Category Archives: Life

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Taking it easy to get faster

Slowing down to speed up seems like an oxymoron at first. How in the world am I going to speed up if I’m slowing down? The answer wasn’t immediately obvious to me until one day when I did it by accident. It was a rough day. I didn’t feel well, had no energy, was more than a little cranky. In short, it was the perfect day for taking it easy on the couch.

I’m still not sure what got me up and going. I wasn’t training for a race, and at the time it wasn’t uncommon for me to go more than a week without running. For some reason, this day I got off my butt, got dressed, and headed out the door. Since it was a dreary day and I wasn’t crazy excited about pounding the pavement I took it really easy. It would be just a quick run around the neighborhood to dust off the cobwebs before taking up residence on my couch once again.

The easy pace meant I was able to run up the killer hill that always did me in. Usually, before I could reach the top, I was gasping for breath and had to finish the last few feet sucking wind, bent over with my hands on my hips. Not this time. I was still sucking wind, but I was over the top and heading down the backside before it dawned on me that I was still running. This phenomenon happened a few more times during my easy run. Several points along my run are standard cues for me to walk, but I didn’t need to this time. I was still tired, still dragging, and still hadn’t taken a walk break.

Back at the house, I stopped the clock on my watch. I was shocked to see that I had shaved several minutes off my usual time. This was pure craziness. Instead of my usual all-out effort followed by multiple recovery walk breaks, I had run slowly – a pace that makes me feel like I’m never going to finish. Instead of taking longer to get back home, I was there faster. Slowing down really did speed things up. Definitely an oxymoron. It’s still baffling to me some days that taking it easy means I’m actually running faster. Whereas running faster adds a couple minutes to my time because I have to take walk breaks, catch my breath, and give my legs a minute to recover.

Maybe these slow runners are actually onto something with taking it easy.

No apologies

A guilty pleasure is defined as something you know you shouldn’t do, but you do it anyway. Everyone has at least one. I have several including day-long movie binges and eating out of the ice cream carton. These guilty pleasures are just for me. I would never do any of them in front of another person. Then, I would feel the need to explain myself, or justify my silly choices.

Today’s question: what is my one guilty pleasure that is so good that I make no apologies? I think mine would be staying up crazy late on a work night reading my Kindle in bed. Tricia has probably fallen asleep half an hour ago, and I can barely keep my eyes open, but I’m going to keep reading until the end of at least one more chapter. Maybe more.

It seems silly when I write it out like this. There are so many other things that I could choose as a guilty pleasures. Sneaking an extra piece of chocolate after my workout, having one too many drinks, or even sleeping in for an extra hour on the weekends. Those, to me, require an apology or a justification. I worked really hard, I deserve this chocolate. Or I had a really long week, I really needed to sleep in today. Staying up crazy late to read just one more chapter? It makes work painful the next day, but it is always worth it. I will never justify my late night binge reading.

The future

My fiance and I are getting married next month, and we are really excited about the future. We have been talking to my doctor about starting a family. He started me on a round of medication to see how I would respond. Today I went back for a follow-up appointment. The results were better than I could have hoped. Basically, no crazy hoops to jump through to start a family. We’ll be ready as soon as we come back from the honeymoon. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.

Thinking of the future reminded me of a conversation I had with a woman at a music festival the summer before last. I don’t even know how we started the conversation. We had been hanging out together, listening to music for a few hours when we began talking about our relationships. She was completely thrilled to find out that my girlfriend and I were planning to get married. Then she asked if we were planning to start a family. I told her we were crazy excited to have kids. Two please.

The next thing she said had a profound impact on me. She thanked me for being who I am, for choosing to exercise my right to marry my love. Then, she told me that my fiance and I are changing the world, by choosing to have children we are changing the way the world defines a traditional family. At the time I thought she was being a bit extravagant, but today I think I understand what she meant.

Not too long from now I will stand in my living room surrounded by my friends and adopted family, and not a single one of my relatives. I will marry the love of my life surrounded by love and peace because I choose happiness. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s what is right. Happiness isn’t always easy. Sometimes it means going against the grain, forging a new path. Sometimes it means saying goodbye to those who don’t understand and refuse to change. For me it means letting go of the past so I can follow my dreams. The future will be filled with amazing amounts of happiness, love, and family.

Basic Pistol Qualification

Today I took an eight hour course sponsored by the National Rifle Association. It was a basic pistol qualification course, teaching the fundamentals of handgun safety, shooting, and cleaning.

The instructor was in artillery for the Marines for several years. When his time was up he started teaching firearm safety. He was incredibly knowledgeable about firearms, and had an incredibly dry sense of humor. Even when he was demonstrating for the class using a rubber gun he would demonstrate proper safety by pointing the rubber barrel at the ground and “firing” to the side of the classroom. When he switched to guns using dummy bullets he carefully explained the mechanisms of the single-action revolver, double-action revolver, and the pistol. He would cock the hammer back, pull the trigger, and give an exaggerate “BOOOOOM”. IT was hilarious, but educational at the same time.

First he passed around the dummy guns so we could practice proper handling and sighting. Next came spent casings from various rounds and exploded bullets half-formed and broken into pieces. He passed around dummy bullets so we could load a magazine with .22, .40, and .45 caliber rounds. It gave us practice with safe equipment, and no fear of handling live rounds while we were still getting used to the safety portion of class. We learned what could go wrong when a gun misfires, and what only happens in Hollywood and cartoons.

By the time we got around to the range portion of class I wasn’t the least bit nervous. I stepped up to be one of the first to fire. Loading the magazine with live rounds for the first round worked just like it did with the dummy rounds. At each step he let us know exactly what we should be doing and the proper way to react when something goes wrong.

My first few shots weren’t on my 9″ target, but every shot after was dead on. He even congratulated me on my dead center shot. The first target was thirty rounds at fifteen feet. I did rather well after making a few corrections. My second target was another thirty rounds at thirty feet. I fired twenty from the same Smith & Wesson pistol, and the other ten with a double-action revolver. There was such a difference, and it was great to be able to try both side-by-side.

We took a written test at the end and were presented with our Basic Pistol certificate and patch. It’s enormous. I don’t know that I would ever put it on anything, but it is kind of a cool thing to have. I was told that I’m not allowed to hang up the diploma unless it’s in my closet. There is no gun in my near future, but I can always go back to the range to rent a lane and a handgun for an hour. I can’t wait to go back and fire an entire box of rounds. I already knew that I loved shooting. Today just confirmed that shooting is just as addictive as it was fifteen years ago.


I stayed home from work yesterday since I only slept for about two hours the before. My entire body felt like it was wired. Bizarre. Anyway, it kept me from sleeping and there was no way I could function at work on such little sleep. At some point in the afternoon, still deliriously tired and unable to sleep, I decided to take my Kindle outside to read in the gorgeous sunshine. Perhaps laying on a comfy couch outside would be enough to help me doze off.

I grabbed my book, a drink, and the dog. It had been raining a lot recently so the couch cushions were stacked up in the corner of the patio to keep dry. I put my stuff down on the table and headed over to get the first few cushions. Right before I grabbed one of the over-sized cushions a squirrel skittered out from behind a pillow and scrambled up to the top of it. He kind of looked at me while I was looking at him and we both panicked.

I backed up to give him room, and he ran over to the other corner of the patio on top of the deck box. By this time Toby had started paying attention. He sauntered in the direction of the patio to see what was going on, then took off when he caught sight of the squirrel. The squirrel dove back behind the cushions with Toby in pursuit, then scrambled up the glass door all the way to the handle before screeching his way back down to the patio. Toby was staring at the cushions waiting for his lunch to come out, and I was on the sidewalk about 10 feet away watching in fascination.

After a moment with no sound a tiny gray blur leapt up the brick side of the house and clawed his way up to the porch overhang where he couldn’t go any further. He scrambled to the left and then along the underside of the roof. I could only guess where he was because of the squeaking and claws scraping on metal. He was making such a fuss. Toby was patiently sitting among the couch cushions, staring at the squirrel in anticipation. Suddenly, a loud squeal and clawing, signaled the  reappearance of the flailing rodent as he fell straight down into Toby’s opened mouth.

The poor squirrel was held fast by his belly which left all four clawed legs and his razor-sharp teeth free to scratch and bite at Toby’s face. I’ve never seen my dog so calm. He just held on to the squirrel’s belly without moving or flinching. It was bizarre! The squirrel was spitting and screeching, making such a terrible noise, and looked completely capable of taking out Toby’s eyes or at least slicing up his snout.

I yelled my dog’s name sharply which was all he needed to drop the squirrel. Too late, I realized the only direction the squirrel had to run was straight towards me. I had a brief flash of the squirrel running straight to me, scrambling up my body and clawing at my head in its terror. I turned, jumped two stairs, and clambered up onto the metal patio chair, my knee bashing into the sharp arm on the way up, squealing like a little girl the whole way. The squirrel came straight towards where I had been standing and dodged to the right, ran up the fence and into a neighboring tree, chittering and fussing the entire way.

Toby was still unfazed, like it was a typical day for him, but my heart was hammering and my mind was going a million miles a minute. I jumped down out of my perch and ran over to see how many chunks Toby was missing from his face. Surprisingly, he only had a small speck of blood on his face, probably from the squirrel’s razor sharp teeth. My poor baby had just saved my life from a terrified squirrel had been unintentionally cornered.

I called the vet to make sure there was nothing I needed to do with my crazy dog. He was up to date on his rabies, and had been giving the “farm dog” shot to keep him from catching diseases from rodents. He started getting that shot when he was two years old because he was an incredible squirrel catcher. So gross. Yesterday I was so thankful that I keep his shots up and keep in touch with the vet. It kept this ten seconds of insanity from turning into a real nightmare. Now, to get rid of the squirrel smell – bath time!

Decaf blows

In the last 48 hours I’ve only slept about five of them and not by my choice. I am exhausted and can’t think straight, but I’m completely wired! Wheee!! I came home Sunday, wrote a blog post, added to my Nanowrimo book, and went to bed to read. It’s a new-ish habit to go to bed, turn off the lights and open up my Kindle. It helps me get ready for bed and calm my mind. It puts me to sleep in a good way that reading books on my phone can’t possibly do. Plus, if I have to stretch out of bed after putting down my paperback just to turn off the light, I’m suddenly awake again. It completely defeats the purpose of reading myself into a calm, peaceful state – like blinking my eyes every other word and having to reread sentences because the words were too blurry to make out, or I just wasn’t paying attention to the words.

Good times. A friend of mine once said about people who fall asleep reading – “They’re doing it wrong.” I tend to agree. My problem is usually that I want to keep reading forever, but I just can’t physically stay awake any longer. It’s a good problem to have. Anyway, that isn’t exactly what happened two nights ago. I read for about twenty minutes, put my Kindle down and snuggled down into the blankets. I’m pretty sure that I had just fallen asleep when Tricia asked me how she was supposed to do the thing with the stake. Yeah. Sleep-talking is a new favorite for her. I rolled over, rubbed her back, and told her to go back to sleep. She sat up even straighter and said, “No. How do I make the crosses?” And motioned two fingers making a cross. Well, I don’t know baby. She huffed at me, rolled over and went back to sleep. Come to find out she was trying to make a door frame and wanted to know where to put the cross pieces. You got me.

I never did get back to a good sleep. I woke up every hour on the hour from midnight until 6pm and some times in between.  It made for an absolutely miserable Monday morning, but quitting time would come soon enough. I had two cups of coffee to keep me going – that’s pretty standard for me. Same routine when I got home yesterday – wrote a blog post, added to my Nanowrimo (November is hard work!), ate dinner and went to bed. I read for a bit, put my book down and fell asleep. I woke up at midnight. Again. Wide awake. Are you freaking kidding me?! After rolling over and snuggling back into the covers I was able to fall back asleep. For about an hour. Finally, at 3 o’clock I decided enough was enough. I pulled out my phone, checked my email, Facebook, played a few games, then pulled out the Kindle to read.

For a brief moment I contemplated going for a run, but it was crazy early, and there was no way to get dressed without waking up Tricia who would have called crazypants on me. That, and the fact that I haven’t run at all in two months, but (just to be sure) I checked the weather which convinced me to stay inside. Brrr!

I emailed work, told them about my miserable night, said that I would be totally useless, and took a benadryl to knock myself out cold. An hour later Tricia got up and asked how long I’d been up. No, I won’t be going to work. The benadryl was definitely not doing its job of knocking me unconscious, so I took a dose of Zzz-quil, too. A bit later I was able to sleep for fifteen minutes.

I quit. I’m wired, delirious, and incapable of driving myself anywhere. I haven’t had caffeine all day because I’m scared. BTW, decaf blows. No sugar, no nothing that could possibly keep me from sleeping tonight. There’s a bottle of wine in the fridge to go with a hearty meal of grilled chicken and brussel sprouts. I plan to have a few glasses, stuff myself silly, and pass out. Please make this work.

Off my meds!

Oh, this is such a fitting topic for today. Earlier I talked about my struggle with Fibromyalgia. It is such a misunderstood disease, and only recently has been included in the list of chronic illnesses. I’m still in the camp of people who believe fibro is caused by something else – Lyme Disease, nerve damage, something. Anything other than I just woke up like this one day.

I’m luckier than some with this disease. My doctor was able to diagnose me within about 6 months. Several months after that I called him in tears because I was in so much pain. I wanted anything he could give me to make it stop. He called in a prescription immediately. The first meds he put me on were anti-depressants and a seizure medication. Talk about off-label use! Doctors still don’t know why, but anti-depressants have proven helpful for eliminating fibro pain. The seizure medication works on neurological pathways in the brain (they think) to dull the annoying neuro symptoms like facial twitching, muscle spasms, widespread joint and muscle pain, just to list a few.

The one thing these medications didn’t help was the fatigue. A large portion of fibro patients have problems falling or staying asleep. More than that, the body is constantly in pain, so it is nearly impossible to get a fully restorative night’s sleep. I remember I used to sleep ten hours each night during the week, and twelve or thirteen on the weekends. It didn’t help. I was still unable to hold me head up. I couldn’t think straight, form basic words, or even stay awake. It was a nightmare. I told my doctor, again, that I was ready for something new. There was a new drug on the market, Lyrica – the first to ever be labeled specifically for use with fibro. Of course, insurance fought me at every turn, but my doctor submitted every form they needed and then some. Before long I was shelling out exorbitant amounts of money every month for this amazing new super drug. It truly changed my life.

That was about two years ago. Maybe three. I was stuck on this medication that had so many restrictions. Plus, it was starting to cause me to be just as spaced out and foggy as I was without the meds. It was finally time to give Lyrica the boot. I’ve been slowly weaning myself off of it for about two months. Yeah, that long. Saturday marked the one week anniversary of being Lyrica-free. I’m officially off my meds! Well, I haven’t died yet. The pain is slowly returning. My face twitches like no one’s business, and the creepy-crawly-buzzing sensation is back in full force. So far no ice-pick stabbing sensations – always a bonus. But I’m still determined to do this. I’ve lived with this illness for long enough that I feel confident I can face it on my own (plus with the help of my friends and family, heh). I’ve changed my diet and am slowly getting back to exercise. Crossing my fingers that my body decides to cooperate.

Baby steps.

My 5 Favorite Movies

5) Harry Potter (any of them) – I know it’s kind of cheating to pick 8 movies instead of 1, but there is no way that I could possibly pick just one. Besides, they are all part of the same story. It would be impossible to separate one from another.

4) The Usual Suspects – Kevin Spacey is phenomenal in this one. He’s a brilliant actor, and I can’t imagine any other actor playing The Gimp. The writing is ingenious – the way the story twists around itself. This movie has one of the most surprising “aha” moments of any I’ve ever seen.

3) Love Actually – I love a sappy, feel-good movie as much as the next chick, and this one really takes the cake. You get to take a front-row seat while an entire cast full of characters go about their holiday. Hugh Grant brings a human touch to his role as Prime Minister. An added bonus is figuring our how all of the seemingly unrelated people are connected.

2) The Sound of Music – This has been one of my all-time favorite movies for so long. I can’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t singing along with Maria or the children. When I was younger it was difficult for me to understand the true story, but I always knew that I wanted to be just like Maria when I grew up (except for that whole nun part).

1) Hudson Hawk – This one is a bit unfair since I love absolutely everything Bruce Willis, but Hudson Hawk is so quirky how do you not fall in love? It allows you to see more of Bruce WIllis’ true personality and humor. During an awards ceremony he admitted that it was his absolute favorite movie. The whole story line makes so much more sense once you realize that all the main character wants is a cappuccino.


Amid the hustle and bustle of every day life it is easy for me to overlook the ordinary things in life. Right now I’m sitting on the dark grey leather couch that I painstakingly chose for it’s comfort, color, and wide upholstered arms. My feet are propped up the long red ottoman that I occasionally turn longways into a make-shift chaise lounge. To fight off the sudden chill in the air, I’m wrapped up tightly in a grey and white wool blanket that depicts a wolf standing at the top of an outcropping of rocks, howling into the night.

I don’t usually think much about these things. They are a part of my usual routine of getting comfortable for a bit of TV, reading, or knitting. Today, the stillness of the winter day causes me to pause and reflect on my surroundings. It’s a feeling that inevitably overcomes me this time of year.

The grey and white throw, affectionately known as my “wolf blanket”, has been with me for over twenty years. It belonged to my twin brother, David, for a very short period of time. My brother was an enormous fan of all things wolf. At sixteen years of age he wrote letters to organizations that were threatening the habitat of grey wolves. Protecting these beautiful creatures had become a mission for him, and he would send any extra money to help conservation efforts. So many of his t-shirts were of howling wolves, lone wolves, and gorgeous wolf faces staring back intelligently. When the doctors discovered David’s brain tumor he went immediately into the hospital where he wore drab hospital gowns and drank out of plastic cups. Instead of his beloved outdoors and wildlife, he was surrounded by cold walls and attached to beeping equipment. After a few weeks a man who worked with my father, a man neither my brother nor I had ever met, purchased a stunning grey and white blanket to keep David from getting cold in the drafty hospital room. He loved his blanket so much and was always tucked in underneath it.

Only a few short months later David passed away. Twenty years later I still have many things that belonged to him including notes to friends, his journals, and the high school class ring he only wore once. The most beloved thing I have of his is this well-loved wolf blanket. It keeps me cozy when I’m sick or down. It helps me look forward to the winter time when I can curl up underneath it. During the coldest months it stays piled on top of my bed so I can burrow inside. Underneath it, I am warm and safe and loved. It is an absolutely extraordinary blanket.

Self Discovery

Originally I started this blog so that I could write about my attempts to get back into running, and exercise in general. I wanted to be able to inspire someone in the way that I have been inspired by other posts and blogs. After writing just a handful of posts I’ve come to realize that although I love exercise and running just about as much as I love anything, it is not the full scope of my passion.

When I was younger I had dreams of becoming either an art teacher or a music teacher. I have always been very passionate about the arts and sharing them with others. Teaching would allow me to inspire so many young minds, allow them to have the same creative outlet I had growing up. Art is a form of self-expression unlike any other. When I shared my dream with my grandma she hatefully told me that I needed to pick a real career, something that I could depend on. She said that when schools begin to cut budgets the first thing to go are the arts. I was absolutely devastated. Not only did I not have her support, my dreams were already a bust.

So, I drifted for a while. After graduating from high school I took a year, or six, off before having the resources to make  higher education a reality. It was hard work, and I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I could at least get started on the basics. During the six years it took me to get my bachelors, I only changed my major once. Inspiration comes in many forms. Mine came from a single man, the sole “IT guy” in a small firm, who unknowingly reminded me of my passion for technology. So, I switched majors and started taking IT classes. It was a match made in heaven. Not only did it allow me to use logic to understand programming languages, it brought out a type of creativity I never knew existed. For any program there are a number of correct answers. I was instantly hooked.

Years later I am working at a dream job, doing what I love. Occasionally, I even get to teach classes to other IT professionals. It is a great feeling to be able to help others by sharing my knowledge and experiences.

I believe that is what I want from this blog. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to start writing about programming languages and networking capabilities. Instead, this blog will be about my journey of self-discovery. Through my journey I hope to inspire others to try new things, take risks, and be true to themselves no matter the cost. Art comes in many different forms; a painting, a piece of music, a new building design. It can also be much simpler. The way you choose to live your life can be a piece of art. I choose to live freely, recognize beauty, take chances, and live outside of my comfort zone. I am destined to become an old woman with no regrets. I hope to inspire others along the way on my journey of self discovery.