Sunday, February 21, 2010


Everything in life is so fragile. Tonight I watched a neighbor's townhouse burn. In a matter of minutes, it went from me hearing a fire engine to looking out the window and seeing smoke coming out of townhouse up the street to that smoke getting thicker and blacker to flames in the front to flames engulfing the entire front and back of the house. The fire department was there and they put it out within another few minutes, the entire event, that I witnessed, probably happening over the course of 12 to 15 minutes. Those 15 minutes have changed the people who lived there, intensely and immediately. Their lives are now in a state of devastation and chaos. Their home, that protects them from the elements, provides them safe harbor and if they're anything like me is their oasis, gone in an instant. Fragile.

Fragile is defined as easily broken or damaged or delicate and vulnerable. Everything about us, our bodies, our homes, our lives are so fragile. My incredibly strong husband who could lift and move anything ... fragile. In an instant an infection got into his body and changed our lives forever. It didn't matter how strong he was because ultimately he was and we all are so vulnerable.

Luckily the people in the townhouse got out unharmed. The fire was caused by their dryer. Luckily for us, Shawn is alive, surviving the crisis that is our health care system (another post on that coming soon) and regaining physical strength. I'm shaken to the core after witnessing the fire tonight. It's just one more thing that reminds me of just how fragile we are.

If we think about this too much, we might never leave our homes. Somewhere along the line we have to have faith that things will be ok in spite of how vulnerable we are. Or that if things aren't ok we will find the strength to overcome it. I have found an insurmountable amount of strength throughout this ordeal. How is it that we can be so fragile yet so filled with strength at the same time?

Thursday, February 18, 2010


There's been so many gifts the last few weeks.

The biggest gift, Shawn's recovery progressing and his amazing, positive and inspiring attitude.

The next biggest, the strength given to both of us to endure and overcome this.

Then there's been gifts of food, gadgets and money.

There have been gifts of prayers, healing energy, Reiki, positive thoughts, encouragement and support.

The gifts above are a handmade card and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

I am grateful beyond measure for everything.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Shawn and I love Valentine's Day. Sorry, we do. There were plenty of years before we were together that neither of us would be thrilled about it. But since we've been together, it's always been a fun day for us. We get each other presents, we plan yummy food for the day and cocktails for the evening. And we make the day about love and being together.

This year, we couldn't do our normal celebration. There's that word again, "normal."

So we did a different celebration. We made a big Valentine's Day card, together, for each other. I gathered old cards, stickers, paper, scrapbook stuff and we made a kick ass Vday card! Right now it's hanging in Shawn's room at the hospital, but when he comes home, we'll frame and hang it. To always remember that different Valentine's Day celebration.

Everything that's happened and then today being Valentine's Day, has had me thinking about when I got married and the vows I made. About the commitment we made to each other. The whole for better or worse, in sickness and health. Our vows didn't actually have those words but said

Mina, do you choose Shahin to be your Husband, your companion and your friend? Do you promise to love him, respect him and value him through all of the circumstances of your life together?

I, Mina, give myself to you, Shahin, on this our wedding day.
I will cherish our friendship and love you today, tomorrow and forever.
I will trust and honor you.
I will love you faithfully through the best and worst, through the difficult and the easy.
What may come I will be there always.
As I have give you my hand to hold, so I give you my life to keep.

And I meant every word I said. Those words just couldn't be more true. So, even though this Valentine's Day wasn't the "normal" deal, it's been one of the most meaningful and profound.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


About the only thing I found myself appreciating about this last week in snow hell has been the
icicles. I saw some today that were about the size of a small child.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Frozen. It's frozen on the outside and I feel frozen. Outside there was already a shitload of snow and ice and now after yet another fucking blizzard there is more snow and ice. Seriously ... what the fuck? In all the years of wanting an epic snowstorm, so my husband and I could be snowed in together, the year it comes is when we can't. Because he is in the hospital, paralyzed. His own body frozen.

And I feel like I'm frozen in a nightmare. We both feel this way. When are we going to wake up? But we are awake. And our reality is that our lives are frozen in chaos.

So we're waiting for the thaw. For everything to thaw. The icicles, the snow, the nightmare and the chaos. That change will come. And then life will begin to bloom around us and within us.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Paper Hearts

Saturday evening, while I was snowed in, I decided I needed to do something to restore myself. Restore all the energy that's been flowing, actually rushing forth, to deal with everything that has been going on. In fact, Saturday ended up being an entire day of restoration. Sleeping in, working on photos, playing with kitties and making some paper hearts.

I got the idea from the Dancing Mermaid. And the thing about the paper hearts was that it was easy. All I had to do was get out some paper and scissors and go to town. There wasn't any big ordeal of prep, set up, clean up. And in that ease I found some peace. For the 30 minutes I was cutting out hearts and stringing them together, there was total silence. No questions, no jumping ahead, no going back. I was just right there.

The other part of her assignment was to give away the string of hearts. I'm sure it's fairly obvious who will be getting my string of hearts ... the same person that has my heart.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

An Almost Normal Day

Snowy tree taken from inside the front door. What's that in the background? Why that is a clearing sky after about 30 hours of snow.

Today was an almost "normal" day. Normal in that I spent the afternoon working on some photos for a family that are long overdue. Normal in that I picked up my camera and took some photos. Normal in that I was able to just be creative and work on something that will bring smiles and joy. Normal in that I played a little game of fetch with Lucy. Normal in that I slept in, got up, had breakfast and coffee. But in this almost "normal" day, nothing was really normal. Shawn being here would have made it normal. While I was doing my thing, he would have been doing his, watering plants, working on the computer, taking a nap, reading. We would have had breakfast and coffee together, hanging out in the living room, watching the snow come down.

But he's not here. Instead, he's alone in a hospital rehab, paralyzed (hopefully, only temporarily). So really, nothing was normal. Our entire definition of normal has to change and right now we don't even know what that will be.

So right now, normal is actually chaos. Extreme chaos for both of us. Complete disorder and confusion. And all we can do is accept that.

The other thing that was not normal about this day was the freaking 20 inches of snow. Although, I guess for this winter that is turning out to be normal.

Friday, February 5, 2010


So this experience with Shawn's illness, surgery and now rehab is, of course, providing many, many lessons. I'm going to share those lessons from the last 3 weeks and will continue to share them as new ones pop up. Because I know more are coming.

Here we go:

Lesson #1: Dudes, please start taking your health seriously. Pay attention to your body. Tap into your intuition when it comes to your body. If your wife or girlfriend thinks you need to go to the doctor, please listen to her. She knows. Don't negotiate just go. Pain is the body's way of letting you know something is wrong.

Lesson #2: Ladies, don't let your dude negotiate his health care with you. Nag him to death if you have to because if you don't chances are he will let things slide until it's potentially too late. Pay attention for him even though you're telling yourself he's a big boy. I felt like Shawn was handling his crisis in spite of what my intuition was telling me. I thought about taking him to the ER that first weekend, when his only symptom was severe neck pain. I sure do wish I had. Maybe things would have been different, maybe not. But at least I would have done something.

Lesson #3: If you're in a relationship, write down all of your accounts, passwords, logins, etc ... You never know when one or the other of you is going to have to access all that. And get power of attorney now. That way if you want to know something medically you won't get the old HPPA bullshit. Especially if your s.o. can't speak/sign for themselves. Shawn and I have separate bank accounts and we split the household bills. I have my system and he has his. Know each other's systems because you really don't want to waste precious brain power on figuring it out. Know where each other keeps bills, records, etc... Understand what the other person is doing and how they contribute before something happens.

Lesson #4: Know where your s.o. keeps pants, socks, shirts, etc... Shawn does his laundry and I do mine. When I needed to find shorts, pj's, etc... to take to him, I had trouble doing that. Can you believe it? Now I have laundry of his that needs to be put away and I'm not sure where it needs to go. Once again, if I knew this, I wouldn't have to waste precious brain energy. As silly as it sounds, right now I'm wishing I knew this.

Ok, those are all the lessons I have for now. More to come. Hopefully something more profound.

And hopefully, I will be able to get some photos in soon. I'm ready to do some restorative things for myself, like picking up my camera.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Letter to the Universe

Dear Universe,

You recently threw me a curve ball. But I'm not angry about it. I've accepted it for what it is. Obviously you have a Divine plan for me and my husband and I realize that. In fact, I can find gratitude in that curve ball that you've thrown. I'm grateful my husband is alive because what he had could have killed him. I'm grateful for every little bit of progress that he makes every single day. I'm grateful for all our friends and family and coworkers and complete strangers that have prayed for him and sent him healing energy and continue to do so. I'm grateful for my friends that have brought me food and helped me clean my house and clean our fish tanks and take me to the hospital in a snow storm. I'm grateful that I've been able to focus and get the household finances and logistics under control. I'm grateful that Shawn has disability insurance. I'm grateful that our health insurance is covering all of this so far. I'm grateful that my company is compassionate and flexible and understanding. I'm grateful that I get to come home to my kitties every night. I'm grateful for Shawn's amazingly positive attitude and determination. Clearly, I'm grateful for a lot. Because I know that the key to abundance is gratitude.

And this Divine plan of yours, well, I think it might bring more about than even you realize. First, it has made me love my husband even more than I thought possible. And I loved that man with all my might already. Second, Shawn's life is completely altered in an amazing way. He is going to come away from this a new man, as he said tonight, reborn, Shahin Sharifi, The Sequel. I can't even wait to see where this journey takes him and us but just based on his attitude it's going to be great places. And third, the pure inspiration that is coming out of this. Everyone is inspired by my amazing husband. I'm inspired by him in ways I never thought possible. Honestly, if your Divine plan was for Shawn to somehow change this world, well, your gonna get it.

But dear Universe, just like I have to take the good with the bad, well, so do you. And here is my gripe to you. More snow? Are you kidding me? And I'm not being funny here. Did I really need the extreme anxiety of driving home in snow last night, on dark roads, barely able to see, fearful that would skid off the road into a ditch at 9pm at night? Was that in the Divine plan? I don't think I needed that and I really don't see how it taught me anything. And Universe, you know how I'm all about life's adversities being our teachers. And I did write on the gratitude board that I was thankful I made it home safely.

And then this morning, I was actually going to do something restorative for myself and pick up my camera and take a picture of your little snow from last night, because it was pretty. Until, I opened the door and realized, oh yeah, I have to clean off my steps and car and dig out of that stupid snow before I could go to work. So, no, I didn't take any photos of that stupid ass fucking snow. Oh, and was it really, really necessary for that stupid ass fucking snow to keep falling off the trees in clumps onto my head? I mean right now, little tiny things, like having a decent hair day can be pretty huge for me, but no, large clumps of snow had to keep falling on my head, EVERYWHERE I went.

And now there's another FOOT TO TWO FEET coming our way???? What the fuck? Universe, surely you realize that it's so, so important to me to be able to see my husband in the hospital. Why are you making it more difficult for me to do so? And surely you know how much I've had to take on and get done but now I'm going to have to shovel out the car and steps and sidewalk AGAIN???? I sure could use that time for other things.

So dear Universe, I am begging for this snow to not come, if at all possible. Maybe I've got some anger that I'm wrongly taking out on the snow and if that's the case I promise to deal with that. Maybe you're sending it to force me to stay home and if that's the case I promise to back off some and reassess how my time is being spent and spend some more time at home. That's just really hard right now, as you should well know, I mean it is your Divine plan after all.

Ok, that's it. Thank you for listening. I guess I just needed to vent.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Pulling from the Reserves

Some friends of mine have asked "How are you doing this?" Or commented, "I don't know if I could do what you're doing." I gotta say 9 days ago I would have said the same exact thing. Before Shawn's emergency, illness, surgery, paralysis, I've never had to pull from the reserves. Sure, I've had some trying times but those pale in comparison.

Honestly, I don't know where the strength is coming from or how I'm doing it, it's just coming and I am just doing it. So I can only assume that somewhere deep inside me is some super human strength. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Reserved for something just like this. All the yoga stuff I read and practice, all the spiritual "guru's" books I've read, say it's there and sure enough, it is.

Through each step of this I have of course had moments where I thought, I can't make it through this. The worst moment being when the ER doctors came in after Shawn's MRI. We already knew that his condition was serious but when they walked in I felt their energy and the hardcore seriousness of this before they even opened their mouths. I'll never forget Dr. Dan telling me what was going on. Thankfully I was sitting down because my legs were shaking uncontrollably. If I had been standing, well, I wouldn't have been standing for long. I could feel myself not breathing and I could hear myself saying, breath. deep. now. And I did. Somehow I managed to not collapse, continue breathing and hear and understand every word he was saying while looking him directly in the eyes.

The second worst was at the other hospital ER the night before. I can't really get into a lot of details here about that night for potential legal reasons, but let's just say, seeing your normally extremely strong and seemingly indestructible husband collapsed in front of your eyes is enough to suck the life right out of you. To see him helpless and not be able to physically help is unreal. But I knew I couldn't collapse too, I had to be strong. And that strength just came.

Each day since his surgery, I've tapped into the reserves, to be strong for him and to just function and do what needs to be done. To be there in the hospital, smile, hold his hand, massage his feet, move his legs, whatever I needed to do to show him that we, together, will get through this, no matter what. Because we both have that strength in us. And I'm completely amazed at the courage, strength and resolve that Shawn has shown through all of this.

Thankfully, with the support of so many wonderful friends I haven't had to tap into the reserves for things like grocery shopping, making food or cleaning my house. And that is huge.

What I'm learning is that these reserves are there, no matter what, in all of us, ready to be
tapped into when needed.

And yes, I know that I will need to replenish these reserves and I will. In fact, I'm going to bed right now (9:30!!) to do just that.