Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 New Year's Letter

Tap on photos once to enlarge and tap X in upper right corner to shrink.

Can you believe another year is behind us with yet another on the horizon? How lucky are we? Despite the fiscal cliff, gun control (or lack thereof), an unconciliatory Congress reflecting a divided people, no peace in the Middle East,  and the doubling of cat-tuna prices at Trader Joe’s - my glass is 7/8s-full and will likely remain so.

This year my adventures were distributed across the calendar and brought a continued sense of excitement and preparation to 2012. 
the Narrows
In July I explored the canyonlands of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (GSENM) in Utah. “The GSENM,” you ask, “What and where is that?” The national parks of Utah sit in a large ring and that grand expanse of wilderness between them, that great treasure trove of mineral and ore, THAT is now the GSENM.
In his establishment proclamation of 1996, President Clinton acknowledged that our national parks protect gems that become magnets of commerce and islands unable protect animal migration corridors and species from extinction (i.e. wolves in Yellowstone). With the stroke of a pen, he created 11-million contiguous acres of the GSENM and in so doing, stopped all mining, drilling, and destruction of this vast wilderness.

This is not a national park: there are no visitor centers, no carefully manicured scenic overlooks, no trash cans, flush toilets, shuttle buses, handrails, paved trails, no quick and easy rescue. It is as it is. And what it is is raw, naked mysterious and dangerous. There are flash-floods in narrow, unscalable canyons; there are sand pits that eat cars; pools of quicksand; rattlesnakes, scorpions; there are roads passable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles... There are box canyons, crevices, sharp cliffs, bone breaking falls; there are twisted ankles and heat stroke and inescapable situations.
   And there are sunsets bursting behind storm clouds, shooting stars the likes of which you haven't seen since you were a kid; there are sounds of desert waters, chattering coyotes, wind against sandstone, silence. ~ G K Chesher, Heart of the Desert Wild.

wind-sculpted sandstone
Half the trip was spent river-walking, the other half scaling sandy banks teeming with poison ivy, snakes, and ticks only to drop again into cool, canyon waters. Cliffs towered overhead, the rock a soft pink, the world - silent except for its own gentle heaves. And this is why I go to the wildz - to re-set and resynchronize my own heaves to that where God is most present - in the world of Her creation, the natural world. 

Lael and Mom in Guilin
“I want to go to China one last time and I want you kids to go with me,” Mom said last year. And so we did, six of us: my sister Gina, her husband Michael, niece Lael, nephew Collin, Mom, and me - for 16-days. Such an adventure starting with the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and Great Wall in Beijing, to the Terra-cotta Army in Xi’an, the Floating Mountains of Guilin, hoú-hoú sung (good, good food) of Hong Kong, and the Portuguese settlement of Macau. Follow my nearly complete Asian Chronicles at
China’s antiquities are mind-boggling and breathtaking and... much walking is required. Go while you are still mobile; China does not indulge the immobile.

w/the Fred and Tina
I paused in Honolulu for ten days and readied Mom’s condo for sale. We met visiting Portlander's, high school beau Fred and his lovely wife Tina, for dim-sum breakfast in Chinatown.
“What happened to you,” Mom exclaimed, ever the wordsmith, “You were such a cute kid!”
“What do you mean what happened to me,” Fred chuckled, “I’m still a cute kid!”
Mom is moving into Craigside - a continuing care retirement community that offers all levels of service from independent living to skilled and memory care. She expects to move for the last time by February first. Craigside sits not more than 1/2 mile from both her birthplace and lifelong church. Many fellow parishioners have taken residence there so her Christian community is imbedded within.
I am continually impressed with the results of my parents future-planning. Sprouted in times of true scarcity, their means were meager, their plans frugal, their tenacity unwavering, their results - fruitful. I hope it can one day be said that I was a good student and learned their valuable lessons.

I returned from China/Honolulu late October and on November 5th, I moved into my new office  at the Kaiser Roseville hospital campus - hired as a nurse practitioner in the new, Neurology Memory Clinic. Some minuscule part of me grieves in leaving the world of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and... the brain is the next frontier.
The bulk of my work will be in Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s occurs because a build-up of plaque and tangled proteins inside the brain clogs the pathways of cognition, memory, and synaptic plasticity - thinking, learning, memory, mood, even functions like swallowing. Not a day passes that I don’t remember, sometimes tearfully, Dad’s struggle. His plight lends valuable insight and infinite compassion for these patients and families. 
To date - there is no cure. What about prevention? A healthy lifestyle is believed to help. If you smoke - stop. Eat a healthy diet (more plants), get regular exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. While this is not new news - the good news is a healthy lifestyle is within your control.

I tendered my resignation at Mercy General Hospital in November and left the open heart team, a job I’ve held since 2004. You know I loved that job, loved the work, loved the skill-set, and patient population. But it was not a job I did easily or well just 3-4 days/month. I feared missing something and causing harm. And working Saturdays at Mercy had me with split days off; that was tiring. So with great sadness, I resigned.

On December 13th I organized a walk: Neuro Steps UP & Steps OUT. It was an employee Live Well Be Well, 25-minute, lunchtime walk that resulted in 20 walkers and a burgeoning walking movement on the 4th floor of Med Ofc Bldg 2. I organized a rain route and a sunny route and subsequently have six new, lunchtime, committed walkers in Neuro. And so it came to pass that I was knighted the Live Well Be Well champion of Neuro - a role that is well-suited to my natural proclivities, energies, and interests.

On December 18th and through no efforts of my own, I became a great-aunt for the second time. My nephew Nicholas and his wife Lindsey welcomed their first child Jaydalyn - and we did too.

Lastly, some of you know that my cat Puck discarded me like a stinky piece of cheese and went Rambo 2-years ago, only to return at Halloween 2011. While he remains feral, he does come home almost nightly to eat and sometimes sleep in the garage. The prodigal son returns...

What’s in store for 2013? 
I have been practicing Power Vinyasa Yoga for eight months. I am working on balancing poses and handstands - having mastered the headstand. Always another mountain, eh?
Classmate and dear friend John and I attended the annual reunion, UCSF Days in April. A subsequent conversation resulted in an invitation to give the in-patient/out-patient Diabetes Management lecture to the Acute Care NP class of 2013. I am thrilled and will lecture in April.
In July, my best backpacking buddy Bill and I intend to bite off another piece of the Pacific Crest Trail from Sonora Pass to Yosemite. “We have to get in there,” I said several years ago as we gazed into the wildz beyond Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Our route will bring us into Hetch Hetchy from the north-east, hiking along the water for the last few miles. We will be in-z-wildz for a week; care to join us?

My next frontier: “I’m still trying to figure out how to wean them off their dementia.”
Love hearing from you - please do stay connected. 
May 2013 be an expression of your heart’s greatest desires 
and deepest yearnings. 
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!   Lorin

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