Tag Archives: health

Obsessed with Life, But not with Living

Have you heard about Cassandra?  She is a seventeen year old girl with lymphoma who is currently being forced against her will to 1)  stay in a hospital 2) receive chemotherapy treatments that can cause life long damage and infertility.

There’s a huge debate between her rights as a person who should be able to choose her own destiny and the medical necessity of extending her life because……, well……, life.

But the issue brings up a deeper point for me that I believe we need to consider as a society.

In this day and age, thank god, we don’t have to worry about dying from a simple little thing like a tooth infection or strep throat.  AIDS is very close to being lassoed and corralled and robots are helping with surgeries now.  Our medical technology is wonderful and as a wearer of digital hearing aids I am grateful for its advances.

Yet in our effort to maximize our lifespans, I am concerned that in the end we lessen the overall value and meaning of life.  You see, if just any life, as long as it is breathing is considered sacred then it seems we’ve crossed a line between what is beneficial and what is obsessive.

Is it life when a person is faced with nothing but doctors appointments and blood tests, day in and day out, sick to their stomach, pumping themselves full of pills to counteract the disadvantages to chemotherapy? Is it life when a young girl is left infertile and faced with decades of other biological consequences from the poison they are forcing her to take now?  Is it life when a soul is trapped inside a body that has no function and is completely dependent on others for its care?

I contend that there is a big difference between simply living in the most base sense of word as we are redefining it, which seems to be merely breathing, and in being effective, being able to appreciate each breath, and being able to control our own destinies.

If we allow our definition of life to include increasingly poor quality in the interest of longevity, then we lose respect for what it means to really live and what it means to be alive and living. Our time is too short as it is, do we want to water down its meaning as well?

My thoughts are with Cassandra and her family.  May they navigate this difficult time with grace and may they have strength to LIVE according their own terms.

Peace kids, and make it a good day to be alive.


a new year….

i am not one for resolutions, but new years does somehow offer the promise of a fresh start –  or at least a reminder to get back on track after the holiday melee.

the one thing i choose  to return my focus  to, as always, is to keep balanced:   in mind, body, and soul.

it is a difficult thing to achieve in our current civilization.  seems that the more sophisticated we’ve gotten, the more conscious we need to be to keep our lives balanced.  here’s what i mean:

the recent election here in the u.s. caused a frenzy of passion and emotions in which i myself participated.  it was difficult not to, there was so much at stake.   i wrote, i researched, i made videos and posted them to youtube as a way to channel my energy and passion.

while i was happy with the outcome i found myself depressed almost immediately afterwards. still we are in a political deadlock and still because of human greed.

but as the new year settles in i realize i need to focus once more on keeping a balance.  i don’t apologize for being passionate about our nation and its future. i do realize though, that it’s not healthy to focus on just one part of life.

in effort to stay focused on writing this year, i plan to write a short story a week to publish on my  tumbler account frankiewallace.tumblr.   my intention is twofold:  keep my imagination working since the book i am writing is very factual based, thus bringing balance to my writing by forcing my creativity somewhat. and it forces me to be consistent.

here’s to  a new year.  here’s to balance.  here’s to a healthy life!




This Thanksgiving, Margaret Sanger Gets My Gratitude

You may not be familiar with her name.  When she was nineteen she stood over the body of her dead mother, worn from eleven pregnancies, and vowed to make a change.  She kept her promise and we know her work as Planned Parenthood.

I am particularly grateful for Planned Parenthood this year.  I began visiting them over two years ago because I found myself a single, older woman (40’s), temporarily without insurance and needed reliable birth control.  It turns out that my age group is a growing demographic to Planned Parenthood, for the very reasons I myself wandered into their care.  In my experience, their care has been superb and I wanted to share my gratitude.

One of the first things I observed at my local office is the organization’s obvious commitment toward educating its clients.  In the lobby, in the clinical rooms, in the restrooms, posters and flyers inform me of my ability to get free s.t.d.  and AIDS testing along with plenty of condom captions informing me to make a choice for safe sex.  Other wall coverings include abuse posters and numbers for me to tear off should I need local, anonymous support.  In the patient rooms I have my choice of dozens of educational pamphlets concerning the same, as well as some informing me of my choice of birth control options. I would hope that such openness would allow women, especially younger ones, the comfort to start a conversation.

I found that as patients, we didn’t need to start the conversation, my nurse always does.  Every time I visit, I am asked if I’ve had a change of partners in the recent past, if so would I like to be tested?  I am always asked if I am in a healthy relationship, am I being abused in any way.  Do I think my boyfriend or partner might sabotage my birth control so as to trap me with an unplanned pregnancy?  Would I like a yard’s worth of condoms to take home for safe sex?  Do you wish to take a ‘morning after’ pill home with you for emergencies?  I can only say that I feel safe knowing that they are committed to allowing opportunities for discussion and education on such a personal, intimate level.  While I have not needed to engage my nurse concerning these issues, I am immensely thankful that my sisters have the ability to do so.

They also hold me hostage.  For a good reason.  At my yearly check-up I am only given three months worth of pills along with a breast exam and my mammogram marching orders.  No mammogram within three months, no more pills.  They make sure I am current on my pap smear as well.  I am thankful to Planned Parenthood for the concern and attention they show, I owe my health, in part to them.

Planned Parenthood is exactly what it says it is:  a place where women are empowered by education to make smart choices and have access to plenty of birth control so they can plan their pregnancies.  Were it not for them, my husband and I could very well be burdening the system with a medi-cal bill for maternity and infant care.  Thankfully, Planned Parenthood allows us the opportunity to get to a better financial place so that we can afford insurance.  This thanksgiving, I am eternally grateful to my local office for their tireless devotion, and to Margaret Sanger who followed through on her promise to make sure women’s health was given the attention it deserves and ensuring we have the ability to choose when to bring a new soul into this world.  Women have been practicing birth control since we began having babies, thanks to Planned Parenthood we are able to do so within a caring, holistic, and affordable environment.

Happy Thanksgiving, and Be Well,


new information kids!

proof that meditation does work


The Best Part of Gardening: The Things it Teaches Me

For the first time in a few years I’ve grown a garden this summer.  It’s not much, an old table set  with some herbs, lettuces, and cosmos,  and two half barrels on either side of it, one containing summer squash and one with tomatoes, all tucked in one corner of the backyard.  I also planted some new flowers to add to the few plants and lone miniature rose bush on the patio. Add an eclectic group of chairs and I have a quite nice sitting area for all my efforts. It’s autumn and I’m sitting amongst my plants and flowers now, reflecting on the lessons my little garden has gently brought back to my conscious, and I am grateful for them.

The first lesson I was reminded of is that timing is everything.  My grandma and mom religiously planted their garden by the moon signs (the Farmer’s Almanac was a staple in my home as a child) and judging by the jars of tomatoes and green beans I had to help ‘put up’, they were very successful.  There is a time to plant and we must be ready when it comes.  We must have our beds all made and soil prepared, after all, you can’t just throw seeds into some dirt and expect a bountiful harvest. If I want my business to grow, I must make sure I am prepared with knowledge and watch for opportunities to use it. If I want my children to succeed, I must prepare them for the ups and downs of life and I must know when to allow them more freedom.  Timing and preparation are imperative if I want my garden to succeed, and equally imperative if I want my life to succeed.

Gardening requires diligent watering.   I live in a very hot climate so missing one day of watering could be the end of a seedling.  Even if I missed a day with full grown plants, I could see the stress it caused them.  They could not produce fruit at their best with haphazard watering.  I learned to love the discipline of it.  One of the benefits of gardening is that we get immediate gratification.  Almost daily we can see our little sprouts reaching out with new growth.  I was reminded that some areas of our lives require daily “watering” as well.  Exercise for one thing.  Our muscles lose strength if we miss even a day of a workout.  Our mental health requires some sort of meditation on a daily basis so that the new seeds of thought or creativity can break free of the soil and grow to bear fruit.  But we learn to love the discipline of it.  I like the strength my body has, I like the way my clothes fit as a result of keeping myself physically healthy.  I enjoy the new ideas that come to me as a result of meditating – watering my soul.  I definitely cherish the enlightenment and personal growth that comes with it.  And if I don’t, if I miss a day or week or so, then I find I am stressed, not receiving any new enlightenment.  I am not growing, and any fruit I bear is puny.

As our seedlings grow and plants mature, one of the crucial elements of gardening comes into play: thinning and pruning.  Those little sprouts, so perky and promising must be thinned.  I know it is logistically impossible for my half barrel to sustain twelve squash plants, three or four at the most.  So I must pluck from them the weakest, the smallest, and the ones less promising.  Ideas are like this I’ve noticed.  I do not possibly have room in my life for every idea that comes across the wire. I must choose which one will benefit me most, which one is most promising, which one will grow to bear the most fruit.  But it is not just in the thinning of the sprouts that pruning takes place, we must also prune as the plant grows.   My tomato plants remind me of “Little Shop of Horrors,” they know no bounds and would take over half the yard I swear if I didn’t cut them back.  By doing so, the plant is allowed to focus its energy on the developing fruit it has.  Otherwise, it would become overtaxed by trying to feed all the tomatoes and they would end up puny.  It is good to bear fruit.  It is not so good to overtax ourselves trying to feed too many projects; they will suffer in their success.  I was reminded that we must be careful to understand that we cannot do it all. We must remember to scale back those areas of our lives that would inhibit the best harvest, even if they are healthy, even if they have the potential to bear fruit.  The simple reason is that we only have so many resources available in this life, we must be sure to channel them carefully for maximum yield.

We must enjoy our harvest!  There is no better feeling than being able to go out, grab a couple of summer squash and a handful of basil and cook it immediately, food straight from my back yard and into the mouths of my family; or picking a few tomatoes to dice and throw into a salad, bright red, sweet and juicy – best taste in the world.  Neither is there a better feeling than when an idea has come to fruition:  an article was published, a contract gone through, a child earning an award. It is important to savor success; much work, effort and discipline goes into its creation.  Besides what happens if we do not eat the fruit?  It spoils.  We might as well enjoy it.  I was also reminded by my proliferous squash plants that it is important to harvest consistently or else there’s no room for the new squash to grow.  As a writer, this particular reminder hit home.  If I have two or three ideas for articles to write, then I must get them out, I must harvest them in order for new material to come to bear.  What happens to squash (ideas) that are not picked?  They grow to be absurdly big and too tough for consumption.  They spoil – and they rob the plant of the ability to focus its energy on new squash since it has to feed this old dying useless thing.  Likewise, consistent harvesting of our ideas means more creativity.

Finally, gardening gently reminds me of the cycle of things.  As I said, the growing season is coming to an end.  Already I’ve pulled up my squash plants. I’ve got another month left of tomatoes, basil, and oregano before the first frost.  It seems that we have a similar cycle of creativity.  A project begins as a seed and before you know it it’s run its course.  Game over.  While we feel pressure to move on right away to the very next thing, gardening reminds us of a different path.  We need a moment to rest, just as the soil needs a moment to rest, just as an apple tree needs a moment to rest.  We need a rest to recuperate after a harvest and build up the energy for another growth and bearing cycle.

So happy hibernating!  Enjoy the fruits of your labor this winter if you’ve ‘put up’ some of your harvest – I will be enjoying some homegrown, homemade sundried tomatoes.  And as I do, I will be thankful of the lessons I’ve been reminded of this summer, keeping them in mind for when I’ll need them later, like tomorrow.

Be Well,