Saturday, December 31, 2016

You are '16, going on '17

Looking back it's clear I left a lot on the table in 2016, at least when my year is laid next to the goals I set for myself last year.  I didn't send a single card to a friend.  My Spanish limped along in Nicaragua, and certainly belly-flopped in Spain.  And while I did 14er it with some new hiking buddies, I was not responsible for anyone's first 14er summit.  However, the year was not without merit.  I achieved some goals with gusto and style to spare, and accomplished other things that weren't even on my radar when the year began.  Lest I despair at ending the year where I started, I present my 2016 in review:
  • Cheered the Broncos on to a Super Bowl victory
  • Cross-country skied for the first time since fifth-grade PE class
  • Presented at a fairly major regional nursing conference on a topic that terrifies me
  • Pushed my hiking skills to the edge of my comfort zone

  • **Walked over 100 miles on the Camino de Santiago, and actually enjoyed our daily mass-produced pale lager (guess they make 'em better in Spain)

  • Reunited with my Nicaragua family: Nola, Doña Carmen, Zindy
  • **Figured out what the big deal was about Telluride (I actually liked Ouray better)
  • Rode horseback on the beach (I know, I did this last year too, but this year's version was really more how I imagined it, paying a kid twenty bucks to take his horse up and down the sandy shoreline in my swimsuit)
  • **Gave a killer Maid-of-Honor toast, if I do say so myself (I actually don't have to say so myself since everyone else keeps telling me)
  • Rocked out an entire year of nursing education (with enough success that we're just repeating in 2017, and rolling out to additional sites)
  • Hit over a dozen new breweries and tried almost a hundred new beers
  • Won free donuts for life! (I had my first one yesterday, and it was fabulous)
  • Ice skated on a frozen lake for the first time...didn't fall but it was close
  • Built a really awesome fort
  • **Ate pulpo and my first raw oyster on the half shell
**My three things outside my comfort zone and one new place, New Year's Resolution, check!

I think by now, y'all can figure out my 2017 resolution.  But I think what I really want out of the year is to pay more attention to the things that matter.  It's not until I've looked back through an entire year of photos and facebook posts that I realize that the things that made me smile the most were spending time with my friends' kids, making up stupid games with my family, taking a chance on a new adventure with new friends and having it exceed expectations, cuddling with my dog, and counting my blessings.  May 2017 bring more of that, and may I not be too preoccupied to appreciate it.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Where the numb meets the lonely...

There's something about song lyrics that have the power to lift your mood, give you solace, meet you in your sadness, release your fears, magnify your joy, warm your heart, voice your burdens, and generally just bring a little beauty, truth, and goodness to the world.  Song lyrics have haunted me and inspired me for years, prompting and guiding my own carefully hidden amateur attempts at songwriting.  There is a respect that I hold for songwriters, particularly those who manage to capture and craft that elusive line that hits me deep in my soul.  Those words resonate long after the melody disappears, and speak to the reality that humanity shares more than it differs.  It doesn't have to be some melancholic deconstruction of heartbreak or yearning; it could be a witty self-deprecation or a freeing declaration of love.  It could be rhyming "kitchen sink" with "diesel tank."  There's nothing that I can put my finger on, but I know there are lyrics that have changed me.  Here are a few of my favorites, as I listen to the background genius of Miranda Lambert's The Weight of These Wings:

"By the way there Mr. Tin Man
If you don't mind the scars
You give me your armor
And you can have my heart"

"I could be the shine that's in your eyes
The firmness of your grip
The promise you won't slip upon this road
You could be my heart when I can't start
Turn this fist into a kiss
My mind when I am blind with my own fear"

"I've been spending the last eight months
Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe I watched it begin again"

"I never tried to cross the line
But in my mind did several times
I turn the page and slam the door
But you still linger even more"

"If it can't make you cry
Make you mad or get you high
It's just a waste of time
Any old fool can go as far
Dress it up and play the part
But it ain't love if it can't break your heart"

"I still believe in miracles
I still believe in wedding rings and Bibles
I still believe the best walk you will ever take
Is walking down the aisle"

"She's my needle in a haystack
Shiny diamond in the rough
She's my five-leaf clover
Cause four ain't lucky enough"

"I've always been afraid of flying
But you can't blame a girl for trying"

"I'm walking talking drinking proof
A cliche in a corner booth
Ain't nothing new"

"Yeah I'd pound fear to a pile of sand
Choke lonely out with my bare hands
I'd hang hate so that it can't be heard
If I could only kill a word"

"So I like to fantasize
And watch the sunrise like it's a big surprise"

"I could use a love song
That takes me back just like that when it comes on
To a time when I wouldn't roll my eyes
At a guy and a girl who make it work in a world
That for me so far just seems to go so wrong"

"There are ghosts from my past that own more of my soul
Than I thought I had given away
They linger in closets and under my bed
And in pictures less proudly displayed"

"Well it's always a risk and it's always a dare
But it's a far more dangerous thing to listen to fear
But it's a beautiful thing to known and be known
Yeah there's a whole lot of life outside my comfort zone"

"Part of the beauty of falling in love with you
Is the fear you won't fall"

And one of my favorites from my own repertoire:
"But there's a price to pay for reckless
For blowing past the warning signs
A conscience saying you'll regret this
There's no turning back this time"

Happy listening!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Save the Pharmacists!!

I've heard/read/seen a lot of homilies, blog posts, Facebook commentaries, articles, etc. on Proposition 106 in the last month.  But I'm a little disappointed that I'm not sure anything of what's out there is addressing those on the fence, those who are leaning towards for, those who need the message.  Everything I've heard is a rah-rah pep talk for those who are already on board.  So, I don't want to belabor the point because I'm not sure that anyone who will see this fits the former category, but I offer my three main thoughts on the issue.  They may not convince anyone to look at things in a new way, but I offer them anyway because others haven't.

1. It's a slippery slope, my friend.  It is not so far a leap to say that "right to die" will very quickly become "duty to die."  It's not possibility, it's fact.  Countries and states that have already passed legislation allowing physician-assisted suicide have moved far beyond simply offering a choice that they claim is a right.  Terminally ill individuals are now being told that their health insurance will pay for their life-ending medications, but not for their life-prolonging medications.  It's health insurance, created and designed to help pay for health.  Why does nobody see this as a mockery of healthcare?  Why is it suddenly okay for physicians, who used to take an oath of "do no harm," who used to make healing a priority, whose very name is derived from a word meaning "the art of healing," to facilitate the taking of life?  I guess that's a tangent from my initial point that there is nothing to stop physician-assisted suicide from becoming insurance-mandated suicide.  It's cheaper to kill someone than it is to keep them alive.  I learned this in my high-school law class when debating the economics of the death penalty.  But that doesn't mean that death is the best option, nor that it is a decision that is ours to make, much less a decision our insurance company gets to make.

2.  There is value in the suffering.  I intentionally said "the suffering" because I want to make a two-fold argument.  There is value in the act of suffering and there is value in the suffering individual.  We as a society have disgustingly put the value of comfort above all else.  This is apparent in the holocaust of abortion, in the relativistic blindness that dictates that if we all leave each other alone in our bubbles we can all live in harmony, in the materialistic nature of the new "American dream", in the movements within churches to put appearance before substance (people squirming in pews because truth is spoken is an atrocity to be avoided at all costs), and I could go on.  But we were not made for comfort.  And there is value when we are uncomfortable.  It teaches us to reach outside of ourselves, to seek community, to seek goodness and truth and beauty as consolation, to learn our own capabilities, to prioritize, to express gratitude for the things that are going well.  It is human to feel sorrow, to feel pain, to feel doubt.  When did allowing a human being to feel less human become the goal?  When did living an authentically human life lose value?  And when did the person wanting to live an authentically human life lose value?  The individual who is suffering is not lost.  Presenting physician-assisted suicide even as an option sends the message that they have lost value, lost hope, lost meaning.  Many who choose physician-assisted suicide do so because they are lonely and afraid.  That isn't a result of their disease.  It's a result of the society who has abandoned them.  They deserve better than that.  Our society has long been a bandaid society-- choose the quickest, easiest, cheapest fix and move on.  Nevermind the root cause of the malady.  Please ignore that the reason that someone might be choosing suicide is because their family has abandoned them and they don't want to be a "burden". (#sarcasticfont)  That's not a desire to die.  That's a fear of living because the only option we've given them is living poorly.  It would be too difficult to meet the mental, spiritual, and emotional needs of this person, so we bandaid the physical needs.  Has it really been so long since we watched one of the world's most heroic men suffer in the public eye and show us the value in that suffering that we would prefer to sweep it under the rug?  St. John Paul II, please pray for our country and the lost souls that are guiding it.

3. I'm selfish.  Yes, that's my third argument.  In all the discussions about Proposition 106, I have yet to hear anyone mention what happens when a pharmacist objects to filling a fatal prescription as a matter of conscience.  The actual language of the proposition says "deliver the written a licensed pharmacist who shall (italics mine) dispense the medical aid-in-dying medication."  Sorry, what?!?  I don't work in retail pharmacy, and I'm grateful for that.  But I do have still have a sliver of my religious liberty left after 8 years of executive, legislative, and judicial attack.  And I don't like the idea that I may one day be forced to dispense the medication that I know, without a doubt, will be used to end someone's life.  I'm grateful that my fellow pharmacists and my administration have been supportive of my conscientious objection to dispensing Plan B (because, yes, even in a children's hospital, you can't get away from it).  But let's be honest, I don't trust our current government, much less the one that will be put into place if a certain anti-Catholic candidate takes over our country, to protect that last sliver of my religious freedom.  It will be gone before the election dust has settled.  If you don't have a stake in this culture-shifting legislation, think of those who do, and remember that those affected are not limited to the dying (and their penny-pinching insurance companies).

Like I said, I'm not certain that any of that is convincing, but I felt it needed to be said, even if the only people who read it are of the same mind.  One final caveat: I know I mentioned insurance companies a few times, and I know that millions of dollars every year are spent on life-prolonging but not life-saving therapies.  If that's your argument for 106, if you're willing to put a dollar amount on a living soul, then I'm not sure I'm ready to hear your rebuttal.

I reserve the right to make this blog as worthless to read as I feel like, and also to write as infrequently as I deem necessary. Just thought I'd let you know since I finally decided to share my blog.