In our family’s work, each of us is involved with team building and creating unified efforts with articulated goals across our chosen areas of expertise — medicine and healing, the arts, technology, and sports. One thing we all appreciate is that most everything in life is context-dependent. In my own efforts right now to create a winning team and an effective healing effort, this has never felt more true.

I mull this over in my long fluorescent night and two examples spring to mind. Over the many years of healthy check-ups at MGH, I have had the chance to explore the Healing Garden on the 8th floor of the Yawkey Building. I have felt underwhelmed by it, compared to the farm flowers and my own unruly and verdant yard, walks on the Hadley dike, sweeping views from our backyard Mt Pollux, not to mention the 100s of breathtaking places, human-made and natural, I have been fortunate to visit, hike, walk, swim, and experience across the globe. A few plants, some rocks, a bench. Okay there is a killer view of the Charles River and the iconic CITGO sign.

But a few days back, untethered from Ralph, I was granted a half hour clemency to go there with a nurse escort. To step out on my own power into the sunshine, into the plant space, into the real world. I burst into tears! How much I miss taking deep breaths of fresh beautiful air! Don’t worry I focus on breathing as part of meditating and I’m sticking with what I know, but man! That breezy inhalation and in that now seemingly miraculous pocket garden, were just what the doctor ordered! Context!

The other example relates to material possessions. We never know where and how an item that comes into our lives might be reassigned, serve a novel role, might pop off a shelf with a unplanned for role. Last year at the end of another successful triathlon, I saw an extra water bottle on the grass and took it to go along with the one in my swag bag. Who knew 10 months later I am depending on these leak-proof bottles at night to stay hydrated without drowning my hospital bed.

Or the small Lake Champlain gold-wrapped dark chocolates I decorated with true north stickers, to match title headings in my book and to give away at book signing events. We know chocolate (and other forms of caffeine,) can help uplift the spirits from the consuming and deep dexamethasone emotional crash, which has been one of the very hardest things for me in here. As nursing shifts change, I take my wee basket of golden chocolate around the floor and offer these amazing nurses a little treat. Or this Log House quilt, the first of many I have made, a gift for Paul on his 30th birthday. We had just one kid then. It’s twin-sized, flannel backed, comforting with heft and love. I am cozy under this pinkness each night.

Or this unconditionally loving, cuddly, bear, that I honestly do not think any of our kids ever played with, but I bought some 30+ years ago thinking every family should have at least one cute teddy bear. In my harried rush to pack for Fifty-Five Fruit Street, I threw it in a handle bag. Having slept with the same man most every night going on forty years, who is not allowed to room-in, I find myself hugging this bear for dear life sometimes and he does not disappoint.

Experiences and the stuff they bring into our lives are fluid, are context-dependent and sometimes circle around and around in newfound and unpredictable ways. May we all find comfort and grounding in our day-to-day walk-abouts and habits, and the choice objects we surround ourselves with!
Love & Light from Fifty-Five Fruit Street

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