in this, and every other universe, I do.

I do love late summer and early fall and will ALWAYS enter September in best-month-of-the-year contests, my birthday and baby boy’s birthday notwithstanding.  It’s also a fabulous time of year to have a wedding, and the wedding that I officiated last weekend was no exception.

A few highlights, with commentary:

Who: two self-described and most endearing “geeks” who love fantasy, science and reason, Dragon Con, gaming, taekwondo, their cat kids, their friends, and each other

C and M were most wonderful to work with — organized to the minute, and articulate and easy to be with.  They brought their full selves and their love for each other to the center of every conversation we had, making it easy to filter out their values and create a ceremony that reflected their unique and most athiestic beliefs (or what they might describe as “non-beliefs”), the details of their journey together thus far,  as well as their fascination with fantasy world.

Where: semi-rural Connecticut at a lovely all-inclusive banquet house






I’m crazy about late summer-to-fall landscaping and the way it graces gardens with a cacophony of colors…some final, farewell glimpses of pinks and yellows and an ushering in of fall’s richer palette.  C and M adorned the space and their color-coded party with the same summer-to-fall juxtaposition and were, themselves, radiant in their excitement about the day, each other, and their posse of spirited folks there in support of a special day.

Setting the scene for party time: Before the ceremony, I noticed elements for the reception-to-follow come together that spoke to their personal and shared lives, such as Battleship-themed centerpieces.  Wouldn’t you be delighted to sit at Table Galactica?

Or the Millennium Falcon?

A unique ritual: Our intimate work together brought about a ceremony rich in details about the rhythms of their lives, accentuated by a sci-fi soundtrack, a bit of Shakespeare, and symbols of independence, trust, and a shared journey.

Feeling good: Moments before the ceremony, C enjoyed a coke with ice and some trail mix among her ladies-in-waiting, and reported to me she felt, “fabulous.”  I took this (a relaxed bride!) as a sign to loosen my grip on my prepared comments and let a few jokes fly.

And indeed…: as a group of witnesses and participants in this special ceremony, we laughed.  We smiled.  We processed in order.  It was a beautiful day and an honor to play a part.  And indeed, they did.



Curing Yourself of an Incurable Disease, Part 5

you don't get to stay here indefinitely

hey Disease! You don't get to stay here indefinitely...

Unorthodox  Idea  #5

Tell Your Doctor.

Doctors want to see medical miracles happen as much as the rest of us do.  It was awhile before I told my doctor I was nearly certain I was through with Lupus.  I wanted to be symptom-free for a good while, and more importantly, I wanted to feel it in my gut.

When I did go and have an office visit, the conversation went like this:

Doctor: “So, what brings you into the office today?”

Me: “Well, I’m here because I really don’t think I have Lupus anymore.”

I fidgeted while she looked down at the copy of my medical chart she was holding, perusing it for a long moment.  Then she looked me dead in the eyes.

“You know what…I don’t think you do either.”

Getting this clearance from her (and the blood tests that followed) was important to my family, but what made a huge difference to me was knowing my doctor trusted me. As in all healthy relationships that eschew hierarchy, trust is a two-way street.  If my doctor trusts me, I can trust her.  In sharing your commitment to heal yourself with your doctor, you aren’t asking her to mix a potion or perform wizardry — you’re just asking her to partner with you.  In effect, you are making her job easier.   (I have subsequently visited other specialty doctors who have, patronizingly, laughed in my face when I’ve mentioned my Lupus-free status.  Suffice it to say, I walked out of those offices and have never looked back.)

While the focus of the modern/western medicine is a more scientific approach to the human body, many doctors understand the limits of a science-only approach to healing. Moreover, they do well to maintain a sense of empathy and openness when it comes to dealing with their patients’ emotions and experiences.  After all, doctors are the ones who invented the placebo effect, right?  They know that good old faith, hope, and love can have a most dramatic effect on the healing process.

With an air of confidence and a little benefit of the doubt, tell your doctor your plans.  If your doctor isn’t one to truly listen to your belief in your own powers to heal, find another doctor.

Thank you for following along this week.  I’ll see you on Monday for Unorthodox Idea #6. (And, don’t forget — now you can subscribe to this blog!  Just enter your email address in the top right corner, and confirm your subscription status when you receive an email.  “Subscribing” means you don’t need to remember to check the Treelife Blog for updates — we’ll alert you!)


the Real Deal

small space collaboration

small space collaboration

Two nights ago, I attended a 15-person birthday dinner party at the home of my friend David.  David’s apartment is a classic [tiny] Brooklyn studio with a kitchen the size of my closet (about 2 square feet of counter space) and just adjacent, a “main room” the size of a suburban walk-in closet.   It was 90 degrees outside in an apartment with no air-conditioning.

This is the kind of space where one would think you couldn’t do much cooking (let alone, entertaining) beyond heating up the occasional potpie.  There is a limited number of chairs and nowhere else to sit except on David’s bed.  The bathroom is right there, its proximity making audible any sounds or activities that occur inside it. This is both the quintessential New York scenario and also the basis for the kind of excuses that I hear all the time from people around these parts — “I can’t have people over, my apartment’s too small.”  “There’s no space to cook in my kitchen.”  “I don’t have any furniture.”   “My only day off is Monday and no one wants to come over on a Monday.” “I’m not a good enough cook.”  “I don’t have any time.”    blah blah blah blah blah.

making homemade gnocchi

making homemade gnocchi

What I love about David (and what I loved about this night) is that he appears virtually unaware of his own limitations. No counter space?  Great!  Let’s make the most labor-intensive and space-requiring food that exists — homemade gnocchi!  Hot apartment?  Great!  Let’s crank up the oven and roast 2 fatty pork shoulders for several hours.  Tension among the invites and lots of big personalities?  Great!  Let’s turn up the music and let them fight over the chairs!  Meanwhile, we all basked in the hilarity of real life.  Real life, without pretense.  Real life, with successes (incredible gnocchi) and failures (inedible panna cotta).  Real life, with real people who aren’t being careful.

What I love about David is that he’s not waiting around for conditions to be perfect in order to do what he wants to do. Small space and no A.C.?  Who cares?  He wants to have a dinner party to celebrate his birthday and to cook for his friends and so, we want to be there for it.  Sure — a rotating fan or a different locale entirely might make it a bit more comfortable but really, being available to do it on these terms — David’s current situation — is really the most fun.  It makes space for failures.  It allows us to see, firsthand, the actual sweat that goes into making something from scratch, and we can actually taste the love in the results.  And, it relinquishes us from the almighty grasp of needing to look or think or be a certain way and just show up for what is right now.

cooking for 15

cooking for 15

What I love about David is that he trusts his friends to love him unconditionally. What ensued over the course of that evening was that we dug in and made a real experience out of it.   We collaborated.  We threw a few extra hands into the tiny kitchen to create an assembly line.  We held chicken liver pate in one hand and a slice of poppyseed dessert cake in the other.  We ate and drank and talked and laughed and we sweated our asses off in the process.  We cracked jokes at David’s expense, took pictures of our floury, sweaty mess, and passed the delicious food around like we were family. That David trusts us to enjoy him and love him in these conditions has us open our hearts in a new way — not just to him, but to each other.

I’m not going to ask David for his panna cotta recipe, but I am going to walk with this:  when we sit around and wait for the conditions in life to be perfect — for everything in our lives to line up just so, so that we can make the move we want to make — we aren’t really living.  We are waiting.  And, in the meantime, there is so much fun to be had, success to celebrate, food to share, risks to take, failures to learn from, and real people out there who want to see us for who we really are.  Why wait?