Monthly Archives: August 2011

Up With This I Will Not Put

There can be no more visceral saying to depict resilience, audacity, resoluteness, than this very graphic statement.

This quote has been much attributed to Winston Churchill. Apparently, some ne’er-do-well editor rearranged one of his sentences so it would not end in a preposition. Word has it that Churchill wrote a note in the margin, “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.”

I first heard it said in the movie, She-Devil. Meryl Streep’s maid gets fed up cleaning not only after her, but after her lover, her lover’s kids and her lover’s dog, who went potty on the floor. Those are her final words as she stomps away, head held high, suitcase in hand, quitting her post, while Meryl pleads for her to come back.

I love the sound of that saying. I adopt it as my life motto now. I will embroider it on pillows. I will cross-stitch it and frame it. Up with this I will not put!

There are many things I can relate this quote to in my personal life. One, of course, is my illness. It is a chronic condition, but not one that has to rule my life. It did for a while, but I think it was because I let life best me for a time. But then, I got tired of coming in second. I made a move toward the inside, overtook it and passed it by. Running for my life, I snapped the ribbon and left it behind, in the dust.

Running. I could barely walk for fifteen minutes without pain. Walking the mall with my little girl was something to dread. Pure agony, torture. Well, up with that I did not put. I began to exercise, routinely. I began a love affair with my stationary bike. We would meet almost every evening; I would look forward to dusk. It was waiting for me in our private place, my patio. I would mount it and caress the handle bars; they reached out for me.

I’d slip my sneakered feet into the pedals; the pedal straps embraced them. My seat met its seat, for part of the time. I would get so revved up, I would pedal standing up. It was exhilarating. The bike would respond to me, telling me the number of laps I’d pedaled, my speed, how many miles I’d covered, how many calories I was using up. It communicated more with me than anyone else I lived with.

And as with any tryst, I would dress accordingly. I’d pull on exercise bottoms that fit like a second skin down the sleekness of my leg, providing me with muscular support. Always black. Some with a bolt of color flashing like a streak of lightning. Another boasted silver reflective strips curving round the knee of my revolutionary leg. I would slither into my tank top with built in support, black, of course. At those moments, I wished I had less to support. But, my bike didn’t care about my top, just my top form.

I would start my revolutions slow, pacing myself, loving the feel of the motion. My heart would start beating faster, my breathing accelerating with the ever increasing circular motions of my feet. The beading would commence, on my forehead, my arms. I would look forward to it as a sign, a sign that I was fleeing that which afflicted me. My own momentum would carry me away, away from all that dragged me down.

I would do bursts of quick speed, going over 20 miles an hour, faster, faster. My hair would fly in all directions as my body swung to and fro. I would hold that speed as long as I could and then collapse in euphoria against the front panel. I would cry out, the endorphin release so intense, I could not hold it in, the sweat blinding me, stinging my eyes.

And in between, I would pedal steadfastly, gazing up at the shape-shifting clouds as they passed slowly by. Their form changing in seconds as they, too, traveled in place. I marveled at how the veiled moonlight cast shadows, turning well-known trees into unrecognizable silhouettes. I preferred to keep the patio dark. Darkness interrupted only by the gentle flickering of two candles and the soft blue pinpoint of light coming from my wireless speaker. For my bike and I had to have our mood music while we communed.

When I was done, I would dismount on legs that felt like jelly. For one hour, I had had my way with it and it had had its way with me. We met like this for well over a year and in the end, I broke its heart; we hardly meet anymore. I’m seeking a replacement. I wore it out. It now creaks and groans, but I don’t. It’s shaky and unbalanced, but I’m not. It sits forlorn and alone, but I won’t. Because up with that I will not put!

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Bon Voyage

Taj Mahal, Agra, India.

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It’s five o’clock in the morning and I’ve been awake for hours. Thinking, thinking, thinking. And there is a lot to think about. There is always a lot to think about, isn’t there? And the more you think, the more stressed you feel.

Stress is an aggravator, especially to someone with a chronic condition like RA. Over the years, I have noticed that stress exacerbates my symptoms. Of course, I blame stress for triggering my disease in the first place. Maybe I was predisposed to develop this, but I tend to feel the stress I lived under brought it on so early in my life.

I have come to terms with the fact that I have this cross to bear. It has become lighter in the past few years and for that I am grateful. Realizing that others have it so much worse, makes me feel like giving thanks every hour on the hour. And I do give thanks, for my wellness.

This morning it is not my RA that has me in knots, but my child. My child is going away. She is going around the world. And it scares the living daylights out of me. She chose as her study abroad to actually go abroad, a round the world cruise.

I tell myself it is the opportunity of a lifetime. I would have jumped at this chance myself. But, I would have been the one enjoying it, not the one left behind to worry. Big difference!

I will try not to worry, easier said than done. For now my days will be filled with getting her ready to go. There are supplies to be bought, packing to do, flight to book, and excursions to plan. She is excited and I am terrified.

I know that every day my stress will increase a notch, till it reaches its peak on the day she flies away to another country to board the ship. Part of me hoped her financial aid would not come through, though she would have been devastated and in truth, I would have been as well, for her.

But, the fates have aligned. She wants to be a travel writer and this trip will fill her bucket list, as far as fodder for writing material for years to come. I am happy for her, I am.

She will keep a journal of her adventures and I will keep a journal of my days waiting for her return. While she is seeing the Great Wall and the Taj Mahal, I will be envisioning her joy. But, while she is riding camels in the desert and shark cage diving in the deep, I will be home biting my nails.

My various writing projects will keep me busy; Tai Chi and exercise will help me ablate the stress, but there’s no getting around it. It’s gonna be a long four months.

In The Zone

Tai chi show on Kung Fu Corner in Kowloon Park...

Image via Wikipedia

Standing tall, I take a deep breath as I raise my arms straight out to shoulder height. My open fingers mimicking a falling rain, I lower my hands to waist level. They float toward each other, palms down. My right hand then slices the air like the flat of a blade leading me to pivot on my right heel in that direction. The left foot adjusts its angle and I “drop” into position, bending at the hip and flexing my right knee.

Poised in a protective stance, I sense strong energy pushing back on my extended right hand, pressing against my outward facing palm.  I am holding it back away from me, keeping it at bay. My left hand, palm down, hangs low in front of me, guarding my center, shielding my core. I hold this position for a moment, letting the opposing force know I am ready and prepared for it. I am invulnerable.

Standing tall again, my right arm gravitates down while my left arm rises towards it; they cross at the forearm, as though suspending something in front of me, something round. I visualize a delicate sphere, it is my world; I am hugging my world. I am the unbroken shell surrounding it. No harm will come to it as long as I cradle it, making it invincible.

My weight resting on my right leg, I lift the left foot and step out on the diagonal, advancing against the unseen force. The motion is fluid, my left hand leads; my body follows, turning to confront that which comes at me from yet another direction. I allow my body to flow with the motion. I concentrate and think of nothing but continuing with the synchronized moves. I am part of a formation, a phalanx, performing a silent ballet. I am in the zone, the Tai Chi zone.

The dance progresses; the right hand moves up by the left shoulder and forms a fist. The left hand retracts against the body gathering energy then pushes back as the fist lashes out. The fist continues its momentum coming to rest by the right hip; the body follows its arc, swinging to the right, back foot pivoting on the toe. I am now crouched and ready to strike. I push that invisible force back once more and step forward with purpose, delivering my right-handed thrust.

I do not fight any one person in these pseudo matches, though I do face an enemy. Locked in a pitched battle against my personified disease, I withstand and do not cower. It is a contest I engage in daily, this struggle to gain and maintain my equilibrium, to meet the challenge of life’s burdens and its inequities.

When I practice Tai Chi, I achieve a level of serenity and all around peace no other form of exercise can give me. My worries succumb; my stressors evaporate. The poetry of the motion is beautiful and graceful, the camaraderie of performing it with others comforting and soothing. Performing it in solitude becomes meditation in motion. I withdraw to my innermost self and find medicine for my soul.

The Long Hot Shower

water stream from shower in close-up, showing ...

Image via Wikipedia

While taking a shower yesterday, a thought struck me. Could I claim a tax deduction for those long hot showers? After all, they are like medicine to me, practically a treatment procedure for my RA. I go in stiff and come out pliant.

I once read this man takes two hot showers a day for his RA. I only take one a day, though two would be nice. But, would that be a tax break on my water bill or my electricity bill, or both? Will just asking the question get me into hot water with the tax man?

And I don’t take those showers just for my RA. I do my best thinking in there. I go in cold and come out with all these story ideas, poetry outlines and passages. So could I lump them in with the home office deduction for my writing business?

Time, as they say, is money. And I spend a long time in those hot showers, a long time. The hot water feels so good, like liquid silk on my skin. I can practically see my joints loosening up, especially my hands. My hands are the most susceptible part of me to the RA related stiffness that sets in.

The saying that idle hands are the devil’s workshop cannot possibly apply to me. Anymore. For idle hands become painful hands for me. I like to keep them busy while I am awake. And what they mostly do, besides dreary housework and even drearier bill paying, is writing.

This brings me back to my original question, a tax deduction for my long hot showers. Why not? They are multi-purpose. They foster physical well-being and creativity. They are soothing and relaxing. I wonder if I can get the doctor to write me a prescription for hydrotherapy. It’s a thought.

The only thing that would make my long hot showers even more beneficial would be having someone to share them with. There’s a lot to be said for closeness and companionship to ease the pain of RA. Besides, it would also help out the environment, conserving water and all. Talk about compliant.

But, would he be my tax deduction or would I be his? Would that be one deduction, two deductions, three? Things that make you go hmmmm? Guess I’ll go take a long hot shower and think about that one.