Friday, December 11, 2015

2015 - Its a Wrap!

2015 - Its a Wrap!

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   As 2015 ends, I hope this holiday season finds you in good health and spirits. That is always my hope and wish for you. Often victimized by our circumstance, we easily fall into despair when ego or body experiences discomfort or dis-ease. In recent years, I have focused on vitality at every age and any stage. I realize that my body is the aging vehicle that carries me through this life. On my ever changing canvas, finding brilliant sunsets, shooting stars and glorious sunrises that herald the day is more intentional than circumstantial. I have turned my focus there and my recap of 2015 exemplifies that intention.

BD girls: Mom (L) and Milly (R)
Sibs: Sandra, Cornelia, David
Mom and twin Milly celebrated their 90th birthdays in April. We had a party in Honolulu that was good fun.

Also in April, I started a new job at Kaiser South Sacramento - a pilot program to bring Nurse Practitioners (NPs) back into primary care medicine. Over the last two years, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought 14 million uninsured US citizens into the ranks of the insured. (2015 enrollment figures are not yet released but I’m sure we can add another few million.) Every healthcare system is struggling with the influx of new members and is forced to re-think their care delivery models. Kaiser Permanente (KP) is no different. 
Long the largest, local employer of NPs, they slowed and stopped hiring NPs in the Sacramento metro area more than a decade ago. And while KP was gloved and scrubbed to deliver the brand-spanking-new ACA-baby in Washington DC, they seemingly did little to prepare for the primary care onslaught. While other systems hired and trained NPs ahead of the delivery - I guess KP thought they could hire enough docs. Beeeg mistake.
A circuitous route to: I am one of six NPs hired in a 1-year pilot to train NPs in primary care. I see the walk-ins (so all those years in the Emergency Dept. are more than helpful), manage all the blood pressure medication adjustments [our medical assistants check about 40 hypertensive (high blood pressure) patients each day], and help cover appointments, phone calls and emails of vacationing docs.
I’ve had to immerse myself in the books again - to bone-up on joint assessments, procedures, rashes and common ailments. I continue to do some insulin adjustment for my docs - after five-years in Diabetes Management I am skilled, I have more time and I enjoy it. They find it tremendously helpful. Dats da goal baby! The people, of course, make it worthwhile; I love the people. So it follows that I love my job but then… Have I ever held a job I didn’t love?
My goal is to say, “Yes!” as much as possible. “Yes, I can help you. Yes, I can do that. Yes, add them to my schedule.” I have to be more flexible than ever - its good training for aging - a time that seemingly brings inflexibility to many facets of life.
While our doctors love the help, the numbers must show that we positively impact patient care. If we succeed, our program will spread throughout the northern California region and several HUNDRED NP jobs will open within the Kaiser system. I am keenly interested in that. I can’t tell you how many NPs I know still working as RNs in the Kaiser system - awaiting NP positions. I saw this pilot program as a way to impact something bigger, much bigger.  … fingers crossed.

I own a Kamaka ukulele - one I begged for and received on my 10th birthday. (Yes, Jake Shimabukuro plays a Kamaka.) Two years ago, it returned home to the Kamaka factory in Kaka’ako for a well baby check. I began taking ukulele lessons this year. I walked into my first lesson carrying my battered case.
“Is your ukulele as old as the case?” someone asked.
“Yep.” I opened my case and people gasped. Kamaka ukuleles are feather light and cost a cool $1000 dollars now. They call my Kamaka vintage. I wonder what that says about me?
“You better buy a new case,” they advised.
Some of you may remember that I was actually offered a music scholarship to the University of Hawaii. I’ve always thought of music as my gift. I love music and practicing was never a chore. So I’ve really thrown myself into my ukulele lessons -  much to my enjoyment. It nurtures the kāhoaka (spirit) in me that is anchored to my heart/home in the middle of the sea.

As you know, California is in the midst of a multi-year drought, nine years by my reckoning, interrupted by the storms of 2011. If you’re reeeally interested, go to my blog at: for the first in a three-part series on the drought. 
Oaks of our cul-de-sac
Oak trees, notoriously adverse to summer watering, began dropping yellowed leaves and showering the ground with Hail Mary acorns in May - as if it was fall. All our trees are stressed after multiple years of drought and dry winters. I wondered about watering oaks and searched online. I found a study conducted by the University of CA in a nearby regional park. Their conclusions: Under periods of prolonged drought, supplemental irrigation of established oak trees may prevent their decline and death … if irrigation water is applied well away from the tree root crown area but within the tree rooting zone, even frequent summer water application may not be detrimental to established oak trees. 
So I began watering the Blue Oaks out front in the study’s very prescribed manner and under the cover of darkness. After several months and only when they clearly seemed improved, I contacted the city arborist, confessed by oaky sins, and we formulated a plan for keeping the oaks around my home alive and thriving.
They should be watering the oaks,” my neighbors protested, “Not you.”
“I agree but clearly, they’re not going to. And you must admit, if those oaks die, our cul-de-sac will look very, very different.” Uh… like crap - but I didn’t say that. Hence, I stopped watering my lawn and diverted my water to oaks.
LET'S DO THIS! Watering greenbelt oaks.
The greenbelt behind me is heavily studded in oaks - some that were severely stressed. After more research online, I found a formula for how and how much water. Here, each bucket has twelve 1/4 inch holes punched through the bottom - they deliver water slowly so it seeps in versus runs off. Five 5-gallon buckets  = 25 gallons. Its a lengthy process; my goal was to gimp them through the summer - and so I did. The rains have started again and I think the oaks are safe for now.

Yosemite Conservancy work group
In early August, I went to Yosemite for a week of volunteer work through membership in the Yosemite Conservancy. OMG - what a blast!!! AND-and-AND - we had a vegan cook from Italy!!! I ask you - could LB be any happier? Nay, nay! Camping in Yosemite during the summer with an Italian (certified dietician) chef preparing vegetarian and vegan meals for me? Heaven! We worked in the two, little known sequoia groves just inside the northern park entrance. 
The Mariposa Grove is currently closed for a two year restoration project. I would normally avoid projects on the Yosemite valley floor, much preferring the highlands. But I’m hoping to work in the Mariposa Grove next year. Can you imagine working amongst the giant sequoias of the Mariposa Grove while its closed to the public? Heaven with whip cream and a cherry!
I met fantastic, like-minded people. I met people who volunteer year after year and those who arrive in their motorhomes and volunteer all summer. Can you see my little gears turning? Retirement is but five years and two months away - but who’s counting?

Two close friends have suffered catastrophic illness this year. It makes me appreciate my own good health and the abilities/capacities of my body. It has also provided an opportunity for spiritual and emotional growth. I understand, in a new and profound way, that life is too short to be stingy with my love and approval. For the full story, visit my blog at:

I recently traveled an hour south to see Sandhill Cranes during their winter migration. Some of their habitat is clearly rice paddies flooded to support the Pacific Flyway migration. Their calls and coos are captivating and part of my “nature that nurtures” life strategy. 
As I said at the top, I have focused my energies toward heartstring strummers. They are: meaningful work, key relationships, daily exercise, writing and music. No-matchy? - No calendary. It makes for a life that is simple, aligned with core values and imparts a tremendous sense of peace and prosperity.

What’s on tap for 2016?
Niece Lael will shortly birth a baby girl. I plan to visit my new, grand niece in Los Angeles.
I will turn 60 and plan to party.
Friends John, Bill and I hiked in the Swiss Alps last year and plan to hike in the Dolomites (Italian Alps). 
Mom will turn 91 and I will reliably return to Honolulu.
I will fill the rest of 2016 with meaningful work, key relationships, daily exercise, writing and music. What about you? I would love to hear.

I’ll leave you with this last verse from a Country Western song  - where typically the dog and wife are on the lamb, he laments the loss of his best friend - the dog, the corn needs picken’, and the beer is chillen' on his ex’s cold heart. However in this verse, Lee Brice seemed to get it right:
Be a best friend, tell the truth
And overuse "I love you"
Go to work, do your best
Don't outsmart your common sense
Never let your prayin' knees get lazy
And love like crazy.

Prefer Ram Das? Tell the truth and love everyone.

Mele Kalikimaka é Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! 
Me ka manao hoihoi I ka mau a mau loa aku (with love infinitely) ~ Lorin