My Motivation

Those little rings in the middle keep me moving every day.

I have an Apple Watch. I’m not sure how many of my readers have one. It’s actually an interesting piece of equipment to own if you’re active and a bit competitive with yourself and others. Like a Fit Bit, you can share your activity with others and challenge users to see who can burn the most calories in a week. That feature is okay, but you can also see who’s exercising, what they’re doing for exercise, and cheer them on after they workout by sending them an emoji and/or message to say “Good Job” or “Really? That’s all you got.” I never send the snarky message.  

The competitive nature of the watch comes into play by asking the user to do a set amount of activity each day. Apple has tasked the wearer with closing three rings on the watch face daily; these rings track activity, are called goals, and are named: Stand Goal; Move Goal; Exercise Goal.

The Stand Goal asks the user to stand at least once an hour, and you close your ring by ensuring you stand once per hour for at least 12 hours each day. Sounds simple, but if you’re at your desk immersed in a project, it’s easy to forget to stand. Or, if you’re binging Netflix … well, you get the picture. The watch will ping you or vibrate at 10 minutes to the hour to remind you to stand, and by stand it needs you to take at least 150 steps. When I went to my office each day, this was a trip to bathroom.

The Move Goal’s name is erroneous. This ring actually tracks the amount of calories you actively burn daily. Users can set the calories a person wants to burn daily; mine is set to 520. Again, when I worked outside my home, I closed this ring fairly easy each day. Now, I really have to make sure I pay attention to this ring to make sure I’m active enough each day to burn 520 calories.

The Exercise Goal is just that; it tracks any workouts I did. The standard goal is 30 minutes of exercise a day. I can close this one with a yoga or spin workout. When I could went for walks before Plantar Fasciitis, a couple laps up and down my road after dinner easily closed it.

The reason I’m sharing this with you is that Apple Watch tracks of how many times I close my rings each month and gives me tasks to keep me motivated to close said rings. It’s not enough to just pay attention to these rings on a daily, now I was required to to close them to finish a quest each month. If I conquered my required task, I would get a badge. Ask a millennial or Gen Z about badges, they will tell you the meaning of them pertaining to education and work. For Apple Watch users, these badges accumulate in a library in the App on your phone. It is fun if you like accumulating things. And, if you’re like me, and you like feeling a sense of accomplishment, the badges do make me happy.

Back to my point. On May 1st when I received my goal for the month to earn my May badge I was asked to exercise for 1,120 minutes. I blanched. I thought, “Really?!” Then I whipped out my calculator because I couldn’t do the math in my head to see how many minutes I would need to exercise each day. The math people have already calculated this, but for those of you like me who can’t do math in your head, it worked out to roughly 36 minutes a day.

Here’s the deal. I’m active; I like to walk (although Plantar Fasciitis has me sidelined for a while); I like to bike, spin, and do yoga. However, I also like my days off and being 52 years old, I need recovery days after said activities. I don’t normally go into a month expecting to close all three rings each day. When I did it last August, it was a chore. I like slug-like days, too. They’re good for the soul.

As May progressed, and I got my update on the 15th of the month that I still needed nearly 600 exercise minutes, I had given up on my quest to attain my May badge. However, a few long-distance bike rides and a round of golf last weekend, (Yes, Apple Watch counts golf towards active minutes. It should; it’s rather taxing mentally! I ought to get a reward for playing.) I find myself today in the enviable position of only needing 49 minutes to get my badge this month. I’m pretty happy! Little victories that make me feel normal in a less than normal world! I’m going for a bike ride today; that should earn my badge.

Plantar Fasciitis and Bikes

Despite the few posts I’ve put up recently; really pictorials of things I’ve been up to and milestones my family has celebrated, I haven’t really written a blog in a while. With the arrival of nicer weather in New Hampshire, and the need to begin tending to my flowerbeds and the garden, I really haven’t devoted much time to writing.

Today, I will catch you up. Unfortunately my quarantine hasn’t been without bother. Before society was asked to shut ourselves in, I began to notice a twinge in my heel. In the real world, when I go to an office daily, I am fortunate enough to have a standing desk. I began using it last summer, and it helped my back and right hip tremendously; no longer suffering from pain and stiffness in either. However, I feel like I traded that discomfort for right shoulder and left foot pain.

The shoulder pain took front and center last fall, and I ended up in physical therapy to take care of it around the holidays. I was still in therapy when I broke my rib in January, but miraculously the fall that broke my rib seemed to fix my shoulder. I have no idea how; it’s just the way things work in my body. However, the heel pain seemed to get worse in late February and when my family and I were sequestered to our homes in March, the heel became an issue.

Because the only thing we were allowed to do when quarantine began was walk, it got worse. Some nights, I couldn’t even walk normally to go to bed, needing to hobble and limp tip-toe upstairs. Another night my left ankle froze up and felt like it might pop if I moved it too much. That finally eased up once I got to bed, but it was quite a production for me to get upstairs to bed.

You’re probably wondering if I have done anything about my suspected case of Plantar Fasciitis. The quick answer is no. Why? Covid19. I can’t imagine a scenario where a tele-health visit will benefit me. Would I just hold my foot up to my laptop camera and point to the pain.

“See doc, it’s hurts here when I walk,” and then I would hold up my ratty looking foot that hasn’t seen a pedicure since January to the camera. I don’t know how that would help me.

Instead, I’ve Googled Plantar Fasciitis, and I’m trying to treat it myself. I ordered one of those boots sufferers are supposed to wear at night to keep the tendon from shortening as one sleeps. I’m stretching it. I have’t started icing it yet, but I found out today I should; at least Google told me to do that. So I will. I’ll see if it gets better.

In the meantime, Jeff has been kind enough to start biking with me since walking isn’t a good past time anymore. I’ve been an avid biker for years, but abandoned it a couple years ago. I didn’t have anyone to go with. All my friends who used to bike have moved or just don’t do it anymore.

A few weeks back, Jeff knew walking was done for me for a while, so I assured him he would like bike riding, and so far he does. He’s using our daughter’s bike and we found him a nice comfy seat to help keep his sanity. We have beautiful, well-maintained railroad beds in my town. They run for miles and are quite scenic. We’ve been riding those weekly, and I’ve been using my Peloton and doing yoga in between rides.

As a side bar, our favorite walk near our town is Tower Hill Pond. The walk itself is a four-mile loop that circles the small body of water, which is a holding pond for Manchester’s water reservoir. It’s lovely. I’ve been wanting to bike it for a while because I love the walk so much.

On Tuesday, Jeff and I decided to tackle the Tower Hill bike ride. I’m happy to report that I got it out of my system. As wonderful as it is for a walk, as a bike ride, it’s not so wonderful. The ground is very loose and not conducive to great traction. I couldn’t really enjoy the views because I was so busy changing gears to go up and down hills, avoid ruts, and keep my balance when I felt the back tire might wash out. So, moving forward we will stick to the railroad beds for biking and hope my foot heals soon so we can begin walking Tower Hill again.

Quarantine Anniversary

When a couple can’t travel to celebrate a milestone anniversary, they are reminded that the company is more important than a special destination.

When life gives you lemons make lemonade. We had a wonderful time and talked a lot yesterday. It’s been great to reconnect with Jeff these past weeks in quarantine, but our anniversary was a perfect time to reminisce and remind ourselves why we chose each other in the first place.

Thirty Years of Love

Today is my 30th wedding anniversary. In a post last week I noted I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be in New Orleans celebrating because of quarantine. A friend of mine reminded me it’s not the place but the person that makes a moment worthy.

We were such kids back then

So today, we will celebrate each other the way we started, just the two of us. We have weathered much and through it all we have become closer and stronger in our commitment to one another.

We created a family and raised two beautiful children. And, I know I’m bias, but they turned into really great people.

We’ve been friends for 36 years; you’ve been my boyfriend for 35 years and my husband and best friend for 30 years. I look forward to our future together. ❤️

Stages of Quarantine

Much like grief, I feel like quarantine has stages one must go through. According to grief.com the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Having just recently putting my dog down, I’m well acquainted with these stages. I remember the day my family and I knew she needed to leave us, we went through a lot of denial as well as bargaining. My daughter kept trying to find ways to help her walk, and we used a yoga strap to hold up her backend to try and aid her mobility. Seeing her like that helped all of us quickly move to acceptance, realizing the sad fact was that she was already gone. The spirit of our girl left us in March and it took us until April to realize it. We spent our final day with her vacillating between denial and bits of anger, but we finally allowed ourselves to be sad and moved to acceptance.

Much like what I went through with my dog, I’m noticing stages with quarantine. I’m not sure they are defined anywhere in a textbook, and I contend they vary from person to person. However, the final stage will need to be acceptance in order to find peace. So, bear with me as I run through my stages:

First, there was bliss!

Was I the only one who was happy to be required to stay home?

Initially, when I heard I had to be quarantined, I was quite happy. One note, I was sad at losing contact with the wonderful students I worked with. I’m still in touch with many who have graduated, so the long-term benefits of forging those bonds have paid dividends in my life. Students add such a level of contentment to my work.

However, upon staying home my commute became nil and I suddenly had a break from going daily to the office. I need to be honest, this last year in my office was very trying. I actually haven’t felt at ease in my work life for a while. I’ve tried for years to be a person my coworkers can relate to, but I gave up last year realizing they don’t understand me. The funny thing is, I relate to all of them, and I have a lot in common with most of them, but I don’t know how to bridge the gap. Besides, I feel like they gave up on me a long time ago, so last year I moved to acceptance to find my peace, realizing I couldn’t change how they felt about me.

I won’t go so far as to say I don’t like people, but I regularly have a hard time relating to them. I’m either too friendly or not friendly enough. I’m quirky and some people don’t like my quirks. I’m a deep thinker, and many people fall of my train of thought when I try to invite them along for a ride. Only being required to interact with the people who understand and accept me on a daily basis felt like finding the Golden Ticket. Bliss!

After bliss came loneliness.

Missing my Tribe!
I wrote about it yesterday.

Now that time has worn on, and in New Hampshire we’re heading into quarantine week 10, I’m starting to feel the isolation. At the beginning of quarantine, I never thought I’d write these words but, “I’m getting lonely.” I really am. One of my friends recently told me that as a result of the pandemic, her daughter was offered a chance to work from home fulltime after the quarantine lifts. After feeling what it was like to work from home 40 hours per week, I realized that I wouldn’t want that. My ideal job would be working from home three days a week and in the office two days. I would still need to connect with my team but then I could have my peace and quiet the other three days. 

Texting and Zoom calls used to be enough when we had other human interaction, but now that daily interactions are gone, virtual connections don’t feel like enough anymore. The Zoom calls were an interesting novelty when they first started and filled the void; now they feel lacking, and the void is growing in me despite the face time. Human touch is important. One on one conversation is so enriching for me and it’s gone. I’m beginning to feel anemic.

Loneliness and now fear

As the days have blended into weeks and now months, the reality that there is radical change on the horizon has sunk in and scares me. When quarantine began, I thought, “OK, stay in for a few weeks and let it pass.” Now, as this mess continues, I’m realizing it won’t pass. It’s going to be hanging out there in the air forever; frightening. And, because it’s out there forever, accommodations need to be made to keep the masses safe. Knowing there will be radical change to our socialization scares me. I’m so afraid of losing spontaneity. It’s adding to the void and heightening my anemia.

But there is also sadness, definitely sadness.

Then I get sad. My 30th wedding anniversary is the end of May. My husband I had plans to head to New Orleans; one of our favorite places. That can’t happen. In fact, we can’t even head to Boston, which we enjoy immensely. It wasn’t uncommon for us to get a room in the city, check in and then take off walking around the city. Stops always included a visit to Faneuil Hall to browse the shops. Who doesn’t love wandering around and finding a new restaurant to check out? The North End of Boston with its pastry shops and miles of Italian Restaurants, so satisfying. All of it now closed! The entire city on lockdown. Will we ever be able to meander around a city again? I keep getting these little flashes of inevitable change, and it makes me anxious, confused, but especially sad.  

The unknown: questioning and anxiety

What does the future hold? Is questioning a stage of quarantine? I know anxiety must be. As I noted earlier, the only way any of us will find peace after the dust settles will be accepting; it needs to be the only logical outcome. But, what will we be accepting? Planning? The loss of spontaneity? Will we need to schedule everything? Shopping and dining; all scheduled? I’m weary speculating about it. I choose to accept that we must wait and see.

Missing my Tribe

The Tribe in Big Sky, MT, April 2019

I know, we’re all in quarantine. And, I know we’re all feeling it. When it first began, I thought it was pretty good. I began to commute to my kitchen with zeal every day, and to date I still have a job. I do count my blessings and I’m so thankful it’s not worse for my family.

Not being required to go to the office daily wasn’t bad. I see all my coworkers a couple times a week on our video chats, and I’m in contact with them daily; I really don’t miss them because I’m still working with them, albeit virtually.

Where I’m really feeling a void in my life is that I miss my tribe, my ski-people. If you know me, then you know I have a really tight-knit group of friends. We are the ones who get together each and every weekend during ski season, and we see each other frequently the rest of the year. To date, since I last saw them all in March, this is the longest I’ve gone without having physical contact with them.

Our weekly meet-ups

We’ve set up a Zoom call, getting together virtually every Saturday night, and it’s fun. There is such an eclectic cast of characters in our group that anytime we get together it’s entertaining. What I realized a couple weeks ago is that it’s nice to see their face and hear their voices, but I am missing the one on one connection I had with each of them before this. I miss my chats with the ladies, and the shenanigans we all partake in. It’s their physical presence I’m lacking.

What I love about my tribe is that they know me. They know I’m not about the large crowds or gatherings we have. They respect when it gets too much for me and I need a break. None of them take it personally when I leave a room for solace. They understand it’s just me; in that moment they know my introvert needs some quiet recharging. But they know I love them all. I’m the silent watcher in the group, and I’ll strike up a conversation on the side when the opportunity allows. The important part for me is that I’m there in those moments with my tribe, but it’s not happening now and I miss it. I can’t speak for them, but I contend they miss it too.

Respect

Respect, it’s a complicated concept. Right? I feel like there are layers to it. For example, by respecting a coworker’s ideas or opinions, you are showing you respect that person’s intelligence or the contributions that they can contribute to a group. You value the opinion offered, thus you value and respect that person.

If a friend offers advice and you take it, you are showing that you respect their opinion. Your friend thinks you know what you’re talking about or you have empathy for the situation, and they understand you. They respect that you wouldn’t steer them wrong, so they put your advice into action.

Respecting your parents; that’s a special one. When they offer advice and you take it, that not only shows respect for them but your love for them. When they give you a present you don’t like, and you tell them, that shows respect too. You know they work hard for their money, and you won’t use the present they gave you. If you ask to exchange it, that’s kindness. It may momentarily hurt your parents, but they will understand. After you exchange the gift, show them what you picked out. This will let them know you appreciate them and you respect that they thought enough of you to take the time to buy you a gift.

Now more than ever, if you respect your parents, and you’re not living with them, and you’re not quarantining, stay away. Respect their space. There are parents who haven’t seen their new grand babies yet because of Covid19. They are respecting the safety of their child and grandchild. They are staying away, so should you. It’s common sense; isolate from your grandparents and parents. That’s how you show love and respect in a pandemic, by staying away. Anything less is reckless and selfish. And, it’s dangerous. Please, if you love your people, show them love from a distance.

Spring in New Hampshire

I’m afraid to say this, but I think spring has finally arrived in New Hampshire. I really hope it’s here to stay; I don’t want to scare it away, though, so read this in a whisper. 😂

It’s been a long cold spring. Any other year, it would have made for a wonderfully long ski season, but we all know how that they ended so abruptly in March. Instead, this cold stretch has only added insult to injury this year.

Just last Saturday, I woke to this. Nearly three inches of snow in my yard.

Winter wonderland in May

Today, a week later, my husband and I went to Home Depot to buy plants and supplies to get our yard cleaned up for the outdoor season. It feels nice to be able to enjoy our outdoor areas again.

Love our three-season room
Our herb boxes. Rosemary and basil in the near one. Kale and spinach in the far one.

Next week, we will plant the vegetable garden. Stay tuned. Hope you’re able to enjoy the nice weather.

What if … it was all OK?

A couple weeks ago I blogged about what quarantine would have looked like for my family and me if it had happened ten or even twenty years ago. Feel free to read my thoughts on that before continuing. When I think about the timing of events in my life, I always think about the “What ifs…” What if quarantine happened back then? What if my brain tumor was found ten years earlier? What if I had my hysterectomy before I found out about my brain tumor? Why did any of this have to happen to me?

I’ve already answered the quarantine question, and that experience would have been vastly different ten or twenty years ago. The timing of surgeries, though, that timeline was important. In the chaos of me having two major surgeries in sixteen weeks, I questioned everything, and I kept saying what-if a lot. I often said, “why” as well. Looking back now, with the lens of a person who’s been through it and it’s now a distant memory, I have answered those questions for myself. Here’s the why.

First, to catch you up, in August of 2018 I found out I had a benign brain tumor. At the time it was found, I already knew I needed a hysterectomy – desperately. If you want the details of the why for that, I suggest you read my memoir. If you don’t have time to read an unfinished story, just continue reading this post knowing that my monthly affliction was bringing me to brink of bleeding to death each month, and the cramps were no joke. So, while I was working out a timetable for that surgery, I found out I had a brain tumor and the necessity of that surgery outweighed the first surgery. Based on how these events unfurled in my life, here’s why I believe everything happened to me the way it did.

Here are the answers to my what-ifs. First, why did this happen? I believe it did so I could learn how strong I was; teach me what true resilience was, and to give me fodder for this blog and a memoir. That final reason is just a bonus. The first two built my character and taught me a lot about myself and about trust.

That’s my tumor. Thankfully, it is no longer with me.

The second what-if: if the tumor was found ten years earlier? I don’t think the outcome would have been as positive an experience for my family and me. First, I was working retail and my husband and I had awful health insurance at that time. I contend the surgery may have bankrupt us or put us in deep debt. Second, the tumor would have been smaller ten years ago, so I don’t know that I would have learned as much about myself because the surgery may have been milder than what I endured. I also didn’t have the support network back then that I do now. My family was tremendous, but I lacked the network of friends I find myself blessed with in the current season of my life. The timing of this was perfect because I had the resources to write about it, the maturity to grow from the adversity I faced, and the friends to support me, check on me, and visit me every week. I never felt alone for an instant. My trust grew.

Finally, what if I had the hysterectomy before my brain surgery? Things went south in the feminine department for me in March of 2018; five months before I was diagnosed with the tumor. In March, my doctor told me I would need a hysterectomy. I, being the woman who had grand ideas of being buried with the parts and pieces I was born with, really wanted to wait a couple months to see if the severe cramping I was enduring would subside so I could avoid losing my uterus. In April the cramps were worse than March, and it became clear I needed the surgery and wanted to have the surgery before ski season, but in May and June the cramping wasn’t as bad, so I waited to schedule the surgery and decided to put it off until fall. Eventually, I made an appointment to see my doctor in mid-August to schedule the surgery I wanted to avoid. Putting it off until fall also gave me time to come to terms with the fact that I was going to lose one of my parts.

However, before I could even schedule the hysterectomy, I learned about the tumor on August 1, 2018; I had the tumor removed on September 10th. After that, I tried to delay the hysterectomy, much to the irritation of my OB/GYN, but things came to critical mass in the pain department in December. I had the hysterectomy on January 10th.

Following that surgery, I was feeling really down and very sad that I had to miss a giant chunk of ski season. Also, if you haven’t read my memoir, then you don’t know I had a full abdominal hysterectomy. It was so very painful; took-my-breath-away painful. However, in the midst of wallowing in self-pity and counting the days until I could stand up without assistance or sleep again, I realized the timing of these two events were perfect.

Hardship deepens faith!

I already said why it was good I faced the tumor surgery in 2018 – I was in the ideal place in my life to absorb the shock and grow from it. That being said, if I had the hysterectomy in May when my doctor wanted me to, I’m sure I wouldn’t have gone for the MRI that August and found the tumor. The hysterectomy was so involved, I know I wouldn’t have mentioned any coordination issues I was having to my Primary Care doctor when we met in July of 2018. She would have been more concerned about following up with me following abdominal surgery. Perhaps, another what-if here, I may have said something to her the following year at my annual. Maybe I would have faced tumor surgery in fall of 2019. Maybe the tumor would have caused irreversible damage had it stayed in an additional year. Maybe I would still have it. I can’t speculate; it serves no purpose. It’s all a memory now that fuels my muse. The timing of these events was perfect. Looking back, this is when I know there is a God and he has a plan for everyone. Good and bad, we have to face our hardships and learn our lessons. What if it was all OK?