[not so] wordless wednesday: post-flu shot [04/31]

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I got an e-mail Monday about a secret flu shot clinic for employees of my health region, including Disability Support Providers (me). It was a ten minute walk from my house (where I got led into an Authorized Personnel Only room), convenient as I am also high risk because of my asthma. Also it is basically next door to 7-Eleven. And a lovely morning for a walk.

travel tuesday: preparations. [03/31]

Today was one of those reflecting on logistics of travel sorts of days. I spent the day sifting through and uploading video for an upcoming Healthline project on travel and asthma. I received some further information on my first ever overseas trip (Zurich, Switzerland in November. Disclosures etc to come once things are finalized there.) I got a reimbursement/stipend cheque in the mail for my upcoming trip to Toronto for the Asthma Canada conference in 2 weeks. 

In the beginning of the Incubus Look Alive DVD, Brandon Boyd reflects on these logistical aspects of travel—and I am not even planning a tour (although with asthma and ADHD it sometimes feels like it!).

Anais Nin wrote,

“In the world of the dreamer there was solitude: all the exaltations and joys came in the moment of preparation for living. They took place in solitude. But with action came anxiety, and the sense of insuperable effort made to match the dream, and with it came weariness, discouragement, and the flight into solitude again. And then in solitude, in the opium den of remembrance, the possibility of pleasure again”.

Her sentiment is frighteningly in tune with our plight at the moment. We’re in the plotting stage of the game. I’m looking at pages and pages of potential tour dates, and travel arrangements logistics, et cetera, et cetera. And if I wasn’t completely ecstatic about everything at present, all these moments of preparation would be quite daunting. […]

Brandon Boyd, Look Alive

The thing is, I love/hate this part. The pouring over Hotels.com, even after I’ve booked a hotel, the forays to Airbnb, finding that home base, however off the beaten path it may be at times (so long as off the beaten path is not so much so that is in a seedy area!). The ridiculous amounts of time spent looking at flights, weeks before booking will even take place. The e-mails saying that my reservations have been added to TripIt. The preparations for whatever events I will be attending. The juggling of multiple schedules as I try to schedule coffees, lunches, dinners with friends in Toronto.

Yes, it is work before the wheels even lift off, but it is all so worth it. Even for the moments in airports when I want to throw dollar store earphones at people who seem to not understand that there is a 3.5 mm jack on their device for a reason (unless they have a dumb iPhone 7). Even when my 1:30 AM arrival flight gets in at 3:30 AM. Even when I spend 5 hours too long at SFO. Even when every damn time I fly through YVR I get delayed (just about, although my last delay out of YVR saved my butt because it allowed me to make my connection from SFO which was 2 hours late, and I even got to eat.).

The preparation for travel part might not be about rolling with it, but the travel part sure is. I’ve learned that over the years. Like the time Steve and I were in Toronto in the middle of friggen nowhere (AKA outside the Don Valley Hotel) and my Google Maps refused to acknowledge I was no longer in Winnipeg, and would not even tell us what food was nearby. Which turned out to only be a Tim Hortons unless we wanted to take public transit. Like finding a magical drink machine in YVR that sells drinks for $1 less than the news stands—and remembering its existence. Like when Union Station was deserted and under construction and I got lost wandering around “The Path” and stuck in some weird triangle under the CN tower/Ripley’s Aquarium, etc… Which was I got to Toronto from Philly and my bag had to be tracked down at Pearson since I was no longer connecting to Winnipeg, and that took like two hours. All I can say is, for once, thank God for Leafs fans because there was a game going on and I somehow found myself in Maple Leafs Square where a cab driver flagged me over and asked if I wanted a cab and I was like “You know what, yeah.” Even though I was close to my hotel.

That was also the day when a baggage handler at YYZ preached to me about Jesus. As my friend (Reverend) Jessica said, “Only you would get preached at by airport staff in Toronto.”  
And the cab driver talked a lot about staying positive. I needed that dude after the day I had. 
And then I got amazing macaroni and cheese from Uber EATS to my hotel because, also, that day I had to call Air Canada after the Philly woman would not tag my bag to YYZ instead of YWG, and also, I lost my Team Toba jacket in PHL, which I am convinced was destroyed by airport police because it was in its pillow form and possibly a suspicious unaccompanied package and also because I called them and it was not in their Lost & Found.
That was all in about 8 hours, people. 

That is the stuff that makes travel what it is. The stuff you can’t prepare for.

Like Torontonians not stopping to give you directions even if you are CLEARLY tourist looking and downtown and wandering with a suitcase. I enjoy you Toronto, but you people stick to yourselves too much. Which I usually like but not when I am confused and the elevator to Front Street goes up but the door at the top is locked and I can’t get there. (Jess and my mom were watching me wander lost on Friend Find. Jess was being helpful, whereas my mom was just not texting me and watching.)

There is adventure to be had. Prepare well (but not too well ;))… and go have it.

re-energized: Fall, California, #MedX, and the possibility of “how might we”

It is the first day of Fall, the people of the internet (aka my friends on Facebook) are telling me. It’s kind of hard to believe given I got back from beautiful California less than a week ago where it feels like summer and is generally pretty. Alas, my favourite season—Fall—is upon us, and I engaged in an (iced) pumpkin spice chai at Vancouver airport at probably ten-something PM on Monday night.  (Pumpkin spice chai is amazing. I was getting ehhh about normal pumpkin spice lattes, honestly, and I am thrilled by pumpkin spice chai lattes.)

And is obligatory on the first day of Fall, listening to Come Winter by Daphne Loves Derby (on repeat), as has been my general habit since about 2014, if not earlier.

If you’ve got Apple Music, here’s a link to a slightly different EP version that I’m enjoying.

Fall is my favourite season not just because of pumpkin spice. I enjoy the cooler weather, the jeans-and-hoodies combo, the foray into toque-season (without the brutal cold associated with toque season), the fact that Goalball starts soon (and archery!), the fact that my lungs generally like Fall, and the fact that I get back to a bit more solid of a routine—for the lack of routine I generally have, even in the non-Summer months. Despite some of the worst moments of my life happening in the beginning portion of Fall (looking at you, 2013 and 2014, and even 2016), these have all come with resolution attached—“part of a change for better” (I Swear This Place is Haunted, A Skylit Drive)—or at least a piece of resolution that produced a change I can, at least now, feel positively about.

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This year, again, fresh off a return from Stanford Medicine X, and subsequent #MedXHangover and ongoing recovery, I feel that sense of renewal, that sense of recharged passion and purpose for creating change, both in myself and in the world. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve got some other advocacy-related travel opportunities in the works (travel may exhaust people but it energizes me), or that I met so many amazing people last weekend at MedX. It doesn’t hurt that the people I met and the experience I had at IDEO for the Medicine X – IDEO Design Challenge re-inspired me to think differently, creatively, in terms of “How Might We”s and innovation and possibility and better. No, spending a glorious two days with one of my favourite people on earth, Stephen, in Santa Cruz to relax and recharge even prior to embarking on the Medicine X whirlwind of inspiration, that didn’t hurt either. Meeting a dozen Canadians at MedX reminded me that things are possible, change is possible, even in our slow-moving, lack-of-progress medical system (although I maintain Toronto is more receptive to change than Winnipeg/Manitoba/our ridiculous healthcare-killing Conservative Government is). I am ready to do more. Batteries recharged.

I am re-energized. Re-inspired. Thanks both to California, to the MedX Family, to friends, and to the crispness of Fall.

Well, I’m sure another pumpkin spice chai latte wouldn’t hurt, either.

archery + adhd: on target.

The sign outside my friend Diane’s archery range (AKA Heights Outdoors and Archery if you’re a local), at one point read “ARCHERY IS FUN. TRY IT.” 

The sign is not lying. Even though Diane has had to teach me how to do everything properly like three times (so far), ARCHERY IS FUN. I think I maybe mastered orienting the bow tonight finally (trickster ambidexterity-allowing recurves), and yes, when they say to draw your hand back to your face, they mean it and it actually does help significantly, thank-you-very-much.

It may just be me, but as I posted some photos of our archery Special Olympics wind-up on Facebook, I became aware of many parallels between archery and ADHD (and undoubtedly, the archery experience with ADHD). 

To preface this, I must say: Diane is awesome. She and I have a great rapport, and she puts up with my pestering (and returns it!), sarcasm, and repeated need for instruction well. She likes fun and I like fun and that is what matters, people. And although she says archery is like riding a bike and you don’t forget, I can say with some confidence I don’t think I’ve ever gotten on my bike backward like I’ve tried to hold the bow backward or upside down ;). Other than that, everything else she tells me I believe to be accurate. (If you’re in the Peg, you should do archery with Diane.)

I’ve done archery with Diane a good number of times now. The thing is, thanks ADHD, I remember safety instructions because not-death is a motivator, but it takes me quite awhile to get other stuff down. I am just about there, maybe.

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One of the first rounds of the night where I hit a decent number of arrows on the target. And two in that pretty gold area, though not quite centre.

I’ve been told before that I need more consistency to keep my ADHD brain in check. Like, to schedule my life a bit more. Here’s the thing: what is consistency? Also, not exactly interested. I should be, obviously. Had I external motivators, well, I likely would be. 

As well, consistency takes practice. Guess what? I’m not expecting to have consistent archery performance when the last time I shot was six weeks ago. Although, each round today got a bit better (inconsistently, mind you), as I repeated my way through the things that work, and on occasion, totally forgetting. Which is both an ADHD thing and a thing in learning how to coexist with ADHD—being consistently inconsistent or inconsistently consistent about just about everything. (Don’t tell me that doesn’t make sense. ADHDers, you get me.)

Note: I realized later I was like half the distance from the target this time compared to last time. That helps. 

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Hey, I did get two in the gold… Just not where I was aiming on one, mind you…

Especially when I realized when they tell you to put your draw hand against your face basically for a reason. And especially when I actually remembered this part of the instructions. Archery has a lot of damn steps to remember—kind of like life. And attention problems? Yeah, here’s an unexpected area for where executive functioning issues randomly interfere!

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Sometimes, you are all over that shit, without exactly realizing how, even though you are trying pretty hard.

…And sometimes, trying equally hard, less on the mark but still close.
Or… Way off. (…That top arrow ;).)

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And sometimes? You’re THERE and all over it, literally, but you still don’t quite hit the damn balloon. Even though you’ve done it before.

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Who knew a two hour progression through a few dozen arrows could summarize the inconsistency of ADHD life so well? 😉

I’m joining the Manitoba Blind Sport archery program next Fall, because hey, why not? Given I’m already paying a membership fee, the add-on athlete fee is a great deal for archery. Plus, while I’m not visually impaired, I don’t see all that well. Look, I could not exactly see my arrows from halfway down the range, never mind the full distance. And people will know how to deal with my questionable vision. And given I roll around on the floor and announce every ridiculous thing I do at goalball, the same will happen at archery, except not the rolling on the floor part. Except maybe if Guide Dog Murray is there.

My attention issues? Well, I roll with that pretty well, too, since it’s just who I am. And yeah, practice sort-of makes perfect there, too. At least in terms of semi-patience and laughing at myself. And I know this particular archery group, is good at that, too ;).

even stumbling is moving forward

I spent a good quarter of my time in university learning about how you shouldn’t make too many life changes at once. (I spent another quarter in anatomy or stressing out about anatomy, another quarter dropping classes possibly due to the unknown learning disability and ADHD, and the last quarter probably actually “focused”. This is not an accurate, nor mathematical, representation of university for me.) Yet, here I am, doing just that, because FULL SPEED AHEAD is the only way I know how to go.

So here I am. 13 days into logging with MyFitnessPal. That is nearly TWO WEEKS people, that’s an accomplishment.
I’ve opened up the Coach.Me app again last night and set up some goal in there—go for a walk twice a week, exercise three days a week, meditate daily, pray daily, and write a blog post [here] weekly (hi!). 

And today, I went for a walk. Just to the mailbox, to send a letter to my Member of Parliament. Have I mentioned I’ve gotten all politically engaged since we last spoke in depth? This is not actually a byproduct of that but still, could be why I was more interested in the Asthma Society’s Hill Day stuff in the end. Honestly, it’s a wonder to me that given the state of this world and our neighbours to the south, how the eff people can ignore this! I digress (but likely not forever, and would be happy to grab a [decaf] [not-]coffee with you and discuss. And also I am thinking about going back to school to do political science and no I don’t actually know what’s currently wrong with me.)

This is not significant. The walk, I mean. It was hot (27-feels-like-29 and heat and I are not friends—my lungs and my whole body) and slow and except whatever I GOT OUT THERE.

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Because here’s the thing. I have to start all over again. And so I am. I downloaded some bodyweight exercise app to my phone even. I’m LOOKING AT my Fitbit. Quantified self is one of those things that’s sort of engrained in my being one way or another so I need to USE that data. 

If a slow, 17 minute walk is all I get, guess what? It’s better than nothing.
If a three minute meditation before I go to sleep is all I do, guess what? I’ve started.
If prayer is a jumbled mess of words or a poem or “hey Jesus”? Yeah, my God knows where I’m at, even before I do.
If I don’t eat with any semblance of decency (or even if I’m closer than I usually am but still totally imperfect) but I am at least mindful of that, guess what? I’m one step closer.
If I start to write a blog post and I write “Listening to my body. Means. Going to sleep. Instead of writing.” and close my laptop, yes, I have figured something out. At least this time.
And if I admit all of this to you in a blog post? I’ve written the blog post. And hopefully, you’ll join me in stumbling towards those goals you think are too big, too hard, the things you think you’ll be imperfect at. Feel free to join me in the imperfection, learning the things they can’t teach in school.

Or at least watch along—because even stumbling is moving forward.