Adopting an Attitude of Patience

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In this Internet age of instant gratification, is PATIENCE an outdated virtue? And if

With the Internet, we can reach out to people everywhere.

With the Internet, we can reach out to kindred spirits everywhere.

it isn’t, how can we possibly adopt a practice of patience in an increasingly impatient world?
Essayist Andrew O’Hagan, in a recent issue of The New Times Style Magazine, praises the speed and ease allowed by our connectivity to everyone, everywhere, all the time.
In his article, “Sign of the Times,” O’Hagan says, “I now feel—and this is a revelation—that my past was an interesting and quite fallow period spent waiting for the Internet.” In answer to those who question the validity of online friends and community, he says, “Physical loneliness can still exist, of course, but you’re never friendless online. Don’t tell me the spiritual life is over. In many ways it’s only just begun. Technology is not doing what the sci-fi writers warned it might—it is not turning us into digits or blank consumers, into people who hate community. Instead, there is evidence that the improvements are making us more democratic, more aware of the planet…pressing us to question what it means to have life so easy, when billions do not.
I resonate strongly with Mr. O’Hagan’s commentary. Until I began using the Internet to find answers,  my adoption conundrums stayed unresolved.  Step one was publishing The Goodbye

The Goodbye Baby gives an insider view of growing up adopted. of

The Goodbye Baby gives an insider view of growing up adopted.

Baby-A Diary about Adoption, my account of what it was like to grow up in the 50s and 60s during the era of “closed” adoptions. Following the book, I discovered a vast adoption community online: book reviews, discussions, forums, all manner of exchanges centering on adoption. Adoption from every angle: birthparents, adoptees, people wanting to adopt, adoptive moms and dads. The Internet, I can honestly say, helped me come to grips with with reclaiming my adopted self.
If only that were the end of the story. Once I declared myself “recovered,” the old adoption issues would sometimes sneak back in, sometimes return with a vengeance. Like weeds in my rugged “au natural” back yard, they never really went away. Basically, I learned to diminish their influence, and that is still a work in progress. The goal: An attitude adjustment.
Change may come slowly, but with patience, we can change even ourselves. I’m adopting the following rules for the next 30 days, after which I’ll compare my patience quota before and after.

And here’s a recipe for adopting a practice of PATIENCE. I invite you to try it

In the chess board of life, PATIENCE wins the game.

In the chess board of life, PATIENCE wins the game.

with me:

Give yourself time. For example, in going places if you have to follow a car 25 miles per hour in a 40 MPH zone, allow leeway. You may arrive too early, but in most cases that’s better than arriving late.
Develop realistic expectations: Life is full of the unexpected. Avoid the idea that things will run like clockwork.
Refuse to give in to anger. It is dangerous to your mental equilibrium.
Realize that delays are temporary. As the saying goes, “This too will pass.”
Be proactive: Find ways to make positive use of waiting time. Listening to audible books or reading on a Kindle app, texting a friend with words of encouragement, planning a menu while waiting in the dentist’s office. You get the idea!

I had to be patient with resolving adoption issues, and the approach worked. Now I’m

applying the same principles to life in general. In invite you to join me in a thirty day trial. Please comment or Tweet me about your challenges and/or progress. I patiently await news of your experiences!

I Hereby Adopt a Mountain

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Note from Elaine: In the spirit of hiking for happiness I’m re-publishing  this step-by-step account of a beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico outing. It’s also a chapter in my new book SANTA FE ON FOOT-EXPLORING THE CITY DIFFERENT.santafeonfoot

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To celebrate November, National Adoption Month, I hereby adopt a mountain.
Monte Sol (Sun Mountain) gives me inspiration for writing and a new appreciation for simply being alive.

. Allow me to explain…

Readers may know that my favorite short day hike is Sun Mountain, often called by its Spanish name, “Monte Sol.” Along with three other prominent foothills of the Rockies, it offers a distinctive silhouette. The skyline of southeastern Santa Fe goes like this: Picacho Peak, a near triangle topped by a slanted nipple shape; long galumphing Atalaya, a favorite five-mile hike; and Monte Sol, the most perfectly symmetrical of the three.

Monte Sol is right off Old Santa Fe Trail.

Monte Sol is right off Old Santa Fe Trail.

Monte Sol is beautiful and convenient. I go there almost every day. When the City of Santa Fe gained permission from landowners for access from the road, they established a trailhead to Monte Sol. It was a landslide victory for local and visiting walkers. The path up Monte Sol became more accessible to not just me (I happen to live practically next door) but to everyone in the world. Often it’s an up-and-down affair, but when I have time, I take advantage of rocky outdoor seating that’s perfect for sunning, meditating, eating a sandwich, writing, or simply watching the clouds drift by.

Though it’s only 8/10ths of a mile to the top of Monte Sol, the elevation gain is nearly

Almost there!
Almost there!

1,000 feet. The steepness makes for a good workout. The final third of the ascent involves over 100 switchbacks and requires one to step up, up, and ever up.

THE HIKE PROCEEDS IN THREE ACTS: a beginning, middle and end. The first section of path is curved but gentle. The second takes the hiker up a series of large rocks and to a view less of the city below than toward other, unnamed foothills. The contours became darker as the day advances. The final act, most demanding, requires careful footwork as the path narrows, at times disappearing. One mounts a virtual rock staircase, finally reaching a ten-foot wide rock that looks as though it might have been an ocean floor.

From then on, it’s a mostly dirt walkway until the “Ah Ha” moment of reaching the top. Surprisingly, the summit of Monte Sol is a flat area the size of a couple football fields. A panoramic view unfolds in every direction, and one can understand why early settlers compared the high desert terrain to a kind of inland ocean. The southwestern palate of green, sage, tan, brown and purple stretch beneath one in layers. Huge white clouds billow overhead.

There, with the city stretched out below, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Pecos Wilderness to the North, the seeker can find peace and serenity. On warm afternoons, it is often tempting to stay awhile, basking in the sun like a lazy lizard.

That said, though one can find solitude here, on this particular Sunday afternoon, I encounter a dozen other hikers. There’s the man with the Irish Setter with a yellow bandana around his neck (the dog’s neck, not the man’s). Along come the mothers of small children who’ve managed to train their little ones to tackle the arduous walk but to make it fun, and the young woman with headphones who is running rather than walking. I can’t imagine how she would jog the steeper boulder sections, but assume she pauses to pick over the rocks before continuing her fast pace.

Then I remember my younger self, a Me who was always running and training for the next marathon. I would not have been daunted by a few precipitous passes. A lifetime ago…I miss those running days. And yet, I’m grateful to be covering the same territory. I’m glad to be out here, slower but still strong.

Enough of Monte Sol musing. It’s time to leave the summit and head back down into the real world. I watch gigantic black birds circling overhead and take a final look at the distant road stretching south to Albuquerque, then hike down to the flatlands. I know my adopted trail much better now, and I feel completely ready for an afternoon of writing.

Do YOU have a path that leads you to serenity and healing?

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Join me on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and life. If you are an adoptee or adoptive parent or are planning to adopt, I’ll gladly consider your ADOPTION STORY for publication on my website. Send me an email with your ideas, and I promise to get back to you.~Elaine

Adoptee’s Poetry Monday

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Note from Elaine: Just remembered that November is National Adoption Month! When I was adopted at the tender age of five, I adjusted to a whole

Return to childhood hobby of shell collecting

Seashells remind me of simple pleasures

new paradigm. A load of baggage came with that. My personal silver lining might have been “adaptation” and “resourcefulness.” (I’ve been told that these are some of my best traits.) Like many, I am striving to give the recent election results a positive interpretation. This reflection (by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat) was sent to me by dear friend Joalie, one of the smartest women I know. I’m passing it on to you, dear readers, in the hope it will help you as much as it did me.


A PRAYER AFTER THE ELECTION

Today mourning and celebration commingle.
Jubilation and heartache are juxtaposed
In neighborhoods where lawns proclaimed
Support for different candidates, on Facebook walls
And Twitter streams where clashing viewpoints meet.

Grant us awareness of each others’ hopes and fears
Even across the great divides of red state and blue state,
Urban and rural. Open us to each others’ needs.
Purify our hearts so that those who rejoice do not gloat
And those who grieve do not despair.

Strengthen our ability to be kind to one another
And to ourselves. Awaken in us the yearning
To build a more perfect union. Let us roll up our sleeves
Whether today we feel exultation or sorrow, and together
Shape a nation of welcome and compassion.

Let ours be a land where no one need fear abuse
Or retribution, where every diversity is celebrated,
Where those who are most vulnerable are protected.
May bigotry and violence vanish like smoke.
May compassion prevail from sea to shining sea.

By Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

 

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Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections about adoption, hiking, and life. I’d love your comments. Include your email if you’d like to continue a dialogue. Thank you for reading my blog!

Visiting the ocean at Fernandina/Amelia Island/Florida

Visiting the ocean: Fernandina/Amelia Island/Florida

On Amelia Island~Adopting the Beach

I’ll admit it. Though I love the Southwest, I’ve been secretly starved for the East Coast, the ocean, green grass and humidity. So it is a special privilege to be spending this week in Fernandina Beach, Florida, Amelia Island, visiting my friend Pat and her sister Hannah. I’m amazed at the trees and spend time looking straight up. Towering live oaks, Palmettos, Southern Magnolias. Quite in contrast to Santa Fe’s piñons and junipers. Many of these arboreal giants are festooned with Spanish moss, the stuff of novels (think Gone with the Wind).

A love affair with the Atlantic!

A love affair with the Atlantic!

Fernandina is the major town of Amelia Island, the extreme northeastern part of Florida. It’s 13 and 1/2 miles long and roughly two miles wide.Population of the town is around 11,000, of the island, roughly 25,000.The island has been populated for 4,000 years and throughout its history has flown flags, consecutively, of France, Spain, England, Mexico and the United States Confederacy. Its stormy past contrasts greatly with its present day image as a resort and leisure destination.

The highlight of every day of my vacation is walking along the ocean with Hannah. There’s a lot to keep us busy and yet it is a soothing no-deadline, no quota kind of busy-ness. Collecting shells, admiring the soaring gulls, the swooping pelicans, observing the waves of sanderlings. The sanderlings,with their stiff legged strutting and pecking into the sand, ever searching for food, are the most fun to watch.

We remove our shoes and walk barefooted. The water is icy at first but the longer we stroll, the warmer it seems. In addition to the panorama of nature, there is plenty of people-watching to be done. The beach is open 24/7 and there are the day campers with lawn chairs and coolers, the swimmers who plunge into the incoming tide, the nappers and the fisher folk (who have rods lined up just above the water line). Like us, many folks are strolling. Occasional runners and bikers go by. A parasail passes far overhead, the pilot’s legs dangling into the air from the airborne one-seater. As we reluctantly go back to our car, five people riding beautiful chestnut horses clip-clop their way down to the beach.

Return to childhood hobby of shell collecting

Return to my childhood hobby of shell collecting

Amelia Island has many other attractions. Centre Street, full of lovely Victorian architecture, has a wonderful book store, The Book Loft. By the way, they’ve agreed to host a December 2nd book-signing for my new guidebook Santa Fe on Foot-Exploring the City Different. There are beautiful 19th century mansions and everywhere. Fort Clinch, at the island’s north end,offers a fascinating look at the past. It is the beach, however, that takes me back to my past and keeps me coming back every day.

Join Elaine Mondays for reflections on adoption & life.

Please share YOUR favorite beach experiences!

Adopting the airwaves–>I’m on the radio today!

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At 4 p.m. Mountain Time, 101.1 F.M. KSFR–Wednesday afternoon I’ll be talking about my six published books with show host Abigail Adler. Please tune in!

The Last Word

Wednesdays at 4:00 pm

For people who read, for people who write, for people who want to publish, or for people who are just curious…What do writers think? What do writers really do?  Find out – listen to THE LAST WORD: Conversations with Writers every Wednesday at 4 pm with host, Abigail Adler

 

Announcing the NEW Santa Fe on Foot

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One of the most rewarding aspects of facing adoptee issues and vowing to leave them behind is newfound freedom. I now feel liberated, free to write about themes other than “adoption recovery.” Walking and nature are two priorities in my life; Santa Fe on Foot is about both. It’s been thirty years in the making. My first guidebook to walking, running and bicycling was created fifteen years after I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is the fourth edition.

A do-it-yourself guidebook

A do-it-yourself guidebook

 

 

And here, dear reader, is a preview.

THE FIRST EDITION of Santa Fe on Foot was written in the 1980s to introduce people to the joys of walking, running, and bicycling in a fascinating city. Four editions later, the original routes still offer visitors and residents alike a unique view of Santa Fe’s culture and natural setting. Because the city has grown from 50,000 to nearly 70,000,  and also because walking opportunities are now far greater than before, the NEW Santa Fe on Foot emphasizes walking. However, running and bicycling are extremely popular in our city. You’ll find resources for pursuing those activities as well.
Santa Fe has seen the addition of the Dale Ball Trails in the north and northeast sides of town. Recently developed in the northwest area is La Tierra Trails system. A spacious walking trail adjacent to Santa Fe River goes from the city’s Railyard area, through Bicentennial Park to Frenchy’s Field. Rancho Viejo and other residential areas now include green regions with miles of walking trails.
In all parts of Santa Fe, invitations to outdoor walking abound. You’ll find marked paths, new stonework, xeriscaped gardens, historic markers, and interpretive signs. Santa Fe, despite being a high desert region, boasts some ten community gardens. Tended by citizen gardeners in spring and summer, the gardens yield enough so that patrons can donate excess produce to the local food depots. Ways of enjoying Santa Fe’s outdoors are ever expanding.
Walking, humankind’s oldest exercise, is good for people. Recent studies show that it is not only excellent for heart, lungs, bones and circulation; walking is also good for the brain. Add to walking’s physical and mental benefits the goal of seeing Santa Fe with a fresh look and you have a combination that doubly rewards. Whether you have lived in Santa Fe for years or are passing through for a few days, until you have toured the city on foot, you’ve never really seen it.

If you live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, please join me for the official launch, scheduled for Sunday, October 23, 3 p.m., at Collected Works Bookstore, 202 Galisteo.

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Elaine Pinkerton has lived in Santa Fe since 1967. Join her for blog posts on alternate Mondays and follow her on Twitter: @TheGoodbyeBaby

Elaine Pinkerton has lived in Santa Fe since 1967. Join her for blog posts on alternate Mondays. Find her on Twitter: @TheGoodbyeBaby

Adopting Seven Simple Ways

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You can never love another person unless you are equally involved in the beautiful but difficult spiritual work of learning to love yourself. John O’Donohue: Anam Cara

Santa Fe, New Mexico is my home town. When I first moved here in the 1960s, the “City Different” was full of healers. We had primal scream therapy, past life regression, aura balancing, astrologers. Now, years later, the options have expanded. We have health practitioners of all kinds: specialists in acupuncture, reiki, western medicine, oriental medicine, Alexander Technique, yoga of every imaginable variety, therapy dogs, healing through horses. You name it, we’ve got it!

It was refreshing, therefore to attend a recent lecture by mental health counselor who presented easy, basic ways to “stay in tune.” Santa Fean Ishwari Sollohub (www.ishwari.org) suggested the following simple but powerful steps:

  1. Morning Stretch/Hug: Before getting out of bed in the morning, take a moment to
    Be your own best friend.

    Be your own best friend.

    just be with yourself. Stretch your arms and legs, reaching as far as is comfortable. Feel the vertebrae in your back lining up for the day. Then sit up, hold a pillow to your chest, close your eyes and notice that you are breathing. Now, give yourself a hug, saying “Good morning (your name), thanks for taking a minute to just be. Let today be about learning to love – myself and others.

2. Notes to Self: Keep a small notepad with you during the day. Whenever you have an insight or question, jot it down. Journal or write about your insights; research your questions on the Internet, in books, or by talking with a trusted friend.

3. Water Ritual: Once a day, make a ritual of drinking an extra glass of water. As you swallow, take a moment to acknowledge this small act of self care. It may be helpful to do this just before or after a habit you already have (feeding the dog/cat etc.). You can post a note somewhere as a reminder. If you like, use a special beautiful glass for this ritual.cup-clip-art-drink-cup-md

4. Breathe and Move: Get outdoors and breathe. Be mindful of breathing in and out as you walk to the door. Let the air cleanse and refresh you, resetting your mood if needed.

5. Brain Gym: While standing or sitting, reach your right hand (or elbow) across your body and touch your left knee as you raise the knee; do the same with the left hand (or elbow) on the right knee, as if you are marching. Repeat for about two minutes. While you are doing this remind yourself of all the things you are doing to improve your well being.

6. Notice the choices you make throughout the day. Whether you choose the “good” thing or the “bad” thing is less important than actually noticing that you have a choice. Try intentionally saying “yes” to something healthy and “no” to something unhealthy. Pat yourself on the back for paying attention to your choices.

7. Food and Sleep: Be aware of your eating and sleeping patterns. These basic functions are a big part of your well being. If either is troublesome, it may be time to make some changes. If you now what you need to do, start it. If you need help, reach out to get it.

Counselor Ishwari concludes her recommendations, “There you have it: a few simple things to try. By engaging in these small acts of self-care, you are taking responsibility for your own well being; you are learning to actively love yourself. The more often you repeat these gestures, the more you will get from the effort.”

It doesn’t need to be complicated, elaborate or expensive to bring about a difference in your life! Commit to do at least three of the above practices for at least two weeks. More if possible, but at least three. Following Ishwar’s recommendation, put reminders on your calendar. I’ve committed to this practice. I invite you, dear Readers, to do likewise. We are worth it.

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Note from Elaine:  I normally blog on alternate Mondays but because of my upcoming book launch (Santa Fe on Foot), this will have to be a #WednesdayBlog. Please let us know if you try adopting the Seven Simple Ways. We’d love to hear from you!

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Adopting an Orphaned Bridge

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Editor’s Note: Thanks to Kathy Knorr, guest blogger, author of this post, originally published Sept. 23, 2013 The big red bridge is part of Santa Fe Botanical Garden, where author Pat Goehe and I will be facilitating a memoir writing workshop on September 18 from 1-3:30. You are invited to register for our event, which is a benefit for the Garden: http://www.santafebotanicalgarden.org/planting-the-seeds-two-ways-to-memoir. All workshop proceeds go to future developments at SFBotanical Garden. Our books will be available at the gift shop.

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It has been nicknamed the bridge to nowhere. Yet it has been places. And it

Bridging the gap

Bridging the gap from past to present.

had been

traveled over by people on foot, burros, horseback, wagons and rail.
In 1850 the bridge was built and placed over an arroyo in Kearny County, New Mexico. Then it was deserted – along with the abandoned lands which could not sustain the farmers and ranchers who optimistically settled during the Manifest Destiny years. The Bridge seemed destined to age and rust under the blazing sun and monsoons of the high desert.
During 2008, an environmental scientist for the State of New Mexico saw this bridge and researched its history. In doing so, she learned there is a Society of Orphaned Bridges. The SOB group collects the history of many orphaned bridges. Their mission is to support the reuse of these bridges, bringing them into a vital community and to benefit the citizens by being attractive, low cost and functional.

As chance would have it…the scientist who first located this bridge also volunteered with a local group hopeful of building a new garden in Santa Fe for botanical research and education.

After a few years, and many optimistic attempts to find a site for their garden, the City of Santa Fe agreed to lease land to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden for this purpose. Our heroine remembered the bridge and proposed the adoption. The bridge could become a focal point for the planned garden – and be a member of a new community.
What a surprise for this 100 year old orphan! The bridge was uprooted, sent to the beauty shoppe and refurbished and delivered to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden on Museum Hill, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA!
December 10, 2011 this was our first view of the adopted bridge:

Kathy has been a resident of Santa Fe for the past five  years.

Kathy Knorr

Kathy Knorr

 

 

During this time she and her family have embraced the local history, beauty and gardening challenges.  Kathy serves on the Board of Directors for the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.  The Garden’s mission includes sharing 3 lovely sites with the public and increasing awareness of the need for water conservation, environmental education and having these beautiful spaces available to all of the community.  Though not new to social media and web sites, this is Kathy’s first blog post.

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Sunday, September 18, 1-3:30 p.m./ “Planting the Seeds: Two Ways to Memoir”
Authors Pat Goehe and Elaine Pinkerton will help you jumpstart that writing project.Register by Wednesday, Sept. 13 as class size is limited.img_0573

Adopting Tracie

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Note from Elaine: ELISE ROSENHAUPT and I became friends through the “Homegrown Authors” table at Santa Fe’s Farmers Market. In talking, we concluded that “adoption” has many meanings. Elise’s guest post will be of great interest to anyone who’s cared for others, not necessarily in an official capacity, but as a compassionate human being. If you’ve ever helped someone who’s dealing with an a hospital hierarchy, you will relate to Elise’s story.

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In my book, Climbing Back: A Family’s Journey through Brain Injury, I write “there should always be two people with a patient – one for company and love, and a second as the patient’s advocate.”

In a clinical situation, having a friend as advocate makes a difference.

In a clinical situation, having a friend as advocate makes all the difference.

 

This story starts with a letter from a mutual friend:

Tracie has been very sick for the past several months . . . .  (dizzy, fatigued, slow speech, forgetfulness, and more). For the past 6 months or so she has been shunted from one incompetent-sounding doctor to the next with still no proper diagnosis or plan of treatment! . . . . you could be a temporary advocate.

 

What follows is a summary of what happened next.

 

At our first visit to the University of New Mexico Neurosciences Center, the physician who came in was a neurosurgeon, not the neurologist she wanted to see.

 

“You need your doctor to refer you to a neurologist,” he said. I asked the doctor to write the referral then and there.
“Now we can go down the hall and make the appointment with a neurologist,” I said.

The technician who’d emailed the referral said, “They won’t see it for a few days. Call at the end of the week.”

Tracie was ready to give up and go home.

 

I asked, “Can you print it out so we can hand carry it?”
When the scheduler gave Tracie an appointment for May 16, five weeks later, Tracie was thrilled – five weeks was sooner than her previous waits for appointments. I thought it was too long to wait.

 

May 16, I wandered the Neurosciences Center’s maze of hallways forays to find out if we’d been forgotten, during the three hours we waited, in our windowless room. The neurologist finally arrived. He thought of two likely explanations for Tracie’s troubles. He ordered an LP (lumbar puncture, or spinal tap) to learn more.

 

On July 11, the morning for Tracie’s LP, I was not allowed to accompany Tracie when they took her in for the LP, a “sterile procedure.”

 

But there had been a “mix-up” and the doctor who was to conduct the spinal tap had “gone home.” Another doctor disagreed with the first neurologist’s thoughts about the causes of Tracie’s problems. He didn’t think a spinal tap was a good idea, and wanted to explore some other possibilities.

 

When I learned this, I asked to be allowed in with Tracie.

 

“Do you have her power of attorney?” the gatekeeper asked. I didn’t, and was told once more to sit in the waiting room. Tracie was on her own.

 

The new doctor thought that Tracie was suffering from migraines. Tracie told me:

 

His recommendation was, right now, some shots which were a mixture of steroids and a numbing medication . . . .. 

Oh, my gosh, that was wicked. . . . [It was] like when you get your teeth pulled – the shot goes in, and then they move it around and shoot a little of the medicine in at a time. About three different places on each side of the base of my skull, one syringe for each side. . . .

 

We still don’t know whether Tracie was indeed suffering from migraines, or if it’s something else. I’ve learned how hard it is to be an advocate – respecting Tracie’s more forgiving temperament while having a sense of urgency on her behalf, wanting to ask more questions and to demand more responsiveness from the medical establishment.

 

I didn’t have her power of attorney! I wonder, can I adopt her, make her my sister or my daughter, so I can stay beside her through the medical maze.

 

You can read the fuller story, or watch for the updates, on my blog (see website below).

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Elise Rosenhaupt, author of the recently published memoir Climbing Back: A Family’s Journey through Brain Injury, blogs about her experiences as a patient’s advocate on her website, http://www.ClimbingBackMemoir.com. A graduate of Radcliffe and Harvard, Rosenhaupt has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, since 1969.photo

 

Elise Rosenhaupt

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Join me on Mondays for reflections on adoption, hiking and life. My newest book, Santa Fe on Foot-Edition 4, is due out this Fall. -E. PinkertonSFOF cover twitter jpg

 

Adopting the Environment

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Note from Elaine Pinkerton: Today’s guest blogger, attorney MARIEL NANASI, writes forcefully about a topic dear to my heart. Protecting our country’s great outdoors—saving the air we breathe and the earth we walk on. Read of the  battle she is heading up against the Public Service Company of New Mexico and their continuing coal and nuclear resources. Her story is educational and inspiring!

Mariel on Raven's Ridge

Mariel on Raven’s Ridge

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I’d never written an appellate brief to a Supreme Court before. More than 56,000 pages in the record. PNM (Public Service Company of New Mexico) submitted more than ten rounds of testimony by a dozen witnesses. The task seemed insurmountable; yet I knew the case better than anyone else and there were people dedicated to co-production and others offering assistance and cheering us on!

PNM, the state’s largest electric monopoly was forced to close half of its coal plant because it was polluting the skies as far away as Utah and Arizona with its toxic emissions. In real life there are no borders, pollution travels unrestricted. The contested issues central to the brief related to PNM’s selection of resources to replace the lost capacity from the retirement of the two coal units.

It is perhaps true that every generation feels that theirs is fraught with the most trying challenges, yet somehow I am convinced that the consequences from a warming planet, are more existentially baffling and crisis laden than any other.

So there I was 8am til 11pm or 1am day after day for more than two weeks glued to my office chair, papers strewn all over my desk, staring at my wide screen computer. Opening up countless files on my computer, searching through transcripts, reading and re-reading Orders and digging to find exhibits, weaving in the law from legal precedent, and trying to conjure up the perfect words to convince the highest court in New Mexico that the agency whose responsibility it is to regulate the most powerful company in New Mexico had failed to do so. PNM chose to replace the closing of coal with the purchase of more coal and more nuclear. The Public Regulation Commission (PRC) is supposed to regulate PNM on our behalf, but it abrogated its duties when it agreed to waive Commission rules in order to approve PNM’s coal and nuclear purchases.

The Public Regulation Commission must make decisions based on “substantial evidence”. Sounds reasonable. And, yes, in order for the PRC to approve PNM’s coal and nuclear acquisition PNM had to ask the PRC to waive its own rules and analysis requirements designed to protect ratepayers, and adopted as consumer safeguards. You may ask: how can there be “substantial evidence” if the PRC had to waive its own standards in order to allow PNM to generate electricity from the burning of more coal and nuclear? That’s the essence of our appeal.

My eyes were tired. The white in my eyes were graying. We filed the brief in the New Mexico Supreme Court at 4:56 pm on the date it was due. I texted my friend, Charlotte, to see if she would hike with me and we hiked the Raven’s Ridge trail, in the Santa Fe ski valley the next day.
I was so grateful for the softness of the million tones of green in the forest. Nothing was uniform: the multi-layering of tall plants, short ones, wild leafy bushes and shady protective trees was easy on my eyes. I felt held by my surroundings as if the green beauty was actually healing the strain in my cluttered mind and calming my heart. The gentleness was profound and I was grateful for my friend’s patience with my slow pace. Aah, this tranquility is what we are fighting to protect.

Reciprocity empowers.

Mariel Nanasi is an attorney and the Executive Director of New Energy Economy, an environmental advocacy organization based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the co-author of the brief New Energy Economy v. New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, which can be found on the organization’s web site: http://www.NewEnergyEconomy.org

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Elaine blogs about adoption, hiking, and travel. Her guidebook Santa Fe on Foot, published by Ocean Tree Books,  will be out this Fall.  SFOF cover twitter jpg