So today I read more of Tylia Flores’ cerebral palsy memoirs, helped an aspiring writer, went to the gym and took a nap.
Sunday I return to work.
Speaking of which, today I received an amazing hand-drawn card from one of my up-and-coming Parisian Phoenix authors to celebrate my time off. Joan says this shows he’ll fit right in.
In the evening, the teen and I popped down to Emmaus, the first of what I hope will be several upcoming visits. I did to get to Let’s Play Books and some of the other Emmaus shops.
But tonight we were headed to Purr Haus, a cat-themed boutique that works with local cat rescues (owned by a former local newspaper reporter). It was finally the night of the FURR fundraiser— 20% of item sales and 100% of basket raffle sales went to Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.
The teen bought some stuff. Then I bought a lot of stuff. Including this mug.
Because I so need this in my life. And I was an idiot and got two of my three t-shirts one size too small. I keep forgetting I gained weight and grew boobs during the pandemic.
I’ll blame that on the glass of red wine they served me at Purr Haus.
I also asked the owner to contribute to our anthology, As the FURR Flies. She said yes. I hope to tie up most of the project for the graphic designer this week.
The teen took me for espresso milkshakes and chicken salad sandwiches at Vargtimmen King Koffee.
The sunset was gorgeous and I saw some 50s-era cars in a driveway. And I think the teen enjoyed driving my Jetta turbo on the highway.
And then I came home and tried on my cat wardrobe— and realized my error in two of my t-shirts.
Before I continue, let me get the usual disclaimers/introductions out of the way.
Like many people, I had a rough 2020– I’m actually grateful to Covidfor slowing down my life and allowing me to survive some severe emotional stress that caused me to have high blood pressure, develop a bad comfort eating habitand end up anemic. I had a difficult job experience, lost that job, and now work in the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy and deal with my daughter’s crazy dog, my stubborn cockatoo and a bunch of foster cats. I’m forty-something, a single mom, 20 lbs overweight and struggling to understand my body, specifically my cerebral palsy.
My day started with chasing the “pig pony” dog Bean (we call her that because she snorts like a pig and is the size of a small pony) around the neighborhood because she decided to jump the fence and ignore her recall commands.
I’m in my kitchen now, eating a public-school issued bowl of Cheerios with an out-of-date white milk leftover from the teenager’s recent school dates. I met with my trainer today (and my friend Janel who is helping me set up the FURR Coffee and Kittens event at Forks Community Center August 15).
I headed up the hill to Apex Training to meet with my trainer Dan. I finally remembered to ask Dan if it’d be okay if I wrote about him and our work together and he said yes, so I no longer have to be sneaky.
I’m comfortable with Dan. He’s laid back but he knows his stuff, understands the movements and the physiology, and keeps a careful eye without making you feel stared at or inadequate.
He almost seems apologetic that we’re going slow and using 5 and 10 pound dumbbells and not lifting at a pace that makes it a cardiovascular event. But that’s what I love! The anemia, when combined with the cerebral palsy especially, makes it so easy to get tired and clumsy and hurt oneself.
Today, we did some upper body work. 30 minutes, slow and steady. 3 sets of 2 exercises each. Pretty standard way to set up a 30-minute work out hitting the triceps, biceps, chest and upper back.
Five years ago when I did this, I did a lot of cardio, did calisthenic ab exercises every day and did ten to fifteen minutes of lifting focusing on just one muscle (i.e. biceps or triceps) not the whole group.
Like I said, I know what to do, but I’m a person and people get lazy. I need Dan right now, as I’ve said, for several goals:
Restart the consistent habit of training.
Improve strength, flexibility and agility.
Build muscle and tone body.
Many of us tell ourselves we can save money and do it ourselves but the reality is there is a big difference between we are able vs. the commitment of we will.
I fully intended to eat a banana every day to get more nutrients into my body as I recover from anemia. Did I?
Does it look like I did?
But back to the training… I find the actual activity of lifting, when I am working with a class facilitator or fitness trainer, meditative. Everyone should focus on their movements when strength training, but I really have to with my disability. Focus is required to make sure all the body parts move as they should. I have to count the reps, remember to breathe, and control the motions all at the same time.
When you are doing all of that, your mind empties. And you just flow with the movements of your body and the feeling in your muscles.
Like today was “oh hello triceps, are you still under all that arm jiggle?”
When I left Dan I was sweating. I was limber. I felt invincible. I was walking home reminding myself how powerful I am.
I lost my balance on the sidewalk and just fell about half a block from my house.
My right arm is scraped from the back of my shoulder almost to my wrist. The upper shoulder stings the worst. It’s been two hours and it still stings. I also bounced on my hip and upper thigh— so that is already starting to bruise.
I called out from work tonight. Based on where I’m at in my menstrual cycle and the summer sun, I’m going to blame anemia for this lapse in balance especially since all day yesterday I had no energy. Anemia is awful. Anemia with a mobility disorder is a nightmare.
This is an informal update vaguely and disorganizingly (that’s probably not a word, but I like it and it’s how I’m feeling) connected to my series about my cerebral palsy.
It’s not as “official” and well-crafted asI would like as some household/parenting issues greeted me as I walked in the door and I found it hard to recover once the dog started refusing to get in her crateand I discovered the teenager’s floor with multiple piles of kitten vomit, into which I stepped barefoot.
I finished the sequel to Karen by Marie Killilea today— With Love From Karen. That is another blog posted which I started but have postponed due to other events of the day more personal.
Late last night, I reached out to a local personal fitness trainer.
For those of you unaware, the average physical therapy can cost $350 per session, with the uninsured paying $125. If you have, like I do, high deductible medical insurance, this can add up to several thousand dollars in as little as a month.
Been there. Done that.
My amazing chiropractor (Nicole Jensen, Back in Line Wellness Center) bills me $125 a session when she gives me some brief physical therapy, advice and cracks every f*cked up bone in my body.
The high end of average cost for a personal fitness trainer is $70 per session, according to Google.
Six years ago almost to the day, I embarked on my first weight loss journey and shed 30 lbs in six weeks and looked like a skeleton.
By autumn, I looked like this:
Yes, the shadow of a person lifting two pound weights with me is the now teenager as an eleven-year-old.
I have two fitness dreams:
To run a 5k
To be an amateur body builder
A local business, a fitness trainer only a few blocks from my home, has a summer special and good reviews on the internet.
Goofy crop is to obscure the identity of the trainer until I get permission to post.
I reached out with this message:
“I have quite the history of on again/off again weight training.
I went through a very emotionally traumatic loss of job experience in 2020 and turned to stress/comfort/ just plain bad eating and have gained 20 pounds. And stopped training.
I need to regain my discipline so I am hoping to see if you might be a good fit as a personal trainer— theoretically one session a week and I could maintain the effort at home.
I have already improved my diet, but the damage includes anemia so that makes it hard to work out especially in this heat.
I work second shift in a warehouse.
And perhaps the most important issue— I have mild cerebral palsy in the lower body so it’s super important that I keep my body strong and flexible.
I have two dreams— to actually run a 5k and to perhaps pursue amateur body building.
Please respond if this is something you might be willing/comfortable with/knowledgeable enough to undertake.
As my regular readers may know, I recently started helping a friend of a friend launch her social media marketing for her solopreneurship, woman-owned business, Lucha Bella Skin Care and Body Waxing.
I hesitate to call her a client, because I help her with her publicity and she gives me a facial once a month. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn more about skin care.
My interest in make-up and skin care came late in life and I think I was also a late bloomer when it came to developing my own sense of style. So to help Merri with her business is also a great way for me to grow and take better care of myself.
So, please please please if you are local to the Lehigh Valley consider checking out Lucha Bella, like the Facebook page, find Merri on Instagram at @luchabella_skincare and book online via http://www.luchabella.com.
I am by far no influencer, but I am a real person with a real life perspective so without further ado let me share with you what I have learned about getting a facial.
It’s not just about your face. The Bella Facial at Lucha Bella involves the face, neck, shoulders, hands and arms.
It’s a great stress reliever— the Bella Facial includes a variety of massage that leaves the upper body feeling loose and amazing.
You esthetician can help you with your individual skin problems and work with you on how to not only look good but also maintain healthy skin.
The attention and solace provides a mental rest and a sense of rejuvenation that matches the glow you will see in your skin.
A Bella Facial includes waxing the chin, upper lip and eyebrows, so not only does losing the dead skin make you feel and look younger, but you don’t have to spend your time plucking. And professional products are less harsh on the skin, reducing redness and potential irritation.
An esthetician has access to the latest industry products so you don’t have to waste your money on things you may not like or may forget to use.
The experience to me is about a place of peace, the fact that I come out with fresh skin and free of my physical tension is a bonus.
It’s a lovely reminder to slow down and be kind to yourself.
And for me it’s extra fun as I get to try adventurous new products like a collagen mask that dried like clay on my face. It went on super cold and thick like honey. My skin absorbed the collagen which made the mask warm and dried it out. Some of the pieces didn’t come off as nicely as Merri would have liked, but they made this amazing clinking sound as they hit each other.
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.
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
Sesame sticks (from the Carmelcorn Shop in downtown Easton)
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.
Many years ago I bought a silk slip on clearance in a beautiful teal blue color that matches my current bedroom. Because it’s a full slip, and such a strange and rich color, I never found a dress I could wear with it.
Last night I decided to wear it as a nightgown. I felt so fancy.
I was so cozy in my silk slip I didn’t want to get dressed. I thought a good way to compromise would be to wear a dress. And I got a new dress from The Attic that I haven’t worn.
I did my make-up and everything.
Now to make things more interesting I managed to convince my dad that we should have a socially-distanced picnic to celebrate my birthday and my step-mom’s birthday which are both tomorrow. I really want to cook these on the grill, and I don’t have any charcoal for mine.
And I had to order these. They sound so good! And when I ordered them from Tucker Silk Mill, I ordered fresh dill, fresh ginger, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, golden beets, cauliflower, and purple peppercorns. The Vietnamese purple peppercorns were a birthday splurge.
And I never had golden beets, but I don’t really note any difference between those and regular beets.
I hung a load of wash outside and noticed so many lily of the valleys. At the front of the house my roses are finally blooming. I can’t wait to bring bouquets into the house.
At work today we still didn’t come to any agreement on when I can take my vacation.
I was working on my laptop on the sun porch when two women starting taking photos of my flowers. I heard them comment how beautiful my roses and irises are. I said thank you and started them as they hadn’t seen me.
They had been worried someone would yell at them for being in my yard. I laughed. No, I said, you are welcome. They took photos!
The teenager arrived home with the lemon cardamom cake she baked at my request for my birthday.
Lemon cardamom cake (click photo for recipe)
On my 30-minute lunch break, the teenager and I ran down to Tucker to get my impulse buy of vegetables and then headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for my free birthday coffee which they completely screwed up. The teenager got some more of her special Dunkin stones from the side of the drive through.
(For more on the teenager’s fascination with the magical uses of these particular stones… it started here: Thank You Tucker Provisions with our last visit to Tucker. Apparently each time we go to Tucker, I let my daughter pick up random rocks at Dunkin.)
But she has always valued the power in rocks.
And honestly, I’m glad they screwed up my coffee and gave me a smaller weaker drink because I submitted four grants to my executive director today so my nerves were shot.
I had just enough time to bring these goodies into the house before I had to clock back in!
The kittens and big old Oz gathered around me while I worked. My mother-in-law gave me a birthday card with money in it and my dad sent a really cute cupcake card with a check.
Then the teenager and I walked down to CVS to get my prescription and my neighbor who owns Sobaka, the Maltese yorkie mix, joined us. This gave the teenager a chance to try the new dog training clicker I bought her from Petco.
And I got my free nail polish from CVS for my birthday.
I came home and roasted vegetables, are cake and watched Star Trek The Next Generation with my daughter.
So as I have mentioned—the teenager and I have made consignment shopping a pandemic sport. The Attic, a consignment shop in Bethlehem, has hosted live events and posted pictures of merchandise for sale on Facebook and Instagram.
My teen and I love to peruse the Instagram offerings and direct message each other from various parts of the house about items we think the other will like.
I ordered a bunch of necklaces. I used to wear a necklace every day and my necklaces were always symbolic. The amber I bought to purify energy around me. The emerald that reminded me who I wanted to be. The Celtic knot pentacle pendant that reminded me of my heritage and my spirituality.
I stopped wearing necklaces because Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, thinks it’s a game to bite the chains in half. And I didn’t know what necklace fit anymore.
So I bought used jewelry.
Now the necklace on the bottom of the photo is my standard one with my pentacle, my amber and a charm my father gave me recently to remind me that he loves me.
But the others are from my Attic buying spree.
And I don’t know what made me buy Horus. I think I started with the red strands of tiny beads. Then that sparkly circle. And Horus was an impulse. (I had already paid my invoice when the Attic posted the Tiger’s Eye necklace.)
And the Tiger’s Eye I bought very intentionally for the stone’s properties as, to borrow from one random website, “A stone of protection,Tiger Eyemay also bring good luck to the wearer. It has the power to focus the mind, promoting mental clarity, assisting us to resolve problems objectively and unclouded by emotions. Particularly useful for healing psychosomatic illnesses, dispelling fear and anxiety.” (Charms of Light)
I can use some focus and good luck.
But why Horus?
I saw the bird with the stone in his belly and thought he’d be homage to my flock. And I thought he looked Egyptian, so as a pagan and a former scholar of Africa, the attraction made sense.
But today as I got ready for work, I was overcome with the urge to know who my bird pendant was and the magical properties of turquoise.
So, turquoise: (from the same web site) “Turquoiseis a purification stone. …Turquoise balances and aligns all the chakras, stabilising mood swings and instilling inner calm. It is excellent for depression and exhaustion, it also has the power to prevent panic attacks.Turquoisepromotes self-realization and assists creative problem solving.“
Are you noticing a theme? Albeit a coincidental one. This is what I mean about the universe sending tools and magical objects. (I posted about this concept in my witchcraft series: My previous witchcraft series)
So I googled Egyptian bird gods and found my falcon-man Horus. And this is what encyclopedia Brittanica told me:
“Horus, EgyptianHor,Har,Her,orHeru, in ancientEgyptian religion, a god in the form of afalconwhose right eye was the sun or morning star, representing power andquintessence, and whose left eye was the moon or evening star, representing healing. Falcon cults, which were in evidence from late predynastic times, were widespread in Egypt.“
My daughter and I have developed a fascination with The Attic Clothes in Bethlehem as they have been hosting online sales on Instagram and Facebook.
We’ve been supporting small local business and indulging in one of the great teen girl sports of all time— consignment store shopping.
I’m going to switch up the chronology of this piece since right now the teenager, my blind friend, Nan, and I are among several other cars in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot.
This experience can be summed up as— as my daughter put it— Nothing Just Happens.
So, Nan, being blind and a little strange, decided to wear her mask over her eyes.
We invited her along to pick up our consignment items. We stopped at the teenager’s grandmother’s to drop off a stepladder we borrowed. And her grandfather bought her the new Cats movie on DVD, like seeing it three times in the theatre wasn’t enough.
We had promised to take Nan for a car ride and stop at Dunkin for coffee and snackin’ bacon. And we all shared a matcha since Nan had never had any.
It was starting to look like the perfect day for the teen.
Until she discovered I messed up her coffee and she didn’t like it. So we went through the drive through a second time. This time we were going to order Munchkins too!
The teen wanted the 50 count bucket that looked like it came out of Kentucky Fried Chicken. But since we’re all gaining weight— the only way we were getting 50 munchkins is if Nan were taking 45 of them home to share with all her neighbors.
But they said they were out of munchkins. And they were paid for. So I told the poor guy to throw anything in the bag. He asked if I would accept a donut or two. I said sure. I think he was uneasy that I made him choose but he gave us a chocolate cake donut, which Nan and I split, and a chocolate iced donut with sprinkles which we gave to the teen.
That and her blue raspberry coolatta will have her high as a kite by the time we get home.
We were cleaning the garage earlier and removed about 150 gallons of garbage— she’ll have the energy to go home and finish the job, hoisting furniture over her head like a she-hulk.
So while the teen is trying on clothes in the backseat (skills learned in marching band), quasi-modeling her purchases, there are people wondering what the hell is up with us.
And Nan says it makes me look like the normal one.
The teenager wanted to get out of the house yesterday and I knew as a responsible adult we needed some fresh produce.
With the Coronavirus still keeping our state on lockdown, I’ve been trying to explore as many small local businesses as I can that are adapting to the situation.
I’ve never been to Tucker, an Australian Cafe at the Simon Silk Mill in Easton. They hosted an amazingly successful benefit to raise money to fight the Australian brush fires.
So they already have my admiration.
The only friend I know who ate there was not impressed— she felt rushed and a tad snubbed by their waitress.
But I’ve been intrigued by their recent business model… They’ve adapted by becoming “Tucker Provisions” and it’s like a drive up general store.
They feature a a variety of other local and regional farmers, vendors, and small businesses. The apples in the picture are from Bethlehem’s Scholl Orchard. The golden raisins are super plump and juicy, so good.
And I am so looking forward to trying the potatoes, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, rhubarb and broccoli.
I even splurged on some Mexican soda.
While we were out, the teenager spotted these:
“Mom,” she says as the car is stopped. “There are some really nice rocks over there.”
“Go get them,” I tell her.
Maybe she’ll be a geology major.
For supper last night I decided I wanted homemade cream of broccoli soup. We have some heavy whipping cream in the fridge that’s past its date, more than a week past, and I hate to waste.
And Tucker had broccoli.
Now I never follow a recipe, never exactly. Either I never have all the ingredients or I just don’t want to. This was a little of both. While I prepped the soup, I roasted some of the Brussels and our last radishes and the smallest of our fingerling potatoes.
I made mini bread bowls out of the heavily discounted fresh baked but day old dinner rolls I bought at Weis last weekend and tossed in the fridge. I even toasted the removed guts of the bread bowl to make croutons on top.
Good stuff. Looking forward to enjoying it for lunch if the rain keeps up.
I’ve been allowing myself to sleep in a bit and these days I’m waking up between 6:15 and 6:30. I lay in bed sometimes until almost 7, but I’m always dressed, with pants and everything, and at my desk with a hot cup of coffee by 8:30.
I’ve enjoyed sharing an office with my birds— three budgies and a Goffin’s cockatoo—all of whom must be enjoying the electronic swing I listen to at my desk and the bird playground I have assembled for them.
Yes, that’s the teenager’s kitten who refused to get out of the cockatoo’s cage.
Now, when Nala the cockatoo destroys toys I save the salvageable pieces and put them in these spare dishes and she plays with them and throws them at the cats.
I think I have some new toys coming for the parakeets, and I also need to order them more ladders and perches because they have suddenly destroyed everything in their cage.
Work passed easily, I feel like I was quite organized and productive. And I’m offtomorrow. I took an unplanned paid time off to take care of some health issues. So it will be part trip to the pharmacy, part virtual doctor visit and part mental health day.
There’s a contact we have at work at a local company that is the point person for a rather large food drive that benefits our agency. Because of the state lockdown, they can’t host this food drive so the employees contributed cash instead, but she didn’t want to mail it and our offices are closed.
So the teenager and I took a road trip. It’s strange when a 25-mile round trip to the next town and back feels like a major outing. I donned my mask, put on my gloves and we exchanged an envelope of cash in the parking lot.
That might be the closest I will ever come to feeling like a drug dealer. Nope, scratch that. I’ve driven around with a trunk full of Girl Scout cookies.
My teenager and I have the best conversations while in the car. We talked a lot about financial responsibility and budgeting and how important it will be for her to determine her own style of fiscal management. She admires my discipline, chicanery and creativity with making my money work for me.
I taught her about different ways to trick yourself into putting money into savings. The first of course is to set up automatic transfers. Another is to have a portion of your paycheck direct deposited into savings.
The easiest is to always, as soon as you take a new job, decide on a number of how much goes into retirement if your job offers a retirement plan. That way before you even see how much your take home pay is, the money goes into your future.
And if your job doesn’t have retirement options, go to your bank and contribute to an IRA. Every year. Because money saved when you are young goes far.
That motivated me to go ahead and take the plunge and use that last $1,000 of my stimulus check that I had put into savings and use it to prepay for 400 gallons of fuel oil for next winter’s heat at $2.199.
That was painful. But at least it’s over. Next I need to contact the dentist about the $859 bill they sent me for my crown. My insurance company didn’t cover anything but $17. I’m annoyed because the dentist thought they’d pay 50%, the tooth still isn’t right AND the bill they sent didn’t include the credit for the $394 I already paid.
But paying for the fuel oil was enough adulting for today.
The teenager made an amazing steak dinner.
And Nala loves onion rings.
The teenager discovered, because I sent her an Instagram post, that The Attic thrift store has an online sale and bid on a red dress. That she won.
I love the ingenuity our local small businesses are showing. I hope it continues after the lockdown ends.
Last but certainly not least, I tried this Cascara tea which is supposedly full of antioxidants and it tasted really good.