Trailer Park 2.0

Drinking whiskey and diet ginger ale in a sippy cup, while taking a shower on a Sunday night*, i felt something i haven’t felt in almost a year. The urge to write. Not because something was bothering me, gnawing at my innerds, driving me to hoark it up, sort it out, and blast it into the ether. Not because i felt a sense of obligation either. Just because i missed doing it.

So. Here we are.

Due to the confluence of my engagement with social media, the death of my mother, and a reduced number of active blogmates, i just sort of wandered off. i missed it (mostly the social connections), but i no longer needed it. i also didn’t have much time – still working 40 hours a week, plus travel, i didn’t have much downtime.

The more i’m learning about social media, however, the less i’ve been playing in that space. There is no doubt that we are all being exploited – driven to outrage – as a means to divide us further. Clicks are dollars, and outraged people click the shit out of clickbait articles.

Who is doing this? Does it matter? It’s happening. i want nothing to do with it.

My facebook, and instagram use is mostly for sharing travel pictures, event/charity planning and promotion, farting around, and staying in touch with those i genuinely enjoy. i love seeing my friends living their lives – my favorite days on social media are ‘back to school’ and halloween, because of the amazing pictures people share!

i’ve curated my feed to drastically reduce “outrage” posters – right, left, libertarian, or just the generally outraged. Many in my networks have culled their networks to a like-minded choir. Yes, there is comfort in knowing you’re not alone in your outrage, but it really doesn’t change anything.

The challenges i face these days are no longer complex family dynamics, raising strong-willed and/or self-destructive offspring, balancing end-of-career issues while figuring out how to retire.

What i wrangle with these days are issues of extreme privilege. “When should we plan our trip to Machu Picchu?” “Can we go to the regional burn and still be back in town for the festival we’re working?” “When will i have time to remodel my bathroom with all of the travel?”  Yeah. It’s pretty obnoxious.

Underlying this is something a bit deeper, though – planning the final season of my life. Making myself harder to kill while simultaneously preparing to die. Not a topic that lends itself to social media – unless you are able to guide your life by an endless series of clever memes and clickbait listicles.

For tonight? i’m gonna pack up my suitcase. Joining the holiday air travel scrum in the morning as we head west to visit The Boy and his family**. My grandson has already told me what kind of cupcakes he wants us to bake, and we’re going to bake those cupcakes. There is no reason you can’t have vampire cupcakes at Thanksgiving.

Max makes a cupcake

*i am, in fact, a grown ass woman. i do not judge others for wine in a bubble bath, beer on a patio. don’t judge me for my means of self care…

**A sentence that was inconceivable just five years ago.

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!

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