Tag Archives: patience

Airport patience is a special patience.

The plane is hanging out at the gate for an indefinite period of time. Like me. But at least it is here. Like me.

The plane is hanging out at the gate for an indefinite period of time. Like me. But at least it is here. Like me.

I’m still sitting in the airport and I’m not annoyed. If that’s not evidence of spiritual growth, I don’t know what is.

I followed all the rules today: I packed my luggage light and careful, I allowed for plenty of transit time, and I arrived at my gate an hour before takeoff.

But nothing I do can control the weather or airplanes, which is why, two hours later, I’m still on land, and assuming the third announced delay is the final one*, it’ll be just another hour before I’m off the ground.

“Just another hour,” and somehow that’s okay with me.** I’ve got books to read, music to hear, people to watch, and words to write. What more could I want, except to be on my flight?

Another time, I might say “a lot.” But in this moment I’m able to be okay with what is, and that’s a gift I don’t take for granted.

 

*It wasn’t the final delay announcement.

**It was another two hours.

Temptation, trying, failing, trying

Mini Napoleon by sweetfixNYC

I ate my own Napoleon(s) too fast to photograph. They looked like this though. But with more filling.

Sugar is not my friend.

I know this, I know this, I KNOW THIS, and if I have any doubts whatsoever, I need only touch my tender, itchy skin.

And yet this afternoon I ate a cannoli, half a Napoleon, something that looked like a ball of meringue but was crunchy amaretto instead, two coconut cookies with rasberry jam, and finally, another Napoleon.

I am not writing about this occurrence in order to guilt trip shame myself. I’m just confused, and I want to understand.

Nearly ten months ago I found out that if I stopped eating sugar, dairy, and gluten, my chronically itchy skin would stop causing me pain. At the time I made this discovery, I was in a great deal of discomfort.

eczema evidence

This is what my chest and shoulder looked like.

I’ve had eczema most of my life. When I was a child it was severe, but after I hit adolescence the rash faded to an annoyance. A persistent patch here and there, but nothing I couldn’t easily endure or ignore. And then came last summer. Suddenly, at age twenty-nine, I was overcome with an outbreak that rivaled the eruptions of my childhood.

The itching was relentless, and my scratching as destructive as it was unstoppable. Nighttime was torture. I tried wearing gloves, wearing socks over gloves, wrapping fabric and bandages mummy-style over my hands–anything to keep me from tearing up my skin as I slept. Nothing worked. Each morning I woke to freshly clawed wounds; no matter how short I cut my nails or how hard I tried to confine them, my unconscious hands found a way to do damage.

Then I stopped being able to sleep. Instead, I’d sit up for hours, scratching and worrying, experiencing flashbacks of long, lonely nights and futile frustration. In a way, I was grateful to be reliving my youth. I hadn’t realized how bad things had been, and connecting to the suffering of my younger self allowed me to show up with compassion, to heal distress that had not been acknowledged. It made me want to take action as an adult, to help her/me in a way I couldn’t before.

Having long ago maxed out the (in)effectiveness of steroid creams, I decided to try something different. I visited a friend who is a healer, and I surrendered my inflamed self into her care. Entirely desperate, I was willing to try whatever she suggested.

I immediately changed my diet. No sugar, no dairy, no gluten. No coffee, no chocolate. No chicken, no shrimp. No onions, no garlic, no spices; nothing raw, nothing frozen. I ate eggs, cucumbers, walnuts, apples. Salmon, quinoa, and kale. Hot lemon water in the morning, berries once a day, steamed arugula as much as I could manage.

I got better. The new diet, and my friend’s unique approach to acupuncture, was working. Two weeks into the treatment plan, I slept through the night for the first time. A month after that, my skin had almost completely cleared.

eczema improvement

Six weeks of solid self-care paid off.

And then I started to slip. A bowl of lobster bisque at a wedding. Some gluten-free gingersnaps at Thanksgiving. A few buttermilk bacon pecan pralines at a holiday party. As the new year progressed, I coasted along a gradual slope of occasional indulgence…that turned into a freefall.

Coffee became a daily habit. A couple weeks ago I had a Twix bar for lunch two days in a row, followed by a Friday breakfast of bagels and cream cheese and a Saturday night milk shake with a generous helping of cookies. I had a friend in town, and when we got groceries, I encouraged her to put shortbread biscuits with chocolate medallions in the cart and added ice cream sandwiches. When she asked about my restricted diet, I waved her off.

I knew I was pushing my limits, eating whatever and dismissing the consequences. I figured I’d get back on track eventually, but I was waiting for a sign.

I thought the sign would be jeans that were too tight, or a belly unfit for a bathing suit. And I’m sure those indicators are en route. But what showed up first were welts. All along my torso, my chest, and under my arms. Not quite as bad as last summer, but close enough to remind me where I’ve been. The itching is back too. I woke up scratching the other night.

“Food is either medicine or poison,” my friend told me last fall, and I know that she is right. I’m back to hot lemon water in the mornings, and steering clear of coffee and chocolate and everything else I’m not supposed to have. Last night I baked sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free muffins.

And today I ate a truckload of Italian pastries.

People change at the pace of pain. I’ve heard that before, and it seems to be true for me. Apparently I’m hurting enough to buy better groceries, but not so much that I can pass up free sweets.

I pray for patience and compassion; there is no place for shame. It is too easy to say, “What were you thinking, eating those desserts! You know better—and it’s not like you had one cookie. Have you no self-control? Do you not care that you’re harming your health?”

It is a little harder, but not hard, to say, “Oh hon, oh dear. I feel sad that you did that, but I understand. Sugar is not your friend, but I know how it pretends. I know it was very tough to resist that unexpected temptation. Yes, you lost control, and I know you feel bad. But you are making progress. Next time can be different.”

I ate a lot of sugar this afternoon, but I also passed up pizza at lunchtime, and instead splurged on carrot-celery-apple-ginger-beet juice to go with my arugula and walnuts and eggs. I am making progress. Next time can be different.

Patience in snowtime

snowprints

A grounded perspective is a good view.

I was unprepared for snow.

The weather app on my phone predicted chilly sunshine all day, and since I wasn’t expecting to work late, I didn’t check the evening forecast.

So the snow was a surprise. It didn’t seem bad as I exited the subway and went to get groceries, but by the time I left the store it was coming down hard and starting to stick. I was wearing slick-bottomed fashion boots and have a history of ankle sprains, so I decided to wait for the bus rather than walk three avenues while carrying a large and heavy bag of food.

I stood on the sidewalk for a few minutes, taking the time to observe that snow is like friendly rain: it’s soft and pretty as it falls, but you still end up wet. Then, since I was quickly getting soaked and there was no sign of the bus, I reasoned I was better off moving though the flakes than letting them accumulate on my unhatted head.

So often I take walking for granted—it’s my primary mode of transportation in Manhattan. But tonight I had to be vigilant, because there is no security on slippery sidewalks, especially not when wearing unsuitable shoes.

“Slowly, slowly, careful, careful,” I said to myself, keeping my head down and my pace measured. People around me moved faster, but I plodded insistently, lifting one foot and then the other, paying no mind to the progress of fellow pedestrians.

And that’s when I decided to write a blog post, because tonight’s journey home parallels the path I’m traveling professionally. I know where I want to go, but it’s a few avenues away and snow is falling. I will get there if I’m patient, and it’s not a competition, but one careless step and I could be on my ass.

It’s not easy, taking care of every. single. step. Paying attention to the footprints ahead of me while deliberately placing my own. Acknowledging and praising progress while staying focused on moving forward.

But it’s not hard, either, making my way with cautious determination, trusting that I will get where I’m headed. Catching slips before I fall. One step at a time. Simple. Steady. True.

It  was uncomfortable, walking with wet socks and a weighty load. “This suckity sucks,” I said once or twice, but I knew there was a warm bath waiting for me, and hurrying wasn’t going to make me drier. So I stuck with what worked. One foot in front of the other, again and again, and in time I got home.

photo

The view from my front door was a welcome perspective.