Good Morning America, How are ya,

So I will be posting the next two poems for my 31 in 31 later, but for now I am just going to try and post a blog about my ride on this magic carpet made of steel.
The most important thing I have learned is to love America’s Native Son even more than I did before the trip. Best movie I’ve ever streamed has passed by this windows. All my views have justified my lifetime love of trains, 

The food is tasty, most people swear by the Train French Toast, it was good, but Iam stuck on their continental breakfast with oatmeal and berries for breakfast, a  square croissant for midmorning coffee and later a yogurt snack. All three of my Hobbit breakfasts (1st, 2nd and elevensees for under 10$ when I am in Coach and delivered free in 1st class (except the tip). Dinners are presented as pretty as the food is delicious. My favorites are the tender and perfectly seasoned Southwest Chicken Breast and their vegetarian plate.

As to my beverages on the train, just say choices are many and their best quality, including coffee (sigh) is, well, they are ample.

 Train travelis comfortable! The reclining coach seats are wide enough for my fluffy butt and I sleep pretty well there, the bed in the sleeper car is like being rocked gently in Momma Earths arms. 

Overall the service has been excellent, and fellow passengers, both local and international,  are friendly and kind.

Crowfae says when its all about the destination, fly; but once or twice in your life, slow down and make it about the journey  and take the train.

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

Unbelievable how hard a little discipline can be, and to what am I listening?

My training blogs are probably my most self-serving blogs of all. Why are they self-serving? Isn’t trying to lose weight and get fit a national obsession and therefore sharing how I am achieving broadly useful?

Although I do hope that another non-athlete, someday stumbles across my blog the same way I stumbled across others writings and are inspired to realize they can have fun if they get off the couch and out of their comfort zone (James Owen (in the inspiring sense) and Jayne Williams (in the athlete who looks more like me sense) were the two primary writer’s who helped me get started and keep going last year, but the real reason I keep training blogs is that it keeps me accountable. Telling others what I am going to do, and then honestly reporting whether I have done it or not, is the support my weak self-control needs to make it through the tough choices. Getting fit is not easy, it goes against my very nature, at least until it becomes second nature.

Last night was a perfect example. I am back in the habit of television grazing at night. Aware of the obstacle coming up in the course of my first night back into healthier behavior, I closed out my “MyFitness” as soon as I finished my last bite of dinner.  I also reminded myself that I intended to blog today about how well that first day of training went.

See, it went like this, wander out to the kitchen to check on dogs or watering or phone charging, hand on fridge door thinking of See’s chocolates I got for Easter (most awesome gift from the family I serve), then “Wait,” my brain says to my appetite, “You have no reason to be hungry, in fact you aren’t hungry I can tell, AND you closed out your calories for the day AND you have to blog tomorrow, you really want to blog about how you screwed up the very first day!” I remove my hand from the fridge and get a glass of water. I even actually resort to a glass of calorie free flavored water on the third trip which seemed to help quiet my candy craving for the rest of the night.

I drank a lot of water last night.

But I did meet my exercise goals, and I did meet my calorie goals. Today is a sit-up, push-up, stretch and roll day (yes, it is true, my calves and glutes are slightly sore today but not horrible) and I will walk 3 miles today as well . But that is all later, off to deal with some other self-care responsibilities. So on to the final question…

What am I listening to….? Well I have been crooning along with my old buddy Doris Day, housecleaning to Leo Kotke, and being moved by Jason Isbell and the 400 (all of course courtesy of my friends at Hoodlum Records who are about to have the best vinyl sale EVAR! for Record Store day April 21.  Go check out the list at http://www.hoodlumsmusic.com/blog/ )

Funny thing though, that when I really need to de-focus from pain, discomfort, or the inner whine of the excuse wheel I find my motivation not in music but Podcasts and Audiobooks. So what did I listen to yesterday? I am running and listening to a marathon of all the DML podcasts http://www.thelondonbroilshow.com/dml/ from I-tunes. My AZRF friends will know these guys as “The London Broil”, they are just intelligent enough and silly and funny enough to hold my interest indefinitely. I am back up to episode 10 (they just put out episode 23) and I have to say, I would totally go with the adult size Big Wheel, how about you?

Identifying responsibility vs. blame

Three things I am working as hard to lose as the flab on my body is the tendency to blame, complain, and procrastinate.

The exercises I am using are meditation, gratitude and lists.

After a period of clearing the mind of its consistent chatter, I pick something that is bothering me and identify where my responsibility lies in it, what I can actually change. I have been doing this for awhile and just like running, swimming or riding a bike it is getting easier, more natural to do on the fly so to speak.

November is my annual gratitude month, my way of celebrating Thanksgiving. Was kinda psyched to see a favorite author Scalzi doing it (much more public and better written than my bedside one) and challenge you to check out http://whatever.scalzi.com/  and follow his gratitude. I loved the one about why he is grateful he doesn’t drink and the one about A/C, well, that makes my gratitude list a lot, living as I do in AZ. Most important two words in the English language are ” thank-you!”

As for procrastinating, I will write about that tomorrow…don’t want to be late for work. *grin*

Life’s obstacles do not define me, or faith precedes the miracle

There is a video out in the cloud ( wanted to add the link but still on the techie learning curve with that one and opted for finishing the blog over obsessing on the link) that is of me at my heaviest, trying to get into my sons lifted jeep. It is hilarious and I try and try and try to get into the front seat with more creative contortions and finally succeed in getting up there, only  I end up in there backwards.

I saw an obstacle, I set a goal, and when one method didn’t work, I tried again. I was persistent, creative and not afraid to laugh at my learning process. My son video taped it with my full permission. I wanted a record I could look at to remind me of how things really were, and well, because it was funny to be the person confuzzled by such a small challenge and figured it would make others laugh as well.

However, the real obstacle wasn’t the jeep, although that was what was the practical manifestation of the problem. The obstacle was a lifestyle focused on intake and excess of calorie consumption without disciplined expenditures, I was very fat and very out of shape.

I like running, but it is hard to run when your frame is bearing double its designed load and the support structure is weakened by disuse. I wanted to ride a bycicle, I liked the idea it looked fun, but I never learned as a child and I would full-on panic at sitting on a bike and lifting my feet. I like lots of outdoor activities but I was pretty inhaler dependent as well due to compromised breathing. I also really like food and it is easy to drop onto the couch, switch on a mechanism like the computer or TV that requires nothing of me but existence and a few finger pushes and consume addictively high calorie consolation for how hard it is to do what ever I am struggling with at the moment.

I would love to say that I suddenly had an epiphany that day I struggled to get into and addressed the real problem. I didn’t. I laughed at myself and made excuses for why I couldn’t change.

However last November when I moved to my new home I got on the scale and realized I was well on my way to adding a third persons weight to the two people I was already carrying on my frame and slowly began to make changes in how I ate and lived. I still did not have a concrete goal though and so my weight would go down a bit and up a bit and down a bit more and then up to the starting point.

I was also struggling with my health and depression again so I started rereading my go to people when I am tanking emotionally Kabat-zinn, Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle and remembered that to get somewhere one must have a destination. It was now May.

I have had completing a Triathlon on my bucket list for more than 5 years. However just “I wanna do a Triathlon” wasn’t enough to get it done. I picked a race date at the end of October and signed up. Now I had a deadline. I needed to find a place to swim, learn to swim, a bike, learn to ride the bike, and relearn how to run, and probably needed a trainer.

My personal obstacles were pedal neuropathy, physiologically reduced lung capacity, a now 237 pound body(I was on my way back down) on a frame meant to be 137, and a tendency to whine, some lower back and neck and shoulder issues. My liver wasn’t really happy with me either and I pretty much lived on Tylenol and Ibuprofen to keep moving through the bodily aches and pains.

And yesterday I met my goal.

The miracles along the journey were too many to even list or count from finding an incredible chiropractic practice through my friend Sara who were very willing to work with my limited finances (I did do a lot of over time and robbing Peter at first because the reduction in pain from going to Backfit of Gilbert was immense enough to know I needed the care), my daughter-in-law and son joining in and offering me not only the use of their pool but their side by side training support, same son and DIL and also Pat taking me to their gyms, the unexpected gifts of my bikes, my sons careful research and persistence in teaching me to ride the bikes, and the list goes on and on and on…

What I know today is life is full of opportunities to learn new skills, change old habits and focus on what works instead of what doesn’t. Wishing is a good first step. Then comes making a measurable goal. Next is making the effort, sweating the sweat, moving through the pain, believing anything is possible and somewhere along that road comes the miracle.

What’s up next for me…well continued training and an April race that is longer, where I will be even faster and stronger. And well, its November, which means Nanowrimo starts tomorrow and a 50,000 word novel will begin with one sentence.

After that, I am thinking maybe space travel.

Tar Soup, repost of an old poem and then commentary

Tar Soup

I feel like I am swimming in tar soup
The black oily looking liquid stored in barrels behind the house on Carter
No rules then, ecology still a dirty hippy word,  they stood rusted and open inviting our childish games of tea and rainbow topped “tar soup”.

We would spoon it into our tiny plastic bowels and feed it to our dolls and  imaginary friends and dare each other to taste it.

And then there was the time in the Navy,
First estrogen in my field,
And testosterone so threatened that there was that time my TLD
went off the scale with the prank they pulled.

And thirty years of cigarettes, the coolest kid at ten,
I could inhale deeply when others were still turning green.

I feel like I am swimming through tar soup as I sit here at home
Coughing again, too tired to tie my shoes let alone run
And wallowing in why’s and whines, phone off and curtains drawn.

Then my Ipod alarm goes off and  I swear breathlessly and loud.

I forgot to turn it off when I called in to work
and a friends voice shuffled in by fate is singing its deep melodious magic
and a smile starts in my heart like a drop of dishsoap in an oily pan
spreading out like good deeds, the love licks at the pain in my joints.
I stretch them, pull back the covers, remove the blinders of my diagnosis
Wondering how I limited myself again.
I wash the misconceptions down the drain, hot shower with lavendar
Sip a bit of peppermint tea, wrapped in my softest blanket
And dress my new Hello Kittay and all my Teddy Bears,
anything to recover the joy
of living I have somehow misplaced behind the mirage
the fear
of cancer.

These are the days I keep to myself
Not to engender the praise of how strong, how long, how amazing.
But because quicksand is not a place you invite a friend.

CC

 

So I have started moving my poetry off Myspace because my goal is to delete the whole account before the year is out; some of the poetry is soooo bad I haven’t copied it at all but when in doubt I have moved it here. All the poems so far are from 2009 or earlier. This one, although not a great poem, I kept because it really does help me acknowledge how far my life has come (once again I have forgotten to be grateful.)

I first made the goal to participate in a triathlon in early 2009. I was in a support group for long-term cancer survivors. I was dependent on breathing treatments and prescription pain medication and seriously depressed, for which I was also receiving pharmacological treatment. The group assignment was to pick something big, with multiple steps, we had never done before, and design small goals to achieve it. The point of the exercise, I believe was to help all of us in that group re-attach to life, to stop saying good-bye and start greeting life instead. I did stay with the goal awhile but I only made it as far as walk/running a 5K, never rode a bike or learned to swim. I ran the race alone, only strangers to see me finish and quit there. I had previously quit the group due to insurance issues.

I am still trying to learn the lessons that group leader tried to teach us and trying to actually complete my first triathlon. My inaugural event is Oct 30, and although I have no idea how I will do, I will show up and my goal is to finish. I can swim now, and I can ride a bicycle and I did build relationships, and I am pharmaceutic free, except for the occasional Tylenol.

My current eating habits are not my best, do real good about five days out of the week. However, my “bad nutrition days” are better than my “good” days used to be.  I am at 213 pounds, hoped to be below 200 by race day but hope did not translate into action enough to make it so. However I started this time at 243 pounds so carry a 30 lb bag of dog food around a store for 30 minutes and you will believe me when I say even 30 lbs helps.

My exercise/training goals are to do each thing at least 30 minutes 3 times a week. The scheduled event is a Sprint and my long range goal is an open water full length tri in a year (no not an ironman, what, do you think I’m crazy? )

Current things making it challenging are a couple of the “everyman” sort of challenges like money for equipment and time for workouts, and one very personal one which is grief. I have tried a few dozen time to blog about my dog Noien and what her loss has meant to me this summer but guess I am not ready yet because I still haven’t. I haven’t even visited her grave again yet, and yup, I am crying now just having written this much.

My first best friend was a dog, Zack. He, Bonny(also a Spaniel) and Noien(my recently deceased Lhasa Apso) are probably the three closest friends I have ever had.

Today I meant to blog about them but distracted myself into moving poetry instead, and now to get my goals done I need to get off here and live my real life. I have been neglecting cyber and home the last few weeks. But lovely thing about life, where ever you is, there you are and there I can begin.

Swam Thursday, Ran friday, Ran Saturday, Biked Sunday…not sure why my Endomondo workouts aren’t posting when I “share” them, but s’OK. Gonna Run and bike later maybe, maybe not, tomorrow hopefully the “BIG” tuesday workouts with my awesome sons and incredible DIL.

Namaste friends and readers, remember impossible things keep happening every day…..