Thursday, May 24, 2018

When He's Not There

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The Mr and I will usually walk the neighborhood for a workout here and there, maybe 2-3x week depending on where my leg is in its screwed-uppedness.  (Totally a word.)   It's usually around 4-5pm, and we see our usual doggie friends and their owners.  (Are we the only ones who remember the dog's name but not the parents?  "Oh, I wonder how Roscoe's mom is?"  "Or Barnaby's mom looks sad.")  We walk three laps which is almost the equivalent of 3 miles, and I've never really given it a second thought.

I made a goal to walk in the mornings (hoping to make that a habit), I did my first one Monday.  Given we're starting when I call "armpit of Hell" season  (aka-summer), I know even early afternoon walks aren't going to keep me on track because I will take one step out into a wall of humidity and say "nope" and shut the door.  (Kind of like I wanted to do yesterday.)  So earlyish mornings it will be because I also needed to get out of the habit of being up until 2am, sleep until 7:30 am, be exhausted and try to sleep until I got up at 9-10 am.  This seemed like a good way to kick that bad habit too.   I got on my insect essential oil, sunscreen, grabbed my sunglasses and locked up the house and started on my way.  As I started my walk, a lady jogger trotted past me as I approached the truck with gardening tools and bushes in the back.  It was lawn maintenance day in our hood, and when I'm in the house, it's nothing more than a bit of a nuisance.  I can't do any audio work I may need to do, and I keep the blinds open to signal to them I could be watching so don't even think about blowing that mulch onto my car.  But without the security of the Mr walking beside me, my first solo walk was much different.  I suddenly remembered what it can be like to be a woman doing nothing more than walking even in her own neighborhood.  When the Mr and I walk, there is an abundance of cars and people, at 8:30 am, not so much.  People have headed off to work, are still sleeping if they work the night shift or are lingering over their morning coffee and scrolling their phones.   So it was just me and the gardener dudes.  Some perfectly nice, offering a smile and others seem not to notice me even though I know they are aware of me until I catch them looking as I walk by.  It puts a bit of unease and reminds me that they don't know I have a husband that is usually walking by my side.  It's brushed off as being paranoid, and I continued.

On my second lap, I heard a car with a squeaky suspension coming up behind me.  The black Honda passes but then stops about 4 car lengths ahead of me in the wrong lane.  I got a little anxious, and then I saw the passenger side window roll down.

"Oh hell no." I thought.
"It could be someone lost and needs directions, just stay opposite of them and don't approach the car.  Stop being an idiot.  But remember the license plate number, just in case.  GMC _ _ _ 2" I kept repeating to myself.

I sped up my pace slightly as I walked past the car and didn't even look over.  I heard nothing, was relieved and felt silly for being so paranoid.  There is suddenly a low-level traffic surge of about five cars out of nowhere behind me, and as each one passed, it's not the black Honda I was concerned over.  Then a minute or two later, I heard the squeaky suspension coming up behind me, and they slowed down as they were beside me.  I repeated their license plate number in my head and note that I'm in a secluded part of the neighborhood.  I realized I didn't have my phone on me which is really only good for emergency calls but still if I have an emergency, I'd have to wait for one of the gardeners to almost run over me in the grass if I'm somehow out of commission.   I refused to look over and as they passed, and I saw it was three college-aged guys.  All tall and separately I could take, together, not likely.  I have no idea why they felt the need to slow down to a crawl next to me and am honestly surprised I didn't get fat insults hurled at me (I refuse to use the phrase "fat shamed" irritating.)  I'd be lying if I didn't say I was relieved when they turned out of sight.  For the last quarter mile, there was someone walking behind me, but I didn't turn around to see who it was because I didn't want to seem like a dork, but I could tell by the stride and sound it was likely a man.  A guy crossed my path heading toward my house who looked over and saw me.  When I made it to the point where I turned to head the same direction, he'd slowed his pace quite a bit, and I slowed mine too because, between our paces, I would've caught up to him close to our house or at least close enough for him to see where I lived.   It woke me up a little bit.  When you've been married for over 20 years, and you're used to doing all of your physical activity or being out in the world with your husband, you forget what it's like to just be a woman in the world.  We've had a few incidents of creepers that had escaped my mind until I was out there without my 'bodyguard.'

Wednesday's solo walk was much smoother.  There weren't 25 men all along my walk blasting their weed whackers and mowers.  No cars stopping near me or anything like that.  I had my phone with me, and I installed a pedometer app so I could track as I walked and have it for emergencies

Of course, I was a dork and forgot to put my sunscreen on before I left so as soon as I got home, I put on my rosehip oil to combat any potential damage.  I definitely need to make sure I leave no later than 9am because that's just getting too hot for my liking on sunny days.  But I'm hoping this is a habit that will stick, but I'm glad I had that bit of a wake-up call on the first day.

There doesn't have to be a "threat" to be reminded that you're a potential target just because you're female, that's, unfortunately, a fact.  If I'm going to make this a new habit, then I need to remember to be smart, and that means keeping my phone on me and being aware of not only my surroundings but whose in them.  Sure, it may sound paranoid to women who jog/run daily without giving a second thought or overestimate their ability to "take" someone if approached or noticed but it's always better to be too careful than not careful enough.

Do you go on daily walks?  Have you ever had an experience exercising outside that made you feel uncomfortable?

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Back to the drawing board

Just like any vacation, we go in with the best of intentions on all fronts  At least where exercise, drinking water, not eating like they're banning food upon our return and keeping up with PT are concerned.

We always seem to adopt the rule "all meals are to be followed by dessert" and pay for it dearly.   (The worst part is when a meal or treat isn't worth it.  I actually did throw away a good amount of stuff that was just plain bleh so I suppose it's better than eating it just because I've paid for it.)

We rarely drink water because with not knowing where we'll be when the bladder kicks in (Maine doesn't have an abundance of rest stops) we kept water to every meal.

We take our bands with us so we can do strength training...never saw the light of day.

I bring a PT office with me in the carry on...that stuff got used maybe 3-4x total and PT was done once or twice.

I did do some morning stretching on the balcony on our anniversary and I wanted to do it every day but didn't.

We bring workouts with us and that was done once and that was because my "dough timer" popped on my gut a week in.  (Aka- nothing fit right anymore and I felt like crap about myself.)

I was thankful I brought at least one dinner with us in the cooler because our anniversary dinner this year was meatloaf, mac and cheese and sweet potato casserole since I had such a bad headache that night that I didn't feel like going out.   It was nice to be able to heat that stuff up but they had the world's worst microwave so it didn't feel exactly gourmet.  A horrible lunch the same day at a restaurant we didn't know was a dive until we sat down was not what I would've called a stellar anniversary this year on the food front.  I kind of feel like we need a do-over on that one.

About the only upside is almost every day we walked a minimum of 3 miles, a few 5 miles and even two 8 mile days in there.  I got a salad twice!  Build me a float in a parade...stat.

Needless to say, we have a LOT of work ahead of us.  Nothing fits right, the first workout back is always humbling, though eating better seems to always come pretty easy because after eating out so much when you're not used to it, your body craves all the fruits and veggies.  Water is getting there but certainly better than when we were gone so I'll take it.  I'm trying to get some new habits in...ones that I've needed to do for years and hopefully, it'll help what I've put on come off faster and beyond.

What's the biggest thing that helps you get back on track after vacation?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Vacation Rewind

Why do some vacations seem to go by so fast?  We spent most of our time in Maine with stops in New York (Sleepy Hollow and Saratoga Springs respectively to and fro), Portsmouth NH, Mystic, CT, and Niagara on the Lake, Ontario.  We tried to do a stop in Brimfield MA for their big antique show but the day we were passing through it was raining and I didn't see anything we were passing that said I had to stop.  I'm wondering if that phase of my life is over.  (The Mr skips the length of the living room with glee.)  I did my first kind of non-structured vacation and I confirmed I don't like having a general outline of things to do.  I had like 3 days where we had planned activities but they weren't set in stone because the weather was unpredictable so they had to be interchangeable.

On our way out, we spent a night in Mystic, CT.  It was good to have the whole day to explore when we only got to see it for an hour or so before everything was really open last year.

We are suckers for Maine's craggy coastlines, tall pines and firs and the sound of a loon in the distance.  (The bird, not a figurative lunatic.)  We went to Bangor and Bar Harbor to Acadia National Park for a road trip.  We left at 5am and had a big fog alert that day that never really lifted much but it made for beautiful scenery.

We walked the trail around Jordan Pond that if you take the right fork seems like it's going to be a piece of cake...until you get to the end where you see boulder hopping and a boardwalk as wide as your hips through a bog with no place to jump off when you pass others for a solid mile.

Somehow we did it and what was 3 1/2 miles easily felt like 5 miles.  While I was a hangry wench with no facilities to fill my gullet, I was glad we did it.  We always seem to do something to challenge ourselves on each trip and that was it for this one.  Though we both agreed if we'd started the trail from the left fork and started with that boardwalk and got detoured into a bog, we would've called it a day with 1/2 mile of walking under our belts.

Obviously, we saw our share of lighthouses:

Oh yeah and I fell at the small one on solid granite and it could've been much worse but tell that to my elbow that is going to have a big, gross scar for the rest of my days.  What a time to find out the band-aids in your first aid kit are so effing old the adhesive gave up!

Our house had some issues, most I won't go into but for the love of God, if you're going to rent a house that is 25 feet from another house on both sides then put up blinds.  If people want to be stared at, fine but give them the option for privacy.  Can't count how many times we looked up to see neighbors looking at us.  Thank you Shaw's for having plastic tablecloths we could put up over some of them.

Mornings were beautiful and when I say mornings, I mean the top pic is what it looked like every day at 4:45 am and by 6am, you were blinded it was so bright WITH cloth blinds, so sleeping in never happened.

But we did enjoy s'mores a few times so there's that.

Maine does everything big from their statues to their boots to their whoopie pies.

We ended our trip in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario where we enjoyed poking around the shops and staying locally a few nights.  We had afternoon tea and took a carriage ride which was a lovely way to end it all.

The highlights for us were:

Acadia National Park
Exploring towns as we came across them
Listening to the birds and quiet in the morning
Turning the kids room into our own personal PT room
A day poking around Portland and pampering ourselves at a spa
Walking around Portsmouth, New Hampshire (gorgeous town!)
The hotel and full day spent in Niagara on the Lake

It was a much-needed vacation after a crappy 2018 and of course, we came back to parts of the bathroom that were like "hey, you didn't replace us when you remodeled last year.  We're gonna break now if that's cool" and other irritants so as usual, the mellow doesn't last long but I'll take what I can get.

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Monday, May 21, 2018


Life got in the way this weekend so no post today.  Forced DIY will do that to you but a big shout out to the Mr for spending his Sunday in our sweat box of a garage.  Here's hoping all of that hard work wasn't for nothing.

Life always has a "fun" way of saying "vacation is over, y'all!!"

Have a great Monday! 

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Tell Me Somethin' Good!

There's no What I'm Reading This Week because we've been on a much needed vacation so I haven't had the chance to read anything.

So I thought I'd open up the mic to you guys.

Share something good that happened to you this week or that you did to make someone else's life good! 

It can be as simple as you got the front row space without having to land shark people out of the grocery store (don't do that) to you took time out to enjoy a bubble bath or a book you've been putting off reading and indulged in a little self-care.  "Good" looks like different things to different people and we should share more of that more often!  Even if it didn't happen in the past week, you can share anything good that's made you smile recently.

Obviously, my "good" was a vacation.  I will write about it next week but after the past few months, it was much needed!

Your turn!

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Maple Sea Salt RX Bar Review

I'm sure if you're in the grocery store or read any health articles, you've seen the popularity of these protein bars blowing up over the past year.  RX Bars list all of the ingredients on the front and in this age of people tired of being marketed to, they seem to be responding to this transparency thing.  It's probably the "no BS" that reels them in. 

I won't tell them it's still marketing because I'm not a total bubble bursting troll...all of the time.  

When I saw the grocery store was giving out samples, I thought this would be my chance to try them because while I appreciated straight talk where health products are concerned, I'm also still cheap.  Maple Sea Salt sounded like a winner to me.

Here's a peek at the nutritional info.

Given the size of the package it came in, I was a little irritated with the size which probably only took up a little over half of the wrapper.

I split it in half so the Mr and I could try it.  He's been curious about them too.  It gave me a chance to check out the goodness awaiting inside.

So how did it taste?

As a person who has made her own energy balls and such in the past, it tasted similar to every date bar you've ever made.  But if you know darn well you're never going to sit down and make your own date balls and need the convenience of grab and go, this is the bar.  I do like the little hit of maple-ish taste balanced with the hit of salt.

I had to really reach to make that half into 4 bites but I eat like I haven't seen food in a year half the time.  So this is an 8 biter for a dainty lady and a 4 biter for someone like me.  I think it would make a perfect post-workout snack (or snack of any kind) but I would probably starve and/or punch someone two hours later if I tried to make it my breakfast substitute.   The Mr said he'd get them again and I thought they were good, especially for the price.  ;-)  But Amazon sells this 12 pack (affiliate link) and at publishing, it comes out to $1.75 per bar which is right on par with other protein bars.

We give them four thumbs up.

Have you ever tried RX Bars?  If so, what's your favorite flavor?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Don't Forget the Grandkids

**This blog post is part of a series on death after a long illness.  This was written while going through the experience.  Just as I shared the journey of losing my Grandma to dementia, I am sharing our journey to healing as well as any tips or lessons learned that helped us cope with the loss.  Your experience may be different.**

As we adjusted to life without Grandma here, it was harder than anticipated.  When you are dealing with dementia and go through the stripping away of the person's personality, you begin to ask for peace.  You want them here desperately but when there is no quality of life, you know they are merely existing.  All of the nurses in the world can tell you they're not suffering but the truth is, as someone who loves them, you never fully buy that.  You get they are trying to comfort you but they don't know that for sure and for me, it always just made me a little annoyed even if well-intentioned.

Fast forward to losing her and the grandkids and great-grandkids sobbing in each other's arms.  While it was difficult, there was also something beautiful about being bound together in that grief we were all experiencing.  Differences that may not allow us to be as close any other time, allowed us to cry on each other's shoulders, share stories about her that made us laugh including her doling out some wooden spoon justice to some of them.  Old school represent, yo!

It is fitting and right that the children and spouse of the deceased are given the greatest comfort with hugs, cards and well wishes from their friends and family.  To have food brought over so that they don't have to think about preparing a meal for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on how much stuff is brought and then divided.  As anyone knows who has been through a funeral, you spend days to weeks with time stopped and your brain has come out of protection mode of numbing you and may not adjust well to "getting back to it."

But there are those that tend to be the forgotten ones...the grandchildren.  While we may not have spent as much time with our grandparent as a spouse or child, in many cases there was a bond there that is greater than that of a parent/child.  A grandparent does not impose their wants or dreams for your life on you.  They don't want anything more than for you to be a good person and even if you're not such a good person, they love you anyway.  They love you unconditionally and even though a parent technically does, there are always some emotional strings attached in one form or another.  A grandparent's job is usually to spoil you, give you advice you may not listen to from your parent (even if they say the exact same thing!), smile when they see you in that way that lets you know they are happy for any moment you give to them or some combination of those things.

When you are one of the lucky ones to have a grandparent who loves you so unconditionally, the pain and grief can be unbearable at first.  My grandma was one of two people who understood how stress physically affects me and my shame surrounding it.  I would lament over why I was so weak and couldn't just "suck it up" but she told me I wasn't weak and sucking it up was overrated and just not possible for some people.  She reassured me when I couldn't take care of my mom after a surgery by doing something as simple as holding a barf bucket for her that I wasn't the bad daughter I kept saying I was.  I will never forget crying on her shoulder telling her what a failure I was and it was one of the few times she cried with me telling me I wasn't and I was breaking her heart that I thought that about myself.  When you've had someone like that in your life for as long as most of us grandkids were blessed to have her, the loss of having someone who loved you so fiercely can be devastating.  Even when one of her grandkids who was going through a rather rough patch in their teens and told Grandma to "eff off" (to which I was surprised she didn't belt her back into 1989), she still told her how pretty she was.

A grandma's love can be a special thing.  While it's wonderful that people check in to see how the spouse or kids are doing...don't forget the grandkids.  Those that had a special relationship with them need support too.  They're mourning a relationship that neither spouse nor child had with her and it's hard for them too.

Happy birthday Grandma.

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