Sunday, March 23, 2014
Today started off with a bang when I hit my new low weight of the year...woo hoo! Only 17 pounds away from my goal of 200!
I had already had a plan to clear the closet of all my old clothes that are really too big. I don't want ANYTHING around to make it easy to backslide!
However little did I know what treasures I would find among the SMALLER clothes that I had forgotten I had outgrown! VERY nice stuff! And I'm re-kindling the fun and self-satisfaction of being able to look better in clothes. Not only am I shedding the pounds, but shedding the feedbag mentality! :-)
But the coolest thing I found of all? A few years back I had finally sprung for one of our bike club's jerseys. I am NOT a spandex kinda guy, but I love our club and wanted to be able to wear it with pride.
Little did I know how teensy their sizes ran. I was too embarrassed to take my XL back and ask for a TWO XL...! So in the closet it went.
I do enjoy a little dancing in the privacy of my home with the right tunes playing...but I have NEVER danced the Linus & Snoopy dance with such abandon, vigor and JOY as I did this morning! Totally Cloud 9! No music required!
Passing on a whole lotta clothes for someone to use. The heavy duty 30 gallon bag is out in the car waiting to be dropped off...whew! Feelin' so fine!
Spent the rest of the day buzzing about the house cleaning, hauling stuff out to the car for the landfill tomorrow also...clearing the decks!
Also cooking up a storm, new soup o' the week a cauliflower, barley, celery, onions and garlic combo. I also have a bundle of asparagus for cooking but never got around to doing anything with it. I had a lovely conversation with my sister recently about re-visiting vegetables which had formerly been dubbed "yuck" veggies in my childhood. I've been wanting to see if they are still "yuck" or not. Already tried Brussels sprouts and yep, still yuck IMHO. She agreed, which had us chuckling, flashing back to various methods of ditching veggies we didn't like when we were kids. :-) I mentioned asparagus to her and she said she is a big fan of asparagus. I looked at some recipes, considered even adding them to my soup with the cauliflower, but then thought perhaps that would do a disservice to the asparagus...which btw was on sale for the low, low price of 99 cents a pound...prompting me to nab some to try. Perhaps I'll just try munching some raw? We'll see. Any suggestions out there? Stay tuned for asparagus adventures!
I'm back behind the wheel of a car again! So what's the first thing I do? Pack it up and head out to the fitness center for the first spinning class I've had in a few weeks...YES! I managed a nice balance between not overdoing it, but challenging myself into a good sweat. The best thing about it? My quads had been nagging at me since overdoing it with a 5 mile walk - jog I had done earlier in the week...putting the accent heavily on jog, thinking of my annual 5K coming in May. All the stretching and walking I'd done since then didn't seem to alleviate the nattering my quads were giving me. But when I finished my spin class? No more pain! Sweet double benefit!
Okay, going to wrap up with some fun stuff like Crazy Russian Hacker and cycling tidbits!
Crazy Russian Hacker cracks me up. Sometimes his schtick just gets me eye-rolling and smiling, other stuff is laugh-out-loud hilarity. This one with his mother is some of both. This one caught my eye as between my home made soups and home made garlic I crank through a fair amount of garlic and hey, an easy way to peel garlic? I'm up for that! Perhaps this is old news to some of you, even if so these folks will crack you up. Plus: I can vouch for the technique! It works like a charm!
Okay, on to a cycling smile:
As seen on Twitter: Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him to fish & feed him for a lifetime. Give a cyclist a fish & "hmm...good for 150 km!"
I have to give a special shout out to Willie Weir and the chronicles of his cycling adventures around the globe. I know I've spoken of him before, but I keep ever-so-slowly progressing through his book SpokeSongs and find SO much delight in his stories! Not that I'll ever take to cycling through such daunting venues as India, South Africa or the Balkans...but I just love his way of opening up with people and inspiring them to open up with him. As he often says in his writings, if he was just another token tourist bopping about with backpack or luggage most people wouldn't give him the time of day. But to see someone rolling along on a bicycle toting panniers and camping gear...? As he puts it: "Bicycles Are Magic. They Open Doors."
Plus he's a cheapskate like me! Not that I would sign up for THIS cost-saving measure he took in the Balkans where they were going to charge him WAY too much for setting up his tent. He discovered that nearby campgrounds for nudists were half as expensive...off he goes! Wow! This guy really knows how not to push the envelop or think outside of the box...he TORCHES 'EM! LOVE his audacity and hope to pull more of that into my life!
Let's get Sparkin' our way through another week, shall we?
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Another member inspired my blog for today when she pondered the fact that others considered her to be a "leader" but she wasn't so comfortable thinking of herself in that way...it didn't seem to "fit" her perception of herself. Here were the thoughts I shared, plus a little "bonus"...
"Leader" is one of those tricky words isn't it? Often we can think of a leader as a General Patton taking the bull by the horns and barking out orders.
But I prefer to think of a leader as a person of influence. And when we think of it that way we begin to realize how much impact our behavior has on those around us.
For example when I began to make healthier food choices I realized to resist the tempting treats and snacks that my colleagues were always bringing to work I was going to have to bring lots of fresh veggies and fruits to slice up into a big bowl for healthy gnoshing through the afternoon. My office partner used to have a candy dish on his desk that used to be a big hit.
But day in and day out I quietly went about preparing my freggie bowl and invite folks to feel free to help themselves. I didn't take to the bully pulpit, pick up the megaphone, wag my finger or prosetylize...at least not TOO vigorously...lol!
And yanno? Over time the decadent snacks and treats brought to the lunchroom trailed off into increasingly rare occurrences, even bringing about a finger-wagging from others: "Why did you bring in that CONTRABAND?!?"
And whereas contraband used to vaporize into mouths within minutes in the past, it now sits for hours and sometimes ends up being tossed into the trash (Where it belongs...lol!).
Some of us now get out for power walks at lunch now. More folks are off to their fitness centers after work.
In my own quiet way I see myself as having been a potent influence on this process and feel justified in considering myself a "leader," NOT of the General Patton variety!
I think ALL of us have this power to influence those around us in extremely potent ways! We ALL can be leaders, whether in our homes or beyond!
So many of us know and are so fond of Gandhi's words: "Be the change you want to see in the world." My play with this is to say: "Be the SPARK you want to see in the world!
I enjoyed a lovely 4+ mile walk after an early dinner tonight and was able to take advantage of the lengthening days. I made sure to pick a route with some nice uphill challenges PLUS had a super conversation with my youngest sister while walking part of the way. After finishing the conversation it was time for TUNES and one of my faves came up.
I DARE you to NOT clap your hands, swing your hips and sing along with this like I was doing during my walk... :-)
Near the end of the walk the sun was setting and playing off the clouds in a striking way when my music took a turn for thoughtful, pensive mood which was a perfect fit for this sunset and wrapping up my walk:
Thank you everyone for all your blog support these days! I'm humbled and doing my best to soak up your praise and compliments...like many of you this does not come easily but I've resolved to strengthen my abilities to be kind to myself and to truly take in deserved recognition.
Take care and keep it SPARKIN'!
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Who cares what the calendar sez? Who cares that we're gonna get DUMPED on with another half foot of snow tomorrow?
Today was truly the first day of spring! 50+ degrees and sunshine / blue skies EVERYWHERE! A nice, teensy NSV was to decide instead of pulling my long-sleeved t-shirt down over my jeans I was going to tuck it in! I have forever pulled my shirts down, figuring somehow it hid the fat better? Silly me...! But hey, as I trim I figure I have less and less reason to be self-conscious. Tuck 'er in! :-)
I had a couple hours to myself this afternoon and knew the area I was going to be in so had some ideas before setting out on foot where I wanted to go: UP Reynolds Rd., Johnson City at least as far as the high school. I knew there would be a good, stiff uphill grade to get me pumped and running! Plus I figured the view up there would be worth the climb!
See that awesome sky?!? The hillside?!? I couldn't take in enough of it! I realized the high school was only partially up the hill and was drawn to the challenge of continuing up Reynolds Rd. to the top. When I hit the Indian Village complex I thought it looked like I was near the top so I thought 'enough of this pokey walking, why not jog to the top?'
Silly me...had been a while since I'd traveled this road...! But for some reason it felt better to shift into a jogging gait rather than walking up this hill so I held to my jog all the way up to Deyo Hill Rd. and then enjoyed a leisurely saunter back down past the high school. There was a sign for Finch Hollow Nature Center and I realized for all that I celebrate the outdoors in the 30+ years I have lived in the area I had never gone to this Nature Center. I'm overdue!
Off I went to search for Finch Hollow. Here is the route I traveled today:
Up Oakdale Road I went. I knew by the map that the Nature Center was just north of the Oakdale Mall. So I walked, walked and walked to no avail. Never saw any indication of Finch Hollow anywhere! Finally I saw signs I was leaving the village of Johnson City and figured, enough's enough...gave up and turned around re-tracing my steps back down Oakdale. After a little re-tracing I spied a yellow pipe gate padlocked shut. No sign, no nothing. But I figured it must have been the place. Highly underwhelming. Ah well. Now I knew.
So back I went taking Oakdale to Harry L and to my car. Very weary down the home stretch, having taken in 6 miles...but it was the very best sort of weary!
Now I'm ready: bring on that snow! I'll tap into my reserves of sunshine to blast my way through!
ps...hope it works, as minus the use of one arm due to limited range of motion as my pacemaker heals, snow-shoveling is going to be a challenge! :-)
Saturday, March 08, 2014
Sending a big shout out of appreciation and thanks to everyone for your support on my last blog! Took you all "with" me on my latest medical journey which went very smoothly.
The ablation was completed Thursday, bumping my HR back up to 55-60, however due to my heart still dropping beats it was going to be pacemaker time after all. I was relieved as I figured I'd only likely have to return within the near future to have it done. One twofer special coming right up!
So Friday they wheeled me in for the amazingly quick procedure! Like rolling into an auto shop with all the spare parts lined up along the wall 15-20 mins and back in my room floating on a Fentanyl fog. I got a Medtronic dual chamber MRI compatible pacemaker and then it was off to la-la land...
The intersection of medicine & technology is an amazing thing to behold. I feel a little bit like RoboCop or Ironman, lol. It's one thing to hear about it but quite another to being the recipient of such wizardry!
I was in a limbo room at hospital probably for insurance reasons plus there were no empty beds and the place was filled to gills. So this meant little privacy, curtains for walls and no place to shower. Sink scrubbing time! I am drawing a hot soak in the tub immediately after posting this blog! :-)
One very smart thing I did was to download a most delightful book "Spokesongs" by Willie Weir:
Reading his humorous, insightful encounters while traveling through amazing places such as India and South Africa on his bicycle really took me away from the hospital so delightfully! I highly recommend him to anyone into cycling and humanity. He has such a way about him! I can relate to some of his style, sorta feels like me, except he is WAY more bold and willing to outside his comfort zone than I ever have been, with SUCH rewards! I'm so envious!
I'll be following up with the arrhythmia center to get hooked up with a box that will "beam me up Scottie" and wirelessly transmit info on my pacemaker functioning to the manufacturer while I sleep to be sure everything's running okay.
Still not hearing what the deal is regarding anti-coagulants and the possibility of discontinuing them later.
One little surprise I found out almost as I was leaving I was informed that I was not to drive for TWO WEEKS! That dropped my jaw! That'll mean no work or private practice. I've got boatloads of time to take, but hate the thought of leaving colleagues in the lurch for so long. Going to see if I can have this "amended"...
I had been spoken to by nobody all day long on Friday after having the pacemaker put in first thing in the morning. Finally I pinned down a nurse who, while she didn't have the answers re: my concerns about lifestyle changes, precautions, etc. living with a pacemaker, she did give me a helpful booklet but what was SO cool was that she introduced me to another hospital employee whom my doctor spotted as having the same problem as I have w/ atrial flutter & he did her pacemaker too. She's been using it for ten years with one replacement which she said wasn't a big deal.
So temporarily I have to be careful about lifting, pushing, pulling with my left arm while the tissue around the pacemaker heals to properly "hold" it in place. After that? Not really too much to worry about: avoid being scanned @ airports and other electronic scanners. Microwaves are no problem. My pacemaker is MRI compatible should I ever need one. I have to be careful to avoid any sudden impact around the pacemaker which is below my left clavicle and if anything DOES impact it to seek help.
This gal was clearly full of energy and buzzing 'round the hospital doing her thing...very friendly and supportive.
So upon getting home on a sorta sunny, mid-40 degree day whatza guy to do? Get those stir-crazy legs out walking and soaking up the outdoors which I'd been walled off from for the past few days! :-)
Although the song "The Waters Of March" didn't pop up on my music while walking, I couldn't help but think of it as an antedote to all the information overload I've been experiencing. Love the lyrics which seem to say "look around you, take in your world, breathe in, breathe out, celebrate life and living!"
A stick, a stone, it's the end of the road
It's the rest of a stump, it's a little alone
It's a sliver of glass, it is life, it's the sun
It is night, it is death, it's a trap, it's a gun
The oak when it blooms, a fox in the brush
The knot in the wood, the song of a thrush
The will of the wind, a cliff, a fall
A scratch, a lump, it is nothing at all
It's the wind blowing free, it's the end of the slope
It's a beam, it's a void, it's a hunch, it's a hope
And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the end of the strain, it's the joy in your heart
And although the song, written by maestro Antonio Carlos Jobim is wonderful to hear it performed by himself and so many others, I'll share again my favorite version in honor and memory of the great Oscar Castro-Neves who sadly passed away last year:
Now this Stevie Wonder song DID pop up while walking and gives me a very similar lift:
as did this one too:
and fittingly near the end of my 2.5 mile walk came this song reminding me to let everything go and just take in the world and BREATHE:
I'll close with a rare thing: a selfie...just don't DO selfies! But here are a few from the bridge on my walk...
And here's a cock-eyed pic with the fishing access behind me from where our local bike club has met and launched many a glorious ride!
The saga will continue, but for right now I'm checking out. I have a long hot soak in the tub waiting for me! :-)
ps...here's a great pic of a number of our bike club members used in conjunction with some great local news!
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