My Sunday Morning Pilgrimage Moment

Pilgrimages are for the humble, the weak, the seeking and the hurting.

Pilgrimages are often undertaken by the rich and/or the spiritually shallow, often to gain stature.

My morning started in my backyard with my mother, who has always been far more talented and motivated in terms of gardening. She did a little bit of my weeding— I believe that’s part of her “love language” to help me with my household chores.

After she left, I finished hanging the sheets on the clothesline and did some more weeding.

In those moments, I spent a lot of time reflecting. And I thought about the relationships I have been strengthening lately and the virtual pilgrimage via the El Camino that I have joined with friends on Facebook.

And I thought about how you have to have a strong sense of purpose and determination to take a pilgrimage — I know often religious commitment sparks such a journey but it often intersects with a need for healing, either spiritual or physical.

And the sense of facing challenge and achieving a difficult goal is part of the sense of success.

Then my neighbor (Sobaka’s Mom) said she was going for a walk at one of my favorite parks. I asked if she wanted company and she said sure. That she didn’t really want to go alone.

Of course, before I could go, I had to set Nala up with her puzzle of the day— Video of Today’s puzzle

We walked 5 miles. We talked about a little bit of everything. She’s a strong and plucky woman, and I enjoy her company.

Casual Update

There’s so much good activity in my life right now — I’ve been too busy to catch everyone up.

  • My last day at work is tomorrow and my colleague, Mr. Accordion, is coming over tonight.
  • I have been working hard publicizing Aspire to Autonomy’s upcoming events, and they have given me the title of Communications Director. I am working with a fantastic intern on public relations and I think, I hope, she is having fun.
  • Gayle, the teenager and I, went for a nice walk in Easton Cemetery last night. Every time I go up there I find more cool things!
  • Gayle, the teenager and I went to Porter’s Pub last night after the walk and they let me eat all the “stinky cheese.” Gayle bought me a very delicious salted caramel chocolate porter from Saucony Creek. To celebrate new beginnings!
  • I cashed in my free medium 2-topping pizza from Dominos.
  • I’ve been making Nala puzzles every morning to try and keep her busy.
  • We found someone that can get Mama cat spayed for free. (Did I mention we were out on a walk and our kittens’ mama came to us and we brought her home. She’s pregnant. Again.) We thought the organization would let us foster her and her kittens until they found homes… but now we’re being told they might keep her. So we are a tad sad.
  • And for multiple days in a row I have made 10,000 or more steps a day!

Early Fitness Wins

The teenager has committed herself to her fitness goals at the same time that I have to use some serious discipline on my own behalf.

As the woman in her mid-forties with lower body cerebral palsy and a history of anemia, I have to join her.

The stress of my job has impacted my sleep and my blood pressure and the exhaustion that comes everything—from turning to various comfort eating techniques, drinking too much coffee and working too hard—leads to me not getting enough steps and not doing cardio or weight training.

That makes me look different, feel different and act different.

I like being a strong, fit woman, even if my body isn’t athletic.

My daughter informed me that she can’t work out with me. She doesn’t want her success or failure to have anything to do with anything other than herself. I respect that heartily, but I hope soon we can at least go to the gym together.

She downloaded the Instafitness app onto her phone. I purchased this app for $5 six years ago and it helped me make my body sleek and lean. I went all the way from 142 pounds to 110. That was too thin.

By the way, today I’m 142 pounds.

But why we like Instafitness— it divides workouts several ways:

  • By body group
  • By difficulty
  • By equipment (body weight exercises, dumbbells, and resistance band)
  • Some are labeled as weight loss

Each work out ranges from 10-20 minutes so you can mix and match to build a routine.

Today I tried an arm workout on FitOn. It was a 10-minute burnout session for upper body. I liked how complete it was, but man, I was not prepared for ten minutes of non-stop high intensity dumbbell pounding.

So far, and the reality of our need to get in shape has only really hit us this week:

  • We have made smarter food choices.
  • We have eaten most of the remaining “junk” in the house.
  • I have eaten less refined white carbs.
  • I have eaten more fruits and veggies.
  • My steps were averaging a sedentary 2,000 to 4,000 a day; now I am in the neighborhood of 6,000 to 8,000.
  • I lifted today. Briefly.
  • The teenager is killing it— yesterday was chest, abs & lower body. She repeated chest & abs today.
  • I might even try to get up early tomorrow and do yoga. Maybe.

The mundane realities: some fitness babble and praise for the Grocery Outlet

So, after such an action packed four days yesterday seemed no only boring but exhausting. This post will be on the rather ordinary side but I think it may set the tone for adventures to come.

The teenager and I have been pretty consistent with our attempts to join the spiritual walks and reflections championed by our friends celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

Tonight we took a 5,000 step walk in the gentle but steady summer rain, walking the neighbor’s dog.

I loved the colors on this

The teenager and I discussed fitness goals as she needs to lose weight and I need to reclaim my previous fitness levels so I stop falling down. The two goals compliment each other well as we both need exercise, good food and hopefully some weight training. I love a good weight training session. If I had more discipline I would be a body builder.

I typically handle public relations and social media for the non-profit agency where I work and today one of my favorite grocery stores gave us a donation— Grocery Outlet! I love Grocery Outlet so much they have their own tag here on my blog. Check it out!!!

So I know I’m jumping all over the place but before I tell you about the donation I need to tell you what we had for supper because some of it coincidentally came from the Grocery Outlet.

Tonight’s meal featured:

  • Thin pork chops from the Grocery Outlet topped with my homemade sweet apple glaze
  • Canned peaches (cooked in the sauce with the pork)
  • Riced broccoli, cauliflower and carrots from the freezer section at Grocery Outlet
  • Unsalted cashews
  • Sesame sticks (from the Carmelcorn Shop in downtown Easton)

So delicious.

This morning— I put on my pandemic finest and headed to The Grocery Outlet for the donation.

There I met owner Josh Bartholomew and met up with the rest of our team who were loading the truck.

It has been about 13 hours since I made the Facebook post and it’s been viewed more than 2500 times— it was fun to see that number climb all day.

Finally, in case you don’t care about food like I do; here is a cat photo of our Oz.

Today’s walk

Walking takes on significance— as a journey to health, a method of transporting oneself from place to place, a time for reflection, an active meditation.

My friend, Tiff, the beautiful, otherworldly matriarch of La Familia whom we visited Friday night, (Blood Donation, KFC, and our favorite Familia) is celebrating her 25th Wedding Anniversary this summer.

Life threw a variety of curve balls their way, so the pilgrimage to Spain they had planned has now been reduced to a spiritual Facebook group who discuss their walks and their reflections.

I invited the teenager, my friend Gayle and my new friend from Georgia to join in the discussions and activities.

Today the teen wanted to explore Emmaus, and Gayle needed to walk as part of the virtual fundraiser for the Koman Foundation.

Because of the heat, the teen opted to walk in the woods— so we went to Alpine Street Park and took the Alpine Street Trail and walked about 6,000 steps and the equivalent of 15 flights of stairs.

The teenager gathered rocks from the creek. I think rocks are an important part of her spirituality and help ground her.

Gayle’s post on our walk: More Than Pink Hike

After the walk, the teen and I returned to Into the Myst in Downtown Bethlehem where she purchased her amulet.

I think the amethyst with calm her and the sterling silver moon and pentacle will protect her.

Living with a teenager can be exhausting, but seeing her now interpret the world in her own view is amazing.

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.

Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community ProJeCt 2020

On Saturday morning, the teenager and I went down to Easton cemetery to support the Palmer Kiwanis team as they participated in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community to support my employer, ProJeCt of Easton.

For more on that adventure, click here: Cruising the Cemetary with the Palmer Kiwanis

Today, I took a slightly elongated lunch break to take my team to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. We started at the Silk Mill.

Me and My Team
Me, Buddy Eddy (dog of Team Member Sarah), the teenager and my good friend Gayle who writes a blog Fat Girl Walking

We headed down the trail and enjoyed the various art, the breezy trail, and the picturesque creek —all on the way to the dog park.

And then to end the outing, we let Buddy play and we got ice cream at Ow Wow Cow.

To register a team or donate to my team: Highmark Walk

For Gayle’s blog entry visit: Fat Girl Walking

Our previous visit to the arts trail: A walk on the Arts Trail

Cruising the Cemetery with Palmer Kiwanis

This morning I forced the Teenager out of bed, bribing her with the prospect of a dog (which happened to be a Newfoundland) and a doughnut (from Easton Baking.)

The Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community has gone virtual this year and typically we raise almost $10,000 at the office for our nonprofit. The Palmer Kiwanis are our largest/most lucrative fundraising team. They are organized by Debbie Ashton-Chase, a ProJeCt board member and one of the lovely people who own and operate the Ashton Funeral Home.

Today, on this lovely summer solstice, the Palmer Kiwanis hosted their version of the Highmark Walk at the Easton Cemetery.

At the Chapel

The weather held out and the group was jovial. They cemetery provided historical guide books which made my history nerd self very happy.

A Foggy Itch

This post is about some some difficulties…

Nothing serious. The day-to-day realities of life.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the teenager had some medical issues. I have a dental appointment for an adjustment to my crown that was a mild nightmare before the Coronavirus pandemic. That’s on the 17th.

My favorite kitten got out and was missing for 24 hours this week. Thanks to all my neighbors who offered to help or kept and eye out for Fog.

So his brother, Misty, and I went walking in case Fog was afraid to come home.

Fog found his way home on his own, as cats often do. But he no longer had a collar.

In Nala news, (for those that don’t know, she’s my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined our family in January) she has stopped plucking and has started barbering. This means she was pulling out her feathers, which, like with a teenager who “cuts,” releases endorphins that soothe. But barbering is the habit of eating the feathers but not removing them.

I hope this is a sign of progress.

This morning, the teenager and I went to Petco to get Fog a new collar (and we made sure all critters had tags with their name, address and phone—except Opie who eats his collar and since he’s microchipped AND is an amputee, we hope the neighborhood would “know” he belongs to us. He does have a tag, he just refuses to keep it on).

And we dognapped the neighbor’s sassy Maltese-Yorky for the day.

Lastly, I’m still struggling with some rather difficult itching. It’s a stress thing. The heat, stress, and my already overactive immune system (due to a myriad of pollen allergies and history of contact dermatitis) is prompting random hives. One or two, here or there, which despite daily antihistamines is getting worse not better.

Once a hive pops up, if I as much as touch it, it will stay and itch for days. I have some that won’t go on my belly, arms and butt right now. My thighs come and go.

So I post this things just to remind every one that despite what perfection people post to the internet, there are always struggles we all face, small and large.

The generic weekly update in the midst of (much needed) George Floyd inspired social unrest and dialogue

It is 8:30 a.m.

Saturday morning.

The house remains still and peaceful except for the whir of fans and the occasional vocalization of a kitten, probably Misty (Mistofelees) looking for his brother, Fog. He’s distraught because I almost closed his tail in the door.

Several times today I have paused and interrupted my normal routine— to text a friend, have a Twitter conversation, drink coffee on the couch instead of in my bedroom with Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo.

One voice in the back of my head says, “You slept in, so now you’re an hour behind. You need to start that laundry and get it on the line, and that includes stripping your bed, and probably the cover on your weighted blanket. Just about every floor in the house needs to be washed with Pine Sol too. And the teenager never cleaned the cat boxes yesterday like you asked her to.”

Man, it’s exhausting just listening to that voice.

And already this morning I managed to stab myself.

I have this very basic practical set of Chicago Cutlery knives that for the first 20 years I never put in the dishwasher. Somehow, in the last day or two since I did my traditional hand wash dishes, every knife from that set is dirty. Six steak knives, the mini cleaver, the paring knife, the tomato knife, the kitchen scissors, all of them.

And last night, after a long work week where I never quite knew if I would ever receive the respect I deserve in the midst of some major ordeals, I just threw every knife in the silverware basket. Point up. The way every home ec and kitchen safety teacher tells you never to do.

I even looked in the dishwasher and chastised myself and said I should stop being super lazy and reload the top shelf so I could at least use that plastic flap that holds the knives.

But I didn’t.

Because this week brought me to new places. Another grant came back with with the largest award we ever received from that funder. Our Pennsylvania county finally went yellow. The primary happened.

But just like at work where I often feel like my voice is not heard and my experience and work style is not respected nor appreciated for what I can contribute, everything seems to stay the same.

George Floyd is still dead.

The two party system defends only the elite and anyone outside of that elite will always be marginalized.

So I slammed my dishwasher door and ran it not only with my “good” knives inside but also with them point side up.

And somehow, when reaching for a clean coffee mug that I never put on the bottom shelf but I did this time, I gave myself a superficial stab wound in the middle of my palm.

Probably because I was distracted by a long list of housework and not staying present in the moment.

This is not how people should live.

I gaze out the front window (oh, damn, I need to trim the roses too). The birds chatter and chirp outside oblivious to how humans destroy each other and our shared habitat.

But Space X Dragon launched successfully. So we have reached phase 1 of our transition into the society we glimpsed in Wall*e.

Which coincidentally was the first movie the teenager ever saw in a theater. I believe she was 4, and I recollect that it was somewhere around this time (must google). She wore a cute dress. We saw the movie at Bethlehem’s Boyd Theater. I didn’t want her first movie to be in a modern boring theater.

She was transfixed.

So now it’s 9 a.m. and I think back to my transformative experiences this week.

  • I lost 4 pounds in the last day. (Amazing what happens when you resume drinking water, eating fruit instead of candy and chips, and stop eating half a pizza every four days.)
  • I started baby steps toward making my body work effectively again.
  • I filled out a self evaluation form at work, which I think fairly depicts my successes and my struggles. I was trying to be honest and transparent but I feel I will be viewed as scathing.
  • I had a good visit with my doctor, noting that my blood pressure is going down.
  • In conjunction with those previous two bullets, I video chatted with my therapist who specializes in work stress and it was an intense appointment. I was drained for the rest of the day and ate nothing but a handful of cashews until 5 p.m. That was my most recent bout of binging half a pizza and Little Caesar’s stuffed crazy bread. Which was a disappointment. Stuffed crazy bread tastes nothing like real crazy bread and the cheese inside was weird. The bread itself was soggy. The outside tasted like a soggy Olive Garden breadstick without the addictive outer coating and the inside was overloaded with a heavy but tasteless mozzarella.
  • I didn’t vote in the primary. I always vote. But I researched all the candidates and in the races where I wanted a voice there was no opposition. It bothers me deeply that I did not vote.

And George Floyd.

And the struggles of every “minority,” every person labeled for their skin color, their body shape or function, their religion, their choice of dress, their economic status, their sexuality, their gender, their resistance to be the status quo, their inability to be the same, the non-conformists, the thinkers, the doers.

George Floyd is dead.