These are my words…

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I am part of a yet another new blog-venture in the wide world of sports. The website is aptly named Not Your Average Sports Chick. Alicia Seymour, originally from the East  Coast, but currently on the West Coast, started the website. I responded to a post Alicia posted on Craigslist for writers. She thought my writing samples were up to snuff, so off we went. Alicia brought on a few other women, too. We have interviewed men and women in sports, shared our takes on what is happening in professional hockey, baseball, basketball, and football. And, if you are me, NCAA basketball too! (I love the March Madness.)

My most recent post turned into a podcast. I turned to social media to see if any women in sports media would be interested in speaking with me for inclusion in an article. Trenni Kusnierek, reporter and news anchor at Comcast Sports Net New England, responded to my tweet. I never imagined that was going to happen. Dreams, wishes and prayers do come true. Ever the eternal pessimist, I had to ask myself, “Who knew?”

So, dear reader, please check out my interview with Kusnierek here

And while you are at it, check out the musings of sports-savvy women, working hard to blast through sports media’s glass ceiling.

 

I shot these on Friday night, June 3, 2016. The reservoir is just a short walk behind my building complex. The last time I went out to take pictures on the reservoir was maybe 2013 or 2014. It is a really, quiet place. I feel spiritually connected there because I am in nature, and it reminds me of walks I once took with my father around our first family home.

I took these photos at 8:30PM, with no flash. I did my best to work with the natural light as the sun set. All of the photos seem to have a misty, ethereal look.

 

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This was such an interesting set of large pipes. I wondered why they were there, and what they were used for. Were they extra pipes that did not get used? or were they once used and then cast aside? Objects, like people, have stories buried deep within their many different parts. Parts of these pipes pop out of the foliage asking to get noticed. Asking to have a conversation about their past.

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There are lots of levels and curved lines in this photograph. I took it, looked at it, and word “cantilever,” came to mind. I’m not sure if it is the right word, but it is what came up. The foreground seems to echo the background in such an oddly complementary way.

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During my initial trek back to the reservoir, I could not believe how large and expansive it was. This is  just one shot of many in which I try to use the flora to frame the water.

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Again, this is another attempt to create a container for the water, which feels like it goes on forever. The back tree line and foreground wild grasses and flowers serve as the frame.

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I love a good closeup. I could resist these wildflowers that were strewn along the paths. There are hints of brown twigs that show as a lavender due to the diminishing sun light. A simple shot that becomes more complex the longer you look at it.

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With photography there is always an element of luck involved, which is why I find it exciting. This building is not all that interesting, but in this light it is a thing of suburban, industrial beauty. Once a thrift shop for Wonder Bread and Hostess, the building is currently empty. The lines that run across the front facade and down the long, left side are extraordinarily compelling. The white front facade provides a blank canvas for the setting sun to paint its final strokes of the day.

Click to the right and head over to Flickr to see larger sizes of the images included in this post, and other photographs I took during yesterday’s nature walk. 

I took a trip up to Londonderry, NH for a doctor’s appointment. The house that Robert Frost’s father, William, purchased for him and his first wife, Ilinor is located only 10 minutes away in Derry, NH. It was a working farm which Robert maintained for a few years during the years he lived there between 1900-1911. He would write poetry there which would appear in his first collection, A Boy’s Will and others that would come later. After the experiment with farming went fallow, he taught at nearby Pinkerton Academy, back then a prep school for boys. Much later in his life he would teach and have a major influence upon the Bread Loaf Conference at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. Frost won four pulitzer prizes in poetry over his lifetime, supported his art in through teaching in higher education. And of course, he became even more famed when tapped by John F. Kennedy to write and recite a poem at the president’s inauguration. The poem entitled “The Gift Outright.” He died months before Kennedy’s assassination on January 29, 1963.

I think I may have seen the wall that inspired “Mending Wall” which appeared in Frost’s second publication, North of Boston. The wall was so unassuming, not unlike the poem. Walking along it, I saw parts where it was well constructed and others that were only two rocks tall.  Nonetheless, it survived. The poem does too, because it has its strengths and people continue to care for it.

High school and college students, alike, should be grateful.

I may have also seen the apple tree that inspired “After Apple-Picking.” And more and more. The home itself was close to the road. The lot of land was a long, thin, grassy few acres with a small wetland-like pond. The lilac trees on the property were in full bloom. I asked myself, “was this too early?” and if so, how could these plants have flowered with the cool weather that has marked this Spring. The colors of the lilacs were bright, their aroma perfect. God’s touch can be found in nature.

It was a beautiful little side trip after receiving some overwhelming news. The wall, the flowers, the grass, and the home reminds me that I can endure, can be mended, and blossom in spite of a flawed existence, too.

Here are the photographs I took on iPhone. Enjoy!

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I was in the waiting room at the dentist office in a ton of pain, so I thought how can I improve the moment and practice some distress tolerance. I looked over at People Magazine on my right. The front cover depicted a photograph of Natalie Wood. Then I thought, “let’s make a list of movies that were made on or before 1979, that I absolutely love.” Heck, it is better than my usual go-to distraction from medical fear and pain: trying to say, from memory, the preamble of the Declaration of Independence.

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I searched for a piece of paper. I found the card cover for hotel key. It would do.

I came up with a lot of movies. Here they are in no particular order…

“Magnificent Seven” (cannot wait for the remake)

“This Property Condemned”

“The Goodbye Girl”

“Kramer vs. Kramer”

“Breakfast At Tiffany’s”

“Cat On A Hot Tin Roof”

“A Streetcar Named Desire”

“Roman Holiday”

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

“Splendor in the Grass”

“The Way We Were”

“Singin’ in the Rain”

“The Graduate”

“The Apartment”

“To Kill A Mockingbird”

“Manhattan”

“Annie Hall”

“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

“Network”

“To Sir, With Love”

“A Patch of Blue”

“Blackboard Jungle”

“The Paper Chase”

“Terms of Endearment”

 

There were other films, too. I could not recall titles, only characters, scenes, and possibly actors.

 

Most of the basic suggestions for cognitive distress tolerance exercises involve counting, or breathing in and out a specific mantra. Those exercises did not fit that moment last night. I am glad that I have been exposed to so many different distraction techniques over three decades of sitting in waiting rooms. The exercise definitely kept me calm, and who knows maybe someone will benefit from these movie suggestions.

I knew I needed to be level-headed before I sat down in that dentist chair. And after making this list, my mind was straight and ready for anything. I was not sure whether the dentist was going to pull my tooth out of not, or if there was nerve damage.

 

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The moment where everything comes into focus has always eluded me. There were glimpses, seconds of happiness, but never did I think true contentedness, nor at ease would be something I would experience. Many, many moments where I felt congruent in relationship to the world occurred on my trip to Rome, Italy in December.

Nearly everything shifted into place. Thoughts and worries found their proper level of perspective. I left my thoughts and worries in the United States. I let go, opened my heart to the moment, and it was beautiful.

Reflecting back on what was the trip of lifetime, a true game changer, I discovered the behaviors and thoughts that engendered this newly discovered ability to feel at ease in the world. What was I doing differently in Rome? Why did it all feel so good?

Here is what I came up with

  1. Reading becomes a meditative process. Reading signs, maps, and menus in a foreign language is slow going. One needs to translate from Italian to England on the fly. This slows down even the most mundane of tasks. The very need to slow down allows one to focus on the beauty of language. Based on context clues, seventh grade Latin, and intermediate Spanish. I was able to determine the meaning of many words. Never did I hastily read, or completely skip words, because I was in a rush. There was instead thoughtful focus on syllables, words, letters, accent marks, and their sounds and meanings. I learned in slowing down you comprehend so much more. DSC_0118
  2.  No TV. In Italy there were only two channels available in the hotel that held people speaking English. This left more time for yoga, naps, drawing, writing, and truly attending to my self-care needs. These activities are far more restorative. Yoga is constructive because it builds the ability to more efficiently quiet the mind and body. Naps renew energy, too. Writing allows space for reflection. All of these activities add value to one’s life. Television subtracts value, pushing engagement with our own real issues to the side. I was forced to sit with my self, and engage in activity that cared for me more explicitly.
  3. An IPhone is no longer a distraction  The iPhone is expensive to use while overseas since cost of data and roaming fees reek havoc on your wallet. In very little time, the need to text, review social media accounts, or otherwise stay connected were no longer of interest while in Italy. In its place stood authentic engagement with the world. I also had great conversations in real time, with real people. I had a great conversation with three people from Saudi Arabia that would have never taken place if I were in the United States, neck bent down in an unnatural position, reading my phone. Greeting someone in their native tongue is powerful, offering them a bag of tea from your table, and commenting on a picture of their niece is a far more enriching an experience than liking a Facebook post.
  4. Our daily lives are insignificant.Our lives DO NOT matter. Wait…wait..hear me out. There are buildings, sculpture, and other objects of grand beauty pre-dating the U.S. by millennia. Men, women, children, animals, and plants lived and died before the U.S. was even a thought. Those common men and women of the Roman empire are long forgotten. We face the same fate. So why do we ponder the past? Why do we worry about the future?  We are here for a short time. Let us make the most of it. Only participate in activities that honor how incredibly lucky we are to  be alive. Service to others, practicing acts of gratitude, artistic expression, and other forms of creative endeavor to make the world a more beautiful place. Go do them. Make this world incredible. Don’t sweat that mistake you made at work yesterday. It, and you, will never be remembered.DSC_0174
  5. Experiences are far more precious a gift, especially if they take place with people you love. Everyone always says this around the holidays when puzzled by what gift to purchase for someone. This piece of prevailing wisdom endures because it is true. Travel, memory making with friends and family will last a lifetime. I will never forget discussing college applications with my teenage cousin while walking between Palantine Hill and the Jewish Ghetto. The backdrop made an interesting conversation, a memorable, bonding moment. Also, I’ll never forget my mother taking photographs of me enjoying every minute of the tour of the Galleria Borghese. She was excited to see me so happy she had to document it for posterity. Nor will I ever forget laughing, smiling, and sharing a meal in a delicious ristorante with my immediate and extended family. DSC_0333
  6. Americans have terrible diets, eating habits, and are not careful about what we put into our bodies. Most, if not all, of the bottled water in Rome was in glass. Coffee and tea were served in ceramic espresso cups and saucers. People take their time sipping and eating at local coffee shops. There are no take out containers, nor styrofoam cups. In fact, during the week I was there I never saw a paper cup. Fast food restaurants were few and far between, too. And I saw no one drinking soda. Food is treated with great respect in Italy. Americans should follow suit. Leave time to eat mindfully, enjoy whole, fresh foods, and time to bond with others over coffee. While we are at it, let’s reduce the use of the plastic and styrofoam we use each day in the United States. All are linked to Cancer, hormone imbalances, and all sorts of dis-ease. I saw no obese people in Italy, so I have reason to believe that these changes would be a means of ending the obesity epidemic.
  7. The “Happy Accident” sightseeing finds are always the most memorable. Yes, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basillica, and the ruins of ancient Rome knocked my socks off. Still, stumbling upon the Quattro Fontane, an intersection of four fountains on the corner of four separate building. I thought my eyes were done for the day after the Trevi Fountain that day, but I was thankfully wrong. Take a different street. Stray from the well-worn path. Go ahead, ask to explore the basement. You will discover a wine cellar that pre-dates the Colosseum (pre-circa 69 B.C.). There is always more to see.

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And since there is so much more to see, I have officially been bitten by the travel bug. Where to next? I would love to do parts of Spain or Paris, France, but I could be swayed to other European destinations very easily.

So many places to visit and experience, so much more to learn about me.

I listened to Jay Mohr’s podcast on the way home from work. He interviewed Jake “the Snake” Roberts. They talked WWE wrestling, recovery, work, life? Spirituality, service to others. The great quotation said by Roberts was about his definition of what it takes to be a professional. He said that a professional was a person that though very sick, tired, and physically spent still goes above and beyond the expectations of the job. I never thought that someone could so perfectly validate how I see work and service.

I needed to hear that today.  Today was the third or fourth incredibly taxing work day in a row, The days were rewarding. It was filled with a lot of physical labor and problem solving. I was not going to let people down. I gave all of myself. I did the right thing. And hopefully I can wake up and do it all over again tomorrow.

Still, there are flaws about how I live and what Roberts said about professionalism. Where does self-care work itself into the equation? How can I strike the balance without feeling selfish for doing something nice for myself, allow myself to rest when I do not feel well?

Living in the shades of grey between contributing nothing at work and doing it all has always been a tough one for me. It is imperative to figure out a way to get into the middle because I need to give myself the gift of better health. In addition, I need not judge others for how they go about their work day. I do not know how to slow down, nor how to be okay with a slower pace when faced with my perfectionist tendencies. It just seems so ingenuous to me. It feels like you are stealing the paycheck you are earning. Long story short, it 1) makes me very resentful of other people. 2) Others do not even know why I am angry. The only person I am hurt is myself.

Where is the middle?

How can I be kind to myself?

When will I be enough?

I don’t know…I do not know.

fungus

If you know me, then you know I have a terrible stomach. I never received answers as to why that was. I have seen more doctors and specialist than many people see in a lifetime. It is scary when I walk out of a doctor’s office, realizing they have no idea how sick I am, nor do they know how to treat me. I’m a hopeless freak of nature.

Not any more. All of those days are behind me. I think I found the doctor that might make me healthy again.

Here’s the deal

I have a few things going on. I have leaky gut, a complete imbalance of gut bacteria, and an immune system that has been shut off by a systemic fungal infection. Yes, my entire body is riddled with fungus.

It all begins with the gut

Leaky gut is just what it sounds like. The walls of my intestines, colon, and other digestive organs leak their contents all over the body. The breaks in the lining of the walls allow toxins, gas, fecal matter, and the yeast to travel all over my body into my bloodstream, muscles, and brain. All of this was caused by heavy use of antibiotics throughout my entire life. I had many surgeries and innumerable sinus and ear infections. All were treated with antibiotics.

Everything is everywhere

So, I feel vindicated because I have said many times, it feels like toxins are all over my body. When I have gas, I can feel it in my back, shoulders, and legs. All of muscles get sore because carbon dioxide (hey chemistry people, the Krebs cycle….eh? em I right?) travels from my stomach to the rest of my body, causing debilitating muscle pain. Lactic acid is created and then the pain begins. It feels like I have the flu, or like I’m paralyzed and can’t move. On top of the aching, I experience this weird “pins and needles” sensation.

And that is just the secondary body symptoms.

I can’t yah know, um…Go

The primary issue is the inability to eliminate waste from my body. My stomach is consistently distended and sore. All I worry about is whether I will be able to eliminate the waste from my body, whether I will use the bathroom today, whether I had enough water to drink, and whether I need to take more laxatives.

The best minds of Western Medicine at the world’s best hospitals have only said take more laxatives, or here is a prescription for a drug that will stimulate your system to eliminate waste. None of the prescriptions worked. The laxatives are a band-aid. They tried to treat symptoms, not the root cause.

I have a plan

No more. Now I have a plan, only trouble is it will make me much sicker before I get better. From what I have read, if I am sick from the protocol, then I know it is working.

Great.

What does this Hell entail?

First, I will be taking millions of milligrams of an oral antifungal. Three tabs three times a day. This is so much antifungal that 5 minutes after the doctor called it into the pharmacy my cell phone rang. The pharmacy called to tell me that the order must be wrong and they would not fill the script.

It’s not. I got the script filled.

Second, I have to tighten up my diet even more than it already is. I can eat all the meat that I want, high quality fats, like coconut oil, olive oil, clarified butter (canola oil is a franken-food), leafy green vegetables, and a couple of seeds and nuts once in a while. Nothing else. I cannot even have a so much as a sweet potato. No fruit. Even carrots and other root vegetables are verboten. All would feed the yeast, which we will be trying to eliminate. Finally, at night I will be taking a super high-potency probiotic. Billions of strains of probiotic strains per capsule will repopulate gut bacteria. Most of the gut bacteria was killed off by the fungus. The fungus sacked Rome and took over! Now it is time to kick these guys out of town.

Supplements include plant tannins twice or three times a days to help kill the yeast, high dose Vitamin D, and a super-charged Echinacea. None of these drugs and supplements is sold over the counter. Some are from countries worlds away. All of the supplements sold at supermarkets and pharmacies are not pure enough.

Finally, we will wash all that down with gallons of water. Flushing the toxins that will be released by the anti fungal treatment are crucial.

This will be my life for the next 3 months, or longer, depending on how bad the infection is. I will try foods, a bit of quinoa, a bit of sweet potato, here and there to see how I tolerate it.

Die off

I understand I will be nauseous, weak, tired, and experience what has been described to me like symptoms one experiences when treated for cancer with chemotherapy. This is what happens when fungus dies off inside your body. Keep the water flowing and it will leave.

Aggravated and Motivated

It’s game on in the war against fungus. The battlefield is my body.

I’m sick of being sick, and even more aggravated that I continue to take hits, left, right, and center, over the course of my entire life. I think this will solve almost all of my problems including my stomach trouble, anxiety, forgetfulness, insomnia, obsessive thinking (there is a gut bacteria that causes it…yeah that was news to me too), addictive tendencies, mood disturbances, digestion of food, and low energy. Day in and day out, I’m running on shear will and anger. Now, I’ve got hope. I am determined to find the will to turn this hope into reality.

The American Diet: Everything we think is right is wrong.

Finally, after all the research I have done to heal myself I found that the American public has everything about consumption of food wrong. We have everything about dieting wrong, too. Moreover, I am shocked at how much of my eating is driven by my emotions.

One of the greatest lies perpetrated on the American people is that we need grains and carbohydrates for fuel to exercise. No, we do not. We run on fats. Eat the right fats, plants (there are your precious carbs), protein, and fruit for dessert. There I just solved the country’s obesity problem and a generation of digestive systems in one fell swoop.

Certainly, it is more complicated than that, but basically that is the general idea.

Resources

I hope this entry helps someone out there that is suffering. I will report on my progress once I begin this adventure a week from today.

For now, please watch this interview Joe Rogan conducted with Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nwd6InD2nDk

If you are interested in leaky gut, scrub to the 26:00 minute mark. There is something else that is useful at 52:00 minute mark, too. I just can’t remember what.

Read Vinnie Tortorich’ book. It is entertaining and informative. His website can be found here http://vinnietortorich.com He has a podcast, list of resources, and recipes.


Listen and visit to advice given by Chris Kelly who started the Nourish Balance Thrive website over in the United Kingdom. http://www.nourishbalancethrive.com

All photographs and writing Copyright Kara Jackman. All Rights Reserved

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