Defining Success

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.

~Stephen Hawking

It’s May, and spring is in full bloom all around me. Leaves now wave at me from my maple tree, and the front yard hedge once again provides some beauty against the ugly backdrop of traffic. A bouquet of yellow flowers grace my dining room table. The sun is shining, and the weather is fine. It’s a great time to get outdoors and to be active…if you can.

I wish I could do more. I think it has been about three years since I last went for a run, and, while I am content to no longer consider myself a runner, I suddenly wish that I could. Of course, the very thought of running is enough to inflict more pain upon my body. I have no intention of going for a run today, next week, or next year, and yet, I’d give up my Star Wars collection to be healthy enough to run.

On social media, I see all sorts of people getting out and about, doing things that I can only look upon with mild jealousy. My son is enjoying his afternoon off work by going for a hike. ‘Tis the season of camping, paddle boarding, hiking, cycling, and all sorts of outdoorsy physical activities. My desire to be active is high, like I am going stir-crazy here high, but I also have to respect my limitations and the pain. Could I go for a hike? Sure! But for how long? How far? How difficult the terrain? As it is there are days where basic walking is slow and painfully uncomfortable.

So yeah…it feels like there is a great deal of things that I cannot do these days, outdoors and indoors. But I still manage to putter around doing little things or things in small bits. Today I baked cookies and did my chiro homework and washed dishes. I will probably throw together something for supper, too. Tomorrow’s dinner has been planned out and ingredients gathered. Tomorrow I will go to the gym (though not doing all the things I’d like), make my Star Wars-themed dinner, do my chiro homework, and play the rest of the day by ear, or more appropriately, by back and legs (as in how much pain I’m in.)

Tomorrow is the sixth month anniversary of injuring my back. It’s not exactly the kind of anniversary I’d like to celebrate, but things happen and you just have to deal with it the best you can. The past six months have drastically changed what I can and cannot do, and I am not always happy about that. I have never been the busiest person around, but I was used to being much more active and productive than I have been since the injury. It’s easy to focus on what I can’t do and what I’m missing out on. Although I am confident that this injury will eventually be a thing of the past, the vagueness of “someday” can cloud my sense of purpose and usefulness. Stephen Hawking certainly had a more difficult life than I do, so I guess I need to try looking for what I can do through this difficult season.

 

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Unforgettable

I stumbled upon an article this morning which immediately caught my interest enough to click on the title to read the entire thing, and I liked what I read. It is about ending your year intentionally by asking yourself some questions. The words line up with the way that I usually look at the end of each year and the start of a new year, so I think I am going to answer those questions on my blog over the remaining days of the 2017. Or at least as many of them as I can, because I feel like some of the questions can easily overlap.

  1. What makes this year unforgettable?

There are two things that immediately come to mind when I look at this question, and it isn’t surprising that both things are recent (or current) events. Undoubtedly I had many experiences and interactions over the course of the year which are memorable in their own ways. It is also easy to lose sight of those unforgettable people and events for no other reason than the passage of time.

1.Unforgettable number one was my powerlifting competition on November 4th. This was the competition that I had been working for and hoping to have for a long time. I’m not even certain that words could ever adequately describe just how much this competition meant to me on various levels. I’ve tried to blog and talk about it, but I fear that the resulting injury has overshadowed everything that was good and positive and empowering about that competition on that day.

I broke all the Provincial records and almost all of the National records (not the bench press). I broke a World record! I achieved every goal I had going into that day, and success is sweet. I am competition. I am driven to reach my goals, but my performance was so much more than just the records. So much more! My performance was the culmination of many months of hard work, sweat, tears, pain, stepping outside of my comfort zone, changes, uncertainty & doubt, and scratching my way back. Stepping onto the platform and walking off with white lights was empowering, reaffirming, redemptive, and peaceful. On the platform that day, I felt powerful and confident and competent. As I completed each lift, it was as if a heavy layer of debris was being shed from my body. Even walking off the platform in pain after my final lift, I still felt whole, clean, and powerful. I’m sure that sounds weird, but I have no better words to describe how I felt and still feel, despite the other unforgettable thing.

2. The second most unforgettable event of 2017 is my herniated disc. How can I forget something that has caused me so much pain and anguish and is still a major factor in my life? Although the competition is not entirely to blame for the injury, the two will forever be tied together. In the eyes of some, the injury casts my competition in a negative light, but I cannot see it that way. This is something that happened at a particular time, but it could have happened at any time or any place.

It’s slightly more than 6 weeks now since the herniation occurred, and I am still reeling. My left leg is still numb from butt to toes with pain radiating down from butt to ankle. The back sometimes feels okay and other times has solid pain, radiating pain, or spasms. About a week or so ago, the right leg began experiencing radiating pain from butt to knee and sporadic tingling and numbness in the foot. The new pain is not good. Heck, the old pain isn’t good either!

I had an appointment with my doctor this morning, and he is still an ass. However, he did give me two prescriptions for the pain, although I am fairly certain that he tried to lump me in the same category as opiate addicts. This is in spite of the fact that I haven’t been on an opiate and really have no desire to be on an opiate. I’d much prefer to not take medication at all. I’ve had the same doctor for close to 20 years and we used to attend the same small church…you’d think he’d know me better than he obviously does. Of course, he also essentially criticized me for going to a walk-in clinic previously, even though my reason for doing so was for a second opinion after he said I hadn’t herniated my disc! He treated me like a child, explaining the proper steps and procedures for getting the care I need. Hmmm…if only he had taken my pain, symptoms, and concerns seriously when I first saw him 6 weeks ago! Despite receiving an email from my physiotherapist recommending a surgical consult, my doctor will not initiate the referral until he sees the results from the CT scan, which would take months to get an appointment. Thankfully, my husband said that he was willing to pay to get an MRI done at a private clinic, which means I’m having the MRI on Wednesday, as in 2 days from now instead of months! The sooner we know what is actually going on inside of my back, then the sooner I can get adequate treatment, even if my doctor thinks it is perfectly acceptable to suffer for months, even a year before seeking further treatment. <insert colourful adjective here>

My one other request from my doctor was a bit more time off of work. I went in asking for 2 weeks, but he gave me 8 weeks off work. I am surprised by that, to be honest, and I don’t know how I feel about it. Torn and conflicted. Just as I was about my initial two weeks off work. I appreciate the time to heal and take it easy on my body, but I miss my job and feel like I’m letting everyone down. Also, the extended leave means that I need to apply for Employment Insurance, because that’s a long time to be without income.

3. I almost forgot about one other unforgettable thing! In August, my husband and I celebrated 25 years of marriage. We were able to get away for a long weekend at Harrison Hot Springs. That was probably the first no-kids, no sports event weekend away just the two of us, and it was amazing. We had no agenda, and Harrison is a small, relatively quiet tourist spot. We ate delicious food, drank some wine, did a lot of walking and talking. I love my husband, and 25 years has not diminished that love one bit. He is my biggest fan and supporter. He is everything that I am not, which means that we mesh fairly well, most of the time.

25 Years Later

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25 years is a pretty big deal. I grew up in a time when divorce was still something of a mystery, a rarity impacting maybe one or two of my classmates. Growing up in the church, divorce was also something seldom mentioned except for soft whispers between grown ups which were not meant for young ears to hear. The world views marriage quite differently these days, but I have always been of the mindset that marriage is a permanent institution. When we said our marriage vows, there was no back door escape route planned inside our hearts or heads, only the gritty determination that we’d make it through thick or thin. Together. And somehow here we are 25 years later…well, officially our 25th anniversary is on August 22, but we just got home from a celebratory weekend away.

We spent the weekend in Harrison, BC, which is where we honeymooned all those years ago! This weekend was much more enjoyable than our honeymoon. Back then, we had a leaky roof, a paper thin wall between motel rooms and a loud snorer next door, gloomy cold weather, and a speeding ticket on the way home. Of course, all that didn’t matter a whole lot back then, but we were glad to have a different experience on this second visit. The weather was generally quite nice. Our hotel room was spectacular. The scenery was gorgeous. The food was delicious. Although there were plenty of people around, the atmosphere was generally laid back and relaxing, even for someone who isn’t fond of crowds. We spent a lot, like a LOT, of time walking and walking and walking. Our hotel room was on the second floor, so we always took the stairs. We did so much walking that my hamstrings and glutes would start to burn by the time we’d get to the second floor landing at the hotel. It’s a good thing I’m used to working my legs!

I had been interested in renting some stand up paddleboards yesterday, but Kane changed his mind, thinking that a potential fall might not be good for his new hip. He wanted to rent a pedal boat instead. For the record, I do not like pedal boats! My husband, in his enthusiasm, had wanted to do a 2 hour rental, then a 1 hour rental, but I convinced him to begin with a half-hour rental. Good call, Angela! I was fine for probably the first ten minutes, although Kane’s steering abilities were rather challenged in the beginning. Once he got the hang of the steering though, he wanted to pedal everywhere. My legs are strong enough to pedal, but there was something uncomfortable with the sitting position that was making my lower back begin to ache. It is probably a good thing we did so much walking this weekend, because we also did a fair amount of sitting. The hotel room floor wasn’t carpeted, so I had to sit on the furniture. We spent a good portion of our evenings sitting on the balcony enjoying the weather and view. Meals were seated. The driving there and home and to a couple of tourist things. Walk or sit. But it was all good.

In 25 years of marriage, this was the first full weekend we had ever had away from home without children and without agenda. My husband planned our destination without my input, and I think he did well. Not only was it a sentimental choice, but it was perfect. There was just enough going on to keep us as busy and entertained as we desired without ever making us feel pressured or stressed about what to do or where to be next. We woke up when we woke up. We ate when we felt like eating. We browsed shops and walked along the beach…often. My husband, the social extrovert that he is, made friendly conversation with our balcony neighbours, while I smiled politely when introduced and silently sipped my wine. We talked. We laughed. We held hands. We sat on the beach, on park benches. We just enjoyed each other’s company. Our weekend away was essentially very much like us…simple and uncomplicated!

Now we are home and real life begins again in the morning. Our next holiday will not wait for another 25 years!

Fleeing the City

I am currently sitting in a motel room in Hope after consuming a delicious, late dinner at an Italian restaurant across the street. My husband had previously made plans for us to go to Harrison for the weekend to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Before he left for work this morning he said he’d really like to leave today and spend the night in Hope. Even though I am generally the sort of person who likes carefully laid plans, I am still able to be flexible and fly by the seat of my pants…even if I’m praying the entire way that we’ll be able to find an available hotel room! We did. It’s nothing fancy, but we have a king-sized bed and I’m drinking some wine out of a small glass that was wrapped in paper on the bathroom counter. And all of this is perfectly lovely! We aren’t high-faluting kind of people and, when this is your first kid-free, sporting event-free, multi-night trip away from home as a couple, well, let’s just say that we’re grinning like idiots. The rest of our weekend should be a little bit fancier, at least the hotel room, but we shall have a good time regardless.

Since we had already planned on heading out Friday morning, I knew that I’d need to get my final training session of the week done today. My work day was short and sweet, and I was at the gym within a half hour of finishing work.

1. wide grip bench press (2-2×0) 4 sets @6-10 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 65 x 6, 85 x 5

main event: 90 lbs x 10, 95 x 10, 90 x 9, 90 x 7

Surprisingly enough, the back was probably the least achy while arching in several weeks, which was nice and enabled me to pretty much do my normal bench set-up.

2. high bar squats (3-0x0) 3 sets @8-12 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 6, 95 x 6

main event: 105 lbs x 11, 105 x 12, 105 x 8

Something is going on with my left leg/knee, sporadically and annoyingly. It began to be a bother again during these squats, mostly as I’d finish each rep and lock it out. Even with walking later it would randomly hurt. <sigh>

3. close grip bench (3-1×0) 2 sets @8-12

80 lbs x 11, 80 x 8

4a. back extensions

x 12, x 12, x 12

4b. leg raises

x 12, x 12, x 12

The leg raises were less of a bother on the back today as well! Can I call that progress?

 

23 Years

I was right to be afraid to go to work this morning. The day didn’t go quite as I had planned, and sadly, I had to plan for a day that I knew wouldn’t quite meet my standards. It’s the nature of the job, the influx of less experienced staff that sometimes overtakes the level of the experienced. Those are never fun days, but Saturday mornings make the experience more of a gong show than anything else. It’s a good thing that I sort of thrive on gong show craziness, at least at work, and 3 double shots of espresso throughout the morning didn’t hurt.

I came home to flowers from my husband, as today is our 23rd anniversary. We went for a lovely walk along the lakefront and enjoyed a lovely dinner out with more walking after.

Now I am sprawled on the living room floor. I have done more sitting today than I have since Tuesday, but it was all pretty much unavoidable.

Happy Anniversary!

 

wedding Who could foresee how quickly 22 years would fly by? It feels like just a short time ago, and yet it also feels like an entire lifetime has passed. I suppose it really has been a lifetime. We’ve had babies and watched them grow into young adults. We went from a little Mazda pick-up to a more practical little car, then a series of mini-vans, and now we have a driveway full of vehicles. We have weathered the ups and downs of being a single-income household, career changes, unemployment, being a two-income household, and becoming self-employed. We have survived a lifetime of springs and summers for the sake of baseball, although the back yard has suffered irreparable damage, I’m afraid. Kane learned to enjoy hockey, because our first-born developed a passion for the game. We have survived loss and heartache. We have endless unfinished projects with more always in the works. Our house will never be in Good Housekeeping magazine, but it will always be home. We aren’t exactly the same people who exchanged vows 22 years ago, but I’d like to believe that, for the most part, we are better.

There is a song that has been playing in my head for the past few weeks. As our anniversary has approached, I have found this song to be especially meaningful. It’s an old Amy Grant song, Say Once More:

Let me say once more that I love you,
Let me say one time, maybe two,
That I love the way that you love me,
And I wish I knew more of you.

Let me say once more that I love you,
Let me say one time, maybe two,
That I love the way that you love me,
And I wish I knew more of you.

Tell me that time can’t erase
This look of love on your face.

Let me say once more that I need you,
One more time or just maybe two.
Oh, my life will always be richer
For the time I’ve spent here with you.

Let me say once more that I love you,
Let me say one time, maybe two,
That I love the way that you love me,
And I wish I knew more of you.

Tell me that time won’t erase
The way that my heart sees your face.

I call your name,
You look my way,
It’s clear you trust each word I say.
When life is long and problems come,
You’ll always be my only one.
So now we’re standing face to face,
And with one look your eyes embrace me.
Squeeze away each haunting fear,
And say the words I long to hear.

Tell me that time won’t erase
This look of love.

Oh….

Let me say once more.
I love you.
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do.

Let me say once more that I love you,
Let me say one time, maybe two,
That I love the way that you love me,
And I wish I knew more of you.

Let me say once more that I love you,
One more time or just maybe two,
That I love the way that you love me,
And I want to know more of you.

(I call your name,
You look my way, I love you.
It’s clear you trust each word I say. I do….
When life is long and problems come,
You’ll always be my only one.
So now we’re standing face to face, Oh, I need you.
And with one look your eyes embrace me. I want you.
Squeeze away each haunting fear, More and more and more.
And say the words I long to hear.)