Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fibromyalgia and My Baby Steps Toward Physical Health.

This is what surrounds me at the gym as I step on the treadmill.

Slender, long-legged women casually step onto the treadmills on either side of me, put their headphones on, crank up the speed and start running. RUNNING, i said.

i smile vaguely into the middle distance, pulling my belly in, and act as if i am not breaking into a slight mist from walking.

But it's baby steps that will get me there.

"There" is this mystical place in my future where i don't puff along at 3 miles an hour, where i can easily bend to tie my shoe, where i don't see my next decade painted in fibromyalgic shades of pain and fatigue.

i have a trainer. She tells me, "Baby steps. We will take baby steps." i work to do 8 repetitions of simple floor exercises. The first day of training my body loudly informs me that 10 repetitions will set the fibro beast in motion. So we do 8. There's a certain point when my body tells me I Am Done. The muscle fatigue sets in like the fangs of an angry dog, far different from the regular pain of exercised muscles. So we take 8 baby steps.

Three times a week i go to the gym. It's been three weeks now. One day with the trainer, two more days to repeat the exercises and walk on the treadmill next to the Looks Awesome In Spandex crowd. So far i don't listen to music while i walk, instead i people watch, think, pray, and check my heart rate--repeatedly.

Today i noticed on the heart rate zone graph on the treadmill that i am training at the rates for a 70 year old. But that's okay, baby steps. Perhaps before i turn 60 in three years i will be able to train at the rate for a 65 year old.

i think i'm doing this for good reasons this time. i have no illusions that i will again look like i did at 21. i'm not pre-buying a wardrobe 6 sizes smaller. i am aiming for flexibility and strength and energy, things i've lost to this disorder. i had thought i might somehow make peace with my fibromyalgia, but even if i never do, perhaps i can at least learn to smile vaguely into the middle distance when i see it, and just keep walking.

Skimmer's Recap: Feeling fed up with fibromyalgia, julie subjects herself and others to talk of treadmills and spandex.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On His Birthday: To My Brother Michael Who Left the Family 22 Years Ago.

every year
on this same date
i say to myself,
"huh, didn't you have a brother once?"
i remember him from
my childhood
his childhood
my sister's childhood.
and in my head
i say to my brother,
"didn't you have a sister once?
do you remember me from
your childhood?
my childhood?
our sister's childhood?
do you ever miss us?"
but i guess not.
we never hear anyway
if he does.

no longer take
it personally
because, after all,
it's his loss.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Jack of All Crafts and Master of None Tries Weaving: Project 1 finished!

Here's the finished project, still on the loom. I think of it as "Sea to Sky."  The blue at the bottom is the ocean, and then there is sand and dunes and hills and finally sky. I love the textured yarn one near the top! I imagine that to be a tree and flower covered hill.

The cool thing? It looks just as good upside down. It was just a bunch of curved lines designed to teach how to use the "slit" stitching technique of tapestry on the dvd "Tapestry Weaving Part 1" by Nancy Harvey. Mine isn't as smooth as perfect as hers, but it also isn't in 1980s colors like hers. I just had fun! I may actually figure out how to use it on the wall.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Problem With Mother-Pain.

Papa Jean, my stepdad, in his horsey days.

Recently my aunt sent me an album my mother had put together in 1999, just a year plus before she died of cancer in January 2001. My mother had wanted my aunt to have it after her death, but now, 10 years later, my aunt felt I should have it as part of my family history.

I feared looking at it, so let it sit for days on the dining room table. With a relationship as complicated as mine was with my mom, many emotions come into play, not all of them belonging to Grown Julie. So I waited. But today I decided to Take The Plunge, Dive Right In, phrases that oddly refer to another fear of mine: water.

The album is the story of a life, Margie's, from childhood through marriage and parenting, back around to single-ness, and then into the last third of her life with the love of her life, Jean.

The photos are amazing--of her family and my father's family, of our family and of Jean's family, and some I'd long hoped to see of Jean in his cowboy garb on a horse. There are photos of the new "family" she gathered in her new life in Nebraska where she moved to be with Jean at about the same time I was getting married in California.

It's her edited life: "Margie's Life, Lite." Without most of the anger and pain and accusations that colored big parts of the Full Fat version. I marveled at all the smiling faces, the photos of outings and birthdays and holidays. Pretty pictures of the decorating and remodeling she did in the house I grew up in, not of the broken pieces of dishes and punched in walls in the photos she had sent to me after her death to remind me of things my father had done. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was all a pretty happy story. Looking at the pictures I can imagine her as the kind of mother I could call to chat and tell her something funny one of the kids said, rather than calling and ending up defending myself for not being willing to say my father did not do those things to my sister or me.

I finish the album and sob. In my head I'm writing the thank you letter to my aunt: "Thanks so much for the album, the pictures are great and let me into some parts of her life I wasn't there for. I always wished I was a stronger person: strong enough to see the person beneath the harsh words, stronger than her desire to hurt me, stronger than many things that kept me from being a part of Margie's life in her later years."

I don't know what I will really write. Will I mention the victories I have felt in my struggles toward Sound Mental Health over those same years? Will I mention how I finally feel the Mother-Pain will no longer cripple me for weeks after contact, but hopefully only hours? Will I say sure I regret that I wasn't always The Good Daughter, but I knew I would never be the Good Enough Daughter? Probably not. Probably I will thank her for the photos and for her thoughtfulness in sharing them with me.

The problem with Mother-Pain is that no matter how far I've come in life, it will apparently always be waiting to jump out and bite me. But at least now, after enough therapy and prayers and time, the pain doesn't last as long.

Skimmer's Recap: Just when Julie thinks she's getting a handle on that whole Mental Health thing, she realizes "a handle" is but an illusion, and there's always more to learn.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

On Clutter: An Unofficial Poll.

I am curious about what you think.

I've been a clutterbug forever. First, I am a sentimental collector of memories. Things that remind me of either a fun event or even just a good time in my life--well, pretty much anything that brings a warm-happy to me will be collected.

Also I run too much on emotion-brain rather than logic-brain to be very tidy. I tend to end up with piles here and there: the books I want to read, the magazines with articles or creative ideas I liked, the bills I need to pay. My brain tells me that if I put any of those things "away" I will forget about them. Knitting patterns, yarn, scrapbooking supplies, you name it, I have a pile or two somewhere.

My theory on my relationship with clutter is that because I don't have a lot of warm-happies from my childhood, I tend to hang onto as many of them as I can manage. Oh, there's also the fact that I'm inherently lazy about cleaning. I go through big spurts of weeding out the excess, but I'm not the best at figuring out how to organize and keep it organized once I've done the weeding.

So for me, lack of logic-brain, out-of-sight-out-of-mind-edness, and sentimentality seem to keep me in a perpetual state of imperfection, clutter-wise.

So here's my unofficial poll part:
Are you a clean person or a clutter person?
Why do you think you are whichever one you are?
How do you solve your clutter overflow?

Really. I want to know what you think.

Skimmer's Recap: While trying to rationalize her messiness, julie asks her friends to engage in conversation so she can further put off any actual work.