The Kit and Kaboodle Update

So, as a former journalist, I could easily write a summary of every day like a nice newspaper column and post it. I could probably even manage to maintain my sense of humor, style, and tendency to find joy in the ridiculously ordinary.

But this week, every word I wrote felt repetitious. Or perhaps every word I wanted to write felt like it had been done before.

And maybe it has. Because so much of life goes that way. The same struggles, the same events, and often the same answers. And we repeat the cycle over and over probably for two reasons.

  1. It’s hard to break a habit.
  2. And growth, the kind of change that comes from embracing a lesson, presents its own difficulties.

In today’s blog, I’m going to do a generic update, and I’m honestly not sure if any of this is repeating myself. But do you know what? Repeating myself is okay. This is a small droplet in the vast waters of the internet and there’s always the possibility someone hasn’t heard it before and may need to hear it today.

Are you listening?

Fosters: Touch of Grey, Mars and Minerva. Information on how to adopt them at http://www.felineurbanrescueandrehab.org.

All eyes on me.

Topics to come in this entry: Update on my cerebral palsy and quest to end my chronic back pain, weight training with the teenager with Dan at Apex, emotional eating, review of Purple Carrot’s vegan Thanksgiving dinner box, and the requisite animal photos.

This week’s personal training at Apex:

I know I frequently mention how amazing the trainers at Apex are. One of their strengths (weight training pun there) is to recognize the needs of each client and to match the client with the right trainer. I’m obviously not in the whiny white women who primarily want to lose weight category, and that’s how I ended up with Dan. As Dan has the unofficial knowledge of a physical therapist (because he’s had enough accidents to know the patient side of it) and he has the curiosity to read, research and think. With my cerebral palsy this is important. Dan has the observational skill to read my knees and lower body to know if it’s a bodyweight/calisthenics kind of day or a weight training day. And this is important so you can build range of motion and flexibility and not get hurt.

Anyway, Dan has been kind enough to let the teenager join my training sessions. I love throwing weights around but lack the personal discipline to do it on my own this time around. And the teenager has a natural muscle tone and build that makes her perfect for powerlifting. But she hates dumbbells and she hates routine and discipline. So as long as we tell her to go throw around that heavy object she’s fine.

And today she deadlifted 135 lbs as if it weren’t even a challenge. I honestly think she could have done 150 lbs easily.

I think I kept up with her through 115. I only did three at 115 because I was really afraid I would blow out my knees. A deadlift when executed correctly utilizes the lower body, and the weight actually (once I get warmed up) helps me lower my butt in the squatting portion, but since my knees tend to point sharply inward, I have to adjust my stance to compensate. While the main gist of the lift is to pull the weight along the shin and lift into the hips and use the legs to support the weight as the hips straighten and thrust outward with the tightening of the glutes, in my case, I have to force my knees to stay in the proper position facing my toes and not each other.

As I start to lift heavier, the dull ache in my spine is a reminder to lift the weight with my legs and not my back. I place my feet in position, point my toes slightly out and stretch my knees in line with them. And, for lack of a better description, I lock them in place and while lifting the barbell I have to concentrate on keeping my knees from turning inward. Because if they would suddenly snap where they want to be, I could not only blow out a knee but also potentially lose balance.

So I did three.

In related news, physical therapy update:

Yesterday I finally had my physical therapy appointment with the proper physical therapist now that neurology has confirmed that my balance and brain are fine. Much to my pleasant surprise, I had the same physical therapist that treated my initial bouts with back pain three years ago. He was at a different physical therapy office, then, and came recommended by my doctor as the guy who really knew back issues. What makes this a funny but pleasant coincidence is the fact that I chose this physical therapy branch because my blind friend Nancy is going there and I thought we could combine appointments and I could help her with rides.

What did my physical therapist Jeff say? Basically, that I need to do yoga. He has me doing “press-ups” 5 times a day for 10 reps. At least to start this week. Last time I had physical therapy with him, he started me super light and then made the exercises ten times harder when I returned in a week. “Press-ups” are cobra pose in yoga. I used to do yoga daily. It always seems like physical therapists are always telling me to do more of what I already or what I used to do.

Random photo of Nala the Goffin with foster cat Touch of Grey

Confession time, emotional eating:

My weight is 160lbs. This upsets me greatly. When I had gestational diabetes at six months pregnant I was 169. I was 142 on the day I brought the teenager home from the hospital and 142 for most of her toddler years. When I finally decided I needed to get my weight under control and regain strength after breaking my right hand while working at Target, I lost 30 lbs in 6 weeks. I lost too much weight too quickly and then gained weight while strength training and got ripped. Over the years, I found a set point at 135, where I could maintain muscle but be more relaxed about eating.

But then, my marriage ended. My boss at the job that allowed me to separate from my husband and support myself turned out to be a sociopath. I mean that in the kindest way possible. She was very sweet, and driven, and perfection-oriented but she had no empathy, no flexibility and no patience for any way other than hers. No views allowed other than her beliefs. This led to high blood pressure and I honestly had no energy left to take care of myself. When she fired me, it took six months for unemployment benefits to determine she was in the wrong. The pandemic was underway by then (Summer 2019). I lived on my savings, a total of $4,500, and foodstamps that kicked in three months after I lost my job.

And this was also when I ended up in the hospital for an infected cat bite and took in a second teenager who lived with us for nine months without her parents contributing to her care.

I mention this only because it is why I lost my discipline. Why I stopped caring for myself like I used to. It was easy and fun to go to McDonalds for a $1 Diet Coke and a $1 McChicken. Cheap dinner.

I thought I would turn this around when I started “picking” at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I walked 17,000 steps a night in the warehouse, grabbing clothes. But then I caught Covid-19. And my stamina never bounced back. So now I fold clothes. Which killed my back.

Even though I had a delightful Thanksgiving, with vegan recipes I prepared from Purple Carrot and leftover pie and wine from my in-law’s meal, I “ruined” it by drinking a big glass of wine yesterday with about 1200 calories of Trolli gummy worms. And then I tell myself, “Well, at least they had protein, iron and calcium.”

And finally, the Purple Carrot Box:

I’ve only made about half the box. The rest is still in the fridge.

I made the Purple Carrot “sausage” stuffing, vegan thyme gravy and cranberry sauce. The thyme gravy was better than I expected as I am not a gravy person. I added local granny smith apples and herbs de provence to the stuffing. The stuffing began life as caibatta rolls, root vegetables, and Fieldstone vegetarian sausage. Let me say again, if you haven’t heard it before, that the Fieldstone vegetarian sausages are amazing. The fact that they come wrapped tight in plastic “skin” casings annoys me, but they are very tasty.

Let’s Be Average Today

I am in my 40s, and struggling with the effects of a life of always walking crooked thanks to cerebral palsy, a disability I have but, until recently, have known nothing about.

And issues in my spine, while not serious, are affecting my mobility and causing me pain.

But today— in part because we only worked until 7:30 pm at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy— I woke up well rested, only minimally stiff and only minimally hurting. At 8 am no less.

Our charming mutt F. Bean Barker refused to go to bed in the teenager’s room last night because one of our fosters, a former community cat named Georgie, intimidated her. Bean expected me to let her sleep in my room and when I said no she retreated to her crate in the living room. So I let her spend the night. I have spent a lot of time with this dog in the last 24 hours.

I tied a rope around her tire toy gifted to her by my trainer, Dan, at Apex Training and now it’s the best toy ever. See video here.

I was the first one out of bed which meant a swarm of hungry cats outside my door, and I couldn’t keep them all at bay. It was easier to let them in. But our foster Mars totally knows how to knock over the birdcage. Which he did. While I was on the phone with my blind friend Nan and consuming my first cup of coffee.

Nan recently started physical therapy for an issue in her shoulder causing pain and finger numbness. The physical therapist had never worked with a blind client before and was a quick study. He even discovered that some of Nan’s issue might be mobility issues in her neck— because when you’re blind you don’t have many reasons to turn your head or look up and down.

Finally, things settle down and while the parakeet is out he is safe. The teenager and I head to Apex where she gets that barbell and deadlifts 135 lbs. I still felt good at that point.

I came home, showered, and filmed this silly video with Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo.

And then the matriarch from la Familia Velez stopped by and brought me chili which I had for a late breakfast and we talked about marketing for my Fashion and Fiends books. And my goals for Parisian Phoenix in general.

She left, and I finished proofing Darrell Parry’s soon-to-be released poetry book. I placed a few more essays in the nonfiction identity anthology.

And the poor teenager has had a hectic and exhausting couple days— so I cooked.

She has options for dinner when she returns from the diner. She’s given notice at the diner as she has accepted employment with a local pet care company.

First I made sausage and peppers to put over spaghetti.

Then I also made the Purple Carrot Peanut Tofu Stir Fry which I jazzed up with some edamame and sesame sticks.

Mostly I am just sitting around marveling at how pain free I feel. I miss that.

Celebrating the small victories

Yesterday was a day of mixed signals.

The pain in my hips kept waking me the night before, despite a cocktail and a Tylenol PM. I woke grumpy, stiff and achy.

I didn’t keep that from affecting my workout with Dan at Apex Training.

Because here’s the thing about pain— sometimes it’s a warning that you need to stop but sometimes it’s recognition that your body is changing.

I did 75 lbs on the barbell incline press. And that reminded me that my body is not all bad.

But at the same time whatever is impacting my spine, hips & leg is making basic mobility difficult and my job folding clothes painful.

I slathered myself with my CBD Medic Arthritis ointment and somehow folded more than the requested 130 fixes QCed. I did 133.

I’m probably in half the pain I was last night.

And in seven hours I need to get out of bed and go to the gynecologist for my Mirena IUD.