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But what happens on February 3rd?

A screengrab of a video by the tourism website of the state of Pennsylvania shows the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil being watched for signs of his shadow.

NPR reports on Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of an early spring.

What’s my favorite holiday? After Thanksgiving, it’s . . . Groundhog Day. And if, like me, you’re a fan of redemption movies—and of Bill Murray—then today you watched Groundhog Day . . . again . . . and again. . . . 


It's always February 2nd - ThisIsAuthentic.com

Click to relive Bill Murray’s day . . . over . . . and over . . . and over. . . .

My favorite part of this perennial movie is near the end, when Phil—Connors, that is—finally gets it. He starts living—and giving—in the ever-present moment. He hasn’t yet escaped the never-explained time warp he has somehow found himself in; but in time (whatever that means), he accepts his fate and eventually lives a perfect day that only close to infinite re-dos could have made possible as he learns life’s most important lesson. And yet . . .

What is a “perfect” day? The message of the film is that this Scrooge-like guy learns about becoming his best self through genuine interest in and compassion for others—all with a comic and romantic twist (not unlike Bill’s other redemption movie, Scrooged).* His reward for a lesson well learned and a life well lived on February 2nd?

February 3rd.

But on the other side of the screen, we don’t get infinite re-dos. We ordinary mortals need to learn as we go through linear time, not when we’re stuck in an endless loop of it. So how do we learn to live a “perfect” day on February 3rd after learning the lessons of our own February 2nd? 

My personal February 2nd, so to speak, was actually on Valentine’s Day 2014. I underwent my last vaginal radiation treatment (brachytherapy) that day following a total hysterectomy for uterine cancer on December 13, 2013. And I was still in the “glow” of having survived a brush with mortality and having learned my lesson that all moments of life are precious and, in their own way, eternal. Or are they? This is a topic for another day, but perhaps all moments of time exist somewhere, in some treasure vault that we can revisit . . . and revisit . . . and revisit—if we learn the combination or find the key. So if the cosmos is filled with all the energy that has ever existed, why not make our contribution positive?

But what if we become disillusioned because we can’t unlock all the secrets of the universe? Such reflections brought me to the realization that, at least in human terms, the most important secret of life is the one Phil learns in the movie. And this thought took me back to the lyrics of the 1967 song by the Youngbloods, Get Together,” which may hold the deepest human secret:

You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at your command

In an awesome and happy coincidence, when I wrote an earlier version of this post last year, a quick search for those lyrics took me to the February 3, 2015 page on the Huffington Post blog, “The Third Metric,” where that very song happened to be featured that day: Daily Meditation: Get Together.” Such coincidences seem to point to a cosmic connection, one that I don’t pretend to understand. Yet these occurrences whisper to me that perhaps we do hold a key that unlocks the secrets to at least our private universe.

In the afterglow of that “Whew! Narrow escape!” feeling post-op and post-radiation, I am still figuring out how to incorporate the lessons of my own February 2nd into my February 3rd. Learning how to do this will require me to be awake, aware, and appreciative during all the coming days until I run out of them. And it’s extremely hard.

Maybe tomorrow, on February 3rd, it will be enough for me to realize that aftermaths and interims are just as important as great events. Or maybe they are the great events. Life is still happening in an amazing way, even when we can’t quite feel the miracle of it after an emergency or a major event has melted into the rest of our experience.

Life transitions often feel shallow, muddy, confusing, unfocused, unimportant. But without the respite from urgency that we experience during exciting or traumatic times, we wouldn’t have the chance to dive deeper into our own being. These times spent in semi-mist may actually be mystical. Change is creative. So transition isn’t really a dark place to be feared or avoided, but a space offering a chance to learn and become your own next great thing. As earth transits around the sun, transition is how we experience time . . . and all the times of our lives.

Alone in my personal space, I will celebrate February 3rd, knowing that the ice crystals on the trees will become leaf buds . . . in time. I hope you will never be stuck on February 2nd and will have quietly wonderful February 3rds to look forward to for many years to come.


*And speaking of redemption stories . . .

Ghost of Christmas Past

Ghost of Christmas Present

Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

A Christmas Carol_1843_30%

Happy New Year from “The Patient’s Path”

Blue Globe_Happy New Year 2016_Middle_Reduced

Dear Readers,

Thank all of you for following our sister site, The Patient Path, since its inception in November 2013, when I began my journey with Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer. That site is now dedicated to cancers, particularly those affecting women.

Please continue to visit this site, which covers a variety of health and healthcare topics, and our sister cancer site throughout 2016 for more information, insights, and inspiration for becoming the most important member of your healthcare team as you embark on your own journey with gynecologic cancer and with other challenges to your health and well-being.

As we say farewell to 2015, I wish all of you around the world the best of the rest of the holiday season and much HEALTH, happiness, and prosperity in the new year.

Pamela Bond Contractor


A Christmas Carol_1843_50% My favorite story, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, was published 172 years ago, on December 19, 1843. Click the book to view the only manuscript version of the novella, which is housed at the (J. Pierpont) Morgan Library & Museum in New York. Do take a look—it’s a treasure. And click these links to read my reflections of two years ago while undergoing treatment for Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer:
My Current Story, Update: Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer No More: Emotional Reflections in Blue Places –December 18, 2013
My Current Story, Update: Uterine-(Endometrial) Cancer No More: Lessons from the Ghost of Christmas Past –December 19, 2013
My Current Story, Update: Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer No More: Lessons from the Ghost of Christmas Present – December 24, 2013
My Current Story, Update: Uterine (Endometrial) & Skin Cancer No More: Lessons from the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come – December 31, 2013

Thanksgiving Day and Globalization


© 2015 Prof. Farok J. Contractor, Rutgers University

“Freedom from Want” – Norman Rockwell, 1942

As Americans sit down to their Thanksgiving Day repasts each year, they are taught to recall the story of the “Pilgrim Fathers,” who in 1620 founded one of the first English settlements in North America at what was then Plimoth Colony in the State of Massachusetts. 

But the story of the English settlers seeking religious freedom in the New World was not, initially, one of gratitude. On arriving, they found nothing but “. . . a hideous & desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men.”[1] It was almost as if the settlers had landed on an unexplored frontier, like the Americans landing on a pristine moon more than three centuries later.

See the updated post: Second Helping, November 24, 2016


Early Globalization and the New World

Plimouth Plantation, Plymouth Mass

Recreation of Plimoth Colony, Plymouth, Massachusetts
See More at Plimouth Plantation

In fact, the very survival of Plimoth Colony, which evolved into the town of Plymouth, as well as the turkey that sits on the center of American tables on the fourth Thursday of each November, are testaments to more than a prior century’s globalization and trans-Atlantic travel. After 1492, when Cristoforo Colombo (re)discovered the Americas (the Norse had already settled in Canada around the year 1,000 under Lief Erikson), the Spanish and Portuguese had crossed the Atlantic thousands of times before the English settlers arrived in 1620; but they had concentrated mainly on the warmer and more fertile colonies in Mexico and Latin America. The English were left with the frigid, seemingly inhospitable remains—the North American forests, which appeared to have little economic value.

The Turkey
goulds turkey

Meleagris gallopavo mexicana–Ancestor of the North American Thanksgiving Bird

Most Americans at their Thanksgiving Day table do not realize that the large bird they are consuming is not native to America . . . and certainly not to Turkey. Its origin is Mexico, descended from a fowl that the Spanish exported to Europe a century before the English colony in the New World was established. By 1530, this bird could be found abundantly in European and British farms. However, in Europe it was confused with the guinea hen (an African fowl) that had previously been imported into Europe via Ottoman Turkey. Apparently, the taste, and the economics, of the Mexican bird were superior, and thus it displaced the African bird from European farms and tables. It is most likely that what Americans know today as the turkey is the Mexican bird, consumed by Europeans and then later re-imported back to North America on English ships. The Plimoth Colony settlers did hunt fowl, but if their catch included turkeys, it was the North American wild turkey (Meleagris Americana), not the Southern Mexican variety (Meleagris Mexicana)[2] that evolved into today’s turkey. (Of course,  today’s factory turkey is so genetically modified from its Mexican original that it is bland and likely much more tasteless, a far cry from its Mexican progenitor.)

“Squanto” and the Survival of Plimoth Colony

220px-Squantohowwellthecornprospered
Tisquantum (“Squanto”), Amazing Young Man of the Patuxet Tribe

Nine months after their arrival, more than half of the 102 individuals that disembarked from the Mayflower had perished of hunger and disease. The utterly unprepared and amateurish Pilgrims had arrived too late in the autumn of 1620 to plant crops, had underestimated the severity of the New England winter, and, to their surprise, found that their landing spot near the Cape Cod peninsula was unpopulated—so no human help or local advice was available. In another example of the effects of globalization, the Native American population in the area had been wiped out just a few years earlier through small pox and other diseases introduced by previously arriving English trading ships. One of these earlier ships in 1608 had sweetly proposed to exchange English metal goods for beaver and other animal skins, but then had captured and enslaved some of the natives and transported them to Europe.

One of them was a young man of the Patuxet tribe named Tisquantum (later shortened to Squanto), who was sold as a slave to Spanish Catholic priests for £20. Freed in 1612, Squanto traveled to England and lived in London for six years, with what must have been a wild hope of returning to his native village. In fact, it was not so improbable an aspiration because globalization was by then well established. Each year English trading ships would travel to New England to trade, pillage, and enslave. In 1618, Squanto’s English-language abilities and general acumen were noticed by an English ship captain who offered to take him back to New England in return for his translation and intermediary skills. Landing somewhere near the State of Maine, it took Squanto three years to walk his way south and find his native village (the place called Plimoth by the Pilgrims).

Squanto-Wampanoag

Squanto Greets the Surprised English Settlers

In the spring of 1621, as despair and death faced the weakened remaining English settlers, to their utter amazement a Native American speaking English, as well as the area’s Wampanoag language, stepped into their settlement, offering them friendship, advice on what crops to plant, and how to hunt and trap animals. More importantly, Squanto served as an ambassador or bridge to the area’s Narragansett and Wampanoag Indians, so that for a remarkable half century there was an uneasy peace between the English and the natives.

But by 1675, with more than 22,000 English immigrants, the natives realized they were being displaced from their own lands, and they launched an attack under the leadership of Metacom. This is sometimes described as the First Indian War. Of course, the locals were no match for English guns and growing numbers of colonists. The English presence in North America was by now an unassailable presence, whose later growth would populate the continent from “sea to shining sea.”

Thanksgiving Is as Much a Globalization Story as It Is an American One

Americans who enjoy their Thanksgiving repast are mostly oblivious of the fact that the story of the very founding of the United States is very much a story of globalization. Squanto’s trans-Atlantic journeys, his role in enabling the English bridgehead on the American continent, and the export and re-importation of the Mexican bird known to us as the turkey are vivid examples that globalization was commonplace—and even routine—by the 17th century.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

[1] From the diary of William Bradford (1590 – 1657), Governor of Plymouth Plantation Colony, Cape Cod, 1620: “A Hideous and Desolate Wilderness.” In History of Plymouth Plantation. In 1621, when only 50-odd half-starved survivors were left of the 102 that disembarked from the Mayflower, the word “governor” may have sounded far too grandiose a term. But with new annual arrivals, despite losses, the number of English grew to 180 by 1624, and had increased to over 1500 by 1650. (Patricia Scott Deetz and James Deetz, Population of Plymouth Town, Colony & County, 1620-1690.)
[2] John Bemelmans Marciano. On the origin of the species: Where did today’s bird come from? The answer may surprise you. Los Angeles Times, November 25, 2010.

What happens on February 3rd?

It's always February 2nd - ThisIsAuthentic.com

If, like me, you are a fan of redemption movies—and of Bill Murray—then yesterday you tuned into AMC and watched Groundhog Day . . . again . . . and again . . . and again.


My favorite part of the movie is near the end, when Phil (also the groundhog’s name) Connors finally gets it and starts living—and giving—in the ever-present moment. He hasn’t yet escaped the time warp he’s found himself in; but he has accepted his fate and lives a perfect day that only infinite re-dos and learning the ultimate lesson could make possible. And yet . . .

What is a “perfect” day? The message of the film is that this Scrooge-like guy learns about becoming his best self through genuine interest in and compassion for others—all with a comic and romantic twist (not unlike Bill’s other redemption movie, Scrooged). His reward for a lesson well learned on February 2nd? February 3rd.

But on the other side of the screen, we don’t get infinite re-dos. We need to learn as we go through time, not when we’re stuck in an endless loop. So how do we learn to live a “perfect” day on February 3rd after learning the lessons of our own February 2nd?

My personal February 2nd, so to speak, was in 2014. At this time last year, I was in the middle of my vaginal radiation treatments (brachytherapy) following a total hysterectomy for uterine cancer on December 13, 2013. And I was still in the “glow” of having survived a brush with fatality and having learned my lesson that all moments of life—even my life, which I have not always valued—are precious, if not eternal.

Or are they? This is a topic for another day, but perhaps all moments of time exist somewhere, in some treasure vault that we can revisit . . . and revisit . . . and revisit—if we learn the combination or find the key. George's Secret Key

But what if we can’t unlock all of the secrets of the universe? (Who knows—maybe it’s only one secret.) These thoughts took me back to part of the lyrics of the 1967 song by the Youngbloods, “Get Together,” which I always thought held the deepest human secret:

You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at you command

20150203_103012 (2)In an awesome and happy coincidence, a quick search for the lyrics took me to the February 3, 2015, post on the Huffington Post blog, “The Third Metric,” where the song is featured today: “Daily Meditation: Get Together.” Such coincidences seem to point to a cosmic connection, one that I don’t understand. Yet these occurrences whisper to me that perhaps we do hold a key that unlocks the secrets to at least our private universe.

In the afterglow of that “Whew! Narrow escape” feeling post-op and post-radiation last year, I am still figuring out how to incorporate the lessons of my February 2nd into February 3rd—my reward for having survived. Learning how to do this will require me to be awake, aware, and appreciative in all the days that follow until I run out of them.

On this February 3rd, as I see welcome sunlight turning ice into crystals on the bare limbs outside my window, I guess it is enough for me to realize that aftermaths and interims are just as important as great events. Or maybe they are the great events. Life is still happening in an amazing way even when we can’t quite feel the miracle of it after the emergency or major event has melted into the rest of our experience.

Life transitions often feel shallow, muddy, confusing, unfocused, unimportant. But without the respite from urgency that we experience during exciting or traumatic times, we wouldn’t have the chance to dive deeper into our own being. These times spent in semi-mist may actually be mystical. Change is creative. So transition isn’t really a dark place to be feared or avoided, but a space offering a chance to learn and become your own next great thing. As earth transits around the sun, transition is how we experience time . . . and all the times of our lives.

Alone in my personal space, I will celebrate February 3rd, knowing that the ice crystals will become leaf buds . . . in time. I hope you will have a quietly wonderful February 3rd, too.

20150203_112402 

Happy New Year 2015

Happy New Year_2014-15

Wishing you all abundant health, happiness, and a refreshed approach to life in the new year.


We will be exploring many topics in 2015 as the blog is updated and improved, bringing you stories and information to enhance your journey toward living the life you desire—both as a healthcare consumer and as a person connected to so many others who are glad you are in their lives—and also on their healthcare teams.

Best wishes to everyone around the world as we begin a new trip around the sun.

Thank you for being a Patient Path reader.

Pamela Bond Contractor

 

My Friend’s Story – Leukemia: Rosh Hashanah & Remembrance

Rosh Hashanah Happy Jewish New Year to Old Friends & New Family

September 24 was the first day of Rosh Hashanah this year, which ends at sundown tonight. As noted in my 9/24/14 post, it was also my 62nd birthday—the first adult birthday I have been truly grateful for.

Sadly, my childhood friend, Sandee, did not live to see her 62nd birthday. As detailed in my previous posts about her, as well as in the story of finding my sister after 50 years, Sandee and I met when we were seven—just at the time I “lost” my baby sister. My Sister’s Story – Adoption & Reunion had a happy ending. My Friend’s Story – Leukemia did not.

Sandee died four years ago tomorrow, on September 27, 2010 (at age 57) of an insidious blood cancer— just after Rosh Hashanah had started that year. And just one year after my sister came back into our lives. No one was more gleeful about that event than Sandee—especially when she learned that my sister had been raised Jewish! 🙂

But Sandee’s story is only partially tragic. She lived joyously, and one of her sisters told us that, as she lay dying, Sandee said that she had loved her life. She was truly blessed and gave everyone who knew her big dollops of her happy life energy.

One of the proofs of the gift that was Sandee is her legacy of four beautiful grandchildren. Just yesterday, right in the middle of the new year, I received this card from her daughter in Israel:

Sandee & Mitch's Grandchildren

As hard as it is to mourn the passing of my childhood friend, it is easy to rejoice in the part of her that lives on through her and her husband, Mitch’s, children and grandchildren.

Happy New Year 2014 to my Jewish friends and family. May you know as much joy as Sandee did during her shortened life on earth. And may you leave as wonderful and inspiring a legacy as she did.


Please also visit Mitch’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Fund-Raising Page.

Words You Need to Know for Easter Sunday–the Day before “Maundy”??

The Last Supper - Wikipedia da Vinci’s Last Supper

Check out this interesting, informative, and fun site for a discussion of some words about Easter: INTERESTING LITERATURE.

But they left out “maundy,” a word that came up in my writing group yesterday when one member recalled her father confusingly referring to the day before Good Friday as “Mondy-Thursdy,” as it sounded to her child’s ears. Maundy Thursday is also called Holy Thursday and commemorates the night of the Last Supper, which, of course, was a seder because the events preceding the crucifiction and resurrection took place around Passover. “Maundy” is derived from either the Latin word mandatum, which refers to a phrase describing Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, or mendicare, which means “to beg” (see Wikipedia and Dictionary.com).

And I didn’t see a single mention of my favorite rabbit, Harvey, or his pal, Jimmy Stewart. To my great disappointment, TCM isn’t showing Harvey this April, although to its credit it is showing a great lineup of old blockbusters in the Easter and Passover spirit. (Click for TCM’s April weekly schedule.)

Harvey & Jimmy Harvey – Universal Pictures (1950) (USA)

Have a Happy and Blessed Easter. I hope you all find golden eggs.

I paid my Passover respects to my friend Sandee in yesterday’s post.

Words You Need to Know for Easter Sunday–the Day before "Maundy"?

The Last Supper - Wikipedia da Vinci’s Last Supper

Check out this interesting, informative, and fun site for a discussion of some words about Easter: INTERESTING LITERATURE.

But they left out “maundy,” a word that came up in my writing group yesterday when one member recalled her father confusingly referring to the day before Good Friday as “Mondy-Thursdy,” as it sounded to her child’s ears. Maundy Thursday is also called Holy Thursday and commemorates the night of the Last Supper, which, of course, was a seder because the events preceding the crucifiction and resurrection took place around Passover. “Maundy” is derived from either the Latin word mandatum, which refers to a phrase describing Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, or mendicare, which means “to beg” (see Wikipedia and Dictionary.com).

And I didn’t see a single mention of my favorite rabbit, Harvey, or his pal, Jimmy Stewart. To my great disappointment, TCM isn’t showing Harvey this April, although to its credit it is showing a great lineup of old blockbusters in the Easter and Passover spirit. (Click for TCM’s April weekly schedule.)

Harvey & Jimmy Harvey – Universal Pictures (1950) (USA)

Have a Happy and Blessed Easter. I hope you all find golden eggs.

I paid my Passover respects to my friend Sandee in yesterday’s post.

My Friend’s Story – Leukemia: Remembering Her at Passover

SANDRA CRESPY KLINE - 12/6/52-9/10/27 There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real…. – Mitch Kline

 SANDRA CRESPY KLINE

           12/6/52–9/27/10 

I wrote about Sandee, who died three-and-a-half years ago of leukemia, on what would have been her 61st birthday (see the 12/6/13 post).

This post comes from her husband, Mitch, who is actively engaged in fund-raising efforts to cure blood cancers. Shortly after Sandee’s death in 2010, he lost his mother-in-law, Miriam, to lymphoma and his own mom, Dorothy, to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.


Dear Family and Friends:

It has now been over 3 years since I lost my guiding star. It was never a secret that my Sandee was the love of my life, my soul mate, my best friend. And, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t ask myself the same 2 questions: – What could I have done to have changed the ending to our love story? – What could I have done to have kept my promise to my girl—that I would always take care of her?

As I try to search for the answers to these questions, I will also continue to try to help others who are stricken with blood cancers so that they will continue to celebrate their birthdays and wedding anniversaries; “bust” with pride and enjoyment at seeing their children succeed and achieve; and watch in amazement the birth and growth of their grandchildren.

To help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), I have joined up with Team in Training (TNT), and I will once again be participating in the Philly TriRock Triathlon on June 22, 2014. It is my third “try at the Tri,” and through your incredible support and generosity in the past 2 years I have been able to raise $17,000.

My goal for this year is to raise $8,000, which will give us a 3-year total of $25,000. Ironically, this also happens to be the 25th year that TNT has partnered with LLS, so it is only fitting.

As I continue to try to make my beautiful Sandee proud of me, please help me to honor my Special Girl (leukemia), my Mom Dottie (non Hodgkin’s lymphoma), and my Mother-in-Law Miriam (lymphoma) by contributing to “our cause” and helping me to reach my goal.

Let’s work together in this fight so that others may never know the pain and heartbreak of blood cancers.

Thank you so much for your generosity.

Best wishes,

Mitch Kline & Family

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Logo

MITCH KLINE’S LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETY TEAM IN TRAINING FUNDRAISING PAGE

RESOURCES:

American Society of Hematology

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)

Lymphoma Research Foundation

Mayo Clinic – Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

National Cancer Institute – Leukemia

Team in Training (TNT)

TriRock Triathlon Series

The Day After Is Also the Day Before . . .

Thankful Clock Quotes_10% I hope everyone had a very good Thanksgiving yesterday. Our small family dinner at a suburban PA inn was quite nice, especially because my mother, aunt, husband, and son could all be there with me.

One of life’s truest blessings is seeing the same faces — even the wrinkled ones :)– around the Thanksgiving table each year. Yet the texture of each holiday may be different, depending on who’s able to be present. So yesterday I paused silently to think about those who weren’t . . . or couldn’t be.

Next year, I look forward to seeing these same faces–and I hope even more faces–around the Thanksgiving table in my own home.

* * *

Now, you may be wondering about the significance of the unusual image in this post. It’s actually an ad from a clock company that inscribes gratitude quotes on its customizeable large wall clocks (which can also be personalized in other ways). I was searching for a graphic that incorporates the notion that Thanksgiving–or more precisely, thankfulness–isn’t just about what happens on the fourth Thursday of November. Rather, it’s about how we live throughout time–in every moment we take a breath, we can find some reason to be happy about it. And maybe appreciating what we have lays the foundation for bringing even more good things into our lives. And the more treasures we have, the more we have to share with others. (I know it doesn’t always work that way, but wouldn’t it be nice if it did. . . .)

I’m not quite evolved enough to appreciate everything that happens with each breath I take. But I am grateful for all that I have–as well as for all that I don’t have (a disease with a more dire prognosis, for example).

Also, I wanted to include a quotation in this day-after-the-holiday post, and I combed through lists of them trying to find an appropriate one. The thought I was trying to capture was something like what I remember reading somewhere many years ago: to understand gratitude, imagine that you’ve lost everything–and then found it again.

I wasn’t able to find an actual quotation that totally encapsulates the essence of what I’ve been trying to say in plainer words above, but this one comes close:

Take full account of the excellencies which you possess, and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not. — Marcus Aurelius

To me, the day after Thanksgiving is also the day before another 24 hours in which to be grateful, both for what I have and for what I don’t have.

And understanding this–really getting it–may just be therapeutic.

* * *

Back to regular blogging about health and healthcare tomorrow.