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The Past 2 Weeks (and May) in Review: Where to start? (w/ pics)

Sunday, June 03, 2012

I got caught up in a lot of other things last week and didn't post a "Week in Review" blog. I've been gardening, writing, working out, and spending time with my boyfriend. My brain is all over the place. Overall, I am in a pretty contented place.

The month of May was decent enough. I had the leg injury that took me out of hard workouts for a couple of weeks, but should be better now (more below). I have backed out of the Muay Thai fight I was scheduled for on June 16th because I wasn't able to train because of the leg injury. It is just as well, because they haven't found me an opponent, and I am not going to show up the day of the fight unsure of whether I have a suitable opponent or not. If nothing else, signing up for the fight got me working out hard. I only had a net loss of about 1 pound in May, but I lost several inches from my waist, hips, and arms. I can probably thank weightlifting and martial arts for that.

I got a lot of gardening done in May and my yard is looking pretty good. I have a pretty wild yard. I have no lawn, it is all garden. My yard has been a major project since I bought my house 7 years ago. I would not have arranged the garden the way the previous owner had, and I have been battling the invasive plants she chose for the yard over the years. My garden is organic, so of course controlling unwanted plants has been a slower process. Finally, this year, it appears that the garden is my own. The plants I have planted (like roses and irises) are able to thrive because I have the invasive species under control a bit more.

My veggie garden patch was easy to get ready to plant thanks to the work I've done over the past few years. I simplified the plantings this year and just have soybeans and carrots in there, instead of a larger variety with smaller yields from each type. My blueberry bushes, planted last year, look pretty good. I also expanded my little strawberry patch. Now I have cherries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries in my yard--yum!

I tried for several years to grow a lot of roses, but most of these fickle plants died despite my efforts. Of the 20-something roses I have tried to plant, I have about 10 survivors. The most spectacular rose I have in my garden is "Neptune," it's silvery-lavender radiance gracing my garden all summer. The flowers have a refreshing citrus scent. The plant has been hardy and a prolific bloomer. The thing is, I planted "Neptune" when I did not know as much about planting zones. I bought "Neptune" without realizing that it should not be able to survive in Minneapolis (USDA Zone 4). "Neptune" is a Zone 6 or higher rose. I expected that I would not see "Neptune" again after the first year, but it is the first rose to show signs of life in the spring and has lived happily in my garden for the past 4 years. I guess that sometimes things will thrive when they are completely outside of their element.

"Neptune" rose.

Place to sit under the cherry tree.


So wish they lasted longer...

Oriental poppy.


Batik iris.



Peppers, tomatoes, herbs, and potatoes (in the green growing bag) on the patio.

Mmmmm, fresh greens...

Soybeans and carrots--or at least there will be soon...

Strawberries and blueberries.

I have not been working out as much as usual because of the large hematoma on my right leg. It is significantly better now. My mother, who is a nurse, suggested massaging gently to help break up the hematoma. When she massaged it last Sunday, I felt an immediate release of pressure in the lower leg. I continued to ice it regularly. My boyfriend Greg has massaged it a couple more times. It bruised up slightly again, but that is not surprising since the hematoma was breaking up. My lower leg is finally not painful again.

I have held off on doing any intense workouts. I have done a couple of lower leg workouts, some boxing, and I did a run a couple of days ago. This week I should be able to return to most of my regular workouts, although I am going to take it easy on the martial arts so I don't take any blows to my lower leg. I have missed my workout routine.

My eating has been not been great on a lot of days, but I have tracked everything. Despite overeating pretty consistently for about 2 weeks, I did not gain weight. This is probably because the consistent tracking has stopped me from going totally overboard. I have been pretty good about cooking and having healthy meals ready, like one of my favorites, tofu fried rice.

Homemade tofu fried rice.

If you saw yesterday's blog, I have been doing a lot of writing recently. I have had 2 books rolling around in my head and now feel ready to really sit down and write them. Yesterday was one of those "Cancel everything!" days, and I wrote for many hours. I did peel myself away to go have dinner with my boyfriend, some of his friends, and my brother. Today my project is this blog, and I am also working on a post titled "The Impossible," which will talk about my changed relationship with food and with myself. Should be posted in the next day or 2. "The Impossible" has required a lot of thought, but I have been picking away at it.

I have also had the urge to start belly dancing again. I will talk more about belly dance in "The Impossible," but dance is what really started my mental transformation a few years ago. I was looking into when classes start for the summer at my old dance school, and they start next week. It also turns out that the school just moved to a much more convenient location about a mile from my house. Actually, there is an open house there this afternoon that I will be heading to momentarily. I am excited to have dance in my life again.

My last "Week in Review" blog was about my vacation week and the trip I took with my boyfriend Greg. Ever since the trip, we have been spending more time together. When we were at the lake, we had more opportunity to talk about some things and became closer. I am a happy lady.

Greg snuggling my dog Dugan.

Overall, May was a pretty good month. Although the stupid injury I got caused an inconvenience and landed me in the emergency room, it also gave me a chance to see how adorable Greg is when he's worried. He rushed right over to go to the emergency room with me (see "The Lake House" blog for further details). Not a great month for weight loss, but it was a decent month for fitness until my leg got injured. June will bring much running in the sunshine, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, and last but not least, DANCE! I am off to my school's open house, ready to reunite with my first exercise love. Happy June, all!

A moment for healthy living...

"I seldom end up where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be."
-Douglas Adams

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 6/7/2012 2:34PM

    You are sounding so filled with FLOW! Great garden efforts...sounds like your relationship is flourishing with your efforts as well! Two thumbs WAY UP! :-)


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    Great update. I really loved all the pictures and garden talk especially. I hope you are fully recovered soon.

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DOODIE59 6/4/2012 9:10AM

    Wow. You have had a fantastic, learning, growing month. Serendipity supports those who are open to experiences -- that's you. And, of course, as the good stuff piles up in your life (cuz you're open to it), your life's just gonna get richer. Enjoy every minute. Nurture your garden/love your sweetie/shake your tailfeathers and keep doing the good you do for the animals in your care. It's hard to IMAGINE how good your future's going to be ...just enjoy the process every day.

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APED7969 6/4/2012 2:05AM

    Great to see you so happy! Love the photos :-)

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    Oh Erin, just fabulous! Your yard is great and soon you will have such great produce! And your beautiful neptune rose is awesome! I love irises, too.
And your guy with sweet! Makin memories...
Glad you are doing well and have a terrific June, my friend!
Mary emoticon emoticon

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    Great blog. Super job on your gardens! OMG I love IRISes!! I have some beautiful ones, but not quite that lovely.

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ARTJAC 6/3/2012 8:52PM


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LEN_VERSION32 6/3/2012 8:51PM

    lovely pictures!

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MILLISMA 6/3/2012 7:36PM

    Glad to hear that you're getting better. Thanks for posting the pictures...everything is beautiful!

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ALISHAB3 6/3/2012 6:37PM

    In spite of an injury you didn't gain!!! Thats a victory!!! emoticon

Plus, your Greg seems like a super nice guy! emoticon

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SPOONGIRLDEB 6/3/2012 5:28PM

    Nice yard! Sounds like May was a good month (despite some issues :-)), here's hoping June is even better!

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JILLYBEAN25 6/3/2012 5:27PM

    I am so envious of your garden! It is so beautiful. I've decided that when I'm a homeowner (someday) that my backyard will be at least 1/2 veggie garden. Those roses are amazingly gorgeous! That Neptune rose is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. I do not know how to grow or care for roses, which is unfortunate because there are two in my current yard (planted by my landlord years ago, of course). I'm glad May was a good month for you despite your injury. I hope June finds you even better!

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MISTYBLUE716 6/3/2012 3:12PM

    beautiful flowers!

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    Your yard looks great. I'm jealous of all the fresh fruits and veggies you can pick out of your yard! I wish I had a yard...someday I will.

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DEBJAE 6/3/2012 1:50PM

    Beautiful pics! You do have your work cut out for you keeping up with the yard, but it is paying off. Great job!

Love the quote too!

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JSALERNO 6/3/2012 1:48PM


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Bitten by the creativity bug

Saturday, June 02, 2012

I'm not sure why, but I have been seriously bitten by the writing bug recently. It has been a while since I have done writing other than my blogs. I have been working more on my sci-fi novel, which is about the discovery of a second co-existing species of humans. My sci-fi novel has mostly been a brainstorm for the past couple of years. I have been jotting down ideas and writing bits and pieces of the 3-part series, but it has not been until the past week or so that I have had a clearer picture in my head of the flow of the story. The characters have started to come to life and I have been able to better shape them on paper (or on word processor, as it were).

Actually, I have been bitten by the creativity bug in general recently. I have also had serious urges to dance again, and will be starting up with belly dance lessons again. Conveniently, my dance school just moved to about a mile from my house, making it excuse-free to get to classes. Over the past week or so, I have turned on music and done informal belly dance sessions throughout the day. I have missed this outlet of creativity and the way dance expresses my feelings. It seems to unleash my emotions like nothing else because I don't think or concentrate while I dance. I just do it, allowing my body to move as it pleases. I feel more coordinated than I have in the past. I am looking forward to dancing more and taking classes again.

I am excited today because I finally have a coherent idea for another book. For several years, I have had another idea for a book rolling around in my head about the relationship between a brother and sister. "Based on true events," part of the idea was that exercise brings the brother and sister closer together. I have also wanted to write an autobiography, but I don't want to write a "This happened, and then that happened, and then this happened after that..." account of my life. The most significant event of my life was the car accident that happened when I was 5 years old. My older brother Brian was killed, my younger brother John sustained a serious head injury, and my mother was injured and struggled for much of my childhood as a single mother. I have wanted to write something that serves as a tribute to my brother Brian, as well as expressing how much my mother means to me. I have also wished that my younger brother and I were closer, and have been wanting to write a story in which I am closer to him. The only way my brother John and I truly relate is through exercise.

I suddenly had the idea yesterday to combine the idea of the the brother and sister coming closer together, as well as the autobiographical account of the car accident and the aftermath, and how it shaped me and my family. In a somewhat "It's a Wonderful Life"-inspired way, there are 2 realities, one in which the car accident occurs and one where the accident does not occur. The main character becomes 2 different people depending on whether the accident occurs or not.

In the story where the car accident occurs and the girl's older brother dies, she goes on to have depression and be bullied because she becomes overweight. This girl becomes very caring and understands the preciousness of life. She has a rough relationship with her younger brother, but they become closer as adults thanks to running and kickboxing. The girl's father, who had essentially abandoned his children after getting divorced from the girl's mother, becomes a better man after realizing that his children are the most important thing in his life. This part is, of course, "based on true events."

In the alternate reality where the family narrowly misses having the car accident, the girl becomes a completely different person. Despite the efforts of her kind mother, the girl goes on to become beautiful and popular. She becomes self-absorbed and goes on to have a highly successful career. She is not an awful person, but she is not deeply caring and is not particularly close to her family. Although she becomes successful, her life is a bit shallow. The girl in this version is somewhat based on many of my family members. I love my family a lot, but many of them seem to drift a bit through life and not really understand the special meaning that comes with waking up every day and feeling thankful to be here, thankful for what we have.

Now, I am NOT saying I am glad the car accident happened. However, it is undeniable how such an event shaped me; it is probably the most significant event of my life (and hopefully the only time I ever experience a tragedy on that level). The fact is, I am who I am today because of that day on June 20th, 1984. The best I can make of the car accident and my brother Brian's death is that the event and aftermath made me into the caring and empathetic person I am today. In reflecting on the event, I have often wondered if I would have turned out the same way had the accident never happened.

The following is a short story I wrote a couple of years ago while I was in a literary non-fiction class. It is an autobiographical account of the car accident. I actually posted it in a blog last June on my brother Brian's death anniversary, if it looks familiar. This is going to be the opening of the book, which I have decided, at least for now, will also be called "Blond Brothers." At the very beginning of the story, a moment occurs between the brother and sister while reflecting on a photo taken when they were young children. The brother never died. I have always wanted to expand on that idea, but it was not until now that I had a better idea of how to do it. The short story is bittersweet, as the book will be. The reality is, most lives are bittersweet and it takes some digging to find that the difference between getting through a left turn arrow or not can shape who we are forever. Here is the short story "Blond Brother," which will be slightly edited to be the opening of the book.


"Blond Brothers"

"Brian!" my mother yells. "Stop bothering your sister!" She shoots the picture as I triumphantly yank the yellow balloon away, my golden blond pigtails bouncing as I skip away. Brian has the same blond hair, a short boy's haircut, although the slight curls make his hair unruly. His pants never fit right, always hanging off of his skinny waist to reveal half of his butt, even though he could tighten his brown leather belt to hold them up. He knows that I started it. I always do. I win only because he lets me and he adores me.

The photograph shows an average moment between siblings, a typical memory: A gangly eight-year-old boy holding a prized possession, a twerpy little sister wanting it only because she knows she can win. Brother and sister thumb through a photo album, come across this picture, shaking their heads and giggling.

"Do you remember how much you used to piss me off?" one says to the other.

"Whatever, you always started it!" the other retorts. They laugh together and are so glad they have outgrown such childish ways.

I ask Brian in my head, "Do you remember how much you used to piss me off?" The only response is the call of a tall waterbird in the lake near his grave. I will never know if we outgrow our childish ways. I don't want the damn yellow balloon anymore. I want more fights with my brother. I want to let him win for once. My hand absently rises to my forehead, the round bumpy scar one of many reminders. I accept the tranquility of my brother's grave, the turtle carved into the flat gray granite headstone posed just like the turtles basking in the sun by the lake.

Our baby brother John is contentedly gazing out the back window of the car. He has never had a hair cut, his straw-blond baby hair in rambunctious curls around his cherub face. I watch him watching the cars going by from the safety of his car seat; he doesn't know how often I watch him watching things. It is a warm and sunny summer day and Brian and I are excited to go to McDonalds for ice cream. I was dragged to Brian's doctor appointment and I know I deserve a treat. Today we are not squabbling. My mother pulls the car into the left turn lane at the stop light and we wait patiently for our turn. She turns and smiles at me, her five-year-old daughter sitting next to her, and eight-year-old and two-year-old sons in the back.

Brian picks at my hair and tells me it is like spun gold. He takes off his seat belt and leans over the to the front seat, wrapping his arms around me. I don't resist. I pick fights with him, but secretly I covet his ability to catch turtles and to recite most of the lines from Star Wars. He hugs me every chance he gets, when I'm not being such a brat to make it impossible.

I turn to look at him. The truck is the biggest and fastest thing I have ever seen as it barrels toward the intersection where my mother pulled out after our light turned green. My scream comes too late to warn my mother.

The impact makes no sound.

The car is spinning forever. The sky and ground outside the car melt into a whirl of blue and brown. I turn around during the slow-motion moment to look at my brothers.

Brian's arms are not around me anymore. John's eyes are closed, blood trickling from his ear, his mouth slightly open, his head tilted back as though he is napping. My mother is asleep and her head is pointed at the ceiling.

The car stops after an eternity in the grass median. I clamber to open the door, to go where, I don't know. A tall blond-haired man whisks me up and runs with me through the grass, despite my confused protests. He lays me down on my back and I turn on my side to see the sky blue Chevy sitting gracelessly in the grass, crumpled like a used newspaper. The grass is too high for me to see my mother or brothers. Even though I can walk, I cannot move from where I am. Sirens wail from a distance, a chorus of them gets louder, then stops.

A paramedic comes and gingerly picks me up. I can say nothing, only scream. He puts me in the ambulance. John's tiny body is surrounded by people, counting out loud as they press on him and squeeze a balloon-looking plastic bag over his mouth. They stop and start to busily poke at him and put a plastic mask over his mouth. All of the equipment seems too big for him.

Outside I see police officers talking to the blond man who took me from our car. The doors close and the sirens blast again as the ambulance starts to move. The ride only lasts a second. We are bustled into the hospital and I am taken by a nurse to a bed surrounded by cloth curtains. My bare feet dangle over the bed. I ask where my shoes are and the nurse tells me they were lost in the crash. The nurse has tweezers and a metal bowl on a table next to the bed. She tells me she needs to remove the "windshield" from my skin.

The first chunk of glass plops into the metal bowl with a staccato Plink. The nurse tells me I'm doing a good job. She finds another piece of windshield glass and digs slightly to pull it from my forearm. Plink. I tell the nurse I want to see my mother, and she says I can in a little bit.

"Where's John?" I ask. The nurse pulls back the curtain next to us to reveal my baby brother nestled amongst beeping machines. Plastic tubes are sticking out everywhere. He is napping and does not look uncomfortable.

The nurse turns back to her task. She sees a sliver of glass on my chest and gingerly tugs at it with the tweezers. Plink. I look at the nurse, who is looking closely at my arm.

"Where's Brian?"

"I'm sorry, he's dead." Plink.

I don't feel any more glass under my skin, each Plink into the bowl sounding more distant, the beeps from machines rushing away.

My Aunt Theresa is walking towards me, smiling with a trembling lip. Her eyes are puffy and wet. The nurse does not stop picking at me as my aunt approaches. Plink. Aunt Theresa sits down next to me and holds my hand. I say again that I want to see my mother. Aunt Theresa squeezes my hand more tightly. Dozens of Plinks later, the nurse stops, and then washes my skin.

Aunt Theresa takes me down the hall, my bare feet almost squeaking on the white linoleum. My father is sitting next to my mother's bed and is holding her hand. He is sad. I have never seen him sad, only mad. That is why we don't live with him anymore. He turns to look at me. We have nothing to say to each other right now.

I cautiously approach the bed where my mother is laying. A machine with squiggly lines on a screen beeps rhythmically next to her bed. She looks beautiful and flawless, but now her eyes are empty.

My mother is staring straight at me, but is not looking at me. Aunt Theresa tells me my mother broke her back and hurts a lot right now. My mother normally has all the answers, so I don't know what to say to her. I place my hand on hers, and she squeezes her eyes shut, tears leaking from her tightly-closed eyelids. My mother says nothing. I study her gorgeous face, her brunette hair cascading on her pillow. My father and Aunt Theresa are talking about the "drunk" man and "running the red light." Then something about John being in a "coma." Something about Brian "going through the windshield."

Aunt Theresa puts her hand on my shoulder and tells me that it's time to go and buy new shoes.

The flowers my dad left are fresh in the vase by Brian's grave. Hours ago my dad stood over my brother's grave, a different man than the one who received the call twenty-five years ago that his oldest son was dead, the rest of his family in shambles. He became a real father that day. Today I am my father's daughter, my dark blond hair, gray eyes, large figure, and smart mouth are all from him. The anger is long forgotten.

John's hair is no longer blond, but brunette like my mother's, no longer curly, but coarse and chopped close to his head. He does not remember the day of the accident, but knows very well that it shaped him forever. Standing six feet tall, he is handsome and his lean body shows that he frequently runs marathons. He looks at other graves, at the lake, at the sky, at the car. Anywhere but straight down at the granite slab with the turtle and the engraving "...each seed is each seed's child."

John squirms from one foot to the other as he stands with my mother and me. My mother looks up from Brian's grave and grabs my hand. "What do you remember the most about Brian?" she asks.

I pause awkwardly. "His death," I answer honestly. She gazes with hope for more answers from my face, and nods. The wounds continue for my mother all these years later, although she now knows it was not her fault. The tall blond man who had taken me from the wrecked Chevy, the same man who took my older brother's life, had said he was not sorry. She forgave him anyway.

I can remember Brian if I think hard, in thoughts, and in pictures. But the silver truck grill is always bearing down on us in the one second that changes our lives. My mother gazes at the lake, remembering her eldest son, thankful for John and me. "Have I told you how proud I am of you?" she asks me, beaming.

"Yes, earlier today."

She takes John's hand. "I love you so much," she says, squeezing and shaking his hand. He rolls his eyes with slight indignation. "Yeah, I know. I love you, too," he mutters, even though he means it.

My brothers, my mother, and I are together as a family.


Thanks for reading. I wrote this blog partially because I am excited to be feeling so creative again. I also wanted to jot these ideas down, so I figured I may well do a blog to keep the ideas easily accessible.

Thanks again for reading.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DOODIE59 6/2/2012 10:31PM

    You've transmitted a very powerful experience -- thank you for sharing it with us.

And all power to you with your writing.

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DDOORN 6/2/2012 10:12PM

    Wow! Writing, playing, fill your life with such SPARK! VERY impressive! Spark ON! :-)


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ALISHAB3 6/2/2012 5:44PM

    I had a similarly intense effect on my life from my father's sleep apnea. He is now on a c-pap machine and is a different person. There were so many times when I was little when he would leave me with people without thinking. This was as disastrous as you can imagine. However, all that trauma aside, I would not have understood other people half as well as I do without my own experiences to draw upon.

I love dancing as well. You might try some of the hula dvds on netflix. They aren't intense, just fun.

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The Week in Review: The Lake House (with pics)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in."
-Robert Orben

View from the porch at my family's lake house.

I was at the end of my rope by Friday of last week. I had a crappy training week due to a dumb injury, and that dumb injury landed me in the emergency room (don't worry, it is fine now). Then Friday was an extremely rough night at work that involved our phone system crashing. I was hoping to already be in "vacation mode" by the time Saturday morning rolled around and my boyfriend and I were going to my family's lake house near La Crosse, Wisconsin. Needless to say, I was such a stress ball that I had half a mind to cancel the whole thing. I am very glad I did not cancel it.

I was looking forward to an excellent training week last Monday. Then, 5 minutes into Jiu Jitsu class, my partner accidentally landed his knee on my right shin during a warm-up drill. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but it made me double over. It started to bruise within a few seconds. Being as stubborn as I am, I pressed on. I even did kicks with that leg. Then, it started to hurt too much to make contact with that shin, so I just did upper body stuff. After a couple of hours, it was impressive football-sized bruise. I didn't think much of it because I get nicked up all the time in practice and nothing really ever comes of the bruises. I did my best to elevate the leg when I could, take some Epsom salt baths, and iced it several times a day.

By Wednesday it actually hurt to walk on that leg. I went to the gym, but I only did upper body weights. On Thursday, while I was working, I noticed my foot was bruising up and figured that the blood from the bruise was just pooling a bit. Then it started to really hurt, sudden deep stabbing pain. Then my lower leg and foot went numb. It continued like this for several hours. I was working, so I couldn't elevate it. I was concerned that there was swelling that was compromising my circulation. I started to contemplate going to the emergency room. I almost never go to the doctor and haven't been to an emergency room in at least 10 years, but I didn't want to overreact. I finally called my health insurance's nurse line, and she thought it was best that I was seen. I had been wishing that it wasn't so late so I could have called my mom (former emergency room nurse and current phone triage nurse). I texted my boyfriend that I was going to the emergency room and he zoomed right over, which I thought was incredibly sweet. He went with me when I finished my shift. The doctor examined it and did not believe that circulation was compromised, but that it was just a very deep and painful bruise. I felt better after talking to my mom today, who told me she would have advised me to be seen, but that the numbness was not very unusual for a deep bruise on the shin.

In any case, my leg is getting better, but I am going to lay off of kicking with that shin or doing and sparring for a while. I will probably not be doing Jiu Jitsu for a few weeks, either. I will see how it goes, but I may not be able to get in enough training for the fight on June 16th. Even if the leg is completely better by then, I can't have repeated blows to that leg right now because I know it will just aggravate it.

I also helped my dad euthanize his cat, Alex, on Thursday. The cat was very sick and had kidney and liver failure. My dad had a vet come to the house for the euthanasia, and as far as having to put a pet to sleep goes, it was as pleasant as possible. I'm glad I was there, both for the cat and for my dad and stepmom. Alex was about 15 years old and I lived with him for a while, so he was kind of a childhood cat. He will be missed.

I'm not even sure what other aggravating crap happened last week because it apparently all got erased with my trip over the weekend. My family jointly owns a house on a lake near La Crosse, Wisconsin. It is in the Mississippi River Valley, so the drive is scenic and our view of the lake is awesome. I was admittedly nervous about spending 3 days with my boyfriend, Greg. I have never traveled with a boyfriend before and I was worried we would drive each other nuts or that we would get sick of each other, or whatever else could go wrong. I am glad I was able to relax, because we had a great time. We had no real plans for when we got there; it was meant to be pure relaxation.

We drove down Saturday afternoon. It is only a 3 hour drive from Minneapolis along a very beautiful route, so we had a good time. My boyfriend loves to drive, so I let him drive my car. I also brought my dog Dugan with me; I had never traveled with him. We got there and the second Greg caught one look at the view from the porch and we parked it there for a while. My dog was a little wild at first, but then settled down. I took him for a good walk through town, which wore him out a little more. Then I made homemade risotto with lots of veggies for dinner that night. I had some tofu with it, but Greg made bratwurst for himself. It was a gorgeous evening (if not a bit muggy), so we sat on the porch and sipped scotch and each had a cigar. I know, not the healthiest thing, but I did enjoy it and may have them on rare occasions (I had never had one before).

On Sunday morning, we made scrambled eggs and some potatoes for breakfast. There was more relaxing and chatting on the porch. It kept threatening to rain, so we did not get out the canoe or do any outdoor stuff (it never did rain). I made homemade vegetable lasagna for lunch, which turned out pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. Afterwards, we did sneak in a walk through the park in town, which weaves through bluffs on the edge of a large creek, with water pouring out of the rocks. Then we met one of Greg's friends for dinner in a nearby town. That is a meal where I really overdid it with food, but that is a rare occurrence nowadays. That evening was more chilly, so we snuggled up on the couch and I read while he wrote.

Monday was an impeccable day weather-wise, so we got out the canoe and went for a quick ride. My mother told me we had kayaks there, so I took one out for a spin. I had never done it before and I loved it! I look forward to doing more. We got the house cleaned up and headed home in the early evening. I was worried about getting sick of being with Greg; instead, I kind of missed him right after I dropped him off.
Overall, the weekend about as perfect as I could have hoped.

Greg and my dog Dugan enjoying the view.

A swallowtail butterfly visitor.

My dog all tuckered out.

Early morning mist over the lake.

Another shot of the mist.

Me out on a kayak.

Bluffs along the Mississippi River Valley on the way back.

Mississippi River near Pepin, Wisconsin.

Sunset over the Mississippi River Valley.


Homemade risotto (arborio rice, turmeric, lemon, basil, onion, garlic, asparagus, bell pepper, carrots, peas, and Parmesan cheese). Also had some tofu with it.

Homemade vegetable lasagna (lasagna noodles, tomato sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, onion, garlic, spinach, carrots, and bell pepper)

I did write down my food over the weekend (although I wasn't paying terribly close attention to overall calorie count or anything) and entered all of it into my tracker yesterday. I didn't do too bad considering I was traveling. I still had lots of water, fruits, and vegetables. Sure, there was a major splurge, but sometimes a meal can be an event. I am glad I cooked so we had some wholesome foods, although I had more wheat and dairy than I would normally have now.

I am very glad we took this trip, because any doubts I had about Greg are gone. Of course, most of the doubts were my own insecurities, but I have a terrible track record with guys. I was just sitting there waiting to get screwed over. But any guy who rushes over at midnight to sit in an emergency room with me for 3 hours and then goes on a trip with me, doing everything possible to make sure I am taken care of, is clearly not looking to screw me over. I had never really seen the value in having a partner before, but Greg complements the parts of me that need balance, and I think I do the same for him. I like where it is going.

Now I have the rest of the week off and no major plans. I will be getting to the gym on my regular training days, but as I said, will be avoiding contact with my right shin. I'll probably stick with upper body weights and punches. I'll be catching up with some friends, too. I do need to get gardening and yard work done. Unfortunately, it looks like the weather will not be cooperating for a majority of the time. I won't lie, I don't mind having some more spacing out time, even if I don't have a lake view. The television has its place, too.

"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want. "
-Bill Watterson, "Calvin and Hobbes"

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEWHENRYSMAMA 5/29/2012 9:24PM


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DDOORN 5/27/2012 6:54AM

    What a wonderful trip and fellow! Two thumbs WAY the heck up!

I gotta get me back into a kayak one of these days...!


ps...thx for stopping by my blog and for your support!

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ALISHAB3 5/26/2012 10:06AM

    I am so glad that you went and enjoyed yourself. I am liking this Greg fellow, he seems like a really nice guy (meant in all sincerity. no snarkiness at all.)

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    The knee injury sounded like some really bad tissue damage. You are one tough lady to manage to work and play with that!

It sounds like that lake house vacation is just what you needed. I could picture myself there. The food looked wonderful and does the lake.

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JSALERNO 5/23/2012 5:49AM


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JILLYBEAN25 5/22/2012 11:10PM

    Oh. Em. Gee. That view is amazing! I love kayaking, too, so I'm so glad you had fun taking one out for a spin! Too cool! I'm glad you had a wonderful weekend full of relaxation and affirmations. I hope you continue to enjoy the remainder of your vacay!

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JENNA54 5/22/2012 10:29PM

    What a gorgeous location for a holiday home. Thanks for sharing in this blog. It sounds like a lovely break after a pretty hellish time. greg sounds lovely too, I hope ity all continues to go well for you both.

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    Sounds like you had a great time. I love going out to a cabin at the lake. It is so peaceful and good for the soul.
Your food looked yummy....cute bf &
I hope you enjoy the rest of your time off.

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DOODIE59 5/22/2012 9:38PM

    Wow! All the good things in life came together this weekend for you to have an awesome weekend with your love:) Huge kudos to YOU for getting past all the negativity of the past week, and leaving yourself open to something really, really good:) You're right -- you could have cancelled, but look where your courage got you! A really special weekend with some really valuable lessons learned about keeping your heart open. Frankly, your dog passed out blissfully on the porch just about says it all. If you were not happy, he wouldn't be:) Clearly, it was a good weekend.

btw, It is not the end of the world if you cannot fight on the 16th. Rebook for a new time once you've healed, and refocus your energy. You'll get there. And you're living a rich life in the meantime. Enjoy:)
And enjoy the rest of your week off, too.

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CANNIE50 5/22/2012 9:11PM

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh-that is the feeling I had reading about your vacation, seeing the gorgeous photos. I have to say, I think that even if I had not read about the kindness of your boyfriend, I would have seen it in his photo - he just looks like a good man. Yes, the "rushing over for 3 hour emergency room visit" - a SURE sign. Another sure sign, on your part - missing him as soon as he was gone. Oh, this just makes my heart happy to read. YAY for love! OUCH about your shin. I am guessing there is a little guilt from the owner of the knee that attacked your shin (not that there should be, mind you, but what an awful feeling to know you have accidentally inflicted pain). I am a little disappointed you did not post a photo of what must have been a very impressive looking bruise. My poor husband was recently hit in the knee by a baseball hit by our very strong 19 y.o. son - it was GHASTLY so I am imagining your leg and his, looked very similar. I am glad you were able to put a horribly stressful week behind you for a lovely, peaceful, restorative weekend. Nice.

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The Week in Review: It's Impassable

Monday, May 14, 2012

Image from

One of my favorite books as a kid was "Alice in Wonderland." I was thinking about possibilities this week and how far I've come, and I recalled when Alice is chasing the white rabbit down the home. She has taken a potion that made her large, and she comes upon a door. She can see the rabbit through the keyhole and the doorknob starts talking to her:

-Alice: [looking through the Doorknob's keyhole] There he is! I simply must get through.

-Doorknob: Sorry. You're much too big. Simply impassable.

-Alice: You mean impossible.

-Doorknob: No, impassable. [chuckles] Nothing's impossible!

Of course she figured out a way to get through the door to continue her pursuit of the white rabbit. We're all chasing a white rabbit of some sort, and like Alice, can find that catching it is not impossible with enough determination. I'm not going to lie, I was starting to get a bit discouraged with my weight being in such a holding pattern. It seems I needed something to really light a fire under my ass, and my upcoming fight did just that. I still don't know who my opponent is, but every time I look in the mirror I see both my opponent and ally. I have to say, there hasn't been anything in a long time that's made me look really deep down inside. Facing a real live opponent will do that I guess.

This week I only lost about half a pound, but I have been working out very hard and am probably retaining water, so that is not unusual. I am not going to do anything different yet because I am feeling pretty strong. I did aggravate my IT band syndrome by running on a treadmill this week, though. I should have known better, the treadmill (or as I lovingly call it, "dreadmill") has also bothered my knees. In any case, I won't be running for a couple of weeks. I also had another private training session with my coach Eric and another classmate yesterday; I learned a ton. My workouts this week were:

Monday: Jiu Jitsu (1 hour) and Muay Thai (1 hour)
Tuesday: strength/cardio circuit (1 hour), Jiu Jitsu (1.5 hour) and Muay Thai (1 hour)
Wednesday: treadmill run 12 minutes (2 minute run/1 minute walk), Jiu Jitsu (1 hour) and Muay Thai (1 hour)
Thursday: REST
Friday: Kettlebells 25 minutes (IT band acting up)
Saturday: upper body weights (30 minutes) and Muay Thai (1 hour)
Sunday: Muay Thai private lesson (1 hour)

I had a major breakthrough this week with eating and my emotional dependency on food. It warrants a separate blog, which I am working on and will post some time this week. The short of it is, a few nights ago I got done with work and then plopped down in front of the T.V. As I was getting ready for bed, I realized I hadn't eaten anything since my snack several hours prior. I wasn't hungry, and I just forgot about food. I have NEVER forgotten to eat or forgotten about food, hungry or not. More to come.

I am trying to do more saxophone playing that is just for fun and not necessarily stuff that is assigned to me by my teacher Jeff. At the same time, I am trying to teach myself more about music theory and saxophone technique. Just like with myself, I can probably do a lot more with it if I understand more about how it works. I have found it helpful to do some further exploration and feel like I can start improving my technique with Jeff's help. I found sheet music for this awesome song from M83; there is a 1 minute alto sax solo at the end of the song that I have been wanting to learn:

In any case, it was a pretty good week overall. Some things may be impassable, but I like finding that nothing is truly impossible. Of course, that takes some exploring and effort to find what works. Hopefully we don't have to jump down the rabbit hole to get there.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CANNIE50 5/17/2012 10:55PM

    So, Miss Erin, I have a question for you - do you use an elliptical? I am wondering if that would be an option for you, that would not bother your knees or that @!#@ IT band. I am guessing you do all the I.T. stretches (as shown on - I have friends who have struggled with this issue and the stretches really seem to help since most of them have resumed running. I love your line about looking in the mirror and seeing your opponent and your ally - how very, very true. I look forward to the day when thoughts of food do not hijack my brain so many times a day. I have experienced hours of freedom, and, on a rare occasion, an entire day where I feel "normal" about food. It is very liberating, right? Okay, keep chasing down those muscles and endorphins you fitness warrior, you.

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SKYWATCHERRS 5/17/2012 11:44AM

    Great post - and I can relate on the forgetting about food thing. The first time it happened to me, I was totally floored like you. Great progress!

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SMILINGTREE 5/17/2012 9:23AM

    Every time I read one of your posts that details your work outs, I just sit here in awe for a minute. You train like an Olympian. I struggle to get in 4 hours a week, while you do that in two days. Be careful with yourself, and know that you are admired.

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    It sounds like you are getting yourself in a good place for this sparring competition. Good luck!

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SPOONGIRLDEB 5/15/2012 9:16AM

    Great blog. Looking forward to reading about your breakthrough on food - I could use some help in that arena lol.

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DDOORN 5/14/2012 10:45AM

    Just forgot about food?!?! Yeah, that's pretty imPASSABLE for me too...curious to hear more!

Always great to hear about your sax playing too...just love that instrument!


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ALISHAB3 5/14/2012 10:17AM

    As far as music theory goes you (being into the saxophone, and from that I'm guessing jazz too.) might really benefit from understanding jazz music theory more than only classical theory (they do sort of overlap.) Look up chord substitutions, because from there everything opens up. I know that you play sax, and that is strictly a melodic instrument but once you understand how to shift tonal center all these other notes open up to you, you become in control of how the harmony floats in the air. I like to think of it as completely effervescent. What once was grounded by the original harmony is now open to interpretation. I hope that was not too nebulous.

Good luck with your tournament!! emoticon

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The Week in Review: Heavyweight Fighter

Saturday, May 05, 2012

So as of this week, I am officially a Muay Thai fighter. Well, I will be after June 16th. My coaches encouraged to sign up to fight, so I will be doing an exhibition match on June 16th. Only about 6 weeks away. Ahhhh!

I will be fighting provided a suitable opponent is found. There is a good chance that another woman my size will not be found. Either way, I will train as though I am fighting. As long as I train as hard as possible, I don't really care if I win or lose. Although it would be cool to win.

Today my coach Eric walked up to the board, marker in hand, and asked what my weight is. I asked him to please not write it on the board and practically whispered, "About 250, I'll probably be about 240 by the fight." I know that none of my martial arts buddies cares about my weight, but still, I'm not THAT comfortable with my weight that I want it written on a board for everyone to see. I hope he doesn't think I'm ridiculous for asking him not write it down.

In any case, neither of my Muay Thai trainers treat me like a 250 pound woman. Their focus has only been on my athletic abilities. As surprised as I still feel to be viewed as a real athlete and martial artist, I guess I am pretty athletic. This past week was brutal in my Muay Thai classes. Nate and Eric pushed me harder than the other people in class. This is partially because I am training for a fight and partially because they believe I can do more. Nate made me do 5 rounds of conditioning (punches, knees, push-ups, kicks) instead of 3 like everyone else got to do. Eric made me use 5-pound weights for punching drills because he knew I have more strength and endurance than the other guys. (Want to shape up your arms? Do punches holding dumbbells--yeeeow!). We did a lot of sparring and I feel a bit more confident about the idea of doing a fight after getting the feel for sparring again. I'm sure I'll be a bit bruised up over the next few weeks.

Along those lines, I do plan on dropping some pounds before the fight. I have lowered my calories each day to about 1,600 (from about 2,000) and I feel great. I was very nervous about cutting my calories to 1,300-1,600 but figured I would give it a week or two to see how I felt. I thought I would be starving, but I am really not any hungrier than I was before. I have been within all of my nutrition ranges and I realized that the "extra" calories were carbs that put me over my daily limit. In no way was I trying to eat low-carb in the first place, but my carbs were always at the upper end of my allowance or over. This was the case even after cutting out wheat. And I know I don't need the extra carbs.

I also thought I would be more obsessed with food from cutting back my calories, but I don't react to hunger like I used to. I don't associate hunger with being put of control anymore. If I'm truly hungry, I eat something--period. If I am feeling emotional, I don't tend to feel the desire to eat to help deal with it any more, so I am not battling myself on when or what to eat. It has been about a year and a half since I started to break my emotional connection to food. While it has been a long and hard break-up, it has been worth it. Food is no longer on the forefront of my mind all of the time. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy food, but I am no longer addicted to binge eating.

I felt fitter this week than I have in years. There's just something about imagining someone punching you in the face that makes you pretty focused--funny how that works. emoticon My workouts were:

Monday: 1 hour Jiu Jitsu and 1 hour Muay Thai
Tuesday: Run 30 seconds/Walk 90 seconds for 30 minutes followed by Run 2 minute/Walk 1 minute intervals x 3
Wednesday: 1 hour Jiu Jitsu and 1 hour Muay Thai
Thursday: Day off
Friday: Powerlifting and 1 hour Muay Thai
Saturday: Run 1 minute/Walk 2 minutes for 30 minutes and 1 hour Muay Thai

Tomorrow will be a kettlebell workout and maybe a run. The next 4-5 weeks are going to be pure delicious fight training torture, so I don't know why I'm grinning right now. I'll be doing about 8 hours of martial arts training each week, in addition to running 3 days, 2 strength training sessions, kettlebells, and lots of sleep. I've also been enjoying ballet-style barre workouts and Pilates; both work the smaller stabilizer muscles in the hips, core, and back, all which help with kicking. I am emphasizing getting a lot of rest, but I have been pretty comfortable with this training schedule. My training will just be a bit more vamped.

I may be a heavyweight fighter right now, but I hope to be a bit lighter before the fight. If nothing else, I now have an important event to keep in mind whenever I make a choice about eating or exercise. I feel very focused and need to be just a touch more disciplined, and I should be good to go for the fight.

“Blood is just red sweat.”
-Enson Inoue

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    I know you will kick ass and take names. Will you have the option of fighting a man if needed? In our tournaments they also pair us up by gender but we have the ability to enter the men's bouts as well.

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    I remember when my son started training to fight. He lost a lot of weight after that and won a lot of medals.

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ALISHAB3 5/6/2012 11:59PM

    I love reading your blog. You are going to emoticon some a$$!!!

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    "Pure Delicious Fight Training Torture: A Martial Arts Memoir" by Erin _____

LOL. I just loved that description. Now if you actually write that book you owe me 10% of the profit.

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CANNIE50 5/6/2012 5:36PM

    Ay yi yi - SO much hard work, very impressive Erin. I long to write the words you wrote about not feeling so emotionally connected to food. I have come a long way, especially in terms of binge eating, but I have a long road yet to travel. It is nice to hear from someone further along the same route.

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    I'm still so in awe of you Erin!
I can't wait to hear all about the fight.

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