Sunday, March 31, 2013

Of Easter and Of Other Things

All is quiet in the house this Easter evening.

If this were any other year, I'd be concerned about where we were going to go for brunch, but today, a bowl of all bran and a banana were more than enough. The lack of ham or my traditional swordfish and smoked albacore wasn't even a wrinkle on my mind.

 We spent most of last night watching The Ten Commandments before the Home Health Aide came to help out with Dad. Dad had a good day yesterday. He was talkative, coherent, and eating, though he didn't feel up to getting out of bed much. He gets this really peaceful look on his face when the 3 of us (Mom, Bro, and I) are sitting around talking, even if he's sleeping. It's kinda like a little smile, so we sat in the bedroom and watched TV and chatted together as if it were as normal a thing to do as ever.

  By contrast, last night was a really bad night. Bad enough that I had steeled myself in preparation to make the phone calls to my brother and the hospice people. I found a strange, steady calm. I've always been good in a crisis and, like I've said before, I don't really have any regrets about my relationship with my dad. That doesn't mean I'd ever WANT to see him go, but as hard as this is for us kids, the people it's hardest on are Mom and Dad. Helping out helps me cope, and, honestly, Dad appeared so blank, it was as if he was already gone. But eventually some morphine got his breathing regulated once again, though it remains shallow.

  Once the crisis passed, as if on cue, I got word from My Sailor, asking me to write out all of my feelings - as up until now I'd been passing on only clinical facts about what's going on and sharing my feelings with family in person and a few of my friends long distance.
  I spent an hour last night pretty much solidly crying as I wrote it all out. It was helpful (not that I haven't been shedding tears before - that's a daily activity around here of late) and generally therapeutic.

 I just can't wait for him to get home and give me a great big hug.

I didn't want to make this a cancer blog or a hospice blog, right now, the biggest part of my life experience is my father dying. To diminish it, refuse to mention it, or to make it a foot note feels disrespectful to the single most instrumental male in my life, and the experience as a whole.

 Why write this out in the internet world? I believe that someday someone like me might be going through something similiar, feeling all alone, searching for answers on the internet. Sadly, I have no answers to offer other to assure future-reader that you're not alone. Another family has been through it. Someday, it might just help someone else out, even though my blog is actually is pretty well filtered (believe it or not).

  Today, Dad wasn't really awake more than to answer "yes" or "no". He's very peaceful. For someone ravaged by this much cancer, it's a huge gift for him not to be in any pain, but my heart still pounds instinctively wondering if  'this is it' every time I hear a noise coming from the room he's in - even when it's just the cat or the oxygen machine.

  Tonight I'm still steeled up to make the calls, should they become necessary.

  So as a nod to the good times, I'm throwing in a few photos from a family gathering last November - sort of an early family Thanksgiving.
Me and my Parents at our local hometown brewery, Stone, while waiting for our table.

Mom trying deciding she doesn't like my Sublimely Self-Righteous.

Bro and Dad chatting it up.

Dad and UncleM, his brother enjoying the beer garden

Me and my Cousin. (Who would have thought we're not genetically related?! Crazy how that works sometimes!)

I hope all my readers out there had a blessed, beautiful, and peaceful Easter.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Singing to Soothe the Savage Ache

The past few days have been grueling, but at the same time, there is no where else I'd rather be right now.
  I'll admit, I haven't been eating great, and I missed 2 days of working out. These are far from cardinal sins though. I just didn't have it in me. Read on and you'll see why, but first, be prepared.
I'll try to inject some humor into this blog to keep it palletable, but anything that colors the truth too much would be doing this experience a huge disservice.

Disclaimer: Just like life has redefined what ‘hard’ means to me, it continues to revise my definition of ‘this sucks’ as well.

There is Tired.

There is Sleepy.

There is Exhausted.

And then there is whatever this is... this odd stage of existence where days blur together.

The human body really is amazing thing. As is the human spirit. It's amazing just how much a human can take, and just how resilient the spirit is.

If there is one thing I’ve heard throughout this entire process it’s, “At least you get to say goodbye.” While I know that it’s a gift to be able to get your affairs in order before passing the torch to the next generation and I understand the shock, guilt, and agony from a sudden loss on a purely intellectual level, I'm not sure I can fully buy into believing that this is preferable.

Earlier this week, Dad's relatives flew in to spend some time with Dad. The day before they arrived, he was barely concious most of the day. He wasn't in any pain, but the hepatic encephalopathy (which is basically a brain fog/confusion caused by amonia that builds up once the liver fails, resulting in eventual brain shut down) had really set in. I doubted he was going to make it past the day, but what do I know? I've never dealt this closely with the end of a life before.

Hospice nurse offered a new medication to help get the amonia out of his system. Great, right? Well, sort of. Sure, it makes his mind a little less foggy, but it causes nearly explosive bowel movements... So add the runs to the list of things sapping at his energy.

By the time the family arrived, he appeared much better than the day before. It's all so decieving though. He's not actually getting well. It just happened to be a good day.

My aunts and uncles gathered to spend some time with Dad and, honestly, to say goodbye…

We sat around, talked about how things are going with everyone, avoiding the elephant in the room as long as we possibly could. 

We talked about AuntH (Dad’s sister) and UncleH (who also has cancer, though a less advanced form of bone cancer) selling their house and about the townhouse they’ve purchased closer to their kids on the other side of the county.

We talked about our pets, both past and present. We shared photos. We had a few chuckles… all of us avoiding the inevitable as long as possible.

Then it came to be say  farewell. There were planes to catch, dinner to coordinate, and rest needed.

And that’s when it happened.
AuntM asked for a picture when all the siblings together.
 I had to leave the room. Not one to run from much, but I wanted to run and hide and pretend that wasn’t happening. Not that I would ever deny them the moment, but I wish it didn’t have to happen.
 I walked into the other room just as I saw Dad’s siblings crouch down on either side of his easy chair and smile.

I couldn’t watch my Aunt take the last photo of my father’s family intact.

I stared out the window at the hillside-yard of my parent’s house, and  fought off completely losing it.  Within a few stifled breaths, my mom joined me, her eyes brimming with tears. She handed me a Kleenex, smiling ruefully my direction and we collided, both allowing a few soft sobs to escape before taking a few deep breathes, both working to collect ourselves.

We weren’t alone. As each sibling spent a few private moments with my father, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. A few more stray hugs were shared, most of our relatives focusing on us. UncleH insisted on having everyone gather around Dad, all touching some part of him. At his direction, we bowed our heads as he and AuntH (Dad’s sister) prayed over him.

While it was incredibly awkward, there was an excruitating beauty alive in the room as well. 

After the extended family left, the house was silent. Had I been a younger woman, I would have probably dramatically thrown myself on the bed in the guest room and sobbed into my pillow. But the truth was, Dad was still there, sitting the living room, breathing, blinking, and doing all the things a living person does.

He did not disappear. People said goodbye to him, but he hadn’t left.  It was goodbye, but it wasn’t.

Yet all I wanted to do was sob.

I let the silence stand, and then I realized the next step.

We had to change the channel.
Mom started to do dishes to keep her hands and mind busy.  I suggested we turn on the News (something Dad enjoys watching).  

Before long, what has become a ‘normal’ night was back.  Normal meaning someone dashed out to a local eatery to get dinner (it’s ‘meal by meal’ right now, with Dad calling the shots based on what he can eat).  When everyone was tucked in for the night, I stepped out.

Now, it’s true that it was a C25K planned for that day, and the muscles and health I’ve been building have paid off recently. And with eating out, it’s safe to say I’m a bit bloated and have probably gained some weight. I’ve been working out might have helped me burn off the excess energy and emotional stress, however, I needed to be around people. So I headed out to visit my old roomie at his work.

Lucky for me, he’s a Kareoke Jockey. And while his father is also suffering from cancer, it was great to reconnect with another old friend.

It was a complete change of pace. From the quietude of the house, to a somewhat rowdy beach bar. (Ironically enough, 2 guys pushed each other over who was going to buy me a drink, despite the fact that I’d already turned them down, mentioned “My husband wouldn’t appreciate that,” and whipped out my credit card. I’m a bit of a wallflower naturally – believe it or not. The only I note the irony because when I was single, I failed miserably as many a gal/gay pal can attest to. Every single time. But when I go out now and want to just sing,  now I get unwanted attention. Life is weird…)

The following day, Dad was up pretty much all that night though, leaving everyone (especially my mom) a exhausted.

The next day he was in bed all day, but was a bit more coherent.

Turns out my weigh lifting has done some good. I've been able to lift him while my mom adjusts pillows. I've been able to help lift him from time to time without too much straining, but it's my brother who takes most of the weight.

Yesterday was filled with paperwork – Wills, Powers of Attorney, and working out solutions with my day job.  Ending the day with chatting with friends… and a lot of aggressive singing. I took out my frustrations on a song (Take Me or Leave Me) or two (Call Me When Your Sober).

Confession: It’s HARD to make myself get out of the house during all of this and spend time on my own. I know Dad supports me stepping out, as does the rest of my family. We all need a break from this intense experience. It helps me come back with a healthier perspective and leaves me able to inject some humor into the day to day insanity.

But today, Dad didn't get out of bed, was barely awake, and had no desire to eat. He's not in any pain, and this may just be a bad day. But don't be surprised if I take a break from this blog for a while. Right now, we're eat, sleeping, and breathing family time. Today, I did manage to get a short work out in (10 whip ups x 3 followed by 25 sit ups x 3) and I do feel a little better for it... at least, I'm ready for bed.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Little Hug Goes a Long Way

Odin, the rescued snuggle bug
This has been by far one of the hardest weeks of my life so far.

It started last weekend when My Sailor's deployment was followed up by a call from my brother. He let me know that, if I wanted to have some meaningful, conscious time with our Dad, I'd better make immediate arrangements. He was slipping away quicker than anyone thought.

After crumbling to the floor and crying for what seemed like an eternity (though, in reality, was only a few minutes), after the mass texts to friends and loved ones, I knew I had to compose myself enough to pick up the phone and start making calls...

First, the Moral Officers for My Sailor's Boats.

Then, the airline. I already had a flight scheduled out for Thursday, but that would most likely be too late, so I needed to change my flight. (Ray, the customer service guy at Virgin America couldn't have me it easier. Hats off to you, Virgin. Thank you.)

And then, The Red Cross.  Much like when they started, the Red Cross still helps military families in emergency situations. They are able to get messages through the lines where others can't. They were able to get a message through to My Sailor's command that Dad has days left, at best. We knew this could (and would) happen at some point. No one expected it to be this soon, or while he was out at sea, but we did take some precautions, all of which have turned out to be helpful right about now.

Scrambling to tackle dog sitting and anything else in the house that needed to be done before I left, I managed to get through the day and get down to California in under 24 hours from the time my brother called me.

Since then, I've been able to spend some time with my family, and it's been good. His skin, which a year ago was tanned from the California sunshine, now a nearly neon sallow. The whites of his eyes are going yellow as the liver failure takes control. His once booming laughter is now replaced with shallow snoring. His once sharp wit replaced with morphine induced confusion. (This morning he woke up convinced he owned a farm and Mom was getting mad at him for not dealing with the hogs. As far as I know, Dad has never lived in a farm. Maybe it was he was just craving bacon.)

There is no denying we're approaching the end-game rather rapidly.

As for me, I've been taking care of myself. My usual vices (sugars, pastry, etc) aren't tempting at all, but I'm eating healthy. I've been working out every day since I arrived. Yesterday, it was a C25K day. I'm not used to running in this heat (hey, 75 is 'hot' when you've been living in 40 degrees for 7 months), dry air or hills.

I've been working in sit ups and whip ups whenever I can. Yesterday's routine was 50 sit ups (25x2) and 16 whip ups (3 sets of 5 and 1 extra for good measure), some stretching, and a walk along sunset cliffs with an old friend. The day before, it was just sit ups and whip ups during the commercials during an episode for NCIS. (about the same amount as yesterday).

Working out has been my sanity and my way of blowing off steam right now, as we get through this.

I have to give credit where credit is due - my brother has been amazing through all of this. He's been very helpful to my mom. I'm really seeing the best side of him right now and it's awesome. It's more than being 'good in a crisis' (a vein that runs through our entire family), but on an emotional level too. He seems to know just what to say, and it rings of truth.

Ladies, he's still single. Don't wait too long. You'll miss out on this gem.

While this whole situation sucks, it's been proof to me that the legacy left by a family is love. Genetics are just the scientific part of life.

I am my father's daughter.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Syrah and Sanity

This week has been... a week. A true stretch of my obscene flexibility skills, and I don't mean in the gym.

Don't get me wrong; TrainerGuy is definately giving me a run for my money! While today's workout didn't break any new ground, it was just what I needed even before I knew I needed it. Yes, My Sailor's schedule has gotten even crazier since my training appointment today, but such is the Navy life, right?

While My Sailor wrestles with guilt cause by all this craziness, I'm rolling with it. As usual, I give myself 1 day alone to be a mess, and then tomorrow, it's back to running, cleaning, working, mowing the lawn, and dog tending.

Tonight, it's all about some award winning Syrah (Wolf's Trap, yum) and some couch time with the dogs.

I'm acutely aware of what I'm discovering today.

I've heard it said "You fall into a rythm." With all the unpredictability in our lives, it seems insane to say that there is a rythm to life, but, it would seem there is.

I notice it in little ways. Like, knowing I'll give myself 1 day to be a bit of a mess when we're expecting extended departures. I know I'll buy flowers using some of the money he left behind, and I'll email him to thank him for buying me flowers.

I know I'll work out. I'll do coffee with friends. I'll journey home to spend time with family and friends. I'll get back to work and hammer those hours away. I'll take care of some long overdue yard work...

But tonight, I'll enjoy a full glass of Syrah or two, and enjoy a good night's sleep, while 1/2 of my heart is out Finding Nemo. 
Tonight, I'll let things get a little messy. Tomorrow, I'll get back to enchancing my life, so I can bring a better, stronger, leaner, and more fulfilled me to the table- when we're actually able to share a dinner at the same table again. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Obscene Flexibility and Other Useful Skills

Since it's 2:30am, so let's have a little late night/early morning tea talk, shall we?

 My day is just winding down. TrainerGuy kept me doing handstands (literally) this morning (seriously, the threat of smashing your face on the gym floor is GREAT incentive to not fall while doing wall walks); my job had me coding Neurosurgery this evening. Toss in some dishes, grocery shopping, laundry, and dog wrangling, and basically, that's the last 16 hours in a nutshell.

I'm ready for being "done" for the day, that's for sure.

But I have one last thing left to do.

I had hoped that My Sailor might be home around 1am this morning, but, no dice.

So I'm taking the time to write a letter to take with him in his sea bag next time he goes out 'Finding Nemo'. I stock pile these things. Stationary, photos, and note cards - writing them whenever I can, so that he doesn't have to go a day without word from me, despite the silence of the sea between us. These one-way conversations become more and more challenging as time passes sometimes, but it's better than the alternative. Which is basically nothing aside from the rare email. Even if all it says is, "I love you. I miss you. I can't wait to see you," it's something. I'm doing my best to throw in the occasional poetry slam or short story, or random photo or piece of artwork to try to keep it lively.

That said, we were looking forward to the possibility of having a weekend off together. (Well, I'd have to work a few hours, but most of the weekend we'd have off together.) We were thinking about heading into Seattle for some lunch and a trip to our favorite museum, the EMP. Or maybe catch one of the final shows of Ama Luna while it's in town this weekend, if we could get a good deal on last minute tickets.My Sailor has never seen a Cirque show and I've never seen this one, so it could have been awesome.

Could have been
, being the operative words.

Alas, any ideas of a weekend alone together have been canceled. He'll be working. And the 4pm-8amish we've become accustomed to, but some similarly long form or day shift.

Before we celebrate the change to day time hours, there is very little time to make that kind of a transition, so I anticipate we'll spend the remainder of the time coping with his exhaustion. This isn't a complaint (I know, it sure sounds like one). It's just a fact of life for us right now.

As the cliche goes: "It is what it is."

I can look forward to a weekend of running my C25K program, doing laundry, dog wrangling, cooking, dishes, and probably mowing the lawn (if the weather holds out long enough) instead.

You know, in previous relationships, I'd been accused of being inflexible. True, I can be immovably stubborn when I do choose to put my foot down, or when I'm passionate about something. And, in all fairness, I have a wide variety of things I'm passionate about, though I rarely put my foot down without good reason...but I digress.

Anyway, I'm not sure if I've grown (probable) since that accusation was made, but these schedule changes don't phase me nearly as much as they would have 10 or so years ago. It would have driven me inexplicably nuts. But now? When I get a phone call saying our weekend date is canceled, my reaction is, "Whew! Sure glad we didn't spend money on tickets yet!"

I have lots of examples of my crazy flexibility - from the fact that I can reach 4 inches past my toes on a tight day, to both thumbs comfortably settling behind the knuckles of my index fingers, to touching my tongue to the tip of my nose (see photographic evidence above). As cool as all of those are (especially when I was in elementary school), they aren't terribly useful today.

The flexibility that is most vital to my happiness has been to identify what I control and what I can't, and decide what to get worked up about, and what not to. More commonly known as "rolling with the punches."

Right now, he can't control his schedule. That is what it is. He can't control his level of exhaustion. That's all natural.

I can control how I react to it. I can either focus on what we can't do, or what we/I can. While I don't consider myself a homebody type by any means, I do LOVE our house - especially when it's spic n' span. I can kill time attacking those spots in the house that have been needing attention. I can log a few extra hours at work and get some more dough behind me for the traveling I anticipate over the coming months. I can work on my fitness, which will help me feel better about everything. See? There are lots of "I cans".  That way I'll be available for when he's back on his feet during the days.

There will be other shows to see, other days to go to lunch and a museum (or two) in the city.  But there is only one now. I can either spend it wallowing in disappointment and frustrated with the things I can't influence (thereby making an already hard situation even harder on My Sailor and us), or I can put some of that obscene flexibility to the test, and make life easier for both of us.

Obscene flexibility it is!

Maybe this is all my way of biting my thumb at those things that I can't control...

Or maybe I actually am too stubborn... too stubborn to allow an outside force to mess with this bliss.

You decide.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

No 1/2 Naked Ladies This Time - Just Thoughts on Running

When I started using the RunDouble app on my phone, I first ran outside around the general neighborhood. It went pretty well and I still had some gas left in my tank when I was done.

Over the past 2 weeks, I've been running indoors. At the gym, the app can't track me via GPS, so I don't really know my pace. It can't track my distance, but I count my laps. Most of my indoor runs average around 2 1/4 miles. My outdoor runs are decidedly shorter, but I'm getting there.

Today was my second outdoor run. While the first day I was battling the cold, today, it wasn't as cold but it did decide to rain on me.  When all was said and done, that was a nice thing actually. Kept me from over heating (though it made seeing kind of a pain when it blew in my face).
It was a steady drizzle.

As you can see from the above graph, my running has really taken off in 2 weeks.  The C25K program works off walking and running intervals, so while my average runs are around 9 minutes/mile, this graph factors in my walking as well.

I'm so glad to see results during this process.  Running isn't my strongest suit. In fact, when I think of why I run, I don't even do it because it's a great way to stay in shape. I do it (get this) because it's hard and I don't think I can. Somewhere deep down I doubt that I can do it. Somewhere along the line, I got the impression that fat girls can't run. I can't even pinpoint where I got that impression - after all, I played sports all through grade school and into high school. I even took a college level basketball class! Running is one small way I can fight back against that "I can't do it" anxiety.

But all that said, what was going through my head during my runs?

Usually, when I'm indoors, I'm thinking about the day, focusing on pushing through whatever is going on in my life and finishing the work out.
Today, as I listened to WDWRadio podcast while running, I couldn't help but think of another podcast that is near and dear to my heart.
Gordon Harvey's This Running Life
While he's changed his tune from his podcasting days to a blog focused on where he is now, I remember Gordon recording podcasts while running in the rain in the south. I remember him turning off the recorder and heading home when lightening would strike. I'm still inspired by this commitment to change his life (even though I have no real interest in going Vegan).  I've been following Gordon's adventures in health and training since 2009, when he started podcasting. (If you want to see where he started blogging, check out this link: Running to Disney. The slow evolution of really is inspiring.)
One thing that really impresses me is that Gordon changed his life with this family intact. Many people who have been morbidly obese find that once they change their lives, many relationships often don't survive. From friendships to romance, sometimes the stress is just too much. In my experience once a person who was once a victim of their own lifestyle becomes their own personal hero, some partners/friends/family members are intimidated by the newfound confidence that comes with it. Instead of rolling with it and celebrating success, many find somewhere else where they can be the 'hero'.  Gordon decided that he would change his life without impacting his family life. This ment a LOT of early mornings, cooking for himself (his entire family isn't Vegan), and shopping for himself.

I could go on and on about all of that - but Gordon remains one of the inspirational people in my life, even though we've never met face to face.

 While running today - I remembered the voice of that self-proclaimed "slow, fat guy who runs", I get a little smile, and I run a little farther.

RESULTS:Obviously the graph shows an increase in pace AND distance! Booyah.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

No One Is Symmetrical AKA the 1/2 Naked Ladies Blog

Now that I have your attention...

Remember this guy?----->
That's my old roomie from Calfornia. We used to preform together and he's a pretty good guy all around. He's now a professional DJ and hoping to someday become an all around entertainer.

But he said something funny when I was newly divorced and in my "dating" stage.

"You meet the most interesting people. Like, no one is just pushing a pencil behind a desk. They are all like... geniuses or something!"

He was more right than he knew.

Well, my friends are an eclectic bunch. Many are artists, but that's what happens when your hobbies include all-things-Disney and Community Theater. But I have another 'breed' of friends as well.

Boxer Babes.

I say Babes, becuase (to date) all of the friends I've really connected with through Clydas (my Boxer dog) are, well, female.

One of them is the lovely AndiGirl - mother of 3, fitness trainer in training, and pin-up model. Now, AndiGirl has a million professionaly taken photos, which you could say were completely airbrushed, so I picked one taken during a family day at the beach.

While AndiGirl and I bonded over our mutual love of our Boxers and their unique personalities. Friendships evolve over time and lately she's been a great inspiration in my training. Being someone who was previously obsessed with the"number" on a scale, I always thought that bodies like Andigirls were completely unattainable. But she's one of those gals that reminds me every day that we all have different beautiful bodies - and as long as we continue to push those, we're growing. She's also a living embodiment that "Strong (and sore) is the new 'sexy'."

She's right. Now, I'm not any where's NEAR her awesome bikini body BUT... This can't be reinforced enough!
(Unknown Source)

December 2009 - 180's
 For most of 2009, I was under a low calorie, hence low activity diet plan. It worked. I went from 220 to the 180's.

180lb-me couldn't run a mile if you'd asked me to, but I could turn down bread, fruit, and desserts like there was no tomorrow! I couldn't have lifted 50lbs without straining, and there is no way you'd get me to do 50 sit ups. BUT I was at that magic number! Notice, the hips, thighs and tummy are still rather obvious problem areas? Yeah... those areas are actually smaller now...

NOW - I'm around 220lbish, give or take a fiver (for the 3rd time in my life), but oddly enough, I still wear those exact same shorts I wore when I was 180 pounds! I know what you're thinking - they don't stretch. But I'm more confident now in them than I was when I was in 2009.

This vacation, I subjected a water park to my swimsuit-body for an entire day! And I didn't care if it wasn't perfect. Over the years, I've discovered that 1 peice suits that are long enough for my torso, are HUGE where they shouldn't be, and my size tends to change to so much, that I opt for something sportier - and 2 peice.

So while I'm not yet AndiGirl-licious, I have a better understanding of what it takes to get there, and stay there. Sure, I've put on about 35-40 pounds since that day in 2009, BUT I've gained more than pounds and confidence...

I now do about 2 miles a day on my C25K days. I can lift over 100 lbs. My waist isn't smaller, but my hips are smaller than they were then. I now add weights to my sit ups, and I'm no longer restricted to shakes and bars that cost me $200/month, and restrict my activity level to walking.

Now, I get to eat fruit without panicing!
Sure, it's not ALL muscle, of course. And I'd still like to see the 180's on the scale again. But only if I can move without restriction because I might over-extend my calories per day. I can't really imagine what 180lb me will be like with this sort of training. Probably pretty svelt.

The greatest side effect of working out and lifting regularly has been stress relief. When I was following a restricted calorie, restricted intake diet, I didn't have this as an option. Sure, it made me find other ways to cope with stress other than engaging w/ my dear friend 'pastry'. Back then, if I ate 1 piece of fruit, the scale wouldn't move (or would go up) and I'd flip out a little bit. Now, I pay less attention to the wiggly numbers on the scale, and more attention to how I feel and what I look like.

One handy trick I have - I don't "reward" myself with food after working out. I reward myself by taking a shower using a body scrub I don't normally buy. It's my Post-work-out treat, but I only allow myself to use it if I've worked out. But perhaps the BEST reward is that feeling when you get your blood pumping. (Well, that and a Zico Dark Chocolate Coconut water.)

Future goals? I can't wait to register for the 10 mile or 13 mile race in Disney World this fall. Just gotta decide which after-party will be worth attending.  I'm finally confident that it's a challenge I can complete without being swept.

I may be heavier, but I'm stronger, faster, and, as ever, a work in progress. My left side isn't quite as strong as my right (and I've affectionally named the stronger sides of my body Overachiever and the weaker sides Underachiever), but it's all getting there.

 Every work out I come out more confident that if I keep at it, I'll get there.

Walt Disney said it best - "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
Oh - and as for my old Roomie - he hits the gym every day, and always has.

St Patty's Day and a Little Taste of Home.

Mom & Dad dancing at the Reception August 2012
Today is/was St Patrick's Day!

 For many, this day evokes vague memories of green beer and walks of shame. But for me, it evokes something all together different. Though I'm neither Catholic, nor Irish, nor a heavy drinker I still observe this holiday every year.

See, my mom is Irish (as if it weren't obvious). For as long as I can remember St. Patty's day being on my radar, I remember celebrating it with my family. Somehow, we'd usually come up with a boiled dinner (corned beef and cabbage - yum). In fact, I remember having my first sip of Guiness during an at-home St. Patty's day celebration. (For the record, I hated it. Who would have thought I'd be into dark beers now? Go figure. Then again, I still considered Guiness from a can a complete waste...but I digress...)

Last year, I was on the hunt for a new Irish pub. In my hometown, we had one I hung out at regularly. Nearly every Sunday I could be found enjoying a Black N' Tan or  Strongbow Cider (on tap - yum) and some of the wonderful music (which was sung by a Scottsman - a fact I never ceased to enjoy the irony of).

Well, our hunt last year proved fruitless, at least for St Patty's day, was a bit of a bust. All of the pubs worth going to were in Seattle - 10 miles and a 2 hr ferry ride away. So we ended up at a local sports bar which served beer, (bad) corned beef and cabbage, and had an irish folk singer there. The music and the beer was the best part of that day.

This year, I planned ahead. Instead of hitting up the local Euro Gastropub, I opted to just cook in. My corned beef turned out tough (but still better than last years) and the veggies (carrots, parsnips, cabbage, and potatoes) turned out rather good though. My Sailor is working and I had a bunch of housework to catch up on.

So I had my dinner after folding 3 loads of laundry, doing a load of dishes, and taking Odin for a hike. My quads are feeling the C25K and the squats TrainerGuy has been working with me on, so I decided to keep it easy today and just hike (well, as easy as hiking with a 90lb ball of white fur and muscle can be).

My Sailor will be reheating his some time after midnight.

Dessert is probably going to be a baked apple with a scoop of Snickerdoodle ice cream, if I don't just pass out after chores are done. Still 3 more loads of laundry to fold and put away. Dusting will just have to wait for another day.

And this year, for the beer, I opted for a little taste of home - Stone. The Stone brewery is actually located in my hometown. The grounds and the gardens are gorgeous, so my family stops in there whenever we can.

The rest of my family went to Arizona this week to catch a couple of Spring Training Padres games. I have to admit, I'm just a tiny bit jealous - and I'm glad Dad was able to get out, get some vitamin D, and see the Padres WIN!

Stay turned for some vacation photos in the This Amazing Life blog!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Fan Girl Moment

Time to lighten things up on this blog!

I have to share my true (completely unexpected) Fan Girl moment from our Disney World Trip.

We started our Walt Disney World portion of our trip my all-time favorite way - with a Character Breakfast before park opening, in the Animal Kingdom park. The very first time I saw the Tree of Life in 1999, with no one in front of it, first thing in the morning, it took my breath away. In fact, I teared up...and I still do. The 145 foot tall, 50 foot wide tree is covered in 325 hand carved animals. It's a true work of art that brings to life the magical way every life is interconnected. No matter what you think of theme parks, this is worth the price of admission alone in my book... but I digress. Those moments of  awe were completely expected, but it was amazing to share that same emotion with My Sailor for the first time. He 'got it' before we arrived when I told him about what it was like, but now he 'get it' in a whole new way.
And if you think my Fan Girl moment happened the first time we met the main Mouse himself, you'd again, be wrong. Yes, I love meeting the big cheese in the fuzz, and decked out in his explorer gear is a highlight, but it wasn't the 'gasp!' moment that I didn't see coming. Oh - I still gasped, but it was complete predictable.

Taken by My Sailor while in line for Everest
 It actually happend while we were in line for a favorite Animal Kingdom attraction - Everest.

Everest is what it looks like - a roller coaster. The tallest mountain in Florida, the view from the top is amazing. But Disney is known for their stories and their attention to detail. The line for this attraction is no exception to this.

View from the top of Everest

 The line for Everest casts riders as adventurers on an Expedition to climb Mount Everest. The line takes rides past prayer flags, altars, and other bits and peices of amazing artwork.

Deeper into the "Yeti Museum" there are remains of gear from other climbers who were stricken by the fearsome yeti. There are photos of animals that live in the area and bits and peices of evidence of a yeti found throughout time. The cross over between the real world and fiction makes it decidedly believeable.
  Now I've been in this line before. In fact, before my Fan Girl moment, I'd been on that line at least 6 times.
 But this time, I spotted this....
The Famous Yeti Footprint
  Now, you may not know who this is and may be chuckling at the yeti footprint, but this is someone I would LOVE to be my travel guide someday. This, dear readers, is Josh Gates.
Before you ask that crazy question, "Who is Josh Gates?" Let me educate you. Josh Gates basically has one of my dream jobs. He's a professional adventurer. I first became aware of his adventures when I discovered Destination Truth.  Basically, he travels all over the world looking for the truth behind mythical beasts, like the Yeti. On his journeys, he experiences local cultures and takes their legends and myths seriously as the Destination Truth team has a great time - and finds the truth behind some of these as things. (I honestly don't believe humans have discovered every creature there is to discover on earth, so I'm glad things like this show are around to keep our egos in check.)


When I first spotted my favorite travel guide my face was something like this coupled by a girlish "ee!" of excitment that doesn't come out of my mouth often... if ever. I've met a few celebrities before and I'm not the type to drool all over myself, scream, cry, wet myself, jump up and down, etc.

I actually remember the episode where Josh found this footprint. A few Designation Truth episodes happily reside on my ipod for when I travel.

Thanks again, Disney for combining 4 of my favorite things - Josh Gates/Destination Truth, Travel, a great story, and My Sailor.

Too bad he's in the Navy! Otherwise we'd strap on our backpacks and see if Destination Truth needs a hand!

For now, I'll have to settle for whatever truth Odin and Clydas sniff out.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

When Life Hands You Pause Buttons Instead Of Easy Buttons...

I know I promised photos from our trip, dear readers (ye brave, ye few) and there will be someJust not in this post.
This week has been a doozy. Not all bad, but a doozy non-the-less. And since part of this blogging thing is all about honest conversations about life - let's talk about times when life puts some of those skills to the test, shall we?
This week, I've been challenged to make sure I develop healthy coping mechanisms, and search out the 'Easy' buttons that will help keep me safe and grounded during challenging times.

Right now, those challenges include a virtual halt on our adoption process. I'll be filing paperwork soon requesting an extended hold next week and canceling (yet again) our Transracial adoption training we'd signed up for. See, My Sailor's work schedule includes leaving for work around 4pm and coming home around 8am the next day. In the Navy, there are no such things as "weekends". Most days, he has about 2 hours of waking time in the house. That doesn't leave a lot any time for anything else. Try as he might, the poor guy is just exhausted when he rolls in. Making plans, having date nights, even the day-to-day stuff beyond the essentials (a shower and food) are pretty much impossibilities for the foreseeable future. Forget about a mandatory meeting for a training class that starts at 5pm in Seattle. He'll be working. Yes, we both MUST attend.

His heart is in it. He isn't flaking out. He'd love to be here and be all things all the time, but he's just run ragged. There is no time to get through the paper work, and it's the type of forms that I can't complete on his behalf. He'd planned to have them done this week - but then this schedule kicked in. It was tickled Monday night and sits on the computer, about 1/4 of the way done. (Since my laptop crashed on our vacation, he wasn't able to do it during this leave like we originally planned.)

The paperwork aside, even if he was able to get his portion magically completed in the next 60 seconds, we still have to post pone. There isn't time for CPR/First Aid/HIV certification (required), 27 hours of PRIDE classes (required in classroom by the state), and other classroom-only training classes we both must attend and complete. (Unlike other states, Washington requires classroom hours and does not accept online programs. Even if they did accept online programs, we probably would still be on hold as he doesn't have time to complete them. Parenting is the kind of training I can't do for him - nor do I want to. This is a journey unique to each parent involved.)

The heart is there. The money can be there (at least to complete the homestudy portion) but the time just isn't there.

At least, not for what is probably the remainder of 2014..

While part of me realizes that caring for a child/children right this second might overwhelm both of us, it's heart wrenching to realize that we are making exactly zero headway on this front for the foreseeable future. In fact, we've made VERY little headway since August of 2012...There is no sign of his schedule letting up until the Fall. 

While I know all things happen in their own perfect timing - I'd be lying to omit the fact that it sucks. Big time.

Especially since I had hoped that Dad's cancer would cooperate and give us time for him to at least meet his future grand kids. Right now, the goals to Dad's cancer treatment changed from aiming for remission to aiming for comfort and quality of life. Now, he's not bed-bound or anything and there is still time to more awesome memories, but there isn't as much time as we'd like. And it's honest to say - that despite our optimism, it still, well, kinda   really sucks. 

I know that our kids will know my dad though, in the living legacy that is me and my brother.

 Taking all this on has made me really face what coping strategies I've learned over the years. It's made me take notice of the unhealthy ones (insomnia and an overwhelming urge to eat every pastry and sugary thing in sight) and foster the healthy ones (working out, eating healthy, writing).

In fact, it's made me grateful for all the other Pause Buttons that I've learned to thrive through over the years (and extra gratful for the therapist that helped me through most of them following my divorce).

  If it weren't for those trials, all of these might crush my spirit entirely.

Instead - I've been hitting the gym harder than every to exhaust my body so sleep comes unmedicated (95% of the time at least). I've been spending time around My Sailor whenever possible and just enjoying the moments, rather than pushing for anything. I've been marking things to do on my calendar and keeping things to look forward to that I can make happen with or without My Sailor.

 Things like 3 work outs a week with Trainer Guy and C25K Training on the days in between. I'm planning on at least 1 race in August and looking for more. A Disney World race sounds great, but I'm still nervous about making the money happen for it. I'm adding some extra TLC to those special relationships that I know will carry me through this and beyond. I'm writing (, reading more, loving more, praying more, and meditating more.

I'm not eating more. I've still yet to purchase a single box of deadly Girl Scout Cookies and I'm not having any trouble with binge eating that the me of 20ish years ago would have had. I'm not drinking more (in fact, it's times like these I generally avoid alcohol), unless you count perhaps a few more cuts of soothing teas. I'm not picking up smoking (ew...) or charging up credit cards. Retail therapy never lasts.

So, dear readers, don't worry. I don't plan to touch on this topic often. This isn't going to become a cancer blog where every entry has the word "tumor" in it. Nor will you be seeing photos of a Wake any time soon. This blog will be full of conversations beyond the restrictive bubble that is a diagnosis worthy of House. There is so much life to live every day. Too much to keep me down for more than a few moments here and there.

I am asking for help when I need it, and balancing the tears with laughter and the loneliness with friendly voices. I'm leaving the tears in the tissues (or on My Sailor's shirt, whichever is handier when it sneaks up on me) and I'm working out the anger and frustration in the gym. (In fact, this may just make me the physically healthiest version of me ever.)

After all - if we're never given more than we can handle, then we'll all get through these times just fine, right?

Isn't that what faith is for?

When Pause Buttons hit, and Easy Buttons hide, hit Faith and Play.