Forced Relaxation (Patience?)

Sailing is amazing: going out on my boat, pulling up the sails, feeling the wind take over, floating at speeds my engine can’t make me go. The silence of the motion, the peace of the journey, the ability to get away from the chaos of the world all are reasons I love sailing. Last Saturday I went out on the boat with a girlfriend. The weather was perfect! Not too hot, not too cold, just right; like Goldy Locks and The Three Bears and her porridge. Perfect.

The sails are full, wing on wing.

We had both sails out and full of air. The boat was moving swiftly and quietly through the water. This is why I sail. The peace that comes with harnessing the wind. The being one with nature, yet having her push me along. My friend is actually lying on the bow watching the sky in this picture although you can’t see her.

Later, though, things changed. There are always lessons to learn when I go sailing. I’m still new enough that I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg on what I can learn. Nature had other ideas for later that day.

We traveled along the Pamlico River inland toward Little Washington. I really wanted to see what it would be like to sail to the marina on the waterfront there. I wanted to know if I could do it and I wanted some sort of approximation of distance and time to get there. I was stretching myself a little but the weather was fine and it was still midday. There wasn’t any problem at all. I lowered the sails and motored into the marina and docked. We went on land and bought a late lunch and I marveled that I had arrived at my destination by boat.

Leaving the marina was simple. The wind was low and we motored out. It was late afternoon but the sun was still high enough. I had a little inkling in my stomach that something wasn’t quite right. Nothing major, just a little antsy. I was beginning to wonder if we had waited too long to leave. The sky was still blue, though, and the wind was supposed to pick up some. I didn’t expect we’d have any real problems getting back to my home marina.

Historically, if that’s what six months of boat ownership is, I’ve learned that my electric engine isn’t all that great at staying charged and so I try to use my sails as much as possible, saving the motoring for docking. I love the electric engine; it’s easy to use, just like a car. All you have to do is turn it on and turn it off.

The wind picked up as expected. I set the sails again and we started off. It wasn’t quite a head wind but I still needed to make my way back to the marina in a less direct way. I locate some landmarks and begin to notice they aren’t changing. It feels like we’re sailing, the wind is blowing like crazy. The sails are full but they start to complain. The wind builds so I decide to lower the main and just use my jib. The boat was becoming a bit harder to control. This was a lesson in strength, in negotiation, in compromise. We continued to move forward, some. I motor-sail some. I have a lot of battery left, it shouldn’t be a problem, but I’m worrying a little bit more. I really want to see my slip and tie up for the night. The water is full of waves that occasionally splash us on board. As we go through each swell, my engine loses its purchase not helping us at all. I try increasing my angle, anything and everything I can think of. I look at my landmarks again and they are too familiar. They haven’t changed in a long time.

I lower the jib, it’s time to just motor, the sails aren’t helping and might be hindering. We motor a while but my landmarks are still the same. We’re not going backwards at least. The waves, though, there just a bit more than I like. I trust my boat, though, she’s holding her own. She can handle this, it’s me who needs to learn. The sun is lower in the sky now and I stop. I turn off my engine, pick up my phone and call for a tow. We’ll be okay.

The sun continues to set as we wait.

Patience. I look around and I’m at peace. I worry about my friend because she’s getting cold. She’s at least in the cabin re-warming herself.

I notice that; without steering, without sails, without motor, without anchor; we still have not moved. We’ve moved neither forward nor backward. We’ve merely moved in circles up and down with the waves. What a weird feeling! Eventually I do turn the motor back on because we did drift a little closer to an island, but just a little. I turn it back off and wait.

Patience. This boat will teach me to rest. She will teach me to listen to my gut, to trust my instincts, and to be patient. I knew this when I got her. I knew that I would learn from her. I knew she would be strong enough to withstand my learning. She’s almost as old as I am but she knows the waters better than I. I look forward to her instruction each time I take her out.

My new friend, the tow boat captain, took this picture of us.

Two hours or so, sitting and waiting, bouncing on the waves; we find ourselves in a cold dark night. The brightest light around is that of my mast. It was so bright, the captain of the tow boat first didn’t see us because he thought we must be land. When he approaches he asks if the anchor is down. No. Didn’t need it. Didn’t go anywhere without it either.  He comes near and tosses me the rope  to tie on. Says to me, you know the drill, reminding me that he was the one who towed me last time. I laugh.

I do know the drill. I know that I have things yet to learn. And yet, I know that I am safe enough here to learn some of these lessons. I know that I can call for help and it’s not a mark against my character. I do not allow pride to prevent me from asking. I know that nature has won this round. Yet I will do it all again. I may even have to call for a tow again. Let me learn. I’ve only just begun this journey.

We arrived back at the dock after almost an hour of towing. I’m certain the waves and the wind did not make it any easier for my rescuers than it did for me. They just had stronger engines. As I held on and attempted to steer behind them, the occasional wave would splash me. The wind was cold but I was grateful for the tow, for not spending the night on the hook, for the weather not being freezing, for having no rain. I was much too grateful to be bothered by being upset.

Lessons sometimes need to be learned multiple times before you figure it out. That’s the way it is with life. I’m certain I am in the process of learning something. Patience is but part of it. perseverance may be another. My body ached for three days from trying to control my boat in that wind and then being towed. I definitely got my work out for the day!

thank you for reading,

me

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Fighting Nature

Yesterday it was sunny and in the 60s in December in North Carolina. I love NC with its ever-changing weather. They say here that if you don’t like the weather today then check back next week because it will surely be different. Today the weather is rainy and in the 50s, I love it. Tomorrow will be cooler more and then by Christmas Eve we will be back up to pushing 70.

I knew the weather would be changing so I took my younger two to the boat yesterday. We drove the two hours without much fuss and then on the boat, just the three of us. I motored out of the marina and onto the Pamlico until we found some open space deep enough to set the sail. There’s just something to setting the sail and turning off the engine that is difficult to explain. The peace? The power? The quiet? When the wind fills up the sail and the boat slides through the water I know that life is going to be okay.

Maybe it’s the rules of nature? Maybe that’s the reason I love being near the water? When the rest of the world is in chaos, nature is firm, solid. Nature never fails to do what she wants to do. She brings her storms and her winds; her rain and her sun. She brings these and we must submit to them, work around them. Nature is a guarantee of things to come. You can count on her changing her mind and on her making her rounds.

The sun will rise and set again. The winds will come and leave. The rains will fall and the rivers will fill. Nature. Nature will change her course with the seasons but she will always continue. As humans we can either fight her or welcome her and that can make such a difference. In the boat when I face up wind I have very little hope of sailing, yet when I turn and face downwind I can sail as far as the water allows.There is a constant bargaining with her as I attempt to arrive at my destination. Nature is always true to herself, she knows who she is.

Back in the city, however, there is the chaos. The constant fighting of nature and never allowing her to be: the coats and umbrellas, the cars and the horns, the noise of the people, the lights and decorations. People have always fought Nature like no other being on the planet. That, I think, is what sets us apart so much. Without fighting Nature, there would be no libraries, no hospitals, no towns. Fighting her has its place. Harnessing her, though? That has power. Harness the wind and I can sail. Others harness the wind for electricity. How many ways do we harness energy from her? wind, water, sun, coal, oil, fire… Without her we are nothing. We cannot even eat without bargaining with her.

When I leave the chaos and join Nature in her fury, I feel her power and I am comforted. I know that despite everything, she will continue her patterns. She will continue well beyond anything I ever do. When people leave her alone, she will turn their creations back to dust. Nature. When we die we will be turned back to dust as well. She is a reminder to me that the chaos is limited. No matter what others say or do, they are limited. I am renewed having emersed myself in her, ready to live another day in the chaos.

thank you for reading,

me

Morning Coffee

I awoke quietly from my slumber this morning. It was as if there was a slowly increasing awareness of daylight. I was comfortable and warm lying there in my bed. I had nowhere to go and no reason to get up. No one else has claim upon my day today. If I wanted I could stay in bed forever. Instead, my body rolls over and snuggles the dogs a few more minutes. I lie there enjoying the warmth and the companionship. Why should I get up this morning? No reason, but I do. I’m not upset, not excited, I’m just here being me. I let the dogs outside and I start a cup of coffee. It’s about seven in the morning, a little later than normal but just fine.

My coffee is in my favorite mug. I went to the fair last year and carefully touched and held several different hand-made mugs until I found the one that felt just right. It has a lovely little bump where my thumb lies and it feels good in my hand. It’s not too big and not too small. I may never drink from another mug in my life, I like this one so much.

It may not look like much but this is my favorite mug. (Just finished my coffee, so it’s empty.)

I sat down in my chair and sipped on my coffee thinking about my day and just letting myself decide what I want to do. Today I could have gone to little Washington and looked around some; and I could have gone and cleaned up some on my boat as well. But instead I’ve decided to stay home with the kids. Christmas break is just beginning for them and the time is already flying by. I’m happy with my decision to stay home.

Life can throw so many curve balls that it can be hard, sometimes, to figure out which way is up. I love living life fully, even if that means a day goes by where I don’t actually do anything. That’s part of living. Living has ups and downs, hard balls and easy tosses. Life is about accepting each day with all of its roller coaster rides. It’s about accepting that sometimes there’s wind blowing into your sails and sometimes the waters are flat. None of it is ‘wrong’ it’s just part of living.

The hard part is recognizing that life is supposed to be with all of these extremes. Life is meant to be lived with ups and downs. I grow when I face the struggles, and I rest and heal on days like today. It’s about taking care of myself and knowing that it’s okay to do so. It’s simple, not easy, accepting life for what it is.

thank you for reading,

me

Bringing my boat home – 3rd leg and home

It’s home, at the dock as I type. My boat, my dream, resting well in her new home. She’s had to put up with me learning along the way but she survived and so did I. We’ve gotten to know each other better over the last couple of weeks. This last leg was from the beginning of the Albemarle Sound down the Alligator River over to Pamlico and finally Little Washington. She’s stubborn and prefers to be with plenty of wind. Her engine is electric and has an attitude of its own as well.

If she’s not fully charged she’ll let you think you’re OK until she decides you’re not. Then she just slows down, creeping forward, eternally slower and slower… you begin to notice the land isn’t moving next to you and that you’re giving her all she’s got… The ICW requires motor power unless the wind is absolutely perfect, which it wasn’t. It’s beautiful for sure, but, without a way to recharge my engine it begins to look very, very long. I can see the last bridge in the distance. I know that afterward I’ll have a chance of more wind but alas, I stare at the bridge for over an hour, it never gets closer. Such a lovely bridge, less than a couple of miles away. I could have probably swam that distance faster than my boat was going. Sigh. No wind, darkening skies, engine slowing and now not even moving forward…

I can see the bridge in the distance…

I finally make the call. I call for a tow boat. I really don’t want to but I’d like even less to spend the night on the ICW with no batteries and no way to charge them and no hope of more wind in the morning. It has to happen. I make the call, and we wait. It’s dark now with the bridge just slightly closer and we see them rushing towards us and then slowing to ask us if we’re on the hook. No. We’re not on the hook, we’re just not moving. They come and tie ropes onto us and then off we go. Six plus knots now, the icy wind in our faces for an hour, maybe more? As we head to our destination marina for the night to charge up and begin all again, I ponder why I wanted to do this in the first place. With less thought than was required to give them a call, I discover that I don’t mind the icy wind, nor the quiet night. I don’t mind having to take more time to get where we need to go. I just love being on my boat regardless of the circumstances. I discover I have no regrets, none.

We make to Belhaven, set the boat to charge up for the night and go to bed. Next morning, the charge still isn’t complete and I worry. I wonder what is wrong and if I’ve done something wrong. Yup! I sure have. I didn’t plug the 30 amp cord in correctly. I’ve melted my cord and it’s a wonder I didn’t set my boat on fire. We still have some battery and the winds today are supposed to be stellar. We plug in better with another cord and go get breakfast. A little more charge makes me feel better. After breakfast we’re off to a great start. Once we are out of the marina the wind is perfect, we’re sailing now. 6, sometimes 7 knots with the wind at our backs. My boat is loving this! She’s meant for weather like this. Before we know it we’re already on the Pamlico heading toward home. There’s another marina we consider stopping at to recharge some over lunch but the wind is so good we don’t want to waste it so we keep on sailing.

As we get closer to the river leading to Bath, I notice we’re not moving as well. The wind is a little less and off our side so I adjust the sails some and we’re still doing well, about 4 knots. I look over and notice the land isn’t moving again. What have I missed? There’s still a little wind but it’s not enough to keep us moving forward. I try tacking and do pretty well for a little while. Then when we turn I use the engine a little to get us ready to tack again. We’re at least moving forward again. But what is going on? Why is it so hard? The tide! The tide is going out, against us. We use the engine more but the battery is already complaining. We’d passed up the marina we could have charged at. The only other option is Bath. Bath is a mile and a half up the river just to our right. I might have enough battery to get there. I radio them and decide to go for it.

When we do finally arrive at Bath we are moving along at about a knot and a half. It took us over an hour to make it there with our engine slowing down the entire way. We plug in using the owner’s cord since I don’t trust mine, walk to the local Family Dollar to get some sandwich meat and then go back to the boat. It was a good stop, we met a few people, enjoyed some conversation and learned some more about my engine. What we failed to do, though, was stay. About 4 o’clock, I got antsy. I wanted to get home tonight and I really thought we could do it. We took the boat and motored back to the Pamlico and made our turn, no problems.

Then, then the damn thing decides it’s not going forward any longer. The battery slows but the wind picks up a little and we’re begin moving forward at least, just not quickly. It’s starting to get dark again and we still aren’t at our destination. Looking at the map, we just aren’t that far away. Why can’t we make it there? Do I really have to call for a tow, yet again?? I hate asking for help. Yes, I know that’s a problem but it’s just the way I am. I’m learning to ask more often but I still don’t like it. I wait. We are sailing somewhat after all. It really is getting darker, though, and colder. I make the call, again. AGAIN! Can I not get home without help?? No. I can’t. I have to allow others to help me and I have to learn to ask. They say an hour, and an hour passes. An hour fifteen, an hour and a half… I call again. That boat got into the crab pots and a different one was heading our way but would be another hour. We wait. Finally we see them and they make their way to us. I’m relieved beyond belief! It’s time for us to get home.

The sun is setting and the boat is slowing.

Thankfully, we arrive at our home marina full of health and in time to catch our ride to the house. My boat is home, resting, and charging with her shiny new 30 amp cord. We’ve made it. Our journey began in Norfolk, Virginia and ended in Washington, NC. We followed the ICW most of the way and we learned a lot. I’m no longer clueless with sailing. I’m not an expert but I’m much better than I was when I began. I started out not knowing anything. Instead of giving up or never trying I kept at it and I’ve become captain of my own sailboat, one that I can sail on my own if I choose. I’ve faced my fears and I’ve allowed myself to grow. I can’t imagine having not at least tried.

I look forward to my adventures to come. What would life be like if we all lived our dreams and didn’t let fear stop us? Thank you for allowing me to share mine with you,

thank you for reading,

me

Bringing My Boat Home – 2nd Leg

This time I had ‘parked’ my boat in a marina near Coinjock, NC. What a lovely area! The people there were great and the entire atmosphere was beautiful. Someone asked me why I’m so far from home. “What brought a girl from inland out here?” he asked. “Simple, it’s not there and it’s not inland.” I answered. I smiled. Why wouldn’t I want to be on the coast or near it? Why would anyone want to live so far from the water? These questions seem trivial but they are so real for me. I breathe better when I’m away from people and chaos. I feel better when I can see and feel the water, oceans and rivers. Since I finally have a choice, why not choose for a life that I love?

My adventure this time began with my son dropping off myself and his two sisters at the boat. I was the captain this time and it was going to be a girl’s journey. I expected we’d be at our destination by the end of the day if we started bright and early in the morning. We said our good byes to him and made certain he knew where we planned on needing to be picked up. Inside we went and rested until morning. I love sleeping on the water. The gentle and constant movement of the boat makes sleeping easy. Morning came quickly.

In the morning I awoke and began breakfast. We ate and then set off for our destination. Problem number one arrived before we left the dock… we couldn’t get away from it! What on earth? All I had to do was go forward and all the boat wanted to do is sit there. The engine was working fine, the ropes were all stowed and we just couldn’t get away from the dock. I was beginning to question my sanity already and we hadn’t even moved! (I think the problem was we were at low tide and the current was working against us.) We did finally manage to push away from the dock enough to go forward and we were finally off. There was no wind and so we motored along the intracoastal waterway until we were out of Coinjock. Once we passed the bridge it felt there might be a little breeze so we set the sails…

Problem number two… setting the sails. Remember this is my first time on my boat as the sole captain. I know how to do this and I know what needs to happen and yet… the main didn’t want to go up. I double checked all of the lines, nothing was tied that needed to be loose, there was something else going on… Problem solving 101, use your eyes. One of the lines was wrapped around the sail wrong. Drop the sail… fix the line… raise the sail… It’s much easier this time, raising sails is supposed to be easy. Remember never to force it!  We were finally on our way. The wind helped push us along a little better, even though it wasn’t great. We were able to move along and able to save our engine battery longer. The girls and I were having a great time.

We made it through the ICW with very little problem, slowly but surely, using our sails as we were able and motoring when we weren’t. The only thing that was bothering me was that we weren’t going particularly fast. I kept hoping for a good breeze when we got to the Albemarle Sound. I was watching the winds and they were coming from the NE, which was perfect for when we would make our turn to the west on the Albemarle. Things were going to be fine. I am forever optimistic! Exactly what does ‘fine’ mean? Fine means, we’re in a good boat, we’re not going to sink and if anything goes wrong we can call for help and the weather is good.

We did make it to the Albemarle and the wind was fantastic for a while. Life was so good! This is what sailing is all about. The wind rushing around us, the boat going forward on its own. The land flying by, the waves perfect. Peace, ultimate peace. And then? Problem number three…

Problem, the wind dies down some… and some more… we angle a little different and keep going.  There are absolutely no marina’s between where we are and where we want to end our trip. None. So, we keep going forward, but slowly. We take advantage of the wind as much as we can, saving our battery for our motor. The day is speeding by and we aren’t. We see our destination ahead of us, we know where we need to go but it never seems to get closer. This is November… days are shorter… the sun begins to set. I’ve not yet sailed in the dark, I worry some. But, I’m the captain of this ship and no one is going to get hurt and I am going to get to our destination tonight. My determination makes no difference on the speed of my boat. We turn the lights on. We are the only boat within site for miles. It’s a chilly day and there’s no wind and we’re not on the ICW any more because we’re taking a stop at another’s personal dock where I can keep the boat for a couple of weeks until I can bring her the rest of the way home.

The big problem… number four… we stop. Not just stop moving forward, but suddenly stop. Hit bottom, stop… grounded, stop… now what. Optimism? Yes. I still know we will be fine, safety is my first concern and so long as we are safe I don’t care what time it is or where we are. My youngest freaks out and I’m forced into a different part of my brain. We aren’t hard stopped but we did stop. Motoring backward doesn’t help. Drop the sails, stow them quickly so what little breeze doesn’t get us more stuck. Take a breath and take charge so everyone knows that we are going to be fine, still are fine. Tell my youngest not to worry, the worst that could happen is we sleep here tonight. We’re fine. (Fine… I’m getting tired of that word. I’m not fine! I’m frustrated, I’m sorry for putting them into this situation, I’m tired, I’m cold, I want to get to land as much as they do. But I promise them we’re fine and I keep going… praying… hoping.)

I call for a tow, the tow driver that answers me is the same one we met last time. “You’re not anywhere near me. Why did we get sent to you?” I ask. There’s only two in the vicinity and so he took my call since he knows me already. “Why are you over that way? I thought you were heading toward Washington?” He asks. I explain what we had decided and what happened. He’s not able to help us until morning and suggests we throw an anchor and settle down for the night. I’m not ready to give up yet. He’s worried we’ll get stuck on crab pots or get stuck worse. I notice the depth meter and that we’re not stuck any longer. The waves had moved us off of the sandbar we happened upon. Still, I’m scared, there’s a lot of shallows around me. What on earth do I do?? Play it safe and anchor? Or move forward a little at a time…

See that circle? That was me trying to find a way through the shallows…

Problems solved… it’s about 9 o’clock at night and we finally, carefully, approach the dock where we will leave the boat for the next couple of weeks. The boat is fine, we are all fine. It took us about three hours to get there and we had to turn ourselves around more than once to avoid grounding again. I spoke with the people who lived there and they helped me to navigate the area better. We docked, we packed up, we thanked everyone and we began to drive home… (I called the tow driver and told him we made it and were safe, he was glad to hear it and told me to touch base if ever in the area again.) After driving for about an hour I began to fade and convinced my son to continue the trip for us. I laid down in the backseat and passed out until we were home. Exhaustion, peace, accomplishment all overwhelmed me. We had done it, we had made it. I had successfully brought my boat closer to home and learned even more about sailing. I still love it all, the getting stuck, the getting unstuck… the land being so close and yet so far away… the night-time air, the chilly breeze, the wind and the stillness… loved it all. I had faced my fears and won, again. Life is good.

thanks for reading,

me

ps. last leg of bringing my boat home coming up…

 

Bringing my boat home – the first leg

Previously… At the beginning of November, on Thursday evening the 2nd, I drove myself up to Virginia in order to begin a trip to bring my boat home. I began my new life, my new way of living, my new hope in an amazing future. I became a boat owner, one that I can live in if I choose to do so. That first night I went onto my boat for the first time as mine and the first time by myself. I brought my things aboard and then sat down in the cockpit and ate a Wendy’s baked potato with cheese, bacon and sour cream. I just sat there and wondered at the newness and the craziness of what I had done. After eating, I made my bed and went fast to sleep. My life had begun a new trajectory, one that had never been attempted so far.

4 Degrees – Mine now, renaming later

About three in the morning I had to pee. I wasn’t quite sure how to use the toilet on board yet so I went to the marina house and relieved myself there. The night was so bright, a full moon, I didn’t need a flashlight. The peace and the calm of the mid night air, with the freshness of the unknown, was riveting. Back to bed, back to sleep, the morning comes quickly and it’s time to arise. I sit up and smile. I’ve made the right decision. I don’t know much about sailboats yet, but I have a hunger to learn. I place my things as best I can and go back onshore to take a shower.

A little while later the previous owner arrives, brings her things aboard, and we begin to prepare to sail. She has graciously offered to help me take the boat home and to teach me as much sailing as possible along the way. She’s patient and cautious. She never shows frustration nor gives up. I have a hard time at first realizing it’s my boat, and keep asking her if I could do something. She finally tells me, “It’s your boat now,” and laughs. Over the next three days we work together and I begin to gain confidence in my abilities. We stayed at a marina on Friday night and are off to a great start in the morning. I’m anxious to get on our way because our first stop was short of what we had hoped to reach. I really wanted to get her to her final destination for this trip where I could dock her for free for a week. Money is tight, I did just buy a boat after all.

Beautiful day but not much wind…

Saturday looks good but then when we enter the Portsmouth area the winds die down. We travel along the intracoastal waterway (ICW) and are at the mercy of our electric engine. We had fully charged it and it was fine but we wanted to use it carefully to maximize how far we could go. Night comes and we anchor in the middle of the canal, set the generator on and go to sleep, hoping for her to charge well over night. The battery is low but not too bad, not yet. When the generator goes off in the middle of the night, about 4:30 that morning, I get up and check the batteries. Nothing. It didn’t charge. Problem. We can’t sleep anymore and fix us some breakfast. The sun rises beautifully, removing the night and showing us the grandeur of our surroundings. Peace. God is here somewhere. His presence is in everything I see. The wonders of his creation are all around us.

The beauty of the ICW at dawn.

Sunday we make way and head toward Coinjock. We’re getting closer, hoping for winds enough to get us there. The engine is down to its last three percent and there’s no way to charge it. I’m counting the markers and the wind is dying down. It’s time to call for a tow. Always safety before comfort, we continue sailing in slow motion getting as close to our destination as we possibly can. We are being passed by yachts more than twice our size and finally I see a boat speeding towards us, coming to pull us in the rest of the way. The waters in the channel are plenty high but just to each side it drops to as little as 2-3 feet and without our engine and so little wind it’s all I can do to keep us from grounding.

Attached to the side of the tow boat… Relief!

Seeing him pull along side of us was a huge relief. We dropped our sails quickly and stayed I stayed as close to the center of the channel as I could. Once we were tied up, I could finally breathe. I’m not certain how it must feel for him to pull another boat but on my side it gave me a chance to rest. Being towed is interesting. He pulled us to our docking and our adventure for the weekend was over. We’re picked up by her husband, drive back to Norfolk and I drive myself back home… Home by midnight isn’t bad. I’ve accomplished more than I could imagine and there’s more to come.

Pediatric Rotations

Many think that pharmacy isn’t like the rest. We, as pharmacists, are often thought of as lesser, unnecessary individuals, at least until they need us. When they need us though, they love the knowledge that we have. I’m in the midst of one of my rotations and this one is with pediatrics at a large hospital. Yes, pharmacists are necessary and needed here. Below is what I wrote after the first day there.

“Day one of peds rotation and its after 10 at night and I’m crying already. The patients I have today are sick, really sick. I was assured earlier that most of our patients aren’t like these because these are in a special ward. But these are still these. I’ve never known DiGeorge syndrome and I’m grateful that I haven’t. Three of the 8 kids on my list are DNAR and they’re just babies. DNAR means “do not attempt resuscitation”. How do people do this day in and day out? How can I? So many medicines! Such little bodies! The slightest error on a med could cause serious damage, permanent damage or even cause them to die. And yet, many of these will die early anyway. I don’t question God, not tonight, but I feel for the parents and the kids who have never known not getting poked or prodded. Who’ve never had a chance to fly. But I am not one to know that they don’t fly somehow. Each person has their place, even these. Life is short but for them? So much shorter and yet it feels so long when they suffer.

I’m going to get my boat tomorrow night. I’ll drive up there and spend the night and then we will set sail on Friday morning, early. I’m excited, scared, and wanting to wait but I NEED this now. I NEED to get out there and recharge for next week. I’ve gotta take care of me or I’m not going to make this. Time for bed.”

I did go and get my boat. I love it. I stayed on it for three nights and three days as I learned from the previous owner how to sail. We sailed it down a little closer than it was, yet it’s not yet to its home… I have to take care of myself when life gets hard and I’m glad to have the boat to do that. I’ll be writing more about her later.

Today, though, was another hard day on rotation. Today we learned that one of the babies, really she’s two, will be removed from her life supporting ventilator in the near future. She has no hope for recovery and her parents have been holding on for a glimpse, a sign, anything they can. They’ve decided it’s time and despite what you think, they may be right. It’s not my place to judge them. I have not lived in their shoes and God am I grateful! I nearly cried when I heard the news but I held it in. Then when it was time to go home the tears began to flow on my drive. Even now they threaten to fall.

All of these children! It’s different when you get to grow old and die after having lived a long and fruitful life. That’s different, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. But when you’ve just barely had a chance and that chance was never one out of the hospital? What is life for? What is their purpose for being here? What can we learn? What can they show us?

There’s really a lot we can learn. We can be reminded that life is indeed short, whether you die at two or at 102. Life races by. We can learn to live our lives to the best of our abilities. We can learn to be grateful for our own problems. I’ve heard that if we were given a chance to trade problems with another we’d beg to have our old ones back.

We can also learn that when we have a chance to make a decision that many of our decisions don’t affect only ourselves. We might, and often are, affecting others. Some of these children wouldn’t be in the hospital if their parents had taken charge of their health. Some of the children are recovering from addictions that their parents have. Some of them are suffering from malnutrition and abuse. Some of them are there because of a genetic malfunction. There are so many things to learn!

Even our genetics are things we have some control over. Have you heard of epigenetics? What you do, whether you exercise or not, what you eat, what your mother ate, whether your father smoked? These all change how OUR genes are expressed. So even some of these can be better controlled and prevented. We are barely learning the tip of the iceberg.

Do me a favor. Go love on your babies, your mothers and fathers. Go hug your friends and kiss your spouses. Life is what we make of it. I vote we make it good!

thanks for reading,

me