Monthly Archives: February, 2012


I got out of the hot tub last night and as I was getting ready for bed I noticed a scar I have had for nearly sixteen years.  The scar is the result of a surgery where I formed a horribly painful rope-like raised keloid which then was “corrected” by a plastic surgeon after which it was much worse than what I started with.  Over the years thankfully, it has very gradually flattened and it is no longer painful and only the one end of the scar is still raised and deep red.  Last night I noticed that this red tip actually has formed a cartoon animal type figure.  It could be a dog or cat or even a baby brontosaurus!  I haven’t decided which it most resembles but what struck me as I looked at it was that this scar which I have hated (for good reasons) for so many years is now causing me to smile.

That got me thinking about scars in general.  We all have them.  We have physical scars from all the bumps and scrapes we’ve endured through the years and we have emotional and psychological scars as well.  I don’t think it is possible to get through life without at least some scars.

But are scars bad?  Well, wounds do need to be treated, no matter what kind of wounds they are.  And sometimes even with treatment a large scar still remains.  But as I do my own healing work and find the scars in my life that need to be healed I have discovered that the scars are also what makes me me!  I have grown and matured in and around the scars.  My scars can be triggered in ways that are uniquely mine.  My scars are a good reminder of my humanity, my individuality, my life’s path.

And as I learn to own my scars, to acknowledge when I have over-reacted, for instance, because I got triggered, or whatever, I am able to show myself compassion and understanding.  And the more I do that, the more I am able to extend that compassion to those around me.  We all have our quirks; we all have our beliefs; we all see the world from our own perspective.

But the more we learn about our own perspective and the more we see that it is just that, our perspective based on all that has happened to us and probably most influenced by whatever scarring we have undergone, the more we can relate to others and understand that they are doing the same thing, working from their perspective which, like ours, has been molded by whatever they have undergone.

So now, as I try to figure out just what animal is smiling back at me in the mirror (and it is even right side up and looking at me!), I shall try embracing my scars and not being ashamed of them or hiding them away.  The more we try to hide parts of ourselves, the larger those parts become until they warp everything.  I realize that I need to embrace all of me, scars and all, because each and every part of me contributes to the larger picture of who I am as a person, unique, wonderful, quirky, and difficult.

That’s it for now.   It is once again pouring rain, as in torrential downpours, here in the Pacific Northwest, but thankfully my pets and I can stay inside warm and dry and snuggling together.   I hope you have a wonderful day! 

Is There One Truth?

This past week has gotten me thinking again about the eternal question of truth and whether or not there even is an absolute truth at all.  I have explored this question, as I imagine many of us have, throughout my life and in a variety of contexts.  One of my earliest searches was centered around spirituality and religion and I tried out a number of them.  Eventually, I have decided that most religions have some beliefs that work for me and many that don’t, and I have finally cobbled together my own blend of spirituality with heavy nods to Daoism and Buddhism and other eastern philosophies.  Would I say that I had a claim on the absolute truth in this area?  Most assuredly not!  I know what works for me and what helps me through life, but I’d never presume to say that it would work, much less be the best option, for anyone else.

And even further back in my timeline, in another life when I was a physics major, I learned that good old Newtonian physics is fine for everyday life, but that in fact it has no bearing on reality when things get either very very small or very very large.  Scientists are still looking for a unified theory of physics, but personally I am not sure that there is such a thing, and for me, it is enough that I can count on Newton in my every day activities.

Well, this past week I was hit once again by the fact that truth is hard if not impossible to come by.  First there was the trip to the allergist in Seattle.  The doctor has a good reputation and the clinic is the best in the area, and he did go through everything with me, but his conclusion was that I am only allergic to grass, that all the other allergy tests I had had previously, tests based on an analysis of my blood, were bogus, and that no food allergy would cause sinus congestion or headaches.

This information directly contradicts what my regular doctor had said and I was left confused.  When I contacted my doctor’s office I got a message saying that there are just “differences of opinion,” which wasn’t terribly helpful.  I know that a large part of this is due to the differences between allopathic medicine and homeopathic medicine, but still, where does that leave me?

I decided that once again, this was a testing of my belief systems and it was up to me to play detective and figure out what works for me.  If the allergist is correct, then there is no reason not to eat things like wheat, nuts, and bananas.  So in what I hope is a reasonably sensible manner, I have added wheat back into my diet.  As a vegan, this was the one that caused me the most difficulty, and the one I missed the most, so I now have a wonderful loaf of olive bread and soon also some couscous and Tofurky faux meats, and so far, I have had no change in symptoms and no difficulties and it sure does taste good!  I am realizing that once again, there are no absolutes and that I will have to find my own path through the maze and see what works for me.  

The other major event of my past week was a wonderful (if very brief) visit from my sister Jan.  In the course of conversation we discussed some events in our family past and I realized very clearly that the beliefs of the individuals in our family determined their view of situations, their definitions of the realities of events.  Each person had acted from good and loving motives, but each spin as it were on the situation was totally different, rather like eye witness accounts of an accident.  We each saw what we “knew” to be true based on how we had set up our world.

When I was a lot younger, I was very sure that there had to be a right answer to everything.  Now, after a lot of years of experience, I believe that the key to life is to stay open to possibilities, to realize that there probably isn’t a single reality at all on anything, and that sometimes we need to readjust our beliefs, never an easy task, to accomodate new data or new ways of looking at things.

The older I get the harder time I have with change, and I don’t think I am alone there.  But at the same time, the older I get and the more I have seen, the more I realize that there are as many ways of looking at the world, as many realities, as there are people in it, that I have no monopoly on what is real or right, and that I need to be open to what others think, believe, and see as real, not only to treat them with respect, but also to stay open to learning something which might apply to me or help me navigate this complicated world of ours.

So I am going to conclude that for me there isn’t a single truth or a single reality.  I will just continue to ask the question, is this working for me.  If it is, fine.  If it isn’t, then I need to try something else.  I’d be really interested to see what you, my readers, think about the nature of truth and reality!  Have a super day!

Do All Colors Go Together?

I was in Island Quilter, the best quilt shop in the world (in my humble opinion), on Friday and a lady was trying to figure out what color yarn to use to assemble her knitted squares into a single piece.  The knitted squares were in a variety of colors (more on this in  a bit), and so, especially since she was wearing a vibrant purple suit, I suggested purple.  Her immediate reaction was that that wouldn’t go with her bedroom.

That got me thinking about whether I thought there were colors which don’t go together, and I realized that anything I actually consider a color (I do not handle beige, white, brown, black, neutrals, etc well at all) I would put with any other color and in fact do on a regular basis.  For me, a color needs to be bold and definitive, with no questions about what it is.  And my home and life reflect this.  My favorite color spot in my home is where a pink wall and magenta baseboard meet up with a yellow door and baseboard with a green half bath close by on one side and a purple closet on the other, and a blue bedroom beyond.  Well, I’m sure you get the idea.

We all color our worlds differently and that works really well.  I would not like it actually if everyone did as I do as that would become boring.  And the reality is that I have a mild form of color-blindness so that I am unable to distinguish colors which are close or colors which are faint, and hence my need for bold colors.  I recently purchased a hot tub (yep this is relevant to color) and they recommend testing the water for a variety of things such as ph using strips which you swirl in the water and then compare with the handy color chart.  Well, I have now signed up for valet service so my tub will be checked monthly and drained and refilled three times a year for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggies is that all the colors on the chart look about the same to me for all the things I am supposed to measure.  I can tell the difference between the bottom and the top but I cannot see the gradients.  I remember having the same issues in both high school and college chemistry, and my father used to yell at me that this beige didn’t even come close to matching that beige (he was big into neutrals).

A friend painted a magnificent portrait of my cat Sasha and I just got it framed.  As I was picking out mat and frame colors, the difficulties I have with distinguishing subtleties surfaced again.  The store owner first picked out a variety of mats which she felt would be good, and I am sure they all would have been, but after eliminating all the (by my definition) non colors, we settled on a lovely purple which looks fantastic with the portrait (Sasha is a black cat).  Then the frame selection, and again, I was offered many choices.  I suggested orange (once we decided that none of the greens would work because they caused detracted from Sasha’s gorgeous green eyes), and there were in theory lots to pick from, but most of them simply didn’t look orange to me.  They looked like rust or brown or whatever, but not orange.  Finally we found a bright orange that I liked which also worked very well with the painting and so now the portrait of Sasha sits proudly on my bright pink wall and looks fantastic.

Sasha Painted by Cynthia Zheutlin

My colors are bold.  My quilts stand out for a variety of reasons, but one of the main ones is my use of colors and as far as I am concerned all colors go well together, so I was able to respect (if not understand) the lady in the quilt shop’s statement, but I still think given the variety of her squares (which were primarily what I believe is called earth colors, including sage and some kind of yellow, etc,) that the purple would have looked magnificent.  I left before she’d made a decision, realizing that my input would not have been helpful, and I’ll ask Paul or Anja later on what color she finally settled on.

Do you have strong color preferences? Does color play a major or minor role in your life?  Just wondering.