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Dreams are amazing

I used to think I didn’t have much of an imagination, but then I started remembering my dreams more regularly. They are filled with wonderful  images and ideas, some from books and movies I’ve watched recently, some with places I’ve lived in the past, some with all of the above all together! I wake from them feeling reinvigorated, though I usually have no idea what the message is from my unconscious, I know there is one, and that is enough for me.

I am 64 this year, and that brings to mind old Beatles’ song lyrics, feelings I haven’t accomplished what I desire or could have dreamed up when I was in my 30s. Then I remember how frustrated I was in my 30s and know I have to do what I can, and not worry about what ‘should have been’ as if any of this is in my control.

Hanging out with wonderful folk in their 90s reminds me I am a young chick in comparison, and if I just follow their example and do what I can, all will be well.

Taking the time to listen to my dreams, reflect on them, that helps too.


Dealing with Skin Cancer

Having fair skin, as I have written before, means dealing with skin cancer. Over the last twenty years I have had moles on the way to melanoma, but thanks to the vigilance of my dermatologists, none farther than 6 on a scale of one to ten, ten being melanoma, and most being in the 1 to 5 range, and countless basal cells. You should see my chart – two inches thick at least! Two basal were extensive, requiring all day Mohs surgery, the first on my nose almost 18 years ago, and the most recent right next to that one, which had grown under the old scar and required me to lose all the surface skin of my nose except around my nostrils! I then had to have a transplant from my forehead to recover my nose, and will be having derm abrasion on my forehead to clean up that scarring on Tuesday.

Being an actor with visible scars all over my nose and forehead, over 60 and hard to cast as it is, makes life that much more challenging. Visiting home bound friends in their 80s and 90s who keep dying off puts my problems in perspective. While there’s life, there’s  hope.

Hey, anyone out there looking for a face for skin cancer awareness? I am up to date with my SAG-AFTRA membership and available!!!

Getting Acting Work

Today I worked as a stand in on The Good Wife, which is fun because the cast and crew are terrific, and I always learn a lot. It was a mixed bag today, because the show has announced that this is the last season and things are winding down, some of the regular stand ins are leaving the show and there were some sad faces at certain points in the day. But the stories are still terrific, so there was a lot of laughter and joy working with people who have been on the show during its history since 2009. I haven’t been hired as often as others, but some of the cast and crew remembered me, which is always encouraging.

I also had rehearsal tonight for a staged reading of Blood Sisters by Robin Rice Lichtig, which will be done on Wednesday March 21st at 7pm at Theatre for A New City, Second Avenue at 10th street, make reservations at as it will fill up! Several playwrights participated in a project to write a play a day last year about real women, written by women and some of them got together to get these a reading in hopes of getting them produced in full at some point. Our director is Lori Kee, who is wonderful, so I am very excited about this one. It is based on the Dominican nuns who protested nuclear weapons by going into a missile site  and pounding on the cement lid and pouring their blood on it and were given two to three year sentences for this nonviolent action. I get to play Sr. Ardeth Platte, so my peacemaking and acting are coming together on this one. Thank you, Sr. Ardeth, for your life and work for peace and justice – I think you will be pleased at the challenge we offer our audience.

Happy New Year!

In some cultures, I hear, it is considered a curse to say ‘May you live in interesting times.’ When I was younger, I couldn’t believe anyone could think that, as being bored was one of the things I dreaded most. As I age, I begin to understand that point of view.

This year has been very interesting. I’ve written about my broken hip, and recently I had more basal surgery, which made the Christmas season a challenge. On 12/17/15 I had basal on my nose, which involved going to the dermatologist’s office at 9am, and having each section of skin examined under a microscope until all edges were clear. Each section examined takes an hour for the examination, then they do another section, so I finally got the all clear at 4pm. Almost the entire surface of my nose is gone, and the depth was such that she knew I had to have a graft with a plastic surgeon who could make the repair in a way that my nose would look normal again. We researched which plastic surgeon that she trusts takes my insurance, and on 12/22 I had the graft surgery. Because the wound is so deep, he left a flap from my forehead attached and on 1/15/16 the flap was detached and the final healing is begun. All is healing well, he says, and I have taken pictures to show the progression, though I hesitate to publish them as they are pretty scary looking.

Because my bridge was where the flap was attached, I haven’t been able to wear my glasses since the 22nd. My eyes were swollen for the first couple weeks, but then I was able to put my contacts in, so I could see more clearly. Since the 15th I am without contacts again, but am hoping the swelling will go down enough for contacts by tomorrow, and soon can wear my glasses again, too. I get the stitches out on Jan. 25th, but I can see it is going to look pretty well.

I haven’t been able to do many Christmas cards, so am hoping everyone will read this letter and consider it my Christmas and New Year’s contribution. Daver says I have an excuse that everyone will accept, but I still want to write to all my friends and get notes back as well. Having a father who wrote great letters trained me so that I need to read good writing on a regular basis or no amount of communication is sufficient.  Luckily I have met good writers like Marian Ronan, Donna Henes and Steve Zettler, and have come across Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth Moon and Anne Lamont who are prolific enough to satisfy my cravings. Not to mention my sister and other good friends and family who write very well, too.

I continue to pursue acting  and regular work, though I can’t do much during the healing. The timing has been great – the Helen Hayes got sold in January last year, and the other job I got began in February and ran until June. The new owner hired the ushers back for our theatre in September, at which point I was able to work until the graft surgery. Now, as I am ready to work again, there is a new show opening just in time for me to be able to usher. In February the new job becomes active again, so I will be able to help Daver pay the bills once more. My husband insists he is not worth mentioning, but he has taken such amazing care of me that I can’t agree with his assessment.  Not only did he come to the hospital daily, but he found things in  our apartment that I had buried under piles of mess and helped me stay on top of our bills and enabled me to communicate with everyone. This from a man who is painfully shy and would prefer to be invisible. And in November he had to have kidney stone surgery, which didn’t go real well, so I was able to take care of him for a week until he felt able to return to work once more. He had to have more on Jan. 12, but this time it went well, so what he was dreading, having to have one of my friends or a stranger come in to take care of us both, didn’t happen. Taking care of me is more palatable to him than being taken care of, for which I am eternally grateful.

I look forward to being able to continue working for peace and justice with Pax Christi Metro New York, reading to kids in my neighborhood with BookPALS, feeding the hungry on Saturdays through April with my parish, helping out with VITA at Equity and being ready to act once more. Thanks so much to all my friends and family, both spiritual – the Missionary Cenacle Family, of whose lay branch I am a member – and biological, for sustaining me and helping me do so well that I can consider this year an intensely interesting and exciting adventure.

Physical Therapy Continues

Since I fell on June 26 and broke my left hip, I have been recovering very well (thank you for all the prayers!). Roosevelt Hospital has a great rehab program and each day in the hospital I could see improvement daily after my physical and occupational therapy. Since getting home on July 14 to my 4th floor walkup, I continue working on getting better each day. I have been doing Physical Therapy at Roosevelt as an out patient for the last month or so, and tomorrow will get reevaluated, to see if I need more or can continue on my own.

I am not sure what to wish for, as going to physical therapy is difficult and hard to measure the improvement – it is not as easy to tell as when I was first injured. But I do want to continue to improve so I can feel more like my old self, able to go downstairs without thinking about how many trips up and down this will involve, and if I can take doing it more than twice if I have to do so.

Getting old is not for sissies, as I hear Bette Davis originally said. There are so many indignities that you go through that no one warns you about! Who wants to hear about digestive problems as you age? Let me tell you, no one! But it is true.

I used to love hanging out with my elderly friends in their 80s and 90s, as they all think I am a spring chicken, but after this summer I am not feeling that plucky.  When they get depressed, I am not so quick to say all will be well, look on the bright side. I miss +Josephine Kolenik and all those who have gone on to their reward.  Now I wonder how they can be so cheerful, what is the secret to finding joy in the every day things with which they deal?

Let us look for the joy and revel in it! Shared joy increases, shared sorrow lessens, so share what you find, but look for the joy, as the sorrow will find us.

Going on Retreat

I am a person who likes to go on retreats. I am right there with Peter at the Transfiguration, ‘Shall we build two tents, one for Moses and one for Elijah?’ I want to be on retreat all the time.

I go to a summer retreat, which I couldn’t go to this year because the dates coincided with a trip to Wisconsin and Ohio with my good friend Pam and her daughter Kristen and Pam’s grandkids Charlie and Desmond. I couldn’t miss that, hadn’t met the guys and they are 5 and 3 years old! They enabled me to visit my own grandkids, Brianna, Joshua and Isaiah, who are 5, 3 and 1 year old – I was hoping we could somehow get them all to meet, but that would have involved driving for 3 hours each way for a 1 or 2 hour visit, not feasible!!! But they got to visit with their great grandparents in Ohio, and I got to meet and travel with them and my own grandkids and family, so it was well worth it. Spending time with my sister and seeing my brother, their great uncle, referring to himself as Gruncle Matthew and playing with them in their home and yard was priceless!

The summer retreat, for which I usually organize a group of 20-30 women, joining groups from all over of 150 total, is always great, and my friends Ellen and Betty agreed to organize for me, then Betty couldn’t go either so we are going on Nov. 13-15 for the same themed retreat at West End, NJ, San Alfonso Retreat House – not the same as being there in August, but we are looking forward to it. I just finished a 5 day retreat in Philly at the Mother Boniface Spirituality Center with the Missionary Cenacle Family on our spirituality. That one is a silent retreat for 8 days and the Holy Spirit is very present. I couldn’t miss that! Thanks to my friend Dorothy Clay from California, who helped me with the cost, I was able to go to that one, too, for 5 days at least – still can’t get the time to do the whole 8 days! And every year Pax Christi Metro New York sponsors a retreat, which I did in February and look forward to in January this coming year.  Every place I go for retreat has lots of other retreats on various themes, and they all look good to me, but I really can’t do any more or my husband will rebel.

I know the Holy Spirit is always with us, but on retreat I really feel Her Presence. I am better able to be quiet and listen to Her. During the silent retreat we had exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and it occurred to me that while Jesus is always present in the Church, with exposition we are reminded of that fact and can be more aware of that Presence. Retreats do the same thing – the Holy Spirit is always with us, but on retreat we can be alert to that whisper in our ear, be filled with the courage, fortitude, wisdom and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit that enable us to do good, be good, be a power for good, in the providence of our daily lives, as we are all called to do by our baptism and guided by our vocations and various paths of life. The joy of having the time to spend listening to the Lord and being able to share it is immense. But we have to come down off the mountain and share it!

God loves us so much, we have to bask in it once in a while, and then go out and let everyone else know God loves them the same way! My parents used to say ‘we love you equally, but for different reasons.’ So I love hearing the stories and sharing them, of how we are different and why we think God loves us or not. Retreats help me do that.

Recovering from a broken hip

I fell while working on June 26 and broke my left hip. I had surgery the next morning and a pin was inserted into my femur and hardware was added to secure the femur to my hip, as the bones that normally do that were broken in the fall as well. They also added a screw just above my knee to secure the whole thing. All has healed well, except the one at my knee, which started coming out, as I discovered at a one month checkup on Aug. 17. My doctor took new xrays and showed me all 3, the one from the er, the one right after surgery and the one from that day. I was heading to Ohio to visit the grandkids the next day, so was concerned, he said it would be fine until I got back. So today, Sept. 4, I had the screw out in a 10 minute outpatient surgery, and am home with no physical restrictions, other than keeping the wound site dry for a couple weeks until I get the stitches out on Sept. 14.

I missed going to Trinita for two weeks to volunteer, though thanks to Nancy Strini, my friend and fellow leader in the Missionary Cenacle Family (she is regional custodian, I am her assistant) I did get to visit overnight for the last weekend of Trinita! And thanks to another friend, Leroy Ferguson, who joined us for the final Fiesta at Trinita, I got a ride back to NYC afterwards! I was able to get around pretty well, and to volunteer at the pool so one of the others got to play with the families one more time, so I felt I pulled my weight for the visit! A year without time at Trinita is not to be endured.

I hope to be healed enough to get back to work by the end of September, which is great since the theatre where I usher has a new show and new owners, and I don’t want to be giving excuses so they don’t want to hire me! It is looking very promising, as I was able to climb my 4 flights of stairs at home with no problems today. Just had to take my time, so in 20 days I should be in very good shape.

Living with a repaired hip is not too difficult, and visiting folk who are older than me yesterday at Mary Manning Walsh, I am very encouraged that I will be back to my normal self in no time. They are doing pretty well, one is 20 years older than me and has both hips repaired, and she is getting around very well, so I thank God for all the prayers that have helped my healing, and look forward to continuing to ‘do good, be good, be a power for good,’ as Father Judge, CM, the founder of the Missionary Cenacle Family used to say.