Monday, monday….

I am chagrined to realize I do not have that song on my Ipod. In fact, I cannot even find my Mommas and the Poppas Greatest Hits in my CD’s. It has apparently joined various books, socks, articles of jewelry and clothing, CD’s and DVD’s in the Borderland or maybe the NeverNever. I am convinced that my own love of Wild Magic affects my belongings and that they animate at night and relocate themselves. Hence the inability to find my keys or a certain pair of socks, or in this case a much loved OooooLD CD.

Maybe there will be a wonderfully and reasonably priced used copy at Hoodlums this morning……

Ok, back in reality and the burning question *read in serious radio announcer voice, circa 1930 “Will this Slow Old Fat ‘Try’athlete actually achieve her preliminary goal of completing a Sprint Tri in October”

That is the burning question but on this front what’s burning this morning is my calves and feet. Yes I did swim last night. I swam two sets of 200 (4 laps), and did 150 on the board. No break between the first two laps, short break, lap, short break, length, break, length was the rhythm of it and I really worked my legs on the second and third board laps.  Didn’t get to the pool until 8ish, then not home till 10pm and tried to stay up to see the news. Fell asleep on the couch for about an hour. Into bed in the firmer guest room bed because I need to reconfigure the mattress situation in my room during my days off work this week. Slept until 6 AM, with only one bathroom trip so I give my sleep last night a five.

I give the pain I am in this morning a 9/10. Awoke to the long missing and not at all missed neuropathy in my feet.  The neuropathy is officially listed as a side effect of a long series of medications that allowed me to live long enough to complain about the side effects so I had pretty much determined it was just something with which I would have to live. This year I started going to Backfit Chiropractic for my “nurses back” and amazing bonus in the treatment box, my neuropathy disappeared.

I have done a lot of things over the years to minimize my chronic pain. It was a decision to shift paradigms and truly focus instead on maximizing my amazing and miraculous health that got me moving forward on this Triath journey and got my butt through into Backfits door.  Like a chemical catalyst, the massages and adjustments took to my organic, vegan food choices and increased exercise (which I had tried before by themselves in fits and starts always dragged back to the couch by fatigue, SOB and pain) and exploded them into a well being I couldn’t remember feeling in years.

Then I had a minor health glitch to the tune of ~1400$ (FTR, I am pretty much uninsurable at this time unless I become disabled so everything is out of pocket and triple cost) and my dog got sick and I am still glad I spent the money even though the answers were not the ones I wanted to hear (for another ~1300$ ) all out of pocket and I blessed the universe for the writing jobs that I thought would carry me through the chiro treatments for almost covering the two unexpected expenses. Bills got late and short story long, due to money constraints, I gradually decreased my trips to Backfit and now I have gone over two weeks without a massage or adjustment. What a difference it makes. All the little quirks and idiosyncrasies of surviving are back again, not as bad as before I started any treatments, but like my own little “check engine” light definitely here with a fitness moral.

The moral of the story for me is, even with continued exercise and stretching and good diet I need at minimum one massage and adjustment per week. Other moral is that I need to increase my willpower (more won’t power) for my Kryptonite – sugar, if I want to truly optimize the life I have been gifted. The neuron damage from the treatments are like frayed wires, so when they are all crossed and jumbled the shorts occur; adjustments and massage straighten and arrange my frayed wires so they don’t cross and cause little fires. Animal products, sugar and white flour are little drops of water I sprinkle over the whole thing and fan the flame.

It’s not just the neuropathy and back ache that Backfit treatments improved, other things these adjustments have done for me besides just being the pain reducer/energy booster I have just discussed is decrease my dependence on poise pads, and decreased my embarrassing gas and “digestive disorders’.

I cannot recommend enough for someone reading this Blog and then thinking that if it wasn’t for their pain or their weight or their incontinence or *fill in blank* they would love to start an exercise program, maybe just walk, or swim or run, to start it by going to a local reputable Chiropractic office that offers massage,physical therapy and adjustments (bonus if they have a homeopathic doctor also) and start there. If you live in the Mesa/Gilbert/Chandler area I TOTALLY recommend Backfit at ValVista and Warner. http://www.facebook.com/BackfitGilbert

And no, I don’t work for them; they worked for me!

Anyway back to today’s training diary I am having a bowl of oatmeal with mixed berries for breakfast and coffee with organic honey and soy milk, 6 oz cranberry juice and multi-vitamin.

I will walk the dogs. Shower and stretch.

Write two or three stories for Thursday deadline. Have a salad lunch.

Go to the bank. Reward myself for doing my plan with a trip to Hoodlum’s and Changing Hands and Trader Joe’s.

Backfit apt.

Home to write some more for my Thursday deadline.

Run 2 miles.

Watch Ashton Kutcher in Two and a Half Men and knit and go to bed. Yes, Virginia, my life has gotten small. All I talk about these days are training and television. I am reading and meditating still but no one wants to talk about that and otherwise, my life has become very, very small…..hmmm, I think I prefer the word “focused”.

Moving through the middle of things. (written aug 17th)

“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is what we make of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”  Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom

My top two favorite consumer activities are eating delicious food and  acquiring new knowledge.  I have spent the last week celebrating my birthday and indulging my consumer. I have eaten well, and read four books.

Today, being the 17th, is officially the last day of my birthday week, time to blog, re-focus on contribution and compassion and basically re-enter the mundane world. I am easing myself back into my routines physically, psychologically and spiritually.

This past week, I have eaten without respect to calorie count but only in relation to joy and taste; I have not maintained any regular triathlon training schedule but was hardly a couch potato either; and I have spent a lot of time writing in a journal not just reading paper books

So, what have I actually consumed and what have I learned this week….

First what I consumed….

My week of food began Wednesday morning, my actual birthday, with coffee and a vegan fudge cupcake at The Coffee Shop, this was as close to an actual birthday cake as I would get, no candles or singing this birthday, but the moist cocoa flavor and the rich buttery feel of the frosting in my mouth (how they do this vegan I do not know) is a whole party in itself.  I then had fried pickles and rhubarb pie in Black Canyon on our way to Sedona which was also a tasty food highlight. The next and final great gastronomic highlight of Birthday week was brunch at Shugrue’s Hillside Grill just before heading down the mountains to the valley. The service, the vegetarian options and the view were the awesome sauce on an already awesome meal. In between all the eating out and refined sugar intake were some lovely salads and protein and nutrient rich grains prepared in the room by my friends.

My mouth and tummy were well taken care of this birthday week and what I learned from my fuel intake was that I do still love my frosting and I still truly love eating the rainbow,  that fresh fruits and vegetables provide me. I did however gain three pounds while studying.

However, I also dropped nine pounds of actual body fat, due to building all new muscle groups through hiking. It wasn’t just about reading. No couch potato here, I hiked the Brewer trail three mornings in a row.

Each time up and down the trail I learned and saw something new and different.  It was like rereading a book. The first time through it is all about getting to the end, but the second or third time I slow down and appreciate the poetry of the words, the intricacies of the character development, I savor nuances that tell me this story was written by say Mr. Vonnegut instead Ms. Atwood.  The first hike was all about getting to the top and the grand vistas, the second and third although they included the meditation and exultation at the top they were  also chances to notice the flowers and the trees and a hundred little details along the path.

The middles of the second and third hikes were about the beauty of the details but they were also about continuing to put one muscle tired foot in front of the next, over and over and over again. Like every single journey, each hike was also about stamina and persistence.

I have always had a problem with middles, from what I observe maybe we all do, but what I know for sure is that I do. I often want to quit in the middle.

Once in the middle of labor, during the actual delivery of my son Wil (who, for the record, was over 11 pounds), I officially quit. I lay back on the delivery table and told my husband I wasn’t pushing anymore, that I was tired, and since he seemed to know what I should be doing, HE could just get up there and have this baby. I was done pushing.

Luckily my husband didn’t argue with me, he just said, “Okay honey, you can quit. You are tired, but before you do you, just give it one more push like the doctor asked and then I will get up there on the table and do it.”

“OK,” I said in tearful exhaustion, “One more push.” On the next contraction I bent forward and pushed really hard one more time and finally after ten and a half months of pregnancy, 46 hours of labor followed by six hours of what seemed fruitless pushing the head of our son emerged. I will never forget that moment.

Bill and I both were crying as the rest of the baby emerged and he kept patting my hand and saying, “See, you just needed one more push.”

I have no talent for these physical things I love to eat and I love to read, I am talented with words and food and sedentary mind-based activities. I do mostly like running, hiking, swimming and soon I hope I will like biking, but I have no natural talent nor the build for these things. That is why I call myself a SOFT athlete. Slow Old Fat Try Athlete, because for me its not about talent it is about continuing to try.

I understand about middles, but these hikes helped remind me. So that is why today, even though I am exhausted and discouraged and still can’t ride a bike. I am not about to quit my triathlon just before the miracle happens.

P.S. I forgot this blog in drafts where I left it for edits one day and I am finally publishing two weeks later after the miracle happened and I finally rode my bike. Still have a bit of the case of the “middles”, you know, that place where motivation is slim and discipline needs to pick up the slack.  Beginnings have a thrill all their own, endings are triumph or relief, middles are and always will be about showing up and allowing for the miracle to finally happen.

 

Ignore the little man behind the curtain

      Most of my life I lived like the wizard in the Wizard of Oz, showing the public the awesome author construct, survivor, and single mom philanthropist, while at home behind the curtain I cried, stormed and generally  felt like a flim flam man. I spent many years afraid that if you really knew me, you wouldn’t like me. Not so much anymore. Now I know that what you think of me really isn’t any of my business, I probably like you, and if not then I appreciate your being in my life as a lesson. 

     The one real weakness I still have is knowing how to behave when my ass is really falling off.  My new coping technique, while more honest than my Wizard facade, may still need some fine tuning. My coping style goes like this. Crisis hits. I joke. I respond. I keep going. Second crisis hits "I’m fine." I wax philosophical. The full ramifications of first crisis begin to settle in as third crisis hits. People offer support which I push away. "No really, I am doing Ok. I’m handling this, doing OK"…..a small inconvenience or expectation is placed on me…long pregnant pause..I shout at whomever is closest ..I’m really not doing OK!I "

     The people in my triathlon training group know this now cause I had a melt  down at swim practice this week, very akin to an adolescent temper tantrum. The drill Phil gave us seemed twice as impossible as the previous homework I still had not completely mastered. I yelled at him. "This stupid training is just like life, just when you think you might be able to handle it after all, it heaps on twice as much more." My grammar is not impeccable when I am acting thirteen. I also learned that crying does not improve swimming technique and that I really do want to do this triathlon; I just have no idea how I am going to manage it now financially, physically or anything else. I not only want to do it, I still believe I can do it. This is just the chapter in my life story where the conflict and the tension builds.

     
     Not posting much this morning because I need to go get ready for work, but also because my struggle with grief this week makes it hard to not just give up on all my struggles, and self-pity never needs a forum. Why I am sad is the impending loss of my best friend, my dog.

     Noien, like all long time canine companions, has been the very model of selfless support through a very tough decade and a quarter. Now it is her turn to accept my selflessness. Only I am helpless to make it comfortable and unfrightening to her, with her current medical problems, except by ending her life. Each time I come to peace with that decision, she rallies again and I unmake the decision, partly in fact because of a medication that alleviates symptoms but whose long term use will have its own side effects. The emotional burden of both having run out of money, options and time with Noien is big and it mimics too well other losses and decisions I have made in my life. My knees buckle at each stride these days. Luckily, my job is one where I have practiced leaving myself and my burdens at the door. Although it is harder this week, my work is a break from a reality I am not handling well.
     
   My plate is full and the grease is smoking hot. In addition to spending my recent extra earnings (that I meant as bike and gym and bill money) on big vet bills that produced the unwanted diagnosis, and recent health setbacks in the ongoing battle reconfiguring a body that is old, slow and fat, I have a few new fish in the kettle.

 
    Thanks to internet and the universe, people are coming back into my life from out of my darkest times, including my adolescents.  Intertwined with the amazingly beautiful memories that are surfacing involving these people and places are all the dark threads and knots of secrets, shame and fear that I have avoided for 40 years. I asked the universe to help me resolve my debts this year; karmic-ally. emotionally and financially so that I can overcome my ego and truly achieve a heart filled with "Ahimsa" instead of fear, and I am getting my wish!
 
      Like the author James Owen says, "Pain is only weakness  leaving your body", and I have a lot of weaknesses to overcome. I struggle with attachment, impermanence and  I guess, acceptance and forgiveness. The loss of  Nam, and now my dog in the same year, are really kicking me through the first two. The past will be my teacher for the second two. The universe is giving me both what I need and what I asked for but it is definitely painful right now. My psyche is kind of like my glutes and what ever those little back and leg muscles are that feel like they have broken glass in them at my Backfit massage. (OMG, Now I have John Cougar-Mellencamp in my head…hurts so good…da da dum da..)
 
    Anyway, to massage my spirit the way Jackie and Dr Vogel fix my muscles and skeleton I have "Drawing Out the Dragons" on my android (in an email cuz I can’t figure out how to get it in my Kindle ap, LOL…) that I have been reading repeatedly when I am out and about. In my bathroom reading I just finished Ghandi’s "Experiments in Truth" and I am about to start Mandella’s "Long Walk to Freedom"> My kitchen book I am starting Charles Williams and just finished Macombers"20 Wishes". All the books have the same message, they just tell it different. 
 
    It is the same message I have been living and telling since I gave writing presentations to would be authors and seminars for volunteers-in-training in the late 1980’s and 1990’s.  Some of the books have been with me since childhood, others are recent additions but they can all be boiled down to the afterword page in James Owen’s Drawing Out the Dragons,  which begins with my favorite quote "If you really want to do something, no one can stop you;  but if you really don’t want to do something, no one can help you."
 
  By the way, there is the kickstarter program to get the e-book of "Drawing Out the Dragons" into print. It is am amazing book that will join my Ghandi, Tolle, Emerson, Armstrong, Frankl and Lewis on the read and re-read shelf so if you can help make the print version happen, I thank you, better yet I am pretty sure the universe thanks you too, and the pledge swag is pretty cool too! You will probably need to cut and paste the link. 

 http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1401678214/james-a-owen-the-drawing-out-the-dragons-project}

   
Anyway my alarm has sounded. Must dress for work. I will go practice tonight as my choices and responses are truly all I can control at this time, and choosing to press forward with the Triathlon is important on a multitude of levels. 
 
Addendum: I didn’t go practice tonight. Noein’s increased dose of medicine reaped miraculous results in this now, so I stayed home and tossed a squeaky ball and fed her bits of scrambled tofu, and she and Cozi and I pretended like everything is normal. Love and loyalty are always my highest  priority. It has been two weeks since she was able to play at all, it was awesome. I was a hospice nurse, so I am well aware of the miracle of the rally, its potential implication, and took it for all it was  worth. She is sleeping now and breathing very shallow. My practice will be there tomorrow night and my dear blog readers please expect some boring practice schedules and what I ate today blogs as I keep myself moving forward through the undercurrents of grief. 

Progress achieved…slowly

 My day started right with meditation. I forget sometimes how much of a difference that makes in my day. Still, even after meditation, I was a bit bluish.

 
Then I cancelled all my appointments for the week, including Chiropractic and massage (boo hoo, means I better do all my stretches everyday or buy more Tylenol). I thoroughly cleaned the kitchen (it needed it), and did my laundry.  
 
Meanwhile, I began my next very important task. I am reluctant to say I am returning to my old way of making money as a backup to my nursing career. I came to this decision because I really need more money, I love the job I have as a nurse but an extra 500$ to 1000$ a month would allow me to get out of debt completely, set aside enough to finish my B.S. and I don’t see a way to continue where I am and achieve my financial goals. I definitely want to stay where I am so I need something in addition to it. My now somewhat rusty verbal skills always came through while i was raising my children, can be done on my own schedule and anyway, the universe keeps pushing me in that direction. And that is all the information on that I am giving here, let’s just say I began and if nothing else I am going to have fun trying. 
 
So that’s how I spent my day, working to keep a clean and solvent roof over my and my roommate’s head. All this had me headed well towards Indigo, and then I got a text from my Daughter-in-law. She was out of work for the day and did I want to go do our swim practice.
 
Want was a strong term to apply to doing my triath training, as my inability to complete the assigned workout was demoralizing me. I went a little further each time I practiced through the week-end, but still had not completed the new homework. It was more than twice as long as our previous workouts. I did not want to go fail again, I did however, need to go practice. 
 
So before I could formulate a stalling technique, I went.
The evening went splendidly. With Dawn and Rick’s encouragement, I actually completed the training outline set by Phil for the first time. I am still pausing more between laps than recommended but it was my first time to complete ALL laps, and I am keeping my face in the water with the kick-board consistently. I still really struggle with the breathing portion of the breast stroke and can’t yet make a full half-lap without flipping to back stroke for a breathing break. Almost no panic tonight when blowing out under water, even make it a couple strokes past my first accidental mouthful of water but then I flip like a dead fish. Progress…. 
 
Anyway, practice complete, they took me to dinner at Sweet Tomatoes (do NOT try the sugar free Key Lime Mousse, it tastes like it should be used in someone’s hair, the pineapple upside-down cake on the other hand is VERY nommable….)Then sat out the giant dust storm with my son and daughter-in-law in their rec room and watched a sweet, funny movie on their awesome HD TV. 

Yes, it is true. My son and daughter-in-law have all the coolest techy stuff. In fact most of my way cool-to-me tech stuff is their hand-me-downs.  I am really proud of them both. My son only turns 28 this week and due to initiative and drive and doing the hard work he is a success professionally and personally. His wife is in graduate school. Their wedding anniversary is this week and they still obviously love and like each other. In fact they kind of remind me of  Lily and Marshall. Yup, it’s true. My son turned out awesome, in spite of me.

It really is about doing the work, not just talking the dream, believing the dream, and visualizing the dream; it is about getting your hands dirty, taking the risks and doing the work. It’s about being embarrassed and plowing through anyway. 

 
I said it before and will say it again, there are two kinds of people; those who make their dreams come true and those who make excuses.

 
That is why they make such good supporters right now. Rick and Dawn’s ability to set and meet goals is phenomenal.
 
Anyway, I will stop going on and on about how cool they are, but just had to express my gratitude publicly to them and to the universe for making them so awesome and all.  
 
Maybe a triathlon is not a goal anyone looking at me would suspect or suggest, but that is what makes it a goal, and not just showing off.
 
I shall finish tonight with a poem I wrote in grade school.
 
 
                         Star Catching  
I crouch, spring and grasp at the sky
Only to fall back down
And all the children point and laugh
At the way I jump around
It’s true, as yet, I’ve never caught a star
But at least my feet have left the ground.
                                                                          jm de biasi

 Good night star catchers!
 

Practice, practice, practice

      Just finished my favorite home made treat, a fresh dry foam cappa-latte. As anyone who has accompanied me to a coffee establishment once we are real friends knows, I have a certain and non-traditional way of taking my espresso draught. First, the shots must be drawn from freshly ground organic, free trade, unburnt dark roast beans and produce a respectable crema, then I like my foam dry and abundant with just the slightest lightening of the delicious black sea beneath it. Hard to get todays barristas, conditioned as they are to the Starbucks style coffee creations, to execute my requests. Especially when you add to that, my desire for Organic soymilk as the foaming medium. At home I am able to pull it off almost effortlessly. 

     Why? Because I have lots of practice. The barristas do well at what they know. I don’t want a fast food coffee, or its equivalent life. The universe is offering this wisdom. "Enough practice makes anything do-able, and nothing is what we expect, so expect nothing."

     That is my object koan this morning, as I stretch my sore hands by rolling my oranges for juice and stand on toes while stamping my grounds to brew the perfect cuppa. It is unexpected that the sorest parts of my body today are my hands and feet and calves. Last night when I was trying, barely successfully, to pull myself into my DIL’s lifted jeep and laughing to keep from bursting into frustrated tears at my ineptness, I was sure it would be my quad’s that would give me trouble. Last night they were fatigue trembly. Today, nary an ache, okay maybe just a little tenderness near the knee.

 
      I walked 5K and swam four laps(200 yds) with my splashboard, did 10 pushoffs and backstroked back from each pushoff (about 10 yds each). And this was after my third shift. I went to bed about 2230 and I was up this morning, needless to say, much past the morning cool, so no dog walk till tonight. Plan to go back and swim again tomorrow morning. Tonight at sundown, my canines and I will have a nice stroll, maybe break into a trot if Dr. Vogel gives the go ahead.
 
     Back to the lesson, the koan of practice versus immediate achievement and its sister nonattachment to expectation. 
 
      The need for practice without expectation was what I most noticed about last night. My son, even with only one good leg, made the lengths of the pool look so easy as his arms sliced throught the water, and my DIL is more an otter than she gives herself credit. My first instinct was to compare and compete, not to listen and admire, as they both offered much needed and good advice on how to improve my performance. I actively chose to listen, although even with this came frustration as the muscles and body refused to carry out the brains planned commands.
               "Compared to them," the Ego whispered in my head, "I am old, fat and weak. This is stupid and impossible, and what’s with your children telling YOU how to do something, I’m the Mom, and it’s not like they listen to me anyway!"
              "First, this is your idea, they are joining you in something important to you, you asked them to support you, " my Authentic Self replied, "and they are better at this than you.  However, this activity is about progress and fun, not competition, and when comparing myself to myself, I see improvement in less than a week, So instead of feeling inadequate, ego, or resentful I am just grateful for the inspiring company and I am going to continue to listen, and continue to practice and focus on a great way this is to spend time with people I love."  My Authentic self is long winded.

Then the ego and The Authentic Self both had to shut up because all energy was focused on completing the last lap. In that way, swimming is like meditation for me. The conversation in my head has to shut up!
             

FYI. The two day break in blogging will be my weekly norm, as long as I am on this work schedule. I love my job and the family that I work for, and they get first dibs on my weekend energies. I will be back later to finish the log, as I am just beginning my day.
 
Borin’ Log Part for Monday
 
0830 Wake Up and let dogs out. Meditation on Gratitude from Meditation Oasis
0900 Computer and Coffee (double shot espresso, 1 cup Organic Soymilk, 1 T local honey)
0930 8 ozs fresh squeezed OJ, multivitamin, 81 mg aspirin
1000 phonecalls, dustmopping floor (movement, not exercise, LOL), random picking up and put in a load of laundry
1200 Lunch of Progresso Vegetable Soup and a toasted cheese sandwich, Off to pick up meds, also Dr. apt.
1500 Best part of today – my apt at Back-Fit so I can become better adjusted…(massage and chiro)
1700 Visit Sara, receive way awesomest B-day present EVER! (Very early but I wouldn’t have been able to wait either!)
            Ate one apple
1900 Walked dog. Only 0.5 miles tonight. Really feeling drained of energy and achy tonite. Made plate of organic black beans, guacamole, cheese, and organic corn and flax chips with organic salsa. Drank water
2000 Watched 2 episodes of 60’s comedy (they last 26-28 minutes compared to a modern 20-22 minute episode)
2100 Cleaned house haphazardly. Stretches and then to bed!
 
Over all a kinda non-training day again except for the little things like parking on the far end of the lot at all my appointments and not succumbing to junk food or snack attacks. I really want a pedometer to be able to measure my walking, etc. I have to work my training into my life so keeping track of steps taken would be something
2200 Sleep.