Hey, baby!

In general, i don’t like babies. Never have been one to fuss and flutter when a swaddle-load of fresh human showed up in a room. Don’t get me wrong – i appreciate babies. Some of the best people i know were once babies, so they are pretty important in the grand scheme of things… i just don’t have an overpowering desire to hold them, make goo-goo eyes, and spew the babytalkin’ words.

A little over a year ago, i wrote of an unexpected adventure – visiting my son, his Serious Girlfriend, and her son while my daughter and her husband were visiting the U.S. Over the course of the next few months, Serious Girlfriend became Wife. They bought a house and settled into a new life together.

Those of you who have been along with The Trailer Park from the early days may remember some of the challenges i experienced with The Boy during his youth. It wasn’t pretty, and i developed a mantra – ‘keep him alive until he’s 25’, hoping that he would level out.  Testosterone is known to retard brain development in males, and by the age of 25, men have caught up with women in maturity. i just wasn’t sure he’d make it that far.  The Army captured his interests at the age of 24 – and he did coast through the 25th birthday unscathed.

If you had told me then that The Boy would be a strong husband, loving father, and dedicated homeowner before his 29th birthday, i’d have probably laughed myself to tears. Not the sweet, gentle tears that slip delicately down the cheek and leave a tiny wet drop on a blouse… but ugly, snotty, out-of-control sobbing tears. “That’s just cruel! That can’t possibly ever happen!”

Because i was that scared…

But here we are… and here he is. Smart, fierce wife – a woman so remarkable that she has Tamed The Wild Man. Sweet, giggly two year old son, Max.  A home. Life as an Army Sergeant. They spent time this spring building a garden, and a chicken coop for future chickens… and became pregnant – with a due date in mid-September!

Surprised he didn’t get whiplash from the sudden change in his lifestyle!

To lend a hand, Studley and i went out a few days early to assist with projects, and get Max used to having us around. He is king of the backyard domain, and it was fun watching him organize a rescue mission with his fire truck collection. After a dinner out, and settling Max in for the night, The Boy and his wife headed to the hospital on Thursday night.

backyard

By early Saturday morning, Ellie made her appearance – both Mom and baby healthy! We took Max to visit. Two years old is pretty young to really understand the arrival of a sibling, but he was a champ – happy to see Mom and Dad, and curious and gentle with the tiny person sleeping on Mom.

Max meets Ellie

After they returned home, we covered basics – food, dishes, laundry – and general entertainment for an energetic 2 year old. We poked at projects, took morning hikes, and watched kids so they had a ‘date night. Wisely, they chose a ‘date matinee’, knowing they would likely enjoy lunch and a movie more than dinner and a movie, given their general state of sleep deprivation.

As i mentioned at the start of this post – in general, i don’t like babies. But holding Ellie sent me tumbling back through all of the memories of the early days with The Girl and The Boy when they were fresh… Seeing the perfect round face, long fingers. The tiny toes that try to grip a nearby finger. The Moro Reflex – watching the remnants of our evolution in a startled baby.

It was natural to flashback to delivering my own two spawn onto the planet, but this time there was something far better – watching my adult son as he starts this adventure. Knowing his pride, joy and fears. I’ve enjoyed seeing him with Max – who was part of the package deal that came with his wife. He has become a great father – and now has another tiny little face that is counting on him to grow her into a good human.

so damn tiny

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ” – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Advertisements

Poof!

For the past five years, i’ve had a spreadsheet (compliments of the ever-enterprising Excel-pert, Studley). A spreadsheet that can be poked, prodded and tweaked in all sorts of ways, playing with expenses and income. It was my retirement planning tool.

Through a combination of planning, luck, early breeding and conservative financial management, i was surprised to find myself in a position to comfortably retire with a pension, after working for the same entity from the age of 19. i just had to wait until my 55th birthday to pull the chain.

i didn’t believe it. i worked and re-worked those numbers. Studley included important expense categories such as “entertainment” and “booze”* and most importantly travel. Even throwing in a ridiculous budget for such luxuries, it was still manageable.

i turned 55 in early June. i cleaned out my office and walked out the door and have no intention of ever working again.

Poof.

Just like that, i was no longer employed.  From the age of 16, i’ve always had a job with income. Self-sufficiency required that, and i worked my way through university through a combination of a co-operative engineering job, and admin/teaching assistant positions. i have always worked – driven by the need to be self-sufficient.

And now that comes without the need to work.

Turns out, this is a pretty serious transition – even though i absolutely recognize the privilege that comes with this particular transition. Unlike divorce, a cancer diagnosis or becoming an empty-nester, this one is without question a GOOD TRANSITION. Not only that, i had ample time to prepare for this one.

i’ve been asking retired people the same question for the past few years – “what was your biggest surprise after retirement?” The answers were all over the map… “How expensive health care costs are” to “How busy I am! How did I ever manage to do all this with a full time job?” One response that stuck with me was “How important the calendar becomes.”

i’ve always been pretty tight with my work calendar. It also had personal appointments and extracurricular activities on it, but the work day was the foundation. When every day feels like Saturday how do you know what day it is? How do you know that the Tuesday night patio party at your favorite venue is happening if you don’t realize it’s Tuesday?

Only two months in, here are a few other observations –

Getting dressed? Different. i don’t put on make up in the morning. Morning lingers longer than it used to. One day i had a volunteer meeting at 0800. The dog even glared at me as i walked him at 0700 – “what is this shit? why are we out of bed? why are you dressed?” Clothes off of a hangar, not out of the laundry bin after a sniff. Hair brushed, and not stuffed under a baseball cap…

Speaking of hair…

i’ve been having mine painted for 20 years. Thanks to genetics, my hair would have turned shock white by the time i was forty without chemical intervention. A couple of years ago, i started playing with that white – i let a chunk underneath go white, then hit it with some funky color. It’s been blue for about a year, and while i like it, i don’t like the maintenance. So i’m working through a process to let my hair revert to its natural color.

Brain function? A bit befuddled – more forgetful than usual, not able to find words, and carrying a general fog every now and then. Still carrying five different volunteer jobs, i have responsibilities that require thought. We are continuing to push the envelope on life skills and experiences, in part to keep the brains working…

But those are details for a future post… i’ve exceeded my word count for today! Time to go pack a suitcase!

huey suitcase

* i like to throw parties. My friends appreciate good food and good booze, as do i. That shit ain’t cheap…

Tanked

Losing Mr. Pickles wasn’t my first dead pet rodeo. i’ve had canine companionship my entire life – losing Slightly and Rupert dropped some darkness in my heart. They were the dogs my ex-husband and i had before we started breeding, and they were the first pets for my children.

Rupert died first. Shortly after we buried Slightly my husband and kids began lobbying for another dog. i wasn’t ready right away, but they started the marketing campaign within a month. It was three months later before i succumbed to pressure, and we stumbled upon Turbo the Wonder Dog.

Mr. Pickles came to us a couple of years later as a companion for her – eventually becoming my canine life partner as my husband claimed Turbo as his road dog when he moved to our place up north.

When Mr. Pickles died last August, i had no plan to get another pup – some combination of shattered heart and lifestyle. Too much travel to commit to a dog. It wasn’t until late November that i noticed something happening. The feeling of missing A Specific Dog was still there, but there was another feeling. The sense of missing having A Dog.

The lifestyle issue remained – so much travel, and hating having to rely on a pet sitter to take care of a dog. i reached out to a friend who works in rescue, and let her know that i could probably foster an old dog, or a hospice dog, for a few months. Within a day things went into motion…

An urgent need for placement of a big doggie, about 5 years old. His owner had a terminal illness and was no longer able to care for him.

“Can you manage a big pit bull mix? He’s a low-energy sweetheart, good with other animals, who likes to sleep and ride in the car! Really need a foster – he’s a big boy and would likely end up as a bait dog if he goes into a shelter”

“Ummm…. sure?”

In December, Tank arrived – delivered by the dog rescue network, and his owner – man with cancer who wanted to meet me in person before handing over this dog. i took one look at A Very Large Dog With A Head the Size Of An Anvil and said “i will do right by this dog” as i shook his hand – even though i had no idea what i was doing…

Tank arriving

When a smallyappydog has a bad day and bites you? It’s an annoyance. Looking at Tank, and getting a sense for his strength, i realized quickly the responsibility of such a powerful creature. If he has a bad day? It’s more than an annoyance… This dog could eat my face.

Within a couple of days, Huey the cat was sleeping next to him in bed. A sweet, resilient and easy dog, Tank got comfortable. At first neighbors were crossing the street as we went about our daily walks, but over the first few weeks, a few came up to meet him – and he charmed them all.

Huey and Tank

Pet Sitter was also immediately charmed – and asked if there was any possible way he could adopt this goofy dog. So nine months later, this short-term foster dog is still part of my life. Pet Sitter is working on getting his own place, and will take full custody in a few months, but in the meantime is happy to take The Tanker out on play dates, and stay at my place with the manimals when i’m on the road.

wigglebutt

My life is better with a dog in it – this particular dog. The most important thing i’ve learned after this episode of “I’m Never Having Another Dog Because I Can’t Take the Heartbreak When It Dies”? So many good dogs out there. So many… the best way to honor a beloved rescue dog is to find a way to rescue another one…

Tank smile

Harder to Kill: Quarter 3-ish

Hey… S’up?

It’s a little awkward coming back out here after being gone for so long – and leaving you with such a sad ol’ cliffhanger. The grief over the loss of my canine life partner continues, but i was back at work the following Monday and have been soldiering on… Granted, i couldn’t speak of it – even to my closest friends – for about a week, and it took a full month before i stopped sobbing at any fleeting reminder of his death and disappearance from my daily life.

That third quarter update on my annual goals was due at the end of October, but i had thrown myself into a variety of extra-curricular activities by then – including an unplanned excursion back on stage for the first time in seven years. With tech week, and the show opening in late October, i simply couldn’t carve out the time for a coherent update.

So here’s the short version of my two annual objectives of simultaneously becoming Harder to Kill while Preparing to Die: i am somewhat harder to kill, and no better prepared to die. This will also serve as the end of year wrap up. Mostly because even I’M bored with this!

i work out a lot. i eat poorly and drink too much – although primarily on weekends, this tends to blur through the holidays. Therefore, i’m still fat, but i am pushing more weights when i lift. With the frenetic activity that began with a two week holiday in September, i have done exactly dick when it comes to getting organized, clearing files, and doing further elimination of the material albatrosses (albatrii?) that will make me an unpleasant dead parent to my children.

Where am i? Momentary respite.

A business trip out west provided an opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with my son and his family. i decided somewhere along the way that the things i’ve been doing for the holidays would be parked this year – not feeling any inclination to decorate, or bake, or throw the two giant holiday parties i usually throw. Actively working to only tackle the things which bring joy, and with all of the balls in the air, all that other stuff would add more stress than joy this year.

Studley is about 8 time zones away on a business trip, and i’ve got an entire weekend to myself – hence the opportunity to poke my head back into the blogosphere and say “Hey”. Deliberately didn’t schedule anything – going somewhat off grid. Wanted to retreat and give myself time to fucking think. A luxury when one tends to deal with stress by increasing kinetic energy.

Valuable thing to do, it turns out. i’m sorting out all sorts of demons and dynamics. With the New Year waving at me from around the corner, i’ve realized that 2017 is going to be year of transitions – large and small. Navigating transitions is an important life skill. Sometimes we’re thrown into them, flapping and flailing and doing everything we can to get a toehold on the other side – nothing graceful about it. Sometimes we see them coming, and have some time to prepare ourselves to leave something behind as we start something new – an opportunity to better plan our navigation from one side to the other.

ho-ho-ho

So consider this a warning. i’m back. i have a lot to work through with some major transitions ahead. In the meantime, i’ll be poking my head out and about, trying to catch up with my old blogmates. Wishing you and yours a most joyous holiday season!

A pack of two…

 We were a pack of two*…

IMG_20160128_170450

He came to our family 14 years ago – and despite a severe case of ADHD, fit in well with our clan. He’d escape the backyard fence, and wander the neighborhood. You could call his name for days, and he’d look at you, give a smile and a wag, and keep sniffing whatever had his interest at that moment. The only way we could recapture him? Drive by, open a car door and yell “Road Trip!” For years our neighbors thought his name was “Roadtrip”…

Mr P Jeepin 2

When the kids moved on to college, and I started over in a new home, it was just us. He kept me grounded through the biggest transition of my life. He loved me at my most unlovable. I was responsible for him, and that meant getting out of bed when I was in the deepest, darkest funk. He needed to walk. He needed to eat.

Mr. P pensive

He listened to every word I said as if it were the most important thing he’d ever heard.Mr. P bed

I jokingly referred to him as my “Canine Life Partner”. My companions had to understand who owned my heart.

Man In My Bed: You’re dog’s giving me the stink eye.

daisyfae: That’s because you’re in his spot and it’s time for him to go to bed.

Man In My Bed: That’s cute…

daisyfae: No, seriously, it’s time for you to leave. He wants to go to bed.

get offa my lawn

As Studley became part of my life, he quickly learned that Mr. Pickles was a pre-existing condition in my heart. He also found room in his heart for my large brown pup. On nights he’d stay over, Mr. Pickles would stiff-leg him out of bed over the course of the night. Get up to pee? Come back to find a giant dog sleeping on the pillow, basically saying “My spot. You got the sofa, buddy.” Most nights, Mr. Pickles was little spoon to my big spoon. I slept best next to my main manimal.

a pack of two

He wasn’t the smartest dog, but he was a gifted instructor. He taught me how to enjoy the moment. Knowing that he was only with me for a short time, he taught me not to postpone joy – a lesson that carried over to visits with my Mom. Struggling with my relationship with her, it was Mr. Pickles that taught me to let go of the past – and meet her where she was as she approached the end of her life. We learned to appreciate the seasons, knowing that the next snowfall, or splash in the pool, wasn’t guaranteed.

Happy Pup

At fifteen years old, he’d blown most canine actuarial tables. A bad reaction to medication didn’t take him down in 2012, even though his liver nearly failed. The big lump of cancer taken from his hip in January wasn’t what did it. In the end, it was his heart that got him. It was too big…

Mr P my boo

A friend told me of a service that does mobile pet euthanasia. The vet came to my home. She was a goddess, dressed in khaki shorts and sneakers… Mr. Pickles settled into his bed, with me spooning behind him. Studley was with us, petting those velvety ears. And with all that love flowing his way, he went to sleep…

pack

We were a pack of two. He wasn’t just a good boy. He was my best boy.

Reindeer Poo

“Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

* Respectful acknowledgement of the amazing book of this title by Caroline Knapp. A close friend sent me a copy years ago, and it seems i’m due for another reading…

Adventure: Run-of-the-mill Edition (Part 2)

As mentioned in my previous post, adventure comes in many forms – not always requiring money or travel or high risk activities. The second recent example? Came at me like a spider monkey, with an infectious giggle, knocking me over and completely taking me by surprise.

Exhibit B: The Girl came home earlier this month, flying through Ataturk airport a day after the bombs went off. She and her husband both made it, with only a few minor travel complications. A travel annoyance for us, but no complaints given what some were dealing with at the time…

The Girl will be here for a month, but her husband, Metin, could only take two weeks vacation. Since The Boy couldn’t take time off before his block leave starts at the end of the month, the only way for the two of them to meet? Go west! Bought tickets, and launched a family road trip for me, Studley, The Girl and Metin.

Travel logistics were challenging, but we made it work, and arrived for the 4th of July weekend. New this visit? The Boy has a girlfriend. A Serious Girlfriend… and she has a baby. Max is a little over a year old. Part of this visit was to meet Serious Girlfriend and Max, while getting The Boy together with the brother-in-law he had yet to meet.

We were on the move most of the weekend, planning to spend the night of the 3rd in a small western town in Colorado. They do the 4th in a big way, and The Boy was marching as part of the color guard with some of his mates from Ft. Courage. The plan was to have the four of us – The Girl, her husband, Studley and i get hotel rooms, and The Boy was to travel with his battle buddies, and stay with the parents of a friend.

Getting a room in town proved difficult, but i snagged two rooms at a historic boarding house. And by ‘historic’ i mean shared bathrooms, original wall décor, original dust, paper-thin walls and no amenities. Partway through the weekend, The Boy asked if it would be ok to have Serious Girlfriend and Max join us for the overnight excursion.

“Sure! We’ll make it work!” i tried finding another room, but no luck. The Boy said they could probably crash at the home of his friend. i offered that we could stick three in a room if needed. Lodgings for The Boy and Serious Girlfriend were somewhat in flux, but he was pretty sure they’d be able to find a place…

And that’s when it happened… The following words escaped my face: “Studley and i can keep Max in our room. You two can just go hang out with your buds and we’ll figure it out…”

A baby. It has been 25 years since i have changed a diaper. i generally don’t like babies. If anyone asks me “Would you like to hold the baby?” i say “Not really! i’m good.” i did ok with mine when they were small, but enjoyed them far more when they became toddler/pre-schoolers…

So what the fuck was i thinking?

Max is a pretty cute kid, and Serious Girlfriend a good mother. When i first met them, The Boy started cracking up when i got into a prolonged Peek-A-Boo game with the giggling boy. “Look at that! She’s gone into Hyper-Grandma Mode!”

We set up a portable playpen in our tiny boarding house room. Serious Girlfriend got Max settled, and they were off. Studley and i looked at the sleeping boy. Looked at each other. “What the fuck are we doing? Is it like riding a bike?” Turns out it is, but there’s slightly less risk of getting a concussion, or ending up with gravel embedded in your knees…

Studley and i slept lightly – both of us a little unnerved at the responsibility of a baby. A baby we just met a couple of days before! Max woke up a few times and mostly got himself back to sleep, requiring only a little pat on the back and a fresh diaper…

Other than catching myself talking to him like i would talk to my dog (“Who’s a good boy?”), it went well. A sign of a happy kid? He woke up in the morning, and just started rolling around, chattering happy chatter to himself, while playing with his sleepy toy.

i’m proud of my children – both living lives of deliberate choice and handling their own shit. As fun as it was to visit with a little critter, i’d probably consider myself a failure as a parent if my children expected me to raise their spawn.

Not quite “Hyper Grandma Mode”, but i did really enjoy it. It was definitely a stretch for me – WELL outside my comfort zone. Since heading home, i have caught myself looking forward to seeing Max again. The Boy and Serious Girlfriend, too, of course…

Me and Max

Adventure takes many forms – be willing to venture into new territory…. Even if it’s a trip that isn’t on your bucket list.

Adventure: Run-of-the-mill Edition (Part 1)

Maybe i’m addicted. Who knows?  i certainly look forward to adventure – pushing the envelope of my experiences, tackling new activities, and going to places i’ve never been. There are probably a few ways to define it, but i like that feeling of risk – facing the unknown and an uncertain outcome.

Recently, i’ve been reminded that adventure is not just embodied in exotic SCUBA diving excursions, solo wanderings in unexplored cities, or hopping on a horse or motorcycle and testing my skills. A few recent happenings have reminded me that it doesn’t have to cost me a dime, either.

We’ll start with one example. This will be at least a two part series… assuming i get some downtime over the next couple of weeks to finish writing it up.

Exhibit A: When the anti-refugee sentiment was at a frenzy in the U.S. last autumn, i vented my spleen in a tirade on Facebook*. After getting trolled by an oxygen thief, who stopped by uninvited and took a shit in my virtual living room, i realized that social media is pretty useless when it comes to making an actual god damned difference in the world.

You can post witty and clever statuses, counting the “likes” received for affirmation that you are witty and clever. You can preach to the self-selected choir among your friends. You can even get into sniping contests with strangers, effectively taking a shit in another persons virtual living room.

Or you can get off your ass and do something useful.

Finding the agency responsible for refugee resettlement in town, i laid myself at the feet of the housing coordinator and said “Take me. Use me. Put me to work.” And she has. They arrive with nothing – in one recent case, just the clothes on their backs… i’ve spent hours cleaning homes, assembling bunk beds, moving furniture. Collecting household items to assist in start-up.

Emily, the coordinator, identified a need to match up refugees with bicycles, and had noted my involvement with regional bike advocacy efforts. “Ping!” There’s your opportunity! Working with the local bike co-op, a volunteer shop that refurbishes used bicycles, i had a job… One family at a time, my responsibility is to get recently resettled families hooked up with wheels.

The first gig? A father and older son from central Africa. Both spoke a little English, but i had nothing but a name, an address, and my volunteer badge to get started. Emily said they’d be expecting me on a particular Sunday afternoon. I had my orders. Showtime.

Driving to their home, i had butterflies in my gut… butterflies wearing combat boots, and doing a tango. “What if i screw this up? What if i do something culturally offensive? What if i can’t communicate well enough with them? What if there aren’t bikes available today that fit them? What if…?”

There were moments of confusion, and some careful clarifications required, but it all came together. As we drove from their home to the shop, they had questions. And i had answers… Driving through a suburb, looking at houses sitting on half-acre lawns.

Father: “Are these farms?”

daisyfae: “Some have gardens where they grow food, but these are homes with large lawns. They have to mow the lawn.”

Father: “It might be smart to grow food instead!”

daisyfae: “That would make more sense…”

Successful first outing, and more to come. i was terrified that i would make a horrible mistake. There was risk, but the reward was worth it! They were delighted when we returned to their home with two gently used bicycles. i brought them a tire pump the following weekend.

Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump…

learn to fly

Image found here

* That rant is resting comfortably in my Trailer Park drafts folder. i have a bunch of those… So much material, so little time…

Harder to Kill: 2nd Quarter Already?

It’s true, you know. Time DOES go by faster when you’re old. Well, each day is a smaller percentage of the days you’ve lived, so if it feels that time is accelerating with the passing years, there’s good reason for that.

In my quest at self-improvement, i’ve tackled another round of resolutions and accountability. This year, focusing on becoming harder to kill, while preparing to die. After a reasonable start in the first quarter, including a micro-backslide, i’ve continued the quest.

Blogging? There’s so much i want need to write – a three part series in draft from another round of festivities in the Trailer Park, a postscript to last years ‘bridges’ that came at me out of the blue, new volunteer work that has changed my life, and wrenches in my plan to simply tumble toward retirement without working too hard… A visit from a blogmate reminded me that the connections developed over the past 8 years are deep and meaningful, and i’m a fool if i let these friendships slide into the superficial realm of “Facebook likes”.

But i’m living hard, taking care of what needs to be cared for, so for the moment, i’ll likely stay on blog hiatus until i have a chance to come up for a little more oxygen.

The TL:DR version – Still fat. Not dead. If you’ve got a short attention span, don’t bother to read the rest of this post…If you’re having trouble sleeping? Feel free to tough it out!

Harder to kill: My weight is mostly stable, down about 15 pounds for the year, with no additional significant loss this quarter. But i’m working out a lot and seeing muscles i had forgotten i had… Added some bicycling to the mix, as Studley and i are training for a 2 week European ride in the fall. i’ve finally realized that even if i’m not in optimal cycling shape when we start the tour, i will certainly be in decent shape at the end of the holiday. Probably one of the few vacations where i don’t gain weight, since we’ll be riding 30-50 miles each day.

Preparing to die: Minor progress in getting rid of things and getting organized. Continued conversations with my children regarding the future of my old doggie, who is doing pretty well considering he’s about 100 in dog years, with an over sized heart and debilitating arthritis.

Keeping him comfortable so that the kids can visit with him again when they’re home in July has taken a good deal of my energy. He’s got some gastric issues and i am spending more time than i’d like cleaning up his accidents. Continually thankful that i decided to put in vinyl plank flooring during the kitchen renovation last year, i’m in a constant state of angst, trying to get him out before he explodes with another canine Jackson Pollak piece. If he had thumbs? He’d do the same for me, so i soldier on with a case of paper towels and bleach…

i found a decent reference piece to help guide me. Assessing the HHHHHMM Quality of Life scale is a means to quantify quality of life for a pet… or i suppose any creature. Hurt, Hunger, Hygiene, Hydration, Happiness, Mobility and More good days than bad. i’ve not gone off the deep end charting these items, but i am increasingly mindful of them. It has also forced me to crawl inside his little doggie brain, and consider it from how HE is doing, not how I am doing…

For the moment? He’s wagging his tail, plays with toys, is eating and drinking, and can get around reasonably well on his own. Pain is managed through medication and massage (yes, i’m massaging those bony old hips… it seems to help).

The month ahead of me will be a blur – my daughter arrives soon, her husband to follow, and then a whirl of travels, and visits begins. We’re going to see The Boy for the long holiday weekend, and he will then come back to the roost for a few days before the end of the month. Throw in a west coast business trip for bonus miles. i’ve had to post a calendar to track all of the airline connections – not that i’m counting, but there are 32 flight segments for six people to manage in just about 30 days.

My exercise (and diet) are likely to suffer significant set backs for this month, but i’ve got August and September to get back on track before the next report at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Hope you all have been well – i’ll be out and about trying to catch up some as time permits. In the meantime? Onward!

 

Harder to Kill: 1st Quarter Update

Three months of 2016 are vaporized, and i am holding myself accountable out here on my annual pilgrimage into the wilds of self-improvement. Time for an update on my quest to Prepare to Die while Becoming Harder to Kill.

Harder to Kill: i got off to a fabulous start with my health and strength goals! January found me doing another round of eating clean for three weeks! It is energizing and cathartic to do this – after a week of going without sugar, alcohol, dairy and caffeine, it became clear that i CAN do this.  My third session of unprocessed foods, it was noticeably easier this time.

Combining the aggressive control of my food and beverage intake with a jacked up workout routine, and i managed to drop 12 pounds through the end of January! A fine start to the quarter!

Then the travel started… i was on the road virtually all of February. A dive trip to the Caribbean, followed by a pile of business trips. On the bright side, i kept up the exercise routine, doing strength training in hotel fitness centers. On the down side, i added back in sugar and snacks and alcohol and… whatever the hell i felt like eating.

Boom. Almost 10 pounds right back IMG_20160406_191715where they started.  It could have
been worse. Course corrected, despite continued travel, i’ve
managed to get back on track. i need to do MUCH better with consistency, even if i focus on eating real food during the week, and allowing myself just one or two indulgences on the weekends.

Goal for the 2nd quarter? More push ups, more core strength and another 10 pounds vaporized. i love my trainer, and am ready for bicycling season to begin in earnest…

Preparing to Die: Partial win and partial fail here… i managed to do some office excavations, but it was mostly annual maintenance, rather than getting my personal paperwork in order. Clearing out “stuff” went fairly well, due in part to a new volunteer job i’ve taken on…

Being angered by the anti-refugee sentiment – now fueled by a certain orange businessman who has become the pied piper of ignorant bigots – i now volunteer with the non-profit responsible for refugee resettlement in my small town. A good group, they are short handed, and have limited resources. They need housewares, and i have extra housewares, so that’s worked out. A great outlet for re-homing things i don’t need. That, plus a carload of items taken to the local thrift, and i did make some progress on this one…

The real progress may have come from an unexpected source. As i sort through end-of-life issues for my ancient dog, and discuss this with my adult children, a lot of turf has been covered. Hospice care vs heroic measures. Disposition of the remains. Legacies. Memories. Saying goodbye…

i have alIMG_20160128_170450ways believed one of the benefits of raising children in a home with pets is that this is a healthy way to learn to deal with death. Burying guinea pigs in the side yard prepared my children for the loss of their beloved dogs, and later, it gave them a reasonable foundation for losing the first grandparent.

Turns out, the conversations we are having regarding my Elder Mutt are continuing to teach those lessons. As they prepare to say a final goodbye to him, they are in training for when i die.

Took this picture as i brought him home from the vet, stitches removed from a 7″ incision on his hip, resulting from the removal of a fist-sized cancerous tumor. Normally, i wouldn’t have had surgery done on a dog almost 15 years old, but had it been the really bad kind of cancer, it would have ruptured and he would have bled out. Not a good way to die. Had to do it, and he bounded back… Congestive heart failure is what will likely get him. It’s all about palliative care now. And enjoying every single moment with this old boy…

What i’m doing in 2016… Isn’t everyone?

With my son sharing tales of his Drill Sergeant’s philosophy  during basic training in 2013, I got started with my annual list of priorities. A means to keep the important self-improvement issues on the front burner. Resolutions? In a way. But that has such negative connotations – who actually keeps resolutions?

These are goals – which require some degree of metrics, and accountability. By posting my annual goals, and then holding myself accountable to report out how I’m doing every quarter, it’s been helpful to keep me on track, working on the things I most need to work on.

For 2014, i focused on unfucking myself a bit. My possibly broken finger (and easy one to start with), my space (cluttered, heavy with stuff), and my body (fat, weak). Some progress in all three areas, but I wasn’t done at the end of the year with two of those…

For 2015, i focused on repairing important relationships that i’d blown up, continuing to get rid of the stuff that weighs me down, and keep working on being healthier and less fat. Some progress in all, but clearly not done with all of that.

What is common for the past two years? My health and fitness – this will likely be a lifetime pursuit. Well, it’s not exactly something i’ll need to worry about after i’m dead. i also need to get rid of ‘things’, organize what remains, and be ready to die.

What does this mean? i must optimize for life AND death.

The fitness habits forged over the past two years is entrenched. Three days a week, Studley and i do cardio on our lunch hours at a nearby fitness center. i am still riding a horse every week – and my instructor is fond of ‘calorie burner’ lessons. Balancing in the stirrups at a solid trot is a bit of work… Weather permitting, i’m on a bicycle at least 2-3 times a week.

Adding two high intensity interval training classes to my week this year, i’ve started lifting weights – and i love it! Muscles? Hello there! It’s been awhile! And my ass no longer brushes the back of my thigh in the shower! i look forward to these classes! One of my gym buddies uses the phrase “Harder to Kill”, and that really captures what i want – stronger, faster, more resilient…

Preparing to die is a bit harder. What are my goals for being dead? Not being a pain in the ass to my children. This has a few elements involved – minimizing my physical footprint (ie: purging stuff), financial planning and organization, taking care of unfinished personal business… i’ve been working on this, but it remains seriously undone.

This year i’m going with two goals – things that have really been at the core of what i’ve done for the past two years. i shall Prepare to Die while simultaneously making myself Harder to Kill.

harder to kill