Thursday, May 28, 2020

Week 11 of Stay at Home Order - Working from Home

Last time I blogged I said we were at 9+ weeks of stay at home, but I counted wrong and we were actually at 8+ weeks. This week we hit 11 weeks of Stay at Home/Work from Home. When this all started we had no idea it would go on this long. Nobody imagined it would be this long.

Today I'm also 13 weeks post surgery! Then four weeks ago the doctor had to do a little minor cut on the inside of my toe nail and this time I gave myself more time to heal, as much I wanted to go walking or to get on the Peloton. People told me I pushed myself too hard, too soon, last time, so I have tried to be patient.

My Big Toe and Scar

The good news is that I've been cleared by my infectious disease doctor. He said not to come back unless I have an issue. I was so happy and so grateful to him for all his attention and for going with his gut feeling about my toe and sending me to that second MRI.

I'm also grateful to my podiatrist who did the actual surgery to remove the infection from the bone. Look at my toe! The scar is visible across the top, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I actually like it. This scar will be a reminder to me of how close I came to losing my toe and what I have to do in my life to keep that from happening. Namely, to exercise at least four times a week and to watch my carb intake. That is my life from now on until I die. Literally until I die. The less I do it, the earlier I'll die, the more I do, it the longer I'll live. That's all there is to it. 

Week 11 and Week 13. Those are good weeks, significant weeks. I have SO MUCH to be grateful for. I am so grateful to my company who has kept us employed through this all. I'm so grateful for being a part of a newspaper that has been providing Houston with daily news during this pandemic. I am so grateful to my doctors who have helped me get better.

I have been working on practicing gratitude since I've been working at home.

Questions I try to ask myself, or you can see them as writing prompts.

What was the my happiest moment today?

What do I want to do next?

What's my heart's true desire right now?

What do I really really really want?

Refine my mantra...

When death comes I want to quote the poet Mary Oliver in her poem, "When Death Comes."

“When it’s over, I want to say all my life/ I was a bride married to amazement/I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Still in Quarantine and Working on Little Libraries in Laundromats

Here we are at 9 weeks+ of stay at home. As stay at home restrictions are being lifted, many people are going back out while we are in self-quarantine because we want to be socially responsible. Miranda came home from New York (Long Island) a week ago. Originally anyone coming in from states like New York and Louisiana were asked to quarantine. Miranda said that when she landed in Houston last Saturday nobody asked her anything. Regardless, we are trying to do the right thing and we're staying at home.

It's wonderful having Miranda home. She's already done something huge for me. She created the logo for my personal project Little Libraries in Laundromats. I have it up on the website and Facebook page.

At nine weeks since surgery I went in for check-ups with my infectious disease doctor and my podiatrist and I had an ingrown toenail on the right side of my toenail, yes, the same toe that had surgery. Lovely. It's always some bullshit with me. Seriously. Hopefully this is IT.

I haven't blogged about my Little Libraries in Laundromats project on here. It is a project that is near and dear to my heart right now. It all started when I decided to start a Little Free Library outside my house, on the sidewalk at the corner.

My Little Free Library
Then I was listening to NPR and I heard this story about the City of Milwaukee and how they have an initiative to start little libraries inside of laundromats. I was intrigued with the idea so I searched to see if we had anything similar going on in Houston. The only thing I found was a woman in Kingwood who started a Little Free Library in her own laundromat. Other than that I didn't find an actual city-wide or state initiative. I found another national group called Laundromat Library League but they aren't in Texas. I almost contacted them about expanding their organization to Texas but then I changed my mind.

I thought that since I have already started a relationship with Little Free Library organization with my own library that I should just continue with that organization. I contacted them and I asked them if I could set up Little Free Library Charters in laundromats around the city and they were game. They said that as long as each one had a charter sign it was good.

I started out with four libraries in Near Northside, but one got stolen, as in completely. Someone stole the whole thing, books, box, the whole kit and caboodle. Then toegate happened, followed by pandemic, so I haven't been able to go out and find a new fourth location. My immediate goal is to have five. I want to replace the one I lost, plus one.

I do not intend to cover the entire city. My real goal is to get people to start a little library in a laundromat in their own neighborhood. If I can get the whole city engaged then we can all, as a city, cover our own neighborhood. I don't think that is too lofty a goal.

So I'm waiting for this quarantine to be over so I can set out to find new laundromats and to refill my little libraries. If anyone wants to contribute books or help in any way go to the Little Libraries in Laundromats website and to the "Contact" page. Send me an email letting me know if you have books to donate or if you'd like to help refill the libraries.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Day 26 of "Stay at Home" Mandate in Houston

My last two posts were posted after my job mandated a "stay at home" suggestion for us but I had no idea this was going to last this long so I didn't even mention it.

I had my picc line removed from my arm on Tuesday, March 10 and on Wednesday, March 11, I found out that four of our reporters had attended a conference in NOLA with someone who was infected with COVID 19. My boss told me to stay at home until she found out what HR had to say about it, because she felt like I was high risk, especially just having the picc line removed. Later that day we were told by HR to stay home for 14 days, so until March 24. After that, all the other companies around Houston started to ask their employees to work from home if possible, until further notice. The whole city is on a "stay at home" order now. On a good note, none of the four reporters got sick.

Seth and I about to go into Family Dollar.
When I posted my last post on March 23rd I did not expect to be writing this two weeks later. Seth went on Spring Break one day early, on the 13th, and he was told that the week after Spring Break they would resume all their classes online. He started online classes on March 24, a week earlier than the rest of HISD because his high school has to be an over-achiever like that.

Miranda came home for Spring Break from NY on March 7th and was scheduled to go back on the 14th, only to be told that all her classes would be online. We pushed her flight out one week, until the 21st, instead of the 14th, and she went back to LIU, to resume classes and working online. Once there, I knew she couldn't keep still. She's making masks with leftover material she had. She is staying pretty isolated in her room and only leaves to pick up food To Go from the dining hall.

Miranda at LIU making masks for those who need them.

Everything that is happening is so surreal. A friend posted a venn diagram on Facebook of all these dystopian society books and movies that are similar to the present situation. It was so funny because I saw The Handmaid's Tale on the diagram and I've been saying that all along. That this just reminds me of the book and the things that led to the government being overthrown.

I posted on Facebook as to why I think I've been able to cope mentally with this COVID 19 situation and that I haven't let it get me down. I know it's because I dealt with my toe issues for four months, and even now, I'm not out of the woods. I have a follow up appointment tomorrow because it started looking swollen on Thursday and even more on Friday.

In the middle of those four months that I dealt with my toe bone infection and the surgery I also had a serious allergic reaction to the antibiotic I was on and I could have died from Anaphylaxis, if I hadn't gone to the hospital when I did.

I'm not saying that my situation is in any way compared to the poor people who have become infected with COVID 19. I feel for these people, the first responders, like my step-daughter who is a paramedic, the nurses and doctors in the hospitals.

What I'm saying is that after the many weeks that I dealt with my toe, these three weeks do not feel like a lot. I am okay staying at home safe. On a funny note I saw an article about how Generation X can handle this pandemic better than any other generation. There is so much truth to this article. We got this!

I think that having this time in our homes to reflect is giving us the opportunity to focus on what is really important. I know that I personally am using this time to express gratitude for the good things I have in my life. I'm thinking of all the things we took for granted pre-pandemic. I think of the trips I said I was going to take and I haven't taken. When all this is said and done I'd love to travel to Northern California, via Los Angeles to stop in and meet my newest great nephew.

I want to use this time to focus on art and writing because those are some of my passions. I want to visit famous museums and galleries who are offering virtual tours. I want to work on an outline for a novel that has been brewing in my bones. Take advantage of this time at home if you can.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Enjoy the Price of Good Health

Eleven weeks ago, a few days before I started antibiotics for my bone infection, I decided to start a similar detox to one that I did almost six years ago. I think I lost 15 pounds that time. I stuck to it for nine weeks this round, the length of the antibiotic treatment, and I lost 20 pounds.

Arbonne Products I Use for My Detox
I know not everyone can use the Arbonne products I use, but they have really made it easier for me to follow a schedule. A couple of steps were different this time but I love this one the best. First thing when I get up in the morning I have a "Green Gut Shot." That's a combination of the Digestion Plus and the Greens Balance. I just feel like this starts my morning off right, before my coffee and breakfast, usually a protein shake. Every couple of days I make a quart of the Body Cleanse and I drink it throughout the day. I'm not as good at drinking the detox tea as I should be, but I was really doing better at the beginning. I drink a lot of water and I stay away from sugar and I keep the carbs low.

One of the main reasons I chose to do this detox was because I heard that the antibiotics I was taking  were really strong and could be bad for the kidneys and liver. They would pull my blood every week and a couple of weeks in, the infectious disease doctor commented that my kidneys were actually doing better than before I started the antibiotics. I told him about the detox diet but in the back of my mind I knew it probably had a lot to do with not drinking alcohol too.

I started drinking Arbonne shakes almost 13 years ago when I got the lap band. The doctor who performed my surgery recommended the brand and I really liked the taste. I've had these shakes off and on over the years.

Side note. When people ask me about the lap band I try to explain that it's a helping hand, but not a complete solution. I still have to do my part and I have to work out and eat right. It keeps me from weighing close to 250 pounds again. Yes, it helped me lose a lot of weight initially, but I've had to keep working on it. I've tried running but I'm not very good at sticking to it. It wasn't until I discovered the Peloton that my life changed. And then toegate happened. And just to be clear, I know that anything else can happen to me. There are illnesses that can't be avoided, like autoimmune diseases. I'm talking about diseases I CAN control and avoid, like Diabetes 2.

I feel like I've been talking about dieting and exercising my whole adult life and half of my teen life too and honestly I'm tired of it.  The truth is it's now or never. I am fifty years old and I have pretty much run out of time. This last health crisis was scary and I am so grateful that I didn't lose my toe, but I could have. I feel like it was a wake-up call and a reminder of how fragile our body can be, especially if you aren't healthy. I can only imagine what could have happened if I had't been exercising and trying to take care of myself.

Of course my health and life are the most important, but I also think about how health equals freedom. I think of older ladies I've seen backpacking in Europe and how I thought to myself, "I want to do that one day." If I want to go on adventures in this last third of my life and when I retire I am going to have to be healthy.

I took a week "off" and I ate and drank through it. I felt like I deserved it after being "good" for nine weeks. But then it hit me. I had an Aha moment. The truth of the matter is, I deserve to take care of myself and I deserve a healthy life. How is treating myself to unhealthy food and drinks a treat?  How is that a reward? How is eating well a chore or a price?

I thought of something I heard Zig Ziglar say in a motivational speech called "How to Get What You Want." He says, "You do not pay the price for good health. You thoroughly enjoy the price. You pay the price for failure."

I deserve to eat well. I'm not doing anything complicated. All I'm doing is making healthier choices, counting carbs, and making sure I balance my meals and snacks with proteins, vegetables and grains. Am I perfect? No. Do I slip up and eat bad stuff every so often? Yes. But I only want to feed by body with good foods more than I don't.

I honestly can't wait for my toe to be healed completely so I can get back on my Peloton. I can't wait to go running again. Now that I haven't been able to do those things for a long time I appreciate them more. This is my lifestyle now and I deserve to reap the rewards. I want to "enjoy the price of good health."

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Satin Cream House Coat - Celebrate the Big Things and the Small Ones Too

When my mother died twenty years ago and we were going through her things we came across her satin cream colored house coat, old and yellowed with age. It even had some stains close to the hem and it didn't look like the beautiful coat I had longingly looked at so many times as a little girl. It had a quilted padded pattern and it had gold thread woven into the material. As I was typing this description here, I searched for it and I can not believe I found one on eBay. It's called a "Vintage Doris Day Sonnet Hostess Robe." It was only $38 and I had to buy it.

I think my mother won the coat in the early 1970s, when I was a baby, when she was selling Tupperware. I may have only seen her try it on once, when she was in an unusually good mood.  I would see her pull the coat out sometimes over the years and I always asked her why she didn't wear it. She always replied the same way. She told me that she put the coat away when she won it and that she would wear it when she had the kind of house she had always wanted.

She never wore the coat.

The other night I was watching "This is Us" and older Rebecca, the mother, says something that reminded me of that cream coat. (Spoiler Alert if you haven't seen the March 10 episode or if you plan to watch This is Us in general one day.)

“My life has been full of next times: things I always assumed I would get to eventually,” Rebecca said. “But now I realize that I am running out of time to do them. ... I want to spend however many good years I have left with my family. I want to try new things like walking on red carpets. I want to make up for all of my next times.” 

This really stuck a chord with me.

I turned 50 on February 11. It was the day that I go out of the hospital and I was very angry and depressed. I told everyone that I didn't want to celebrate and that in fact I wanted to pretend that I hadn't turned 50 yet. I remember telling my sister that I was angry and that I would never get February 11, 2020 back again. 

I also posted something on Facebook about waiting until the picc line was removed, and I was better,  to celebrate. A friend of mine from high school commented that every day that we are alive is a gift or celebration, something to that effect. I don't remember the exact words but I know what she meant. She received a double lung transplant around eight years ago so she has a completely different outlook on life than many of us. She is so right. 

I keep getting reminders everywhere. I was cleaning my desk at home and I came across a fortune from a cookie that I had saved. It says, "If you don't have time to live your life now, when do you?"

So true! When do I? Am I going to wait to wear the cream colored house coat my whole life?  Am I going to get to a point in my life when I realize that I'm out of time to do the things I wanted to do because I have cancer, Alzheimer's, early dementia, MS, or some other life altering illness? I hope not.

I may be 50, but it isn't too late. If anything, that's what this recent toe bone infection taught me. It was a damn wake-up call. It sounded the alarm of my life and my health. 

I skipped my birthday on February 11 because I was bitter and angry, but I can't do that again. I know that's easier to say now that the picc line is out and the stitches have been removed from my toe. I am at that point that I wanted to be and I knew all along that I would get here.

So yes, I ordered the vintage robe and I'm going to put it on and I'm going to wear it around my Grey Gardens messy house in honor of my mother. I'm not going to wait to have the perfect house, apartment or life. I'm going to wear it now. 

I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to celebrate my 50th birthday all damn year! All year is going to be a celebration of my 50th year of life. Every day from now on I'm going to celebrate still being alive. I'm going to celebrate the big things and the small ones too. 

Then I'm going to make a new list of all the things I want to accomplish and all the places I want to travel to, instead of saying "next time."