Tag Archives: health

These Hands

I don’t remember this myself, but my mother used to tell me that when I was very young I would stand with my hands outstretched trying to touch the Moon. I was convinced that when I got just a little bit bigger I would be able to catch it in my tiny hands.
My favorite toys were marbles and crayons. Colors captivated me of course, it was what I could do with them in my hands that fascinated me. I would spend hours coloring, drawing in new lines. Taking my aggressions out on the page rather than acting them out more physically.

It’s been years … in fact I cannot remember the last time that I balled my hands into fists because of rage. That doesn’t feel like the right thing to do with them.

My hands have felt extreme cold and extreme heat, and have put those feelings onto paper with ink.

My hands have held my son, and my daughters. They birthed all four into this world: Two by catching and two by pulling and guiding. One of them actually wedged herself in by turning her head at the wrong time and jamming her ear. Just for a moment, and then  hands freed her and she came, gasping and angry.

My hands have purposefully ended two (non-human) lives. I took their lives out of Mercy, and I cried bitterly after each. My hands turned off the machine keeping my mother alive, and signed the papers that let her killer go free. My darkest self believes I have a murderer’s hands.

My hands have been broken, bloodied, chained, and cuffed.

They have worn wedding rings and scars. Nail polish tattoos of a broken and false loyalty.

My hands have been trained to fight. My hands have been trained to heal. My hands have done the devil’s work, and they have been thrown to the sky in praise of a God. I stretched them on the boards for self-righteous mock crucifixion. They have been clasped together until they went numb, begging for an end to the pain of heartbreak.

My hands remember the feeling of caressing the face of my lover. The gentle curve of her cheek, the gentle curve of her hip. They recall the silk-smooth skin of her back. They remind me of the pads of our fingers pressing gently together, and the careful moving of a wisp of her hair from her eyes.

My hands let me speak the words of my heart in magic. They wield the instruments of my craft and turn them into art.

My hands have earned everything that I own. They have saved my life, and they have saved the lives of others.
They have made life a little bit better for countless souls.

The gift I have been given is not my hands, rather the gift I have been given is in my hands. My life’s goal is to honor the giver of the gift by using it.
Until it’s gone.


Filed under Musings


“What’s broken can be mended. What’s hurt can be healed. No matter how dark it gets, the sun’s going to rise again.” ~ Dr. Meredith Grey

The plot line or trope or whatever you would call it that I enjoy most in stories is the redemption narrative. I first encountered it in ‘Watership Down’ via Bigwig. A mild arc, but it spoke to me nonetheless.

Then Vader, and later still Shawshank, and countless others; the most powerful being ‘The Wrestler’. The title character seeks redemption and forgiveness from his daughter, and does not get it. So he pulls it from inside himself.

Redemption: Coming from the dark and finding the light, the love … the redemption of a new and better life.

This speaks to me in my life because a redemption narrative says: no matter how broken or wrong or bad or stupid or ridiculous or harmful or sad or terrible you are … you can atone.

There is still a road back. It might be rocky and steep, complicated and messy. Walking it may take your entire life. You may lose your foothold, slip and fall back into the abyss, but the wall is still there. The ascent is still there. Hard is not the same as impossible.

You are never too far gone. You are never beyond saving.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings

Summer Camp

I do one 'kids show' a year, and I wish I could do many more, as long as they were as gratifying, as heartwarming, as the Charlotte MDA Summer Camp. Every summer for the past 11 years, I've been invited to entertain the campers and the counselors one evening, and every time I leave, I'm struck by how lucky I am to have been there.

The children and youth that attend have various forms of muscular dystrophy, but their enthusiasm is unmatched in any audience I've had the privilege to work for. Yes, it's your typical summer camp. There are multiple activities and campfires and sing alongs and home sickness and stomach bugs and everything that makes camp a silver memory that many of us treasure for our lifetime. It's so much more than that, though. As you might imagine, working with the individual challenges of each camper is a daunting endeavor, yet it's done with humor, energy, and style. So much grace …

And there's love. Man, the love in that place is so thick you could spread it on toast. The staff and the counselors bring their best for the campers and everyone looks out for everyone else. Maybe I'm gushing a little, but I'm sincere.

The past three years I arrived wrapped up in my own troubles, and they vanish within the first few minutes. I leave invigorated, happy, and hopeful. And moved. Lifted so high, emotionally.

I'm not …. writing about this to brag, or promote my image. I want to impress on you the value of giving of your ability. Taking your talent, your time, your vitality and using it to enrich the lives of those who need it and see so little in their world. It could be anything, any cause, listen to your heart. Believe this: it's been worth any 'sacrifice' I've had to make in order to be there.

The love you need is where you plant it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings, Public Diary

Joy in the Moment

There are days I wake up and feel like Sisyphus.

Do you know who I mean?

Sisyphus was an ancient mythological figure punished for all eternity to roll a boulder up a steep mountain, only to have it roll back down to the bottom when he reaches the top. Albert Camus called him an absurd hero; he struggled perpetually and without any hope of success.

That describes me on some days. Broken promises, lack of perceived ‘progress’, low bank accounts and good old self doubt are my boulder. I struggle daily to push it forward and upward, only to watch it roll back at day’s end. In the reality of my profession, the boulder is mine. I am aided and supported by an amazing set of friends and family, but the responsibility is on my shoulders. Sometimes this burden is crushing.

When times like this occur, I stop and breathe. I count my blessings and I look at my situation from a different attitude. Picture Sisyphus smiling.

The idea is so simple: here is Sisyphus, the wretch, interminably pushing his boulder up the hill, watching it roll down and repeating.  In my mind he was always completely defeated, hopeless.  And then, as I read Camus’ book on the ‘Myth of Sisyphus’, everything about the picture changed.  Imagining Sisyphus smiling, embracing his situation as his reality, not wanting a different past or a different future, but accepting the present, the scene totally rearranged itself.  He was no longer hopeless, but happy in his acceptance of the situation.

He must, in order to accept the absurdity of the situation, adjust his attitude and fulfill what has been put before him.

On the road to your dreams, there are certain absurd truths you must acknowledge. You must work as hard and as tirelessly as you can. There is no guarantee of success, but the burden and the struggle contain a successful measure of their own. To simply be doing what you love, and to master it, may be enough. Our ultimate fate is all the same, so why be miserable? Live your passion in the task at hand, and find satisfaction in your minor successes and your crushing failures.

Like Sisyphus, some see no other option than the mountain and the rock. Burdened with obligations, lack of control, hopelessness, low expectations and no alternatives, they continue to toil in dead-end jobs and uninspiring environments.

You, however, can see opportunity in obligation, freedom in failure and hope in hopelessness. You are unique, as are your burdens. Keep shouldering on, and be thankful for the journey.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings

The Warrior, Part One

I am inspired by people who pour their heart and soul into their craft. Usually this kind of dedication comes from someone more seasoned in life, but my story today is about a truly passionate young lady who is only twelve years old.

She has lived her dream for most of her young life, overcoming obstacles and kicking past barriers. She has guts and determination … this warrior will change the world! Her name is Elena, and I’m going to let her Mom tell her story.

Elena Maree Sarmento

“I found out my (soon to be) baby girl was destined to be a “survivor” during my ultrasound at just 16 weeks pregnant, 1970469_303422263145432_216369535_nalthough I already suspected she was a girl, the technician had confirmed the news. What I also learned at this appointment was that she did not have two functioning kidneys developing as they should have been. They diagnosed her with severe (UPJ) stage IV Hydronephrosis in her left kidney. (http://urology.ucsf.edu/patient-care/children/Hydronephrosis) This is one of the most terrifying moments in a mother’s life. During any women’s pregnancy, regardless of religion, she prays only for her child to be born healthy. Elena was born November 28, 2001 after 22 hours of labor and less than a week after celebrating Thanksgiving. Just a few hours after arriving into this world Elena underwent a series of diagnostic tests and exams to check her kidney function and determine whether or not surgery would be immediate or if it could wait. Fortunately her surgeon opted for the less aggressive approach and decided to wait…for the next three years of her life, we waited…throughout numerous trips to the hospital, one infection and illness after another and an endless amount of medications, we battled on. Although she has always been just a tiny little thing, she is one tough kid. At just three years old, after over 8 ½ hours of surgery (pyeloplasty), she came out of anesthesia ready for battle (tearing out her IV & pulling on the stint sewn into her side) she looked straight into the nurse’s face and shouted, “I want to go home”. For the next two weeks, I remained in the hospital room by her side, learning how to care for her because the nurses couldn’t get close enough to my little warrior. After just a short week home, we ended up back in the hospital with a serious staff infection raging through her tiny little body. Two weeks later we were finally home and beginning the process of healing both the wounds from the surgery but also the emotional toll we went through. Just a short year later we were to see a new specialist, ENT Physician to determine what could possibly be causing Elena to have problems with sleeping, breathing and even swallowing at times. It turned out she required a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, & repair of a partial deviated septum, she was only four years old! Because of her previous and ongoing visits to the hospital and Dr. offices, my warrior developed what the medical world calls “White Coat Syndrome” and this is serious stuff. Taking your child to the doctor can be scary for any parent, but when you have a child that is normally a happy, strong-willed child turn into a creature you don’t recognize it is terrifying. I would watch my daughter become a scared, caged animal each and every time we had to see the doctor. It was devastating.

Once she started school a whole world of challenges presented themselves because no parent wants their child to be “different” or teased because of a health condition they have no control over. Living with kidney abnormalities caused her to have incontinence and she lacked the ability to “hold it” like other children could. I learned this the hard way after the first day of kindergarten resulted in tears because the teacher would not let her use the bathroom right when she needed to go. The next 6 years of elementary school began each year with a quick private meeting with her teacher, an explanation and a change of clothes being left in the office.

The warrior becomes a mighty soccer player at just 5 years old. She is one talented little athlete and plays soccer for the next four seasons. At 8 years old she decides she wants to try cheer-leading and the fire ignites in her heart, she has found her passion…we also find out during this same time that not only does she have kidney/ bladder abnormalities (left over from surgery) but she has developed further complications as a result of the antibiotics and other heavy medications she had to take during the majority of her life until now. Another round of testing and visits to the doctor cause more emotional strain on the entire family. We are so concerned about not only her health physically but also her emotional well-being. No child wants to be teased or have the peers around them know they suffer from an illness like this.

Her ailments are obstacles that my warrior will continue to battle for the rest of her life, yet to the outside eye you see a strong willed, very athletic and courageous girl who fights for the things and people she loves with more heart than most people I know. She is strong and mighty and doesn’t allow anyone or anything to stand in the way of reaching her dreams.

She has broken bones (performing a Nationals Champion Competition with a fractured wrist), suffered a concussion and never lets any injury sway her determination to get back to what she loves.”


If only we could capture that spirit and share it with the world.

Elena: You are my hero!

Leave a comment

Filed under Public Diary

The Cups

The opening scene of “LIAR!”

There was once a street magician …

Leave a comment

August 1, 2013 · 12:53 am


This career I’ve taken on is frustrating, grueling and at times completely unrewarding. I often wonder why I’m doing it. The answer always comes immediately: My joy is here. There’s something very addictive about living your dream.

Tonight I had the honor to once again entertain and refresh some of the most amazing people I know. I’m talking about you, Laura. I know you are reading this. The opportunity to do what I do for such a brave soul as yourself and you your INCREDIBLE family is what feeds my addiction.


Take away the awards. Take away the fame. Say goodbye to the Magic Castle and all the goals I set for myself. I can take it. As long as I can serve you, I’m wealthy.

1 Comment

Filed under Musings, Public Diary