Happy National Bird Day: The Hummingbird

On my walk to work I looked up, which is somewhat unusual in that most of the time I am scanning the streets and sidewalks to avoid being hit by a car or bicycle, or colliding with another pedestrian, or stepping into an errant pile of dog poop.

But this particular morning I looked up. Above hovered a tiny hummingbird floating beside the very tip-top of a leafless tree silhouetted against the background of the cool gray winter morning sky.

After several seconds the hummingbird settled at the top of the tree. I took a picture of it, and then I made a drawing of the picture. It looks like this:

Hummingbird in Tree Drawing Julianna Paradisi 2019

The Stars of Our Lives

Mixed Media on Paper 2016 by Julianna Paradisi

The air temperature was below freezing, and because of all of the rain earlier in the week, the streets were frozen. Lots of car accidents were reported on the roads.

Because I walked to work I didn’t think too much about it, but as I progressed closer to the hospital the sidewalks, and particularly the asphalt streets became more slick with ice. I was wearing the wrong sort of boots and had to tread carefully to avoid slipping and falling.

Most interesting about the experience was that when I came to an intersection I waited to let the cars go first:

1. Because I had to walk gingerly, and slowly, and

2. Because the cars could slide too, and I didn’t want to be struck if they did.

Surprisingly, some drivers were annoyed when I refused to go first after they waved me on. One was so upset he shouted, “I was just trying to be polite to you!” from his vehicle as he passed. Intending to be thoughtful I had affronted him by not accepting his gesture of kindness, as though we were characters in an O. Henry story.

It made me think about how we are the stars of our own lives, and as such, often interpret the actions and motives of others through the lens of their effect on us. The driver didn’t understand I was being considerate too (and concerned for my safety). It didn’t occur to him that the road was as icy and slick for pedestrians as it was for those behind the wheel of a car.

I don’t know who originated it, but before reacting to someone’s words or actions it’s helpful to remember the meme, “People are not against you, they are for themselves.” I know I do it too, judge others’ actions by the effect they have on me. I hope I can become more mindful of doing it, and less self-focused.


Baby, I Was Born to Run

Identity: Self Portrait

David and I are at our favorite brewery slurping steamer clams with broth-soaked crusty bread and sharing pints. Overhead, Bruce Springsteen’s disembodied voice wails Baby We Were Born to Run:

The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive

Everybody’s out on the run tonight

but there’s no place left to hide

Together Wendy we can live with the sadness

I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul

h-Oh, Someday girl I don’t know when

we’re gonna get to that place

Where we really wanna go

and we’ll walk in the sun

But till then tramps like us

baby we were born to run

It’s the first hot, sunny day of the year in Portland, and I’m thinking life doesn’t get any better than this.

In a few more days, my medical leave ends and I return to work in the ambulatory oncology clinic. Damn, back to work just as I’m feeling good. That’s how it goes. I’m mostly ready. There are restrictions on lifting, and time on my feet, which require light duty for a couple more weeks. I will return the same week Epic, the electronic medical record (EMR) program, goes into effect. The way the medical leave program works at our hospital, I was restricted from attending Epic training classes while on leave.  I hope I’m allowed to make them up during the time I’m on light duty. Otherwise, I will hit the ground running along with my colleagues.

It’s okay, because baby, I was born to run. Literally. Running is my exercise of choice. I haven’t been able to since this health problem began. Running is as much a part of my morning routines as brushing my teeth. I don’t feel right without it. Hopefully, my surgeon will give the go ahead to start at the next follow up visit. I am cleared for walking and do at least a short one most days. Growing stronger, and healthy again, I feel energy building within me.

The need to run is not only physical. It’s mental too. I miss my nursing job. I miss being the person who helps instead of the person needing help. I want to be Superman, not Lois Lane. I want to drive the motorcycle, not hold on from the back seat.