Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Fitness Assessment: Pitiful

Chubby LadiesI followed through on my promise to go to the fitness assessment. In a word (my word, not theirs), it’s pitiful. But it was objective and they were kind. I already know I’m fat and completely out of shape. My balance is off and my strength is minimal. Before I moved, I walked a lot to/from parking lots, out to lunch, off to meetings, up and down stairs. But now … well, now, that doesn’t happen. And my assessment showed it. I had to stop to sit and catch my breath and couldn’t even go 6 minutes walking without it. Granted, I started out going at a faster pace than I could maintain, but it was pitiful.

The good news is that there is PLENTY of room for improvement. The program they laid out for me seems minimal – but then, so did walking down a hall for 6 minutes. I’m to go 1-3 days/week and do 10 minutes on the walking track upstairs (where I can look out the window), 12 minutes on the NuStep recumbent cross trainer (working arms and legs but not weight-bearing), and 12 minutes on the arm bike, which Mom used to call the “coffee grinder” because it’s upper back and pectoral. They use it for pulmonary therapy so that should help me with my breathing.

Then in 6 weeks I check in with the fitness specialist who did my assessment. We’ll make adjustments to what I’m doing and add in weights (I hope – I like weights). This is doable. And it will get me out of the house to do something specific and focused, that I can control and that will make me feel better.

Yesterday I followed through on another commitment to myself and registered for a one-day conference in New Orleans in September for lovers of a series of books that I adore. Plus, New Orleans. This will not only be fun but also gives me an incentive for building up my stamina because there’s so much to do and see in NOLA.


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Coming Back to Writing

TessieI haven’t written here in a full year. I’ve missed it and at the same time, I’ve been busy. But things are going on in my heart and head and it helps to articulate, even to myself.

My beloved cat Tessie crossed the Rainbow Bridge three weeks ago. She hadn’t been really herself for six months and was having increasing problems until the end, when I held her in my arms as she passed. She was my constant loving companion for 10 years, and it was just the two of us for most of them. I have a hole in my heart – and at the same time, I’m relieved not to have to worry about whether she’s eating or pooping or why she’s crying. Then I feel guilty to be relieved, because I miss her so.

She is my only experience of being a caregiver, and let’s face it, a cat is not a person. I have no practice taking care of a person, young or old, so it’s been a pretty steep learning curve to take care of my dad. At age 89, his general health is good but his memory is getting spotty. He loops and retells stories that I’ve heard a million times, and every day we talk about what heaven is like and how wonderful Mom was and whether she will be there waiting for him.

I’ve not found a good balance to living with him. I care too much and do too much, and have lost myself in the process. I work part-time as a church secretary in the mornings and in the afternoons and evenings, mostly do nothing or do things with Dad. I know lots of people but haven’t taken advantage of things like line dancing classes or Pokeno nights because I don’t know how to do them and feel stupid, and because I felt like I needed to be there for Dad.

But really, the best way to take care of him is to take care of myself first. So after a brief meltdown the other night and the time that followed for thinking and prayer, I’ve decided a bunch of things:

  • Manage my food in healthy ways
  • Go to the gym for a fitness assessment and start going 2-3 times/week (I’ve been a member for 18 months but haven’t entered since I signed up)
  • Go out at least one day a week for a meal or activity with friends
  • Start planning a vacation and at least one monthly outing
  • Start working with a spiritual director

Things slow down here in the summer; with the high heat and humidity, lots of people go away for long stretches. So most of the social things will go by the wayside until fall. But that will give me time to feel better physically and get into a better more balanced routine. I do play Mah Jongg once a week and love the interaction with my friends there, even if I’m not winning much these days.

But it’s time for an attitude adjustment. No one can do it for me, I have to just do it for myself. I’m making decisions to be healthier physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I start today.


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Not my circus, not my monkeys

circusmonkeyLast year at this time I was up to my eyeballs working on closing out a fiscal year, balancing the budget, sending endowment reports to the development office, and groaning that somehow the library also wanted performance appraisals done at the same time. This year that’s not my circus, not my monkeys. It feels good.

I was good at it. That budget was spent down to .01% of the total. But I don’t miss doing it. I do, however, miss some of my colleagues. I don’t know how or if things would be different had I retired and stayed put, but certainly moving 1600 miles away made it impossible to get together for lunch. I hadn’t really thought that I’d be dropped like a hot potato, though. That’s what it feels like.


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Taking a Break from Caregiving

13256291_10209796703980001_3438453961952806348_nFortunately for me, I now live only 2 hours from my brother, rather than half way across the country. Visits no longer require advance planning, plane tickets, and scheduled vacation time away from the office. Instead, it’s just a short hop on a lot of 2-lane roads.

After 7 months of living with my dad, I was ready for a break. I lived alone for my entire professional life and it’s not always easy to have someone around all the time. I prepared food, wrote out menus, did laundry and took care of house things. Then I made our family coffee cake traditionally made for gatherings, loaded up Tessie (who was none too happy about it), and headed out for two days off.

My niece and her two small children were visiting from Colorado and won’t be back until Christmas, so this was a chance to see them. Children change so quickly and the little guy is already starting to pull himself up. His big sister is smart as a whip and I so enjoyed making cookies and playing with her.

But I also really needed the time alone out on the front porch in the quiet of a rainy day, watching deer out in the pasture and grateful for the solitude. It can be lonely, being on your own, but for me, it’s restorative. My brother and I had some good conversations about Dad’s health and future planning. He’s in good shape now but at 88, anything could happen at any time. I’m glad that my brother and I see eye to eye on next steps.

Coming home was difficult. Tessie meowed almost the whole way, which is seriously annoying. Dad’s first comment was, “How many phones do we have? I can only find 3.” Gee, nice to see you, too. I’ve been impatient and stressed, and yesterday ended up with a wicked full-blown cold/sinus problem and feel as though an elephant is sitting on my chest. Okay, maybe just a cat. But still.

I want more space than I can have here, emotional space. It’s clear to me that taking time off for myself, including having Dad spend time away so I can be alone, is imperative to my long-term health and sanity. I don’t regret my decision to move here but sometimes I’m just losing who I am.


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Sudden loss

One of my friends died suddenly yesterday, on the golf course in New Mexico while traveling with a group from our community. Although death is always a reality when you live in a place that has mostly 55+ residents, this one hit extra hard because it was so unexpected, because of where he was at the time, but mostly because he was so beloved by all. He had been a leader in the community and the church, but was also just a fun person who brought a smile to our faces.

We have a lot of memorial services here over the course of a year but most come after a lingering illness or simply from complications of age. This death was different and has made us stop in our tracks. Bob was a member of the choir and last night, instead of rehearsal, we spent time talking out the facts and reactions, and praying together.

It’s too soon to know anything else now. Logistics get complicated when a body needs to be moved across state lines and there are too many unknowns. What we do know is that we lost someone who mattered.


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Does Customer Support really support?

My computer is 3 years old and so is most of the software I use, which these days actually isn’t all that much. But I’m working with images more than usual now that I’m church webmaster and I decided to upgrade my Adobe Photoshop Elements to the current version. Even bought a helpful book and everything. They arrived yesterday.

I sat down to install the product and immediately ran into problems. Adobe made me be a registered user before I could install and register my software, so I did that. But when the installation got to the part where I was to put in the serial number – I couldn’t find one! There were lots of numbers and even one that looked like a serial number, but it wasn’t. What to do?

Being a savvy geekette, I went to the Adobe customer service forums to see if anyone else had the problem. Several different entries but no real resolution. So next step was to open a chat conversation with tech support. It was, to put it mildly, annoying. I sent a picture of the label on the back of the box with all the numbers. I typed the numbers. I explained the problem. He told me he couldn’t get a serial number out of it. Well, duh.

Then he told me to look at the inner sleeve of the “box” that the disc came in and said the 24-digit serial number was on the sleeve. I took it apart, people, and there was nothing on that sleeve. Nothing. So naturally he told me I needed to report this to Amazon, where I purchased the product. It was Amazon’s fault that the Adobe product they sold didn’t have a serial number on it?  I don’t think so.

But I contacted them anyway. Finding Amazon chat is a little hidden but it’s always been productive and today was no exception. The lovely Christina told me to just send it all back and I would have a replacement tomorrow. Even though I’d dismantled the inner sleeve of the box?  Yes, she said, that’s not a problem.

 

This is why I will buy from Amazon. Because they support their sales and treat me like someone with a problem, not someone who IS a problem.


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Knowing the Ancestors

Keel Sadie & Bill c1949

My great-grandparents, William Jesse Keel and Sarah Annis (Peal) Keel

My dad is 88 and has outlived everyone in his line, older than all of them except Aunt Maglene who died at 98. His memory is spotty and names are hard, but he has strong, clear memories of growing up in his small North Carolina town. I love knowing about the ancestors and being able to prompt questions and appreciate answers because I know who they are and how they fit.

I have an Ancestry app on my phone and can pull up the tree with its details and photo gallery at the drop of a hat. Want to know how much his mother earned in 1940? Who were the neighbors? What did (great grandmother) Mama Jane look like?  Did any of Dad’s grandparents die of cancer? With a few clicks, I can get an answer.

I’ve been researching the family tree since I was 16 and most of the time it just feels like I’m the only one who cares about the results. The exceptions are the drama-queen ancestors that are fun to talk about. But the everyday folks? I know or can piece together their stories. I’m especially glad now that I can share and appreciate those stories with my dad.