Quick update

Friday, June 27, 2014

One of my favorite and oldest friends is on the road on her way from Austin.  We're planning some hot tub action tonight & then a Saturday trip to the ocean.  I love, love, love the ocean.

Also, A's medical team randomly scheduled him to report to the hospital 3x/week instead of the 2xish/month he'd been doing.  He just got a call saying the schedule had been changed and that the physician assistant had ordered the change.  When he went to the hospital yesterday, they would not explain why.  I guess he'll have to wait for another actual appointment.  I keep hoping this is just a glitch and that they don't actually have some reason they need to be increasing the monitoring so much.

10 tips for hot yoga

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Helpful Hints for Hot Yoga

I wish it had been intentional, but hot yoga kind of happened to me.  My friend and I had met our running goals and were looking for something new to try.  I had an occasional habit of doing yoga through online videos and she was interested in that.  Then, it turned out that there was a hot yoga studio within walking distance of us both, but no normal yoga studio.  And thus began my journey with hot yoga.

A few months later, the hot yoga studio has become my respite and I make it into the studio 3-4 times per week.  I'm no excellent practitioner, but I do know enough to help guide folks to the blocks in the back.  Here are my top hints about starting a hot yoga practice:

1. Just go.  If it's horrible, leave.  You'll make it our the door to the safety of your car and then you'll never have to see any of those people again.

2. Let go.  Of any feelings about your body, your practice, your ability level.  Just sink into it slowly, taking care of your body and easing yourself in gently.  You showed up to your first class, that's enough, everything else is just icing on the cake.

3.  Get there early.  This way you can ask questions and find whatever props you might need without the added time pressure.

4.  Wear the lightest possible tank-top you can find.  I've always been one for dressing conservatively, but this is the best shirt I wear to hot yoga.  Class feels so much better when you aren't trapping in extra heat because of your clothes.

5. Hydrate.  I mean really hydrate.  Start drinking water an hour before your class.  It makes so much of a difference once you get there.  And you cannot fully make up for failing to drink water before class by gulping it down during class.  You'll start feeling dizzy or sick.

6. Pick some "no excuse" class times where you know you'll have no conflict to serve as a base for the week and then try to work in additional classes when you have time.  For me, 10 p.m.-11 p.m. is my "no excuse" time.  There is nothing that could possibly stop me from attending class at that time other than my own laziness.  For a lot of people, the best "no excuse" time is early in the morning.

7.  Focus on something you enjoy that you can keep in your mind.  For me, it's the initial lavendar-lilac smell of the yoga studio and the way a few of my favorite stretches feel after a good work-out.

8.  Listen to your body.  It's easy to stretch too far, or push yourself too far, in the heat without realizing it.  Don't.

9.  Get a hot yoga towel for your mat.  Just do it.  You don't need to be sliding around in your sweat while you're trying to hold downward-facing dog.  Plus, it's so easy to just throw in the washer and clean after your session whereas I've never felt I could truly wipe down my yoga mat satisfactorily.

10. Practice gratitude & give yourself some love!  Be thankful for your experience, whatever that experience is.  You did it.  Acknowledge yourself for trying something new and doing something wonderful for your body.

Expert panel declines to recommend universal Vitamin D screening

Since I so adamantly recommended getting screened for Vitamin-D deficiency here, I would be remiss if I didn't write an update to let you know about the story today that a government panel considering recommending widespread screening for Vitamin D deficiency for all adults declined to recommend the screening.  Although studies have shown that low Vitamin D levels are correlated with many of America's top health problems and most Americans may be deficient, the panel found it significant that it is unclear whether or not the deficiency is a causally related to those health problems or whether low levels are a result of unhealthy lifestyle.  The panel also noted that there is disagreement regarding what level of Vitamin D should actually be considered "low."

I noted in my entry that supplements may not actually be protective, but I still appreciate knowing that I'm deficient.  First, I am now taking a supplement and so if it is helpful then I have that covered.  There is no evidence that it is harmful in small amounts.  Second, even if simply taking a supplement will not help me, I appreciate knowing that level, which provides me with extra motivation to live healthfully.

Wellness Wednesday: link to ankle exercises for mobility/strength and diagnostic tests

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ankle mobility/range of motion is extremely important to injury prevention.  The more I have researched this, the more I see sports therapists talking about the importance, to the general public, of testing ankle range of motion and working to correct deficiencies to prevent injuries.  The screening tests are really simple and the impact is pretty big, even for non-diabetics.

If you don't have the appropriate range of motion in your ankle, then you can't walk or run improperly and you'll start making up for the inability with improper form.  And you can screen your ankle mobility in your office, in less than a minute, on your own, without any medical training.  Take a second to check it out and confirm that your years of high-heels haven't affected your ankles.

This post follows on the heels of yesterday's post regarding dorsiflexion and range of ankle motion.  After doing just a little bit of research on limited range of ankle motion/dorsiflexion and screening tests, I liked the link below the best.  I think my goal will be to complete the recommended work-out a few times a week.  Maybe I'll turn this into an additional home work-out and add an extra ten minutes of HIIT to make for something that feels pretty complete.  And then I can pretend I'm doing two-a-days.  Haha.

I am not doing these workouts everyday.  My research on this issue revealed some additional screening tests you can do and I don't seem to fail all of those.  For example, I can do the weight-bearing lunge test where you place your toes four inches from the wall and attempt to make your knee touch.  So, I'm not sure how bad my ankles are and I think my hot yoga accomplishes some of the same stretching.  I am going to make sure I do this some, though, because I clearly have some stiffness and I'm diabetic, so I know I'm at risk.

I'll be acquiring a protractor to test my ankle angle lying down and to see if I can increase that any with these exercises.  I'll keep you all posted!

Here's the link I'm using for my exercises: Ankle screening & exercises.

"Women tell me all the time their high heels are killing them. Yes. They are.": High heels, neuropathy, and the diabetic foot

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I really do not think much about my feet.  Maybe after a long day walking around.  Or when I'm staring at my toes during yoga.  Otherwise, I lace up my running shoes, kick on my heels for court.  And I take my feet for granted.

As a diabetic, I've been to the podiatrist.  He told me to ditch high heels.  I didn't listen.  "I'll listen when I'm starting to get old," I've always thought.  I am apparently coming of age faster than I realized.  Tonight our speaker at our monthly t1-diabetes group was an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mark Sanders, who has an acute interest in the diabetic foot.  But, also other feet.  

He spent a lot of time talking about the stakes for diabetics.  Most diabetic hospitalizations are for a foot problem.  Most of those hospitalizations result in an amputation.  Most diabetics who have a foot amputation cannot handle the cardiac load of a prosthetic body part given how weak diabetes makes your heart and they die within five years.  Okay, so, yikes.  But, what can you do?

The surgeon explained that diabetes creates two major problems in feet.  First, glucose causes neuropathy.  Second, as part of its terror hardening arteries everywhere, glucose can affect the dorsiflexion in your ankles.  A normal individual can flex his ankle back towards his knee to 20 degrees.  The 20 degree flexion is necessary to walk properly.  Without that flexion, the ankle becomes frozen, and you walk in a way that tends to lead to problems.  I've linked his youtube demonstrating the simple diagnostic test below.

At the meeting he screened some of us, including me, since I've had some issues with my feet going numb while running.  It turned out that I do have neuropathy.  I can't feel nearly what a normal individual can.  But, my neuropathy isn't yet so bad that I wouldn't be able to feel a nail go through my foot or something like that.  Some neuropathy is just expected.  I've been diabetic 18 years.  But, what my dorsiflexion test revealed I had only at 8 degree ankle bend.  

I was shocked.  "But I'm so flexible!" I kept thinking.  Even more shocking, though, he looked at me, picked my work pump off of his makeshift examining table and held it in front of my face.  "Honestly, I can't tell you whether or not the dorsiflexion issue is caused by your diabetes or these shoes," he proclaimed to the group.  High heels are terrible.  "Women tell me all the time their high heels are killing them.  Yes!"  Apparently high heels freeze your foot in the same way that hardening arteries do.

Although he had previously explained that he normally recommends a procedure in the case of someone with an 8-degree ankle bend, in my case, the case of a high-heel wearer, he suggested some physical therapy type exercises to work on the flexion before attempting a surgical release to restore the ankle bend.  

So, what are my takeaways?  
  • My next suits will be pants suits instead of skirt suits so that I'll be able to get away with wearing flats more of the time.  At this point, I own only one pants suit.  
  • Time to start researching all of the exercises, stretches that I need to do to restore my dorsiflexion.  
  • I was not expecting to discover I had any type of foot issue.  I only went to the group to socialize.  I guess it's good to devour as much medical information as possible, even at a young age.  I'm older than I think.

P.S. Here's the link to the example of the dorsiflexion test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNTrdoomjyc&list=UUg8xHRHrajiuhRCSIqm2iRw.

Is thin worth it?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Like so many other women, I struggle to balance diet, exercise, health, and life.  And, I definitely balance.  My end goal is happiness.  I am really not that interested in thinness except as it relates to health and happiness. Author Autumn Whitefield-Madrano claims happiness is her end goal as well.  She writes that dropping a few sizes, from "average" to size zero, a.k.a. "thin" placed her into "a whole new country" where the "world is handed to me on a silver platter."  She doesn't explain exactly how things are different, other than men are suddenly much more attracted to her.

But, in between her proclamations that her world is much better, the blog post reveals the toll that her exercise and diet regime takes on her life.  She describes needing to lie to men about the reason she doesn't keep butter in the fridge and constantly trying to explain to men why she's constantly calculating her calories in and out, why can't ever stay in bed and skip the gym to cuddle, why she is never hungry when they eat out, and the explanation for ordering an unending stream of kale salads.  None of these of their own really seems that bad, but it's clear in the author's plea that people understand how much work it takes to stay thin, that this effort sabotages her relationships, and has a huge effect on her life.

I don't know, and don't care, whether the author's thinking, which she describes as not quite being an eating disorder, actually constitutes an eating disorder.  That's a question for a professional.  What I'm interested in is whether this type of behavior makes any sense.  Does being thin actually make you happy enough to justify the effort and strife to get there or do we lose track of our actual goals somewhere along the way?

I was struggling with this question last night as I tried to decide whether to attend a hot yoga class or stay home and relax.  Of course, I felt my natural compulsion pushing me toward hot yoga.  I try to work-out everyday and I hadn't yet worked out yesterday.  But, for the first time, I asked myself whether or not working out that particular day would actually serve me.  Would it be better for me to rest and de-stress a little at the end of the weekend?  I decided to attend yoga as I had a limited amount to make the decision and was a little thrown off by the new inquiry.  Yet, I tucked the question away in the back of my mind.

I tell myself all the time how wonderful exercise is.  And it is wonderful.  There is no denying that.  I'm a type-one diabetic.  I need exercise like I need air.  I feel great after exercising.  But, is there a point at which working-out everyday is too much?  A point where the incremental benefit of one extra yoga class is outweighed by having a few hours of down time?

I wasn't sure, until I read about this author's life.  And then I was.  She's thin, but it sounds miserable.  It doesn't sound happy.  I don't actually want that.  I like living a life where I can make decisions to skip the gym if I want, where I don't feel guilty about eating a grapefruit...or even a beer from time to time.  Where my weight just doesn't eat up all of my time.  Maybe it's easy for me to say because I have this fabulous husband, a good job, and great friends.  I just can't imagine that my world could get that much better.  I'm not actually convinced the author's world is better.  If you're constantly stressed out and obsessing over what you're eating and doing, then when do you get to sit back and enjoy the days that are passing you by?  Extreme dieting and obsessing just doesn't serve me.  And I'm okay with that.  I'm convinced there is definitely a point where the incremental benefits of diet and exercise are clearly outweighed by the opportunity to really live a meaningful and full life.  The challenge is just determining where.

Vitamin D, Diabetes & Life

Sunday, June 22, 2014

You should be adding Vitamin D to your list of health goals stat.  It turns out tons of us are deficient and it matters a lot.

1. I had no idea I could be deficient.
  • I don't think I ever had a doctor check me out for Vitamin D deficiency until I moved to Houston and started seeing Dr. Mucha, who is the best doctor I've ever seen.  I didn't really believe I could have a deficiency at first.  In theory, you should get enough Vitamin D by spending ten minutes in the sun without sunscreen at midday in the summer.  During the winter, you apparently have to live south of Atlanta to have the opportunity to make Vitamin D, but I live in Houston.  Usually, I'm holed up in my office at midday, but I am outside running for about an hour at a time several days a week.
2. A surprising percentage of Americans are vitamin D deficient.
  • Surprisingly, despite the fact that I am outside a lot for a working young professional, I turned out to be deficient.  New research suggests that Vitamin D deficiency is common in type-one diabetics.   And up to 75% of Americans may be Vitamin D deficient, although I've also seen studies estimating the rate of deficiency around 40%.  Either way, with so many diabetics being deficient and so many Americans being deficient, maybe it shouldn't have been that surprising that I am.  I just hadn't heard much about the research.
3. Vitamin D deficiency is really bad.
  • Why should we care?  I feel like I'm seeing more and more studies and reports coming out all the time about the effects of low Vitamin D levels.  It's been linked to developing type-two diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and cancer.  I mean, it's been really linked.  Doctors have even said that correcting the Vitamin D deficiency might be a good route to prevent mortality from cardiovascular disease.  Most of this research seems to be pretty recent, 2014 recent, so your doctor may or may not be up on it.  My suggestion is that you ask to be screened.
4. Thoughts on fixing the deficiency.
  • Ditch the treadmill and get your butt outside.  At least some of the time.  10-15 minutes outside midday or a little longer at another point in the day should give you enough.
  • Buy Vitamin D enriched milk.  
  • Buy Vitamin D fortified orange juice.
  • Eat fatty fish.
  • Eat certain mushrooms.  Check the label, some of them have some good Vitamin D.
  • Certain cereals are fortified.
  • Supplements.  Unfortunately, it isn't clear that simply taking a Vitamin D supplement will reduce all of your various risks.  Vitamin D has been called a good barometer of overall health, but it isn't clear whether or not healthy individuals produce more Vitamin D or whether or not Vitamin D actually increases your health.  I'm not a big supplement person.  In fact, this is the only one that I take.  But, since it isn't harmful (as long as you don't overdose), research keeps suggesting it's important, and I know that I was deficient, I'm taking the supplement.
**I think this is the best comprehensive resource for Vitamin D questions, the Harvard School of Public Health.  It's easy to understand and comprehensive.

Sweet Minteas: my fling with a new summer drink

Sweet Minteas Steps:
1. I like to make the drink in a large beverage dispenser.
2. Begin by boiling water in whatever water boiler you have.
3. Fill up the beverage container halfway with the water and put tea bags in the water to make tea.  I’m usually boring and stick with classic Lipton’s, because I add raspberries and mint, but if you want to make the drink without raspberries and mint, you could certainly try a more interesting tea.
4. Fill up most of the rest of the way with low-cal lemonade.
5. Add lots of mint leaves and raspberries.
6. Test it out and make sure it isn’t too sour, tangy, anything.  Add other fruit/sugar depending on the taste/calories you want to add.
7. Put it in the fridge to chill.
(8. In my case, transport to pool in cute tumblr).

five-step-diagnostic assessment for struggling relationships

Saturday, June 21, 2014

From my limited observation, newlywed couples seem to fall into three distinct camps: 1. happy and in love, 2. already contemplating divorce, or 3. in a state of occasional regret, and occasional happiness, struggling to meld their lives together.  As we continue through life, the situations become much more complicated as children and other discrete events and experiences enter the equation.  These camps don't really change that much right before and right after the actual wedding and marriage, which caused a friend to recently utter concerns about other engaged friends are having problems in the lead-up to the marriage.

What is the right advice to give to a friend who finds herself struggling to communicate and be happy in the lead-up to the wedding?  Here is my five-step approach:

1. Support rather than lecture.  In my opinion, the most important thing you can do as a friend is to support your friend's decisions, whatever they may be, while providing any suggestions that you can to make them more successful.  If you have a strong opinion, try to prompt your friend to arrive at that place on her own, by asking her questions, rather than making arguments.  The truth is that none of us really know what it's like to be in another relationship and our ultimate opinion is of limited value.  By contrast, helping a friend really reflect on her own situation is extremely valuable.

2. Not all fighting is created equal.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that most engaged couples should have disagreements, and some of these may be fights.  The key here is how much the fight is affecting the real happiness of the two parties.  E.g.  A and I initially had some fights regarding decorating.  Some of these peripheral fights will seem hugely important in the days leading up to marriage.  "Am I really committing to never live in a home with fake flowers again just because it makes you happy?  Yes."  There are some losses in marriage, such as the ability to do whatever you want.  It's good to appropriately those losses for what they are, losses.  But, a good marriage will ultimately make you happier than these peripheral things.  It's important to differentiate between fighting patterns that will cause long-term unhappiness and the moments where we're realizing that any marriage will require us to change some of the things we like, which is important to realize before getting all the way into it.

3. The goal should be happiness, not perfection.  Why, why, why do we compare ourselves with other people and feel a loss when some aspect of their marriage or life seems "better" than ours?  My aunt, who is a Methodist minister and works with lots of married couples, told me that the top problem she sees in couples contemplating divorce is that they think their problems are abnormal and therefore there is something wrong with their marriage when there isn't anything wrong at all.  Why does this happen?  Because everyone else's marriage seems so perfect.  We should all try to get over the idea that any aspect of our lives will be perfect.  Are we, just ourselves, not us comparing ourselves with any ideal or anything we know about anyone else...at our core, are we happy?  Can we be happy?  Happiness is amazing.  It's enough.

4. Know what you need to be happy and communicate it.  Happiness is enough, but sometimes it's hard for us to admit to ourselves what we need to be happy and it's even harder to ask for it.  Maybe it seems weird.  Maybe it makes you not the ideal girl.  Maybe it makes you "high-maintenance."  Whatever it is, reflect on it, figure it out, and ask for it.  You won't win the battle over something you need to be happy, but wish you didn't need, or wish you didn't have to state, by simply ignoring it.  Do you need lots of extra emotional support this week?  Then ask for it, but acknowledge the extra effort it's taking to provide that support and give something back.

5. Know whether you're getting what you need to be happy.  Up to this point, in my opinion, things are fine and you can individually take steps to assess the situation.  But, if you're clearly asking for something that you need and you aren't getting it, then may be time to really start considering options for intervention.  Once again, I'd caution that you can't expect perfect happiness.  Just happiness.  But, if you aren't getting something you need to be happy, then you might need to make changes.  Have you communicated the importance?  Are you giving back equally in ways that matter to your partner?  If you think you are, then, at this point, it may be time to start having conversations about "the relationship" and conversations about counseling.

thank goodness it's friday!

Friday, June 20, 2014

This week has just been long!  Intermediate state appellate courts see lots of cases--contract disputes, workers' compensation cases, robberies, sexual assault, murder.  Some of these cases are extremely difficult for a variety of reasons.  Two primary reasons I might find a case draining are the emotional nature of the story presented by the case or the fact that the legal analysis is complicated and messy. The worst cases present both at the same time.

This week, I can almost feel the responsibility pulling around the edges of my eyes.  Needless to say, I was grateful today for an afternoon fire drill.  And since we were all forced outside downtown, a coworker and I snuck in a quick trip to a coffee shop for a chai.  Well, I got a chai.  She ordered two different coffee drinks.  Like I said, by the end of the week, this line of work can be draining!  The cold sweetness was perfect relief.

I am so tired, but I made it here, to this place at the end of the week.  Thank goodness.

Wellness Wednesday: happiness and health

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wednesdays are the middle of the week and a great time to reflect on our own wellness.  Has the week been a healthy one or are you a ball of stress?  Are you enjoying the week or just hanging on until the weekend?  How do you want this week to be?  How do you get there?  As an old yoga teacher frequently said, "you already are what you seek."  I would add that you already have what you need.  Yes, even this week.

This week, I read an interesting article in Diabetes Forecast about the effects of happiness on your health.  The article was about general health not just diabetes.  Happiness creates better health in a variety of ways.  First, if you're happy, you're more likely to take care of your health.   Second, when you're upset or depressed, angry or stressed, your body releases stress hormones and chemicals into your body, including cortisol.  These chemicals are great in a short-term "fight or flight" situation.  But, over time they have deleterious effects on health.  You see, this system is designed for short-term stress, it isn't designed to handle traffic jams and work conflicts.  The more you can suppress this response, the healthier your body will be.  But, according to the article I read (which unfortunately won't link!) happiness creates more antioxidants in the body and is associated with chromosomal changes in the cells that show a slower aging process.  So, it has positive effects even independently of the fact that it is generally not associated with stress.

In addition to all of the health-effects, life is just more fun and pleasant when you're happy.  This should prompt all of us to attempt to figure out what we can do to better secure our own happiness.  Oddly, this is a question people rarely really evaluate.  They either assume they have no control over their own happiness and don't take the time to really think about it.

You don't have perfect control over your happiness, but you do have enough control.  You can't choose all of the situations placed in your life, but you can choose some and you can have some effect on some of the ones you couldn't choose.  For example, it drives me a little crazy when A plays videogames with his friends Tuesday night.  They living room is dark, ominous music, and lots of cursing coming from A and headset.  I felt a little trapped Tuesday nights.  Now I pick up a hot yoga class during that time.

Taking control over the situations in our life involves more than just picking what activities to do or how to view a situation that we're placed in, though.  It involves plotting long-term career moves, making intentional choices about our friendships and the people with whom we spend time and planning ways to place ourselves in situations that make us feel empowered and good.  It also requires letting go of the notion that if you have truly been dealt a horrible hand of cards, and some of us truly have, that if we just get others to understand how bad the hand is, they'll find a way to trade in some of their cards and rescue us from our fate.  

In the spirit of taking control over my health, I've been working on a few surface goals to improve my own happiness while I continue to reflect on my larger goals about who I want to be and what I want to do with my life.  That takes time and I don't have all the answers.  But, I'm looking for them.

In the meantime, five of my current surface goals are:
  • Say yes to as many social invitations as possible and follow-through by actually attending.  this goal is necessary because I know I'll be happier if I can deepen the relationships I'm building here in Texas.
  • Stop spending so much time on facebook.  Day two of my facebook on the phone only restriction and I think it's going pretty well.  I ran into a Hollywood film director on the way home from work and really wanted to post about it on facebook, but I ended up texting a friend and then had an extra interaction with her.  So much better!
  • Maintain work-out schedule, at least 5x/week.  I feel so much better when I'm working out.  Luckily, I've been developing this habit for awhile and it's going well.
  • Practicing gratitude and rationalism toward A.  The idea here is to take action when I notice something that is about to cause me to have a mental "seriously?" moment.  I might find myself responding internally in any way to the pair of pants left on the floor or the knife in the jar of peanut butter left out on the desk.  In that case, I strive to remind myself of some things I'm really grateful for, like that A works such long hours for us, or that he makes great breakfasts.  I also try to be rational and "remove the plank from my own eye."  I note that I left makeup out all over the bathroom counter and the tea sitting unwashed in the tea kettle.  
  • Cook almost all our meals at home.  Eating out...so expensive, so unhealthy, such a great crutch for when you're tired or "want to do something."  This is a work in progress.  I think the antidote is planning.

X; O,

Brutal Honesty: I have a facebook addiction

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A few nights ago, I successfully fell asleep in the middle of laying on the couch talking with A.  I woke up, picked myself up and managed to plop myself onto the bed.  An hour or so later, before A had gone to bed, I felt myself wake up and I felt a compelling need to check facebook before going to sleep.  I tried to get myself to stop, reminding myself that screen time right before bed isn't the best for sleeping, but to my dismay my curiosity and need to know about new notifications outweighed my rational process.  I got onto facebook and was still there an hour later.  A little concerned I went to bed, resolving to pay more attention to my feelings surrounding my facebook use the next few days.

I had always said that I don't use facebook that much and I think that used to be true, but now I've realized that it's bordering on an addiction.  Or, it's meeting some kind of need that I'm not otherwise getting.  Why am I compelled to post pictures on my page for everyone to see?  Why did I really need to post that status?  Why do all the "likes" and attention make me feel so good?  Am I using facebook as a crutch to substitute for real friendships?  Why am I jealous of the people who manage to delete their facebook accounts or go long periods of time without updating.

Time for some reflection and brutal honesty.  I think that maybe beginning with A's cancer, which was when I started getting insane numbers of "likes," comments, and social media attention, my relationship with facebook changed.  Now that I've moved to Texas, I don't have the same deep face-to-face relationships with people and, therefore, I think I've leaned more heavily on my electronic relationships and facebook validation.

This is really concerning.  What things have I not done because I've been happy feeling connected with people electronically?  Which actual face-to-face relationships have I felt less compelled to strengthen?  What projects have I not done after work because I was tired and just decided to get on facebook?  How many yoga classes have I skipped because I was tired and on the computer?  I'm not crazy.  I work-out almost everyday, cook dinner almost everyday, and I probably schedule something social a few times a week, but I am on facebook more than I want to be and I'm not easily able to control it.

Just admitting that was kind of hard because it contradicted my own perception of my identity.  Now that I've admitted that, though, the question is whether it's easily within my power to change that.  I don't link the whole "deleting your entire profile" thing, it's dramatic and I think there is a lot of value to that forum for staying in touch.  But, I do need to change my habits.  So, A is going to block facebook from our Internet until Sunday and I'm just going to see how it goes.  I'll still have access on my phone, so it isn't cold-turkey, but I've never sunk hours of time into facebook on my phone.

I'm going to observe how well I handle the removal and then try to make a plan.  I don't want hours of my life to drain away everyday because I'm zoning out on some random Internet website.  I'm hoping that the removal will just go really well and I'll make it easily, proving to myself that there really is no problem and that I can just implement a limited usage plan that will work easily.  I know myself a little better than that though and I have some anxiety about it.  I'm already a little curious about what notifications I've received in the past three hours.  I think going without the site until Sunday will be really hard.  That's what scares me.  I'm really interested to see how I fill my time otherwise.  Do I just surf around other Internet website or do I actually review our budget, cook a better dinner, and start organizing our file folders?

Only the next few days will tell.  Wish me luck!


Soccer on a Monday evening

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's around 8 p.m. Monday and I just walked in the door a few minutes ago.  I managed to be convinced by co-workers to go watch the World Cup game at a bar downtown after work.  One wonderful thing about working in downtown Houston is that there are lots of places to eat lunch and grab a drink after work.  One horrible thing about working in downtown Houston is that there are lots of places to eat lunch and grab a drink after work.

I didn't really know whether or not I'd enjoy watching the game.  I don't know a lot about soccer and while I love sports, a lot of times I don't have enough background knowledge to really enjoy watching.  I mean, I played soccer as a kid, but don't know anything about the current players.  I loved watching the game, though.  Soccer is fast-paced, easy to follow, and there's something about the way so many different countries are involved that I find really appealing.  Today was a great day to watch too.  Despite looking defensive most of the time, the United States managed to beat Ghana and send our local bar into cheers.  I felt myself getting into it too!

The only point at which I felt like an outsider was during one period where I cheered by shouting at the television, "Come on you guys, let's play with a little more inspiration!" while everyone else was yelling lots of angry things.  For some reason, the bar happened to be a little bit quieter at that moment and everyone looked at me and smiled.  I think some anger may have even subsided--but that was not the thing I was supposed to cheer at that moment!

After running in the door, I tossed some chicken into the oven with some apple grill sauce and steamed some broccoli and carrots.  I love love love sauces and chutneys for easy meals on days where I don't get home quite as early as I intended.  After we eat the chicken and veggies, which should be done in a few minutes, we'll have watermelon for dessert!

This hectic Monday evening has been unbeatable and fun so far.  When my co-workers initially suggested I go watch the soccer game with them, I was opposed.  I am strict about routine and feel uncomfortable if I don't get home, work-out, and cook dinner.  But, I've trying to force myself to follow-through on every invitation I receive.  I'm in a new city and need to forge more friendships.  And I'm always glad whenever I take time I think I don't have out of my routine to do something fun.

I may not be so glad when I have to wake up at 6 a.m. tomorrow to get in the run that I skipped, but I know stretching myself will help me be happier long-term.

Ending the weekend with gratitude

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I discovered this linkup while sitting out on the balcony with my computer.  The idea is that several bloggers write on the same topic and link their blogs together in order to share the gratitude.  Wonderful meditation topic and great to see what other people are grateful for this week.  Without further ado - -

There's no better way to end the weekend than reflecting on all of the blessings in my life, large and small. This is the perfect moment to write this post. Every weekend I have a super long to-do list, filled with things to do. The list isn't entirely errands, it might also include something fun.

This weekend, for example, A & I got in our first training bike ride for tour de cure. The ride went really well. A has necrosis in my hips from his chemo treatments, so we both expected him to have trouble...and he did...but he managed to keep up with me in the 94-degree heat and even seemed to be having lots of fun. "There's nothing I love more than riding bikes," he said afterward, while admitting that he was in lots of pain. (I guess a wonderful, selfless husband who is willing to help me raise funds to cure my disease while in lots of pain because of his would be the first thing on my gratitude list!) 

But, anyway, this small moment after dinner on Sunday is usually the one time in my week where I feel like I've accomplished enough and am calm. Tonight I'm sitting out on the balcony listening to this and just letting the breeze blow in my face.  Here is my (light) list for this moment:

  • this moment of peace
  • my father (it is father's day after all)
  • apartment balconies and twinkle lights
  • hot yoga
  • the fact that my friends have great taste in music and introduce me to new stuff
  • a supportive, non-competitive family
  • watermelon
  • camp fires
  • stars
  • the way my husband holds me, and the fact that he's willing to do it a lot!
  • all the risk-takers out there, whether they be musical artists, folks starting business, trying new medical research techniques - - I'm horrible at taking risks and appreciate everyone who does it frequently
  • peach iced tea
  • summer evenings
I hope y'all get a moment to reflect on a few of the wonderful pieces of your life before the week ramps up again.

xs, os,

Happy Father's Day!

It's hard to know exactly what to say about my dad. He's always been really awesome, very stable and supportive. He's always encouraged us to reach for our dreams while reminding us to be modest about any of our achievements because everyone is achieving something wonderful, even if the school isn't handing out an award for it.

I had a bit of a confidence gap in middle school because my sister, who it turns out actually is a brilliant rocket-scientist, was starting to do better than I did on school-wide assessments even though she was a year younger than me. He explained to me that everyone is smart in different ways, it might be in school or it might be in making friendships or in using common sense. It's all equal, he said, it's not all equally recognized. I always thought that was really smart and I appreciated it.

In the midst on this confidence gap, we swung by Harvard while we were on vacation, as a way of showing me that he believed I could do anything if I tried really hard. But, this didn't mean he actually wanted me to try to go there. When I was a high school senior, he explained that there was really a lot to think about in deciding where to apply to college and who you wanted to be. You want to go to a school where you'll meet fun, down-to-earth people that you'll really like. Find a place that feels like home, but will still open the doors to your dreams he advised. And that was brilliant advice.

But, my favorite thing that I learned from my dad was to love Nebraska football. Growing up as a Nebraska girl, there really is no cooler thing than to understand the ins and outs of play-calling and who is on the second-team offensive line. For a large portion of my life, my dream job was being the offensive coordinator for the Huskers. And my dad encouraged this by taking to meet players, even if it meant standing in line for hours in below zero temperatures, and explaining different parts of the game. He taught me how to throw a spiral pass in the backyard and helped me apply little "N" tattoos to my cheeks on game-day. My mother, who is also pretty cool, switched pediatricians after the doctor suggested that it wasn't realistic for me to want to be a football player when I grew up. She and my dad were both infuriated that someone would already be limiting my dreams while I was in pre-school. Good job, parents!

Being a Husker fan has not been without its perils. For example, I flew from law school a day early to catch a Husker game before interviewing with law firms and did not think about how the "N" tattoo would affect the sunburn I was developing at the game. I had to interview with an "N" burned into the side of my cheek. I didn't get that job, but now I find the whole thing really funny. (I mean, this is professional, right?)

My dad is still there for me, wanting all the best and loving everything I do, particularly the things that aren't achievements I could list on a resume. I love you for that, dad! Thanks for being great.

Xs; Os


The Fault in our Stars (don't worry, no spoilers)

Friday, June 13, 2014

A very quick introduction - - I had planned a longer one, but we saw this movie and I want to write about life as it is rather than list off a bunch of traits and tell you various stories related to them. I started blogging over at wordpress, but recently became disillusioned when I learned I couldn't do any html or cute fonts without lots of hassle. I don't know lots about coding yet, but I know I want CUTE FONTS...so I knew that meant I had to rip the bandaid stat. And here I am.

Who am I? Yikes. I don't know. An average girl in her late 20s? Let's skip that. For better or worse, the things that other people see as defining me include my profession (attorney - not the scary kind), illness (type 1 diabetes), my relationship with my husband, A (best guy ever), and the fact that A is a survivor of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). I use the term survivor even though A is still in active treatment at the moment.

(Here we are the day after we got engaged. Three weeks before the diagnosis.)

All of this transitions well into a discussion regarding The Fault in Our Stars. Seeing that movie was an interesting experience because some things hit close to home, other things seemed...well it's a movie. One thing that the movie, and every individual that I meet who has relapsed, keep in clear focus for me is the fact that while A is in remission, we aren't "out of the woods." (A and I actually used to really enjoy being in the woods in the literal sense, we loved backpacking, we probably won't ever be able to do it again, but sometimes when I see the term "out of the woods" I think about how much we'd really love to be in them.) The thing about ALL is that they expect an initial remission, 90% of patients achieve an initial remission. It's just that around 40% of adult patients relapse pretty quickly and if you relapse your odds of survival hover somewhere between 10%, 13%, the exact percentage chance depends on the study. With ALL, if you relapse, you're gone pretty quickly. Now, I really don't think A will relapse, he just seems so well, but every now and then I remember the reality that I actually have no idea. There's a huge chance that one day soon we will wake up and be back in hell again. The longer A goes without a relapse, the better chance he has both of not relapsing and of being able to recover from a relapse. But, let's be real. Cancer obviously has no chance...I mean I get our healthy recipes off pinterest, so. Just sayin'

We are around 1 1/2 years in remission, but I've been told that if a patient is going to relapse, it generally occurs shortly after stopping chemo. For us, that time will be November. We're still living in this in between place. We're trying to be normal, we're planning for the future, we're at work, we're saving money, we don't think about cancer everyday anymore, but every now and then there is this strong carpe diem type urgency to really live today. That might be a good impulse for everyone to embrace. Today I was staring at A while we were folding laundry and noticed him holding a pair of songs out like a microphone and singing into them. And he looked hot. So we collapsed onto the bed right in the middle of all the freshly folded clothes for a make-out session. Because, hey, seize the moment. And we actually didn't crumple too many pieces of clothing!

Sometimes living in this in-between place means it's the other extreme. A memory crosses my mind. Sometimes I'm just hit with the feeling of just how horrible things have been, how unfair it is that we've had to live through the things and feelings we have, how much I'm really not living in the same world anymore. I miss the old one. I won't say more than that.

(A hates hospital food. This is just another day of getting off work, driving home, making dinner, packing it up, and taking it up to the hospital. Luckily A has been out of the hospital for months and we anticipate only one more stay.)

One really weird thing about our lives is that we moved from Nebraska to Texas after the diagnosis, so everyone that knows us now knew us after the cancer. It's odd, but it makes for really different relationships. I think our friends back in Nebraska thought of us as normal people and they were just as shocked as we were when A was diagnosed. I swear, he's the last person I ever would have thought would come down with a disease. To everyone here, we're definitely marked by the cancer. And now I started the blog off with this marker. Honestly, I'm not too much of a cancer blogger. Just like any other girl, I'm really interested in sharing the fun summer drinks I created and interesting fitness tidbits I discovered around the web. The truth is that cancer gets boring, and exhausting, even to me. But today is the day after the day that I saw The Fault in Our Stars and so here it all is pushed up against my heart. A could relapse, he could die, it could be fast, my entire world could turn inside out in a moment.

After the movie has been out awhile longer I'll tell you my reactions to it. It was odd to me which parts caused the strongest reaction. It wasn't even what A would have expected.

(We found a Christmas tree in the hospital.)

XS & OS,