The String Thing, 2

So, about the string thing….

There was this woman with a worthy JLo booty, and she changed my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but that one little piece of information made a big impact.

The infomercial shot cut away from the widely demographic group of this-is-for-everybody dancers back to the spokesperson. She offered an explanation followed by a demonstration on how to imagine a string coming from the top of your head.

The idea was to make sure you were holding your head in alignment with your body.  I stood up and tried it, and felt a difference. She also talked about the importance of working stomach muscles, again demonstrating some moves.

I didn’t buy the CD-set. Money was still questionable after closing the store and losing Jeff’s portion of our income. I kept thinking about it, though. Walking with the string thing gave me a different point of view. I tended to look down for sure footing. The string thing kept tugging my head back up.

I tried the string thing on the treadmill, and realized I was nowhere near balanced. It made the walk so much harder, I had to walk slower. Even setting myself back to 30 minutes, I would sweat rivulets. I used some of the dance moves in an awkward self-devised cool down, once I was back on the den floor.

A few steadier months in, I was bored and decided to spice up my life by executing those moves on the moving treadmill. I could do it, and I loved it! I would dance myself up and down the length, in perfect posture while belting out off-tune tunes. For variety , some nights I’d switch on the TV, usually already on the International Music Channel. The timing was such that I most often ran into a portion of the Bollywood hour on IMF. I have no idea how to properly belly-dance.Miss Fred probably thought I looked like a loon, but the dancing I was doing felt good.

Before I moved to Ann Arbor, I routinely treadmill danced 45 minutes to an hour almost every night. The result was 118 pounds lost and confidence in my movements gained.

The move, not being allowed to use my treadmill in a second floor apartment, changing positions at my job, the 5th anniversary of Jeff’s passing, and two surgeries set me back. One was the removal of my gall bladder, the other was repair of a hernia I gave myself on an elliptical.

I felt I wasn’t getting enough of a core workout, so I tried pedaling in a downhill skier stance. If I hadn’t had the first surgery, it might have been ok, but the weakened stomach muscles gave.

I never recovered my intense treadmill habit. I’d swim in the summer, walk outside in nice weather. I’d struggle to get the workout room, and then give up when it got too cold or snowy or icy or I just didn’t feel like it.

I’ve been battling the same 25 pound regain for 5 years, now. That’s 25 pounds more I have to lose to reach my BMI goal, totaling a 40 pound goal. January 2nd, 2017 I recommitted.  All fired up with an eclectic and eccentric playlist, I’m working my way back to treadmill dancing and more of the story of us.

Quote for the Week:2017-02-07-never-under-estimate-the-power-of-a-good-workout-mix-jakorte

Playlisting:

Pandora

Slacker

Fitness Magazine 100 Best Workout Songs

The String Thing, 1

I feel like I should explain why I am explaining. It’s more now than memories; more toward the end of the story than the middle. Based on past success, it’s a hopeful reminder that I can get there, yet.

So, where were we?

I stayed in Adrian 4 more years before moving to Ann Arbor. During those years, I drove a commuter van from Adrian to Ann Arbor, with one stop in Tecumseh. I started out as rider and by default became a driver. Cost-wise, those 3 years were very helpful to my budget.

As a driver, all I had to do was collect gas money from my riders and deliver the van for regular maintenance. The responsibility kept me going after my loss, and the extra “busy” time meant I spent less time at home; alone.

After I got home, after chores and sometimes dinner, I still had time on my hands. A lot of time. I also had a treadmill, a healthy collection of angry music and International Music Feed.

The more I used it the more addictive it became.  15 minutes became 20. 20 minutes became 30. 30 was always my goal. By then, I usually surpassed that waiting for a song to end or wanting another tenth of a mile to round off the distance. I’d set it on manual so I could control the pace.

Eventually, 30 minutes wasn’t hard, so I challenged myself. I’d use the programmed interval incline. I’d switch it up by using the cardio program. I found myself adjusting the speed down during cardio, but would still follow through with ups and downs.

I also didn’t sleep much. Oh, I’d shower and crash after exercising, but then wake up around 2 AM. I’d wander to the TV and watch whatever happened to be on. A predictable variety of infomercials of questionable integrity aired during these odd hours.  Slicers, dicers, miracle pills, body transformers, pot, pans, and the upside down inversion thing that was so popular, back then.

Cuddling a cup of tea on just another normal after-midnight night, my life changed. A different sort of wee-hour, call-now advert caught my attention. In between sleepy sips and throwing our Jack Russell Terrier Sadie’s favorite red ball down our longest hall, what I was hearing made sense.

I paid a little more attention which left me more awake. It was the opposite of what should have been achieved by watching mindless drivel; boring myself back to sleep. What I was seeing was what I wanted, attainable or not.

The core of the pitch was a “core” building hip-hop dance program regaling the importance of balance and stance.  I stopped playing fetch with Sadie when she plopped down in the middle of the hall, swiveling her cocked head longingly between me and the bedroom, silently suggesting as only dogs do.

It figured; the one night I managed to tire the hyper missy out, I ended up all hyped up .

So, that’s how I learned about the string thing.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-31-the-tired-mind-may-be-more-receptive-01-31-2017

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Inversion:  Something Like This

That Red Haired Lady: The Infomercial Queen

Know Your Hawker: More Infomercial Faces

Another 30 seconds

The treadmill followed us to Adrian, where it sat in the den gathering dust.

Until late 2005, when it became clear Jeff would never be able to return to work. I think up until this time, he thought he’d be able to beat it.

Despite medications and injections, his blood sugar averaged 350. What we hoped was temporary neuropathy, turned into a permanent nightmare. Unhealable ulcers covered his legs, which were in danger. Poor circulation and deep wounds prompted one doctor to speculate on the future, citing potential, eventual amputation.

Jeff wasn’t depressed. I was terrified. Carrying 298.7 pounds on a 5’3” frame, I realized I was in no shape to help if it came to that. I wasn’t concentrating on taking baby steps. I didn’t have to. My body determined my pace.

It seems incredible to me now that one full minute was as far as I got the first day. Within two weeks though, I had achieved a regular, comfortable 3-minutes. I mean comfortable as in not gasping for breath, seeing little black spots or needing to chug a glass of orange juice to counteract my blood sugar drops from the exertion.

I’d been to my yearly physical, which I tried to avoid by only going every two or three years. I was declared obese, of course, and pre-diabetic which believe it or not was a shock to me. Wearing a size 28 should have been a clue, but that’s not how I saw myself, mostly because that’s not how Jeff saw me, either.

We developed an evening routine. I would come home from work, change my clothes and treadmill for 3 minutes. By the time I’d finished my shower, picked out my work clothes for the next day, Jeff would have dinner ready.

One evening, Jeff stuck his head through the kitchen pass-through.  “How many minutes do you have left?” he asked.

“I only have 30 seconds,” I answered.

“Well,” Jeff said, “dinner’s not ready, yet. You can do an extra 30 seconds.”

I might have still had my crabby pants on from work, but I took umbrage. There I was sweating my brains out, seeing the light at the end of the torturous treadmill tunnel and he thinks I’ve got it in me to go another 30 seconds?

But, what I said, was, “Oh, really? Another 30 seconds? You get over here and do 30 seconds if you think it’s so easy!”

Of course, there were a few things wrong with my response. Jeff hadn’t actually implied I was slacking. He hadn’t said he thought it’d be easy. And it was a ridiculously inappropriate suggestion since his feet were continuously painful and he had a great deal of trouble walking.

But, Jeff just laughed. He found it endlessly amusing when I became flustered or got feisty. He wasn’t at all offended . And because that distinctive laugh was unavoidably contagious, I ended up laughing, too.

As Jeff wiped his doubled-over, guffawing tears from his eyes, I glanced down at LED readout.

“4 minutes!” I shouted in astonishment. “See?” Jeff said. “I knew you could do it.”

 

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-24-support-isnt-about-the-goal-jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Interval Training for Beginners: Go All Out for 20 Seconds

4 Signs it’s Time:  To Change Your Routine

The Importance of:  Fitness Buddies

jdrf-2015

2 Fries Short

My first encounter with a treadmill was 2001. Jeff and I purchased one mainly for him. His diabetes was starting to swing high and he was logically advised to lose weight.

As recommended, we went to a one-on-one meeting with a nutritionist. After discussing Jeff’s eating habits and work schedule, it was suggested that he continue to go through whatever drive-thru he would like. My eyebrows began to draw together.

The remedy was to downsize from large to medium. I squinted a little.

The last instruction was to leave 2-3 fries uneaten. Then, throw them away. I was not amused. The experience created another descriptive Jeffism;  a few fries short of a full bag.

Joining a gym didn’t make any sense with his unpredictable work schedule. So, we bought a piece of equipment just a few months before we moved from the Tecumseh townhouse to Adrian. We each used it a few times, and then it became a cliché coat rack.

Hindsight is interesting. I’m not going with that 20/20 thing, but I will admit now, there was a bit of merit to the advice Jeff was given. I was more than extremely unhappy when Jeff passed, a bit before that, too. When it finally hit me, 5 years after the fact, I needed assistance. I told the therapist I really wanted to take advantage of the gym that came with my Ann Arbor apartment. It seemed monumentally impossible, though.

The solution offered was to start by placing my sneakers at the apartment door. Then maybe in a week or so, I could put the shoes in a bag, add some socks…..  At some point, I would actually put a shoe on and tie it. Then in a few days, maybe I’d be able to put two shoes on.

That’s where I scoffed and interrupted and said that was ridiculous. If I’m going to put one shoe on, I’m also going to put the other one on.  As soon as I heard myself say that my frown turned into a teary smile. I got the point. It was French fries, again.

Start small, or start micro small, but start somewhere.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-17-two-less-fries-start-small-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Leave a Little:  Food on the Plate

Healthiest Fast Food:  If You Must

Beginner Walking:  10 minutes

No Chickens on New Years

An update and a correction:

  1. Regarding the politic of cows, I have been informed by a very reliable party, that I am guilty of glamorously rephrasing. Jeff’s true 1988 election sentiment was, “No matter who is the President tomorrow, I still gotta pull tits in the morning.
  2. Christmas was at Jeff’s brother’s the year Sally died. Nannee came for a while, but asked to be taken home because she was feeling sick.

Neither of these is an earth shattering revelation. The first makes me laugh, and the second one leads to another story.

But let’s talk about New Year’s. This was the year I learned that we’d never have chicken at Nannee’s on New Year’s Eve. That would be a bad omen. Chickens, she believed, would peck away at your money and bring poverty to your door.

Despite that, Jeff bought me a crowing cookie jar. Made of plastic, it looked a little like Foghorn Leghorn but different enough that there’d probably be no copyright infringement.

Tilting the hinged head to get inside would make it squawk-a- doodle do. I remember thinking that would be a good diet enforcing, snack-deterring tool. And I’m sure it would have been, if that had been where we kept the cookies.

Instead, it sat atop our fridge in our chicken-décor kitchen, not in our everyday line of vision. Once in a while, Jeff or I would re-notice it perched up there, and mischievously crank that chicken’s neck back just to hear it crow. It was such a random thing to do, and, to be honest, we both enjoyed the laughter that cackle encouraged.

Anyway, back to New Year’s. The resolutions are flying and folks everywhere are crowing about goals. I get that. I make a point to give voice to mine or text it to someone because the possibility of being asked “did you treadmill today?” makes me that much more likely to actually follow through.

So, Resolutions.  All the fail safes, plotted reminders, and spiritual encouragements don’t mean much if they’ve fallen into background noise. You have to remember to see them, pay attention to them.  It’s not good enough to fill up space with them; fill your heart and mind and soul.

I don’t have that jar anymore, but I think if I did, I’d keep it on the kitchen counter closest to the basement stairs. I’d joyously tip the cockscomb-ed head back each time I emerged from treadmill land.

Instead, I’ve push-pinned my Wounded Warrior Project calendar to the very past its prime inherited thin wood paneling that wraps the treadmill room. I’ve added an old green felt-tip to mark my efforts, but that all doesn’t seem “shiny” enough.

Yeah, I’ll use it, but I’ve eyeing that blue storage tote just a few feet away from my Sole. I’m gonna pull out one of those Christmas jingle-bells I put away last week and relocate it to one of the three built-in spaces designed to hold stuff like water bottle and hand weights.

That way it’ll be handy for vigorous shaking – signaling the end of exercise mode for the day.

I could possibly retrain my own Pavlovian response to jingle bells signaling the season of non-stop holiday eating. With enough repetitive reinforcement, I could end up feeling compelled to leap from my seat and take a few laps around an extended-as-far-as-it-will-go family table.

I could probably get a grant for that… just sayin’.

#imakemyselflaugh.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-10-2-imakemyselflaugh-jakorte

 

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

How to:   #

How do:  Bells Jingle

How you:  Resolve

 

Between the Two

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas isn’t easy.

Thanksgiving was my father’s favorite holiday. My Dad passed in July 2002. He didn’t made it to our first anniversary.

Christmas was my mother-in-law’s favorite holiday. Sally passed in December 2002. She didn’t make it to our first married Christmas.

I got to speak to my dad two days before he passed. He expressed regret that he’d never seen the Grand Canyon. Jeff told him we were heading up to Traverse City for the Cherry Festival. Dad said he guessed he’d never get to see that, either.  I got to speak at my dad, the day before he died. I described the festival as best I could through impending tears. He couldn’t talk to me or answer, but my mother told me he smiled widely when he heard our voices.

When Thanksgiving came around, I was sad, mopey and weepy. Jeff didn’t understand. He’d lost grandparents and he’d say, “They were old. They had a good life.” To me, he said, “I thought you’d be over this by now.” I burst into tears and cried, “You don’t understand!” He didn’t, but he did hold me until I’d cried myself out.

I didn’t get to speak to Sally. I know not everyone is as lucky as I was to have a friend in their mother-in-law. She truly was a gentle guide, although I didn’t realize that, at the time.

In August of 2002, Jeff and I were trying to find ways to make extra income. We’d heard about an indoor holiday market at the Adrian Mall, and decided to take a booth. Jeff began making painted ornaments using a technique he had seen in magazine. I had been given a booklet of Mason jar cookie recipes ideal for gift giving, so I decided to sell those, as well.

A few evenings before the show, Sally called with her usual enthusiasm and invited us to her house. I told Jeff, “We can’t go. I’m not done with the jars and we’re not ready for this show.” Jeff relayed my message and then relayed her message back to me. “She said to bring the jars and she’ll help.” Then told me aside, that she was so excited because her stepsons were visiting and she felt she could have all of her children in one place.

“How about we go tomorrow night, after the show?” I asked. “They might not be there, then.” He replied. But, I shook my head and said, “I really don’t think we should.”

We sold a few things on the quiet first half-day. Two ornaments, two cookie jars, 1 sunflower garden stake. The second day, we were setting up to open, when Jeff received a call saying he had to get home to Tecumseh. His mom had been taken to Herrick Hospital.

The serious condition turned out to be a diabetic coma she never woke up from.

Quote for the Week:

2016-12-06-sometimes-i-laugh-when-i-tell-stories-jakorte

(Yes, these are some of the ornaments Jeff made. 🙂

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Ornamental:  DIY – Marbled Paint Ornaments

Cookie Jars: DIY – Cookies in a Jar

Healing Power: Story Telling

The Positive No

The double unfortunate fortune I’ve been spending straddling two living space obligations has ended.

The good fortune of knowing when to say, “No,” means I will be spending close to $1,100 less for the month of April. I managed to convey a common sense solution to the extra month commission (aka rent) stipulation in the rental lease. I point out that I gave them the courtesy of a head-start on re-renting the property as soon as possible. I reiterate to be sure I understand my situation.

“So, what you are saying is that it will cost me more to let you rent to another party for the month of April, than it would for me to simply finish out my lease to the end of April.” I’ll give props for the honest response which was, “Yeah. You’re being screwed.” I offered to rescind my notice, and suddenly there was a “let-me-see-what-I-do” hanging in the air. The wheels finally clicked, and the common-sense train started to roll. Losing an interested renter for April forward could possibly mean loss of many forward rental payments.

There was also a bit of unreasonableness when I was asked to hand over the keys to the future tenant so they could get in and paint while I am still paying rent, while I am still paying utilities, while the lease is still in my name, while I am still holding the required renter’s insurance policy, and before I got my security deposit back. That didn’t happen, either, thanks to the fortunate existence of the word “No” and my remarkable willingness to use it. At last! There’s that long looked for upside of the flooring fiasco – it provided plenty of practice, in that regard.

I’m all for playing nice, but am never willing to be a push-over. I suppose a sweeter, younger person or less aggressive-minded, single old lady might have accepted the situation. I’m not comfortable categorizing this as unscrupulous. The lease says what it says. But, somewhere between maybe trying to take advantage and not recognizing what was being asked was ridiculous, I lost respect.

I will be getting my full security deposit back. No argument was required for that.

Quote for the Week:

There is no common sense in blind acceptance 03 24 2015

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Rental Insurance, Why?: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/alpha-consumer/2009/09/02/why-renters-insurance-is-worth-its-low-cost

Read this, Maybe: Sarah Strohmeyer’s The Penny Pincher’s Club, a novel filled with personal finance tips.

Unpacking in One Weekend, Not: http://www.moving.com/moving-boxes/unpacking-tips.asp