Thursday, April 24, 2014

Virtual Happy Hour

Wow--how are we nearing the end of April. In recent conversations with a friend, this year is supposedly to go quickly and I can't deny that I agree. The year itself is flying by!

So what are some random things of late that I would share if we were at happy hour?!

--I got two jogs in this week. I finally felt the desire to run again on Saturday evening but I didn't fully have time and the energy until Monday. Monday's jog was uber slow and there was still a moment when I didn't feel like my brain and everything upstairs was totally functioning and as "stable" as I'd hoped it would be. Really I knew I'd be fine, but part of it might be that I don't trust my ability to read the signs of my body as well. This evening's jog was at a much faster pace than Monday's but I also learned real fast that two weeks of not really running has definitely impacted by distance and stamina abilities. I'm still not secure in my body enough to want to do any solo hiking but I'd like to get back to "training" of a sort.

--I had one or two nights of still not sleeping super great and the other nights have been incredibly solid nights. Even after sleeping for 8-9 hours some nights, I'm still feeling like I could sleep all day if given the opportunity however.

--Most of last weekend was spent grading, although I had a great evening of an amazingly delicious shrimp boil on Saturday and then Easter brunch with family on Sunday. (I totally spaced adding sugar to my sticky buns however, so had to make two batches! Luckily the 2nd batch was some of my best yet.)

--I've had lots of great opportunities this week to reconnect with some of the people in life that I don't get to see as frequently, and also plan some fun stuff with closer or newer friends--it's been wonderful. A great evening of amazing food on Thursday and tomorrow will be happy hour with one of my undergrad gals. The gals and I for sure decided to reinstate book club among the four of us, and I just roped one of my new classmate gals into training for a half-marathon with me.

--Said classmate and I are also planning a couple of backpacking excursions this summer, including what we hope will be a 2-3 day trip to Olympic NF. I just picked up the last item I needed to complete my backpacking gear (yea for REI dividends and 20% off coupons!), and I'm looking forward to her and I making this happen. She seems to be of the same physical and mental stamina so I think we'll make great outdoor partners. We're also hoping to take some of the other classmates on some day hikes as well.

--This last week I also had the opportunity to connect with a newer female friend who is going through a break-up. It's been nice being able to offer her some thoughts and support to help her with the process. Even in the midst of the worst moments of the divorce, I always thought in the back of my mind that I hoped that someday I would be able to help someone else based on having to go through the experience. Even though her situation is different, I do feel that it's been healing for myself as well to be able to help with guidance. She'll recover in her own way and time, but she's appreciating having some help also.

--After an interesting weekend, I've asked Housemate M to relocate as of the end of May and given him 30ish day notice. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he will make this a smooth transition but I don't entirely trust the situation until it's resolved and over. My classmate is definitely contemplating taking his spot however and should she decide that it's the right decision for her, then she would move in early June and hope to stay for 8-12 months...which would probably be ideal all things considered. But we'll see. If not then I'll post and look for someone else. It's important to me to have my home be a healthy, trust-filled environment where people are actively pursuing a good lifestyle.

--A trip to Home Depot for more grass seed, artichoke plants, and pricing arbor materials was great for my spirits...and granted the OK on the project from the landlords. So I've been in talks with both my brother and father this week about the building project. I don't even know that I'd know what to do once the yard gets situated.... but I'm giddy with excitement just thinking about it!

What's been up in your world during the last week?!

Friday, April 18, 2014

It Was a Great Friday!

Howdy, howdy....

Today I slept in as long as I could before breakfasting, dressing, and heading to my medical appt. Verdict is: they're going to cut out the issue...and when I checked my coverage, I was happy to find that not only will this hopefully take care of the issue but outpatient surgery (minor I tell ya, it's uber minor but for some reason I have to be in the operating room...) will only cost be $75. Woohoo!

A quick trip to the grocery store to restock the low items, up my vitamin ante (I've decided to just start taking a variety of supplements and hope those help!)...and pick up a new sink trap since we had a backed up sink this week which required the landlords to fix it. Thank God for my awesome landlords!

When I got back to the house, I rested for a bit, started on my laundry, took care of my homework that is due this next week, and then I hauled out the lawnmower and got busy mowing down the jungle that has been growing out there. Somehow even though I was tired, it turned into one of the best mow jobs I've ever done. Mowing seriously makes me happy though. I love seeing the yard go from disorderly to nice and pretty...and the sunny afternoon did wonders for me as well. Since it was already looking better, I decided to pick up some of the debris around the yard to continue with the trend.

Then a text to my brother to ask if he might be willing to help me build some new compost bins, if we also make one for his place....led into his asking if I still needed help with my other yard projects. I felt like the skies had parted and I eagerly filled him in on what I wanted to do. Since he agreed to help me, I decided to test the body out and get to work taking care of some of the preliminary stuff that needs to happen before we can get to the larger projects. The rest of the afternoon was spent:
--transferring dirt from the lower raised bed into my still empty higher raised bed that had settled over the years and needed an upgrade
--taking measurements of the current coop and arbor to visualize and compare to the new spaces
--checking out my stock of random wood to see what might be able to assist with either project
--pulling weeds from all around the backyard
--cutting back and taming the marionberry
--hauling cinderblocks across the yard & constructing a new smaller higher raised bed plus hauling dirt to fill the new one in
--filling the yard debris container plus my back up one from the winter's pile
--sweeping both back patios and setting out the summer's chairs
--hauling my still potted Asian pear across the yard to a new location
I don't know that all the projects will get done (especially since I'm not entirely sure that my brother and I can actually manage to move the coop--it might be too heavy), but I'm at least excited to have something to be looking forward to and moving toward. For the last week it's felt like I couldn't do anything and just sort of blah in general, but today even though I had moments of feeling light felt great to be using my body again and heading toward continued yard improvements. It was so nice to look across the yard and see the rewards from today alone...but also to be able to envision what these completed projects might do for the yard also! The front isn't totally done either but I love looking around and just seeing how it's all come together so far....incredibly rewarding.

Honestly throughout a lot of today I kept thinking about "green" choices--the ones I used to implement, the ones I hope to return to implementing, and other ideas for which to head in. Beyond the potential chickens and composting, I love that I just keep reusing left over boards and cinder blocks (most came from my aunt's old deck and their stock piles), I made sure to pull weeds by hand to reduce spreading and to keep Dad from eventually spraying them whenever he comes to visit, I'm hoping to expand the list of veggies (the radishes are already coming up!) and preserving that I do this year, and it just dawned on me where I can put a new outdoor clothesline.

Also got to Facetime with Dad earlier in the afternoon while pulling weeds, and then we connected again this evening so I could Facetime with Granny. A nice, quick shower and then a dinner of Mexican-inspired chicken with sides of a baked sweet potato and sauteed zuke & onion. Ending with this opportunity to sit and blog for a bit.....

....Yes, indeed, it's been a very good day. Sunshine, productivity, and daydreaming. Happy, happy!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Lil Bit of Everything Update

So I've been meaning to post a couple of things but every time I finally have a moment the flow of words just isn't coming like I want it to here probably goes a dump of wording! :)

--Monday and Tuesday were my first attempts at normal days. I taught on Monday night but leaned against the podium most the night, and then had a long day on Tuesday. Yesterday I had another 'bout of feeling light headed, total exhaustion, and like I was "tanking" but somehow I was able to hold it together, secure some food ASAP, and then lay down for an hour or so before heading to teach last night. This morning on the other hand started out feeling really tired and cranky, although I slept great last night... and then I felt energized by end of the long day today. Suffice it to say that the days are hit or miss, and that it's feeling like it's going to be a work in progress to recoup totally. A coworker of mine said that she actually had a similar thing happen last year and it took her several months to bounce about depressing! Here's hoping that it doesn't take that long for me to get back to life!!

--This week did include two extra things however that are things that I've been wanting to do for a long time.
1) On Tuesday night I went to a Women's Bike Maintenance basics course by REI Outdoor School. The course itself was a little slow moving, but it definitely gave me a much better idea how to care for, clean, and fix minor issues with a bike. As a kid I had so much more comfort with a bike, but it's something that I'm hoping to start really getting back into in the next year or two.
2) Yesterday was a meeting of a NorthWest Environmental Institute sustainability based discussion group. When I was really into the sustainability/simplicity movement 5-7 years ago, I had discovered the existence of this resource and thought it sounded neat. How it works is NWEI has workbooks on various topics. You find a group of fellow individuals (coworkers, classmates, etc) and then you spend an hr each week discussing one of the chapters and trying to implement changes in your life over the week, etc. Last year my supervisor and another person organized one on a different topic and this year they decided to do the sustainability one. I missed the first meeting last week but was able to attend this week. Not only is it nice to do something I always intended to do, but it's fun to both get back into this type of mindset/material AND connect with some new people in my work environment.

--On Monday I had a hankering for the veggie lasagna dish I used to make YEARS ago on a regular basis. The dish (& my cooking) was a point of contention in my marriage so I hadn't attempted to really even make it in four years I think, but on Monday I just started imagining how it tasted etc. I had been tired of being cooped up so the dogs and I slowly walked to the grocery store so I could buy tofu and shredded cheese. I used seasoned tofu & cheese layered with premade noodles and my home canned veggie pasta sauce. It came out every bit as good as I remembered AND it fed me dinner and two lunches for school during the week also. Definitely need to do something like that again as it helped make feeding myself this week so much easier.

--Some other great things: The gals and I are talking about potentially re-instating what is left of our old book club. One of my classmates and I talked today about her potentially moving in when housemate M moves out (it's a long shot, but I'm hoping & praying...). I finally had a decent back massage this evening for the first time in a couple weeks and it definitely regulated me back out again. Tomorrow I have a follow-up consult for that first urgent medical issue I had in early March and I'm hopeful that it will lead to another appt to truly get rid of that problem. That coworker I mentioned earlier who had a similar issue is also actually a Registered Dietitian, so I'm hopeful I can tap her brain for some nutritional help. I had a great lunchtime conversation with my classmate who adopted Lady today--the conversation was over a lot of different topics, but it also let me know that she is for sure keeping the cat :) Oh and I got called for an interview....rewarding...again just going through the motions being realistic but it's nice to be continuing farther in the process this year! And this weekend, it's shrimp boil time with my buddy and his gf on Saturday evening and then Easter brunch with my family on Sunday--I'm excited to eat, celebrate, and enjoy in some fun but low key settings!

And I'm sure there's more....but for now that's life in a nutshell. Some good, some not so good, but still trucking and moving forward. (And these days....still happy to be back to praying..)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lil Simple (Past) Louisiana Moments

I mentioned yesterday that I've had many moments from Louisiana resurface in the last month or two and I don't know how much I was able to focus on or share those moments as they were happening, so I want to take the time to share some of them here. Many of the moments I did recognize were valuable and I've thought for a long time that given different circumstances, I actually think the full two years down there could have been much more enjoyable. It's fun exploring a new location and I truly wish that the time would have been as amazing as it could have been. Regardless there were some amazing moments that continue to stick out in my mind throughout the years.

Yesterday morning I was reminded of sweet tea & fried pickles....which made me remember this lil store/eatery on a small lakeshore where we went a few times when I first visited & moved down there. In that slow southern way, it took an hour for our food to be put on the table, but their pizza sauce was amazing and the sunsets that hit that side of the lake were absolutely gorgeous. The first time we went, we sat with a couple friends lounging in the water, played catch together, and enjoyed a few beers. It seriously was a perfectly simple spring afternoon & evening. The type that I hoped would be an example of the future.
This tree is an image that has always stuck in my mind and I can still feel the spring heat and buzzing. The tree itself was located at the nearest airport.

We used to make a drive to our favorite little spot to eat in Nachitoches about every other month or so. The drive there was windy and pretty empty but I loved to make it if only to get away for a little while. The restaurant we frequented at was small, with great outdoor patio seating, and the river a little bit away. I don't think I'll ever have as good of eggplant parmesean as I did at that location and the seasonal strawberry beer was equally amazing. The ex always ordered whatever was on special and I don't think he ever left disappointed. The town is known for its history, its food, and its Christmas light celebration. We took my aunt there the summer that granny fell and I also took a solo daytrip to explore the shops along its main avenue.

Honestly some of my favorite memories have to do with the consistency of my running, even if I now wish that I would have been at this current level so I could have embraced more of the trails that were straight out my door. But I have so many great memories of grabbing the dogs post work and heading out to log at least a few miles. One of the other husbands in the neighborhood (who he and his wife were dear friends) made a great running buddy and so he and I would head out on occasion, but my first ever 8 miler was an amazing evening jog through the trails with the ex and the dogs. I don't know that I'll ever forget the awesomeness of that particular run.

I honestly enjoyed the ability to watch the seasons change through our back windows:
The house had a great back patio for sitting, thinking, & watching the weather/seasons.

There was an evening a year or so after I'd been there, when I got to go into the training area to see the herd of wild horses. Literally hundreds of wild horses on an old dirt landing zone just operating in their normal, natural state...and the dogs unsure what to think. I finally got to see a little more of the behind the scenes of where and how the day-to-day work operations of the guys functioned also. The rest of that evening was equally simple and uplifting, just driving around in the truck through the woods. 

And while I didn't usually enjoy the moments of chaos with many of the local "friends," I really appreciated and enjoyed being able to participate in a true Louisiana crawfish boil. I love connecting to a places original culture.

Amazingly, this is the only hike I went on in the South but it was neat getting to explore some of the local flora and fauna, and I wish there would have been many more moments like this:

There were other great simple moments of day trips to the nearest lake to clear my head, the clothes line hanging in the garage or other "trying to stay green" moments, moments getting and enjoying the animals and the like, but the ones listed above were some of the happiest. In hindsight, I really did/do enjoy the little things more than the grander things usually. I had some amazing trips across the south during my time down there and I also have to say that I really loved the job that I had down there as well. I never thought I'd want to go back to New Orleans but in the last several months, I've realized that it'd be a different experience if I saw it my way and truly got to embrace more of the overall culture and history of the place. There's so much that was intended to see the time that Granny was to make it to NOLA and much of that I feel that I missed. So we'll see how the future pans out, but one of my gals and I are in talks about trying to make a low-key NOLA trip in our 5 year plan future :)

Little parts of Louisiana are still ingrained in me. I still relish the amazingness of Oregon in comparison, I still soak up the sun that we get and remember how nice those 80 degree December days felt, I still season salmon and eggs on occasion with Cajun flavoring, I still search for Abita beer at New Seasons, and I have taken to the occasional seafood boil. The experience of living there made me incredibly glad for what Oregon and other areas offer, but not without realizing that rural Louisiana did also have some of its own simple pleasures. Regardless of the downsides and what was lost in the process, I'm incredibly grateful for the exposure to another part of our nation, and I in no way doubt that those moments and memories will continue to shape me into the future.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Mid-Morning Chat

I wanted to do a "coffee or happy hour chat" except I haven't been drinking coffee since the fainting spell on Tuesday, as I'm not craving it and I figure my body doesn't need anything to amp it up these days :) I did actually have a beer last night for the first time in quite a while, as I've rarely been drinking in the last month or two either.

--Today is the first day that I've woken up and felt fairly decent. I've been having some weird sensations in my lower legs since mid-day yesterday but at least I woke up after 7ish hours of sleep and felt fairly well rested. I'm making myself eat routinely (& high calorie foods at that) and making sure that I drink at least 80oz of water everyday. Since Tuesday I have not done anything work or school related other than check/send emails and look at what homework needs to get done this weekend. I've really truly been trying to destress and just relax, and so yesterday also included finishing another book for fun while sitting on the back patio.

--Although....being on the back patio just makes me think of all the building projects I'd hoped to get done this spring, but I just have to accept that I don't think they're going to happen. For one, I can't move the coop or build a new arbor by myself. Two, the few people I've asked to help I know don't really want to do it and that makes the idea of construction a little less fun :) Three, while my father would do so, I don't really want to ask him to drive four hours to help with the process. But so I'm just trying to be patient and trusting that all things will happen in due time....even if it means delaying until next spring.

--That patient & trusting theme is apparent in many areas of life as of one thing I've been thinking about is switching to the 15 month option of the massage program. In so doing, I'd end at Christmas break rather than late September. I'd only have 2 classes this term and then have "lighter" terms for summer & fall. Originally I'd thought the 12 month plan would allow for September to be used to study for boards, but in looking over the schedule that option wouldn't work and so there's no incentive to really end in Sept at this point (other than speeding up the job search process). Both program options are the same cost, so I could also stretch payments out or pay it off in advance. It would mean continuing to need to rent room(s) until early next spring (but I'd already realized this was likely anyway to achieve financial goals), and I'd probably try to get a longer term stable option then. But the general theme would be that I would probably stress less (hopefully) but spreading out the timing.

--The good news in looking around the yard is that everything is flowering and my new grass is sprouting! :) I need to do some weeding and pruning (& probably some more grassing) but I'm happy to see things continuing to evolve. The azaleas are just about to bloom however, and before the whole episode this last week, Granny and I were able to plant one of my raised beds. I need to make little lattices for the clematis out front but most the rest of the easier projects I'm going to wait until I'm more rested next weekend. There are definitely some things I can do during the next week or two in the yard.

--While I'm obviously not the one doing any of the care, it's actually been really fun to have lil Alex here. Compared to a lot of little kids, he's really pretty quiet and also incredibly adorable. I'll have to post a picture in the week or so to come. But it's amazing to see how easily you can get used to toys being strung throughout the house :)

--Spring always makes me get that urge in my bones to clean out, to purge. Ironically I don't know that I have too much "stuff" that's excess these days, but I might have to go through my closet and organize or something.

--One of the things I'm loving most these days...are open windows and screen doors pulled. There's nothing quite like a spring time flow of air and happy spring time sounds. The dogs have been happily chasing the occasion fly that gets in, but it's so worth it. I'd take being a little too chilly with spring air over keeping the house heated any's just lovely!

--I've also been flooded with a LOT of memories from Louisiana in the last month or so. Kind of funny to have so many little moments returning but glad for most of them all the same. This might make a post of its own. But suffice it to say, this week I also overcame rice pudding making me teary, and I demolished a container of it in less than 24hrs :) Ha oh man!

I'm looking forward to my parent's stopping by for a bit and then I hope to get my first round of grading done today. Hope each one of you is enjoying a wonderful relaxing Saturday!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Health Update

Yesterday I went in to see a doctor (who was amazing) and have some tests run. A ct scan, ekg, and vials of blood later, so far everything is coming back within the normal range. I'm not anemic, my cortisol levels were fine (which the ND has been suggesting adrenal fatigue due to high cortisol levels), and my electrolytes and everything else were normal as well. No signs of inflammation and my kidney's appear to be working fine also (so dehydration at least as of yesterday wasn't the issue). 

Getting in to see a doctor can be a pain, but the level of care I receive once I'm there is always pretty amazing. The doctor had arranged for everything to be done stat so I was in the original doctor's office, through all the tests, and out the door in about three hours. He called me to discuss the results just as I'd walked into the grocery store on my way home from the clinic.

Since everything is coming back okay so far, he thinks it was just a weird fluke and a sign that my body needs me to rest even more. Even with the sleep issues he didn't think that'd be enough to necessarily cause the fainting. So per normal, he told me to rest, decrease stress, exercise a little less intensely, hydrate a ton, and keep eating how I've been eating but to also "maybe eat a damn hamburger, some fries, and a milkshake too." :) He had been a little worried that I had been exhausted and lethargic for two days but gave the example of a boxer who gets beat up in the ring with their head smacked around and that the boxer's body is exhausted and drained for a few days. So I'm to continue to rest and take it easy through this beautiful, sunny weekend.....

....Tuesday night I slept for 12 hours, Wednesday I snoozed and rested most the day, Wednesday night I had at least a solid 7 hours of sleep with another 2-3 yesterday morning. Yesterday I had all the appointments and then the house unfortunately needed cleaning (and my bed needed to be de-furred), but then I didn't really sleep deeply again last night (although I had a couple of good solid hours this morning). The whole episode of fainting did seem to make me stop caring for a while about all the "must get done" things and so last night I kept reminding myself that it doesn't do any good to stress over everything. I think that's going to be a big piece of the next few weeks....just reminding myself to let go, live, and not worry about everything. I also can't remember the last time I just focused on doing absolutely nothing for 4-5 days straight, it's amazingly restoring and uplifting.

In related destressing news: Housemate M and I had a really good conversation yesterday afternoon finally, discussing the last several months and our needs moving forward. Apparently he might be buying a house sooner rather than later after all, so we'll see what all transpires, but at least our conversation was healing in its own way. Granny is also going to my parents for a few weeks visitation so that also cuts down on the number of obligations and things to worry about. I'll definitely miss spending time with her, but it also will be nice to have a few less things to stress on. I let myself go back on Instagram if only cause I need something fun and uplifting to check up on :) God and I have been talking and I'm continually reminded that I need to depend more on Him. And I'm thinking about forgoing appointments with my ND for a while, if only to decrease the constant worry about what I should be doing better (although I might stick with monthly acupuncture.) My instructors and boss have continued to be amazing and even the dean of the massage program checked in to make sure I was okay since I'm rarely absent. My parents will be up on Saturday, my cousin is coming by to chat and hang out for a bit on Sunday, but really things just continue to be fairly low key which is needed. I'm still so grateful for the great support system that I do have from colleagues, classmates, friends, family, bosses, and instructors. And the whole experience has just continued to remind me to be...well grateful.....even of the dogs crazily running in circles in boredom on the bed. :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Not As Expected has a funny way of always letting me know that I spoke/speak too soon.

Today I'm in bed hoping that I can get in to see my naturopath before the day is over. I have a swollen lip, fatigued shaky muscles, and just pure exhaustion. I've agreed to get coverage for my class tonight and I'm thinking about skipping out on day two of my massage courses tomorrow, because the only reason I made it through yesterday's full day was by sheer determination.

Yesterday morning I woke up after a solid five hours of good sleep (which was pretty remarkable for these days) and I was feeling organized and like things were going pretty great. I ate a solid breakfast (two eggs, an english muffin w/ ghee & jam, greek yogurt w coconut, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, & half a banana) and had my coffee to go so I could drink it on the MAX. When I got on the train there weren't any seats available so I stood and took out my book. About five pages in I started to not feel so great so I put the book away, made sure to unlock my knees, and chocked it up to a bit of motion sickness. I'd taken off some layers as I was overheating and then for the first time ever in my life, I fainted. I must have realized I was going down so I had started trying to drop to my knees, next thing I knew I kept trying to pick my head up off the floor only to have it smack down harder. I heard people ask if I was okay and saw the semi-circle ring of their feet around me as they'd jumped out of the way. About this time the train had opened at the stop in the tunnel under the zoo, so I grabbed my stuff and stumbled out to where I could sit down and take in the wind blowing through the tunnel. The next train that came through I could see had seats, so I was able to make my way on and find a place to land for a bit. I could feel waves of dizziness coming over me again and at one point thought I might need to get back off the train, but somehow I made it through and got to class okay. The rest of the day is sort of a blur at this point. Three classes, eating regularly, drinking lots of water, a massive headache, sitting down a lot, trying to seem like things were okay even though my head was spacey at times, being really tired, and lots of checking in with the few friends and relatives I'd told about the situation. My aunt & uncle came and picked me up at the end of the day and when I finally was shut inside the car I couldn't help but cry about the whole situation. They drove my car from the Max station, fed me, and then I took a shower and crawled into bed for the evening.

Needless to say, I'm not sure what happened but it definitely wasn't the start to the term that I was expecting by any means. I checked in with my eldest brother (who is a nurse), who advised me to get in to see a doctor (mainly because this coupled with the occasional tanking on hikes could be pointing to a bigger problem) but also said that I'm probably just exhausted, needing more nutrition, and much more relaxation.....which definitely sound pretty valid to me. So we'll see if I can get in to the naturopath today. At this point I'm glad to be confined to bed today--mainly just laying here and doing absolutely nothing....and dependent on how I feel this afternoon, I might just try to have the next four days be exactly the same. What I really wish I had right now was a cabana boy however :) The sun is shining outside and it'd be great to have a buff attractive male to bring me meals, entertain my dogs, and generally wait on me for a few days....

....which leads me to....compassion. This whole experience of the last 24 hours just makes me think of how fortunate I am to have people that care about me, ranging from various family members to my friends to my classmates in the program. What if I had to take the Max back home last night? What if something had severely gone wrong and I had no one to turn to? What if this is/was a bigger problem and I had absolutely no health insurance to cover it? (although I did partly refuse to go to urgent care yesterday cause I don't have the money to pay the difference) I'm incredibly fortunate though to have people who could come and get me, people who are wishing well and encouraging me, and an understanding boss and instructors to grant me time to take care of myself. If anything right now, I'm reminded that I need to be more compassionate to my own students again--granting them grace about the unforeseen things that come up in life. And I also again am reminded of how easily sometimes a health issue can completely change the trajectory of one's life. Definitely puts things into a better, clearer perspective.

So here's hoping that I can figure out what went wrong....and if it's just exhaustion, that my body will be able to heal itself over the course of the next term. Yesterday I couldn't help but try to figure out if I could just work and take a leave of absence from the massage program, but I don't know that that helps me with any of my needs long term and just delays my ability to be self-sustaining. Trying to be open minded but we'll see what happens in the next week to come...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lady Made Her Move

I'm afraid to even post about this as it might just jinx the situation, but Lady was transported to her new (trial) home a week ago on Wednesday. The vet gave her the all clear (and a rabies shot) that Monday, I picked her up a pheromone collar on the way home to try to ease her stress, and on Wednesday afternoon I drove her the 35 minutes across town to her new residence (with her yeowling in anger all the way). I'm not going to lie, I got a little teary about saying goodbye and per usual, I'm slightly waiting to see how the situation evolves, but I'm hopeful that this really will be the best thing for her. She has wanted so much more attention in the last six months than I would ever be able to give and as much as I'd truly grown to love the lil Lady, I want her needs to be taken care of. When I let her out of the kennel and into her new space, she was a little unsure (as expected) and kept coming towards me for attention and as if she was ready to head home but I have no doubts that her new owner is so ready to have her. The last text message I received was that Lady was full of affection (but still somewhat adjusting), and if that's the case, then I am incredibly happy that she is now in a spot that can provide the love that she needs. I hope she continues to adapt and hopefully relax into the new environment in the weeks ahead. 

The whole experience made me realize that even though I approach my animals a bit more removed than some, I am much more emotionally attached than I knew and I'm not looking forward to the time when any of the other three might no longer be with me. I definitely love all of my fur crew....and it's a bit strange to now be down to three.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Time is My Jam

Flowering tree outside the state building near massage school.

The view from the bridge looking down onto the Willamette River & Waterfront Park in downtown Portland.

"Tulip" tree from up the messy but so beautiful!

Happy Monday y'all! So I'm just going to put this out there--I have a few more scheduled posts up my sleeve, but the new term starts tomorrow and there's no guarantee that I won't fall back off the planet until summer "break," but we'll see. :)

Last night I got back to my home, took in my surroundings, mowed the lawn, relished the flowering cherry trees, took the dogs on a jog, and then ate dinner while a breeze came though the open windows. It was 66 degrees and sunny! And here's the thing that came to me....the next 6ish months are totally my "on" time of year. I love the newness of spring--the showers, the flowers, the sunbreaks through the gray, the cool crisp mornings that lead into sunny afternoons. AND I love summer: the growth, the sunshine, the mix of excitement and laziness in the air, the smell of fresh cut grass and turned over earth, the warming of the river, the warm embrace that nature provides that encourages us to be active. AND I love the first few months of autumn too: the hot days of September, the beginning of the changing of the leaves, that feeling that there's a few more fun short-sleeved adventures to get in before winter. Seriously the next six months in Oregon tend to be incredible. I definitely still enjoy the winter, but late spring/summer/start of fall....that is totally my jam.

I honestly feel like this whole Lenten period has been so good for my body, my mind, my heart, and my soul. While I wouldn't say that I feel completely healed, I do feel much more in balance and closer to my truest sense of self than I have in a long time. I feel like my own internal winter is closing down as I head into the newness of spring, the awesomeness of summer, and the season of growth and enjoyment that is ahead. I haven't forgiven everything and everyone, but my heart is headed in that direction...and I'm trying hard to trust that life is going to work out for the better. I'm beginning to truly believe that some doors shut or were kept in holding patterns in order to allow a sense of what is important or maybe to kick butts back to their foundation...because truly I feel like the last few weeks have done just that--sent me back to my foundation.

For the first time since I moved to Louisiana almost five years ago, I feel like advocacy and steps toward environmental improvements truly are worth my time and energy. Yes, there are so many out there who don't care, but part of what I realized during my day of volunteering is that if I do nothing toward counteracting the steps of those who purposefully damage the Earth....then I'm really just continuing to be part of the problem. (And all this I say as I hypocritically drive around in my SUV, etc.) This re-engagement with the things that matter to me extends beyond just the environment though and has also reawakened in me the same drive (although slow and small at the moment) toward making a difference and trying to be a better example toward people in general. Whether that's doing more for the homeless, figuring out how to donate more time/money, reconnecting and healing my own family and friend relationships, or finally taking that trip to do some mission work in Africa. The jadedness that arose based on increased exposure to those outside my family and social circle has begun to dissipate and I'm feeling some of my old optimism return....even if this means needing to be surrounded by those of likeminds and optimistic energy in order to continue in this pattern .....and even if I still am unsure that I want to eventually reproduce biologically due to the state of the world and the general direction in which the environment is headed. :) At least, I feel compelled again to do something about it...

That middle picture in the set up top is an example of how things have been changing in the right direction. A few weeks before the end of last term, I made the decision to stop driving to massage school and to instead take public transportation. While it takes longer, it's actually a savings in money and allowed me to read for fun on the Max train. One morning as we crossed the bridge to the other side of the river, I looked up to see the view that I captured in that picture. Incredibly simple but yet so gorgeous and beautiful. I wanted the opportunity to snag a picture, so after class ended I walked the half mile or so back to that location and took several pictures...and from there I walked another mile or so through the streets of the city, following some of the streets I used to wander along back in the days of grad school. I used to love just being able to walk along downtown as my primary mode of transportation, taking in the sites, the people, and the seasons while allowing observations and thoughts to pass through my mind. This simple beautiful spring evening was incredibly restoring to my soul and again made me appreciate how its the simple enjoyments that truly are the most fulfilling.

Taking a month to be more gentle with my body was much needed and allowed me to run or hike just when I truly felt my muscles or soul had a yearning. Not pushing pacing was a strange change and giving myself LOTS of rest days was rejuvenating. While my sleep is still more miss than hit and my eating has been all over the board while on "vacation" the last few weeks (ice cream for lunch, say what?! :)), the acupuncture and Chinese herbs seem to be making a difference. I'm still not physically 100% but my body (and spirit) feels like it's healing in some big ways. Socially this month has been great as well as I've spent much more time reaching out and connecting with friends that are near and far. (Both my gals Christina and Caitlin are also heading back for trips again this summer...and I couldn't be more excited :)) I've also spent more time in communication with my immediate family and focusing on trying to heal some of the relationship issues that have been present. I've been very open with my parents regarding my processing and where I might need some assistance, which isn't always very easy for me to do as I generally don't like asking for help or admitting weakness. And spiritually I'm in a better place than I've been in months as well...and most days I feel God trying to tell me something or at the very least trying to get me to just trust the process. 

And that's just's all still a process. There still are days where certain topics or random things make me get teary or choked up when communicating, but I've stopped trying to avoid these moments nor do I worry about changing the subject. As I work through certain issues (sometimes repeatedly, obviously), I'm allowing for stuffed emotions to be freed and new windows of opportunity to open. Holding on to hurts and hopes of the past doesn't help anyone, although I'm still needing to let go in MANY facets...and as mentioned I'm finding that in general the hopes for life that I had are still generally where I'd like life to evolve to at some point...just either solo or with a truer partner. I'm also well aware that in order for life to truly feel "stable," many, many, many things still need to line up and flow together in the next 6-9 months as well.

Honestly the best part of this whole process...has just been reconnecting and discovering an old friend...which was and again is...myself. Still evolving, still reconnecting, still forgiving, still knowing that I'll probably be an internal stress cadet for the next several months....but happy to see old parts of myself, to grant myself grace, to stand up for what I believe in, to not be walked on or taken for granted while still trying to internally love others, to begin to be proud of and comfortable in my skin, to know that while flawed, I'm still beautiful, intelligent, motivated, and simply doing the best that I can.

The ND/acupuncturist had mentioned that giving myself a deadline of Lent to work through everything might be a little unrealistic...and I definitely agree. I don't expect to have it all worked through and figured out, but already I'm incredibly happy with what has happened in all the various dimensions throughout the last couple of weeks. And I'm heading forward....looking forward to what I hope will be more positive changes and growth in the months to come--the months that tend to be my most favorite jam :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Opal Creek Hike

En route to my parent's place on the coast, I decided to stop about halfway and do one of the hikes that I've been meaning to do during the three years I've been back in Oregon. There is so much hiking available in the greater Portland area that at times it's challenging to convince myself to drive elsewhere. I was debating between the Mackenzie River Trail and finally going to Opal Creek. In the end Opal Creek won out...but I'm not going to lie, this hike was very different than I had expected.
I'm not sure why I had envisioned something else but this hike was a very good reminder of many things when it comes to my hiking.
1) I absolutely must ensure that I eat well the night before AND the morning of. At about mile 6, I felt myself tanking and even after finishing the rest of the food in my pack, I was pretty exhausted and hungry by the time it was finally over.
2) It'd be a great idea to print maps from online or secure detailed paper maps prior. I've gotten SO spoiled by the signage and maps that are available at the trailheads in Tillamook Forest. The above picture was the only map at any of the trailheads and it's severely lacking in detail...and the signage on this hike was way less than what I've gotten used to.....all this to say for the first time ever while hiking, I headed in the wrong direction, wound up looping back around but added an extra 3 miles more than I intended, and had to retrace steps when I couldn't find the "other" trail the map was showing. I also was slightly paranoid as I was the only person at the trailhead and for some reason was sort of spooked this day alone in the woods.
Leading to 3) It'd be a really, really smart idea if I not only carried more food, but made sure to let someone know (before I lose cell service) where I'm going and a general range of time when they should hear from me that I'm back out of the woods. If I'm going to continue going solo, then I need to take more precautions. (Although I do already have a whistle and knife in my day pack...those won't help me if I fall off a hillside :))

Anyway....the hike is definitely beautiful and I can see why it's completely packed in summer. The water is crystal clear and amazingly gorgeous. And even though I was tired, hungry, confused, and a lil worried for most the 11.7 total miles, it was interesting to discover just how happy I look in the pictures I took. Funny how hindsight is 20/20...and just goes to show that part of what I thought about on trail was exactly accurate: Life the Life You Love, Love the Life You Live.....

Without further ado, the onslaught of pictures :)
One thing I didn't expect was the presence of old, rusting mining equipment and old mine shafts...just goes to show that in the end nature will win, even if we're not around to know it. :)

The dogs exploring an old building along the creek.

Crossing over the creek.

One of the few signs (Stony Creek trail is not on the map and both of these options are shown as one and named something else on the map....).

Water trickling down from the mountains.

Looking down on the creek from the trail. Look at that turquoise blue! Pretty amazing water no?!

Opal Pool 

I love Anna's grin in the background as she watches over snack time.

Downed trees covered part of the trail that the dogs and I navigated around.

What a great spot for lunch & a swim on a hot summer day!

Altogether, very pretty and a great work-out. I'm glad I made the stop to finally check it out, especially since it allowed for a break in the four hour drive. Plus, it was a great learning experience all around....and actually made me feel like I'm wanting to try out backpacking again this season. :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hometown Beach Run

My father's predictions of the weather are rarely off, but this morning luckily the sun showed it's face much longer than predicted. While the dogs and I had already put in some decent mileage Thursday, I decided that we needed to embrace the good weather and also do some mileage along the beach shores. Horsefall beach is more of your "true" beach with long open, flat coastline perfect for running and while I was in high school, they'd truck us athletes out for training by having us run mileage down the shore. Back in those days, 17 minutes one way was killer and I was counting down the minutes til we could turn around and head back to the bus :)

Today however was gorgeous:

With barely any other souls on the beach (although we did come across a handful of ATVers), the dogs had a blast just running free and we ended up going farther than I originally intended.

We ran until mile 4.4 where there was a sign posted for "no motorized vehicles, dogs, or kites beyond this point" and some big antenna were located there. I'd stopped to look for whole sand dollars and shells a couple times en route to the turn around (and did lots of processing of thoughts regarding dating, life, etc at this point as well) but we averaged a 9:44 or 10 minute pace into the wind. I knew my watch was about dead (and I left the charger in Portland), so was just hopeful that I'd make it close to the beach access spot where we'd parked before it finally shut off. (It died a mile out from the end which was good enough in my book!)

With the wind pushing us on and the sun on our faces, our return pace was 8:34 min/miles. With the tide coming back in, several times we ended up running through gentle waves, especially when I got hit by a decent sized one when I turned to wave to a passing ATV rider! :) About mile 6ish and once I'd no longer been looking, I glanced down at my feet and there it almost perfect sand dollar. I scooped it up and held it gently in my free hand as we made the final distance back in. The timing of noticing it was perfect to the thought that had just passed through my mind....and I couldn't help but think to myself...."There it is, there's my heart (and my sign)...and solid and full it is...." There's a tiny, tiny hole but it's more than good enough for my liking.

And now, it's joined the other shells and collected items that reside in my car where they continually remind me of that which matters...the little natural, simple elements of life....that frequently appear just when we stop striving and pushing to make it so. 

2013 Review

Four months into 2014, but as I've been rereading posts from the year past I wanted to focus on the positives of 2013. Interesting to note that on New Year's 2013, I predicted that the year ahead would be full of challenges, while I already felt that 2014 was going to hold more of what I wanted for the future. So far, those words shared on that first day of last year, seem to be valid.

But in-between the up and down moments of 2013, there were some pretty amazing and phenomenal moments: TONS of outdoor trips, wonderful visits with some of my favorite out-of-state friends, restoring visits with Mom and Dad, finished projects, and a start to an additional life direction.

So without further ado and in no relevant order, the best of 2013:

An Amazing Week Long Summer Visit with my gal Christina:

Girls day hiking & celebration meals

Trying out kayaking again

Gaining comfort with biking

Getting to Be One of the Boys & Going White Water Rafting:

Finally checked white water rafting off the lifetime desire-to-do list and had a blast spending a few days at home on the water and getting to be one of the guys. A day hike and some camp antics, gorgeous drive views.

Overnight Backpacking Trips & Other Fun Times w/ Regular D:

Happy hours, sweating along trails, conversations over beers, simple moments full of smiles, sitting alongside each other on lake shores, enforcing that I learn to build a survivalist fire, float trip antics & car conversations, random they-were-going-to-throw-them-out flowers. This guy knows how to drive me absolutely crazy, supports and pushes me to regain myself, and is always bringing a smile. Not expected and not sure how long lived, but glad for our moments spent together as friends.

Simple enjoyable moments "Dating" the Ex & realizing its nonsustaining:

Hikes, a trail run, frisbee golf, the state fair, learning to paddleboard, brunch dates, movie rentals & pizza...simple, fun times together but always with that true connection, true honest communication, & trust just missing.

A Wonderful Mid-Summer Visit w/ Cait:
Loved, loved, loved spending an evening with one of my best gals. Sushi dinner, trips around the high lights of NW PDX, and laughter time w regular D's comic antics.

Outdoor Adventures & Friendship w/ Housemate M:

Last year I couldn't have asked for a better timed renter. Housemate M was a great outdoor companion and was oh so completely uplifting, helping me adjust to my single self and allowing me to gain comfortable in learning to give again to another. 

Springbreak Road Trip to the Redwoods & San Francisco:

Housemate M's first official road trip, camping in the Redwoods, visiting my two MPH girls and catching up with an old undergrad friend, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge w/ one of the most entertaining veterans, exploring Berkeley, and trail running thru Muir Park.

My Parents:
Honest to God, these two...they saw me through. Mom indulged my crazy while Dad's calmness always arrived in time to steady the boat and set the anchor in place. They came to help out in the yard and around the house, to set my foundation upright, and also let me care for them in return. The simple moments with them visiting for weekends were some of the greatest of the year.

Redoing the front yard, back yard/patio & house changes:

Honestly being tasked out by the landlords to work my vision on the front of the house truly gave me something to pour my creative energy into at the start of the summer. While simple, cheap decorative additions were made to the patios for the summer, they at least felt a bit more together for hosting get-togethers, and my home finally was organized and decorated to truly feel inspiring and a place of comfort.

Food Preserving & Summer Fun w Granny:
Last year saw the garden going, peaches/blueberry/apples/pears picked and preserved, and lots of other local food moments.

Started Massage School:
Brain got stimulated, my capacity for people widened, & life started heading in a new direction.

Made a Total of 800 Miles:
A mix of routine running, hiking, trail running, snowshoeing, and backpacking got us to cover 800 miles in the year of 2013--more than we would have ever expected. Regular exercise kept the dogs smiling and moods enhanced, new trails stimulated my mind and soul, and in the later part of the year I also added in a bit of yoga.

Other highlights not pictured: simple moments with family (happy hours, brunches & celebrations, summer Granny celebrations, and quality time with my cousin A), easy moments spent over food or coffee with dear local friends, and simple needed moments just relaxing in the back yard.

It may not have held everything I'd hoped but 2013 was a year of much growth, amazing outdoor opportunities, help with closing doors, and movement toward heading life in an complementary parallel new direction.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

March's 100 Mileage: Wildwood Trail & Shamrock Run

March saw a total of 103.1 miles covered, and that marks my first sort-of 100 mile month.

30.2 miles were covered on the Wildwood Trail Hike the first weekend of the month. In all actuality this was more like a LOONG walk through the city woods, so I didn't know whether to truly count all the miles as our pace wasn't always heart pumping. Even without the 30.2 miles, I still covered over 70 miles just through running and another hike or two.

View of Portland From Pittock Mansion:

A small waterfall along Wildwood Trail

The trail alongside the creek

So glad to reach Mile 30! 

And at the very end--happiness!

The trek went well overall, although the temperature dropped about 8 degrees while we were on trail and the group wanted to break more than what I'm used to. My Raynaud's got going and at one point, I couldn't feel my hands for close to an hour and wasn't able to open a granola bar when we stopped for fueling. There were five of us from the Meet-Up group who did the trek however, and overall it was an enjoyable experience and made it much easier to accomplish than if I had tried to do it by myself this year. First physical activity goal of the year was accomplished!

The hike is part of what pushed me over an emotional hurdle though (and I had a painful somewhat urgent medical issue surface early this month) and so except for the other main event in March that was already scheduled, I've taken lots of rest days this month and have dropped my pace while only running on the days when I really feel called to do so.

The other big event this month was participation in the Shamrock Run 15k:

These pictures are from the Shamrock website, but hopefully it's okay to use them (??). Overall the run went really well. I took it easy with pacing while still navigating around people in front of me that were slower. The start was fairly slow and didn't have the pacing groups they'd advertised, but altogether the race was pretty easy and felt like a regular weekend long run....although with 11,000 other 15k runners :) I was probably overdressed, but I'll take dripping sweat over being too cold any day! :) For most of the 9.3 miles I felt like I had a smile on my face, minus the final trudge of the last crest of Twilliger Hill when as I finally thought to myself "I'm so over this damn hill..." I realized it was the last bit of the hill and I laughed to myself. Heading back down off the hill I picked up the pace and my smile was even wider, although as I passed the amazing veterans carrying American flags while they ran, my mind also thought about those who our nation has lost and about Maggie's running of races in memory of her fallen husband. Once I was down to the final mile, I picked up the pace and sprinted the final half mile to the finish line. My overall pace was 8:44 minute miles. Altogether the event was a nice experience (and a way to raise some extra money for our scholarship students), but if I DO complete a half this year I need to make sure that I have a newer pair of Vibrams! 

The dogs and I got in an easy spontaneous hike (with some gentle trail running) Sunday afternoon trying to conquer more sections of Gayles Creek. It was supposed to rain mid-afternoon, but once the sun continued shining I couldn't deny the forest calling. Ironically after treking through the flooding creeks we reached a sign about 4ish miles in that the rest of the trail is closed until summer....  After finding ways to navigate around most of the creek overflows uptrail, it was fun running straight through 1-2 feet of water on the return trek! 

But other than the Wildwood event and the Shamrock Run, all the rest of the miles in March were kept slower paced and more gentle on my body. (I also had one Saturday run with a newly forming local meet-up group, but I wasn't a big fan of the leader's style.) I'm still hoping to try to continue averaging 80 mile months during the year, but I'm also not wanting to punish my body. On the weekends I am trying to do the occasional run with an acquaintance who is contemplating training for the marathon this fall, so if I help her with training then maintaining mileage shouldn't be much of a problem in the couple months ahead. It's interesting to see how easily the body adapts, as these days regular 6-10 mile outings don't seem to be any problem.

Next on the goal list for the year to be accomplished: kayaking again. I'm registered for three (free with my tuition waiver) spring outings (and waitlisted for a paddle boarding one) and I'm really looking forward to those weekends. (And I'm oh so hopeful there will be a summer community ed surfing option!)