Little bit of everything

Since starting work full time, life has once again gone topsy turvy. I still enjoy working the 3:30 pm to midnight shift and my body is making the adjustment to staying up and sleeping later.

I finally received my unemployment from losing my job at ProJeCt of Easton in July, so I was able to use that money to pay off the medical bills that are still rolling in from my hospitalization in August.

At StitchFix, I have learned several different areas— picking, direct pick, women’s inbound, binning women’s apparel returns and binning women’s non apparel returns.

Honestly, binning non-apparel was the least exhausting and in its own way fun, but it killed my body as it involved a lot of being still, bending and sitting on a stool.

In picking, I did my first direct pick shift last night which gave me about 19,000 steps for the evening. I increased my numbers from 88 fixes picked to 116. Though the computer system was glitching a bit last night so that presented a few challenges. Direct pick means I don’t have to transfer the items to a box which eliminates more physical bending and stress.

Yesterday, my S1 joint was starting to seize and I couldn’t straighten up and walk five feet without crying. But in my distorted state, I fell into a box of canned cat food. After the fall, I stretched myself into child’s pose for 10-20 minutes until I could get up.

I made a cup of coffee so I could take some Tylenol (and added fish oil in a why-the-heck-not moment) and before the Tylenol could kick in, my body felt better. Was it the stretches or the fall, I do not know.

I had scheduled an emergency chiropractor appointment and she said I was moving well, but I was crooked. And she even did some work on the shoulder where I pulled that chest muscle.

Since then, I am achy in the chest, but even walking all those steps I feel great. Maybe I can do this.

Meanwhile, Loki and Fern got fixed. And Fern has an approved adoption application from my old supervisor at Target. So excited.

Finding shoes and a new routine

So after my first day at StitchFix, I will be starting full time work tonight on the 3:30 to midnight shift.

As a consequence, I’m going to have to streamline and focus my routine. Today, I got up, fed my cats, made a cup of coffee and made a list of things to do.

With that out of the way, I started the dishwasher. I also gathered, sorted and started one load of wash (which I later hung on our heated drying rack and started another to hang outside.)

Next I focused on my room: primarily running the roomba, cleaning the bird cages, and giving fresh food and water to the birds and fosters. I also totally swapped out the litter box for The Norse Pride and spent a little time with everyone.

This included some bird and kitten play time: YouTube video of Loki and Nala

Now it’s 10 am and I’m hoping to have a croissant and some fruit salad before my neighbor and her dog, Sobaka, stop by.

We’re going on a leisurely cookie walk to test one of the three pairs of shoes I bought for my new job.

I tested the ASICS last night. They felt so light. I got a black pair. I’ve always wanted a black pair. I also bought some glittery boots that are more comfortable versions of Doc Martens. Now in the end, they still may require inserts.

But if I’m buying inserts maybe I could go get the actual Doc Martens I wanted.

Mortgage for now — more shoes later.

Happy Fluffy Day

Happy Friday, my faithful and potentially new readers!

I started today somehow determine to clean my room and perform the weekly maintenance on my roomba that should have been done at least three months ago.

That took a lot of time and energy, especially since my rib is still bothering me from my fall last Friday. This is one of the many things that keeps life spicy when you have cerebral palsy.

But the unseasonably warm weather and everything fluffy kept me happy amidst my chores.

Then my silly Goffins cockatoo, Nala, decided to dive into her water bowl.

Silly bird

I received a text from one of my neighbors inviting me over for coffee, so I took my filthy self, my quince jelly and my last two English muffins and enjoyed some chit chatting with my other half (she owns the other half of my double). And Buddy, her dog, was handsome as always.

Buddy

Then I heard from another neighbor, Sobaka’s mom, that “cookie walk” could be scheduled for about 11:15. Cookie walk is a trip around the neighborhood where we visit with another neighbor’s mom and step dad as we collect treats for the dog.

We decided to do errands together with me as chauffeur. After a trip to the ever amazing Carmelcorn in downtown Easton (I did not go in— she who has a BMI of almost 27 and no income does not need candy), we finished our outing with a stop to CVS where I needed to grab my prescription and some food deals.

I came home and made some DiGiorno frozen pizza. Teenager #1 and I agree that the stuffed crust on the stuffed crust DiGiorno was delicious, but the pizza was lackluster. The four cheese DiGiorno was incredible.

As if that wasn’t enough goodness from today, I received a text from Zeus and Apollo’s new mom. She says they are doing well. And sent photos!

She has no idea how happy her text made me. This is some of what she had to say:

I wanted to tell you these little kitties are amazing. They are fearless even around our other kitties. So far everyone seems to be getting along , they are very curious about each other. The little ones are still timid to get pets but took treats and played.

Five minutes and counting

By the time I finish writing this the polls will be open. One of my friends referred to it as an old white man contest.

I’ve been quiet lately— struggling with an outbreak of ringworm among the kittens and teenager #1 and I. We moved The Norse Pride of foster kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab into my room and The Roman Pride into teenager #1’s room. The hope is that this will increase the Romans’ trust in humans.

Meanwhile… I lost my bedfellow Fog (which distresses me greatly and he is obviously upset about it and then teenager #1 made him wear a bow tie so I may never be forgiven) and gained scenes like this:

Vale & Loki, brothers

Teenager #1 insisted they were too small and too tame to harass the birds… so I suppose this is my imagination.

But in other news, my neighbor and I had a tea party last night. She has started using her mother’s tea pot and I have fancy tea cups and even fancier jams so we joined forces.

And this was after I made lemon butter caper gravy for dinner so all in all if nothing else it was a tasty day.

Chicken and Brussel sprouts with caper gravy

Teenager #1 explained to Teenager #2 that my food and television choices are a barometer of my mood. When I’m watching Gordon Ramsay my mental health is strong, but when I’m watching Hoarders I’m trying to feel better about myself.

By those rules, what does it mean that I binge-watched the entire series of Good Girls this weekend?

Speaking of this weekend, it felt so good to attend a football game. Here is the halftime show: Wilson Warrior Marching Band Avatar

What did not feel so good was the fall I took Friday night. I fell with all my weight on my right hand so my palm, wrist and thumb are all bruised. And I elbowed myself in the ribs— not quite hard enough to qualify for a bruised rib but hard enough so my right side hurts and I can’t lay on it. Or cough. But that’s how life goes when you are a clutz with cerebral palsy.

Have a great day.

How to Survive During a Pandemic

This one might be hard to write.

First, let’s publicize the good news. The Mighty published my “how to go to the doctor during Covid” essay that they accepted in June: What to expect. The Mighty is a social media site for people with disabilities and their caregivers.

Last night, I interviewed for a position in my local Stitch Fix warehouse. I was told I could expect an offer in coming days.

Stitch Fix would be less grueling than any of the other warehouse opportunities (Chewy, Amazon, FedEx, UPS) and less irritating than retail since we never have to interact with the customers.

I am very grateful for the opportunity, and if nothing else comes along in the next few days, I will accept it— and I asked for second shift in hopes of continuing to build Thrive Public Relations and fulfill my volunteer commitments (ASPIRE to Autonomy, Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, Mary Meuser Memorial Library and the county Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board).

I don’t know if I can physically handle the job as I am a forty-something with issues in her S1 joint thanks to decades of life with cerebral palsy. But if I get the position I want, I’ll be walking more than 10 miles a day so I’ll lose weight.

I’ll be talking to my doctor (already had a talk with my chiropractor) about what might happen to my body.

And I have to admit that I’m annoyed and frustrated that I lost my job about 15 weeks ago and unemployment hasn’t even looked at my case yet do to the backlog. The wage at StitchFix will be almost exactly what unemployment would have paid me.

And that, my friends, is about 65% of my former salary.

So this “good news” is scary. But that is life as it stands in this body, in this region, in this country, in this world right now.

Body Privilege

Last week, I wrote my piece “A Somber Thought” randomly as a reflection.

Last night, I reworked it and submitted it to The Mighty.com, a social media site for people with disabilities and their caregivers.

They published it instantly, despite having accepted an earlier piece that may have “died on the vine.” The earlier piece was on what to expect at your next doctor’s visit during Covid.

The current piece on the Mighty has been shared to Yahoo News and Zenith News.

Body reliability is a type of privilege. One you don’t appreciate unless you have yours taken aware or you never had it.

The original post on my blog is here: Disability and Reliability.

The Mighty post is here: Let’s talk about body privilege .

Ask the Yahoo post is here: Yahoo: Let’s Talk about Body Privilege

Somber thoughts on disability and reliability

So I had a somber thought this morning about disability…

How does disability color our view of the world, security and life?

Over the weekend, my daughter and I went to visit my dad, while my neighbor shopped at my step-mom’s store (The Flag Store, Rt 209, Sciota). My daughter and Dad were spying on me from the security camera.

“You know, Mom,” the teenager said, “Your CP is a lot more noticeable on video. Because when you look at you when you are with you, it’s just that you walk a little funky. But looking from the camera it’s obvious that bodies shouldn’t do that.”

My initial thought was relief because I thought everyone saw me as I appear on video.

It’s the whole reason I refused to allow anyone to video my wedding.

And smart phones weren’t a thing back then.

So today— while pondering recent stresses in my life— I had a sober thought.

Does disability teach you to rely on others and therefore make it easier to ask for help?

That’s how I see my friend, Nan. She’s been blind since birth. She never had children. She’s outlived her whole family. Yet, she has this amazing network of friends who are also helpers. And we all love her sense of humor, her adventurous spirit and of course her practical approach to everything.

But for me, disability has intensified my insecurities to the point where I think no one, and nothing, is reliable. I know there are a lot of other factors that contribute to that in my mind, but I wonder if my disability “tightens the screws.”

Because I can’t even rely on my body.

Will it be an easy walking day? Will I trip and fall? Will my S1 joint protest? Will aches and pains plague me? (Or will my allergies make me nuts as if I don’t have enough health issues?)

Just a somber thought.

Friday Adventure: Slateford Creek Falls

One of the women I went to school with took her kids to Slateford Creek Falls, a place about 5-6 miles from my childhood home. I have never been there. Her pictures left me captivated.

How could something so beautiful exist so close to my former home?

Gayle joined the teenager and I for a morning walk. We did a little web research— apparently not enough.

Gayle drove and I took her on a scenic detour to my childhood home between Tuscarora Inn and Driftstone Campground in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

We arrived at the main parking lot on National Park Drive in one of the first parks that make up Delaware Water Gap.

And we knew from our research that the falls weren’t by the main parking lot but we decided to follow the main trail anyway. Maybe we thought the falls would move just for us.

We were rewarded for our adventurous spirit by seeing two very large woodpeckers with vivid red heads.

Arrow Island Trail Head

Someone gave us helpful directions that the falls were across the street and by the “pull off” between the guard rails. I remembered seeing the pull off on the way in, and I was sure it wasn’t that far.

I was wrong. We followed the road, on foot, down the steep, windy road. And we almost made it, but we weren’t sure how far it was and wasn’t sure we could walk to the falls AND make it up the hill.

Gayle offered to get the car, which didn’t make much sense because Gayle doesn’t do well on hills. Her knees have aged faster than she has.

The teenager volunteered me to go get the car. I asked if she was coming too— she said no, that I would only slow her down. Apparently, the now-16-year-old can’t keep up with me on hills. And I have cerebral palsy!

So I hauled my butt up that hill, huffing and puffing. Gayle and The Teenager almost made it, too!

I didn’t move Gayle’s seat so I was sitting on the edge barely reaching the pedals and then I couldn’t get the doors to unlock but Gayle took over and saved the day.

And when we found the trail, it was intimidatingly vertical. I’ll let Gayle’s blog entry cover the specifics of the trail:

Click here for Gayle’s blog entry .

My Photos

The teenager got to play in the falls, and Gayle and I didn’t end up on the wrong side of gravity although Gayle did bump her head on that tree.

It occurred to me— as the teenager and I gathered slate for future spiritual purposes, climbed among the rocks and fallen trees in the middle of the creek, and enjoyed the peace of the rumbling water—that this moment was full of freedom, nature and life giving resources.

The stats on this hike weren’t accurately counted. The teen got 4 miles, I got 2.5 and Gayle’s numbers were different from those. I got credit for 3 flights of stairs, Gayle got 14.

And perhaps it was no coincidence that I had received notice that I am losing my job with the full moon and “Independence Day” approaching.

With this in mind, I arrived home in time to meet up with our favorite little dog, Sobaka, who is hanging out with us while her “mom” is at a picnic.

Sobaka laid at my feet while I did some public relations work for upcoming events hosted by Aspire to Autonomy, Inc.

I am constantly blessed to work with such a wide range of people with different outlooks and different strengths. I learn something from everyone of them— admiring one person’s brilliance, another’s kind heart, and yet another’s passion and willingness for boots-on-the-ground work.

It’s a lot to think about.

Maybe I’ll get out my tarot cards tomorrow.

Why I need my lucky shirt: a typical day when you’re eccentric and have cerebral palsy

The best stories start with “it began as a typical day,” but in this case it did not.

The teenager turned 16 on Tuesday and my employer had scheduled our annual meeting for Tuesday so I planned to take off today and tomorrow to celebrate with my offspring.

With Coronavirus changing everything I could have taken Monday and Tuesday instead.

Last night, I curled up in bed with a gin cocktail and watched some more of Harlan Coben’s: The Five on Netflix. (Mini review: my friend, brow maintenance person and nail tech Beth recommended the show—and I am enjoying what I feel is edgy cinematography, rapid paced story telling, complex writing, and realistically complicated and tragic characters. It’s like watching a comic book.)

So I got to bed later than I normally do and I slept a little better than I normally do. I fed the kittens, made coffee, started laundry and finagled a cake carrier into the dishwasher.

After a cup of my favorite Archer Farms Direct Trade Cafe Mosaica from Target on my breezy enclosed sun porch, I slapped some clothes on… and ended up trying to accessorize a basic outfit.

Which is funny because I was going to pick up Nan, who is blind and won’t see my efforts anyway.

And then I was surprised to find out that the teenager made me breakfast— a mini bagel with greens, cucumber and fresh bacon.

After we worked on some poetry, Nan and I went to Lidl. And I took her home.

When I arrived home, the teenager informed me that her plan for today involved not wearing pants. So after a brief respite, I went to Wendy’s for a Frosty-ccino.

That was when the real adventure began.

I decided to take Nala, my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined the family in January. Now, recently we took Nala to Dunkin Donuts to try hash browns and that went well.

And this is how she did: Nala at Dunkin

And we had taken Misty, our kitten, to Wendy’s (Kitten at Wendy’s ) so why not a bird?

So I ordered my Frosty-ccino and a junior fry for my baby girl bird on the mobile app and got into the drive thru lane. And then I did what we all do in this day and age. I took a selfie.

That’s when I realized Nala had pooped on me in fear. And I had no wipes in the car. Green bird droppings now stained my white t-shirt and Nala was walking in the mess.

But everyone in the drive thru window loved her— three employees cooed at her from afar.

I pulled into a parking space and offered her a French fry and she was too scared to eat it. I drove her home, put the car in the garage, gathered the waste and the food and started up toward the house.

Now, the teenager’s father moved some heavy original doors from the house across the garage so he could use my great grandmother’s hutch in his apartment. He did this a couple week’s ago. The doors block a portion of the stairs.

I got tangled up on the stairs/with the doors and fell, to the left onto the doors to avoid smashing Nala who was on my right shoulder.

I almost spilled my coffee and French fries fluttered like hail.

But luckily Nala is a bird, and a forager, so she doesn’t mind a little dirt. I gather them all carefully and climb up from the floor, some contusions and cuts causing minor pain.

I bump the doors and they almost fall on me. This time the French fries scatter to the four winds.

I notice how much blood and dirt cover me and I head inside to discover Nala has pooped even more.

I set her down.

I remove my shirt. White tee shirt. Vivid blood. Green poop.

I wash up and count my blessings— I was very close (too close) to breaking an arm.

I put on my lucky shirt once I cleaned up.

Addendum: I posted this link on my LinkedIn profile and wrote this introduction as to why I felt this piece was important especially as part of a discourse on social justice.

I don’t like to admit I have a disability— #cerebralpalsy. But it’s important to note that with all the stereotypes and institutionalized ideas people have about “others,” whether other cultures, races, religions, sexualities, identities, educational or social class (the list goes on and on), for those of us who have tried to “pass” as “normal” or “mainstream,” our experience is difficult. As all life is difficult to one degree or another. But if you are obviously “different” and you can’t “pass,” those notions of who you are based on quick judgments can be catastrophic. Or lead to people doing harm to you or someone you love. #blacklivesmatter

In that context, allow me to share with you what a typical day looks like for me. Warning— I end up bleeding by the end of it. Different isn’t inferior. Or threatening.

Realities of lemons and tandem bikes

Yes, I know the title is nonsense— but the world has turned a tad upside down as the world tends to do as having billions of people and billions of animals on a planet will erupt into some unexpected situations from time to time.

The teenager loves to eat lemons. I love to cook with lemons. For a while, especially when I first discovered Gaz Oakley the Avant Garde Vegan (Check him out on YouTube—amazing falafel, his own recipe for peri-peri sauce) I always kept fresh lemons in the house.

That was also about the time I would have lemon water first thing in the morning. The juice of half a lemon with tap water.

I did that again this morning. First time in probably a year. Or more.

Today was also the first time in a week I haven’t gained weight. The first month of this pandemic, I was eating better but stopped because… Easter… or so I claim. I am a jelly bean addict and once I start eating the jelly beans I launch onto a sugar and caffeine roller coaster.

This was breakfast. Not ALL of them.

So maybe this post should be called “bad habits.” I originally lost about 5 pounds due to stress in the beginning of the pandemic, but between beer, pizza, Easter candy, homemade cookies and triple jalapeño bacon cheeseburgers from Wendy’s they have found their way back.

But look— I got a salad

It’s been rough. More pressure than ever at work. A good friend walked away coldly without even saying goodbye. A work colleague who often made me smile left unexpectedly. Medical bills still coming in.

But in the end, I still feel inside these struggles help us grow and bring us to the next level— as another work colleague likes to say— we don’t age, we gain experience like in a video game. So I’m less than a month away from my 45th Level with the teenager two months away from Level 16 and a drivers license.

Designated Driver AND babysitter, mom friends out there!!!!

Yesterday was a sunny day amidst a forecast of rain. Last week the teenager did not complete her three weekly gym assignments and she told her teacher in her log that she “got lazy” and he wrote back that sometimes he gets lazy, too. This is a great lesson for our (older) kids in communication and work ethic. Those of you with younger kids, God Bless You and Keep You.

I would be screaming every day if the teenager were, say, six. Our brains are wired too differently.

But back to gym. We got out the tandem bike. (Yes, we have a bicycle built for two— it was a gift.) I wanted the teen to “win” gym this week. And she should get extra credit for captaining a bike with her mom, who has cerebral palsy and no real balance skills.

Then her dad came over and brought his famous hot buffalo chicken dip for dinner, at the teen’s request, and included beer for us grown-ups. And he even got on the bike! (He doesn’t ride bikes.)

I excused myself to work on some more chapters of Bill’s novel Debauchery (and reached the first sex scene— those characters are so in love it hurts). Please don’t be scared by the violence and BDSM in this novel/series. The real theme here is the beauty of acceptance no matter who you are.

And the first of several pet related packages came. So here is a Petco unboxing and some animal videos:

Petco unboxing
Nala eating pretzels with the teen

Let’s see what adventures today brings! Stay well, friends! Let’s crush this day!