing than we came with.  Sometimes it’s just not worth saving the unders and shirts that bear the brunt of a sick kid.  The hotel that was chosen for us was just outside the southern entrance of Yosemite so to get to the Yosemite valley where the waterfalls and big rocks are took about an hour and a half of driving on a windy steep mountain road.  We have spent more time in the car on this vacation than we typically do in a month at home.
It was not all driving and puking though.  The first day we went ice skating in the rink at our hotel.  It was the first time on the ice for all of our kids and they really enjoyed it.  There is a former Olympic ice skater who now works at the hotel and she took Olivia on the ice to spin and play.  The look on Olivia’s face as she was spun around and around was one of the highlights of the entire trip.

Ultimately, we would have done things differently if we were allowed more input but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter.  We had a chance to spend precious downtime together as a family and I am grateful for it.  I have done a good job of focusing on the  present moment and not thinking too much about the life that awaits us back home.  As a wise Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  This week we stopped and looked around and I really like what we saw.


Week 15: This moment is a gift that is why it is called the present. April 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lputhenp @ 6:22 pm

As most of you know we are planning a trip to Yosemite.  Invariably, at work and at play we often focus on the past and future at the cost of the present.  Next week, I resolve to put the present in the spotlight.  This is harder than you might think especially for Rob and me.  Planning and delaying gratification are essential to becoming a good physician but we elevate it to an art form. We max out retirement accounts, drive a 13-year-old minivan, and still use the same bedroom furniture that we got from a thrift store in college.  This is the first nuclear family vacation we have ever taken that didn’t also involve a conference.  Some of that is because of the big C but not all.  Next week though, I plan to throw planning out the window and just exist moment to precious moment.  By the way I do realize I just stated I plan to not plan but baby steps ya know.

We are trying to go into next week with no expectations other than to be together as a family and see what kind of tree trouble we can get into.  The only goal Rob has set for the trip is to spend one afternoon napping with our children.  Don’t worry I will pack sunscreen, and bug spray, and layers.  But, I will make a real effort to not look too far into the future while at Yosemite.  I resolve to not think about next week, or next year because the false sense of control planning gives me is folly.  Nothing is guaranteed and this resolution will pay homage to that fact.

People often say that vacations will produce memories that last a lifetime.  Making memories are a funny thing.  Joe had a first grade choral concert the other day and I was amazed at all the parents who spent the entire concert jockeying for position with their smart phones to capture the concert in video.  They ended up watching the entire thing live via their phone instead of with their own eyes.  I can’t help but think none of them will ever re watch the rousing rendition of Alabama Gals again but live in person it was perfection.  So while we will surely take pictures in the park I won’t waste time getting the perfect pose.

Next week will surely be a challenge but if we can meet it in any way it will be a gift.  As Mother Theresa once said, ” Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”


Weeks 13 and 14 Investing in Kegel’s.

Filed under: Uncategorized — lputhenp @ 6:18 pm

Though there has been a considerable delay between posts I am still faithfully committed to this project, especially since I have connived  convinced my husband to take me to Italy if I finish it.  Life is busy for us as it is for everyone.  I have not yet completed my resolution of reaching out to old friends.  When I do, I will recap that week.

Two more weeks have passed in the interim.  In the first week I organized our investment accounts.  Heady stuff I know.  But, it needed to be done.  I consolidated, sold, and bought and now we are right where we should be, at least for the next few months.

This week, I am trying to do Kegel’s everyday.  For those of you not familiar this is a pelvic floor exercise.  It helps ward off terrible things like uterine prolapse and incontinence.  In a couple of weeks I am scheduled to have a hysterectomy and salpingectomy so the Kegel thing was best done before.  The operation is an attempt to mitigate the increased risk I have for developing ovarian cancer because of the type of breast cancer I had.  It should be a pretty easy surgery and it will be followed in a couple of years by another surgery to remove my ovaries.  It is a relatively low risk surgery although the surgeons jokes about nicking my ureters are slightly worrisome.

Now we are all caught up.


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