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Driving the Road to Recovery at a Safe Speed

Laird's Blog -

I recently got this message from a regular consumer of my blog:

I am scratching my head. I had full faith that you would make it through, but I am taken aback by your—appearing to me utterly foolhardy—upcoming schedule. Do your doctors know?! Shouldn't you be resting and drinking lots of fresh juices, and work on de-stressing your life?

Usually, when people survive cancer they make changes in their lifestyle in order to rebuild their body's defenses. Let us know how you see that... reading your missive, I worry. 


As this is not the first time this question has come up, it seems worthy of a response. The inquiry comes from a concerned place and expresses reasonable questions. So… in no particular order, here are my thoughts about why I am doing what I'm doing as I recover from multiple myeloma, keeping in mind that I have every intention of rebuilding my body's defenses:

o  What can be more therapeutic than pursuing one's passion?
I'm convinced that attitude plays a large role in health. As such it's valuable to my health that I keep my social change work oar in the water, at least part time. While I no longer work full days (excepting when I'm on the job), it's important for my self esteem that I continue to contribute to making a better world, one meeting at a time, putting to use the knowledge I've accumulated over the years about the nuts and bolts of what it takes to function well cooperatively.

o  Yes, my doctors know my travel plans
I have two main doctors: Buadi (a hematologist) at Mayo and Alkaied (an oncologist) in Duluth. I have deep respect for both and both have signed off on my returning to work in moderation. So long as my body is telling me that my recovery is continuing and I'm not relapsing, I have a green light. They have even told me that ongoing maintenance treatments can be flexibly scheduled to work around my travel plans. If I go overboard I have no doubt that my body will let me know that I'm being overzealous.

o  My work is not aerobic 
While it requires sustained focus, process consulting does not strain my lung capacity, tax my kidneys, or pressure the tensile strength of my compromised bone structure. Further, you have to take into account that I have been doing this for work for three decades and have a fairly solid idea of what it takes. One of the distinct benefits of honing one's skills is learning how to conserve energy without compromising effectiveness. It's an art form.

o  I'm working about half rate
While my schedule may seem breakneck to others, it feels like coasting to me. For example, I expect to participate in no conferences this fall (last autumn I attended three). Here's what travel I have lined up from now through the end of the year, which covers a span of 16 weekends:
—one weekend community consultation
—four facilitation training weekends
—one FIC meeting (for which I have no organizing responsibilities)
—one visit to see my son and grandkids

o  Most of my work this fall will be training facilitators
The majority of what I'll be traveling to accomplish this fall will be conducting three-day facilitation training weekends. In each instance I'll be working with a co-trainer (not alone) and all three of the women that I'll be partnering with understand that they may need to fly solo for a time if I run out of gas and need to lie down to recharge my battery. What's more, I tested the waters in this regard last June (when I was weaker than I am now) and the training weekend went fine.

o  I'm a veteran train traveler
Per my wont these past three decades, I will generally travel to and fro via Amtrak, where I find the rhythm of the rails to be mostly relaxing; not draining. I know how to slow down my metabolism on board the choo choo and rest up for the work ahead (or how to recuperate from the work just concluded). Having done it already, I know that I sleep reasonably well in the reclining coach seats, bad back and all.

o  I am not you
Like most everything else, there is considerable variance among people's temperaments and accustomed sense of pace. What suits one may be overwhelming for another, or perhaps painstakingly slow for a third. In making choices for Laird I am not asking others to make similar selections. I am only asking others to give me room to find my own way.

'Cohousing': una nova manera de compartir habitatge (Llibert Ferri) - Ara Andorra

Cohousing News from Google -


Ara Andorra

'Cohousing': una nova manera de compartir habitatge (Llibert Ferri)
Ara Andorra
En diuen cohabitatge però també s'ha estès amb el mot anglosaxó cohousing. Persones que tenen una visió semblant de la vida i es posen d'acord i s'associen en cooperativa per viure juntes mantenint alhora els trets bàsics de la privacitat. Gent jove, de ...

Lavori senza il certificato antimafia Ora il cohousing rischia di saltare - Corriere della Sera

Cohousing News from Google -


Lavori senza il certificato antimafia Ora il cohousing rischia di saltare
Corriere della Sera
E anche per questo i lavori sono in ritardo rispetto alla tabella di marcia. Così, il progetto di cohousing nello stabile al civico 15 di via del Porto rischia di perdere il finanziamento ministeriale destinato a coprire quasi per intero l'importo dei ...

Google News

Building Tucson: III Oaks Development creates new/old architecture - Arizona Daily Star

Cohousing News from Google -


Arizona Daily Star

Building Tucson: III Oaks Development creates new/old architecture
Arizona Daily Star
She believes in the “cohousing” concept — neighborhoods that combine extensive common facilities with private homes — and is looking for land to create such a community for one of her next projects. She envisions homes of 800 to 1,000 square feet ...

Blueprint Geneva Downtown

New listings on ic.org -

Website: http://www.blueprintgeneva.org City: Geneva State: New York Zip: 14456 Contact Email: ryan@blueprintgeneva.org Content Phone: 315-230-4070 Contant Name: Ryan Wallace

Bridging

Laird's Blog -

This evening, for the first time in more than a year, I'm hoping to play duplicate bridge. It will end my longest break from it since I first ventured into that arcane world in 1999. While I wasn't seeking a hiatus, one came to me anyway by virtue of the confluence of: a) my moving away from northeast Missouri (and the familiarity and comfort of my local club); b) my lack of a partner; and c) my ill health.

Now though, I'm doing much better in managing my cancer and I have the bandwidth to gradually reestablish social patterns in my new home (it is not enough to be catching up with Susan on Louise Penny novels and watching West Wing reruns). With Susan's blessing I'm venturing a return to what had become my favorite recreational pastime since I turned 50: duplicate bridge.

One of the niceties about the bridge world is that if you show up early to almost any club game, the directors will work hard to find you a partner. Thus, you need not arrive with a partner in tow (though that's preferable). In Duluth there is a game every Monday at noon and every Wed evening, which will afford me plenty of opportunities to play.
• • •As I thought about what to write about today, it occurred to me that the term "bridge" evokes a plethora of positive meanings for me, which it might be fun to illuminate:

1. Lift Bridge
 
This is perhaps Duluth's most distinguishing structural feature: the aerial bridge that connects downtown with Park Point, a long spit of sand that extends south, protecting St Louis Bay (which is the mouth of the river of the same name) and the estuary where all of the city's port facilities are located. In the image above you can view an ore boat making the transit between harbor and lake. Taconite (low grade iron ore mined in the Arrowhead country that Duluth is the gateway to) is loaded here on ships such as these, outbound for the steel mills of Indiana and Ohio.
The lift bridge was originally built in 1905 and then rebuilt in 1929 to be what it is today. To accommodate ships of all kinds the canal is 390 feet wide and the deck of the bridge can be lifted 135 feet (in about a minute via hydraulics and counterweights). It's raised and lowered about 5000 times annually, which works out to about 14 cycles daily.  2. Bridging Positions
A lot of what I'm called on to accomplish as a professional facilitator is creating a pathway between people where none exists, so that I can effect a restoration of flow of undistorted information and (hopefully) understanding. It's like being a plumber unclogging pipes. While not always noxious, dynamics among afflicted parties can definitely get anaerobic and tense at times. Thus, like plumbing, it's not so much that the principles are hard to grasp as that you are often asked to perform (with grace and even-handedness) under difficult and volatile conditions. 

To be good at this kind of bridging you need to be able to hear and see people where they are (rather than where you or others think they ought to be), which skill requires that the practitioner be facile at shifting perspectives and empathizing with the person feeling isolated (and possibly misunderstood). It's one of my most valuable skills.

3. Caring Bridge
This refers to the blog site used by my partner Susan and others to report on my progress as I steadfastly work to treat and contain my multiple myeloma (first discovered in January). While I mostly post about my health on this blog; others who have visited me or served in the capacity of being part of my care team have been encouraged to write their impressions and share information about my progress on the Caring Bridge site.

This site has now been visited more than 5000 times (since it was launched in late February), doing yeoman's work in keeping people informed—for which I'm thankful. It's great getting a variety of voices and viewpoints in play, especially ones for which I have no responsibility for directing or editing.

4. Duplicate Bridge
As noted at the outset of this essay, I am itching to start playing bridge again after a break of 15 months (reading Frank Stewart's weekday column in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is not nearly enough). 

Tonight I'm hoping to put my toes back in those waters, bridging from my old life to the one I have today as a cancer survivor living in a new town.

In closing let me share a good laugh I had a couple months back when Sharon (Susan's sister-in-law), who is a very accomplished duplicate player, explained that there has been a brisk sale of bill caps emblazoned with the common bridge bid "No Trump" among American Contract Bridge League players—especially since the Republican National Convention. Maybe I can find one available at a tournament in nearby Carlton MN this weekend.

Hah! I figure if we can't retain our sense of humor, what hope have we?

'The Art of Waiting:' What to expect when you're still not expecting - Bend Bulletin

Cohousing News from Google -


Bend Bulletin

'The Art of Waiting:' What to expect when you're still not expecting
Bend Bulletin
(When she reveals that a couple she's been profiling live in a cohousing community, I could hear my Grampa Simpson voice complaining about hippies.) Yet Boggs has done something quite lovely and laudable with “The Art of Waiting”: She's given a cold, ...

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?The Art of Waiting:? What to expect when you?re still not expecting - Bend Bulletin

Cohousing News from Google -


Bend Bulletin

?The Art of Waiting:? What to expect when you?re still not expecting
Bend Bulletin
(When she reveals that a couple she's been profiling live in a cohousing community, I could hear my Grampa Simpson voice complaining about hippies.) Yet Boggs has done something quite lovely and laudable with “The Art of Waiting”: She's given a cold, ...

Not Falling Behind

Laird's Blog -

Susan put on wool socks yesterday—a sure sign that fall is in the ascendant. Also, we can't help noticing that it's getting darker and darker when the alarm goes off at 6:15 am each weekday. It's not our failing eyesight; it's an inexorable seasonal trend.

At least it is in Duluth. At COB Monday, the ice cream shops will shutter their windows until May, even as the locals begin to shudder in the presence of breezes off the lake. So the wheel of the calendar is turning, and I'm gearing up for the fall process season—where I'll (cautiously) step back into the rhythms of an itinerant consultant, freshly recovered from getting my multiple myeloma under control these past seven months.

Though it's too soon to know exactly how much of my health I've regained (or how much I've been able to maneuver the cancer into remission), it's not too soon to begin living the life I can with the health I have. In 10 days I'll board the westbound Empire Builder (train #27 if you're scoring at home) for the City of Roses. In Portland I'll be met by Luz Gomez, who will drive me the rest of the way to Medford, where Weekend IV of the Pacific Northwest facilitation training will be hosted by Ashland Cohousing.

I can hardly wait for the opportunity to teach again. It's one of the things in life I enjoy most, and is a great fit with my accumulated knowledge (40+ years of group living and almost 30 years as a process consultant) and limited energy (as I gradually continue to rebuild my stamina following the stem-cell transplant in July).

Two weeks after my gig in Oregon (note that I'm protecting a week of recuperation in between), I will be in Richmond VA starting a different version of my two-year facilitation training—this time in the Southeast (centered around NC and VA) hosted by Richmond Cohousing, a forming community in the capital of the Cavalier State. Following that I'll be enjoying fall in Duluth, leading up to a trip to the City of Angels to see Ceilee and my grandkids in late Oct.

If I have my way, I will springboard off the end of that visit to use Los Angeles as my point of departure for a romantic (and heroic?) traverse across the breadth of North America to attend the fall organizational meetings of the Fellowship for Intentional Community at La Cité, a well-established ecovillage just east of Montréal. 

My hope is to negotiate the entire trip from Los Angeles to Ham-Nord QC and back to Duluth via choo choo—to the extent possible. It will take me five days and 4839 train miles eastbound (with a sharp dogleg right in Vancouver) plus two days and 1505 miles on the rebound (from Montréal to St Paul via Schenectady and Chicago). It's a fantasy train trip, and includes a ride on the Canadian (Vancouver to Toronto) end for end—it's the only long distance train across the continent that I haven't ridden. I'll get home in the wee hours of Nov 9 and will happily spend the rest of the month in Duluth, snuggling with Susan and giving thanks.

While Wikipedia cautions would-be travelers on the Canadian (Via's train #2) that the scenery can get monotonous (lots of pine trees and lakes), I am, after all, a deeply experienced bourgeois in backwoods canoeing and have a special affinity for both the North Woods and the Canadian Shield (the Precambrian granite that dominates the terrain from Winnepeg to Toronto). As it happens, in the early morning hours of the fourth day the train will chug through some of my most familiar territory in western Ontario, including a refueling stop in Sioux Lookout, from which I've launched many a canoe trip on Abrams Lake. So I'll be fine. 

My trip aboard the Canadian will simultaneously be both eye-opening (new scenery, especially as we crawl through the Rockies where we'll glimpse Banff, Jasper, and the impossibly picturesque Lake Louise) and nostalgic. A nice mix. 

While I'd much prefer to conduct this journey with Susan, she has used most of her vacation days to support me in my health crisis this year and she feels the need to stay closer to her desk at St Paul's the remainder of the year—paying back the church's kindness and understanding in letting her take off a good deal of time while serving as my main support. I'm fervently hoping that 2017 will be more characterized by our traveling together for our mutual pleasure than for attending to my medical treatments.
• • •In closing I note that one of the regular features of autumn is the shift from daylight savings back to standard time, the mnemonic for which is "spring ahead and fall behind." Looking backwards, it's easy to see that my health was falling behind last fall (though I didn't know it at the time, my deteriorating back ultimately resulted in my hospitalization with excruciating pain and the discovery of my cancer). This year, ironically, I'll be "falling ahead," taking advantage of the change of season (when vacations are over and communities return to full strength) to reenter the orbit of my consulting career, cherry picking the aspects from which I derive the most pleasure (and believe I'm delivering the most good).

Hopefully, this year there will be no falling behind.

No Man's Land

New listings on ic.org -

Website: https://www.gofundme.com/nomansland City: saugerties State: New York Zip: Contact Email: senorflaco@gmail.com Content Phone: Contant Name:

'The Art of Waiting': What expect when you're still not expecting - Idaho Statesman

Cohousing News from Google -


Idaho Statesman

'The Art of Waiting': What expect when you're still not expecting
Idaho Statesman
(When she reveals that a couple she's been profiling lives in a cohousing community, I could hear my Grampa Simpson voice complaining about hippies.) Yet Boggs has done something quite lovely and laudable with “The Art of Waiting”: She's given a cold, ...

Crece la tendencia del 'cohousing' en España y Estados Unidos - El Nuevo Dia.com

Cohousing News from Google -


El Nuevo Dia.com

Crece la tendencia del 'cohousing' en España y Estados Unidos
El Nuevo Dia.com
Según la revista EcoHabitar, hay lugares donde los residentes de un “cohousing” llevan a cabo diferentes actividades comunes, como una o varias comidas comunales que realizan en la "casa común", la cual cuenta con una cocina, salón comedor, salas ...

Review: 'The Art of Waiting,' What to Expect When You're Still Not Expecting - New York Times

Cohousing News from Google -


New York Times

Review: 'The Art of Waiting,' What to Expect When You're Still Not Expecting
New York Times
For all Ms. Boggs's sensitivity to diversity, she seldom strays from her own artist milieu to do her interviews. (When she reveals that a couple she's been profiling live in a cohousing community, I could hear my Grampa Simpson voice complaining about ...

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