Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Big Deep Breath

Its been a busy day.

Last night was the last 'hurrah' for Christmas in our house.  We host an after holiday Christmas party for a group of friends we see monthly during the year for gaming.  Whatever the first weekend in January is after the New Year ... that is the date of this party.  I'd love to dismantle Christmas before the New Year - but I hold off until this event is past.

As I put away Christmas for another year, I like to think of the weeks following as a 'purge' time.  The fact I purged greatly 17 months ago to move into this condo doesn't change the fact that stuff still travels in the front door all the time, and if, on balance, stuff doesn't travel out the front door - the clutter builds.  And it is building and building.

So here is the path I'll travel from one task to another:

  • My hands are all over Christmas decos and because there are still things that never get displayed - they need to be thinned.  
  • Then we move onto the single storage closet I have where Christmas is stored.  Christmas stuff is stored to the back, and I need to pull a lot of stuff out.  Once it is out of the closet - I decide if it goes back in.  That darn closet is next to impossible to step into now. 
  • In 6 or 7 weeks a grandchild will grace our lives.  Room to be made - literally.  I have a guest room/yarn room with a closet.   That space is packed.  Some stuff hasn't been touched in 17 months.  My grand daughter will fit comfortably in my condo when I am done.  
  • For months I have hated opening my two bathroom linen closets.  Again, again, again - if it hasn't been used in 17 months it needs to go out the door.
  • Lastly the kitchen! My pantry is packed to the max.  Reorganize and consolidate.  Because it is such a mess - I find myself buying stuff I already have.  grrr ....  And those kitchen shelves,  generous space for sure ... and because nature abhors a vacuum I filled that space.  Not always a good thing.

See how one thing just leads to another?  I hope I can welcome the spring with a clean slate.  (I can hear the snickers now - 'first day of spring - in which year.')  To my nay sayers ... goals are good. So let's say I pick Spring 2018 to finish - yes, this year.

All these tasks are the perfect winter activity when you are not distracted by all the things that grab your attention outdoors.

When all this gets done - then I can take a breath.  A big deep breath, once again - until the future incoming stuff begins to chip away at my contentment and I am forced to walk this way again.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Heel Slide

A major development!!

A major positive development!!

The best kind of development.

I guess the title of this post  gives it away.  No?  Well for those still in the dark, let me share a little bit of the back story on the Heel Slide.

Anyone who has had work done on their knee probably has come up against the heel slide exercise.  Heel slides help you regain your range of motion in the knee after an injury or surgery.  Basically, you lay on your back like the lady in the picture with one leg extended straight, and the other leg is brought to your butt as close as you can.  My therapist, Sarah, instructed me to use a strap around my ankle to help pull the heel as much as possible to the butt with the help of your hands.

Looks simple, right?  It can be, but it can also be difficult - (translation: hurts like hell.).  This woman obviously didn't have surgery - her face is peaceful.  She is not swearing.

So, since mid-May I couldn't do this with my left knee.  I could pull my right knee up to my butt, but the left knee - got about as far as the picture lady is before tears formed in my eyes.

Anyway all summer and fall this self-torture activity was part of my routine.  As I healed my therapist took measurements of the angle my leg made - and the sharper the angle, the more improvement until I was "within normal range for my age."  (There's that "for my age" crap again!).

When I knew I was nearing discharge I had a serious talk with my lovey therapist, Sarah - who by the way has a doctorate in this stuff - and is not a wilting lilly about inflicting pain if it helps healing.  (I hated that part.)

The conversation went something like this:

Me:        "Sarah, watch this."  (I bent my right knee to my butt, I could touch my right heel with my
                right fingers.)

Sarah:    "Yes, Elaine, that is excellent, more than is expected."

Me:        "Now watch this."  (I bent my left knee to my butt.  There was still a great divide between
                heel and fingers.)

Sarah:   "Right - but your flexion in that left knee is within normal range.
               (... for a person of your age - which she didn't say, but I was thinking.)

Me:       "So, Sarah, last night I was watching a Christmas Special with the Radio City Rockettes."

Sarah:    (small eye roll with grin).  "I can hardly wait to hear where this is going.  And ..."

Me:       "Well, I noticed during one of their routines, they could all touch their heels to their butts."
               (It is not important that I explain to you how I know, but trust me on this.  They could.)

Sarah:   "Yes, I imagine they could."

Me:        "So ...?"

Sarah:    "But you are within normal range for your ...."  (oh, you know the rest.)

Thinking back on the conversation I guess I could look at the glass as half full - and say my right leg is 'Radio City Rockette worthy.'  I am pretty sure one leg is not good enough to make the Rockette line up.

I was discharge from PT the beginning of December - with one leg more normal than the other (see I can be positive.)   That status was fine with the doctor and fine with the therapist and fine with Medicare and Blue Cross who paid for all those months of PT.

Now to the reason I am sharing all this with you! (I know you were wondering.)

On New Year's Eve I was doing my exercises while watching TV.  (I am just a party animal, you know.). The last exercise on my list is the Heel Slide.  I start with the right leg (one that can reach my butt).  Want to be sure that my right leg doesn't get any ideas about what is "normal for my age."

Then I did my left leg, reaching with my left fingers to find my heel (which I haven't been able to accomplish all year) ... and the two met - fingers and heels.  AND with NO swearing!  None at all.  Shock!  Took a small moment to make sure I was exercising the surgery knee - I most definitely was!

I jumped up.  (I use the term 'jump' loosely - but I did get up.)  I had to tell someone.  My husband was already in bed - and asleep!  And then I realized, the person I had to tell was Sarah.  My husband would have said, "Oh, that's nice."  But Sarah ... she would have understood.  I shot an email off to her.

And, as I expected, Sarah was appropriately excited!!

Now I should mention, that the left knee is not really 'Radio City Rockette ready' - the heel isn't touching my butt yet!  But it is only a matter of time.

New Goal for 2018 - 


Or ... maybe I will just accept the fact I could be a Rockette if I wanted to.

Can your heels touch your butt?  
Could you be a Rockette?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

I looked in the mirror!

It is amazing how easy it is to deceive yourself ... especially if you don't look into a mirror! 
 Really look,
 not just glance while brushing your teeth or combing your hair.

In an effort to keep my exercise program interesting and well balanced I finally opened a DVD set purchased maybe 2 years ago.  Yes, yes ... 2 years!  Sealed up in plastic just like new, it was.

I do this little mind game thing ... get stuff and own it ... and somehow believe that ownership alone is is enough to absorb the knowledge or benefit of the item without actually reading or viewing or doing the whatever ... in this case doing the exercises.

Anyway, the DVD is Stronger Seniors. Workout Program with Anne Pringle Burnell.

The cover stated - "Safe & Easy to Follow.  Increase Stamina.  Strength training for upper and lower body.  Improve Balance."  See what I mean ... no where does it say you have to actually DO this stuff.

Anyway, I need everything this DVD proclaims, so to avoid boredom with my regular routine, I decided to try this out.  I broke the plastic on the DVDs.

The very first thing I noticed was that the 5 or 6 folks behind the instructor were old.  The second thing I thought was ... I bet this DVD set will be too easy for me.  After all, look at the participants.  They will need a slow and gentle exercise routine, and I can certainly do more.

I launched into the first disk (Stretch).  At first it was slow, but it picked up steam.  And I kept up.  Each disk was 60 minutes.  The instructions suggested alternating these disks on separate nights.  Well, of course, if you are older you need to alternate nights.  Me, not so much.

On the first disk I noticed I was actually getting a work out.  I pealed off my sweater.  I was getting warm.  I completed the 60 minutes pretty well - and it did target my upper body which needs more of everything.

I checked out the second disk (Strength and Balance).  I needed both.  I started the second work out.  It was also a pretty good work out - using weights.  I was using 3 pounds weights.  I noticed some of the participants were using 4 pounds weights.  (Heck - I don't have 4 pound weights.  I need to buy those.  In fact I will buy 5 pound weights. No one was using 5 pounds!!)  But as the program proceeded, I noticed some of the movements were uncomfortable in my right shoulder.  I backed down the routine to no weights on the right side.  Of course, the DVD participants who were following the instructor (using 4 pound weights, no less) continued on with no apparent effort.  *sigh*

Hmmm ... I am younger than those folks ... I should be able to do this with no effort!

Finally I moved on to the Balance section.  I was starting to get tired.  I was very sure the DVD folks  must be tired too.  Of course, they had their game face on, so I put my game face on (even though there was no one to see it but the cat.)

And then it got serious.

I am pretty good at balancing with two legs.  (In September I wasn't good at balancing period.  I used a walker and then a cane.  Two legs now is a step up.)  I am less confident with one leg.  But I charged on with everyone else knowing I could do this.  At some point I looked at the DVD participants ... you know ... the 'older' folks in the background.  No one, and I mean absolutely NO ONE, was struggling with the balance portion of the program.  They performed the exercises with steady feet and ankles, no support required of chair near by, and no swearing!  Meanwhile, back in my living room, my feet and ankles gamely tried to keep me upright.  They were wobbly, constantly adjusting to keep me from falling.  My hands, that were firmly instructed to not touch the chair, did so anyway.  And swearing!  Lots and lots of swearing.  The cat left the room!

I completed the second DVD.  It wasn't pretty.  And when I passed the bathroom mirror later in the evening, I noticed that the living room participant was ... well ... not in her 50s or 60s.   Somehow my eyes blinded my brain to the fact I am older.  Darn!  How had I missed that!

So - ok!  I will used these disks 'cause I apparently need them.  I will admire those DVD participants who are able to do ALL the exercises with strength and skill (and no swearing.)  And I will believe what the mirror is telling me - that I am a senior who needs to get stronger like the folks in the DVD.

I believe there is a biblical lesson about 'pride and falling' buried in this post! 😀

And, by the way, this DVD set is very good.  I don't know why I waited 2 years to break the seal and open it.

that's right!
That mind game about owning and not doing
 may have had something to do with that!

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Craft Plans

While I make a point of avoiding New Year's Resolutions, I do feel that creating a list of to-dos is helpful in planning yearly crafting activities.  There are so many things I would like to do and try.  If I don't make a list ... it doesn't get done.

Actually that is simple truth for me - no list, no focus.  List making is something I do without thought - just like breathing.  Do I accomplish everything I write down?  No.  But it shows what is important in the end.  Unimportant things just slip from day to day - and sometime disappear.

Over December I gave quite a bit of time to thinking about 2018 crafting: knitting, crochet, spindle spinning and, maybe this year, a needlepoint project.  Those items fleshed out they look like this:

  • Red hoodie for my grand daughter - almost complete now - for next Christmas
  • A cable sweater for my grand nephew - for next Christmas
  • A knitted toy for my grand daughter - for next Christmas
  • A summer something for my grand daughter.
  • Baby blanket for my grand daughter - because a knitter who does not create a baby blanket for her own grand daughter is in conflict with the knitting gods.
  • A sweater for myself - using some wonderful yarn I purchased for Christmas 2016 - this to-do will not slip off my list.
  • Another shawl - with beads - for my daughter-in-law.
  • Another shawl - with beads - for my daughter.
  •  Amigurumi toys - at least give it a try.  I have this book on order.  
  • Spindle spinning still calls to me.  I have several spindles and many wonderful options regarding fiber.  Creating the yarn will be the full goal - not what I plan to do with it.
  • During the 1980s I did a number of needlepoint project and enjoyed it greatly.  Now as my son and daughter-in-law prepare to welcome a daughter into their world by creating the nursery, I feel very inclined to create a needlepoint picture for her room. I am actively looking for a needlepoint canvas of a dragon or wizard to match the theme of the room.  Selecting the canvas and the yarns and working on the actual project will take some time - probably ending in a finished project some in 2019.  
So this list of things is stored here on my blog - so next year at this time I can see just how many are achieved.

Who I will be in 2018!

I don't make resolutions.  I do, however, enjoy visiting the blogs where people publish their resolutions.  To me resolutions are not so much goal setting and achieving ... resolutions reflect our desire to be someone different than we are now - or improve qualities that we already have but have not 'fed' recently.

In recent years I followed the blog trend of picking a single word and seeing how closely I could live my life to demonstrate of that word.
  • In 2016 I picked the word - Move!  I wanted to be more physically active.  I don't know about physical activity - be we did move - in 2016 - and it did require a great deal of physical activity on my part.  I guess that counts even if not planned that way.
  • In 2017 I picked the word - Consistency.  I wanted good habits performed more consistently.  In truth, I promptly forgot that word as I got into 2017.  I couldn't even guess what it was until I looked it up for this post.  Certainly exercise was a good habit I wanted this past year.   Looking back I did consistently exercise - joining The Y last January and being dedicated to my PT exercises since June.  
So what to do about 2018!

I won't be doing 'Resolutions' nor picking a 'Word' to thread through my year.  If I learned anything from my life in 2017 - it is that regardless of any goals or intentions I have - the future will happen regardless of my plans for it, and I will be responding.

But the question that keeps rising to the surface is: who will I be in 2018?
  • Health: The events of 2017 set me back.  This body is good for only a fixed period of time, and I want to be sure it is functional for ALL that time.  So I am continuing what I started in 2017 - to maintain and improve this body through regular activity. 
  • Distractions: As in previous years - I need to start decluttering again.   Objects for me are distractions and the condo has started to feel full.  All the downsizing I did allowed me to move from 2200 square feet space into 1375 feet space in 2016.  Someday I may need to shrink even more - maybe into a single room.  What I do now will minimize what my children may be forced to do on my behalf in the future.   Objects are half the battle.  Time is the other half.  The clutter of an overly busy calendar can be stressful. 
  • Grandchild:  This will be a new adventure!  One that I can hardly wait to begin.  
Keep healthy for a grandchild.
Make space and time for a grandchild.
Those are the words that will guide me in 2018!

Who will you be in 2018?

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve Reflection - 2017

I like to look back at the previous year - to check out all the shiny parts and the warts - and then file those memories away and start the next year new.

Before I began this post - I checked back on my reflection of 2016 and I summed up the year by answering 20 questions.  It was fun.  This year feels different so I am going to use a few emojis.

😱. In January we got a new President.  *sigh*  I try to avoid political topics in my blog.  But a face 'screaming in fear' seemed to be the only emoji that seemed to sum up my reaction to Trump as our President.  And as of December 31, 2017 - this man has done nothing in his first year in office to change my mind.  Screaming fear of what he will do to our country and our future haunts me.  I thank God in my prayers that our founding fathers had the good sense to create 3 branches of government - to act as checks and balances for 'mistakes' - for he truly is a mistake, one that we must survive  ... hopefully.

😌. In April I turned 70!  I thought a 'relieved' face seemed the best choice for that birthday.  Although I still have problems with the size of that number ... I am pleased to have reach it and I hope for many more years in this life.  You only get to go around once - so I am relieved to have reached 70 and I want to complete the circle and not get cut short.

😞. In May I awoke one morning to a sore swollen knee.  I had problems with this knee in 2013 - and it resolved with PT - but not this time.  Eight weeks of PT and I still walked with a cane.  I think 'sad' face fits this extended event that ate up my summer.

😿. In June our dear dear Max died.  Max was one of two cats, brothers actually.  For 9 years of his life we treated him for degenerative kidney disease with fluids to flush his kidneys.  At age 11 he lost his battle with that disease, but he was a bit of a success story - as most cats don't last that long.  It never is easy to say goodbye.  We miss him still.  However his brother, Wally, seems to have come out of his shell and is an entirely different cat ... friendly, outgoing, enjoying life completely.  Go figure.  Guess they weren't as close as we thought.

💝. In July my son and his wife announced they were expecting a child.  HOLY COW!  I am going to be a grandmother!  Me!  I had given up that hope a while back.  A heart wrapped in a bow seemed to sum up this wondrous news.  And it is still a bit unbelievable to me, despite the fact my daughter-in-law is clearly growing another person inside her body.  February can't come fast enough for us.

😡.  In September, after 8 weeks of PT - with minimal improvement - an MRI revealed that the left knee had a miniscus tear and could only be fixed with surgery.  In some ways it felt like I had wasted my summer and that was frustrating.  But now I had a real diagnosis, so taking a positive action to fix the problem - well - it changed my angry face into 😐 - neutral face!  Get the darn thing fixed!

😁. In October and November I was back in PT and improving.  But the beauty of recovery was that I now had time to knit and knit and knit - to my heart's content.  And I finished a large number of projects.  During that time I realized that despite my sampling of other related crafts (weaving and spinning) over the years, knitting continues to be my true love.  💗💖💟💖. Without knitting I would be lost.  My knee might not be fully functional, but my hands are fine - I can knit!

💪. In December I was discharged from PT.  I am better, but not perfect.  I am working towards perfect - and both the doctor and the therapist said it might take a year.  In the meantime, I am doing my exercises,  going to the gym and joining an exercise class in January.  When this knee finally starts feeling like the other knee, all the other parts of my body will be up to speed as well.

That was my 2017!  Highs and lows.  Normal really.  I will say that after this year - I understand better what physical set backs do to a senior citizen.  This knee repair was minor, but it set me back more than I care to admit, and the struggle to regain what was lost just takes more time at this age.

I have often started and stopped exercise programs over the years.  This time the seeds that I have planted in 2017 to improve my health I will continue to cultivate in 2018.  Now I don't feel I have a choice - not if I want to continue to live a normal life!

Goodbye 2017!
I learned a few lessons from you this year.
Who knows what 2018 will teach me.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Made it!

Anyone who has read my blog for awhile knows that this holiday has become a hurdle I struggle to get passed.   By the time I get to the 27th or the 28th, I am thrilled to be passed another Christmas.

I love the fact we are over 360 days away from the next Christmas.  I am happy to see the holiday decor begin to disappear from the stores and homes.  The holiday music that has been playing 24/7 on my favorite radio station (since before Thanksgiving, for gosh sakes), finally will revert to normal "70,s 80's, 90's and hits of today."   I know, I know ... I hear whispers of "grinch."

Well, let me assure you.  I am not a grinch.  I value the holiday for what it should be - a celebration of the birth of Christ.  I love making someone smile with a specially chosen or hand made gift.  I find peace in an evening walk around my neighborhood to see the holiday lights.  But sadness does follow me.

It hasn't always been that way.  If life delivers enough hard hits during the holidays ... it can change how you respond to them.  My dad died 3 days before Christmas in 1970.  My mom died 3 days after Christmas in 2014.  And in the last 10 years, my mom spent many holidays stuck in Assisted Living or a nursing home - because she was too disabled to get home.  I know neither parent would want those experiences to ruin my holidays.  The holidays aren't 'ruined,' but they are changed, and maybe permanently so.

Looking up - this year's Christmas was easier than last year's Christmas  It was our second year in the condo.  I have stopped grieving the move from our townhouse of 30 years.  I still wish life hadn't made this move necessary. Stairs and a recently blind husband are just a bad combination.  So I am passed that loss and really appreciate the convenience of the condo.  I 'visit' my parents right after Christmas every year.  The trips are filled with less sorrow now and more just a flood of memories of my life with each of them.  I think it is good to allow those memories to surface (the good and the bad) - and to remember where I came from.  It gives me some comfort to know they are both beyond suffering now.  And we - as a family - are celebrating a soon to be born child.  Maybe this grand child will help heal some of those hard hits that make this season so hard for me.  Maybe life is finally giving me a mark in the positive column with a new little life to cherish.

Regardless ...  This year ... I made it!  Passed another one!