Wrapping up StoryWorth

Last year after Christmas I gave myself a subscription to StoryWorth, which is a way to write up my memories by answering one question at a time throughout the year. At the end of the year, all of the answers are compiled into a bound book of collected stories and memories. I’ve been writing away all year, answering some of their questions and many that I made up myself, ending with 67 “chapters.” They cover topics from childhood to education to careers to family to travels and more, such as my Covid experience and where I was on 9/11. Today I looked over all the writings, made edits, and pushed the button to order my bound volume. After I see what it looks like, I will order a few more copies for family members who’ve said they’re interested in having one.

Why do it? So that when my memory begins to get fuzzy, I can remind myself of answers to questions that no one else around me can answer. And because I have lots of words and like to write. I highly recommend StoryWorth as a great gift for someone you love or just for yourself.

I’ve renewed my subscription for another year but this time the focus is on my year of healing from the spinal cord injury. I’ve been blogging about my progress here, but I want to pull them all into StoryWorth and continue writing as the year advances. My surgeon told me that it will take 8-12 months to see the full results of my surgery and to see what comes back from my conus swelling. The plan is that I can use this project to keep track of progress, challenges, emotions, and results – and end up with a bound volume that pulls it all together in a way that the blog simply can’t.

Making a Thought Collage

Thought collage
Thought collage

I’ve been in a stuck place for quite a while now where my weight and body are concerned.  I know what to do, and I wanted to want to do it, but I just didn’t.  I finally got tired of it and decided to get my act together and take a step.  The one I chose was to go back to Weight Watchers, which I did last weekend.  I’m not particularly concerned about time frame or goals; I just want to refocus and take one step at a time to get healthier.

One part of that was sitting down and creating a new thought collage.  I used to make these every 6-12 months, or to mark a particular point in my journey.  Some were happy, others full of rage and pain.  Although I’d cut out things a year or more ago, I never got around to finishing the collage, which is the final part of owning the thoughts and feelings.

I collected some magazines and cut stuff out yesterday, adding in some that I found in the envelope of previously snipped pieces.  Most I couldn’t use because I’m simply not in the same place anymore.  This is a much healthier place  to be.

Since I’m busy posting motivational things today, go take a look at the lessons from the road in Do You Suffer from Diet Rage? over at Sparkpeople.com.

Coming Home

Blowing noseI can breathe easily right now for the first time in 10 days, as I sit in my chair surrounded by a small pile of used tissues and cough drop wrappers.  I haven’t been feeling great for the last few weeks and have been self-dosing with Sudafed, Flonase, Mucinex, and the icky Neti-pot, not to mention Tylenol, but they didn’t do the trick.

Having had a history of sinus infections and two sinus surgeries, I knew it was time to get help (ie. drugs) and finally went to Urgent Care on Thursday to tell them I had a sinus infection and needed antibiotics.  That took about 20 minutes; waiting for the meds took another hour.

But it takes more than two days to actually feel better and yesterday didn’t help.  I went up to Boston with some colleagues for a regional meeting and it was fun, but it also meant waking up at 4:30am to wake up and then drive 3 hours up and back for a 6 hour meeting.  I probably would have gotten more out of it if I hadn’t been coughing and blowing my nose most of the time.  Oops. So today I just slept until I woke up and took things easy.  Tomorrow will be the same.

Yesterday was the first time I’ve been back to Boston since moving here sixteen months ago.  Driving through Newton we saw the gorgeous “painted ladies”, those old Victorian homes with the intricate gingerbread trimming, sitting surrounded by trees in reds and golds.  Comm Ave had changed, too, with more trees and greenery down by BU, something that was in the works when I left.  And the law school had changed as well, in some small ways (paint, public area art choices) and renovated library space. I got to see all but one of my former staff members, but only for a few minutes while on a break from the meeting, and got lots of big hugs.

It was very weird to be back.  I took my colleagues on a tour and kept saying “our” and “we” when referring to my old department, which I didn’t even notice doing.  Seventeen years is a long time to be in a place, though, and it was understandable.

But it wasn’t home.  Boston and BUSL weren’t home anymore.  The amount of traffic made me claustrophobic and I was relieved to finally get on the Pike and head west, even though we still had Friday traffic all the way.  I was glad to get back to my smaller world here, to my spacious apartment and waiting kitty, to open spaces and smaller roads and a different pace.

Life is good.  When the antibiotics kick in, it will be even better.

I Shook Hands with Bill Clinton Today

Bill Clinton, member of the Class of 1973 of Yale Law School, came back to campus for a special presentation to the Yale Law community during his 35th reunion this weekend.  Being a good soul, I signed up to be an usher – in part, I admit, in hopes that I’d have a good seat.  I not only had that, I had the chance to shake his hand.   It was totally worth all the standing.

This wasn’t a big political event; Clinton was actually asked to come by a group of students involved in Universities Allied for Essential Medicines.  He spoke to a large hall of gathered alumni, students and faculty about America’s role in the world, including the importance of UAEM’s work on global health. President Clinton told the crowd: “I like [their work] because that is an example of how we turn good intentions into positive changes.”

Clinton was warmly received as he spoke on the future of the country, the economy, healthcare, the environment, energy, and our role in the world.  He gave a rousing endorsement of Obama, and eloquently defended his kind words about McCain as a PERSON (but not as a president), saying, “We have got to stop HATING people just because we don’t want to VOTE for them. It’s poison, and it makes us stop THINKING.” He ended his talk by telling us to do do something that matters, and that makes us happy.

He is a charismatic, engaging speaker and incredibly smart, with a good sense of humor.  And he looks so much older than we remember him in his days as president – but still good looking, perfectly turned out, and with twinkle in his eye (not to mention the Secret Service guys all around him – tho how they are secret when we can all see them is another question).

At the end he came down and walked a line of students and alums (and a few staff, including me).  He shook hands and chatted, and when he got to me, he put one hand on my shoulder and shook my other one — maybe because he saw the huge “YALE STAFF” button that I was wearing.  Or maybe coz I just look like a nice person and I’d been paying attention.  No matter why, I was thrilled.

Big Doings on Campus

Imagine my surprise to come into work this morning and discover parking and driving restrictions near the building, tight security, police everywhere, and signs in English and Arabic.  Not your every day event, even at YLS.  The moot court room was transformed into a little hospitality area with trucked in comfortable chairs, little tables with gorgeous orchids, a display of little snack and beverage items, and a fancy metal floor stand holding fresh fruit.

It seems we were playing host to part of the Loving God and Neighbor in Word and Deed (aka “Common Word”) conference, the first of several international gatherings of Muslim-Christian leaders seeking to find common ground between their faiths and redefine Christian-Muslim relations in the 21st century.  What a novel idea, to find common ground instead of fighting wars.

I don’t know all that much about Islam but I do know that what we see on the news and read about in our media isn’t a complete and true picture of the faith as outlined in the Koran.  It cuts both ways:  there are millions of Christians in the world, sharing the common book of the Bible, but it’s hard to tell that we practice the same faith much of the time.  The extremists get the press and make enemies – and can take a society in a repressive direction.

Can we say, fundamental right-wing conservative Republicans?  I thought so.  See?  it’s not necessarily only Islamic extremists that are a problem.

Tomorrow I’m bringing my camera along with my ID card and see if I can capture something around YLS.  Probably not the Jordanian prince, but maybe the signs, at least.  The big things start with small steps.  Maybe the conference will be part of starting a dialogue between cultures.