Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Two point five weeks ago I wrote one wallop of a post, and I haven't been around since then!

I assure you, it's not because I'm abandoning my blog (I know, whoever is out there reading this was really worried about that).

I need to accept that I'm just busy. I'm busy at work (with stuff besides actual work), I'm busy outside of work...I'm just busy. I'll give you a run down of what's been keeping me away the last few weeks.

In December I signed up to do our company's version of Take Your Kids to Work...what I didn't realize until I was sitting in the first meeting was that I'd signed up for the planning team, not the Day-Of team. I ended up on a team with my good friend and one other woman, and we were responsible for planning the first workshop the kids participate in. The first run was last Thursday, and we'll have our second (and final) run tomorrow. Last week's kids loved our workshop. It involved lots of creative building with office supplies and legos, and then they got to destroy what they built (what kid wouldn't love that?!). But goodness, I will be glad when noon arrives tomorrow. It will be nice to be done. Planning and organizing the workshop and making sure things went off smoothly was way more of a time commitment than I thought it would be.

In addition, I had planning meetings for an Externship I'm trying to organize between work and my alma mater, I was assigned to our Floor Event Team, invited to co-lead my floor's June Food-Drive team, and I had the first few meetings as a co-lead for part of the company's fall charity fundraising event.

I said yes to all of them.

And then, in a panic, I realized mid-March that I needed to drop something because I couldn't possibly juggle all of those things over the next six months.

So I dropped the Fall charity event. It was an easy (but humbling) decision. I hate admitting that there's something I can't handle, for whatever reason. And I picked this event because there was very little guidance and I didn't think I would be able to make it what it should be.

It's full speed ahead with everything else though!

Tl;dr: The last three months were definitely a balancing act consisting of work, volunteering, and home life. Just making sure all my work and volunteering got done, and done well, was a fantastic lesson in life-work-volunteer balance...and the lesson continues!

Also (and I think importantly) I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there's been an inkling of depression that's been a bit like a tide, lately. It flows up and then ebbs out, always gradual, and always a nuisance.

It's not something I really talk about, but in 2011 I was formally diagnosed with moderate depression. To avoid bogging you down with all the intricacies, I'll just say that I manage my depression with the presence of optimism. Even if I don't feel it, I remind myself that life will go on, I will eventually feel better, and that there are people around me who love me. And even that I'm one of them...I do like myself, I just don't like my brain sometimes. It takes a lot of mental fortitude at times, and I had to change how I address my own thoughts (especially since all-or-nothing thinking is a cardinal sign and symptom of depression), but it works for me. It's just that there have been a few more bad days lately than I expected, and that is never fun.

But moving on.

I got some pretty bad news yesterday. (Backing up) Last week I was playing with my hamster, Benjen (photos for cuteness):

Playing outside today.

I noticed a large lump on his belly/side. It was round and hard, kind of like a marble, and I was sure it'd sprung up over night because I'd never noticed it before. I was worried it was a blockage or gastric problem...or a tumor. But I was sure I'd have noticed a tumor.

Well...I hadn't. At least not until last weekend. And it's been so long since I had to take a hamster to the vet that I had to find one first! A lot of people don't realize that small animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, etc) are considered "exotics" and need to see exotic/small animal veterinarians (like you would take a lizard or a bird to). So I found one between work and home (Northwest Exotic Veterinary Clinic...they were amazing if you're in the area and looking!), and took Benjen in after work yesterday.

I'm gonna stop here and say: I know a lot of people will judge the decision to take a little $10 hamster to the vet. Did the visit cost way more than I paid for him? Yes. But it really doesn't matter. My pets (all of them) are my babies. I got them all knowing I may need to seek medical attention for them at some point, and that the price tag would be high - but that is what responsible pet ownership is. If your pet, no matter the size, is in pain or acting strangely, you should take them to a vet. Period.

(PS, Maureen...thank you for telling me you did the same with your rats, it means something to know I'm not crazy over a rodent.)

Okay, I'll get down from the soap box.

After some palpation and an x-ray, I was given the unfortunate (and shocking) result: Benjen has a massive tumor. Almost his entire abdomen is covered by it, so much so that you can't see most of his organs on the x-ray:

This is a bit hard to see, but basically all that gray in the middle of his stomach is tumor.

You can't really miss it here.
The only real option is to wait and see what happens. It is doubtful that he will live very long, but right now he is not exhibiting any abnormal behaviors. He is still eating and drinking normally, he is active when he should be and doesn't sleep more than he ever has. All bodily functions are as expected (both in frequency and appearance), and he doesn't seem to be in pain. They offered me a supplement to give him that will (hopefully) help prevent the tumor from metastasizing, and could even help shrink it, and some pain medication for when he starts to exhibit signs of needing it. And I'll be monitoring him like a hawk for any decline in health, because he doesn't deserve to suffer some long, drawn out life just because I don't want to let him go.

And now I'll say...he has been such a trooper. The vet and assistants even complimented me on how well behaved he was (I guess it was a big deal that he didn't bite anyone). Yesterday he was poked and prodded, weighed and x-rayed. For the x-ray they had to stabilize him on his side and his back, and I could tell at the end of it that he was exhausted and uncomfortable because he just curled up against me and snoozed while I stroked his head. I could tell that all that strange movement and forced stretching really made him feel the tumor.

I feel awful. I feel like I should have noticed sooner, and I can't believe I didn't. Seriously...I looked at his xray pictures and realized he's been living with this for ages, but it wasn't until I felt his tummy in just the right way that I noticed. Even the vet took a minute to find it but was so obvious.

I know I can't beat myself up about it, and that I did the right thing taking him in...but that doesn't make it sting any less. I've been a hamster person since age 6, I've had dozens of them at this point (multiple at a time for most years), and it still hurts to have something like this happen.

But all I can do is love on him while I have him.


Well sheesh.

That ended up just as depressing as the last one! I really owe you guys something uplifting...and I will do my best to make that happen with the next one!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reflections: I'm glad I got hurt.

If you follow me on Instagram you probably noticed a lot of gardening related posts yesterday...and that is because we finally started the garden!

What a shocker that that's why I was posting about gardening, right?

I will write about that later, but this morning I did something that has made me pause and reflect on a lot of...stuff.

Just to forewarn you: There's a lot of that stuff coming in this post. It's gonna be a bit of a downer, but in a reflective way. And I really feel like I need to just get it out once and for all.

Let's get on with it, shall we?

I fell asleep very early yesterday (because of said gardening) and by 4:30 this morning I couldn't sleep anymore. I laid in bed for about an hour, then got up and decided to do something.

So I painted my nails. Bright yellow!

And then I sat down at my computer to do something I've been meaning to do for a while: go through the old, unpublished posts on this blog - save them to my computer, and delete the drafts.

Wow. I'm not sure I was ready for these emotions so early in the morning (it's not even 8am here).

If you're an old, old, old reader, you're probably aware that this blog address has existed since 2010. I wrote in it fairly consistently between June 2010 and April of 2011, and then I stopped. I had what I still believe was a good reason, and I'm glad I stopped at the time.

I converted all the posts to drafts at the time, and they've been sitting here since. Today I went through them.

And I realized today just how unhappy I was. I think the best way to describe it is: Limbo. Between June 2010 and, honestly, up until late 2013, my whole life felt uncertain. Like I was very precariously balanced and at any moment I could be pushed over.

And then I was.

In September 2013 I was diagnosed with a severe glenoid labral tear that required surgery, and I had no idea what to do. I just knew something had to change.

I'm really beating around the bush, so I'll get to it. Just know I've been kind of avoiding this because, as much as I know it's for the best, I feel like people will be disappointed in me for admitting to all of it. So here goes:

In 2010 I graduated college with a degree in History and I had absolutely no idea what to do. I feel like I fell into a trap a lot of people my age fall into: I felt the only solution was more school, instead of sucking it up and getting a job that had nothing to do with my degree. Afterall, that couldn't possibly be a solution!

First I considered law school, and then detoured to massage school so I would be able to earn a high hourly wage while in law school. At the time, I had zero idea of what it's like to pay back loans, and did not realize that it was in no way a practical solution. And then during massage school I realized I 100% did not want to go to law school, so I felt it didn't matter. I finished massage school and did the only logical thing - I got a job doing massage.

What went almost completely unmentioned - until I was a month away from graduating - is that massage is not a job you can do full time. I still remember the day one of my teachers told us this. In her words, "You can probably start out doing 20 hours a week, but for the health of your body you will need to scale that back by a fair amount after about 2 years."


I didn't know (or realize) it at the time, but many of my teachers in massage school either worked ridiculous hours at multiple jobs, owned and managed property, were supported by a spouse, or simply weren't making ends meet.

Yeah. I know that now.

I also know that quite a few of them had massage related injuries, despite teaching about the world's best body mechanics and self care. Hmm. Only a little bitter about that.

And further, what absolutely no massage therapist wants to admit publicly (I think because we feel we put ourselves in the situation) is that it is very easy to be taken advantage of by your employer, and that there is almost no room for advancement in the field.

I will say I really liked where I ended up working. Mostly. I could have done without the inter office politics, but I liked my fellow LMTs and I liked my patients. I did not like that I was technically working full time hours (that made it very difficult for me to get another job) and only getting paid for the time spent in the room with my patients. I won't go into the math legality of it, but I was at work 32 hours a week - full time in my state - and only being paid for 20 hours. And honestly, that was the max that my body could handle. This hourly situation also meant I was not eligible for benefits of any kind. No health insurance, life insurance, short term disability, paid time off, yada yada yada. None of it.

On top of that, I was barely making enough money. I could just about pay my bills and tuck a tiny bit into savings, and that was it. And I didn't like it.

I honestly felt very, very unfulfilled. I liked that I was helping people, and that was it - and I know now it's because I was in such a terrible headspace. I was working so hard both physically and mentally just to get through a day, and earning so little. And moreover, I felt (still feel) ashamed that I let myself be so ill informed about what I was getting into in the first place.

I wanted an out, but didn't know how to go about getting one.

And then I got hurt.

Preface to what I'm about to say: It sucks to tear a ligament. Don't do it. I don't even know how I did it, but I'm fairly certain it at least started as an overuse injury from doing massage. And though in some ways it was mildly horrifying to have no idea what would happen, looking back I can say I'm glad I got hurt.

It seems counter-intuitive, I know. But let me explain.

It put me through the ringer emotionally and physically, but it made me look for something else. I finally did what I should have done after graduating college: I looked for a desk job.

And after months of uncertainty and getting the run around from a few companies, after getting rejected: I found a different job. Almost exactly one year ago I got an offer, and I accepted it.

My job isn't the most exciting. It isn't some world-altering thing. Like with just about any job there are days I don't want to go in, days that are monotonous, days that are frustrating, and days that I'm really happy to walk away from at the end of. But I have not once wished that I didn't have this job. Because I remember what the alternative was.

I remember talking to my old (massage) manager about jiu jitsu a few months before my labral tear. I'd gotten a bunch of bruises in a class and he was worried about me getting too hurt to work (hah) and he said to me, "Do you really want your hobby to end your career?" And that was when I knew it...I would rather have a career that allowed me to enjoy my hobbies. And massage wasn't it. For one - I didn't make enough money. The other problem: I was always tired and hurting.

I realized, in that moment, that I wanted to make money and not hurt at the end of every day so I could enjoy all the things I really liked doing.

And that's the job I have now.

If I get hurt, I have short term disability. If I need to wear a cast to work, I can. If I'm on crutches: doesn't matter, I sit down all day anyways. If I want to buy plants for a garden or yarn for socks, I can afford them. If I want a few weeks off to go on vacation, I can now afford that vacation and I get paid while I'm gone. When I have a baby I will have health insurance, that child will have health insurance, and I will have paid maternity leave. I have a 401k, life insurance, and advancement opportunities. I have stability.

My paycheck, after money is taken out for all of these things (which I didn't get from massage) and for my savings, is more than I made doing massage.

I hope I never, ever take these things for granted.

And I know what it is like to be happy. I feel truly happy and loved and supported and accomplished for the first time in years. I feel like my life has a direction and a purpose, and I feel like I have some kind of grasp on my own happiness. Though I am not always chipper, I am content with my life now. I can look at the world and know that I will move on and forward within it. That I can face what comes at me, and moreover, that I can handle it.

I never would have said that in 2013.

My perspective has shifted entirely.

I know this post is a lot. But I needed to say it after reading all the stuff this morning. I needed to put down in writing this negative thing I've felt about my past and my selfish satisfaction that everything has changed.

But do you know what else I have now? Weekends on the weekend!

And I'm going to go enjoy the rest of mine :)


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Severe Weather

It rained here today.

A lot.

I read somewhere that we were supposed to get around 1/2 inch. Yeah. That person was off their nut. So off their nut that it had to be a typo.

You see, I woke up at about 2am and heard the rain pounding outside. Then heard it again, pounding away when I got out of bed at 4:30. I then suffered its inconvenience all the way to work, having a mild heart attack the whole way. Seriously, I do not handle inclement driving conditions well, at all. I mean, forgive me for actually wanting to see the road I'm driving on. Or, like, the tail lights of the person in front of me. And don't even get me started on my irrational fear of paralysis, dismemberment, and/or death, if I happen to hydroplane. Thanks, Drivers' Ed.

But I made it to work. And once there, every time the thunder sounded it was like heavy weights being dropped in a weight room.

The rain subsided around 9 or 10, and after that was on and off, on and off, all day. When I walked out to my car (in the parking garage) at 3 it was off. By the time I drove my car out of the parking garage (~3:02) it was on. And then it went off while I was driving to Cam's. And then it dumped on me just before I got to his house. But I guess I shouldn't complain because it was kind enough to turn off again (mostly) as I walked into the house.

This weather. Oh, it's weather alright. And it needs to make up it's mind. Perhaps (preferably) decide for it to be nice and warm and Best Spring.

I'm thinking there's a fat chance of that. Because it's supposed to be nothing shy of horrendous tonight. The sky actually looks nice right peaking through the clouds. The clouds that are blowing by just a little too fast.

Because here round these parts, we're gearing up for some Tornado Weather tonight!

*Confession.* I actually really like tornado weather. I like when it's warm and a bit muggy out, enough that it clings to your skin, but then there's a nice, cool breeze blowing. I like when the sky turns yellowish-green and the wind picks up but it's still warm.

Ahh. Perfection.

Except for the whole tornado possibility thing.

But I'll be inside tonight, if and when the worst strikes - 'cause I'm sittin' here and it's 6:30 and the nastiness was meant to begin at 6 and it hasn't so....yeah. But since we weren't sure when all the badness is/was supposed to start (and Cam ended up working late again), he and I made the Executive Decision to take this week off from running (mostly).

Okay, it's not just because of the weather. I thought it would be a bad idea to do our long run this weekend (Saturday was meant to be 5 miles) because we'll be doing most of the hard labor to start our vegetable garden. We have to buy materials for and construct a raised bed, and I'm assuming that will take most of the day...and spending an hour running is not what either of us will want to do on top of that. So we're modifying. Gardening will be our primary exercise this weekend. And we'll each do a two mile run tomorrow (Friday) and Sunday.

And to make up for my inactivity after work today, I planned out an hour of yoga. I did Sarah Beth's new(er) Detox series (Level 1 and Level 2). I wanted a Vinyasa flow, and that fit the bill. It was a lot of twisting as well, which I think will help with the side stitches I've been having while running. For real though, it was a reminder that I need to work more yoga into my life. I've severely slacked lately because I haven't wanted to get up quite so early. Perhaps I just need more discipline to not sit down right away when I get home from work. Yes...I'll work on that.

Really though, I'm still very disappointed about the whole gym thing. I miss lifting. I miss teh gainz. It helped my shoulder so much when I was constantly doing weights - and by that I mean building on my previous progress by lifting heavier weights with time. Running was also getting easier with lifting - because it's amazing how light your body feels when you've worked your legs by leg pressing 50lbs more than you body weight.

So I'm still dealing with that. I have no real viable solution to the lack of weight lifting without a gym. Not for teh gainz I wantzors. I think we're gonna start playing Ultimate Frisbee though...a town near us has a kind of free meetup group that you can just show up for, so we're considering that once Cam's schedule calms down.

But for now...I'm mourning the loss of a gym I really liked.

Ooh...thunder is starting. I think I might go watch a storm to make myself feel better...


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Busy as a bee...

The last two weeks have been pretty busy. After house sitting nothing slowed down - and I even had a long weekend!

One of my best friends, Danielle, has been in town from Germany for a few weeks and I took last Monday (the 30th) off just to hang out with her. That's right, I wrangled a day even though our PTO schedule has been teh ultimate suck for the last two months! We hung out and did a bit of thrifting and other shopping, then made some amazing roasted veggie pizza before heading out for a few drinks with Cam (they had yet to meet). It was a pretty good day, and I'm definitely gonna miss her when she goes back to Germany. But I know I'll see her next spring because Cam and I are planning a little hop across the pond for a few weeks to celebrate his December graduation! So that will be awesome when it comes!

After my three day weekend I had a short work week because I took a half day yesterday. I could call it uneventful, but it really wasn't. Unfortunately I can't exactly say what was eventful about it because this is the interwebs and people can see everything. Suffice it to say I had a lot of meetings for a lot of different things and hopefully things will shake up soon (more than they have been). So we'll see, and I'll share what I can when I can.

Now, on to running.

Last week I reached a turning point with training.

I believe I have officially reached the point where I have no reason not to run my entire 2 mile runs. And within two weeks, I expect to have the same thing to say about my 3 mile runs.

Cam and I are on Week 5 of Hal Higdon's Novice 10k training plan. Last week (Week 4) was the first week when runs went from half mile distances to full miles - and they stay that way for the remainder of the plan. I shall show:

I believe I've mentioned on here before having run two miles consecutively...but I had yet to do it outside. And, well...last week I did. On Tuesday I ran two, walked .1, then ran the last .9. And because I managed that, I realize there is no reason for me not to push myself to run each and every remaining two miler. And no reason not to push myself to get to the point of running each and every one of those three milers.

Now, I skipped my 4 mile run over the weekend. Some sh*t went down and I just wasn't up for it on Saturday, then the weather was beyond crappy on Sunday, and Monday I was chillin' with Danielle, so that 4 mile run never happened.

But on Tuesday as Cam and I were running our 3 and he asked me if I ever run more than one mile at a time. I told him honestly that yes, I run two miles and then have a short walk before finishing out the third. So then on Thursday I got a text that he finished his two miles without stopping! I was so proud of him - even moreso because I didn't run on Thursday. But I was up very early yesterday and ran my two before heading to work for my short day.

Yesterday included a half day at work, lunch with some people who sit near me, a bit of free time with Cam, and a 3 hour shopping excursion for some much needed new clothes. On Monday when I was out with Danielle I bought a red dress. I never wear red because I think it clashes with my skin tone. But I got so many compliments on that dress. I can't even count how many people commented on it. So I decided to see if I could find one or two other dresses to add to the collection. I did (found 2!) and some cute little vesty cardigan things too. Then I dropped a bunch of money at The Body Shop because I feel like my skin has been dripping oil for the last six months and I want to get that under control.

Expensive day? Yes. But very well worth it, and dare I say...necessary.

The last BIG thing that happened this week is kind of a bummer. On Tuesday Cam and I got emails that our gym is closing this week. The location we've been going to is right near Cam's house, but I think it was an expansion experiment for them. They're primarily located in the west Chicago burbs, and this location is a bit further out. They've been there for two years, and attendance always seemed good, but I guess it wasn't enough. We're both really bummed out about it because it was exactly what we needed. Plenty of cardio machines so we never had to wait, and a huge free weights section with multiple weights and again, we never had to wait. From comparing gyms before we know that there's really nothing else in the area that can offer those same things.

We're trying to decide what to do about the summer, and if we should just wait until it starts getting cooler again (now that it seems spring has finally sprung), but it's still a bit disheartening. We spent the last couple of weeks not lifting because of schedule conflicts (Cam's exams and then me dog sitting), and now we don't have a gym. And the worst part is that I started realizing that I'm actually more sore when I'm not I was really excited to get back to it. But I guess not :(

I think we'll just have to find the motivation to do "mini" workouts to hold us over until the fall. We've got plenty of other stuff we can do in the meantime (running, biking, walking, and maybe I can get Mr Stubborn to try some yoga with me), but come colder weather we'll have to find a new home gym for sure!

Anywhoodles...on to the rest of the day! We've got 4.5 miles to get in, and then I'm off to help my mummy get ready for all sorts of Easter plans!

I hope you have a great weekend, and Happy Easter if you celebrate it!