Breathing Room

Starting 2016 off with a few thoughts from the last couple of idle weeks.


My hometown has gone from 75 degree weather on Christmas Day, to the picture above as a major Winter storm has begun to coat the northeast region in its more customary whiteness.

Due to my birth defects impacting my health during inclement weather, and my preference to stay away from the grey and freezing Winter  wonderland, I left Massachusetts in 1985.  I usually only visit in the Summer, as being in the woods and near water is challenging, but being in the cold and raw is life threatening.

The one thing that has been wonderful about this change in my health for my worsening COPD is the ability to hunker down indoors and avoid all things rain / weather related as we go through our annual change of seasons in California.


This painting by Susan Blackwood represents the drier, farming and more rural area that I’m hoping to be able to move to at some point during this end of life / financial stabilization process for the next phase of my limited income / fixed income life.

Everything is greening up with the Winter rains, and what amounts to Spring in these parts is slowly replacing our normally ochre, wheat and burnt siena colors with chartreuse, yellows and woody greens.

While my health doesn’t allow me to do much in Mother Nature without consequences, it’s lovely to watch it flying by my car windows as I travel between my home and places that I’m able to visit.

This year has been an amazing time of change for me. During 2015, I’ve learned to listen to the limitations of my doctor about not pushing it for more than two hours, and I’ve learned to keep a sweatshirt in my car (instant pillow) as I’ve become a champion car sleeper when I run out of stamina.

When there is the luxury of unscheduled time and flexible scheduling, I find I can get things done despite my exhaustion, so long as I take a break and sleep when my body tells me to stop.

Of course, being paranoid, the car must be immaculate.

I am still wary of being rousted for sleeping in my car, as happened twice when I was still working and didn’t have enough energy to complete the drive home without a nap for safety reasons.  Nothing is more alienating than a cop rousing you from sleep when you’re safely (and legally) parked at the side of the road.  Very unnerving.

As I prepare to enter 2016, though:

  •  The State has agreed to support my doctor’s disability recommendation, and my next fight for the new year will be back pay of benefits owed from my employer / their insurance agent
  •  I’ve found a great lawyer, if this next round of arguments aren’t successful to get me onto the Federal disability plan for longer-term breathing room, so
  • I can concentrate any free time on researching the various experimental stem cell treatments which might improve my quality of life and allow me to return to the working world, even if only part time or on a limited basis.

It’s too soon to tell how it will all work out, but I’m ending 2015 on a hopeful note as I prepare to embrace the possibilities of what lies ahead.

Hopefully, we can figure out what’s happening with the circulation in my right arm, and I’ll be able to make jewelry or type for more than an hour without painful repercussions.

Breathing room is giving me the space to keep my psyche calm, and the short term disability funding approval gives me hope that I won’t be homeless any time soon.

I hope 2016 can be everything you could desire, as we move into the new year.

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