Apparently last year, and the year before, I didn’t blog or do a podcast episode relevant to Thanksgiving. I want to make up for that…because…I am grateful for a lot! I often express gratitude in response to something difficult I’m experiencing.
Moving to Mendocino in August of 2021 was a huge transition. So much intense preparation with sorting and packing through 20 years of stuff. Saying goodbye to friends, familiar locations, a healthcare infrastructure, and more.
There were many obstacles to hurdle. I had a series of falls which led me to become a user of walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters. Emotional upheavals in my personal life. But with all of these I would try my best to tap into the good things…the here & now where I was safe in my new home, surrounded with love from my partner and cat family, and living in a natural paradise of Redwood Forests and Pacific ocean cliffs.
It is hard, though, to problem-solve a physical and/or emotional challenge and stay in that place of gratitude. Are there really people who have mastered this? Or, have they not been faced with some pretty hefty challenges? I think one of the key skills I’ve learned over my life is to not feel like a victim. Everyone’s got their stuff to work through. Having a sense of humor helps. As does being aware of others and their painful struggles. Developing a sense of empathy. Being a witness to others pain.
But does this have anything to do with gratitude? In my rambling mind it does. My mind right now is a little different. My mind or brain fog? Big news — after 2.5+ years of being cautious and well-vaccinated and boosted, I tested positive for COVID last weekend. It was surreal.
Over the last few months we’ve gradually become more carefree by eating in restaurants. We’ve entertained but have made a rapid-testing protocol for visitors to our home. After the third booster I felt like it was okay to unmask at an event with good cross ventilation. I was having fun. I did have fun with all of those Zoom parties back in 2020…but…I missed being with people. So I’ve been rejoicing lately; feeling grateful for new friends here in my new home.
On Saturday I received an email from a member of our local Jewish community that several people at a dinner party I had attended, tested positive for COVID. There were close to 100 of us at a restaurant for a closed party; everyone had pre-tested. But, something apparently went wrong. It’s bigger than just our community; the schools on the Coast closed due to the outbreak.
So here I am with….ssshhhh…COVID. I feel like a pariah walking around the house masked but grateful that my partner tested negative. I’m grateful for the vaccines and boosters because this situation could have been so much worse off for me. Do you remember how many people died? I’m a little miserable yet grateful too. How do I juggle this paradox?
The doctor quickly prescribed Paxlovid which is free. To my surprise, the 3 pills 2x/day are big and the directions with the medicine and on the Pfizer website stress, “do not chew, break, or crush.” Hello!? What about those of us with dysphagia? Do you know how many people — doctors, friends, strangers — thought they were suggesting a novel concept of “applesauce?” Crushing pills in applesauce helps but my throat muscles aren’t fools; they know a big hunk of hardness from mush.
And so, I guess I’m grateful to still have a little spunk in me to consider this a new crusade for me and Big Pharma. I posted in a dysphagia support group on Facebook and one woman, who has a feeding tube, shared her story of calling Pfizer; they have no intention of creating a liquid form of the drug. I am grateful to align with others to shed light on this health inequity. Oy!
I guess this was a bit of a Thanksgiving Rant. Here are a number of things I am TRULY grateful for:
- My life partner, Jessica, who tries her damnedest to take care of me with wonderful food, nightly foot massages, and a kindness and generosity that is unparalleled.
- My 87-year old father who has mellowed over time and actually texted me after the Colorado Club Q hate crime warning me to not go to gay clubs because they’re not safe. Ahh, my clubbing days are long over but thanks for thinking I even had that inclination.
- All of our cats for doing all the cute and annoying things you do. Especially Chiquita who lives to be rubbed only by me.
- All of the wonderful friends I am making in Mendocino, Fort Bragg, and Ukiah who have helped me feel part of a community. Especially the Jewish community, even though I got COVID. The seed was planted 30 years ago when I made a documentary which brought me up here for the first time. Was it fate? I am just so grateful to be here.
- My book club friends. I’m in four book clubs but the one I started back in 2009 is the anchor. Although we can no longer meet in person and have amazing potluck meals, I still look forward to our monthly discussions.
- All of my friends who made their way to Mendocino this past March to help me celebrate my 60th birthday. Thank you so much…I have wonderful memories, and photos to remind me if my memory changes.
- BORP and the individual online movement instructors who have and continue to have a healthy impact on my mind and body. Especially thanks to those of you who support my annual May Movement Challenge.
- My fellow myotonic dystrophy friends — those with DM1, DM2, and caregivers — we continue to learn from each other. A special shout out to the DM1 adults who participate in my monthly 50 years and older group. I cherish that we are growing closer with each meeting.
- The colder climate of this North Coast area. Not only are you beautiful but you’re CHILL!