Tuesday, December 17, 2013

YuleTidings 2013

Season’s Greetings, Mele Kalikimaka e Hau ‘oli Makahiki Hou!
I hope the Season finds you in high spirits and good health.

LBz year in review: Quite simply, I have been consumed with learning a new job, home projects and yoga.
Job first: our Memory Clinic is only one of two in all of Kaiser Permanente, Northern CA. Locally, UC Davis and Sutter also have memory programs and the field grows with demand. Ours is a multidisciplinary team including neurologist, nurse practitioners, social workers, pharmacists and medical assistants.
As the bearers of bad news, we often find ourselves convenient targets for anger and frustration - particularly surrounding the issue of driving. I remember my Uncle Bill selling his car with little fanfare, following his first accident. Wise man he, he had the good sense to know that in his early 80’s, driving perhaps required more dexterity and reflex than he possessed. 
But hey - we are not equanimous and sagacious Chinese men. We are American cowboys and we intend to ride our Mustangs into the sunset… or oncoming traffic, whichever comes first. Nor do we well suffer the indignation and sequestration of keys to said horseless carriage.  
Its… difficult and a daily opportunity to bring equanimity to our Memory Team. I can more quickly identify those situations that raise my hackles. “Its not about me/us,” I say, “Don’t take it personally.” Our team Neurologist Dr. Wong, is terminally joyful and a constant source of inspiration in this regard. Remember the idiom: like water off a duck’s back? Like that.

Of Kaiser Permanente: I recently attended a presentation to educate all employees about the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and our positioning in the ACA marketplace. We celebrated what we do well and looked at areas for improvement. 
I was shocked to learn that outside polling reveals non-Kaiser members view our care as substandard and doctors as mediocre. They falsely believe they cannot choose a Primary Care Doctor and that care will be fragmented and disjointed because they will see a different doctor at every visit. This could not be further from the truth.  
Conversely, our members (including employees) consistently rank KP the best place to work and receive care. Medicare concurs, ranking us tops in providing care for seniors. It is no mistake that Kaiser Permanente, Mayo and Cleveland Clinics are models for a new healthcare system. 
The Leapfrog Group, a national, employer-based organization that recognizes breakthrough improvements in safety, quality and affordability in healthcare named my workplace, Kaiser's Roseville Medical Center, “Top Hospital” for an unprecedented fourth year in a row. We are one of just 90 hospitals nation-wide to receive this recognition. 
So why does our poor public persona persist? Its a good question and one we are challenged to tackle. You know, Kaiser Permanente is the water I swim in - wearing rose-colored goggles, no less. I’d be very interested in the opinions/perceptions of those who drink no Kool-Aid. 

(Tap the pictures to expand.)
Home projects: For the last decade, I have straddled two healthcare systems and worked two, part-time jobs with split days off. Now I work a single, full-time job with two, consecutive days off. I find I have the energy to tackle home projects: painting, cleaning, sorting and discarding. 
I’ve had a vision of replacing my carpets with travertine tile. In October, my friend and gen. contractor Wade replaced 2/3 of my flooring with a “mosaic pattern” of travertine. The seemingly random puzzle of stone is, in actuality, a nine-foot-repeating-square. Its more beautiful than anticipated and lends a look of unexpected elegance. The acoustics are completely changed; like singing in the shower, egging me on - pity my neighbors.
After completing the floors (the remaining stone sits stacked on my lanai), the next big home improvement project will replace the back wall of my house with glass - inviting the outside in. I live against a greenbelt and wildlife preserve. Opening my home to the preserve will alter the space like nothing else. Can I just say - it feels sooo good to have my home become an expression of self.

Summer’s backpacking trip: This year, we hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Sonora Pass south into Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (Yosemite), just weeks ahead of the Yosemite Rim fire - California’s third largest wildfire ever. The trail was hot and dry, full of kindling, making for heavier packs as we carried more water.
Hetch Hetchy
A “fire ban” prohibited all fires excepting camp stoves but that did not stop some from starting and stoking camp fires. (Not unlike hunters that similarly started the Yosemite Rim fire weeks later.) We left the PCT to follow the water as it dropped directly south into Hetch Hetchy and were treated to stunning vistas of granite and water and deserted campsites on pristine lakes. Worth every aching muscle - eh Moose?
I am already registered for 2014’s trip of a lifetime. I am hiking the Haute (pronounced “oat”) Route through the French and Swiss Alps - from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. This is a bucket list trip for me and I am sooo excited. The actual hike is eleven days at altitude. Then I’ll to fly to Norway for the last of their hiking season in the fjords. I’ll be in Europe five-ish weeks. Lotsa walking, no tours - my kind of trip. I did find a Norwegian base camp  with intriguing/inviting tree-yurts. I’m opting instead for a hotel in Stävän’ger. No falling from tree-yurts!

"Running Man"
Yoga: I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for 20-months - gaining strength. Leap (and the net will appear) Yoga is three-blocks from home. I practice 6+ hours/week and most Sundays for 3-hours. The practice at Leap is lightly spiritual. 
There, I’ve learned to arrive on my mat, letting go of the day. Sufficiently strong, I no longer struggle through the poses. That allows for appreciating yoga as a moving meditation - bringing focus, stillness, equanimity and peace. There, I have found a community striving to live in the present with kindness and acceptance - a like minded community of many vegetarians with many tattoos. (No pressure to tat-up but I do feel conspicuously un-inked.) There, I am confronted with my aversion to touch and people in my space - and another lotus blossom petal falls. (The yogic equivalent of peeling an onion.) Its all a practice. “Practice makes  practice,” they say.
Jadalyn & Papa Nick
Davin's Honu (sea turtle) & friends

Ohana (family): Nephew Nicholas and wife Lindsey birthed baby girl Jadalyn last December and I am excited to attend her first birthday party. Great nephew Davin is quite the artist, a bent nurtured by his Popo (grandmother), my sister Gina. Niece Lael and longtime partner Darth became engaged with nuptials to follow in 2014. Mom moved into Craigside, an extended living facility, where she is surrounded by many church friends and new friends.

Betrothed: Lael & Darth
That’s my year in a nutshell. Follow my shenanigans on my blog Lorinz Muze at: http://lorinzmuze.blogspot.com. Should you want to be notified when I post, send an email requesting addition to the notification list.

I would LOVE to hear from you - for richness in life comes not from things - but delightfully gift-wrapped in relationships.
At this new year, I pray thee abundance. Abundance of health and wealth and love and joy and compassion and peace - now and always.

Ho’opōmaika’i (blessings) ~ Lorin