Meet The Girls

I have been MIA I know, but for good reason: I want you to meet my new friends.

Actually, they are old friends but now I know what they look like, and it’s all because of setting Intentions.

I skipped writing about intentions last year as I was apparently on the two-year plan with getting things done. Two-point-two-five year plan I guess, as it is now April. Time flies.

So hang with me here as I explain.

On the Anonymous Good Turn front, it’s still a lot of fun. Some deeds are not so anonymous but if those people pay them forward the world will just get better and heaven knows we need more people being a force for good.

Practicing Music at least 3 days a week: I manage it more often than not. Violin is continually surprising and I frequently feel like giving up but I can’t imagine living without it. It’s like the violin is…I don’t know…waiting for me to keep practicing until I unlock the secrets.

It is a patient instrument.

I had an “A-ha” moment last lesson where I finally felt my bow wrist move the way it is supposed to and my teacher saw it too and it was SO COOL!

I’m glad my teacher is patient, too.

Becoming more physically fit. This one has been and continues to be amazing. Between CrossFit Spark (CrossFit-ish), my local rec center and Eat To Perform, I have lost inches, pounds, body fat and gained muscle. Last month TWO people commented on how good I look and last night another person referred to my arms as “guns”!

Be still my heart.

Eat To Perform helped me sort out how many grams of protein, carbs and fats to eat and fits nicely with my paleo-ish omnivore self (but people who are vegan, vegetarian, whatever-arian follow ETP). Coming from chronic under-eating this has been a life-changer.

If, like me, you have tried almost every weight-loss plan out there and are frustrated, check out ETP. I am almost two years into it and am in my best shape since high school. The kids and I are a CrossFit/Eat To Perform family as Rebecca has signed on also, and likes the structure it provides. We meal prep her food for the week and enter it into her computer, then all she has to do is eat daily and do the dishes. Nifty.

I would like to say it made me run faster, but alas, no.

However, now I run the same distance then bust out some burpees, crush the assault bike (it is my favorite because it has a fan so you get air conditioning) and have enough energy left to kick butt and take names.

I LOVE being strong.

And now…drum roll…writing.

I FINISHED MY BOOK!

AND MY ILLUSTRATOR SAID I WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO DO MY OWN ILLUSTRATIONS!

YES, I AM YELLING!

And I will calm down now because it is annoying, but seriously, I am so stoked I can hardly stand it.

My illustrator said she would be my consultant and so we have this great email system where I draw, she critiques and I draw some more. I am in heaven and I want to call in sick to work every day and make art.

My mortgage company is not agreeable though so I fit it in where I can.

And now, without further ado, meet the girls: Sally, Nell, and their coop-mates playing bug keep-away.

sketch of running chickens

I have learned a lot and will learn much more thanks to mentors who have appeared when I needed them. My 2017 intention is to self-publish this year. For reals.

Stay tuned!

 

 

After The Election You Still Have A Choice

Thank God this debacle is over.

The gutter brawl between the parties threatened to spill into my front room and had become so, so tiresome.

Now we know and I am not wasting any more energy on this election. There are people to be taken care of, runs to be run, tests to be taken, dogs to be petted and choices to be made.

We have the choice to be better or bitter. There is no staying the same.

We can choose to live with courage and heart here and now.

We can choose to be a source of calm and strength and honor in whatever happens next. For every person you see gloating or wringing their hands or just being a twit about this state of affairs, do something kind.

Choose to be goodness in the world.

The people in Washington won’t notice, but our families and friends and neighbors will. That’s what makes these choices so much more important than the ones we made on November 8.

 

Clouds and sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Solstice 2013

IMG_1009

“Well. Here we are!”

This has become my traditional toast and since Gandalf and Pippin can’t hold a wine glass I hear an imaginary *clink* as we salute this night. Christmas lights are bright, my fireplace is toasty and this year Loreena McKennitt has joined my Winter Solstice music companions Jennifer Cutting and the Windham Hill Artists. The critters have dozed off next to me and life is good.

Solstice music

Solstice music

This morning Rebecca and I went to the city and ran a 5K in the falling snow with other batty people. It was a fundraiser so it was good for our hearts on many levels!

IMG_1008

IMG_1007

Yes, those are fishnet stockings

The costumes made us laugh and my favorite was The Lamp from “A Christmas Story”. This was Rebecca’s first run since tweaking her knee at karate a few weeks ago and then re-injuring it when she had a seizure. All is well; meds are adjusted, physical therapy attended and as we trucked along she kept saying “It feels SO good to run again!”. We are often the caboose; it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it. Upright and moving is what counts!

We delivered presents to Sarah, Jared and Michael and made it back before the roads iced up. I got Rebecca snuggled into her apartment and I arrived home tired and happy; a romp in the snow with Gandalf and then I was in for the night.

And what has become of the intentions set last Solstice?

I intend to publish my book this year. I would love to say that it is available on Amazon but, alas, this is not so; the sails have been adjusted more times than I care to remember and what has floated in on the tides of life is that I will write it differently. The exercise of writing this blog (and reading others’) has made me realize time and marination are still essential and even though I have come to this later in my life the process can’t be hurried.

2014: I intend to get this new book version down on paper. 

I intend to continue doing anonymous good turns; “pay it forward”. This is easy and fun. Part of me still thinks I am/need to be invisible. That is a long story not worth going into here, and anonymity suits me.

2014: Keep it up. 

I intend to practice my music at least 3 days a week. This has refashioned itself the most of the three intentions; I am a percussionist but I think I might have a melody instrument in me somewhere. Mountain dulcimer? Violin? Work and life being what they are, some days I only have ten minutes to spend practicing; how was it that when I was a kid thirty minutes at the piano was so bloody never-ending? Oh, wait….it was because I had no talent for it and I would gladly have gnawed my fingers off if it would have gotten me out of lessons.

But music practice on my own terms is….exquisite! 

2014: Play music as often and long as possible.

If I did nothing more than attempt to fulfill these intentions I would be completely occupied. Weaving them into the everyday is part of the challenge and if I just had a Carson and a Mrs. Patmore I am reasonably sure I could take the world by storm!

The night has worn on and tomorrow is Fourth Advent; soon it will be Christmas. To my family, friends and followers I raise a glass of the finest red I could find on sale.

Well. Here we are!

 *clink*

IMG_1017

Summmmer-time…..

The day begins

I don’t even know how to start this post…I am just so happy I could spit. I do feel bad about killing the ants, though. I was down for peaceful co-existence but they were all about world domination and it just wasn’t going to work. It was them or me.

 

Anyway, two summers ago I was looking for a place to live, last summer I was trying to sell my old house and pay the bills and this year……I am awash with gratitude to have been given what I need.

I feel like I should sacrifice a virgin or something and of course I won’t but the indebtedness feels that big; beyond words. But not beyond pictures…. so here is my offering; snippets of my days just for you because “To have joy one must share it, happiness was born a twin“.

My friend and I went for a hike, got rained on, had a splendid time. While I have lived here for years, she is a recent arrival and asked, “Do you ever get used to these views?”

Nope, never get tired of them.

 

Rebecca and I went to the zoo one day and yes, it really was this hot.

 

 

The bok choy bolted but the flowers are cute little yellow guys so I am enjoying them for a while. I think it was too hot when they were coming up; I will plant some more now that it is a little cooler. I love my garden experiment and am thankful I do not have to survive off what I grow this year!

 

 

Fortunately, the professionals have growing fruits and veggies down to a science and my CSA boxes are like Christmas every week.   

Gandalf dozing on the grass

Gandalf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pippin snoozing in “his” chair

 

 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find the Norwegian Elkhound.

 

 

 

Last Sunday I rode my bike to church then afterward kept going up the valley. Storms built and dissipated and I picked a few clouds to watch; I used to do this during the long days on the tractor at the ranch.

Look up! If your nose is always to the grindstone you will miss the story in the sky.

More gifts: friends, free concerts and a Great Blue Heron flew over Gandalf and me at dawn yesterday morning. Being able to go to work. Being able to punch out and come home. Knowing that even the tough days have goodness and mercy in there somewhere. What I learned in Al-Anon: One day at a time. It’s really all we’ve got and if someone tells you different, they are selling something. (Thank you, Princess Bride).

 And the most serendipitous finding in ages was provided by one of my favorite blogs, “Hooker’s Horde” hookershorde.wordpress.com

I discovered that Gandalf’s paws smell like popcorn!

 

 

 

Salt water

 

“The cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea.”–Isak Dinesen

I wrote this post while on a 19 mile bike ride with my new BFF bike seat cover. I didn’t use to need a gel seat cover but one day a few years back I was riding a bumpy downhill and got tossed over the handlebars after bouncing hard on the seat (to gain altitude, apparently). It really is true that time is elastic when stuff like this happens and as the sun was at my back I had the unique perspective of living the event while simultaneously watching my shadow play it out. I distinctly remember seeing one shadow (me on bike) become two shadows (me not on bike) and I thought to myself “Houston, we have separation from the launch vehicle”. Then my face was in the dirt with my bike on top of me. ThanksBeToGod for helmets and sunglasses! My bike was relatively unscathed, as I initially thought  I was, and after I thrashed around and got untangled I stood up and decided to resume my ride.Trek handlebar Then I looked down. Hoo boy…..bleeding like a stuck pig and yes, Houston, we had a problem.

Now this was in the early days of believing that my ex was actually pursuing sobriety; in reality he was using any time I was away from the house to drink himself pickled. I called him to come and get me. He got lost. I called him again and he complained that “they” had changed the road (really? in the last thirty minutes?). He finally arrived. I was not feeling very good by then and I had him stop at a paramedic-staffed fire station on the way to the city twenty miles away. A friend of mine was on duty and I explained what had happened and apologized that she had to look down there to see if I had an arterial bleeder; at this point all the males in the area scattered like cockroaches when the light goes on. She blanched at the sight of the laceration, applied a dressing and since I was not bleeding to death I opted for non-ambulance transport to the Emergency Dept. Now this is the scariest part of all: I got into the car with my ex who, in retrospect, was impaired. I thought I was going to survive a bike crash only to die on my way to the hospital. After a minor trauma workup, some stitches and a couple of hours in the ED, we made it back home in one piece. A few days later I tracked my paramedic friend down and took her treats. She is good people.

I didn’t ride for almost three weeks but eventually got back in the saddle and that is why I now need a gel bike seat cover. Best thirty bucks I ever spent.

One reason I ride is to have some way to burn off fury; something will trigger memories from the last several years and emotions of ferocious intensity will ambush me. Without warning there is total outrage and I understand the quote “hell hath no fury…..”. I run and ride and meditate and work and settle down and get comfortable with this scorched-earth anger; a not very “nice” emotion but there you have it. If I was queen, heads would roll and I know that I don’t want to get stuck in this wrathful place. I cry and want to throw things; I stagger into Al-Anon for support and guidance; help me to want to want to….forgive? have compassion? for him? for me? I don’t even know. I let it marinate. I write, delete, repeat, post; my guardian angels really can fly as fast as my ex could drive. I lay it out on the altars of All The Powers That Be and rest, knowing that I don’t have to know. Paradox.

Then the most curious thing happens; I walk into my house and am consumed with gratitude for this place of refuge, or I revel in sitting in my little yard with Gandalf and Pippin. PippinTookI can play in the dirt in my own garden. I am on my own and I am surviving and waves of thankfulness wash over me. I melt into them, sea foam hissing as it meets the lava and eventually the anger cools; I am left with new landscape; a new shoreline.

I am still standing…..and riding, and singing and and and. Isak Dinesen was right.

 

My Oxygen Mask

 

Mare's tails

Blogging again at cruising altitude. I think I figured out what happened on the flight out to Virginia so this post should stick right here. Fingers crossed.

When journeying by air you become familiar with this phrase: “…..if you are traveling with someone requiring assistance, please be sure to put on your own oxygen mask first….”

Yep. It’s true and while I know it (taps forehead with finger), I am learning to truly know it (rests palm of hand on chest). And therefore do it (flaps arms rapidly while jumping up and down). OK, I didn’t actually flap and jump but it was an interesting visual…..I hope I didn’t worry you. Now…where was I? Ah, yes, the doing part; that was how the trip evolved; I was starting to flounder and the Universe presented me with a work conference in Norfolk. I could attend this and then visit family while having to be responsible for only myself; I would not take Rebecca and that was the difficult but necessary piece of this.

North Carolina Arboretum

This is the first time I have been away from Rebecca since our world got crazy. I have used every tool I know for maintaining a healthy mind/body/spirit and I recently added a low dose anti-depressant to help with the PTSD/anxiety left over from all the death and destruction. My Higher Power has my back as it was soon after starting that med that Rebecca was taken and I realized I was hanging on by my fingernails. She cried when I left last week but I was losing cabin pressure rapidly, the oxygen mask was dangling in front of my eyes and there was no turning back. I grabbed it and ran.

Did I feel guilty? Yes, but my survival instinct won the day. I am not sure Rebecca could grasp the concept of me going on vacation by myself, for myself, (I can’t either, actually, hence the conference part of the trip) and in fact she spent the first twenty four hours after my departure being rather surly. Sarah helped her buck up via Face Time, which we have found to be a marvelous tool for communicating with her, and the days rolled on.

Once Rebecca remembered that snarling about the situation wasn’t a productive way to manage it, her mood brightened and she started to attend to the things she needed to do. Her bike tires required attention, laundry was waiting. She went for a run or two and knew she could call or text me, which she did. My being out of town was on her monthly support calendar so her staff was aware. She could count the days on her calendar. We had cooked before I left and she had meals in her freezer. William, Kate and I shared photos and we did a Face Time visit once. Sarah helped her work through a small emotional collapse at the end of the week. I couldn’t have had this time away without William and Sarah’s support.

Rebecca survived this separation and I hope as the new normal of our lives becomes more familiar she will be less prone to meltdowns. This week provided more insight into how to support her; I am not going to live forever and one day Face Time won’t reach wherever I am (probably the Lido deck in hell, truth be told), but that is not today.

I have been the woman who packs along at least one of everything, ready for any eventuality. Part of this came from living with a man who slowly sank into chemical dependence and I never knew what I was coming home to, or what was coming home to me. This week I off-loaded much unnecessary cargo and didn’t feel panicked; impending doom as a companion is exhausting and I am getting used to the feeling that the world is not going to end every time I turn around. I like it!

The view from 30,000 feet is one of my ship riding higher in the water; all my emergency stores were swamping my boat. Sarah and her family, William, Kate, my Dad and friends are helping me breathe into a new lightness of being.

I am one lucky Momcat, renewed and ready to press on.

What is your oxygen mask?

Wholam Clinical Trial update

I am learning more every day, the newest lesson being “how wi-fi works at 30,000 feet”…….I was flying to Virginia to visit William, Kate and my dad and had this post almost done. I thought it would be so cool to publish from cruising altitude and hit a key; all my words instantly flew off into the sky. I am still not sure what happened but now the “save draft” button is my very best friend. I was initially bereft but found that publishing this post later rather than sooner has allowed me to add links to local food producers in Virginia and some fun photos; in between tropical storm Andrea’s downpours William, Kate and I shopped at farmer’s markets, picked up their CSA at Five Points Community Farm and visited the farm cat while buying the week’s share of eggs and milk at Full Quiver Farm. So just for you…..a second ago I held my breath and pushed “publish”. Whew. We’re still here. Enjoy!

Here we are, five months into Paleo-ish and finally spring; we did have frost last night which confirms that here, the naming of seasons is like “the pirate code”…..mostly guidelines. Now it is gorgeous, green, the trees are blooming and I love it.

Anyway, I had to have a physical for my health insurance and the dreaded lipids were to be measured. I had not planned on having them drawn for another month but it was time to pony up and see what was up, or down, as the case may be.

I have struggled with a rising cholesterol for about 6 years. Both my parents have been on meds for elevated lipids for years and while we do not have the genetic high cholesterol problem I wondered if it was just going to be the way it was for me, too. My doc at the time wanted me to go on meds and I didn’t. I modified my diet even further: (low fat everything, extra veggies; olive oil), began supplementing with Red Yeast Rice (a naturally occurring statin) and Co-Q10, continued my exercise routine and plugged along. I achieved an acceptable ratio and my triglycerides were OK so my doc and I called a truce and life went on.

Full Quiver Farm

Full Quiver Farm

 

Farm cat

Farm cat

 

Full Quiver Farm

Full Quiver Farm

Here are my lipid panel numbers. And remember, Paleo-ish is what is working for us; you will have to find what works for you. 

A few years ago while following conventional dietary guidelines:

  • Total cholesterol 242 (125-200)
  • HDL 76 (>40)
  • LDL 117 (<100)
  • Triglycerides 85 (<150)
  • ratio  3.2 (<5)

After five months of Paleo-ish

  • Total cholesterol 227 (<200)
  • HDL >100 (>50)
  • LDL Too low to measure on their device (<100)
  • Triglycerides <45 (<150)
  • ratio <2  (<4.0)

    Five Points Community Farm Market

    Five Points Community Farm Market

I have lost a couple of pounds and a couple of inches. While I still have the perpetual pants-shopping problem of the waist being too big when the rear fits, I now struggle with this issue one-half to one size smaller. I swear I can see muscles in my upper arms and some nights after work I have the energy to go for long Gandalf walks or short non-Gandalf runs. Most mornings I wake up a bit before the alarm goes off and I no longer take the supplements.

Rebecca is wearing pants she hasn’t worn for four or five years and rarely naps during the day. She has the motivation to take herself out running a few days a week and recently ran a ten minute mile with one of her staff members! Her sibs agree she is clearer mentally and I am positive that this clarity contributed to her keeping her cool when she was taken two months ago.

I love the recipes and the simplified shopping of Paleo-ish. I have signed up for local produce through a CSA program and I am going to investigate the Nourishmat for my home garden. I am going to buy a food dryer in anticipation of preserving this wonderful bounty for Rebecca and myself; we have a freezer and will get to savor the summer when the snow flies again. I will close my eyes and remember this trip and the growing goodness. I hope you can do the same!

See the Nourishmat? Five Points Farm Market

Check it out in your area!

Buy Fresh Buy Local Check it out in your area!

Marathon

I really, really hope it doesn’t snow in the morning.

Tomorrow is our local marathon/half/5K and bike tour. Sarah and I have been riding this for quite a few years now and except for the first year when we froze our toes off we have had decent weather. This year…..oy….not so sure; it was 32 this morning at my house. Add precipitation and wind chill to that and a ride would be tough.

But, this year especially, I want to ride. I need to participate.

My marathon running career ended a few years ago and now I run shorter distances and ride the longer ones. I’ve got to say….it’s much more fun to ride a marathon when you’re as slow a runner as me! But I don’t ride well in the cold and wet….Sarah and I were discussing this and she had the *brilliant* idea of switching to running the 5K. I knew there was a reason to send her to college!

Yesterday after work, in the hills above the city, I ran a few miles with Boston in my heart. Tomorrow we will do the same; offering sweat and effort and prayers for everyone affected by the horrific events of the last few days.

As I write this, the second suspect is in custody.

We all know there is plenty of badness out there; so be safe, be strong, be a force for good.

Run for Boston; run for all of us.

 

Signing the race banner that will be sent to the Boston Athletic Association

Signing the race banner that will be sent to the Boston Athletic Association

Gone skiing

I am pleasantly surprised.

I thought for sure I would be typing with just a couple of fingers because I could barely raise my arms to the keyboard, and that was if I made it out of bed at all to hobble to the couch. However, I am only slightly stiff and feel pret-ty darn good!

The reason for all this apprehension was my first skate skiing lesson with my friend Nancy Anderson, aka Dear Valley blogger, at White Pine Touring.Before the 3K loop

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a day made to be outside…blue sky, poofy white clouds, no wind and perfect snow. Our instructor Don was articulate, organized, patient and encouraging; a mild-mannered paleontologist during the week, on the weekends an avid skier with 25 years of skate-ski under his belt.

 

 

Don explained that this ski style evolved in the 1980’s from marathon classic cross-country ski races when after many miles the wax would wear off the bottoms of the skis. As there was little to no traction without wax, the skiers would leave one ski in the track, angle the other ski to set the edge and push off. This apparently lead to much controversy among classic-style racing purists and to solve the problem the skate-ski method became a separate sport, with slightly different equipment.

 

Don coached us through the basics and after our sixty minute lesson we were deemed ski-worthy and off we went to the 3K loop. The gently rolling golf course had a wide groomed trail with classic-style tracks on the outside edges and corduroy for the skate skis as the center “lane”. Skate skiing requires groomed snow; for breaking trail you need to get out the classics.

This loop was 3K of trying to remember to “glide”, admiring the form of other skiers, a few falls and many laughs. We had a respectable finish and the sweat running down my back was testimony to the total body workout of this sport. I was hooked.

Nancy and Claire were here!

Nancy and Claire were here!

We met seasoned skiers, newbies like us, ski-team members and a woman from DC who was here with her downhill-skiing hubby. This is a great sport to try if you are traveling with someone who downhills but you don’t, or you want a break from downhilling. White Pine can supply rental equipment and if you are a first-timer, a lesson is well worth it. If, like me, you now want your own equipment, you can always buy right off the shelf but you can get some fabulous deals at end of season sales and ski swaps. I personally love a sale.

 

Tired, happy and thirsty (next time we will pack water with us!) we returned to the car. The sky, the snow, the clean, cold air and time spent with a friend made this a day to remember. An ideal celebration.

After the 3K loop Thank you, Nancy Anderson, Don and White Pine Touring!

Gone skiing!

Gone skiing!

Paleoization

Rebecca is pretty standard in her food tastes and since she doesn’t cook much, this can be  bonus. It can also be boring and can lead to unhealthy food choices….have you noticed how a whole lot of the stuff that falls into the “grabbing something to eat” category is junk? And expensive junk, too. Badness all around; from the pocketbook to the waistline. So, unless you are lucky enough to have a chef, ya gotta shop smart and actually cook to have a decent diet.

Oh, and make an investment in quality fridge/freezer containers with lids you can actually keep track of. When you are not cursing in the tupperware drawer you will thank me for this piece of advice.

Since puberty Rebecca has struggled with her weight. The struggle worsened when she moved to her own apartment and the combination of ready cash, some unfortunate social interactions and not really liking to cook have made for, shall we say, “issues”.

A good therapist and the appropriate antidepressant,  limited access to cash, hiring good staff (that is a whole ‘nother post) and vigilance on the part of her sibs and myself are providing a safe and healthy framework. If you are reading this and you have a special needs person in your life, this all didn’t happen over night and it is an ongoing process with many opportunities to beat oneself up along the way. Do not be discouraged; it is worth it….we are not going to live forever and the goal is to help our family members be as happy, safe and healthy as possible. Hey…isn’t that what we all want?

But I digress.

While Rebecca became more fit, she still suffered from low energy and napped frequently during the day in spite of sleeping well at night. I blamed her anti-seizure meds for this but now I am not so sure they were the culprit. Taking her off of them was not an option so I re-visited what she was (and was not) eating. I wondered….would incorporating Paleo principles into her eating pattern keep her body from diving into a sugar/grain-based coma?

As i was modifying my diet, it was easy to introduce Paleo to Rebecca when she came to my place. Once she picked out favorite meals, we shopped, cooked one or two days a week and filled her fridge and freezer. (This is where the good food storage containers come in). I explained the rationale for this change to her staff and we started a recipe binder at Rebecca’s apartment. She doesn’t drink alcohol so that part was easy and we made Paleo-friendly pancakes and waffles. Sarah perfected a chicken enchilada recipe and so far that is Rebecca’s favorite.

I have cookbooks ordered but for right now, this is where menus and ingredient lists live; the recipe holder made by William when he was a Cub Scout is still in service!

 

It’s been about a month since we first changed eating habits and these are the benefits I have seen thus far:

Rebecca rarely naps during the day and she also gets up earlier in the mornings.

Shopping with menus in mind has decreased her grocery bill.

The surprise in all of this was the disappearance of the random abdominal cramping that used to make her quite uncomfortable; she has not complained about that since she stopped consuming cereals and bread.

So far, being “Paleo-ish” has been fun. Rebecca seems to feel better and I know I do. We shall see where this leads us; I look forward to reporting on the progression of the Wholam Paleo Diet Clinical Trial as the data rolls in!