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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Adventures in fiscal responsibility

Last month I made a vague plan to write and post at least once a month.  Here it is the 26th of February and you can see where I am with that plan.  I am okay with it though because there has been a ton of stuff going on. [Now it’s the 23d of March and I’m just picking this post up again.]
Almost all of it relates in some way, shape or form to the ADD diagnosis I wrote about in January.
And it’s all exhausting.
The biggest thing was my decision last month to file bankruptcy.  I can think of one friend who is possibly having a stroke as he reads this.  He is a banker type, really good at what he does and pretty well off.  He also acts like my older brother, though we are, essentially, the same age.
My ability to deal with my finances are a mixed bag.  I am astonishingly good at managing my money, right up to the moment when I have run screaming up to the edge of the abyss and the only option is jump over the edge, and then begin climbing back up.
Seriously, not a late or missed payment right up to the moment when I realized there was no money to pay the credit cards.
I have dealt several times with giant debt.  And since secrets can’t hurt you if they aren’t secrets, I filed for bankruptcy protection in 97 after using credit cards to get through law school.
Well, let’s be honest, I used credit cards to buy all kinds of things I shouldn’t have during law school.  I was a shopper back then.  Not so much anymore, don’t ask where the most recent debt came from, I can’t tell you.
I was the beneficiary of a large check in a legal settlement that helped me out in 2011.  And a large loan in 2014.
Each time I say, I’ve learned my lesson.
It turns out that the lesson, while learned, could not be put into practice because of my brain.
I’m not putting all my financial woes on the ADD.  Clearly, I am responsible.  The problem is the magical thinking that comes with ADD.  That’s not the actual term, you might have guessed, but it’s the term that I use.  My counselor tells me that people with ADD have this idea that “things will work out.”  I’m stupid impulsive - sure, I can go away with you for the weekend, I can make it work.
And I can.
Right up until I can’t.
My counselor tells me that the top ADD researcher [can’t remember his name] calls ADD a disorder of doing: I know what to do, I know how to do it, I know how important it is, and I don’t do it.  When I told my dad that he said, that is exactly you.  Which was exactly my thought when I heard it.  It makes sense of so many things in my life.
And it explains why I keep ending up in this financial situation.
This time it will actually be different.
Unfortunately since I decided to declare bankruptcy I have gotten socked: a 2014 amended tax return with a $480 bill accompanying it.  A cat spilling wax on my computer, minimum cost to fix it, $349.  Taxes due for 2015 in the amount of $1248, plus the need for quarterly estimated tax payments in the amount of $1260 for 2016.  Paying my accountant for telling me that, $435.  A doctors bill from August of last year, under $200, hardly noticeable.  An increase in my health insurance of $173 a month because someone at the health connector heard a number that was $20,000 too low when I called to adjust my income last year.  Two massage license renewals this quarter totaling $450.  A continuing ed course for $500.  Excise tax for my car to the tune of $181.25.
I got through all of that.  Well, not all of it, but everything that needs to have been paid at this point: two licenses, excise tax, 2015 taxes, accountant, continuing ed class, increased health insurance [one payment anyway].
The bankruptcy was filed yesterday and the IRS won’t ask me for the $480 until it’s discharged in July so I can save for that.
In addition to all of this, I’ve managed to begin putting some money aside for stuff like my liability insurance and AAA membership due later this year.  I’ve started saving for next renewal of my massage licenses.  I even have $261.64 in savings.
It’s been surprisingly easy to make the right choices.  I am learning to effectively use the budgeting software that I have been “using” for a couple of years.  I also have a friend who looks over my budgeting with me and makes suggestions regularly.  Some I follow, some I say not so much.  Not because those aren’t good suggestions, but because we think differently.
Then today happened.  I knew it was coming, I’ve known since I had my snow tires taken off the Outback last spring.  The snow tires were done and my mechanic told me that I had some miles left in the other tires, but I’d need to think about replacing them before long.  I’ve been meaning to stop at the shop and have him look at the tires for weeks now, but my schedule got in the way.  Until yesterday.
“I know it’s not what you wanted to hear, but they need to be replaced.”
Six hundred and thirty eight dollars.
That’s the number I heard when I listened to the voicemail this morning.
That’s the number I asked my budget adviser to figure out this afternoon.  I have money sitting in the TBB [to be budgeted] envelope of YNAB [You Need A Budget, the software I use].  I was at a loss as to where to put it.  In a bit more than a month I’m taking a vacation for two weeks and I’m pretty freaked out about no income for two weeks.  Oh, in case you are thinking, two weeks of vacation?  WTH?  Didn’t you just file for bankruptcy?  I’m using some frequent flyer miles and someone else is paying for the rest, a generous and much appreciated gesture.
Still, it’s two weeks without work.  So I have some money to be budgeted and I have these tires to pay for next week and I have some income and a bit of fairly guaranteed work for a couple of days when I return - but there is a lot of uncomfortable uncertainty.
So I said to my budget advisor - when you have a minute, could you please tell me what makes sense?  Because I just can’t.  I have hit the wall and nothing makes sense right now.  None of it.  I thought maybe I would take money out of the tax folder, I’ve saved the full 2015 bill and I could, if necessary, set up a payment plan with the IRS.
Honestly, that is pretty appealing.  I’m very proud of the little bit of savings I have accumulated and that doesn’t include the small amount I put away for vacation.
But the budget advisor had other ideas and I’m trying to reconcile myself to that.  I was determined that my savings would stay in tact.  It’s not much, but I have been putting into it every week.  My vacation fund is small, but it’s something  - and I leave in five weeks so there isn’t a lot of time to rebuild it.  The funds I’m putting aside for my nephew, there’s time, but the point of starting now was to have time.
My reply to the budget advisor involved much venting of my spleen and many curse words.  Actually one curse word repeated many, many, many times.
It took me more than a few minutes to get out of the “I’ll never f*&^ing get ahead” mindset, a completely unproductive one that doesn’t serve me and isn’t likely to be true.  But I did get there.
Because at least I have actual cash that I can actually use to actually pay for the tires.  The rest will work itself out, it always does.

The budget advisor’s comment when I sent the entry to him:
To the reader, that last line may read like how you described managing finances with untreated ADD.
What's different is that you know what to do and how to do it and are actually doing it.  It will work out because you will make it work out.  The right opportunities will emerge and you will take advantage of them like an unscrupulous investment banker.

He’s right, I know what to do and how to do it and I am doing it, which is precisely why it will work out.  It has always worked out, in some way.  Now I’m just doing my part to make it happen.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fooling myself

Every Monday morning I hop on the scale and record the information it gives me, weight and body fat percentage.  Then I go to my bedside table and take a tape measure out of the drawer and measure both thighs, hips, waist, bust and both arms.  Then I do the math to find out if there is an increase or decrease in the total of those numbers.
I don’t include the bust because it does weird things sometimes and the measuring of my breasts is a challenge, they are soft and subject to gravity and I’m never confident of the placement of the tape or how tight I pull it.  Plus, they can do whatever they want.  If they are smaller it’s easier to run, but if they aren’t smaller . . . well that’s okay too.
I use the weight and body fat percentage as canaries in the coal mine.  First, I don’t have a super fancy, expensive scale so I don’t put much stock in the body fat percentage number.  Second, the number of my weight is pretty irrelevant if my clothes fit and I feel good.  That said, when those numbers trend up, it’s a pretty good indicator that I am not eating as cleanly as I convince myself I am.
You don’t do that?  You don’t convince yourself that you are doing something exactly the way you intend, when you actually, really aren’t? 
I bet you do.  It may not be with food, but there’s probably something.  Maybe you think you hydrate well, after all - you carry that bottle around all day.  But maybe it’s just as full at the end of the day as it was when you filled it this morning.  Or maybe you you are convinced you exercise regularly, after all you have that treadmill in the spare room.  The one that has your laundry piled on it.  It maybe something else I can’t figure, but if you spend some time you’ll figure it out.
I have stayed away from sugar since January 25th.  No ice cream, cookies, candies.  None of the jelly beans or cake that were at the office last weekend.  Not one of the homemade chocolate covered caramels at the office this weekend.  My mom made a French Cherry pie for my birthday Tuesday - I hate French Cherry pie, my family loves it.  Perfect, no temptation.
I started to fit into the clothes I haven’t been able to wear.
I breathed a sigh of relief because I don’t have money for new clothes and the one or two pair of shorts I fit into were tight.
It wasn’t a problem that I was having peanut butter and honey sandwiches on ciabatta bread.
It wasn’t a problem that I was having Kellogg’s Raisin Bran as a snack.  And by snack I mean sitting down and eating half a box at a time.  And, in case you don’t know, a serving size of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran is one cup and it has 18 grams of sugar.  Needless to say, half a box is more than that.
I got home from work yesterday and curled up on the couch.  I was stuffy and feeling kinda lousy when I got up and five hours of massage [especially after 10 hours of massage on Saturday] left me needing sleep.
I slept some.
And then I ate.
A bag of Late July Mile Green Mojo chips, a grapefruit, 4 dried apricots, the last third of a box of Raisin Bran, a ciabatta PB&H sandwich, a bottle of GT Dave’s Trilogy kombucha, five Trader Joe’s frozen mozzarella sticks.  The last were heated up.
I wasn’t surprised to find that my weight is up today.
My measurements aren’t much different from last Monday, which is why I call my weight and body fat percentage the canaries in the coal mine.  If I keep eating the way I’ve been eating everything will trend right back up and I will not have clothes to wear on the cruise I’m taking with my friend Ruth at the end of April.
Or all summer.
Into the fall.
And come winter I’ll have to buy a whole new wardrobe because I got rid of the clothes I wore when I was 186 pounds a couple of years ago.
I figured that out last night as I ate the Kellog’s Raisin Bran.
That was when I decided that I would use my MyFitnessPal account to track what I eat each day.
I don’t much pay attention to their caloric recommendations - no matter what size I am when I start, no matter what my weight goal is, they tell me I should eat 1200 calories a day.  They do add calories when you exercise, but it never seems particularly realistic to me.  Plus, you can’t imagine the stuff I can convince myself is okay when I see that there are calories left to consume.
The benefit for me is a realistic picture of what I eat during the day.  I’ve been walking around allowing myself to believe that I am eating well.  And, for the most part, I am.  I eat real food, actual meals.  I don’t eat ice cream, cookies, cake, candy.
But in my world that isn’t enough and the canaries in the coal mine were dropping dead.  Somehow that analogy worked right up until I wrote that sentence.  The scale showed me higher numbers than last week.  Not hugely higher.  Not yet.  But that is why I’ve been weighing myself - the number is irrelevant except when it shows me that I have been fooling myself.
I have reached the point where I know that if I take that one delicious looking red jelly bean [red jelly beans always look soooooo delicious] or if I say, it’s my birthday, let’s have birthday cake, I will soon be enjoying a pint of ice cream and several Snicker’s bars.  So I say no to those things.
But that ciabatta bread looked so delicious that one time . . .
And then it was a regular in my house.
And I couldn’t resist the blueberry muffin at Haven when I had breakfast with my friend who was in town for the weekend.  And since I wasn’t having birthday cake on my birthday and I had to work I thought I would treat myself to a blueberry muffin, but they were out by the time I got there.  So I had one on Saturday instead.  Then Sunday I was feeling lousy and couldn’t get myself together to prepare food . . . so I stopped at Haven and got . . . two blueberry muffins.
And last night I realized that it is happening.  I’m not eating refined sugar in it’s most obvious forms, but I found a way to satisfy that need.  And still manage to believe that I was doing well - because there wasn’t any sugar being purchased and the measurements were going down, clothes were fitting more loosely.
It’s insidious.
I just finished three scrambled eggs and five [you read that right, FIVE] pieces of bacon.  And I entered them in the app.  Super tasty and the protein will get me through to late afternoon [the meal was finished about 11 so late afternoon isn’t insane].  Like I said, I don’t much pay attention to what MFP believes my calories should be.  I also don’t eat five pieces of bacon every day.

I’m kind of over fooling myself.  My MFP username is taranoel, look me up.  We can all use support.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Consistently Falls Short

A friend called this morning as I was setting my bike up the trainer.
It was off the trainer because yesterday it was in the 70s and I went out for a little over 20 miles.  It was glorious.  Today it is warm, but grey, and rain is predicted.  I got dressed for an indoor ride while I was still undecided.
I went out on my porch to see what it was like.
It was pretty warm, not like yesterday, but definitely springlike - even at 7AM.  The birds were chirping.  It was pretty nice.
Still, I went inside, moved my bike from the kitchen [where I left it yesterday] to the spare room where the trainer is, put it in the right gear set up to take the wheel off, put the trainer wheel on and got it set on the trainer.
That was when the phone rang, when I was setting it on the trainer.
I told my friend I was being lame, getting ready for a trainer ride when it was pretty nice out.  He kindly pointed out that I could be on the couch watching TV eating crap.  Instead you’ll be on the bike working hard.  Nothing wrong with that.
But I feel like I’m wasting a sort of nice day.  Says he, how many nice days do you suppose are on the way, a bajillion.  There is nothing wrong with being on the trainer.
I went into the living room to sit on the couch until we finished chatting and that was when he said it.
If you did one of those annual employee self reviews you’d need a new category: CFS, consistently falls short.  You always give yourself such a hard time.
Wow, he was right on the money.
I have lost about 10 pounds since January - I look in the mirror all I see are flaws.
I have been on the bike nine of the ten days in March, 20 of the 29 days in February and 18 of the 31 in January.  Though I didn’t start beginning my day with an hour of cycling until the 12th of January so, it was really 15 of 20 days.  Still, if it’s nice enough to go outside and I stay inside and do a hard ride, averaging 16mph on the first 5 miles and going up from there - I’m lame.
When I have a Tuesday off, after four long days of massage, and I don’t do the things that I was intending to do - touch up the paint in my bedroom, put up pictures around my apartment [I’ve only been living here a year and a half], do laundry and get some reading done - I’m pathetic.
I set a goal in January of writing at least one blog post a month.  It’s the 10th of March and this is my second post for the year.  Clearly I’m a failure.
CFS doesn’t show up everywhere.  I’m a very good massage therapist.  I don’t cook much, but what I do make is really good.  I am a pretty talented knitter.
But in the places it does show up?  It’s insidious.
Pre ride 3.9.16
I love my body - what it has done for me despite years of abuse is amazing.  But, like I said, I look at my body and I see flaws.  Now though, instead of berating my body for not looking the way I would like it to look, I point out to myself that . . . well, that I’m clearly insane.
First of all, if I had picked the shape of my body - no the size, but the actual shape of how things are put together, I would have picked a very different shape.  So when I look in the mirror, there is no way I’ll ever see my ideal body.
Second, I will be 53 next Tuesday, I have had seven major weight loss/gain cycles in my life [I’m talking 30-50 pounds each] and I’m menopausal.  All of that combines to make extra skin and droopy bits.  Though honestly, my breasts could have been described as droopy when I was in 7th grade.  Don’t get me wrong, they are nice breasts and I’m pretty fond of them, they were just not ever perky.
Third, it may be bumpy, droopy and fleshy, but my body is strong.  I ask a lot of it between the work that I do, taking care of my folks yard, cycling, etc and it answers yes almost every time.
I’m learning, with help, to recognize accomplishment in things I do on a daily basis.  There are places where it obvious - getting to work in a timely manner [lifelong issues with this, significant improvement in the last year or so], spending within my means [this takes a lot of work, but I’m getting surprisingly good at it].  There are places where I wouldn’t ever think of it - just about everything else.
Other people’s perspective can be very useful.  I have had to listen with an open heart and see things in ways that have never been true in my own mind.  And it has totally been worth the effort, every day I can celebrate some major success - like dry brushing before my shower [which I have intended to do for at least a decade and have never done until the last few weeks] or having Garmin charged and ready each time I want to use it or finding something because I put it some place that makes sense to me and put it back in that spot when I used it four months ago.

Slowly but surely CFS is falling away and M or E [Meets or Exceds] is taking it’s place.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Greetings, I'm still here

I heard a report on NPR this morning about the number of “older” [their word] adults being diagnosed with ADD these days.  They defined “older” as people over 50.  I am using the parentheses because I am one of these “older” adults recently diagnosed with ADD - and I do not consider myself an “older” adult.  I’m guessing those who know me don’t consider me an “older” adult either.  I don’t think I’ll ever be an “older” adult.
My dad has been suggesting I talk to someone about ADD and, more to the point, get meds, for years.  I have brushed it off, I function just fine thank you very much.  I had no intention of taking drugs or any such nonsense, there is nothing wrong with how I walk through the world.
As you have read here many times over the years - I suck at housekeeping.  A friend visited in July and said, you have too much stuff.  I said, no I don’t, look around, there isn’t that much stuff, I just don’t know where to put it.  Eventually he agreed and said, I’m coming back and we are going to get you organized.
In August he came back and we spent two days cleaning and organizing.
My place wasn’t a complete disaster, it wasn’t so bad that I only had paths to get around the house, but it wasn’t good either.
I made it through the first day alright, probably because I had to leave at 11 for three hours to work.  At the end of the that day I made a comment about ADD, not the condition as a whole, but related to something specific.  My friend said, you know . . . ADD has come up a few times with you, you might want to look into that.
Yeah sure whatever.
The second day was brutal.  I was pushed to my limit.  I was frustrated.  I was angry.  I was pissy.  I was really lucky my friend stayed and kept working.
I was also watching myself move between tasks.  And I did not complete one single task all the way through the entire day.  Even the tasks that got started in the middle of another task didn’t get done without another thing happening.  I would notice my glass was empty and I’d walk from the living room where I was doing something and I’d notice something else and the glass would be put down and then I’d notice something else and something else and something else.
About six tasks later I would notice that I was thirsty and I’d have to go searching for my water, having absolutely no idea where it was.  In my head it was wherever I had been doing the original task.  In actuality it was wherever it got put down on the way to fill it when some other thing had caught my attention.
I looked at my friend at some point and said, holy crap - I don’t do one single thing all the way through, it’s driving me insane!!
And the next day I called my doctor for an appointment.
That appointment is a whole story in itself.  Suffice, for the moment, to say that I walked out of there with a prescription.
A prescription that seemed to make some difference.
Then I was speaking to another friend about this pseudo-diagnosis and she said: I could have told you that years ago.
Was what I thought.  Though, in her defense, I would never have listened.
Then she recommended a book, Driven To Distraction.  So I went to the library and, after a bit of delay as there was no copy available, I read it.
It was a revelation.  I recognized elements of my life in every case study in the book.  It was astonishing.  And enlightening.
It turns out that my house and finances aren’t a reflection of me being an incompetent adult, they are a result of how my brain functions.  Or how it doesn’t function.
Insert happy dance here.
I am thrilled.
I have people who come clean my house now.  Have had since August.  After my friend helped me clean and organize I found Top To Bottom Cleaning in Westfield.  Lynn came out to my place to assess, commented, you really don’t like to clean do you?  I was devastated, but smiled and said, not so much.  We set up an appointment for an initial visit and they came and cleaned the crap out of my place.
To the point where I felt like the cleaning police might pop out of a closet when I started cluttering stuff up.
I was freaked out.
But I got used to it - they come every two weeks now.  It’s not as extreme as that first visit, but it makes my life infinitely better.
Lots of folks would find my place cluttery and uncomfortable, but it is fine for me.
The young ladies who come must find it difficult, but they do an amazing job and I do my best to leave them with a less cluttery space when they come.
Here’s the thing about all this - you may have noticed that I mentioned my housekeeping AND finances - I can’t afford housekeepers, not even sort of.  But I’m a massage therapist and Lynn, the owner of Top To Bottom Cleaning, agreed to accept gift certificates in exchange for housekeeping.
What?  A clean house and no money stress?
Because I have plenty of money stress elsewhere.
But I have a place where I can think and I can find a bit of calm to deal with the chaos that is my life.
Because I don’t have a handle on this ADD thing yet.  I’m in the process of learning how it manifests in my life.  I’m starting to notice the supports and framework I have created on my own - the hook next to my front door where I hang my keys every time I walk in the door for the last 15 years so I’m not running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off every time I try to leave the house, among others.  I’m learning that acknowledging the limitations ADD presents in my life is not presenting ADD as an excuse.  I have so much to discover.
Instead of looking back and thinking, wow, what could have been, I’m accepting what has been up to this point and I’m looking forward to changing what will be.

I’ll finish up with this, be kind because everyone is going through things you know nothing about and will never understand - because it’s not your stuff.  Someone much wiser than I am said that, but it is a thought I carry close to my heart, especially now - even I had no idea what battles I was fighting.  I think it will be a little easier now that I know what I’m dealing with, but all my life I’ve heard just . . . whatever the issue of the moment was.  Just whatevering was literally beyond me because of chemical differences in my brain.  That person that just cut you off on the way to pick up your kid?  They may be running to the hospital to see their kid.  We just don’t know and kindness, which usually isn’t our first response, is always our best response.

Friday, July 3, 2015

An exercise in locating the beauty

I was out for a walk today, it was gorgeous.  I thought about what I wrote the other day about finding beauty if you just look for it.  It occurred to me that not everyone has practice with this.
On top of that we all have filters through which we view everything.  Many of these filters are negative.  Negative filters make it very, very difficult to see beauty anywhere.
If you read that piece on seeing beauty and you are thinking that I am completely nuts, well, I have an exercise for you.
Get your camera.  Or your phone.  Whatever you can take pictures with.
Then walk around with the camera in your hand and look for pictures.
It’s impossible to miss the beauty that is everywhere when you have a camera in your hand.  With a camera in your hand you are looking to capture something interesting, something beautiful.
All of a sudden, with a camera in your hand, you see everything differently.  You start to see all the intriguing stuff that is always there.
It really is impossible to miss the beauty with a camera in your hand.
So go out.  With a camera.  Take pictures, loads of pictures.  You don’t even have to look at them later.  Just wander around.  Wander around a familiar place.  Wander around a new place.  Look everywhere.
And take pictures.
You’ll find the beauty.

And you’ll keep finding it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

You'll see it, you just need to look

The world is a strange and beautiful place.  Between last Friday and tomorrow I will have done 34 and a half hours of massage.  This is more than I’ve done in a long time.  I added today and tomorrow to my schedule when one of my jobs put out the call for help.  I’m on vacation in a week and a half and I need the money.
After I picked up those hours I got a text from my buddy Christine who booked me at 4:30 today and then a friend asked if I was free tonight to give a massage.  Of course I said yes.  Then I said, we can have dinner afterwards!
It’s been a long day.
And tomorrow will be another long day because I have to go to work, get terminated and re-hired under the new owner at Cranwell.  And after work I’m heading to meet friends for BBQ and a show at Barrington Stage in Pittsfield.
Wednesday I don’t have to do anything until I head out to meet up with a friend to get the paint for marking the route for day 5 of the New England Classic (NEC).  I’ve mentioned this ride in the past, it’s the most fun you can have on two wheels, without question.  I was going to be riding seven days, since my bike was stolen I’ll be riding at least two days and volunteering the rest.  I’ve always thought that volunteering would be the worst.  Only because I’ve always been a rider and watching everyone take off to ride when I can’t?  Can you think of anything worse?  For a long time I couldn’t.
Then my bike was stolen.
And I’ve already taken the time off work.
And I haven’t done the full ride for a few years.
And it turns out I’ve raised $3275 so far.  The minimum I have to raise is $2600, I reached that with a donation from a family friend, thank you so much David.  I was going to say a generous donation, which it was, but they are all generous, so very generous.  Then two days ago another friend put me $1 over my $3000 goal.  So I upped the goal to $4000.  And a few more generous donations have gotten me to $3275. There are still 11 days before the ride, if diabetes is a cause close to your heart and you’d like to donate you can click here.
When I asked Tim, the ride director, if it would be alright if I volunteered since I am losing loads of training time after the theft of my bike, his response was one of those where the tone comes through even in black and white via e-mail - One way or another you’re coming for the whole trip.  Or something to that effect, we want you there, we’ll work it out.  My NEC family, pulling ranks tight after the loss of a loved one (if you aren’t a bike person you can’t understand, but if you are you totally get that).
This is a really rambling post, for that I apologize.  I’ve been moving non-stop since the asshats broke into my car a few weeks ago and my thoughts are a bit disorganized as a result.
If you look closely to each piece of this you should be able to pick out the beautiful parts.
I’ve done loads of massage, including one for a friend in deep need, so that I can bump up my income and not worry about my upcoming vacation.  Beautiful.
Dinner with the friend mentioned above.  Beautiful.
A long day - because I’m seeing a college friend and her awesome beau for BBQ (with fresh strawberries) and a show.  Beautiful.
My NEC friends making me welcome, even without my bike.  Though they may just want me for my massage table.  Which I’m totally okay with.  Beautiful.
My friends, colleagues and assorted people who are not all known to me rallying to a current total fundraising amount of $3275!  Beautiful.
The break in, not so beautiful.  Putting together my new bike with my favorite bike guy Paul Rhinehart at The Spoke in Williamstown, beautiful.
We all want the easy, peasy beautiful.  We want the beautiful that jumps in front of our face.  And sure, easy can be really nice.  But it’s easy.
But finding the beautiful in the hard, exhausting, challenging moments - that is . . . 
Rewarding.  Finding the beautiful in the hard, exhausting, challenging moments is rewarding.
So in those hard, exhausting, challenging moments take the time to look around and find the beautiful.

You will find it rewarding, I promise.

Monday, June 29, 2015


I was sitting at the kitchen table reading while dad did his anti-Parkinson’s qigong.  It’s breezy but sunny outside and I went out to see how it would be to sit on the dock and read.  It’s gorgeous and I decided I would change into my bathing suit, grab my fold up chair with the built in foot rest and head out to the dock to read.  It’s been rainy and chilly and I get pretty cold sitting inside.
Dad would be finishing up his exercises shortly and then he’d sit down at the kitchen table to work on a report he’s writing about the soil composition of a vineyard in Sonoma County, CA.
Don’t tell my dad but these days I’m feeling the need to justify sitting out on the dock reading when he is inside.  He might be working or reading, doesn’t matter, I feel like I should be near him.  Plus, we chat or I read him something funny from my book or he gets excited about figuring out the story he’s telling in his report or any number of other simple nothings that make my time with my dad really good.
Justifying is totally my thing, absolutely nothing to do with my dad, he’d tell me to do whatever I want.
But what I want is multifaceted.  I want to be with my dad as much as possible while he’s still around.
What’s that you say?  Tara, you’re being morbid!
I don’t see it that way.  My dad just turned 79.  He has some good longevity in his family, grampa was 94 3/4 when he died, gramma was 93 5/6 and my uncle will be 83 this year and shows no signs of slowing down.  But dad deals with camptocormia, a condition that causes his abdominal muscles to contract when he tries to stand erect and has an impact on his stamina and strength, as well as Parkinson’s.  He’s not exhibiting excessive symptoms of Parkinson’s, but he has some and the progression is hardly predictable.
Though we have noticed positive changes in his symptoms since he started doing the qigong last September and we have faith that he will be symptom free before too long.  If you know someone affected by Parkinson’s we (dad and I) highly recommend Howard Shifke’s Parkinson’s Recipe for Recovery.
At any rate, one never knows what can happen.   A friend of mine has spent the better part of the last two weeks sitting at her fathers side in the ICU.  He is in his 60s and thankfully is recovering well.  But it has been a trying time.  My heart goes out to her and I hold them both in my reiki practice.
You just never know.
So I feel like I need to justify moving out of the house onto the dock.
And this is the result:

Attractive, no?
I put on my bathing suit and shorts and was heading up to the garage to get my foldout chair with the foot rest.  I looked at the driveway and realized I couldn’t go sit on the dock when the weeds needed to be whacked quite so badly.
I was pretty annoyed at the weeds and grass, I whacked them last time we were up, but it has been so warm and wet that we should have let it go until this visit.  Generally they only need to be done in the spring and one more time mid-summer.
But noooooo, when we got here on Sunday it looked like they hadn’t been whacked at all.
So I went back in the house, changed into my work shorts, put on my work sneaks, grabbed the gators, helmet and weed whacker backpack and went up to the garage.  I almost got the weed whacker going myself - I have a hard time with those pulley things.  Dad poked his head out to make sure I had opened the choke, which I had, but he came up and helped me.
Of course he got it going.
Then I whacked the weeds.  I was very glad for my dad’s spare pair of gators that lives at the cabin, but I still got beaten up by the gravel in the driveway.
I have conquered the weeds once again.
And I justified being outside while my dad was inside.
Of course, then I came in to write this and now it’s lunch time so I’ll be in for a bit more while I eat.
Eventually I’ll get outside.
I finally made it out, I had good company
Or I won’t.
Either way I’m with my dad and life is good.

If you see my dad you can tell him how much you loved this entry and wish him well with his recovery - he reads virtually every post, including this one, before I share them with you.