My dream self care for cerebral palsy

Despite high heat and humidity and a general lazy attitude, I drag my ass to the gym three times a week.

I’m feeling good. Gaining strength. Still not losing weight but the stamina is improving and body parts seem to be gaining definition.

My fitness coach Andrew at Apex Training and my chiropractor and physical therapy guru Nicole Jensen at Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center had a lovely conversation on social media that tickled my heart.

But then… a strange incident happened today that I take as a compliment. I was walking home from the gym when a stranger stopped me.

“I don’t mean to be all up in your business,” this stranger said to me on the street, “but you seem to not be limping. You used to really favor that one leg.”

Ummmmm… I know my town is small but I didn’t know it was that small.

That reminded me of a list I made the other day. I was thinking about what I would do to improve my fitness if I had more resources. And that should be considered self-care.

And I’m proud that I’ve made a financial and personal commitment to my training, even if I haven’t had the same discipline with my diet.

So here’s my unorthodox approach to maintaining my physical and mental health… if I had more resources.

In addition to my personal training and regular chiropractic care, I would pursue:

  • hot yoga. I’ve heard it is fantastic for stretching and relaxing the muscles.
  • Private dance lessons. My doctors and physical therapists keep telling me about stretching, and at one point I was doing these video tap-dance lessons at home. The foot movements in the tap steps are exactly what my doctors tell me to do. But more fun.
  • Massages. This is another one of those things they recommend for spastic muscles.
  • Facials. Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition so I need to make sure that I balance not only my physical health but my stress levels, too.
  • Professional Nail Care. Regular manicures would keep my confidence strong. And foot health is extremely important. And I need help trimming and maintaining my toe nails.
  • Chiropractic care. So, I go to the chiropractor every one to two weeks. It’s pretty much the one thing that provides relief to my achy joints and stiff muscles. But I would love to have a regular weekly appointment that I didn’t have to worry about payment.
  • Mental health therapy. I have an appointment with my therapist about every six weeks, but that’s another one I would like to be more frequent. Because of my mindset “slips,” my physical health will follow.
  • Competitive sports. If I had more resources, or perhaps had a job that didn’t demand so much physicality from my body, I would love to commit to a strength sport or to running a 5K with a coach to guide me.
  • Food. I love food shopping and I enjoy cooking. I just wish it were easier to afford the right kinds of food that nourish, maintain and heal the body.

Silk & Sonder one year later

Last year, for my birthday, I bought myself a subscription to Silk & Sonder planners, which are also self care journals of sorts. I loved it, and felt pressured by it, and felt much of the effort and information going into the planner was time and writing that should be invested in my journal.

So, at $20 per month, I decided the expense wasn’t as great as the reward and with my cancellation I encouraged the company to design a yearly binder and send pages for that binder to make the product sturdier and more useful for long-term planning.

For the start of 2022, I ordered myself and the teenager planners. She preferred mine, ended up with them both, and in the end decided she wanted an iPad. So, I gave her my iPad Pro.

This time, as I decided I really could benefit from a paper planner— something about old fashioned paper makes it easier for me not to overextend myself. Dots and colors on my iPhone or Google calendar just don’t have the same weight.

I ordered a prepaid three month subscription— reducing the cost to about $16 per month. Still ridiculously high for a paperback planner.

I started this entry when I filmed the unboxing video, but am continuing it on August 1. The first official day of my new monthly planner.

Past Silk and Sonder entries may be perused here.

Forgive Yourself

I believe it is Wednesday. I’m fairly sure because the teenager keeps talking about taking the garbage out, and I had a chiropractor appointment this morning.

She and I talked a bit about the mental component of health and wellness.

My blog post yesterday reinforced it for me. The “do one more” mentality.

But at the same time—

No matter who you are:

  1. Forgive yourself when your house is dirty. Sometimes you don’t feel well; sometimes you are emotionally stripped; sometimes you are busy living life and enjoying the ephemeral moments.
  2. Forgive yourself when your values and what is important to you doesn’t line up with the rest of the world. Yes, I’m a crazy cat lady and I work in a warehouse even though I’ve had a professional career and lots of education.
  3. Forgive yourself when you can’t keep up. Yes, people want you to do things and people need you, but sometimes you can divide a project that you could do in one day over four days.
  4. Forgive yourself when you feel needy. Sometimes you have to ask for that hug or for help.
  5. Forgive yourself when you want to be alone. Don’t guilt yourself if you need rest or merely some quiet time.
  6. Forgive yourself if you aren’t where you want to be. Sometimes the journey goes unexpected places. Embrace it.

Update on Silk & Sonder: Wheel of Life reflection and July’s courage theme

I ordered my first Silk & Sonder planner in May as a birthday present for myself. My June one got held up at the post office so July marks the first month I could fully use the planner to, uh, plan.

(To read about my previous Silk & Sonder experiences and their amazing customer service:

This month I have done less of the exercises, read less of the text and gave it less of my attention. Yet, I think the habit has rooted in making me deliberately cognizant of my routines and needs.

I’ve been slipping with making and tracking clear weekly goals for my mini habit trackers, and I don’t always fill out “one thing” or the weather, but I like seeing the monthly tracker as a method to chronicle what vitamins I take and studying the patterns of color on the mood page.

My friend and publishing partner Gayle mentioned last month that she had did a “wheel of life” exercise and in July’s courage-themed wellness planner I found the same exercise.

I was surprised by the results and what they show about me. My highest satisfaction level was in the adventure category. I thought about my travels, my fondness for road trips, my love of new cuisines and testing new restaurants. I love reading books about new topics, learning new skills, and stepping outside my ordinary routine.

My lowest rating fell in the relationships category. That’s where my biggest insecurity lies. I have troubling opening up and even more trouble trusting though I will answer any question you ask me. I’m fiercely loyal and very generous but can also be stubborn, brutal with my honesty and frugal. So with my frequent dips in self worth (probably the result of childhood trauma and life with a disability), I can be distant because I fear being left behind. The people I love and/or trust most are often the ones who are cruelest to me.

Meanwhile, education seems misleading because even though I have two bachelors and a quarter of the work done on a masters degree, I really want a Ph.D. in African Studies. And if I’m honest an MFA in creative writing. I want to learn everything and share what I learn with everyone through my writing.

Romance and family present themselves as areas of struggle. But I’m strong in my spirituality, finances and home environment probably because those are the silos of my life where I feel in control.

Health and Career are mediocre, but I do not strive to have a career.

I value my freedom and living more than my career. I have no desire to make my mark on the universe through my career.

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.

Rejuvenation Dimension

I just had my first facial.

Merri at Lucha Bella taught me what healthy skin feels like, took 10 or more years off my face and had more more relaxed than I’ve been since my last intimate adult encounter which was quite some time ago.

And my skin feels energized and as fresh as soft as a baby’s.

I felt so good I stopped at Wawa and treated myself to a Fiji water. Because I had no idea my facial would come with so much massage and I could feel my body asking for the water. So I gave it fancy water.

Shall I back up? I’m just so overwhelmed by the whole experience that I want to write everything before I forget. Because oh my goodness gravy— we all need this.

I expected her to clean my face, apply some product and maybe address some stray hairs.

I was very, very wrong in such a good way.

She asked me to take off my clothes, put on the fancy Velcro towel and crawl under the covers. Well, while that seemed a little strange, because I didn’t expect to be going to bed during my facial, but I never miss the chance to curl up in some clean sheets.

What happened over the next hour transpired like you always see at spas as they are represented in the movies.

I didn’t ask questions because I wanted to feel the experience rather than dissect it. As I will be working with Merri on her marketing, I’m sure I will learn more about the process.

And the sensations were lovely. I don’t accurately remember the correct order, but she gently wiped away the grime of the day and applied some lovely feeling product I suppose to clean my skin. She waxed my upper lips and my chin.

I normally wax my own upper lip. And I have had my eyebrows and my bikini waxed professionally. Nothing beats a professional wax. And the hot wax they use is just feels good against the skin. And the way they prep and follow up with the skin minimizes irritation.

Merri came over with a super bright light so she could tweeze whatever she couldn’t lift with the wax. And she cleaned up the shape of my eyebrows.

There were lots of hot towels wrapped around my face. And the back and forth between hot towels and cool lotions felt so good.

She even had these little loofa like brushes. And I imagine they helped take off the dead skin.

And as if that wasn’t enough — she gave me the Bella facial which included massage on my face, neck, shoulders and arms. I keep all my tension in my neck and shoulders. Her attentions felt heavenly.

The facial massage is also good for sinus pressure.

I’m literally glowing.

What makes all of this even more amazing is that I ended up running from event to event all day, and giving myself to Merri’s treatment really did relax and revive me. She tried to talk business after, but I struggled to think!

And during much of the service, I felt my mind go blank. I envisioned sunflowers and daffodils and magenta petunias.

Why haven’t I done this before?

My day was hectic from the get go; I never even finished putting on my makeup!

Regardless of how my day went, when I left Lucha Bella, I felt soft, empowered and refreshed.

Goals—and how the impulsive selection of a desktop picture breeds hope

My last day in the office was March 17. We were practicing social distancing— not allowed to pass each other in the hall, speaking from inside our offices, wiping down doorknobs and the copy machine.

It was George’s mother’s birthday and he couldn’t go see her in the nursing home. That made him sad.

Tomorrow will be my 13th day of working from home. The fourth day of my second year with the agency. My first full day working on my new laptop. I had to reset windows and I managed to send myself this old picture from my phone for my desktop photo:

Traveling

I took it on the road between Djibouti City and Lac Abbé four years ago. Other than my daughter, I’ve shown one person this photo and they didn’t even ask what it was.

“Some random African photo,” he said when I asked if he noticed it, “I know your fascination with Africa.”

So I explained. “Ah,” he said, “that makes sense.”

This is the original photo that I took in January 2016.

On the Road

There is beauty in that photo, and oppressive dry heat, and the implication of hardship. Where are they going? Is it far? Yet, such color and contrast. Simplicity.

The man in the front is wearing a traditional man’s skirt. They say it helps you stay cool in the heat. The women have such light but colorful layers, lovely hijab blowing in what appears to be a slight breeze.

This photo takes me away when I look at it, and for me, it offers perspective and optimism.

I do have a critical theorist’s fascination with Africa, but my passion is actually post-colonial Francophone Africa and how their colonial experience and subsequent (ahem) immigration issues and Muslim relations provide lessons for American imperialism in a post-9/11 world.

Though recent political upheaval in South Africa may provide an interesting cross-examination of the British colonial experience… and what that means for the next generation of African citizens across the continent.

But I digress… not uncommon.

I have some goals I want to set this week.

  • Have several meals with my daughter at our patio cafe.
  • Take 3 walks.
  • Do 5 push ups tomorrow, 10 on Tuesday, and as many as I can each day as long as it is at least the same as the day before.
  • Care for my nails.
  • Take a bath.
  • Cut the grass.
  • Do a blog series on Tarot cards
Happy Sunday

Self-pledges

My day started with stripping the bed, finding my body in pain, starting a load of wash, unclogging the bathroom sink drain (gross but oddly satisfying) and feeding the cats.

Nala refuses to step up today, but I offered her her token sip of coffee anyway.

I took my allergy medicine— good thing as I could barely swallow.

I contemplated what will happen if we run out of toilet paper. I thought of the rural African way, a bucket of clean water and a crudely fashioned recycled water bottle ladle.

I make myself self-care pledges and find myself updating them regularly. I still struggle to stay on top of household chores while working full-time in a stressful job but I am confident the right routine will come.

I have succeeded with:

  • Eating plenty of vegetables
  • Prioritizing sleep and finding routines to fight stress-related sleep distuptions
  • Taking my vitamins

Now to focus on:

  • Eating more fruit
  • Working out
  • Personal Development Projects

Are you making yourself a priority? How so?