Monthly Archives: June 2011
In the next several weeks, I will be sharing some of the journaling exercises from Sara Avant Stover’s The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life, a guide to returning to “daily, seasonal, and yearly rhythms of nature” in order to regain a healthy body and spirit.
Exercise #1 (page 19)
1. Looking back on my life, I’d say that the five main events – good and bad – that have really formed who I am include:
- Being harassed repeatedly by classmates in seventh and eighth grade, in ways I still cannot bring myself to describe to almost anyone, in ways in which I am not still fully healed. (1989-1990)
- Moving to Colorado only a month after college graduation, moving a thousand miles away from family and friends. (1998)
- Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and hypothyroidism in the weeks before my twenty-ninth birthday. (2005)
- Participating in the two-day, marathon and a half charity walk. Only a year after type 2 diabetes diagnosis, I decided to challenge my body to the extreme, and turned out to do rather well, even if I did not complete the entire walk. (2006)
- Going through a major acute illness and two subsequent major abdominal surgeries. (2009-2010)
2. Out of these, I planned two of them and the other three were unexpected.
3. The three biggest lessons that I’ve learned in my life from these events include:
- Knocked down again and again, and yet I have survived. Sometimes barely, sometimes stronger than ever.
- Sometimes I forget how confident I can be, whether it is making a thousand-mile move with very little cash to my name and with student loan debt awaiting me or setting ambitious fitness goals.
- I cannot change the past, but I can attempt to change the future by treating my body and mind well.
4. Two things I love most about my life right now are:
- Being free to lead my own routine – no one depending on me to be entertained (except maybe the cat).
- Being in the midst of learning so much at the new day job, keeping my mind (mostly) busy and alert.
5. Two things I would most like to change about my life right now are:
- To stop yearning for what I have lost (in so many respects).
- To be able to laugh more and cry less.
6. Two things I’m ready to invite and receive into my life right now are:
- Daily meditation practice.
- Exercise that reminds me of being a kid again – swimming, bicycle riding, even team sports like kickball or softball.
7. Some of my goals and dreams that seem a little crazy and that I’m almost too embarrassed to admit are to:
- Finding a job that combines the love of numbers with the love of words, along with the passion for helping people with chronic illness.
- Going back to school for a MPH (Master’s in Public Health).
- Traveling to Ecuador or Peru for intensive Spanish language training.
- Thinking about book proposals that could actually take off and go somewhere other than my computer’s hard drive.
Top ten things I love about the iPad.
10. Words With Friends (even if I have only won one out of a dozen games).
9. It fits in my purse.
8. PDC World Disaster Alerts. (Physical geography disaster nerd, right here!)
7. Words With Friends (even if the board and rules are a little different than that game that shall not be named upon which it is based).
6. It is allowing my almost-four-year-old laptop to serve primarily as a blogging tool, word processor, and spreadsheet holder while doing most ‘net-surfing on the iPad. At the first sign of overheating from overuse, I can shut down the Macbook and switch devices. (Not to mention me dumping my smartphone successfully.)
5. Entire works of Shakespeare at my disposal. (Watch out, this means even *I* am seeing the advantages of e-books…)
4. Words With Friends (even if I get grumpy after losing yet another game).
3. It is much easier to get all the news I would like in thirty minutes each morning, with just a few select news apps. (Suddenly, I am not quite as interested in celebrity baby news as I was a week ago when there are intelligent articles available about the state of the nation, world, economy, and health from such a variety of sources.)
2. Flipboard, all the Tweets and Facebook statuses and Flickr Photos of my connections all in one place, presented beautifully.
1. Words With Friends (leave a comment if you would like to play with me).
“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” - Elizabeth Edwards, Resilience.
No, life will never be the way I imagined it could be when all the pieces of the puzzle started seemingly falling into place last summer.
Maybe, just maybe, it will be even better. New plans, new ideas, new adventures.
Even if it turns out to be “less good”, it will be better than the pile of misery that I repeatedly tripped over the past few months. The pile where I found myself feeling weak and impatient, resistant and angry.
Do I hate the woman who snarled and bawled as she felt her away around a new reality? Not necessarily – after all, she is part of who I am. When the going gets rough, the claws come out and the tears fall.
Living with hope and with purpose is much more productive, though, and I rather like how it feels.
“…There are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.” – Elizabeth Edwards, final statement to the public.
Although Camp WILD, a project of Team WILD (Women Inspiring Life with Diabetes), was going on in our “backyards” this weekend, neither Tiffany nor I were able to attend the full four-day package due to other commitments. Mari Ruddy allowed us to let us sit in on some activities, meals, and lectures in exchange for running errands (in Tiffany’s case) and doing some press releases for the TeamWild Ironman team (in my case). And in both cases, Mari would like us to promote our own experiences with Team Wild as women with type 2 diabetes, a demographic that has been difficult for Mari to reach so far.
A member of the cycling team this summer, Tiffany spent several more hours than I did at Camp Wild on Friday (oh day job!), and her write-up on her Facebook page inspired me so much I asked if I could post it here. So, here she is, completely unedited…
I am a Type 2 diabetic. I am not embarrassed or ashamed, although I do know a number of people whom are. I determined when diagnosed 7 years ago that I was not going to play the victim, accept, educate and move on. I have done this for the most part, tweaking my diet to keep a reasonable amount of control and using medications now and then when I struggle with control. One element of the disease that I know is important for care and management is exercise. I am the first person to tell you that exercise is not my thing. I’d much prefer to be a lazy butt at home reading a good book, sewing a quilt, or sitting in the sunshine with my knitting. While these are enjoyable and relaxing, they don’t help my physical well being.
At the end of last year I shared with a couple of friends on Facebook that I wanted to learn to like exercise, partly to help with my diabetes but also because I thought it might help me with my mental well being. Laurie and Ana were both kind enough to give me some things I might consider and encourage me to reach out and take some bold steps. I felt as if I was the only fat woman in the world and everyone was going to laugh at me, so I needed something different. They told me about an athletic team that began here in the Denver area (although it is national and soon to be international) specifically for diabetic women, Team WILD (Women Inspiring Life with Diabetes). I thought what the heck, I can do this. Initially I decided to sign up for a general fitness group that would teach me how to get moving and the intricacies of exercise and diabetes nutrition. While awaiting the start of the season I began to realize that I really didn’t need general fitness I somehow needed to tackle the monsters in my head and set myself up for a bigger challenge with a more specific goal. I spoke with Mari Ruddy, the founder of Team WILD and we determined that the cycling team was a better option. This gave birth to a whole new side of life, competitive cycling (although I am more of a finisher than a competitor).
With the help of Team WILD I am training to ride a Metric Century this August. It is apropos that I am riding in the Colorado Tour de Cure to raise money and diabetes awareness. Using suggestions from Coach Nicole Freedman I drug myself out of the house and bought a road bike that I absolutely love.. I was fitted the bike and told how to outfit myself so that I could actually start to feel like the cyclist I will become. This spring we started Team Training calls in which other members of the WILD Cycling team meet over the phone/internet with Nicole Freedman to discuss our training. Admittedly I have struggled a great deal with my training. Whether it is finding a sitter to watch the kids, balancing nausea with increased exercise, or struggling up hills I have struggled to get myself on my bike. Sometimes I lack confidence. I even at times have doubted the benefits of joining Team WILD and what it was really going to help me with. Yesterday my fears were completely put to rest.
Part of Team WILD’s offerings is a 4 day fitness camp. I was unable to participate the entire weekend due to a variety of commitments, but with some encouragement from Mari I cleared my schedule and attended the afternoon and evening sessions on the first full day of camp. I cannot emphasize enough how glad I am to have taken this bold step. I learned an incredible amount of information about myself and what I can do with a little bit of effort on my bike. While I still have some Monster’s sitting on my shoulders telling me all the reasons that I can’t do something, thanks to Carrie Cheadle’s coaching I now have some strategies for putting those monster’s to bed. I gained so much more confidence from my teammates and coaches helping me to put into perspective that I am actually stronger than I realized. With Marcey Robinson’s help and expertise I have some tools to approach balancing my exercise with the needs of my Type 2 diabetes. She also gave me some strategies to consider while training and desiring to lose some poundage. I learned more about my bike and how to use it to its full potential from Olympic Cyclist Nicole Freedman. While I am not completely over my fear of using toe clips, I know that if I fall I also can get right back on and master a new skill. I learned new terms like “masher” and “spinner” and actually know the benefits of one over the other which has just broadened my biking world. That monster telling me I can’t climb hills is still there, but I know now how to put the monsters in my head to rest.
For me motivation will always be a huge issue. I am not a person that automatically feels better after exercising, honestly I typically feel like crap. I accept that if I want to become healthier as I approach my 40′s than I was in my 20′s and 30′s I need to get out of my comfort zone and move. Meeting other women who struggle with diabetes was very beneficial. I have a number of friends that suffer from their own diabetes issues and I want to tell you right now, no matter your type of diabetes, or your denial that you even have diabetes, you can with help and encouragement from others become an athlete and improve your own health. Team WILD is here for you as it has been for me. I am ready to grow with the help of Team Wild, do you want to join me?
Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing your story. There is a special fall session of WildFit (the program in which I am participating) beginning in September and I hope to see a few more women with type 2 step up to the challenge.
Friday, June 24. 10:57 PM.
Unless someone tries to convince me otherwise in the twelve hours or so before I step foot in the Verizon store, I will be seeking a replacement for my dying BlackBerry that is not a smart phone.
I am finding I just do not like being so connected all the time. It is nice for short weekend trips away, when lugging around a laptop is a pain, though other than that, I could really care less about following tweets and the latest Facebook status messages.
(Did I mention the Verizon store is just a few doors down from the Apple Store…? Where I could buy an iPad to take on weekends away instead of lugging around the laptop if I am going smartphoneless…?)
(Inspired by Greeblemonkey‘s contest with Shutterfly, calling for one moment of joy.)
Receiving some of the best hugs in months from a most peculiar person – the gynecologist, the one who saw me through much of the health crisis of 12/09 – 5/10, who gave me similar hugs when it was all over, when I felt no pelvic pain. Next year, I hope and hope that things will be different, that I will not find myself crying or anxious or pained, that I will be full of many moments of joy.
Watching videos of my brother’s children. Watching the nieces as they start to complete sentences and begin to realize their sisterhood with hugs and kisses. Watching the nephew as he takes a look around his little world. Oh, the joy of wee ones.
The cat acting as surrogate mother when I arrived home at noon sick yesterday with nasty allergies and fatigue. She followed me everywhere, taking nest next to me (instead of on top of me) whether I chose the couch or the bed upon which to rest and rubbing up against me, seeming to know that I felt under the weather. The joy of cats who know when the human is in need of comfort.
I don’t find nearly enough joy these days, but there are some little moments happening here and there that do allow me to smile or laugh or cry happy tears. I swear there are, no matter what status messages say or blog posts reveal.
A fourth grade teacher noticed the creative writing ability.
A high school history teacher noticed the essay writing and gathering research to turn into a term paper ability.
Many noticed the blogging ability.
Diabetes blogging entails creative writing; it entails essay writing; it entails gathering research and writing about it.
What do you do when you think you have blogged all you can about a subject? Do you rehash everything over and over like a broken record, or do you step away for awhile?
Do you do flashback blog posts, reaching back in the archives until something fresh enters your mind? Or do you allow guest bloggers to take over while you find your voice again, even as you feel your blog is your own space, people come to read your message?
Do you begin to write about other subjects near and dear to your heart, as raw and emotional as they may be?
Do you remember why you started blogging in the first place, that people first noticed your writing ability long before the words “blog” or even “internet” were household names and you turned your passion for writing into blogging for a good cause?
And then do you step away to refresh and enhance those creative writing skills, those essay writing skills, those research gathering skills elsewhere? Do you consider participating in blogging conferences, or writing-focused workshops?
Just one more question. You may have found a little fame and reward for the blogging, but are you ever going to sit down and write the Great American Novel?
(This is an entry for the next Living Out Loud, with this month’s topic being “On Writing”.)
In advance of the upcoming trip to Chicago, I reach back to a post from November 14, 2006…
Sooner or later, everyone goes to the zoo
The title of this post comes from a movie set in Chicago. If you guess it, there is no prize, just satisfaction that you guessed correctly.
Anyways…on to my Chicago memories.
*Watching the Cubs play at Wrigley Field numerous times.
*Field trips to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Field Museum, and Museum of Science & Industry.
*Taking the El to go see the Marshall Field’s on State Street decorated for Christmas. (The name may have changed to Macy’s this year, but apparently the tradition will live on.)
*Seeing the Nutcracker performed at McCormick Place.
*Enjoying a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall (another field trip).
*Not enjoying trips to Santa’s Village and Six Flags Great America. (Not a fan of roller coasters or spinning rides.)
*Walking along the lakefront in Evanston.
*Enjoying a cocktail at the Signature Room on the 96th Floor of the John Hancock Building.
*Going to the newly renovated Shedd Aquarium with my parents and four-year-old nephew just days before I moved to Colorado. Chatting it up in the car on the way from Wisconsin to Chicago, the dolphin show, the exhibits, H. left me with good memories of that trip.
Shared memory of childhood and adulthood:
*Eating traditional Chicago deep dish pizza at Gino’s East on Superior. (Not the best deep dish, but it is all about the setting – the writing on the walls, Chicago memorabilia all over, etc etc.)
Since that post five years ago, I had the opportunity to watch Venetian Night from a rooftop not far from the John Hancock building and finally visited “The Bean” in Millenium Park.
Sweet home Chicago, I’ll be there again very soon.
“So what brought you to Colorado?”
Unprepared, totally unprepared to hear and try to answer this question over and over at the college alumni event. Unprepared, totally unprepared to handle the aftermath of holding back tears for several hours during the event.
The same year I moved to Colorado, the movie Good Will Hunting won a couple Oscars. The line in that movie resonated with me, the line I carried with me for the next twelve years was when Will tells Sean he’s going to see about a girl, repeating what Sean had told him about his deceased wife earlier with regards to missing Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
I was going to see about a boy, see what would happen if our long-distance relationship became a live-in one. We stuck together for twelve years, through thick and thin. Tough times, of course we had them, especially in the couple years before all the illness and surgery mess. I thought we had turned a corner somewhere in between the emergency situation and the second surgery that resolved years of chronic pelvic pain.
Instead, here I was telling people that I followed the man, practically a Colorado native, from whom I was now separated.
“Are you planning to stay in Colorado, then?”
It only makes sense that this question would follow the answer to the first question. And yet, still unprepared, totally unprepared to answer the question or to handle the aftermath of continuing to hold back tears.
I don’t know the answer to that one. The job I began last month is scheduled to last two years, according to the term of the grant. When I took it, I figured it would give me enough time to develop a plan on what to do in a couple years when things are more settled.
The thing is, there are few of “my people” here. You might not think so if you view the videos filmed from Friday night out with the blogging pals, or if you see me chatting with former co-workers who became reliable and caring friends, but I am longing for the hugs and the smiles and the laughter of those who know me most back in Wisconsin. The people who knew me before he came along, the ones who have been so incredibly kind and wonderful these past few months.
A few weeks back, I came close to running into friends of his, not once but twice, at a local festival; after the second time, I turned right around to go back to the crappy little apartment to cry. I walk around in fear that I will encounter more of “his people”. If that happens, I will just completely fall apart, worse than I have since that alumni event.
You see, most of the people who saw me through the terrible mess of illness and surgeries were “his people” as they were close and could drop everything to help or listen or distract, while “my people” were not as able to rush out a thousand miles away in winter.
Yes, the blogging pals are here and the former co-workers turned good friends are here, and I am sure I would miss them terribly. However, even some of them encourage me to consider going back to “my people”, in spite of my excuses of my health care team being awesome here and oh, how I would miss the mountains and the milder winters.
It’s kind of funny in a way. I waited thirteen years for an alumni event to come to Denver and now I may well be returning to the Midwest within a year or two.