Monday, October 17, 2016

Urban Sustainability and Natural Stormwater Treatment, SoCo Cultural District

I've recently moved to southwest Florida and have been impressed with some of the forward thinking sustainable, 'green' urban stormwater ideas implemented by the local municipalities and contractors.
#Urban Sustainability and natural stormwater treatment by using grass for filtration
Water quality is a 'hot topic' to most all here.

Keeping urban runoff clean is important and especially so in this vicinity due to all the migrating water birds making winter homes nearby.

One of my favorite, sustainably easy and inexpensive to implement (during urban design phases) stormwater treatment methods is to install stormwater collectors in grassy areas rather than in black asphalt or concrete lots.

The above photo illustrates how the contractor installed the stormwater collection grate within a grassy swale.

Grass and surrounding vegetation acts as natural filters to clean stormwater before entering collection culverts and pipes.

Grassy areas also allow much of the runoff to infiltrate back into the ground area and eventually replenish the aquifer.

On the other hand, runoff collected from paved landscapes is not filtered per se and contains straight oils and greases and other toxins.

Every little bit helps.

Of course native ground covers and plants would even be better than grasses.

However I am encouraged by this one step in the right direction towards partnering with plants to clean stormwater and helping keep our world a bit cleaner.

I'll be posting some photos of sustainable, innovatively designed swales over the next few weeks.

Another exciting aspect of this area is the SoCo district in Fort Myers.  SoCo Cultural District is an area with integrated arts, cultural experiences, sustainability examples and neighborhood food markets.

Check out the above link and watch for more 'urban and cultural sustainability' examples here soon!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Aortic Dissection, Connective Tissue Issues; Coping With All the Information

I've usually way too many apps open on my phone and am surprised to see how much faster my iPhone runs when I close them all except for the one presently in use.
Corkscrew Swamp hiking for Aortic Health
"Be here now."

More relevant to me than the app analogy is an image of paper file folders scattered across a desktop, flung open, stacks of typed or handwritten pages lying everywhere.  A jumbled up mess of a lot of information is not only confusing but disheartening too.

"Peace be still."

Life with a dissected aorta and Marfan Syndrome (the connective tissue disorder in part responsible for my torn aorta) and with chronic kidney disease from multiple open heart surgeries is a challenge not only on the physical limitation front but also because of the massive amounts of health information I must process daily.

Will this particular food raise your INR or drop the INR and cause a clot?

What about the bleeding an activity might cause if I get bumped or scraped?

What will I be doing when its time to take my beta-blocker that makes me want to fall asleep?

How long do dissectees usually survive?

Daily the questions fill the desktop of my mind like pages from the scattered, jumbled files or too many open apps.

My solution lately is to imagine taking a break and neatly filing all the paperwork and files back into the file cabinet in my back pocket.  Except for the one file I am using here and now.

Sometimes I switch to the app analogy and close all the open apps in my mind except for the one I need now.

So if I am driving then all the thoughts of medications, things I need to do, people I need to stay in touch with, my yoga and swimming I have not done for the day, my blog which I have not touched in a year - well all those thoughts disappear and my focus is only on the road and those cars around me.

Which is the way it should be.

Peace be still.  My blood pressure falls back to where it should be.

The people I am with take notice that I am more engaged presently.

And when I practice this mode of information management my chronic depression from living with  these challenging physical conditions begins to subside.

Be here now.

Close the files.  Close the apps.

Try telling yourself "Close the files. Close the apps" next time you are overwhelmed with a barrage of  information, thoughts and ideas running rampant.

Pease be still.

And then I can more easily deal with my "new reality" of living with a torn aorta.

When, in fact the "new reality" I've been reminding myself daily of is not really a "new reality".

Sure my aorta was not torn before my dissection but it was going to happen.  I just didn't know it.

Now, today I know I live with a pre-disposition (and a torn aorta) to connective tissue tears and all the cardiovascular and muscular problems associated with Marfan.

Understanding my dissection life is not a new, strange and unknown life for me is important.

I've always lived with the potential for cardiovascular problems, I just did not know it.  But today I understand.

The difference today is I have all the folders and information now about these chronic health problems whereas before I did not.  I am still the same person physically today yet I now know.

And all this new knowledge is what causes much of my anxiety.

I am overwhelmed and depressed until I remember....

Close the files.  Close the apps.

Peace be still.

Be here now.

And its all ok.

My back pocket file cabinet is especially important when I am writing this blog, or laying down to sleep or working on my art or doing yoga or preparing food or doing chores, you see I close out all the other apps, especially those files of mortality or other unpleasantries and focus on the task at hand.  Life is much easier when the winds of a thousand pages are not constantly buffeting my curly thin hair.

So when the dermatologist's office called yesterday morning and told me the mole they removed from my leg biopsied positive for melanoma, all the files flew out of the cabinet back onto the desktop of my life once more.

For a while I did the whole 'search the internet for answers on how to put the files back to the way they were before the phone call thing'.

Then I realized the melanoma had been there before yesterday, probably long before yesterday and the reality was similar to when I learned about my Marfan Dx.  I now had information I hadn't had before.

So I quickly filed the scattered papers and folders and put them back into the filing cabinet and closed out all those extra apps.

Instead of fretting about the 'M' word Dx we went to Corkscrew Swamp and watched the sun go down and the almost full moon rise.

And I enjoyed my evening.

The dermatologist office has a great MOH surgeon and they are scheduling a surgery to remove the affected skin area.  I'll open the 'mole' file as I have to just like I do with the 'dissection' file.

But I will also keep them closed when in not in use.

Scattered pages, even if they are full of important information, are useless when in an out of focused jumble.

So close out your excess files and put them away.

Be here now.

Life is really a privilege and I so enjoy focusing on each breath, each moment and each day.

Peace, be still.