Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Right Brained

Like Jill Bolte Taylor -- aka The Singing Scientist --  I've experienced brain "trauma" that has radically changed my perspective about how to live.  Listening to, and watching Dr. Taylor give her TED talk about her "stroke of insight", I started bawling because I identified so much with her revelation and the potential it has for reshaping the reality of our world.

I suffered my first brain trauma when I was 20: a series of high grade fevers ranging from 103 to 106.7.  I emerged from the last one with expressive aphasia, a condition associated with Broca's Area of the brain, the area that governs our use of language and speech patterns.  In my case, I lost my ability to locate and select the correct words for what I wanted to say, and, also, my ability to construct sentences using "proper"syntax.  So for example, I might be sitting at a bar with a friend, and ask "How's that mascara?" when what I want to say is "How's that margarita?"  Or if asking for the time, I might say, "On your wrist, that thing, round, what time shows it?"  After maybe five years, I was able to once again feel in control of my language capacity, but the foray into the loss of control was a beautiful and life-enhancing experience for me. The second  trauma I experienced at 39 was a brain hemorrhage, specifically a subarachnoid hemorrhage.  While I emerged from this "unscathed" (unlike Bolte Taylor did), I did come out of it with an understanding of just how lucky I am to be alive, what an incredible gift it is, and how I never want to take it for granted, how I want to be grateful for my life every single day.  Compared to Bolte Taylor's insights, my understanding seems trite.  However, as trite as it sounds, the practice of this gratitude, this not-taking-my-life-for-granted is one of the hardest, most complex tasks I've ever undertaken.  The outcome of my efforts thus far, however, have shown me that miracles are constantly happening, and are only a blink away from being noticed most of the time.  When I shift my gaze, the truth -- nirvana -- really does come into view.  

If watching Bolte Taylor's TED talk is difficult from this site, then go here, to TED directly.  If you haven't been introduced to TED talks yet, I hope you might find something to appreciate.  I feel safe in saying I bet you will.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I sometimes visit a site called Daily Strength to help me cope with stress that stems from my family's dietary restrictions.  Today I was reading a doctor's recommendations for coping with Osteoarthritis.  I was compelled to comment on this doctor's blog after reading because NONE of her recommendations for alleviating pain involved dietary changes.  

Here is my comment:

Almost three years ago, I started experiencing symptoms of Osteoarthritis in my fingers, ankles and feet. I could barely walk upon rising from bed in the morning! At the same time, my 5-month-old infant started showing symptoms of eczema. Because a naturopathic doctor recommended a gluten-free/casein-free diet for my infant, suspecting his eczema was exacerbated by food allergies, and because I was breast-feeding my child at the time, I eliminated products with wheat-gluten and dairy immediately from my own diet. I'm not exaggerating in the least when I say that within two weeks, all of my joint pain DISAPPEARED, and it has not returned since. My infant son has been spared from severe eczema outbreaks as a result of our dietary habits. We have been gluten-free and casein-free since then, and I'm convinced that this diet has safe-guarded our health. I'm now regularly able to jog three miles easily. My son's eczema remains mild and confined mostly to his hands.

Melissa Diane Smith's book
Going Against the Grain was an informative and enjoyable read to help me understand the negative effects of wheat gluten on the human body. 

It amazes me that most doctors, including my children's pediatrician, still roll their eyes when I share that we're gluten-free and dairy-free.   So many people in the medical profession still believe that food allergies are a myth!  Why are these intelligent people so hesitant to embrace the idea that we are what we eat?  Why are they so reluctant to admit that diet is the #1 place to let the healing begin?

Do they scorn preventative medicinal measures, such as dietary changes, because they subconsciously believe they will lose money once people are healthy again?  I hate to think it, but I cannot understand why this subject is still scoffed at in many doctor's offices.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Am My Own Mother

In my haste to get to CVS this am for some Zicam (take at the first! sign! of! your! cold!), I didn't notice that I'd put on different shoes. You might see how I made this mistake: While they are clearly different from one another, they share one obvious trait -- both are BRONZE. According to my husband, bronze loafers should remain the province of fashionable senior citizens.  

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Who:  Christa  Forster, Gwendolyn Zepeda, Chris Dunn, Hank Hancock, Jacsun Shah
What:  Literary Salon
When:  Tonight, Thursday, Jan. 15, 6:00 p.m.
Where:  Space 125 (next door to Stages Repertory) on Allen Parkway
Why:  Past Recipients of the Individual Artist Awards from the Houston Arts Alliance
How:  Reading

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"This Shaking Keeps Me Steady"

Theodore Roethke's poem "The Waking" contains a lot of power for me.  This morning, I repeated the above line from his famous villanelle over and over while running around Memorial Park.  I started jogging VERY slowlyin October 2008 because the Chinese Medicine doctor who was healing me, Dr. Wang, told me that in addition to doing 300 jumps a day and eating bitter, sour and spicy foods I needed to exercise more.  I told him I had been walking two miles everyday.  He smiled, chuckled and shook his head.  "That's not enough," he said, "you need to shake your body. If you're already walking two miles, why don't you jog them?"

Because jogging is hard! I thought.  

But it turns out, if I do it really, really slowly, with the only intention being to shake my body, jogging is not hard.  In fact, I'm amazed at how easy jogging is.  Granted, most of the other joggers on the trails whiz past me.  I'm just a few paces faster than the fast-walkers; however, if I'm only doing it to shake my body, speed matters not a jot. 

And it makes me feel good.  And the pain that was hurting me -- completely wracked back -- has alleviated.  I shook it out of me.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's been so long since I last posted that I paused when having to type in my user name and password.  

Gwendolyn Zepeda chastised me this morning for not updating my blog to let people know that I'm reading with her, Chris Dunn and Hank Hancock at Space 125 this Thursday, January 15 at 6:15 p.m. 

I met Ms. Zepeda for the first time this morning while we were being interviewed by St. John Flynn (pronounced Sinjun, which makes it rhyme with Flynn) for KUHF's "The Front Row," which will air tomorrow sometime between 12 and 1 p.m.  88.7, people. Check us out.  I'll be reading on the air my poem "Chaos Theories," which is about the meaning of life. In case you're wondering what the meaning of YOUR life is, check out mine and see if we're compatible. 

Houston Arts Alliance Literary Salon
Space 125
Thursday, January 16, 2009
6:15 p.m.
3201 Allen Parkway
(next door to Stages Repertory Theatre)