Progression: A Discussion of Finding the Resources to Grow

I may have said this before, but even if I have it’s a message that can be said again: I am blessed to have a talented and caring medical team. In addition to this team, I have also been harvesting resources for my physical and mental help.

I am recording this week’s journey so others might consider different ways to find their own resources.

On Monday, the teenager resumed therapy with a new therapist who attended Moravian College at the same time I did and is loosely a friend of my traveling companion M.

I asked if she was comfortable treating my daughter, because we have circulated in similar arenas in the past and my 17-year-old daughter struggles to connect with therapists who work with teens and is too young for a therapist who treats adults.

From what I knew of her personality from the few interactions we’ve had over the years and the information on her web site my gut said she would be a good fit for the teen.

And in my teen’s eyes, I was right.

My daughter is far from a troubled teen, but she has two parents with disabilities, a mother with trauma in her background and an extended family history of addiction.

Her strong empathy and witchy powers can make her experience of the world intense. (Speaking of which— I gave her my tarot cards on her birthday and she cried. I knew she would understand the significance of the gesture but I didn’t expect her to get so overwhelmed she cried.)

On Monday and Tuesday, my work performance wouldn’t crack 88%. I was frustrated and in pain and just moving slowly. After mapping my pain patterns for years, I can say that my back pain is worst when I ovulate and when I menstruate.

Wednesday was, as mentioned in other posts, the teenager’s 17th birthday. I had a tele-appointment with my therapist of about 12 years. Coincidentally I discovered his birthday is the same as my daughter’s. That’s just another reason we get along.

It’s fun to have a professional in your life for a long time like this because I get to see his practice grow and develop, sometimes in parallel to my own life.

I recently took the ACE Childhood Trauma test, which gave me a different outlook on some of my experiences. My parents did the best they could, but they had their flaws and their own battles to fight. So between their own struggles and life events they couldn’t control, stuff happened.

I can’t explain why it’s time to face some of this now, but that’s the way things go sometimes. We all come to certain aspects of self awareness in our own time.

On Thursday, I visited my beloved chiropractor, Nicole Jensen at Back in Line, who leveled things out, told me I was stressed and talked with me about different physical therapy stretches I need to do to fight the pain. We both agree that the pattern of pain increases on those certain days in my menstrual cycle.

I came home and ate cake and ice cream for breakfast. Not the best decision as I have been 20 lbs overweight for a year.

I suddenly remembered that Stitch Fix offers employees access to the Ginger Mental Health app. So I made an appointment for an initial consultation for Friday.

My hope was to use Ginger’s coaching to set goals and recreate/spur my discipline and good habits regarding food and exercise. For instance, I haven’t lifted a barbell in a year. I miss strength training. I still think I could be an excellent body builder.

My Ginger coach is Kathryn, who has a master’s degree in social work. Our session, completely done over text, seemed to be two sessions in one.

The first hour, she asked basic questions about me. The second hour we set up a plan of the topics we’d like to address. This week we will start making and implementing goals. It doesn’t always feel like talking to a human, though the occasional grammar or spelling error reassures me that it is a person on the other end.

Some of her thoughts include: “Sounds like a great idea! So in your case, a plan I might suggest would be to start by addressing your feelings of stress, [being] overwhelm[ed], and lack of motivation by incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, which can help bring some relief from challenging emotions and help you see more clearly how your thoughts and emotions are impacting your behaviors so that you can feel more grounded, intentional, and comfortable being yourself. This can also include exercises centered around relaxation techniques, positive distractions, mindful awareness, developing awareness of triggers (when feeling stressed and/or overwhelmed, taking time to notice what the root cause is and look for a pattern), pattern recognition, scheduling and time management, and identifying and building on your current strengths and resources. We can also discuss accountability/working with providers (i.e. therapist and coach) and explore sleep/exercise/diet as needed.”

A lot of that feels copied and pasted, but it’s okay in my opinion. Sometimes just having someone help you pick a direction or even commit to a new direction can be the change you need.

Also on Friday, our dog F. Bean Barker got spayed at Canyon River Run, a vet we really love.

On Friday night, I learned a new work center at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy— style carding. My colleagues cheered me on in learning this new role and I very much enjoyed it, even when my computer monitor broke and I had to use a computer on another line and lean way over to grab my boxes.

Basically, the associates who “style card,” grab all the completed fixes that come off the QC line and use the packing slip to print a style card that includes a personal note from the stylist and lists each piece in the fix and offers examples of how it can be worn.

Working with anywhere from 6-8 fixes at a time, the “style carder” folds the packing slip and style card and places them into an envelope before returning them to the box.

A quick check that the box is correctly wrapped and the style carder lines up the boxes and shoots them down the table onto a metal conveyer line operated by sensors. This takes the boxes to “OB1” or the outbound/shipping department which inserts the return envelope, tapes the box shut and prepares the boxes for mail pickup.

The pickers assemble 920 items a shift, which breaks down to 184 fixes. Each QC associate folds and packages 130 fixes a shift, each style card associate aims for 900 fixes a shift, and the Bizzy Hizzy itself ships about 6,000 fixes a day.

During this time, our tasks are fairly simple, automated and monotonous so we are allowed to listen to podcasts or music. I’ve used the time to explore a lot of topics via podcasts on Spotify.

Spotify is still a new platform for me and it’s slowly gaining exclusive proprietary rights to a lot of the podcasts I listen to. I heard on several news broadcasts that Spotify paid 60 million for Alex Cooper’s “Call her Daddy” where she talks about sex often with an emphasis on blow jobs.

I listen to her because she has some funny stories of the ridiculous escapades she has had: dating a professional athlete, offering blow jobs as a way to sneak into sporting events, etc. But she also sometimes interviews people— like a retired Playboy bunny who left the Mansion and points out the realities of such sexual exploitation. Alex can be really insightful but she also can misuse her vocal range to try and make the podcast more interesting to listen to and that hurts me ears.

In addition to Kristen Bell, Dax Shepherd, Mayim Bialik, and Conan O’Brien (and in addition to the news and fashion), I searched for cerebral palsy podcasts. From TheMighty.com, I learned that the name “cerebral palsy” is an umbrella term for several brain-related disorders. And I don’t really know anything about which CP I have.

I learned CP can interfere with the neurotransmitter GABA which is why our muscles and our brains don’t communicate effectively. I learned that muscles that don’t get used correctly and don’t get the right messages can stiffen and become spastic. This causes pain and lack of control.

The two main classification differences I have heard are hemiplegia and quadriplegia which you may recognize from the words paraplegic and quadriplegic. These terms explain the parts of the brain/body affected. I would assume I have mild hemiplegic CP, as I think it only affects my lower body. But sometimes I think I see it in my hands so I don’t know. And I think I am low spasticity as I seem to have fairly good muscle control for someone with this disorder.

But I don’t know. So I did what I like to do, on Saturday, I called Nan. If you don’t know Nan from this blog, she is often my partner in crime. She has been blind since birth. Like me, we were raised in able-bodied families and never knew life any other way.

Nan is older than I and, despite her disability, has lived independently for most of her life. She attended college. She married. She has a hobby writing career and attends poetry open mics. She was a teenager when NASA put a man on the moon, but despite having never seen the moon, she has been fascinated and following the advances of NASA ever since.

Nan is closer to my aunt’s generation than mine. My aunt has what would now be referred to as developmental delay, but what was called the now insensitive term “mental retardation” in her day. In school, she didn’t learn what the other kids learned. She had basic reading skills and could add and subtract but never learned to multiply or divide. I know because we used to play school, except I really taught her things.

My aunt, then a few years later Nan, and even a few more years later me, we were all part of 20th centuries advances. Medicine had found ways to help us survive, but technology and society had not discovered ways to help us thrive.

None of us have thick medical files that detail the specifics of what is wrong with us. You were thrown into the mainstream to sink or swim. And if you couldn’t swim, you were institutionalized or kept home. Therefore, families didn’t talk about disability as much as they pushed functionality— they urged us to act as normal as possible and pretend the differences about us were not even noticeable.

I mentioned some of this to my primary care physician when I transferred to his practice more than a decade ago (some friends and my therapist recommended him). At that time he guided me to specialists to explain what is wrong with my specific body, but I am realizing now that he might not know that I know nothing about what my disorder is.

So, also on Saturday, I emailed my doctor. I asked him to help me find someone who can talk to me about cerebral palsy. I know children with the disability in today’s world work with a pediatric neurologist.

And it hasn’t all been work and reflection. My daughter and I got mani/pedis for her birthday/upcoming trip to Cape May. It was our last appointment with “Nails by Bethy” at Hyperion Salon. Beth has a new full time career that should offer her more stability and room for advancement.

We met Beth 12 years ago on the same date she ended her nail career. And the teenager and I got to be her final clients.

And yesterday I tried the new strawberry popping bubbles at Dunkin. I had them in an iced matcha latte. I must say, this is the best matcha latte I ever had at Dunkin but the bubbles had such an artificial strawberry flavor it tasted like someone poured chunks of jello in my drink.

If Dunkin’ wants to capitalize on the boba trend they should stick to normal tapioca.

End of May update on Silk & Sonder self-care planner

This is the second part in an ongoing series about my experience with Silk & Sonder self-care planners. Click here to read about My initial impression of my Silk & Sonder May planner.

Earlier this week it was 90 degrees and sunny. Yesterday was 60 and cloudy and prone to dramatic cloudbursts of dramatic rain.

Today, the high was around 45.

My knees ache and my ankles keep giving out. I collapsed on the floor at one point, scraped my knee and tore my fancy, super soft and cozy joggers I bought at Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy employee pop-up store.

So I’m currently in bed with my electric blanket and two three-legged cats.

Louise, one of our fosters

Tomorrow I will finish my May edition of the Silk & Sonder wellness/self-care planner. Even though June starts on Tuesday, apparently Silk & Sonder starts all of its planners on Monday, so Monday May 31 is part of the June planner.

The June planner shipped in mid May, with an anticipated delivery date of May 24. According to the tracking information, it arrived at our regional post office about 10 miles away in the early afternoon on May 18, but didn’t arrive at our local post office 2 miles away until 4 days later on May 22.

It has languished there for a week.

Now, in the great scheme of life, this planner is not vital. But it is rather pricey, and I find a weird emotional sensation in stressing over planning my mental wellness strategies because my calendar is lost in the mail.

Receiving a calendar that suggests you plan for the future with reflection and mindfulness AFTER the month starts defeats some of the purpose.

And if there are problems with the United States Postal Service, shouldn’t the merchant find a new method of delivery? The product is time sensitive.

Honestly, I find it difficult to evaluate if the planner has allowed me to plot a calmer and more mindful future/existence because I’m too busy freaking out that tomorrow is Sunday, that I have to not only work Monday but work day shift, and I can’t even fill out my to do lists, meal plans and other Silk & Sonder pages.

My initial review of Hello Fresh

I enjoy cooking.

I adore eating.

I run a very thrifty household.

So, I decided to use my birthday money and one of those special introductory offers you see everywhere and try Hello Fresh.

It arrived Monday.

Here is the halfhearted unboxing as I was running out the door to go to work: First Hello Fresh Box (unboxing)

We made the honey-ricotta crisps for breakfast yesterday. Here are the videos for that:Part one and Part two.

My only criticism is that what they call a “baguette” is what I call a roll. Maybe Italian but not French. Folks, if your baguette is soft on the outside it is not a true French style bread. It should be crispy outside and soft inside.

Today I started cooking. For real.

Before continuing, please note: my spirit animal is a cat. As a consequence, I don’t like being told what to do and I tend to be flexible with directions. If you’re a strict, play-by-the-book sort, you might have a stroke reading this.

Because we just make pork with rice and stir fry vegetables on Monday, I didn’t want rice. Two of my meals include rice. (Teenager #1 cooked the pork, teenager #2 said it was delicious. I am eating mine at work tonight.)

I decided to make the vegetarian curry, but swap the rice for the creamy kale from the Tuscan chicken dinner.

I ordered extra chicken, just to try some of their other products. Let me say, even as I make some criticisms, everything was delicious. And having a food service, retail background and commercial kitchen experience, I know some of the challenges Hello Fresh faces when combining food with a subscription service.

But this chicken is not “strips.” The package says strips, but it is chunks. And wow is whatever that packaging juice is slimy. Some of these chunks were too small to even cook. I fed them to the dog.

Hello Fresh chicken “strips”

I made the chicken with everything else because I usually have breakfast at 1 and dinner at 7:30 so I wanted to make it a little heartier.

The curry included fresh lime, fresh cilantro, and an amazing full fat coconut milk. It included green beans and red pepper as the base of the meal which wouldn’t be my normal pick. Turns out it’s a great mix. And the recipe forced me to work with shallots. Have never done that.

I hate onions, but I know they cook down in a recipe like this.

The secret to the creamy kale was Tuscan heat spice and sour cream. Kale and sour cream go so well together… I wonder how it would be with herbs de Provence instead of Tuscan heat…

Finally, let me at that the meal is supposed to take 45 minutes, prep & cooking. Mine took more than an hour, in part because I didn’t stick to one meal but mixed and matched.

We still have two more meals and I did schedule a box for next week.

With mandatory overtime ongoing at work, it’s an easy way to make sure I eat real food.

Friends, food and fun

The last two days— when not paying bills, shoveling snow, fighting pain and surviving work at the Bizzy Hizzy— has been a blend of chores and silliness.

I took Teenager #1 for a drive yesterday to navigate city streets made narrow by snow and drive in whatever slop we could find so she could experience driving on snow and ice in a controlled manner.

She asked for something from McDonalds so I got her an iced coffee, and I wanted to go to Dunkin across the street for my iced coffee.

I ordered the coffee on the McDonalds app and no lie— it took 45 minutes to make it through the drive through. At Dunkin, I got a cold brew with cream, the coconut flavor shot and one pump of the pink velvet syrup.

Yes, they have the pink velvet syrup in things other than the pricey pink velvet macchiato.

At work in the Stitch Fix warehouse, I tried to get a picture of the inflatable Valentine’s dinosaur…

And I got assigned to QC. I assembled 89 fixes and was very grateful when my Tylenol and ibuprofen managed to numb the pain in my spine. I listed to two IT innovation podcasts featuring data science, algorithms and Stitch Fix.

After taking Minerva of the Roman Pride to FURR’s cat adoption event at Petsmart, teenager #1 and I went to Wegmans across the street. Now, we are expecting snow again tomorrow AND it’s the Super Bowl so of course, it was crazy.

But it sure made this generic bologna sandwich taste amazing.

A social worker friend and I discussed budget tactics, loan amortization and the influence of white privilege in the disability sphere.

Then our neighbor and our favorite little dog stopped by. We finalized dinner plans to go to our favorite local diner— and wow was it lively tonight.

Not only did we have the brand new waiter (whom they hired instead of teenager #1), but there was one guy who looked like his mask came out of a BDSM scene and a sweet little old lady wearing fingerless gloves who sent back her omelette so many times they ran out of egg whites.

The poor new waiter dropped food on the floor and broke at least one plate, didn’t have any grasp of the menu, was slow as molasses, and could not keep track of the condiments. But don’t worry, we were patient.

Apparently my request for a tuna melt on rye confused him, because he had to return to the table to confirm that I didn’t want a tuna melt and an order of rye toast.

And during one of our trips today, we fished the Yuengling out of the yard that teenager #1 tried to throw to the neighbor as he was snow-blowing.

After all that, and much trademark cackling, we finally did the soda taste test video we’ve had planned: Weird Sodas (Ramuné in melon and strawberry, Major Melon Mountain Dew and A-Treat Pumpkin.

That’s some real pandemic excitement.

Review of my Ipsy April 2020 Glam Bag

My April 2020 Glam Bag came yesterday and the teenager and I did an unboxing video (that features more kittens than make up) here:

April 2020 Glam Bag by Ipsy unboxing

For those of you who don’t know, Ipsy offers a mail order cosmetic subscription “box” that, in the small “Glam bag” size offers a custom make up bag and five items, one of which is usually full size and the others are samples. It costs about $12/month. And they offer add-ons.

I treated myself to a mascara this month.

This service is perfect for me as I have a bit of fear and inexperience around make up. I want to try more, but don’t have money to invest in products I will probably not be ballsy enough to use.

So this allows me a chance to explore.

This is literally all the make up I own before Ipsy. (I love blue mascara. Would love forest and/or emerald green but haven’t found it.)

My go-to eyeshadow is gold, with a touch of red on the outside. I call it my “Monet sunrise” look.

This was last month’s Ipsy bag.

See related posts here: Lighthearted Ipsy Review of the March 2020 Glam Bag

My first Ipsy Glam Bag—pre-unboxing

So now to check out the April products:

  • Buxom mascara, black, $3 add-on, 3 ml
  • Seraphine botanicals 100% vegan lip gel, berry + juice, 6 ml
  • Aromatica Calendula Juicy Cream, vegan formula, sample size, maybe 15 ml
  • Oryza Beauty Nude Shimmer & Contour eye shadow palette, vegan
  • Estate Dew Me Lit baked highlight powder
  • Araceli Grande Blending Brush

Let’s start with the Aromatica lotion. Now, if you saw my video, you’ll know I tried it as soon as I got it. I didn’t notice anything remarkable about it at the time, but today I’m going to try again.

Smell appears neutral. That is good for me as my skin and my senses can’t handle heavy scents.

Applied quickly and smoothly.

But let’s compare to last month’s Hey Honey lotion.

The honey smell is intoxicating. The lotion this month by Aromatica is thicker and offers more coverage. So I think I like them both. But would use the Aromatica for hands and maybe Hey Honey on the face as it claims to be a calming lotion.

I put a layer of the Hey Honey lotion on my face, and I might have rubbed it in roughly as now my cheekbones hurt. I’m going to put on some of last month’s Tarte Quench hydrating primer. I love this hydrating primer but it’s my first experience with any primer so don’t take my word as gospel.

Now, the Seraphine lip gel smells amazing. (Why do I keep commenting on smells?) It’s smells like berry in that candy-that-is-berry-flavored way.

Here I am wearing the lip gel, with my old glasses, badly in need of a haircut and my Goth troll t-shirt.

Estate Highlighter Powder. No idea how to use this product. Watched some videos on YouTube. Applied some to my right cheekbone. Not seeing it. Okay, well, let’s keep going and see if I can notice it in different light. Maybe I’m too pale. I bet the teenager would look good in this.

Now the eye shadow palette. So excited as these are glittery neutral shades like the ones I favor.

I love every one of these colors on my face. And the Buxom mascara is a very long brush with shorter bristles that goes on very even. And looks natural (but in an enhanced way).

Very pleased.

I think these are some very practical products with some fun and sass thrown in.