Mother Earth ain’t subtle with her hints

Yesterday I spent four long and very cold hours in a library parking lot. I was there to educate people on Colorado’s Prop 112. I was hoping voters would support the proposition which would’ve created safer setbacks for fracking sites. I was hoping they’d agree that industrial oil & gas operations don’t belong nears schools and communities, and that public health and safety is paramount.

Some of the people I spoke with definitely cared. Some, however, didn’t think children’s health was at risk. My most gut-wrenching interaction in those four hours was with a young woman holding an exceedingly smiley and cute toddler. As I explained to her I was out there because of my concern for children’s well-being, she unzipped her son’s hoodie and showed me the shirt underneath. Someone in their household had dressed that small little boy with the beautiful smile in a NO ON PROP 112 shirt.

The oil & gas industry dumped millions of dollars into defeating Prop 112 and yesterday it succeeded. And today? Well, I just logged onto Twitter and saw this:

The site that is now on fire? It’s  owned by Noble Energy, one of the biggest contributors to the No on 112 campaign.

It’d almost be funny if the whole situation wasn’t so horrifying.

Finding the balance

Some days are so hard that I’m tempted to give up and assume the fetal position. Over the last couple days a  young relative was diagnosed with a health condition and then a neighborhood family suffered a heartbreaking tragedy. I’ve felt overwhelmed and weepy. But I’ve also experienced joy as I hugged my son, watched a magpie take flight, and listened to my snoring dogs as they snuggle together in their bed. I’ve made progress on my new writing project and shared laughter with my visiting brother-in-law. I didn’t give up and curl into a ball.

Life is a series of sunshine and shit-storms, and as long as I remember to think of it that way, the better I cope. The key (for me, anyway) is tapping into the light amidst the dark. Finding the balance. I was reminded of that as I struggled to balance the light and dark in this photo of Marcel.

The result is nowhere near perfect, but then again, neither is life.

Twofer Tuesday: Zebu edition

Yesterday Zebu had surgery to reconstruct his ACL. We were all rooting for ACL-only intervention because that would mean a mere 10 days on crutches. Alas, while poking around in Zebu’s knee, the surgeon confirmed a couple tears in the meniscus which means Zebu is now on crutches for six weeks. The good news is the surgery went well.

This morning a nice man delivered and set up a Continuous Passive Motion machine that will help Zebu’s circulation and flexibility. He’s supposed to do a minimum of six hours per day. That’s a lot of hours. But as I pointed out: he’s got nothing better to do right now.

I had no idea way back when that basketball could be so incredibly hard on the body. Would it have changed anything? Probably not. Basketball was his passion.

Still. I probably owe an apology to football.

Thankful Thursday: the hello-there-old-friend edition

I just completed five days of a fasting-mimicking diet in which my caloric intake was greatly reduced. I embarked on this deprivation adventure because I’ve been feeling the effects of stress on my body and wanted to give my system a reboot. My sister and her husband have been doing the diet and their experiences convinced me it was worth a try. (Shout-out to my sis for all her guidance!)

Day One wasn’t bad. Day Two was rough. Days Three-Five were not too bad (my foggy brain went away and I was able to resume light exercise/walking).

And today? Day One of my return to normal eating? A happy day, indeed.

Anyone interested in trying this, go here for lots of good information. Also, the Cronometer is an absolute must for calculating calories and percentages of protein, carbs, and fat.

Today  I am exceedingly thankful that I do not have to measure every bit of food that goes in my mouth.

All good things

Just knowing you don’t have the answers is a recipe for humility, openness, acceptance, forgiveness, and an eagerness to learn – and those are all good things.
~ Dick Van Dyke

Sunday Confessional: Too much butt-in-chair time

Despite the fact that I chose FLEXIBILITY as this year’s guide word, I’m feeling seriously inflexible right now. In the past month, I haven’t been consistent with my routines and have been sitting way too much, for way too long.

This is my reminder to move, stretch, and experience life outside my writing space.

Thankful Thursday: the Dr. John Sarno edition

I just got home from a run in which my right hip got SO tight, I was forced to stop running. The pain was close to excruciating. It was definitely in the oh-my-effing-goddess category, and if I hadn’t known about the mind-body connection, I might’ve panicked and thought I’d suffered some horrible injury.

But I knew better.

So I stood there in the street and talked out loud to my brain. I said, “Brain, I get it. You know that I’m under a great deal of stress lately. You know I was just now thinking about how slow I’m running, how tired I’m feeling, how hard life seems to be these days. I was feeling sad-angry-depressed. And then BOOM,  my hip locked up. But guess what? This bogus pain, that is NOT rooted in any kind of physical reality, will only get in the way of me being active and coping with those emotions. Running is what I need to do to live my life. Your job is to make sure I don’t trip on anything. Your job is to process info from my eyes so that I can enjoy the signs of spring and process the bird songs I hear, so I can identify those feathered friends. Your job is to work with my body that absolutely requires movement in order to handle stress. I must be active. Let’s work as a team.”

And then I started running again. I’ll be honest, it didn’t feel great. My hip was still tight, still painful, still annoying as hell. But as I ran, I talked some more. I pointed out to my brain that I was running, that the bogus pain hadn’t achieved the desired effect of making me focus on the pain so that I’d “forget” about the hard stuff in my life. Instead, I was going to continue running so that I could cope with the many challenges that wouldn’t just magically disappear because my hip was locked in muscle-spasm-hell. By the time I finished my run, my hip had loosened. It’s sore after spasming, but there’s no lasting damage.

My brain is being very tricky lately. Last week, I suffered tightness and pain in my neck unlike anything I’ve ever experienced (Zippy could hear the vertebrae click when I tilted my head forward). I have to admit, I got caught up in that one and didn’t immediately recognize it as mind-body stuff for a couple days. But as soon as I started talking to my brain, it loosened up. It’s still not 100% better, but I am being active and living my life. I have not given in to a bogus “injury” that isn’t rooted in any kind of reality.

If anyone’s still reading and is interested, there are forums in which people discuss all sorts of physical conditions that they’ve been able to treat as mind-body conditions. Our brains are very crafty and will go to great lengths to manufacture pain to distract us from life’s stresses, difficulties, and anger-inducing situations. Sometimes we gotta be smarter than our brains.

Monday, Monday

Spent the entire day with my friend as she received her first “spa” (aka chemo) infusion treatment. We’re outta here in another 30 minutes.

Whew. I’m feeling whupped, which reminds me how exhausted Zippy was after I labored for 26 hours to bring Zebu into the world. I’ve teased him over the years for being more tired than me.

Today, I get it.

Sunday Confessional: Everything is making me sick and I’m taking a break

Today I went through my email and unsubscribed  from every political, environmental, and news organization that sends me updates, action alerts, petitions, pleas for money, links to never-ending bad news, etc.

I’m worn out and run-down. Exhausted.

Between the constant assault on the planet and the constant assault on the most vulnerable/powerless people of the planet, I’ve had enough. (Note: These assaults aren’t new, just more blatant than before.)

I’ve fought the good fight for many years, and I know I’m needed now. But I also know I’m no good to anyone or anything if  I’m not healthy. So I’m temporarily changing my status from Activist to Inactive.

Today I’m taking action for me.

I plan on watching lots of cavorting goat videos.

Today, I got good news

That bears repeating: today, I got good news.

Last week, I went to Planned Parenthood because of a health concern. While there, I had a breast exam that revealed a mass in my right breast. I was referred to an imaging place for my first ever mammogram (along with sonogram and possible biopsy). I was also given a list of surgeons. Cue the anxiety.

Today I went to Invision Sally Jobe where I was treated with much kindness AND learned that there are no concerns regarding my breast tissue! The technician who did the sonogram told me as much when she went off to share her results with the doctor who had already seen the mammogram results. The sonogram tech left me alone in a room with this framed photo:

For the next ten minutes, I gazed at these fascinating women as I waited for final confirmation that all was clear on my breast-ern front.* I spent the time trying to decide which cowgirl I most resemble (in attitude, looks, fashion sense). I liked the attitude of the first woman on the left with her hands on her hips, but had to acknowledge that I probably wouldn’t do that in a group photo. I decided that while the woman third from the left is wearing lipstick (which I also love to wear), she’s a little too put-together for me.  I eventually settled on the woman fourth from the right as most representative of who I perceive myself to be, and then was pleased to notice she’s holding hands with the woman to her left. Really, they all seem to be pretty damned cool women** and I would be happy to embody any of their energy (although the second woman from the left is (A) without a hat in the sun *gasp* and (B) wearing either a shiny track suit or pre-disco-era clothing, neither of which are in my fashion wheelhouse.)

So now I’m home. I immediately called to cancel my Friday appointment with the surgeon, and then settled in to bask in my good news. I also asked Zippy to help document today with a photo of this HAPPY COWGIRL.***

*This was Zippy’s suggestion for wording of the first text I sent after learning the news.

** Confession: It took me a while to catch on, but I finally realized that the fourth woman from the left and the fourth woman from the right are sisters, possibly twins. I mean, once I noticed it, I was kinda embarrassed it took me that long to see the obvious.

***Note: I’m wearing the lucky pants that have brought me good news during two dental appointments (including the news that I DID NOT NEED A ROOT CANAL) and now today’s excellent breast-related news.

Thankful Thursday

Today I am grateful for Planned Parenthood,
a women’s health care organization that provided me
a much-needed walk-in appointment this afternoon.

Everyone in that clinic was kind and friendly,
and I salute the important work they do.

Pity party interruptus

Last week I was in Florida and while there, I went running for the first time in a month. As a result of all those weeks off, I ran slower than usual.

When I hit the 3-mile mark, I stopped running and began my cool-down walk. Almost immediately my brain started beating me up: you’re used to running at elevation and this was running at sea level! You’re used to running up and down hills, and this was running on mostly flat! You’re slow, slow slow. Old, old, old. Sad, sad, sad.

As I walked on the path through the woods, I regretted the health issues that had prevented me running. I regretted losing the fitness level I’d worked hard to achieve. I regretted my loss of muscle, stamina, and lung power.

I admit to feeling a wee bit defeated.

Then there was a WHOOSH and SQUAWK as something dropped from the tree above and landed next to my feet: Two woodpeckers, one on the back of the other, briefly wrestled on the path before separating and flying off to different trees.

And just like that, my mood lifted. I realized I was going to be all right. I knew I’d regain my strength, just as I knew that it was a gift to be able to up and run three miles after time off. How could I not know?! I’d just witnessed the miracle of wrestling woodpeckers!!!

Sometimes the universe gets sick of our whining and drops a big ol’ SNAP OUT OF IT sign in front of us.

woodywoodpecker

I’m grateful I could see past the pity party to read it.

 

 

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All does not suck

The bad news?
I’m suddenly feeling a bit rundown
and kinda puny
which is triggering pissed-off thoughts
such as
ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?
AUTUMN IS JUST BARELY, OFFICIALLY HERE
AND I’M ALREADY GETTING SICK?!

Sick person

The good news?
I’ve hit my page goal every day this week, including today,
which means that despite
the fact that humanity is failing on a global level,
(a hugely depressing truth that’s undoubtedly contributing to my
run-down
worn-out
had-enough-already
puny feelings),
all does not suck.

happy-stick-girl

My plan of action?
Take it easy and repeat my new mantra:

ALL DOES NOT SUCK
ALL DOES NOT SUCK
ALL DOES NOT SUCK

 

 

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Old Dog political perspective

I’m an old dog; I don’t get too excited.
I don’t get caught up in all the mass hysteria.
Tim Howard

This sweet old dog photo courtesy of Morguefile.

This sweet old dog photo courtesy of Morguefile.

I literally made myself ill in 2004 working against a second G.W. Bush/Cheney term, and today saw a photo of the radiant Michelle Obama embracing the loathesome Bush who created the cyle of death and destruction that continues today. Seeing them together like that was a kick to the gut.

And then I realized I shouldn’t be at all surprised.

Michelle’s husband expanded many of the immoral programs Bush put in place (drone program, for example), giving those Republican programs a bipartisan blessing that effectively cemented them as permanent U.S. policies. Now we’re about to have Round Two of a Clinton presidency, and the power structure keeps rolling along.

 An oligarchy runs this country and exploits the rest of the planet, and while it infuriates me, I refuse to make myself sick over it.

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Peachy keen, yo

Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring,
and because it has fresh peaches in it.
~  Alice Walker

Zippy went to two farmers' markets in search of these organically-grown beauties.

Zippy went to two farmers’ markets in search of these organically-grown beauties.

 

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Karl Pilkington for the assist

For much of yesterday and today, it’s felt as if a railroad spike had been driven into my left eye.
railroad-stakes-1110431_960_720

I’m tired and nauseated and sick of just about everything right now, and thought I’d post a quick spike image that might convey those feelings. But then I came across this quotation:

The other day I was thinking – because I get a lot of headaches – I was wondering whether the head should be where it is. Because, at the end of the day, it’s probably the heaviest part of your body, right? And yet it’s at the top as opposed to, I don’t, dangling at the bottom somewhere.    ~  Karl Pilkington

And now I’m laughing and feeling a tiny bit better. Karl Pilkington saves the day yet again!
karl pilkington

Thanks, Karl!
P.S. I thoroughly enjoyed THE WORLD ACCORDING TO KARL PILKINGTON

 

 

Friday Five: The Swimming Edition

1) I used to swim and I loved to swim and I swam a lot. A mile per session. But then I got tired of smelling like chlorine and I stopped swimming and focused on running. For the record, I also love running. But right now my body isn’t doing as well with the running.

2) For quite some time after I quit swimming, I had dreams of swimming. Strong, efficient strokes and flip turns and the black line on the floor of the pool showing me the way. It made me sad to quit, but I couldn’t take the chlorine. Well, this week I dove back in the pool.
file0003550277033) Wednesday was my first time swimming laps in YEARS and I was so happy to be back that I took off too fast and went into oxygen debt which meant I never quite caught my breath. And so I started to chastise myself for being out of shape and such a mess before remembering that, hey, I’d been away from swimming for a long time and still banged out a pretty fast mile. So there, Nasty Voice.

4) Today I swam again and it was so much easier because I didn’t take off like a crazy woman delirious with happiness about being back in the water. I was still very happy, but I was a smarter happy and kept my breathing regular.

5) Downside? Despite my best efforts in the shower afterward, I’m now getting whiffs of chlorine PLUS it seems that I should’ve taken the time to adjust the goggles I wore because they were definitely too tight and I kinda, sorta gave myself two black eyes.
cat in goggles

A Big Long Story About an Incredibly Evil Splinter

Two weeks ago I did something ill-advised, something I knew better than to do. Two weeks ago, I got tired of seeing one of my gigantic yarrow plants (5+ feet tall) crowding out one of my blue mist spirea plants (maybe 2 feet tall). So I grabbed my cutter and went out to trim back the yarrow. Dumb, dumb, dumb! Yarrow plants have the toughest, woodiest stems of any plant in my yard, and I know better than to touch it without gloves.

Sure enough, I managed to impale the middle knuckle of my right hand on old growth from last year. Instant agony. Stream of profanity. Regret, pain, and nearly instantaneous swelling.

I dug out a splinter and waited for the injury to resolve itself. Instead, it swelled more, became more painful (possibly due to me knocking it into everything), and turned into a fleshy mood-ring that alternated between pink and angry red and blue and purple and, oh-my-goddess-now-it’s-starting-to-look-black.

Imagine this is my knuckle, minus the lovely silver setting.

Imagine this is my knuckle, minus the lovely silver setting.

I hung in there until this past Saturday when pus showed up, and I finally went to the doctor. With the use of groovy magnifying goggles and the finest pair of tweezers I’ve seen, she removed a splinter and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. Five days later, the mood ring was as angry as ever and the knuckle was so sore I nearly wept whenever anything touched it.

So yesterday after swallowing the last antibiotic pill, I returned to the doctor’s office where she donned the goggles again and poked at me with the sharp tweezers I wasn’t liking nearly as much, until she found a small splinter. Hooray. Not. I was sure I was in for weeks of tiny splinter removal as the cursed yarrow worked its multiple evils out of my flesh. Then she started digging some more as I gritted my teeth and curled my toes. A long moment later, she said, “Here’s one.” Another tiny piece stuck up from my knuckle. Hooray? And then she grasped it with the tweezers, and it was like a magician pulling a scarf from a sleeve.

One half-inch long.Tracy's splinterI realize the gargantuan image is overkill, but I cannot stress enough how freakin’ huge that thing seemed when she pulled it out. We both made loud exclamations of the “Holy crap, Batman!” variety.

Last night for the first time in weeks my poor old knuckle wasn’t stiff and sore, and today I can make a fist without any pain. I can start lifting weights again! I can punch someone in the snoot without feeling (much) pain! I’ve got my life back!

Life is grand and I wish everyone a wonderful, splinter-free weekend!