2019-07-18 MFA Res Day 4 (And 5 And 6)- Going Beyond the Pale…

And trying to get back.

I’ve pushed past cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and have moved into territory that is a little unfamiliar. Is this what this is supposed to be like? This has happened a little in the past two residencies but not like this one. I’m in such a strange headspace, bodyspace, universe space I’m not sure what to make of it.

Yeah, I’m out my body and out of my mind and trying to figure out if I’m ever going to be the same. Think, if you’d like, that I’m being overly dramatic, but I’m not. I’m being nauseously, wrecklessly serious. I’ve lost 5 or 6 pounds in the last 5 days (verified this morning). Every time I eat, I feel sick to my stomach. I’ll stop short of going into the other sketch physical details, just know, it’s not pretty.

The problem manifests with physical symptoms, but it 90% mental, I am certain. I’m trying to maintain some sliver of routine, but it’s damn near impossible and my brain fixates on an idea and I can’t shake it and it throws me off whatever well-intended course I have.

My morning rituals, for example. This morning is the first morning I’ve really been able to find my way to the treadmill. When you don’t start like you normally start the day, it’s already off the rails. Then it goes into the weeds and grass on a paved path which turns into dirt trails leading into the woods. The packed brown earth beneath the feet begins to narrow and the canopy becomes more dense and you can’t stop and before you wake from the rythem of the daydream of your silent footsteps, you are lost, and when you turn and peer back and squint you can see the pale behind you.

Yesterday I was still in that place and so punch-drunk with the euphoria of the freedom that comes from being in an unfamiliar space. It’s exciting and you know you should leave, call for help, retrace your steps, ask for a map (you are not alone), or just slow down. But you don’t want to.

The instinct of logic has left your side and your left-brain, being absent, leaves your right brain scurrying around wild-eyed and manic. It just wants to know how far this path that is not a path goes.

***

I’m back on the treadmill now and need to get my act together because I have a lot of important business to take care of today. Fighting through the constant distraction of seemingly brilliant beginnings of thought is probably going to pose the greatest challenge. Every shiny object popping up right in front of me will be tough to resist. I need to try and stay on task.

As if on queue it happened just now. I started thinking about a person I got to know a little better yesterday who introduced me to some new music and I spent at least 74 seconds on that thread of thought. I just can’t do that and I have to resist the impulse that that is EXACTLY what I should be doing. Following those thoughts off Into the woods. “Isn’t that why we are here!”, my right brain insists.

When I got to the workout room this morning Bob was on the treadmill already. There is only one. I was here on the start of the first full day which feels like about 25 days ago now, and he asked me how long I would be. I had just started and selfishly replied “about 50 more minutes.” He left.

The second encounter was the following day when he sat behind me in lecture and asked me, as I was scanning the room before the start of it, “What time are you going to walk tomorrow?”.

I still felt guilty for presumably bursting his bubble previously and looked at the schedule and said “I’m not going tomorrow because the nature walk is that day and I don’t need to.” I shied away from explaining that I can’t predict what might happen over 12 hours in the future here. I can neither predict or commit to anything as concrete as a time of day. I just can’t. Ask me what I’m doing for the next 4 hours, sure, but tomorrow? Forget it.

I could tell a lot about Bob by the simple detail that he never formally introduced himself to me in those two encounters (I didn’t either). I thought about it after the fact so this morning I made a point to do it before he left the room. So that’s Bob.

He left less than 5 minutes after I arrived. He said I had good timing and I smiled and replied that that was the first time anyone had ever said that to me. I withheld a wink.

That’s it for now. As I said I need to focus and stay on task today. Get back to crossing necessary things of the mental list I’ve composed for the next 4 hours. After that. All bets are off.

Wandering Back,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-16 MFA Res Day 3 – The Floodgates are Open

Yes, the floodgates are open now and it’s serious. They mean serious business. I’m seriously serious and afraid for my safety and sanity. I’m not being overly dramatic, I’m being… serious.

Typically I would try to provide a brief synopsis of thought and feeling about the prior day, wrapping It with some overarching theme and providing some highlights that seemed especially vivid and moving for me personally, but I can’t do that this time because there is much to much and frankly, I’m dealing with the situation where it feels like day 3 has not actually ended yet.

The lack of sleep is STARTING to get to me. It’s got me. Now, just the facts ma’am, please. Ive been here five nights and in chronological order here are the stats…

Friday – 5 hours and 4 minutes

Saturday – 6 hours and 1 minute

Sunday – 4 hours and 46 minutes

Monday – 4 hours and 54 minutes

Tuesday (today) – 3 hours and 20 minutes.

It’s a problem I am not sure how to solve it. I’m self medicating but it’s not helping. A bit of foreshadowing here, I’m planning to drive home tonight and sleep in my own bed and before that (as of this moment), praying for rain so our morning outdoor group activity today will be cancelled. I need a break and I suspect I am not the only one. I need to take care of myself, and be selfish, and I suspect I am not the only one.

On the opposite side of that coin is the wealth of ideas and musings that I have been able to capture thus far. Yesterday was the best day for that yet, generatively speaking. I came into residency somewhat terrified of my 3rd term craft paper and now, I’m genuinely excited about it and enthusiastic to get that party going. I have tons of thoughts and they just keep coming. A very real flood of words. The waters are rising as I type this.

Yesterday our mentor preference forms were due and the outcome of the pairings was revealed before the evening faculty readings. I had to try very hard to not flaunt my enthusiasm about the result. I’m living that charmed life right now and the universe is giving me exactly what I want and need at the same time. I’m very much looking forward to see how this story unfolds and, in a way, all of that was akin to storm clouds brewing preparing to provide the downpour that is now occurring.

(Both literally and figuratively now. My foreshadowing of actual rain has already begin and I can hear the beating of tiny drums on the roof above me. I’m on the 4th and top floor of the lodge).

After the “big reveal” last night, we went right into the reading, which was a line up of four incredibly talented faculty members. These readings are always one of my favorite parts. You get to sit and listen to brilliance and let go of any self-expectations and responsibilities. We had a play-write, a poet, a short story guru (who read poetry), and a visiting faculty member who I had not met until workshop today and didn’t actually get to listen to because of the 3rd reader.

His subject matter and content hit me so hard, I wept openly during the reading and had to leave the room directly after to try and compose myself for the thing I had going on after the readings (volunteering to help in the bookstore). It came over me like a freight train and I didn’t try to stop it. I felt gross with all the stuff pouring out of my nose and eyes and managed as well as I could without a tissue. I can’t elaborate on the subject matter of the reading. Not right now anyway.

After that I got my act together and did the bookstore thing. That was followed by a walk to the basketball court with an enthusiastic group of folks hungry for a game. For me, this meant standing around talking with some other folks and cheering when someone made a basket or jeering some foul play. There was an issue with the lights and the game was much abbreviated.

Back at the lodge, a round of drinks and waters was secured and we gathered around the lobby area for conversation. Also great. I returned to my room close to 11:30 pm completely exhausted thinking I was going to fall into a deep sleep. I was wrong. I had taken a Tylenol for a slight headache earlier and seriously thought I had taken the wrong thing or something else because I had this giddy, medicine-head thing going on. I wondered enough about it that I googled it and as it turns out, it was just Tylenol and nothing else. That’s just how tired I was/am.

I could not fall asleep. I took a half a Xanax at 12:30. I woke up at 3:30M and thought and wrote and tossed and turned and through and wrote some more. I took another half and still did not sleep. It had zero affect. In short, I’m fucked up for doing anything today. That is why I am praying that this rain continues long enough our morning excursion is cancelled. Please, please, please. That’s selfish. I hope it stops raining and I muster the guts to just bow out even though I’m supposed to one of the carpool drivers.

I need to eat breakfast soon. I skipped dinner last night, trying to get some rest and avoiding the dining room experience (ordering from the menu takes an eternity to play out). I may be full of words and inspiration but the physical me is empty now. That requires a solution before anything else.

When it Rains.. it Sometimes Pours,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-06-30 Super-Sized Sunday Status

It’s official.. Half the year is done. There’s no time like late on a Sunday where the digits outside are soaring to get some steps in my cool basement and reflect upon the status of things.

I used to take some time most Sundays and look at how my sleep, and exercise, and healthy eating were trending. Now it’s about once a month. I mean, I technically “look” everyday at my sleep for the previous day and am constantly mindful of my step count and if I’ve hit my goal for the day, but lately it’s all just blending together. I’ve got good routines and don’t worry too much if I’m off for a few days. And I might say “healthy eating” is one of my goals but I’m not even sure if I’ve ever found a good definition for that.

Is it moderation? Is it a perfect balance of protein, fat, and carbs? Is it veggies and micronutrients? Is it limiting things like sugar and gluten and caffeine? It certainly shouldn’t have anything to do with weight or BMI Or dress size. I person who is a size 4 can have terrible eating habits and with the healthy metabolism maintain that size.

I digress. Let’s see what The almighty Fitbit has to say about my stats for the last week, month, and half year…

Sleep.. 7 hours and 14 minutes average for the past week. 7 hours and 18 minutes for the month of June and 7, 14 for the year so far. I think that’s pretty much right on target. I’m not sure getting more sleep at night will ever help my all too common afternoon brain fog and evening exhaustion. I hate to say I think it might just be related to my age. Even when I get 8 hours of sleep it does not seem to have a positive impact on my issues. I’d like to see if napping might help but I cant seem to hit enough consistency of routine to really say for sure. 🤔🤷‍♀️ I’m still going to maintain that good quality sleep is key in overall heath, which is just me flexing my “captain obvious” superpower but I always say, what may seem obvious to some isn’t necessarily obvious to all.

Steps/Exercise.. Last week I got about 10K steps each day which is another stat that has not had much variation in the last month and half year. Both come in at just above 10K, 10.1 and 10.6 respectively. My goal there is 12K so I’m still not there yet. But it’s days like yesterday that are the biggest challenge. I hit my goal almost everyday this week and then yesterday I was just a lump (plus we were in the car a good part of the day), so I only got like 3K. That kills my weekly average. In order to have days like that I would need to boost my daily goal to like 15 or 18. That would be tough.

With sleep, both quality and quantity are important measures. With exercise it’s tougher to measure the other key factors, such as diversity and strength or balance work. I’ve recently started doing Jazzercise again regularly and I can already tell a difference. It’s tough to put into words but my body just feels better. I’m only doing 5 pound free weights as I’m still unsure what affect doing arm weights will have on my tennis elbow. When I stopped doing Jazzercise last year I was using 8 pound weights. Eventually my goal will be bank to that.

I guess one measure I could be paying more attention to is resting heart rate. According to several web sites I visited, adults normally range from 60-100 and lower scores indicate better, more efficient cardiovascular function. Mine was 66 this past week and 63 the past week and this year so far. I’m going to say that’s a good thing.

I guess not much has changed in my relationship or school status either. Still happily engaged and on a break from School. Although one of those is going to take a dramatic turn in July. There will be at least one post coming soon dedicated to my 3rd term in the MFA program at UNO.

The biggest change in the last month has been my switch from full-time wage earner to “stay-at-home-Mom”/“household engineer”. That transition was mostly positive. Life is never free of doubts, but all things considered, it’s been great. The jury is still out on the question of whether I will go back to work. If I do, it will be when I am done with school and hopefully it will be something more in the sphere of writing and less on IT.

All in all my stats are petty stable and that doesn’t leave much to write about. Still, ive still managed a healthy sized post for this last day of June.

July is looking like one crazy rollercoaster. I’ve got about 1 more full week until that ride starts. It’s also a holiday week so we’ve got a few fun things planned. I should have plenty of time to get everything I want done, including sleep and exercise!!

Well that’s it for today.. this month.. and the first half of 2019. If you only get two bites, make sure they are good ones!

Cheers, 🍻

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-06-27 The Pursuit of Happiness

It doesn’t feel like it should be the middle of the week already, but indeed it is. It does not feel like July is just around the corner, but indeed it is. June was supposed to be my “break” between finishing work and starting back to school and quite frankly I feel like it’s flown by and I really would like to have more time. This is likely due to the fact that I already know I’ve bitten more than I can chew as far as school is concerned and I’m a little terrified at everything I’ve committed myself to.

In any case, I’m still shifting gears and getting used to my new life. Some days I’m like, “oh my gosh is this what my life is now”, because of all the awesomeness and other days I have these bouts with doubt. I think the internal questioning of decisions is human nature and also can be healthy. We should question our choices and fact check ourselves.

If we do that just a little, and listen to our instincts, then we can feel better about the path we are on. I ignored my instincts for too much of my life and that led to a lot of grief. People will always make mistakes, so that’s unavoidable. The trick is to not get stuck in those mistakes or let one bad decision to lead to another and another.

When I started this blog almost 2 and a half years ago, my life was a mess and I was really unsure how to fix it (or even what the real problems were). I knew I needed changes but not sure what or how. The blog was actually the first step and the “summary” statement I wrote for the top of the page was my original intent.

“THIS STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS IS INTENDED TO BE AN UNFILTERED ACCOUNT OF MY JOURNEY TO FIGHT MY WAY TO A HEALTHIER, HAPPIER LIFE. ONE DAY AT A TIME, ONE STEP AT A TIME, ONE ORGANICALLY-GROWN-EMOTIONALLY-RAW BLOG POST AT A TIME”

What I recognize, 2.5 years later is that it is still true. Yes I feel happy and healthy (most days), and my life is so much better now, but the journey isn’t over. It’s never over. I have to continue to make choices everyday with that goal in mind because it’s a moving target. We can’t stay in the same place. We have to keep moving forward. The feeling of “happy” is so transient and comes and goes.

As we approach July 4th, I can’t help but think about that well known phrase from the Declaration of Independence “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. It’s the “pursuit”, which is key. If we want to be happy, we have to keep chasing it. Always.

I’ve recently considered changing my blog summary statement because I thought “I’ve done it!” I have hit my goal, this is it, and now I can just sit back and coast. However, because of the sentiments I’ve covered today, I have decided to keep it the same. I never want to stop striving for a healthy, happy life. It’s still one day at a time, one step at a time, one picture perfect flower, poem, hug, cheeseburger, and blog post at a time!

Yours Truly,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-06-05 Ten Random Things…

Easy Like Lemon-Squeezeeee…

1. My Fitbit died yesterday for no apparent reason. I’m torn between contacting the company (because it’s not that old and stuff shouldn’t just stop working like that), not replacing it and seeing how life goes on without it, and running right out this morning to buy a new one.

2. We have a new egg in our Zebra finch nest this morning!!

3. It’s June 5th and I just finished the second book which was on my list of goals for the month of May.

4. It’s gonna be 90+ degrees today and I guess that means it’s officially summer.

5. I thought it was Tuesday until like 5 seconds ago.

6. It’s the third day in a row I’m doing Jazzercise today.

7. It’s the fifth day in a row I’m going to be eating gluten-free.

8. I got contacted by the same publisher who had published one of my poems last year asking for me to submit again. Ok!!

9. I got another email yesterday about a poetry contest for which the prize is 1,000 bucks! Wowza!!

10. It’s two weeks till I get to visit four of my bestest besties in Colorado. It’s so great to have so many awesome people in one place.

But seriously… This Fitbit thing is twisting my brain. I mean, how much control can one little device have on me??!! Yesterday I’m sure I got like 15k+ steps and not getting credit for that is a bummer. Then going to sleep last night without it was strange too. My stats are going to be so bonked up!! Stupid Fitbit!! 😬

That is all.

Happy Hump Day!

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-05-31 May the Thirty First

It’s the last day of the Month and at the present moment I’m looking at myself in the mirror and asking “What have YOU done?”. This constant soul searching is quite draining. But literally.. I’m on the treadmill in my basement that faces a mirror and I’m staring at myself. Seems pretty vain but it’s right there. It’s hard not to.

My observations?..

My hair looks good today. I washed it yesterday and it always looks best the day after that. My natural waves are clinging to each other in ringlets, loose and fluffy-ish on top with tighter spirals underneath. I straightened my hair for years and years trying to fit an ideal that was established by goodness knows who. Fashion people somewhere? Rich people? Skinny people with equally skinny hair. It’s just not natural to spend so much time trying to shape yourself into someone else’s picture of perfection.

I can say that my life is tremendously better now that I’ve gone ohh-la-la-natural. For one, I have more time now that I’m not spending an hour with a hair dryer and fat-barrel curling iron every time I wash my hair. And the other is that it’s liberating to not give a fuck what people think. The bonus plan is that I actually think it looks better this way. Yeah, I’m totally digging that “I woke up like this and so what” look.

I really wish I could say the same about my stomach and butt. But improving one’s self takes time and patience and the best changes don’t happen overnight. I still wake up everyday thinking about my weight and food and what I might strategically eat today and when. I’m constantly mentally calculating what I ate and drank yesterday and what that did to my number. You know the one… on the scale.

The first thing I do when I get out of bed in the morning is pee and strip naked and step on the scale. The second thing I do is go to my closet to put on workout clothes and pick up my phone (which I keep in the closet overnight and not by my bed) and log my weight in my Fitbit app. These are such routine behaviors for me at this point that I feel like something is wrong if things don’t start that way.

When I say “improving one’s self takes time”, I’m not talking about working off excess pounds so that the stomach is flatter and tighter. I’m talking about feeling ok with my shape the way it is now. Accepting my body and not being so highly critical of myself. It’s about not letting the dominant thought in my head be about how I look. I did it with my hair so I can certainly do the same for the rest of me. Right?!

I can’t actually see my stomach or butt from the treadmill. That’s probably a good thing. I can see my eyes and I have slightly smudged mascara because I didn’t wash my face before going to sleep last night. I basically walked into the bedroom, pulled the sheets back, crawled in and went to sleep. I slept straight through to 6am when Jim’s alarm clock went off.

I got up this morning and cooked him breakfast and sat on the couch and chatted while he ate. I clutched the cup of hot tea from two days ago I reheated in the microwave while the salmon was waiting to be turned over in the skillet on the stove. I can’t even waste a cup of tea.

When he’s done eating he gets up and kisses me goodbye and heads out the door for work. And there I sit, in my workout clothes holding the cup of tea that I’m not drinking again and I think, “this is my life now”. I’m not sure how long I sat there before I got up.

Yesterday I insisted that I was going to go to Jazzercise despite the fact that i didn’t feel good. It was a mistake. I did it and then spent the rest of the day feeling worse. I napped instead of going out to lunch with a friend and I wouldn’t let go of the internal argument of whether it would be better to rest and relax and recover or push hard through whatever it was that had a hold of me. Some strange, sneaky unwell feeling that didn’t have a definition.

When my daughter says she doesn’t feel good I ask “does your head hurt? Is it a stomach ache or cramps or do you feel nauseated? Do you have aches and pains you can point to or body parts you can name? Can you describe it as sharp or dull or throbbing?”.

What if the “ache” is a heavy heart or worried mind? What if you have anxiety of known or unknown origins? What if the sky is too big and it all just feels like too much or worse, that it doesn’t matter at all how you feel?

What if that girl you used to know finally died of the cancer that crept through time and sank it’s teeth in her bones, leaving behind two babies who will only ever remember their mom as a person fighting for her life for them. They won’t know the 20-something strawberry blonde, full of life, who hung out at Billy Frogs with you on Fridays after work, laughing at stupid things and drinking terrible cocktails and splitting nachos.

Or .. What if that other girl you barely know was raped and wrote a poem about it and posted it on Twitter? What if you wanted to hold her up and give her strength but you didn’t know what to say?

And what if that other girl you know really well because you have given birth to her is getting ready to fly away and the world she’s flying into is wrought with terrible things and terrible people and you can’t protect her from any of it?

You can’t stop time and you can’t keep bad things from happening and you sure as hell cant unmelt the polar ice caps or save all the creatures of this world from meeting their doom because human beings are incredibly selfish and sometimes only think about things like how their hair looks when they wake up in the morning.

You just can’t. But you might feel better if you write about it. So you do that, hoping that it will. “Hope is not a strategy”, but it will have to do today. Today on this thirty-first day of May.

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-05-29 The Ultimate Human Condition

Today is the last day of school for my kids and so it’s likely to be the last day for me to spend QT with my most beloved elliptical machine (at my gym across the street from the school). I’ll likely spend the summer getting to know the equipment in the exercise room in my basement better or, better yet, start those Jazzercise classes I’ve been wanting for months now. I’ll also be working out in the garden flexing my digging and watering and weed-pulling muscles.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the steroid shot in my arm will not last as long as the first one. That gave me relief from the annoying aches and pains in my arm for about 2 months. Of course my hope going in (the first time) was that I would have the shot and my tendons would recover in the span of time the med was working. That was in January and by about the end of March it started creeping back. I held out to mid May before going back for seconds.

Funny thing about tendonitis at the elbow… they don’t have a good way to fix it and also not a lot of proven methods of physical therapy that help. I asked this specific question at my appointment “what should I do while I have the relief from the steroids, exercise to strengthen or complete rest? What will help it get better faster?”. The answer..

“We don’t know”. Really? There are no studies or experience with cases that have led to the answer. Some people respond to total rest and some to therapy. Some get one shot and the pain never comes back and some have to come back every 3 months. Eventually, in 95% of cases, the pain just goes away. The tendons, he explained, are more “frayed” than Inflamed. They eventually just recover from the trauma that caused the issue. Ok.

The first go-round I limited my arm activity to just daily living tasks. No lifting weights or Jazzercise arm routines Or tennis. That being said, there’s still a fair amount of heavy lifting in my day to day life. Plus it’s not even the “lifting” things that’s taxing. It’s actually any strain on the wrist or pressure exerted in the hand and fingers. I was trying to hold off getting a second shot. I was holding onto hope it would just start getting better one day. That I would wake up and it would slowly feel better than the day before. It didn’t.

I have an iPhone SE, which is equivalent to the iPhone 6, and that version still has the “power/sleep” button on the top. The day I was holding my phone and noticed that there was pain in my arm as I moved my finger up to push the button and turn the display off was the same day I called to make a second ortho appointment. The fact that such a simple action could spark the pain was just disheartening.

I wanted to write the day I had my appointment but didn’t have time. I just was on the verge of tears all morning. I was just so sad about the pain coming back or perhaps the fact that it’s inevitable that my aging body will fail me. It’s just the start of things to come. I exercise and take care of myself and eventually things will deteriorate anyway. It’s part of the human condition. The aging physical body is just that.. always aging.

What’s next? Eyesight, hearing, cognitive function? Ok, that’s overly dramatic but there may a physical element to my lack of focus and tiredness in the evenings. It may be less to do with not getting enough good sleep and more to do with having 45 year old parts. I don’t know but it definitely weighs on my mind.

Around November last year I developed an involuntary twitch in my eyelid. It would start mid-morning and last almost all day, off and on. It was Mildly annoying and fairly easy to ignore save for the fact that I had creeping thoughts in my brain about this being the newest age-induced problem. For real I thought “oh hell… is this another thing I’m going to have for the rest of my life?” (like the late night leg twitch when I’m sleepy and that started when I was about 38). Good grief!!

The last few months the worry grew and the eyelid twitching more bothersome to the point where I googled it. The articles I read said it was caused by 1. Too much caffeine or 2. Lack of sleep or 3. Too much stress. Old, worn out eyelids were not among the causes. Good. I tried reducing caffeine (fairly successfully) and have managed to bump my sleep by 15 minutes a night on average. I also quit the most stressful part of my life (the dreaded work project).

All that has improved the situation tremendously. I noted in the last week or so that those twitchy episodes have been greatly reduced. So that’s a “tic” in the win column. I’ll take it.

Right now I have very little pain in my right arm. It’s about 2.5 weeks post injection and if I’m going to try and do something different with this go-round, the time is now. I have written orders for PT if I want to use them. I can’t just do the same thing as before and expect a different result. I’m no longer hoprleful that it will just get better, magically. I’m actually thinking it will not get better unless I rest it completely (which is terribly impossible) or jump on the PT wagon. What to do, what to do?

That’s enough rambling on about the Tennis Elbow and the reality of the ultimate human condition today. I’ve got 1.5 hours before the kids are done and it’s not worth driving home just to drive back again so I’ll be hanging out at the gym. I may try reading on the treadmill. I can write blog posts on the elliptical machine so one would think reading would be a snap. 😉

Cheers,

~Miss SugarCookie