Midweek moments: Finding new perspective in small joys

This week has been a very busy week for me, in part because I have less hours in a day because of mandatory overtime and the fact that my body has finally adjusted and is sleeping 8 hours a night versus 6.

Recent events and uncertainties remind me of how much we as humans get so caught up in big things, that we forget the little things. These precious details are what make life worth living— whether that be a board game with the family, your favorite ice cream or hitting a new personal best while weight training.

Let me share some of my ten fun “moments” with you.

1. COFFEE DATE: Earlier this week, my neighbor invited me over for a cup of coffee because she wanted to share her excitement over her new milk frotter. Truth be told it was pretty cool— making an ordinary cup of coffee into a celebration.

2. BUZZ CUT CONVERSATIONS: I’ve enjoyed hearing people’s reactions to my extra short hair. Yes, Angel now has a buzz cut. If I’m honest, it makes me uncomfortable as my curly locks are a big part of my confidence and femininity, not having that impacts certain aspects of my personality.

But to hear others react is fun. They tell me their secret hair desires. It strikes up conversations with people with whom I might not normally talk.

3. MIDNIGHT BEER WITH DOG: The weather has warmed so instead of merely letting the pup out to relief herself, I brought a beer and some Doritos and enjoyed our patio and the moon. Moonbathing like the Addams Family.

4. EMBRACING DISABILITY IDENTITY AT WORK: I received an email earlier this week that Stitch Fix is creating some employee groups related to issues like race, gender identity/sexuality and disability. I signed up to join the disability group.

I’m still new on being “out” and open about my disability. I’m learning that I need to be less ashamed and embarrassed about having cerebral palsy. My disability has created many positives. I am tenacious and maintain a good attitude.

In working in a physical and metric driven job, I’m not meeting the same numbers as everyone else but I hope my employer sees that I am dependable, will always give 100% and will always take on a challenge.

5. FUNKY WATER MACHINE: They took away our bottled water at work and replaced it with a water machine that will provide still or sparkling water in a variety of flavors. This makes staying hydrated much more fun.

6. “PEARLS”: I wore my golden costume pearls to work. It made a lot of people smile. It made me clatter when I walked.

7. FUN MASKS: I bought myself some new masks but they are missing. So it means a lot to me that work provides holiday-themed masks. And a lot of them have gnomes.

8. BABY BIRD: Baby Bird is hanging out with the big birds outside the nest. He still can’t fly. He looks like his daddy.

9. FRENCH RAP: I recently renewed my interest in French language hip-hop music. Between that and all the podcasts I listen to at work, I feel like my brain absorbs so many new ideas all the time.

10. CAR TITLE: I paid off my car last week and the title arrived today. I bought the car in November 2018, refinanced it when I lost my job during the summer and now it’s mine!

My own personal Groundhog Day of failure and snow

Despite my ever effort to the contrary, every night I perform worse in QC at the Bizzy Hizzy. I start strong and on target, but somehow by lunch I’m falling behind.

And after meal I’m in pain and feeling tired and defeated. So it gets harder and harder to catch up. I feel unseen and lost.

I woke up today determined to achieve greatness— I did a small strength training exercises and some physical therapy stretches for my lower back.

Dressed a little edgier than I usually do and took the teens for coffee…

After all, I found a coupon.

Stopped at CVS to take advantage of their buy one, get one 50% off over-the-counter painkiller promotion ( and paid with my health savings account debit card). I put my faith in naproxen sodium and a good attitude.

The pain was bad tonight, even with the naproxen sodium and I almost cried a couple of times, perhaps due to the emotional frustration more than the pain. Or it could be because my period is due tomorrow and I heard Wilson Phillips on the warehouse radio “Hold on.”

“Hold on for one more day.” (If you don’t know the song… Wilson Phillips “Hold on” on YouTube)

“Break free from the chains.”

I finally leave the building and the snow is falling faster than I can brush it off my car. I take the highway home hoping the state will tend and clear it.

The snow plow was behind me.

Directly behind me.

Got home, barely made it into the garage, shoveled.

And poured a stiff drink.

In the morning, I am giving a friend a ride to the doctor.

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.

Yuengling’s Hershey’s chocolate porter

So I’ve wanted all day to do a “Nonprofit Roundup” that talked about the remaining workshops I attended this week and the hygiene kit event that Aspire to Autonomy hosted at Terra Cafe today.

But I am exhausted, so instead you get a review of the Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter.

Short version: I love Yuengling & I love chocolate beers. Of local craft beers, Twin Rivers Brewing has a really good one. My all time favorite beer is Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout.

I found this beer very smooth, enjoyable and easy to drink.

Me with my porter at Three Mugs Pub

My dad likes to come to town to visit Three Mugs Pub and we all love the Shruty’s Burger, a special burger designed by the former owners and my husband and I were the first paying customers to order and eat it.

Ah, the memories.

Today I also tried the mango habanero hot chicken dip, which when my stepmom liked until she got too much in one mouthful and experienced too much spicy heat.

Teenager #2 channeled her inner Griffindor, so she said, when she did my makeup today.

Until tomorrow, friends and followers.

The human experience of the Thin Mint Sprint

I have anticipated this 5K for a long time. My training started in November, paused for the Holidays, resumed in mid-January, paused in February for an illness caught from my daughter and then in March I dropped a 15-lb dumbbell on my toe, which is still a little sore and definitely swollen.

So last week, I could finally resume training, but new routines at work have made that difficult too. And my training partner and other half for this run is my almost-fourteen-year-old daughter who gave up on running weeks ago.

Three years ago, I swore I would get in shape before my fortieth birthday. And I did. At that time, I had explored some walk-run 5K events with my friend Gayle and found the Yuengling Lager Jogger. After the first year running for beer, I vowed to try and run my next one.

And two years ago (April 11) I finished the Lager Jogger is 44-minutes something.

Now, the Girl Scouts have hosted a fitness series of three events. I attended the orienteering style one at Camp Laughing Waters with Gayle and her niece and my daughter. My daughter planned to attend the second event, a walk-run through the camp, but she ended up with bronchitis and I wouldn’t let her attend the race in the race with a troublesome set of lungs.

Then Gayle registered me, the girls, and her nephew for the Thin Mint Sprint in Wissahicken/Fairmont Park outside Philadelphia. The sign “Welcome to Philadelphia” is on park grounds.

I have always wanted to run a 5K, and run it. It didn’t happen today, but I did shave two minutes off previous times for a new personal best. Well, except for the times in training that I came in at 38-39 minutes. That was when training was working.

But I want to tell some stories from the day.

And maybe start with some quick asides:

  1. The portapotties were nastier and covered with more human feces than anything I ever saw in Africa, and that includes facilities with no running water.
  2. Parking was awful but the park was so gorgeous it is quickly forgotten.
  3. There is a rustic coffee house IN the park.
  4. I’m sorry, but strollers do not belong in 5Ks.

So onto MY experience…

I love how other runners will say kind things to you.

The first half mile was physically easy but breathing was difficult. At mile marker one, I would have traded my first born for water.

I reached the road (that actually had cars on it) that the race route crossed WHILE TRAFFIC WAS STOPPED. The cars were waiting for us and backed up for what seemed like miles and I was part of that initial horde for whom officials stopped traffic. That was awesome.

I thought the first half was all downhill, so I expected, since the race was an out-and-back, the second half would be uphill. It also seemed to be downhill. How was this possible?

I had a lot of what I call “little disappointments.” I couldn’t get my new iPhone X to start MapMyFitness so I had no idea “how I was doing.” I felt most of the way, that I wasn’t performing as well as I had wanted myself to perform. I had to let go of those thoughts.

By the time I reached the finish line, pushing down that final hill, running… I saw the clock at 42-minutes something and I was overwhelmed. Not with any discernible emotion, just overwhelmed. Hot. (It was 80 degrees and I have never run in temperatures over 70). Dehydrated. (I drank 25 ounces of water before the race and the cup in the middle.) Tired. Proud. Disappointed. Happy. Crying. Smiling.

4th Annual Yuengling Lager Jogger

 It’s a bit of a long story but I will condense as best I can.

I never drank beer. Started about two years ago when we found a pub near our house that served an interesting selection of craft beers (how can you not want to try a chocolate peanut butter beer named Sweet Baby Jesus?).

They had Angry Orchard on tap and for beer sissies like me, hard cider was an exciting way to experience ordering a draft. 

And then the bartender recommended mixing it half-and-half with Yuengling. And then I was soon drinking Yuengling. Like a real grown up.

My friend Gayle mentioned that Yuengling has a 5K walk/run. So we did it. Last year. The third annual event. I finished in right around 50 minutes and if you’ve ever seen Pottsville and the race course, the first mile from the brewery is up hill.

The second mile is flat for a while and then up hill. The third mile is down hill.

The beer tent is at the bottom of the hill.

 
I entered a significant decade on my birthday last year, and I have been working really hard to gain more muscle, strengthen my lower body and attain more general endurance and fitness.

I was doing great. My body fat percentage in the fall was 21.8%. (I am scheduled for a follow up visit on Tuesday.)

Then I broke my ankle. So, when I registered my daughter and I in the 4th Annual Lager Jogger my goal was to run it. Now I have cerebral palsy and I broke my ankle… But I thought this was doable.

It was a rough winter. A non-existent Spring. An incredibly stressful Christmas season at work, where I put in practically full-time hours. Equally stressful at home with a pre-teen daughter who is so close to puberty none of us may survive 2016. I started grad school. My cat of 17 years will be put to sleep on Monday.

Training did not happen. Not in earnest. My daughter flat out refused.

And then child got a cold.

And all my commitments made me a little crazy.

And then the weather forecast said it would be 30 degrees and snowing.

And indeed it was.

But I needed to win something this week, even if it was hope of someday running a 5K. So I started to run up that hill. My cold toes hurt as the hit the ground and both ankles protested. I probably only made it a third of a mile but then I walked hard and fast. 

One resident was passing out orange juice. Others had Yuengling on tap from kegs in their front yard, handing out beer to runners as they went by.

Once we reached the top, I resumed running again and the pace kept me warm as the snow increased. I ran until my lungs couldn’t function in the cold air, walked to rest, and then ran again.

I finished in 44:31. 

I’m still no runner but I’m damn proud.