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November 2014

Mother Nature: A Love Poem

During the holidays, try to get outside as much as possible. Peace lives there! Happy Thanksgiving friends. I don’t write poetry often, but sometimes I get inspired. The video after the poem was that inspiration.

Good Friday

Outside

My thoughts flit with butterflies
On soft velvet wings
Weightless

Then float away on a breeze
And wander among clouds
Shape shifting
One into the next
Free
Clear
Quick and fluid
Light

as

air.

Dreamlike.

At times,
They alight
On the tip of a petal,
In wonder
Joy
Reveling in beauty
Or deep in the grass
Marching along like ants
Slow
Steady
Strong and rhythmic
Linear
Orderly
With purpose.

Earth
Solid and omniscient
Patient
Maternal
Gravity pulls,
Strong and tight
Embracing
Irresistible
Beckoning my heart
Clasping me tight
Cleansing and calming
Stabilizing
Saving
My
Soul.

Again.

For being so young, these sweet sisters not only sing a love song beautifully, they sing to my heart. And to our Mother Earth. You are welcome. It’s a good Friday, indeed!

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Backsliding Bonzo, Rebuilding Resolve

The results from my raucous weekend of football and old friends showed up on my scale. For the first time since June, I gained. Was I disappointed that I ended my losing streak? Yes. Was I surprised? Yes, actually. I was surprised that I only gained one pound.  What was even more surprising was that I lost fat and gained muscle. Maybe Ruby Red vodka is a great weight loss friend? Okay, I kid. Sorta.

I do think that the extra calories I had, didn’t have such an adverse effect on me. I know that I’m not eating all the calories I need, so that my weight loss has slowed anyway. The thing is that I’m not really hungry. One friend is doing an IP bootcamp right now. She’s eating 5 Ideal Protein products a day and her veggies. Another friend is eating 4 Ideal Protein Packets on a daily basis. Maybe I should aim for 4? Maybe I’ll hit my 3? I don’t think 4 would hurt me.

For my squirrel moment, brought to you today by ADHD and me…

Hanging out on the Paseo Del Rio trail... waiting on the bikers to roll through.
Hanging out on the Paseo Del Rio trail… waiting on the bikers to roll through.

My hubs and I drove 8 hours over the weekend to a mountain bike race up in Palo Duro Canyon, way up in the panhandle of Texas. Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the states. You think you’re just driving across the high plains, flat, flat flat. You wouldn’t even notice it, unless you were looking for it. We didn’t even bring my bike. It was hard to sit at the Transition area all day and watch the men and women come through. I would not have attempted the marathon like the hubs (50 miles of tough single track, he’s a freaking beast!!!), but the 15 mile loop would have been fun. Damn this knee!! Well, and the weather started off in the 20s, but by midday it was gorgeous and in the 60’s. I’m so proud of the hubs for doing it. Turns out it was a pretty grueling race, especially the last 17 miles.

We went to dinner that night after the race. I found a decent restaurant in Amarillo on Yelp. I ate too much. Being idle all day in a really cool state park was really difficult, and I took it out on my stomach. Cocktail, steak, sausage sampler, salad, Brussels sprouts, a few bites of bread with some cheese butter, and apple pie a’la mode. Yep, stomach pains. I ate gluten, and worse, it was pie. My hands will itch for a few days to remind me that gluttony and gluten-y are bad, bad things.

Therefore, it’s time to resolve to revert to my retro resolve. In the beginning, I was so strong! ¡Muy fuerté! Remember my “Day Freaking Three?” I was amazing. I hated this diet life, but I did NOT quit! I didn’t cheat, I was completely resolved to do this thing. I was amazing. Hey wait, I am amazing. I’ve lost almost 40 pounds! So, why stop there? Resolving to click of the last 20 pounds before March. Maybe even before February. There’s my pre-resolution, resolution.

I’m revisiting the post I wrote a few weeks ago on my Good Friday blog for a little reminder. I AM ENOUGH. And you are too.

Excuse Me While I Freak This Out

My count down timer seems to be working over in the side bar. That’s the good news, but right now, I’m seriously doubting I’ll ever get to play tennis again. I want to throw things, like glasses that will shatter and make a big mess and a lot of noise. I always want to make things crash when I get extremely frustrated. Since May, I’ve been off the courts and hobbling around like I’m twenty years older, no, maybe 40 years older. It has not been easy for me to slow down. Well, we upped my workout the other day, and the PT said, “monitor for the next 24 hours, so we’ll know if we need to adjust what we did. If you have pain or swelling, we’ll need to back off.” Well, there was some pain. Then, we left for Auburn, AL to meet some very old (as in time, not age), very dear friends for the Texas A&M – Auburn game. Even before we left the airport, I was limping badly and trying not to think about the pain, the twinges that make me jerk involuntarily as I walk. I was just happy to get going. My friends and I have been apart for years. How do we let life do that?

They Never Change
They Never Change

And, just so you know, I felt 20 years younger, because some things just never change. Friend holds finger up in the air, “I feel a drunk front blowing through…” How old are we? People got referred to by nicknames, “Lose-A-Koozie” and we stayed up til almost 3 the first night drinking, playing guitar and singing badly. Friday night, rest assured, I felt no pain. Saturday morning, though, I thought my head would fall off! Self induced, though it was, it was part allergies and part well, let’s go with dehydration. We were at the tailgater by noon and the game wouldn’t start until 3:30. I drank lots of water and sat in a chair for a very long time because standing hurt, and not just my head. My knee was speaking to me. Loudly. In tongues.

I will throw out there right now, that Auburn fans are the most gracious fans I’ve ever experienced. My husband, Lose-A-Koozie and I were tailgating with our buddy’s friends (Auburn grads) who’ve been doing this for almost 20 years. We were the maroon dots in a sea of orange and were completely blown away by the hospitality and genuine welcome we got from everyone! There will definitely be another post about that, soon!

I slowed the whole group down on the limp to the game. My husband and I sat on the complete opposite side of the stadium from our friends. We were right next to the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, which was a super thrill for

Next to the Aggie Band!
Next to the Aggie Band!

me. However, the walk was long and painful. Instead of enjoying that air of excitement, the pagentry and the joy of people watching, I was concentrating on every f(*&^%ing step. What the mother-freaking hell was going on? I had packed very light (clothes wise) and only had the one pair of boots. I had obviously not been thinking, because on the last trip, they got worn once, because of knee pain. They were all I brought, and I suffered. They’re just black, biker looking boots. They don’t have a high heel, but there’s just something about them that aggravates my knee, ugh. The game was completely exciting and thrilling to the last few seconds. The Auburn fans around us were so nice, in fact, when the woman to my right left, we hugged each other. She was adorable. Even in defeat, they were gracious beyond measure.

Random Fans That We Chatted with a long time after admiring their sign! War Damn Eagle!
Random Fans That We Chatted with a long time after admiring their sign! War Damn Eagle!

We got back to the house, much, much later, we all sat down to watch the LSU – Bama game and I got out my ice pack and put my leg up. Holy spit fire, this was not funny. This is when the sinking feeling began to really kick in. Like a ton of bricks. I started to freak out. There, in the after glow of a glorious game, and beautiful day, I sat with my friends and began an internal, private, full-on spaz attack. Here I am with my count down timer, steadily counting down my remaining sans tennis days. I’ve done nothing, and I mean really nothing to speak of since my PT appointment. How the hell will I be able to get on the court in 26 days if walking brings the pitchforks of pain? Doubt crept in. I got up and went to bed before anyone else.

The closest I’ve ever come to flat out tears about this whole debacle happened in the Atlanta airport on Sunday. I seriously wanted a lift in a wheelchair. Imagine my frustration. I am not pre-surgery. I have HAD my knee “fixed.” I was back to pre-surgery pain levels. At one point, I had to stop and rest it. Standing in the staggeringly long security line, hot tears filled my eyes. I was staring straight ahead, the hubs standing close behind me. I almost lost it there for a long minute. It felt pretty helpless… hopeless and exceedingly frustrating. This morning, after a lot of ice last night, getting barefoot, and ditching those damned boots, it feels a bit better. Still though, the fact that just a few days ago, I joyously announced to the world that I’d be back in 30 days, just doesn’t seem remotely possible. Right about now, (funk soul brother… sorry, that’s how my random ADHD brain works… someone uses a phrase, even if it’s myself, and part of me blurts whatever comes next)… anyway, now, I’m just hoping that I get back to the courts at all. Sometime. Anytime. I’m watching my count down, but my excitement and anticipation are dissipating quickly.

I’ve officially freaked.

The Countdown Has Commenced… Finally!

No, really! Check out my side bar! There’s a countdown timer thingy! Woohoo!

The doctor has released me with my solemn oath to wait a MONTH before I play match type doubles. I’ll need to arrowsplay dubs for awhile before I can get back into the singles matches. I’m really eager to play singles now that I’ve lost nearly 40 pounds! I’m curious to see what happens. Will I be super fast? Will I be uncoordinated until I learn to deal with less bulk? Inertia will be less of a problem, maybe? You know, the whole, once I get all this shiz moving, it’s hard to stop! I am not eager, however, to mess the knee up by hitting the courts too soon. Today, we pushed it at PT. More weight, faster movement and this glorious jumping drill on the sled. However, he said I had to monitor my next 24 hours and if I had pain and swelling, we needed to back off. Well, guess what? I have pain and swelling. Not major swelling, but enough pain to want me to resort to the ice pack. Blast!

So, I’m struggling with being super duper excited about my new countdown happening over on my sidebar, and disappointed that the little bit extra we did today caused pain (and swelling). Shittakes! Well, I can only keep working hard at the rehab and do what they tell me. I may just have arthritis issues from here out. Who knows, I’ll just plug along and take it as it comes.

I did also get permission to do a 15 mile mountain bike race up in the Texas Panhandle. The hubs is doing the really long, bad ass race, but they have a wee beginner one. Doc made me promise to get off and hike the bike back if there was pain. No ego, I pledged, I promise to swallow my competitive spirit and let my knee dictate the extent of my ride. Well, that was until I heard that the weather was going to be quite chilly. Okay that was a euphamism for Mother (*&^%$%ing FREEZING. I just looked at the forecast online because I couldn’t remember what the hubs said. Hmmm, he neglected to mention the part about “possible snow“. We’ll be camping. I really hate being cold. So, would I be a bad wife if I ditched him and left his stuff at the race transition area and high tailed it to the nearest town and/or heater and got some writing done for NaNoWriMo? Why are we such nut balls?

Freezing at Lost Maples State Park circa 2004, mummified
Freezing at Lost Maples State Park circa 2004, mummified

I just yelled to the other room, “I don’t think I can camp in snow, we’ve done the below freezing thing before. Do we even have a warm sleeping bag that I can sleep in? You know, square bottom (not mummy) for leg room?”

* This is because I’m a stomach sleeper and I have to have my leg cocked up, you know half on my side… mummy bags don’t accommodate and therefore I am claustrophobic because I can’t move! And because of that, I can’t sleep which turns me into a raving bitch… just sayin’

“Och,” says he with that damned charming Irish accent, “We’ve double bagged you before. Wouldn’t it be an adventure?” What woman could resist those last 5 words?

Not I.

Rewards or Awards? Is There A Difference?

Who doesn’t love a little recognition for a job well-done? Well, I don’t, but then again, I do. Well, it depends. Okay, which is it? Good question! I can remember being a Junior Olympic Gymnast standing up on the podium to receive my medal, my award, but feeling self conscious and wanting nothing more than to step down. Was I happy I had done well? Of course. Did I want to win? Yes, but the joy was in the competing for me. Being the best felt good, but it seemed embarrassing to stand up there and get an award. To me, it was like standing above them and saying, “I’m better than you.” That’s just something I’m not programmed to do. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that!! Champions, winners and 1st place finishers, I applaud you. I’m probably jumping up and down on the front row with tears running down my cheeks! I’m just more comfortable applauding. I’m the person who wants everyone to do well and have fun. I like to win, I even like to perform and participate, don’t ever doubt that, but I want to do it gracefully. Awards are, well, awkward.

So fast forward forty (holy moley, that is not a typo) years. Nothing has changed. I got an award at work for being a Top Producer. Did I want to be a top producer? Not just yes, but hell yes. When my name was called, I was happy and relieved, but I had that same feeling of timidity. Am I still shy? Um… not even a little tiny wee bit. It’s easy for me to have lunch with someone I’ve never met, stand up and speak in front of strangers, or stick out my hand and introduce myself to someone who seems unsure, or nervous in a crowd, but being singled out publicly for an accomplishment still makes me blush. I’ve got a shelf full of work awards at the office, but they’re kinda stuck behind the photos and stuff one collects. I’m embarrassed when someone comments on them. Why? Those same reasons, I guess.

A useful reward! Sorry Coach Dee, I had to make a ruby red and soda for the picture... :-) Another reward!
A useful reward! Sorry Coach Dee, I had to make a ruby red and soda for the picture… 🙂 Another reward!

I’ve decided that there is a huge difference between an Award and a Reward. I recently won a contest at work for bringing in the second largest percentage of new business during a specified time period. I got a $300 gift card. I was surprised and thrilled! For some reason, that felt different. It was a reward, not an award. I find awards kind of useless. Tennis trophies get donated pretty much as soon as I win them. The only ones I’ve kept are the useful ones and those are usually engraved beer steins or wine glasses. Those are cool! They serve a purpose, and aren’t just a “look at me” item. I drink out of them in private and they’re rarely used when we’ve got company. I get to enjoy them, and why I got them.

Sometimes, I even give myself a reward. Like, for losing weight. I told myself that when I hit the 30 pound mark, I’d buy myself another pair of boots. This is Texas after all! (SQUIRREL! I’m a native Texan and I have not worn cute boots since I was probably 8 and wouldn’t take my red ones off. Ranch boots, yes, but in the last 5 years,OLDgringo I’ve rediscovered the joy of a lovely pair of boots… Old Gringos to be exact) They’re an investment, let’s be honest, but they last pretty much forever. Well, I’ve lost 38 pounds and I was due a pair of boots. I’ve put it off because the choices are mind boggling and the price tags are (gulp) also mind boggling. I wanted a black pair. I have been to Allen’s more than once here in Austin, and that place is boot heaven. I’m picky though. I just ordered a pair of very sedate, black boots online, and on sale!

Why doesn’t this reward bother me? Here I stand, well, sit technically, and tell the world on this blog that I’ve done something pretty damned spectacular. I’ve done something I’m proud of. Well, I am and I’m not. That’s another blog. But I’m publicly stating that I’ve lost 38 pounds and by golly, I’ve just ordered a pair of Old Gringos. Maybe I’m only bothered when it’s a competition and by winning and getting an award, I’ve just been “better” than someone else. Here, I’m in competition with myself and I achieved something that I actually set out to do. No feelings got hurt along the way (except my own) and nobody got hurt. I doubt that anyone is sitting around wishing I hadn’t lost 38 pounds. If they are, well, in this case, I’m not sorry.

Am I crazy? Do you reward or award yourself?

Orienteering Toward Adventure

The sheets rustling woke me before I heard him mutter, “Need to leave in 30-40 minutes.” He got up like it was no big deal. ‘Don’t fight it” I encouraged myself, just get up and go. Once you’re up, you don’t dread it as much as you do while you’re still snuggled in the warm nest of sheets. I heard him put the dogs out and made myself get up and get it over with. Just like always, the anticipation of getting up was way worse than the actual getting up. I dressed quickly in Capri style sweats, and a long sleeved athletic type shirt. I threw on my light hikers and wandered to the kitchen. I felt a bit of nerves twittering about inside because frankly,  it’s been years since we’ve gone to an O meet. For the uninitiated, an O meet is an orienteering meet. Orienteering is not really an American staple sport. In fact, most of my friends just cock their heads a bit sideways and look at me when I say it. The sport is quite big in Europe and even in Canada where there are events just about every weekend!

The Thinking Sport
The Thinking Sport
So, what exactly is orienteering? They call it the “thinking sport.” Well, it’s a sort of Easter egg hunt, a scavenger hunt of sorts where you use clues (which are points on a map) and your compass, the old fashioned kind, you know the one you hold in your hand with magnetic north and all that, not the app. You are given a “point sheet” which is where you’ll prove you found all the points by punching a corresponding spot on your sheet with a special hole puncher. Each point has one hanging from it, and they punch unique patterns on your card. To be truthful, it’s been more than 10 years since my hubs and I participated. I really don’t remember much about how to use the compass. Two months post knee surgery had me doubting my sanity anyway. It’s all out in brush, off road/trail and not smooth sidewalk style hiking. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve not hiked since surgery. We chose to sign up for the “map hike” the non-competitive division where it’s not against the rules to run the course together. Run, well, we weren’t even gonna run.
Because we were running, not literally, though most people do run between points, the intermediate level course, we knew we could expect to have to bushwhack (pretty much like it sounds, going cross country through the bushes and, in Texas, the cactus) at least a little and we’d have to really search for some of the points. I quickly realized how soft and out of adventure racing mentality I’d strayed. I showed up in knit sweat pants like a newb. Not only would they, and boy did they, catch on every thing with thorns (which is damned near everything), but because they were cute Capri style, my ankles were bare and vulnerable. My knit top was no help either. Did I bring a hat to bully through the branches? Why no, I did not. I did, however, have the forethought to bring sunglasses, but before I pat myself too hard on the back, I always bring sunglasses… Texas, duh. I’d forgotten that even in the shade of a stand of cedar trees and undergrowth that sunglasses will protect your eyes from all those nasty branches and twigs and bugs. Prepared was I? No. However, mentally, I’m stubborn and I do like to finish what I start battle torn and bloody or not… recently operated on knee screaming, or not.
The first point seemed really close, and it was, but it was at the bottom of a cliff face (had to figure out how to get down there with a gimpy knee without dying) and to use the terrain clues, bend of the creek etc… to find your way to the point. It didn’t hurt that those obnoxious and noisy teenagers found it right before we did and helpfully yelled to their friends. We were going that way, and would have found it, but their antics kind of annoyed me. They were

A lovely view
A lovely view

doing the competitive part. They just told all their competitors where to find the first point and took a bit of fun out of it for us. My hubby is a great navigator, he’s got the luck of the Irish motherland, but he’s also just damned good at it. I tend to get distracted by bugs, heart shaped cactus, cool rocks, plants and annoying teenagers, so as you can imagine, I let him lead. It’s definitely not a bad view in and of itself walking behind, just saying.

Back when we were in our adventure racing hey day, and navigation is part of the race, sometimes for miles and miles and miles and hours upon hours, we’d sometimes hear teams find a point and were so grateful. But, because we were strong navigators, we made up time during that part of the course. (I’m not a fast mountain biker, we’d lose time during that part). I was not much of a runner either during the navigation/orienteering sections, but hubs could really take us straight from point to point. We’d come up with code words, because when you’re out in the wilderness, think 1000s of acres, you have to spread out to find the little orange flags when you know you’re close. So that we wouldn’t tip off other teams that might be in the vicinity, we’d come up with code words or phrases. Maybe it would be the word cactus, I could exclaim, “Ha! Another heart shaped cactus!” or we’d ask if everyone was drinking water. When we’d hear the code phrase, we knew our point was found and we’d head toward the person who’d said it. The night races were always interesting because we could come to the top of a hill, and look for other teams headlights in the dark. Man, those were some adventurous times! I’m grinning with the memories!
Did You Miss the Point?
Did You Miss the Point?

Like most other races, we kept seeing the same groups. It amused me no end the constant chatter and the youthful exuberance with which those kids would set out for the next point. They’d take off running in the direction that one of them would think the point was. Hubs would study the map (no hurry) and grin as they took off so quickly in the wrong direction. We’d set out in our methodical hiking and a few minutes later, we’d hear them coming up behind us, or listen to their confusion in the trees. I think it always surprised them that the old folks kept ending up at the points at the same time because we were obviously slow. At one point, we arrived seconds after a particularly cocky 17 year old boy. He, had called out that he’d found the point, as we walked up and his buddies all came running. After glancing at us he said, “I guess I was one of the only ones to actually find this point.” Oh, how I wanted to laugh and put him in his place, but I decided not to tell him we’d been doing this sort of thing (and way more adventurous things to boot) while he was still in nappies, but damn, that sounded geezer, so I resorted to my “oh, we’re gonna kick his little cocky ass in this thing” mentality.

My knee was fairly good the first couple of miles, really. I tried not to limp, but by mile 3 or so, and in and out of the creek, I decided, the hubs would be doing the climbing and fun stuff on his own. I would stick to the banks for the creek, or the trails as he’d do the real work. He noticed my limp, asked if I was okay and knew that I was in stubborn Suzie, “finish this thing” mode and there was no talking me off the trail. We love being out there, fun objective, or no objective. I love how the trails are so ripe for make-out moments. Just being out there together, it’s just a happy place, a good place for both of us. So glad that some things never change.
His skills as a navigator have not changed either. It gave me great pleasure to run into cocky teenager way down the trail and have him ask, “Are you looking for number 9?” We said that yes, we were on the hunt. He and his one remaining comrade seemed confused and took off, once again in the wrong direction. We very quietly found the point about 50 yards opposite and quietly went on our way. An hour later, many points and miles later, they met us on the trail. “Did you ever find number 9?” I did not cackle or even laugh and point, not in real life, though I was doing those things (and more) in my head. We explained that we had indeed found that point and told them where they’d gone wrong. They never found it! They had to skip it all together. Bawhahaha. Thanks mother Karma! I never said that I was a mature adult, and I doubt I’ll ever make that claim.
Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 2.15.00 PM
A wee bit over 2 hours and 3.78 miles at Walnut Creek Park in Austin, Texas

We finished up and were in our car and gone before those two made it to the finish line. I hope they made it out and had fun because it really is a cool thing for young people to be doing. I just wish the ROTC leaders would teach them some strategy and etiquette. The hubs and I enjoyed our morning and I loved hearing him say in the car, “that was good to get out and do some of the things we used to do. Our things.” Yes, you Irish orienteering stud, it was! Indeed! Knee is up, bring on the ice.

Click here to find out more about orienteering in Austin. For more info about orienteering elsewhere in the U.S. or to find a club near you, click here.

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