Friday, September 29, 2006

Moving Forward

Today is October 1st and I am replacing my old running shoes with my brand spankin' new ones. I rotate out 2 pairs at a time so they last a little longer. Coincidentally on just about the same DAY I have now filled up my 3rd journal of "Morning Pages" and am cracking open the 4th.

I love breaking in the new fresh stuff. But at the same time, I struggle to let go of the old. My journals can be neatly stacked at the top of my closet and take up practically no space at all. Not sure why it's a given that I MUST hold on to them, but I must. I have no desire to read back over the pages, and I doubt I ever will. My morning pages are boring...even to me. Brain drain. Why would I want to rehash that anyway? Yet, I won't throw those journals out.

And then there's the shoes. I should've replaced them at least a month ago. Their "time" was up. But October just felt like the right time to make the change, so I held off until now. I even had some brand new shoes just waiting for my feet to run in them for over a month.

So what will I do with those old shoes? Well, I'll get rid of them of course. The last pair I abandoned in a bed and breakfast in Sonama, California. I had one final run with them through the vinyards and then I felt it appropriate to leave them in a beautiful spot that had special meaning, sort of like you might spread someone's ashes.

But I'm not in Sonama this time, or anywhere else half that cool. So what will I do with them in Dallas?

Not sure yet, but I'll think of something. What I know is that both the journals and the shoes have kept me moving foward both figuratively and literally. I've pounded out miles and pages ranting and raving, sometimes being a bitch, sometimes being a bore, and even being brilliant sometimes. Maybe not (MAYBE not) solving the world's problems, but certainly solving some of my own, even though most of the time it's done subconsciously. I'm dedicated to my runs and I'm dedicated to the pages. They are invaluable tools for me.

So with clean pages and newly cushioned souls (soles!) I will keep moving foward!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In Charge!

I have been going to so many appoinments due to this neck/spine pain over the past couple of weeks that it's has sort of become my full-time job. Yesterday I went to 3 different appointments and when you figure in driving and waiting time, I spent about 2 hours per appointment or more...YIKES, that just about IS about a full-time job. Except I'm paying OUT money, and not getting any coming in.

But I am happy to say, I think I've found the right person to really help me. I think I've found the BEST physical therapist! He wasn't an alarmist- There are things "we" (us now, ME later) can do. He told me that he doesn't treat pictures (MRIs, X-RAYS, etc.) but instead comes up with a treatment plan based on how I'm doing/feeling.

One doctor looked at my pictures and acted as if he had never seen anything like this crazy spine of mine and made me feel like I was in danger just walking around. That's never cool!!! I went to enough people to know what sounds right to me, and what just doesn't.

The reason I think I've found MY GUY is because he doesn't have just ONE approach- He has lots. Stretching, lifting, heating, traction,... Stuff he's showing me but that I can do on my own.

And that's just how I like things. I like handling stuff on my own. That's why diabetes is such a great disease for me- It's something I am totally in control of and as long as I stay on top of it, I keep things nice and tight. It's when I get lazy that I run into problems. But I don't usually have a problem with laziness. I don't need someone besides me to be accountable to. That's also why I love running, reading, writing, songwriting, cooking....

I never liked working in groups when I was in school. Labs were a big turn off for the very reason of having a lab partner. I've never wanted to have work out partners to meet up with at the gym. I've never wanted or needed a running buddy.

So, now I've found yet another little project that although I'll get help with initially, I think I'll be able to work things out more or less on my own and I love the thought of that. I'll be back in charge!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

My Neighborhood

Besides my neighborhood Garden Club, which my last 2 posts have been about, here are a couple more reasons I've encountered the past day or two reminding me why I LOVE this neighborhood so much:

1. I was making some homemade biscuits. (sweet potato biscuits if you must know!) I had bought all the ingrediants I needed at the store but realized I did NOT have a rolling pin. But I didn't even think twice. This was NO problem. I've been in this cooking delimma before where I needed just one little item and didn't feel like running to the store. I called my 80-something year old couple across the street and asked if they had an extra rolling pin laying around and could I use it. Of course they did! After I baked my muffins I returned the pin and gave them a few muffins and they ate them right there in front of me just to show me how much they liked them.

2. My 80-something-else year old next door neighbor called me last night to tell me she set a trap to catch the "wild animal" that's been digging holes in her yard. She updated me this morning with a call that she had caught an oppossum and it was right outside my kitchen window and did I see it. YES I did. Eww gross. Oppossums are just ugly no matter their age! This one is a baby. So we think we've got a destructive little family around here, and we're fighting the good fight together.

I love my neighborhood. It's a slowed-down step back in time. Neighbors are so neighborly around here. If I can't yet live in the mountains somewhere and I'm instead in Dallas, this is really the best place for me to be...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Livin' Lavena Loca

So the Garden Club saga continues...

One of the very cutest ladies of the whole group is named Lavena. She stands at about 4' 9 and weighs in at around 80lbs and has the sweetest voice you've ever heard. I can remember the first day I ever saw her. I just thought she was so cute and I wanted to be her friend.

I had heard about her cookie making skills. She's famous around the 'hood for her delicious cookies. One week, she brought some to one of our meetings. I FELL IN LOVE. I asked her for the recipe. Within the next few days, not only did she give me the recipe, but she made me a batch of the cookies.

A month or so later, I was ready to make her cookies myself. But I couldn't find the recipe anywhere. I had misplaced it somehow. I could either do without, or call her and tell her the truth and ask for a replacement. I felt so embaressed that I had lost it. I made her a batch of my favorite cookies (2nd to hers) and gave her the recipe and explained about my needing a replacement from her. She wasn't feeling well that day and when I called her on the phone to see if I could drop the cookies off to her, she said she wasn't up and could I just leave them on the porch. So I did. I knew my cookies were going to make Lavena feel better.

Oddly, I didn't hear back from her. At first I was a little worried. I heard news about her through the grapevine. She wasn't doing well. But then, she got a little better. So I stopped worrying, and I forgot about the cookie incident.

Forward about 6 months...

Last week, after our Garden Club meeting, I got a message from Lavena saying how glad she was to see me at the meeting earlier that day. She said she had meant to bring me her cookie recipe for so long but just never got around to it and that she was "embaressed and just so sorry." (Oh, and she should be!) She asked if she could stop over and drop some cookies and the recipe off. I didn't get her message until pretty late that evening so I called her back the next morning.

She came over later that day and brought me THE COOKIES!!! And now I have the recipe too! I put it in a very special place and I will NOT loose it this time. But even better than the cookies, I got to visit with Lavena at my house for about 15 minutes. I learned that she has a LOT of back pain. And guess what brings on that back pain? Cookie making! OH NO. Lavena says she just can't give it up. It's one of her favorite things to do. Making her delicious cookies and then giving them to her friends. I told Lavena that I would LOVE to help her make the cookies. I could do whatever part of the process hurt her back. I hope she'll take me up on my offer. Think of all the recipes I'd learn! And think of all the other things I might just learn from her too!

So at the end of the weekend, between Fermin and I, we polished off all of those little cookies. Livin' Lavena Loca!!!
Here's the recipe she gave me...ENJOY!

ALMOND MACADAMIA COOKIES (A.K.A. Livin Lavena Loca Cookies)
1/2 c. butter
dash salt
1 c. flour
6 T. powdered sugar (plus at least one cup for dipping)
1 t. almond extract
2/3 finely chopped mac nuts
Cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt gradually. Continue beating after each addition. Add almond extract and nuts. Beat until blended. Take 1 t. of dough and shape cookies into crescent shape. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake in moderately hot over (350*) until delicately brown. When cool, or still slightly warm, dip cookies in powdered sugar to coat entire cookie.

May use vanilla, omitting almond extract. And chopped pecans, rather than macadamia nuts.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I Went To a Garden Party....

Isn't that how the song goes? Anyway, I have to write a little about my neighborhood Garden Club.

I live in the coolest neighborhood with lots of older ladies. Our neighborhood Garden Club will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year! Lots of the ladies show up to these monthly meetings. Sometimes as many as 30+! Most of these ladies are 75+ years old. They have stories and know things that most of us just don't.

A few years ago, I was invited to perform at one of their meetings. I had no idea what to expect. But I just showed up ready to play my songs. I had the most captive audience in those sweet ladies. It was one of my most fun performances I've ever done! And beyond that, I found a group of the most welcoming people I had every been around that weren't family.

So, I went back for the next meeting to just BE one of the ladies! And I went back the next month and the next. These meetings became the highlight of my months. It's just such a great experience to listen to them, and to see how sweet they are to each other. If someone comes in late, EVERYONE seems to be up scrambling around to find the new person a comfortable spot. They always bring cookies and snacks. They make little announcements if someone is sick or has broken a hip, and they pass around little get well cards for us all to sign. I knew I could learn a lot from these ladies!

Somewhere along the way, I started working Thursdays, which is the day of the Garden Club meetings and I stopped attending for a few months. And then, they had their summer "break". So, at this point, I hadn't seen many of these ladies in 1/2 a year.

But this past week, I was out for a walk, feeling so sorry for myself about my neck pain. Wishing for my Mom. Wishing I could find the right person or thing that might help me. And RIGHT as I was thinking all of this, my Garden Club friend, JOY, drives up beside me and said, "Young lady, are you ever going to come back to Garden Club? We've missed you. We have our first meeting of the season today!" I told her I missed everyone too but that I was working and couldn't stay for the whole time. "Well, if you ever want to come, know that we would just love to see you, even if you have to leave early."

After she pulled away I realized maybe I got my wish right there... I needed some sweet older women in my life right about now. Of course I was going to that meeting!

So I went. And I cannot tell you how much it filled me. Just being in there presence. Being with such kind, loving people that are NOT in a hurry!!! Lots of them seem to know the secret of life. I hope there wisdom will rub off on me!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pain is NOT Pretty

It is so funny how when you feel bad physically, everything seems to look ugly...

I've had spine "issues" for years. Usually, I know what to avoid so that I don't have major flare ups. But occasionally, something goes wrong, or rather, I do something wrong and then I'm in the vicious cycle of pain. Then I forget that I ever felt okay. For the past 2 weeks my neck has been keeping me from sleeping and I've just been getting progressively more pathetic.

Over the weekend I even had an allergic reaction- Although it's unclear as to what. I think I am allergic to the pain and suffering I've had and my body was just in melt down mode. I woke up Saturday and my eyes were swollen shut and my whole face was puffy and leathery feeling. NOT PRETTY. I looked like I had Elephant Man Syndrome. This lasted throughout the weekend. Little by little, my face is getting back to normal.

But unfortunately, I cannot yet say the same for my neck. So I have been getting up-to-date x-rays, MRIs, exams, etc. only to be reminded of the fact that I have some herniated discs and some weird curves in my spine. When the doctor was looking at the information and saying "woahh...." I felt scared by his alarm. But this is NOT a new diagnosis. I've had lots of times when I haven't had a lot of pain. I'm just in a pain cycle right now.

But it's like when you've had the flu for a few days and you just feel like CRAP and you can't remember when you EVER felt good. You feel like you've been miserable for months when actually, it's not been nearly that long. Then when you finally do feel good, the whole world is literally brighter. Every problem gets smaller. Your personality changes back into a happy, pleasant person. The pretty is back.

I'm writing this to remind myself that this is a temporary condition. I will find the right people to help me. And I will get over my pain. And things are going to be pretty again.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Girls

These are my sweet girls- Zoe on the top and Scout on the bottom with her tongue hanging out.
They are my children!!! I didn't realize there was no longer a picture of them on my website- Someone pointed that out to me and I felt like the crappiest, neglectful Mommy! I suck.

No, I don't. I love my girls like there's no tomorrow. They're the reason I always come back from vacations. They're my best walking companions and my biggest cheerleaders. They never have a bad day and take it out on me. Instead, every single day they smile and wag at me.

I am so glad the weather has cooled down a little so that now we can get in our daily walks. Someone yelled out at me the other day while Scout and I were walking, "He (whatever with people assuming she's a HE!) looks like he'd rather be in Colorado." My only reply was, "So do I." But honestly, the hot weather doesn't seem to bother Zoe and Scout to much. They were born and raised in Texas so I guess it's all they know. Lots of disgustingly hot days I have to make them come out of the sun and stay inside with me. They LOVE laying in the driveway in full sun.

You would never know it by seeing them in action, but they are ten years old. TEN YEARS OLD?! My how time flies! Anyway, they appear to be much younger- I attribute that to the fact that they're littermates and have always had an active playmate in each other.

They've never been apart for longer than an overnight stay at the vets when one of them was sick or had surgery. In fact, when I take one of them on a walk and leave the other waiting at home, I can hear the pathetic howling cries from about a block away. It's embaressing. I usually just keep them inside so they don't freak out the neighbors. But these two are not dogs that like to be left on their own.

They are the perfect company for each other and really, for me. No talking back. No fit throwing. Nothing but love, love, love!

Friday, September 8, 2006


Oh MY!!!! Whoa. Very serious drama. I did not know what I was getting myself into! One of the actresses in it was in the remake of "He Knows You're Alone"- how serious could this movie be?

Well, the answer is VERY SERIOUS. The main topic is incest. There you go. Such an ugly topic. And I thought the way it depicted it was so interesting, and from what I've heard on Oprah, probably pretty accurate. The relationship between the Dad and the daughter not violently abusive where he's sneaking into her room at night and forcibly raping her. They have what could appear to be a typical teenager/parent relationship. The dad drives the teenager crazy, she finds him to be too involved in her life, but she's still wanting his attention and approval. But the way she gets attention and approval from her father is so sad and so sick.

Her mother is a prescription drug ADDICT- She seems to be a fully functioning person on the outside but she passes out every night and is pretty out of it all of the time.

The family takes in the daughter of a friend who has just died. The girl has no parents and so this is now her family. When the story begins and the father runs into an aquantance at the drugstore she comments on how nice it is of he and his family to take this girl in. They appear to be a loving, normal family. But clearly they are SO not.

The "new girl" in the family is deaf and mute. Or is she? She starts to be the witness of what is going on between the dad and the daughter.

The Mozart Effect...and Others

One of the books I am currently reading is "The Mozart Effect". It's all about the healing powers of music based specifically on studies done with Mozart's music. Yes, all music seems to have transformative effects, as you've probably experienced. In this study, it was found again and again, regardless of listeners musical tastes, the music of Mozart had profound calming effects, and made them "smarter".

So the guy who wrote the book, Don Campbell, wrote about these findings in this other guy's study and then makes additional claims...I'm not sure this is based on his own research, but I'm sure it HAS been researched somewhere.

Here's a samplying of other types of music mentioned and the effects it brings about.

GREGORIAN CHANT is good for reducing stress.

SLOW BAROQUE MUSIC (Bach Handel, Vivaldi) creates feelings of safety, stability and order.

CLASSICAL MUSIC (Haydn, Mozart) improves concentration, memory and spacial perception.

IMPRESSIONISTIC MUSIC (Debussy, Faure) can unlock your creativity by unlocking the subconscious.

ROCK MUSIC (but he includes MICHEAL JACKSON as one example???!) can energize you, but that can also cause stress if your not emotionally up to being energized.

NEW AGE MUSIC induces a state of relaxed alertness.

I do know from experience that music has the power to change a mood and energy levels. Now that I'm reading this book though, I'll be taking a more consious look (listen) at this.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Getting Intimate

My new "Artist Way" group is well underway. The group has grown, and now, instead of being the comfortable size of less than 10, it's a slightly more intimidating size of at least 20! All of the people seem really nice and are really baring their souls, so to speak, right from the beginning.

But NOT me. Unless I'm singing words I've already written, I find it very hard to express my authentic self in front of a group this large. So I have contributed very little to our discussions on these Wednesday night meetings so far. And although I AM listening, I have to admit, I'm finding myself feeling disconnected and actually, a little bored because of it.

I think the book we read last time, "The Artist's Way", is so similar to our current book, "Walking in this World" that I feel like I've already listened to these same discussions and discoveries just a few months ago. I have been feeling a bit disenchanted with the process. And that's my own fault. I think I started to have my mind made up that a group this size could never really be intimate. And if it's not intimate, then I'M NOT SHARING.

One of my friends and I met for dinner before heading off to our meeting. I told her although I admired that the other people in the group where so willing to share personal stuff about themselves, I was not. She said something like, "Try to share something tonight" Whatever. I really had no plans initially to follow her advice.

We always "open up our circle" (start our meeting) by sharing our high and low of the week. I've shared in previous weeks, but it's been stuff that's really not significant to me or about me. But as I was listening to people really present their TRUE selves to the group, I thought I might test the water and take my friend's advice after all.

What I want to say is some times NOT what I do say because I feel emotional about it and I don't want to embaress myself, or make someone else feel uncomfortable. But I think when people are being authentic, that comes across to others, and then everyone relates. That shouldn't be uncomfortable. Or at least not in a bad way. And isn't that what we're really here for anyway?

So I shared my high. And it was a little hard. It was about a dream I had about my Mom. It's the first dream I've had of her since her death where she was happy and healthy and back to her old self. It's the way I want to think of her and the type of dreams I've been waiting to dream of her. I had trouble speaking because it's hard to talk when such a wave a true emotion is washing over you. But I knew by telling my high of the week, I was sharing something important about myself.

No one laughed. No one rushed me. And after I got through that, I felt like I could contribute my thoughts whenever I felt like chiming in during the rest of our meeting. If I want to connect with these people, which I DO, I've got to be authentic. I can't just be a voyeur.

So maybe this group of 20+ is shrinking. Maybe it CAN be intimate.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Sting Ray City

I, like about a gazillion others (and that's a pretty large number!) was so sad to hear that Steve Irwin A.K.A. "The Crocodile Hunter" was killed the other day. There has been an enormous amount of press about how he was gouged by a sting ray. I didn't even really know sting rays were so dangerous.

This is my picture that proves just that. When I was on vacation in Grand Caymen I did the day in Sting Ray City. You get to feed and swim with hundreds of sting rays in all sizes. They did freak me out a bit. But more along the lines of over-eager dogs. They surrounded us while we fed them. The water would become dark with shadows as they swarmed over to us.

The guides of the outing told us that if you kiss a sting ray it's good luck for something like 7 years. At the time I wanted nothing more than a miracle for my mom and so I was standing in line waiting to kiss the Sting Rays. It never occured to me that they were dangerous. Mom would've freaked out and not approved if she had known about the potential!

But of all the wild animals out there, a Sting Ray is what killed Steve Irwin? Whoa... It wouldn't have been so surprising if he had died from a crocodile bite because we were all sort of waiting for that to happen. Obviously, my Sting Ray experience was WAY different than Steve's- "My" Sting Rays had been around loads of people all of their lives. They didn't feel threatened in any way. They were just there for snacks and kisses. And photo ops.

The String Ray kiss wasn't so satisfying- He felt a little slimey, and my wish I made for Mom didn't come true. Had I known then what I know now about Sting Rays I really doubt I would've done the deed.

I've been to Sting Ray City. I've been up close and personal with a Sting Ray! I won't go back for more...

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The Crossing

This Labor Day weekend, we went to The Crossing in Austin. I have been somehow receiving their catalogue for a couple of years and have always wanted to sign up for one of their cool sounding workshops. They have really interesting stuff for people like me, and maybe people like you. Stuff on relationships, creativity, yoga, etc.... Topics I just LOVE. Besides the workshops they offer, they have hiking trails, a beautiful pool, and lots of yoga-ish classes. And it's all GREEN. And I don't just mean the trees and the grass.

This particular weekend, there wasn't a workshop going on. My husband and I were aimlessly on our way to Austin. Or so I thought. But without me t even hinting to him about my curiousity about The Crossing he brilliantly surprised me and took me there! He told me we were going to "some place called The Crossing."

"THE CROSSING???? I KNOW THE CROSSING!!!" Of course, I really didn't know it but I had been receiving those catalogues.

Well, now I DO know the Crossing. I took a Pilates class and a Tai Chi class while I was there. We ate great food- mostly really heathy and organic. We hiked. We got 80-minute massages. EIGHTY MINUTES. I got a splinter in my foot at the pool that nearly killed me. I bought ANGEL CARDS (I'm sure you'll hear more on that later!) and a book at their funky little bookstore. It was quite and serene. It was shocking if we saw more then 10 other people over the course of a day. No TV and I only used my computer for my infamous TRAVELOGUE.

It was the perfect Labor Day weekend...Absolutely NO LABOR.