Thursday, January 26, 2017

Contribution to Society

Over the years there has been one important requirement in my life - to make a contribution to society. For 20+ years it occurred through my work in the public school system. Since I'm no longer - and probably won't ever be again - employed in the school system, I keep working with my number two contribution-to-society activity. Sewing for charity. 

Something I've done for years, my sewing for charity has continued despite some pretty bad times. I still plug along on it, just quite a bit slower than in the past. I almost always have a project I'm working on and right now I'm on one that has taken me several months to complete. Thanks to Paul Newman.

Did you know it was his birthday yesterday? He would have been 92. He was the co-founder of The Painted Turtle, a camp for kids with serious medical issues. I've worked with this charity before, sewing turtle pillows for campers. This tim around 've been working on more turtle pillows as well as bed quilts. I'm finally nearing the end of the how-did-I-get-myself-into-this? project.

One of my brighter quilts is a quilt-as-you-go project. You'd think as long as I've been quilting I would have tried out the technique before but not until now. A new and yet different small contribution to society.

(To clarify... it's not technically Paul Newman's fault it is taking me several months to finish this project,  It's my fault - my hands' and shoulders' and back's fault - that I'm taking so long. But it is because of him I do have this project to work on!)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Caught in the Surf

As someone who likes to swim and snorkel in the ocean I have some experience with how difficult it can be getting out of the water. Sometimes the sand is firm and the slope is gentle, making it easy to get in and out. Other times there is a ledge either before the waterline or just under the waterline making a graceful and easy entry and exit (especially with two fake knees) a struggle. And sometimes the extra time it takes to plan your escape has you sinking deeper into the wet sand. Quicksand at the shore line? Sure can feel like it. Talk about hard to get out of.

And then there are those times when a wave catches you. If you haven't timed it correctly - and even when you have - you can find yourself being slammed by the surf. Occasionally once or twice, but sometimes several times in a row. Then just when you've finally fought through all the waves, and gotten past the "shelf", and pulled your legs out of the "quicksand" and are just about on dry land, another wave may hit and knock you on your bottom again.

Just like a chronic disease.

When I last posted to the blog, I was riding high working on the 50 by 50 list. Feeling good, accomplishing physical feats I never thought possible. The sand was feeling firm under my feet and the slope gradual. It was only a matter of time before a wave knocked me on my bum. Again and again and again.

In those situations - at the shore and in life - you can't give up. You have to keep fighting. So, following my own advice, I guess I'm back to blogging. Maybe it can help support that fight and bring me back to the living yet again.

Better than when I've been doing lately. Like the time in Antigua with a beautiful beach, beautiful water, beautiful day. The time/energy/effort to even think about getting into the water had been too much so I just stayed in the lounge chair, feeling miserable, wishing I had the strength to go in, longing for the days I used to be able to make it. Instead I drank a strong rum punch and slept in the chair until time to leave.

Here's hoping for less sleeping, less drinking, less feeling miserable, less longing for old days, less feeling inadequate. And hope for more living - and writing - instead.
The photo of the beach in Antigua was my background picture for quite some time
before I had to finally delete it because it was too depressing. Reminders of my inadequacies and all.
As to why I thought 4:30 in the morning on a Wednesday was a good time to start blogging again...I'm not sure.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Closer to 50

Respond to every call that excites your spirit. ~rumi

I guess that's what I'm doing with this 50 by 50 list I've been working on. My 50th birthday has passed but my list of new experiences continues. In the past few months I have completed quite a bit:

Swim in the ocean
Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
Fly in a helicopter
Travel to Iceland
Learn to snorkel
Go zip lining
Ride in an outrigger canoe
Overcome fear of lizards
See the Cabo Arch
Take a long distance train trip
Ride a mule
See the Hollywood sign
Ride a Ferris wheel
Ride in a zodiac raft
Have acupuncture
Ride a Hobie cat
See the Northern Lights
Lie on a hammock on a beach
See a ballet
Visit an orphanage 
Try stand up paddleboarding
Visit Mayan ruins
Foster kittens
Swim with dolphins
Swim with stingrays
Ride a bicycle
See a Shakespeare play
Hold an alligator
Ride in an airboat 
Learn to paint
Join the YMCA
Try Reiki
See a sunset over Greenland
Be able to cross my legs
Walk in the Muir Woods
Feed iguanas
Fly without a seatbelt extended
Go sailing
Walk on the Wall of Fame
Do a 5K

Today's picture is proof of the Y. Who is crazy enough to show up at 5 AM and spend the next two hours working out?  It may be crazy but it's worth it to walk out to a pretty sunrise.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Commitment to Self

Two days.

Two straight days of my self-imposed two hour long workout. But that was easy. It was the weekend and I could sleep in and take my time getting to the Y. 

The hard part starts tomorrow on the first day back to work. A full work day, an 80 mile round trip commute, and a two hour workout. I've got it planned out. 

A commitment to myself. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

1 + 1 = Nap

Long before the rheumatoid arthritis was diagnosed, long before the dozen or so screws were used to put my shoulders back together, long before my right lung became non-functioning, long before my two titanium knees were implanted, long before I became mobility-scooter bound, and long before I weighed 400 pounds, I used to belong to a health club.

I had a set after school routine. Drive the 20 miles to the gym. Bike for less than 15 minutes, treadmill for about 5 minutes, lift a few weights, and then get myself into the pool. It wasn't a very challenging workout but one just long enough to make me feel like I was trying to be healthy. In hindsight it probably was a big waste of gas and time, driving that far for so little. But at least it was something.

Fast forward to today.

I now live less than five miles from the YMCA. No longer 400 pounds, no longer mobility-scooter bound, no longer expecting to do a minimum amount of work at a gym, I made my way to my first session this morning. Knowing I haven't done much but ride my bike this summer I anticipated a bit of a rough start.

One hour on the treadmill and bike and one hour in the pool. Seemed like a great plan, a great way to get me to focus on me, to get a jumpstart on an exercise program. And it was a great plan. Up until the time I got home. That warm water pool I spent my time swimming laps in and doing exercises in and walking in turned out to be quite kind to my achy joints. I felt warm and comfortable and relaxed and...tired.

While one plus one usually equals two, in my case today it became one hour plus one hour equaled a good long nap.

And almost five miles on the bike. While I didn't push myself too hard on day one, it was a place to start. I think I'll stick with my plan.