Back in June of 2009, I celebrated my 57th birthday.
I also left behind my home of 10 years.
The vast majority of my household belongings had been put out on the front lawn and I had placed a Craigslist ad in the free category, saying please come get it… it all needs to go away. There were 55-gallon water containers, lawnmowers and edgers, nails and screws, backpacks and sleeping bags, sheets and pillowcases, boxes of miscellaneous electronic cables, kitchen canisters full of sugar and flour, the sofa and TV, two bedrooms full of furniture, and all the miscellaneous tables and chairs and dishes and outdoor patio stuff that fill a 3-bedroom 2-bath house with a 2-car garage. (Some day I’ll write a story about the stories people told me when they took something…. why they needed a particular item, like a bed. It turned out that I was inadvertently helping people – and it sure helped those dark days go down a little easier.)
Living with me at the time were my three cats, Max, Thelma and Louise, and a big ol’ Golden Retriever named Dinah. When the front lawn was empty of belongings, I put us all into my Mitsubishi Montero and drove away from the house for the last time.
We were heading south.
That’s about all I knew at that point.
In looking back at the the years before I got to this point, I had allowed myself to be harassed and bullied at my job (a city government job) from the very first day I had arrived (long story best left for another day), and I had “put up with it” for almost 9 years. By this time, nothing made sense in my head; I couldn’t put two and two together to make four and I sure couldn’t carry on a decent conversation with anyone. I was in pure survival mode. I’ve been told I was angry, hateful, and hard to get along with during this time, that nobody wanted to be around me. No surprise there… I didn’t want to be around me either. Then after finally leaving that abusive employment environment in 2007, I found myself making a bunch of decisions that were having horrible consequences resulting in home foreclosure, personal bankruptcy, car repossession, etc. Of course, at the same time, the economy was in the process of blasting southward as fast as it could and that didn’t help things, but it was like I couldn’t even think logically, couldn’t see what was happening to my life, couldn’t do anything other than make sure that we, my pets and I, were eating every day.
The furry kids and I drove about an hour down Interstate 5 and stopped at the home of some friends; their house was very small but they opened it up to me and my pets. Thank goodness! I don’t know that I would have known what to do if they hadn’t been so gracious about sharing their little bitty space with me and my four-legged family. I ended up staying with them and their two little babies, sleeping on their living room futon, for a few months (I don’t even remember how long we were there – you’d have to ask them… it’s a blur to me), and then I found a little trailer and we all headed south again.
The point of telling you about all this drama is that when I left Vancouver back in 2009, I was sure I’d never reside there again. I had completely put the city, and everything about it, out of my head. I left behind co-workers’ names, the locations of grocery stores, the names of streets. It really wasn’t hard to do – my brain felt like it was so full of a dense fog that it was easy to not have that “Vancouver stuff” clutter it up any more than it already was.
When I moved back here three months ago to be closer to my doctors, it was very surreal. It kinda felt like I had landed on the surface of the moon. Nothing was familiar anymore – I drove the streets, up and down, to remember where things were located: the grocery store on Main Street, the library downtown, the streets to get from one place to another, where to get my hair cut. Oh, I could easily drive the freeways from one place to another, mainly to get to the doctors’ offices, but driving around town was weird… it took me about a month to make sense out of it.
And now I’m leaving it.
The three months here are over and the time seems to have flown by.
Besides being closer to all the doctors, my mission while here in Vancouver was to get my body well and healthy; I set about conducting that mission as if it were a “real job,” working every day as if I had to clock in and out. And even though I’m not as well and healthy as I’d like to be yet, I’ve made some huge strides in getting this meat-covered skeleton to be well-er and healthy-er:
- my cholesterol is down 20+ points and triglycerides down 50+ points (without medication)
- my thyroid levels are now stable
- the anemia is being treated and is getting under control
- my wrist is about 80% healed (it may never get past this point but the pain will eventually go away – or so I’m told 🙂 )
- my body’s pH level is up to almost 7.0 (which is great!)
- my intestines are playing nice most of the time (the ulcerative colitis has apparently gone into remission – yay!)
- the skin issues are getting resolved
- there’s been no fibromyalgia flares in quite awhile (yippee!)
- I’ve only fallen once in almost 4 months and nothing new got injured (hallelujah!)
- more energy and stamina – last week, I walked 0.7 miles, one-way, to see Bernie Sanders, stood three hours in the rain waiting for him to arrive and hearing him speak, and then walked 0.7 miles back home again (woo hoo!)
- a cardiologist who’s monitoring my heart (with an implanted 24/7 electronic device) to see if we (he?) can figure out what’s wrong with it
- had numerous medical tests and procedures, tons of blood work, regular chiropractic adjustments, and a few ultrasound treatments
- finally started physical therapy for the ankle I sprained 10 months ago while at Lake Mead in Nevada
…and some mission-related activities:
- I feed my body a couple of glasses of green juice* every day and I drink a mug of hot golden milk** most evenings.
- I go to the local fitness center 3-4 times week for an hour or more each time, mostly working out on equipment I can’t fall off of, like the recumbent bike.
- I’ve cut out most of the sugar and a lot of the caffeine from my diet (I still need a macchiato once in awhile, though!).
- I eat “balanced meals” more often (it’s that senior center lunch that’s doing it 🙂 ).
- I spend about an hour a day doing the exercises the physical therapists have “designed” for the recovery of my wrist and ankle injuries.
- I meditate every morning before the day gets started.
- Over the last 90 days, I’ve lost 12 pounds – and then put 8 of it back on (maybe it’s muscle instead of fat 😀 ).
- …and other “duties” as assigned. hehehe
This mission is not finished yet and I still have some ways to go, but I’d say that progress has definitely been made!
And now my time in Vancouver is up.
During this short three-month go-round, being in Vancouver has been good for me for many reasons. It’s been nice to be near the doctors, and it’s been great catching up with local friends over coffee or lunch. I’ve really enjoyed being within a few minutes drive of Portland, Oregon and all it has to offer – family close by (I can pop in for dinner at my son’s house 🙂 ), amazing food opportunities (both in restaurants and stores), the best coffee anywhere, theaters that play indie and well as first-run movies, fun events and lots of parks; it’s truly one of my favorite cities. I’ve appreciated being able to rent the spare bedroom in my friend’s apartment, but truthfully, I don’t think I’m cut out for this apartment-living stuff; and that’s good information to have about oneself, isn’t it?
In another few days, I’m moving back to the little town near Salem, Oregon, to the house of the friends with a spare bedroom where I can stay while I continue with my mission. They have a couple of dogs (yay for dogs!), a back yard with a garden, and a place to park my car. We eat together, talk a lot, watch Blindspot on TV, and I feel like I’m part of their little family. Oh, and guess what – I get to house/dog-sit for them when they’re out of town, too! It’s a win/win.
So if you’re going to be in the area, come on over! Or let’s have a picnic in the park or maybe go camping or hiking somewhere. There are waterfalls and wildflowers to be seen, trees to be hugged, and marshmallows to be roasted. I think I’ll be here at least a few more months (maybe through the summer?) while I put the finishing touches on my mission to get well and healthy – and I’d love to see you!
Catch ya later, Vancouver; it’s been a hoot and a half!
* * * * * * *
I share my story here on my blog, not because I’m looking for sympathy, but because I want to share my hope for a different, more positive future that includes a healthier body, better finances, and greater physical, mental and spiritual energy and well-being. Anything I can do to make that happen for me is also something you can do for yourself if it’s what you’re looking for. I think by sharing our stories, we encourage and inspire each other and together, we can do anything, go anywhere, and make whatever it is happen that will bring more peace and happiness into our lives. Seriously, if I can do it, so can you! I know it!
* * * * * * *
*green juice: freshly made juice from spinach, kale, celery, cucumber, romaine lettuce, jalapeños, ginger, green apples and pears, parsley and basil, whole lemons, and sometimes carrots
**golden milk: paste made from powdered turmeric, Ceylon cinnamon, ginger, ground black pepper, raw honey and virgin coconut oil – and added by the spoonful to a hot mug of nut milk (cashew is my favorite)