“On the Road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again…

Two thousand. One hundred. Eighty-four miles. (Definitely read this in Captain Kirk’s voice)

I will start in Georgia. Am I crazy? Is this a dream I can manifest?

I don’t know.

That’s what makes it exciting.

That’s what makes it necessary.

To take 6 to 9 months completely off my work driven life to auto across the southern half of the United States, then hike  the AT, and motor back through the Northern United States.

This is the goal.

This is the dream.

This is my new commitment.

Why do I want to thru-hike?

I want an adventure.  I want to experience nature, wilderness. I want solitude.

Logistics I am currently nailing down are route and budget. As to route it looks like a leapfrog route is my best option if I do decide to include the northern end and any of the White Mountains or I may just stop in Vermont. I plan to leave later than the golden day, enough to not be part of the swarm while still avoiding the highest temps.

Budget right now is looking like $1300 a month, including storage of my stuff back home, sounds like a lot of money, but not really. I spend more than that now. On the other hand I am still earning while I am here working.

Need to go tend to those tasks at hand today.

Including my first route worksheet.

Not sure if I am more scared or excited.

Daily goal, replace my fitbit with another pedometer. It died. Start increasing my steps a day. Need to be used to 10 miles a day on flat land, so hiking 10 to 15 is a no brainer.

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…

However one must still take the medicine. That is one of many bits of wisdom that I have accumulated in my lifetime of adventures and books, a bit of wisdom from childhood complements Disney’s Mary Poppins.

I am happy to be known as the Mary Poppins Nurse, I knew she was a Time Lord long before Pop Culture acknowledged her origins. I knew she was a Time Lord when PBS was in its infancy and Oscar the Grouch was orange. However, I am not here today to discuss Time Lords, or Mary Poppins or other purportedly fictional bits of sugar that helped my wisdom grow and flourish, I am here to talk about the medicine.

Medicine is the tough stuff we have to swallow to become better: better health, better writer, better informed, better person. Medicine is often bitter with wide ranging side effects, not all of them pleasant.

I remember just how disappointed I was as a child when I read a biographer’s portrayal of Jack London (how I loved, loved, loved his books) as a soft, overweight man willing to trade his name to grape juice manufacturers for ten silver pieces, and as much likely to survive an adventure as a spoiled persian cat. It was a tough pill to swallow.

I was still too young to realize that sometimes more motivates a biographer than love and facts; yet old enough to know that not everything in books is real; I somehow expected much more of Jack. I vowed then, I was not going to be like Jack, I would be a lifetime adventurer.

I now have great empathy for that armchair traveling Jack I so despised as a child.

AlThough it is also good to know that one opinion was mostly false, more scholarly biographies have reinforced my original perception of Mr. London without ignoring his faults, the facts are that he did slow down as he aged due to renal insufficiency of unknown origin and he was one of the first to trade his name and image to a product for money.

I am still am an adventurer.

I still have to take my medicine, including the aches, pains and infirmities of age, disease, and a few bad choices.

But there is so much sugar in my life, from roses blooming outside my door, to smiles from babies and the triumph of met goals.

Today at Physical Therapy my exercise assistant (who is a mere 22 years old and cute as a button) said with awe, “You’ve done so much!”

My first response was, “I’m old, more time to do things.”

But the truth is, if my life had run smoothly would I have had so many adventures? I don’t think so.

Today I salute all the hard parts, the things that made me better, more interesting, the things that led me to realize there really are only three important questions when contemplating an action.

1. Is it compassionate?

2. Is it ethical?

3. Does it support my long term goals?

Now all of you go out and take your medicine and say a thank you for the sugar that helps it go down….

Straight to the Heart, and You’re to Blame

Good Morning!

Things that give love a bad name are buttered movie popcorn, playing addictive phone games, and shopping.

Things that go straight to my heart and kind of give love and my heart a boost are dogs, birds and pigs (sorry cats, you and I have that sort of love that bad young adult romance is based on, I love you, you kill me: i.e we can co-exist only with the assists of decongestants.) Also 50-80’s music and archery and swimming

First time out with Two Moons and loving it. Also great way to see what to fix!

First time out with Two Moons and loving it. Also great way to see what to fix!

That’s me using borrowed equipment on Sunday Mornings at Papago park. I had much fun thanks, and actually got 12 points in my first speed round ever.

Listening to a little Bon Jovi while I bring every body up to date on the life and times of this S.O.F.T. lady complete with stats, goals, recent challenges and needs and amazing life surprises.

Always on to start and end with gratitude let me tell you some of the universe’s recent perfect timing and fun surprises.

Back story on the first one is that I did a good deed that was very hard for me, I lent my Nintendo DS3 to a mom who had more need than I, complete with my Zelda game.
I really missed it last week as I wanted more than anything to disappear into anything game, glass of wine or box of popcorn to avoid the glaring absence of my beautiful old Golden.

Sunday night I got back from archery and the zoo with my honorary grandkids BAM and Tam (and their parents of course) and found a box from Amazon outside my door. Inside was a Disneyworld Nintendo 3DSLX, anonymous gift. So Gifter if you are reading this, like BIG BIG BIG hugs.

So I gave my 3DS, the one I got from Sara to this Mom. Lending her my game until she beats it, or I can replace it. Crap, I guess I am still a little selfish.

So I have real love in my life as well, like, you know, a potential rest-of-my-life partner which is both awesome and kind of freaky for me. He has also joined in with my trips to the gym and eating right, though he is quite calorie focused and I am more nutrition.

I am only on Essiac Tea for the cancer and less PTSD meds for the PTSD. My hair on my head is currently giving me a lovely layer of fuzzy stubble among the parts that didn’t fall out and so my hair has awesome body. Bad news is my genetics are showing and my eyebrows again need daily maintenance, as does my moustache. But this is to say I am getting healthier.

My current stats are 222 lbs, BMI of 42 and body percent fat of 41% (Steroids, self pity eating and couch only energy levels for a year will do that to a girl, but hey, I’m here to whine about it!)

Starting where I am…yesterday my steps were 4229 and it was truly all I could do! My goal is 10,000 steps a day. My swimming goal is a mile in an hour, and well I did 0.3 miles in 50 minutes. Did 25 meter lengths with pause then another length. Down from my first two attempts where I did 50 meters with just a turn.

So what are my big goals?
1. Ability to swim 3 miles open water!
2. Hike the Appalachian trail
3. Live to see Bam, Archer, and Tam graduate High School.
4. Publish a book of my poetry.
5. Publish a new fiction book I can be proud to put my name on.

Not much I know, LOL

What do I need?

Hiking gear
Donations
A definite plan…

What can you do to help?

Join me. Support me with comments or donations.

Make it your best day.

For now Namaste.
Crowfae

Well begun is half done…

I love Mary Poppins, the book, the movie, the songs; I just thought I would say that, as I am not sure how many will actually recognize the title as a direct Mary Poppins quote. My day is well begun. Woke up, did snooze till 4:30 instead of 4 so no running the dogs this morning, but I did meditate, do my 20 minutes of yoga, and ride my bicycle. Currently drinking my coffee and writing in my blog. Goal today is to get all my stars.

Yes, I have a star chart for myself. It is taped to the mirror in my bathroom. I took a children’s chore chart from the dollar section at a Michael’s and broke my long range goals into daily tasks and filled them into the lines, focusing on writing the ones I am most likely to “forget” or neglect. Every day I do them, I give myself a little gold star. It works for me. I stay focused on the little choices that build to my greater goals and I give myself positive reinforcement. Maybe it sounds silly to you, but don’t knock it until you have tried it, it’s working for me.

Today is an immunization clinic so my entry is brief, because discipline is important to me, as is punctuality. AND it’s a good thing I exercised my discipline muscles before today or I would be calling in sick! I finally finished rereading all the other Imaginariun Geographica books and finally started the most recent, “Dragons of Winter,” and I don’t want to stop reading; I want to call in sick. I won’t. Nor will I take it in my briefcase today, as it would be tooooooo  tempting to bury myself in its story and ignore my reason for being in the Basha’s, namely selling flu shots.

I don’t have a potential star for this act of great fortitude, but I can include it in my “good choices” when I journal tonight. Yup, I do that daily as well. First I write five things I am grateful for, then five times I made a good choice, one random act of kindness, and one thing I wish I had done better or different; then I might ramble a bit. My journals are just meant for me, not leaving some amazing legacy of wisdom, just truly mirroring back to myself that I am incredibly blessed (or lucky depending on your path) and that I have worth, that my choices determine my present, and that I have worth as well as room to grow.  This practice has been the best “therapy” I have ever experienced, not that I don’t avail myself of other opportunities to challenge my thinking or beliefs, but to get where we are going, we must first know where we are.

May you travel safely today, may you find peace and joy, may your day be one of health and abundance, may you live today with ease.

Or as the wise master Mary Poppins would say, “May your day be supercalifragilistic-expe-alidocious (sp?).”

While you were out…

Been an exceptionally long time since I have posted a blog, I hope you have missed me almost as much as I have, because I have missed me as well as missing you, my readers. I am currently balancing two jobs, one of them is seasonal and I am still looking forward to the first of my second paychecks but the additional 22 hours a week are already in full swing.

Also I am proud to report my garden is growing  even better this season. Check out the pre and post transplant pictures. Sadly my marigolds are pathetic and I will be replanting my greens and probably bringing it inside, due to my own watering malfunction it looks like my collards are dead and my arugula is as well. I mulched thoroughly as our weather is so unpredictable and that is supposed to help. My fall crops are melons, watermelon and cantalope; zucchini; cucumbers; and four different kinds of baking pumpkins. Fingers crossed for a bumper crop. Hey, last season was my first “crop” ever in Arizona! It entailed 1 edible cantalope, 1 edible winter squash, loads of arugula and loads of collards. Onward and upward with BrownThumb Homesteading!

I am also learning to knit lace. My goal is a faroese shawl for two special realtives for Christmas out of hand died silk. No pics because, well, they may read this. So that is happening as well.

And there is some professional writing happening as well. And somewhere in all this I am still working with my two wonderful young male patients, trying to train to do a Sprint Triathlon again, absorbing and processing a rather insistent round of losses in my life, perfecting new vegan recipes, learning to read spanish  (want to read poems and literature, still kind of Dick and Jane level) and of course reading for pleasure and seeing friends and family.

These are not meant as excuses, more like a reminder to myself that I do still need to just “BE”, and this blog is part of that.  As rare as comments are it seems sometimes I am talking to myself more than anyone else, but my hit log reminds me others do come and peruse. For the record I read blogs regularly as well and rarely comment, usually they are so well written that I feel I have nothing to say.

But here is my challenge to you, leave a comment here with a link to your blog and I will come and comment there as well.  And tomorrow I will be posting about some of the blogs I regularly read.

For today I now leave you with a funny story and some pics of my fall garden.

Funny Story with a choose your own ending.

I was busily typing away at my laptop when I decided to demonstrate why one should not drink coffee near their computer. The blinds were partially open and the sliding glass door open to the screen as it was early enough in the morning to catch a wee bit of cross breeze. As the coffee swarmed towards my laptop, I realized the only absorbent material readily available was the towel I was wrapped in which I was currently wrapped…..my dilemna: save my computer or save my dignity ( and the sanity of any poor neighbor who might be in eye shot).  You decide, which was more important to me…..              😉

Namaste friends.

For those times when stubborn doggedness and cheerful resistance is just not enough

 

“This boat that we built is just fine

And don’t try to tell us it’s not

The sides and the back are divine

It’s just the bottom we forgot.” from “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein

In the “Art of Happiness in a Troubled World” the Dalai Llama states that the way to happiness when confronted with the big problems in the world like war and hate and crime and starvation is to first take a realistic look. Interestingly enough, the first step in most trauma and addiction recovery programs is honesty. In medicine, the first thing we assess are the problems/symptoms to get a diagnosis. In fact when we take our cars in to be worked on, our pets to the vet, our computer to the geek, or bring the plumber to the house the first question is “what’s wrong?”

I can write whole essays about what’s wrong with the world. When it is my car, my dog, my computer, or any item (or friend) that I care about or am responsible for, it is no problem to identify and admit what is wrong. Why then is it so hard to say something isn’t working or is wrong in my own life? I can only fix what I admit is wrong.

I am talking about this, because I just started a prescription medication for depression that also happens to have the off label benefit of addressing neuropathic pain.  I am in need of both benefits. A combination of chronic pain which leads to sleep deprivation, and multiple personal losses have left me physiologically incapable of feeling good, and the medications that worked with the magic of faith and hope to keep me alive have left me with chronic neuropathic pain in my lower extremities; but it is hard for me to admit to either depression or pain.

However, I have learned that there is a time and a place for everything including medicine. I rode my bike this morning, and very well might again tomorrow partly because I finally surrendered control and started a serotonin and nor-epinephrine re-uptake inhibitor. Downsides to everything (the Asian yin yang) means I am coping with some nausea and occasional dizziness which should subside, upsides is my pain is below 3 all the time and I actually have energy this morning. When I rode the bike this morning, I was nervous but not fighting the crippling panic that accompanies my status as a multiple trauma survivor or the neuropathic pain of being a breast cancer survivor; I was just struggling with the reality of weak muscles and balancing the bike.  I am amazed at the difference.

Sometimes we don’t know how bad the problem is until we address it. By the way, I don’t see medicine as the best answer or the only answer. Last year I was able to afford regular visits to Backfit Chiropractic Care (which also interestingly did generate nausea the first couple weeks) for massage and adjustments and it was the best. My pain was zero if I saw them twice a week, and my emotions balanced out, and I completed my the triathlon training for my first sprint.

I don’t have the financial resources this year for Backfit. What I do have is VA benefits, so instead of mourning what isn’t, I am using what is; which is doctors, pills and counseling.

But first, before I could use what I had available, I had to admit something was wrong.  I had to admit that I was not functional for my goals, and ask for help.  How I have been living since my sisters suicide has really not been functional.  In my survivors soul, she was one more person I couldn’t save. Which triggers my own trauma. No life story needed, but let’s just say that my first clear memory of my own mother was her threatening to “just kill herself” and me trying to comfort her and helping her by rocking said baby sister. ( My mother never did commit suicide, however much she threw that around like some moms throw around threats of groundings, she died of cancer at age 38.)

When I am depressed, I keep up appearances, but my life becomes smaller and smaller. I firmly believe that what we give power to gets bigger, so when life overwhelms me, I focus on hope and beauty and all that rainbow and unicorn stuff (not the Wil Wheaton versions), and I try to move beyond myself and focus on compassion. Usually this works.

Sometimes it doesn’t. Fear gets bigger and bigger. I get lazy or tired depending on how I am looking at it that day. I spend more time just “chatting” on social sites than doing any real writing, my house gets dirty, I don’t exercise, I eat my emotions, I start canceling social events, I stop doing the things I do that feed my mind, soul and spirit and spend more time watching TV. Oh, and I cry randomly.

First I had to be willing to assess myself and admit something was wrong. That was hard for me. I prefer anything to a prescription or the admission that I am depressed or in pain. As a nurse I may understand the physiology of both, but my All-American Bootstrap mentality sees all health problems that faith can’t fix as weakness. So even though my life was taking on water faster than I could bail, I just kept bailing and rowing, bailing and rowing, bailing and rowing.

I got to acceptance this time, by a serendipitous route that reminds me, in my world at least, there is something bigger and better looking out for me and pushing me in the right direction.  The final kicker, to get me accept the help I need, was a random statement about grief from a man I am interviewing, who had no idea what was going on in my life but has found a spiritual source within himself and was giving me examples of guidance he had received as part of the interview.

I am a survivor. Of trauma. Of cancer(mine and others I love.) Of  suicides.   Surviving is not enough, thriving is more my style.

I don’t see medication as the easy answer, pills ease the symptoms while I address the actual problems by exercising, therapy, journaling, and meditation. I have never seen anyone recover from depression who wasn’t willing to do the work and address their anger, sadness, etc but only wanted a quick pharmacological fix.  Dealing with depression has some parallels to managing Type II diabetes, insulin (medication) is often necessary but behavior changes (diet, exercise, education, and emotional support) are what bring the lasting benefits, and some move to a place where diet is enough, some balance behaviors and medication for the  rest of their lives; same with depression.

I will purge some of the pain, replace a few coping mechanisms, examine some beliefs and rebuild my physiological resources as well as my emotional and spiritual reserves. I have been here before I am afraid. My life has been full of traumatic opportunities, some related to poor choices, some through no fault but my stars. The place looks a little different this time, like returning to your hometown twenty years later, a lot of the details have changed but the major landmarks are still there for navigation. Last time I was here, my main travel guides were a massage therapist, a support group and a strong spiritual community; this time its medication and a counselor but I will travel through this challenge the way I do everything else, one step at a time.

I will keep bailing and rowing hard, but I will also fix the boat. A successful life journey  requires goals and destinations, but also a clear knowledge of where you really are and the condition of your vessel. Without an honest location on life’s map, no directions given will help; and also if your boat is sinking, you need more than maps and a compass, you need professional repair.

 

My problems are small compared to the biggies like war and racism, but the Dalai Lamas advice works on all levels of dis-ease. I took a realistic look at how fast my boat was sinking, and I am getting professional help with the structure, while attending to my compass readings.  I am posting this most personal blog because if even one person, whose boat is also sinking from whatever the cause, reads this and realizes its OK to admit when something is wrong with them, and then asks for and accepts the help, I will have made fertilizer from manure which of course means beautiful flowers.

And really that is what all the shit in my life is about in the end, next years flowers.

 

 

Stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe

Back in the water this morning, first time in 6 months, I went with the goal of at least putting my face in the water, and best case scenario completing a length or two without a kickboard.  I far exceeded my own expectations. The water was cold  on my feet and even colder on my shins and thighs but then the windy day made staying out of the water worse than diving in, so in I went.

I borrowed Dawn’s kickboard as mine is lost somewhere in the interim off training and I did my first length swimming head waaaay above water and psyching myself off for face in the water breathing on the back length.  Fear fought back and the excuse wheel spun but I learned last year that the best way to push past my “face in water” phobia is to just do it, so I did. I turned, kicked off and face went in the water, breathed out all that useful air and panicked. No breathing back in that time. Kick, kick, kick, face in again and this time turn my head and take a breath. So far, so good.

Three laps with kick-board done my DIL had to get out of the pool so I pushed forward and asked her to take my kick-board to the far end of the pool, which meant I had to swim for it.

I created the need to swim and so I did. One length without pausing was a good three weeks into last years training but I nailed it first time in the pool, then back with kick-board; one full lap with kick-board. Then Phil took it where I needed to “fetch” it, so I again swam to other end and kick-boarded it back.

Time to go for broke, I was going to swim there and back again; I caved 3/4 of the way on the back again and I touched my toes down at one point because the phobia just needed to make sure the bottom of the pool was still there, but only touched and finished swimming.

So now I am at five kick-board laps and two full swim laps. Two more kick-board laps, one more swim lap, one more kick-board lap, and a final full swim lap means I completed 8 laps with my kickboard and 4 swim laps, that’s 600 meters or .37 miles.

After which I walked almost three miles.

It was fun. I am sore tonight and fully aware of how de-conditioned I am cardio-vascularly speaking but I am proud of myself. I showed up, I did me best, and I amazed  myself!

And that is the beginning of this years “try”athlon training!

Now gentle readers, go out there and amaze yourselves as well.  There are so many little ways to exceed your own expectations of yourself today.

Namaste.