Monday, February 27, 2017

bitter cucumbers and copperhead snakes

it happened.

what i thought was a prick to my palm due to a thorn on a weed, was in fact the fang of a copperhead snake.  after the prick, i looked down and saw two things: a thorn among the dead leaves and a copperhead snake slithering off.

copperheads are not easy to spot
my 12 year old son was helping me clean up the leaves.  we both went inside the house.  i washed off the bite and then had my 15 year old son accompany me to the emergency room.  i have been trained in first aid and after all my training, the one thing i remembered was to stay calm.  during those training sessions, i used to think to myself, 'how can a person stay calm in these situations?'  i could not comprehend how one can control their calm factor.  after the snake bit me, the only thought i had was, 'you must stay calm or the venom will spread more quickly.'  i breathed and tried to control my heart rate and stay focused on what i had to do.

the bite was at noon.  my son and i drove and arrived at the emergency room by 12:25pm.  they admitted me, introduced an intravenous (IV) to my left arm.  my wife later arrived and provided excellent support.  about one hour after the bite, the pain was excruciating.  i was given morphine.  two hours later, the anti-venom was ready and administered to me and three hours later, the swelling to my hand and arm ceased.

during the many hours of waiting, one verse rang through my head, over and over again.
a bitter cucumber?  throw it away.  brambles in the path?  go around them.  that is all you need, without going on to ask, "so why are these things in the world anyway?"  that question would be laughable to a student of nature, just as any carpenter or cobbler would laugh at you if you objected to the sight of shavings or off-cuts from their work on the shop floor. (meditations book 8.50)

it would do me no good to re-live that moment and be angry at that snake.  yes, i could have worn more protection, but what was done was done.  and if i wanted to move on from this, i needed to focus on the present and keep a positive attitude.  and that quote above helped me to focus on the true nature of the situation and keep myself focused on the medical attention i needed.

after a two-night stay in the intensive care unit, the swelling went down and i was released from the hospital.  the swelling won't recede fully for perhaps several more days or even weeks.  but i have the use of my hands and can type and mouse - which means i can do my work.  for that, i am grateful.

furthermore, i am grateful for Stoicism, which, in my estimation, helped me remain calm and focused through the whole ordeal.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

january in review

the stoic journal

after thanksgiving, i started a stoic journal.  i would write a few things to be more mindful.  over the next several weeks between thanksgiving and new years, i refined my approach to something i think works well for me.

in the morning, i start by spending a few minutes thinking about something for which i'm grateful and then jotting that down.  next, i spend time thinking ahead - about my day - what will i do, challenges i may face and how to approach them.  then i'll spend some time reading stoic quotes or articles or affirmations ... then i summarize what i've read and write my daily affirmation.  this daily affirmation focuses on the three disciplines of stoicism (assent, desire, action).  i focus on one discipline all week then rotate to the next discipline the following week, etc.

then at night, i review the day and jot a few thoughts about what went amazing that day as well as what i could have done better or differently.  recently, i've decided to also write about how i've helped someone that day.

i keep my daily journal on evernote.  at first, i wrote in a hard-bound journal book and then sync it with evernote, but now i just input everything directly into evernote via the iPhone app.

i am still making minor tweaks, but by and large, it's a habit and it's working well for me.

reviewing the past month is another part of the process.  at the end of the month, i'll read my entries and pull out any themes or learnings and synthesize them into a blog post.

january review

starting weight: 194.4
ending weight: 190.8

big events: camille sick, football games, skinned knee, broken iPhone, started helping erick with his own stoic journal to help with his anxiety, uit f&o, urc f&o, turnover w/ phil, target distribution, in-laws visit for 3 weeks, family reunion surprise, housley book, phone conversation w/ oliver

at the beginning of the month, i was a little stressed with my weight gain from the holidays and the f&o process and some other seemingly pressing issues at work.  camille was sick - jill had to take her to the er; erick got really anxious about going back to school and also when his grandparents left.

looking back - camille got better; the weight returned to normal; f&o went off successfully (KKS & Ulka sent appreciative kudos to me) and the "story" is done as of today.  urc f&o went great, turnover w/ phil went great; erick has managed his anxiety.

highlights of the month were the morning walks (LL) and reading meditations and other books in the cold winter sunlight.

improvements; need to eat better (am in the process of getting better at this now).  need to not give in to negative assents so quickly - pause, evaluate, be mindful.