Feet Firmly

It was supposed to be a New Year’s Day trek.

A plan for reviving and renewing and recommitting.

But, Sunday was a sunny day; way more interesting and way more convenient.

As usual, half the battle was getting ready to go out in the cold.

How cold is cold? How warm will I get? Light gloves? Heavy gloves?

Scarf? Hat? Leggings under jeans? Sweatshirt, sweater, long-sleeved tee?

Over-thinking is my specialty. I was still tying my footwear of choice when my fellow adventurer  arrived.

It’s always easier with two. Especially, when easily distracted by catch-up tales of Christmases. Hunting for fairy houses beneath the tropical foliage, discussing and longing for ways to economically and realistically grow tropicals here in Michigan.

It’s funny how quickly you can identify and obliterate your own ignorance. I’ve never wandered through a desert. The closest I’ve come might have been the short succulent aisle at a local garden shop. Or, maybe it was that time I asked someone to pull over so I could get a little closer to a real-live, dead armadillo in Plano, Texas. The green giants there were distant enough, but at least they were alive. I think.

Anyway, the point is, the cacti were stunning. In case you didn’t know, they’re not all green. They’re not all upstanding or towering, either. They’re gorgeous little symmetrical growths and odd-shaped tubular spikes. Subtly variegated, boldly striped or pin-painted with impeccably placed galaxies of dots.

Outside, crisp coldness was a welcome antidote to layered heat-retention. This had been my draw all along. A self-challenge to stop daydreaming about snow photography, and just do it. Stationary and kinetic sculptures, lightly dusted with snow, stood out and peeked out along dirt rows and paved paths. Photo-happy me, scuffled along discovering treasures. Which, is how it came about that we logged 3.5 miles. Slightly over our virtual 5K goal, but a sadly short 22 active minutes.

Lamenting that, I stalled. Standing there in my steel-toes, still caked with the mud of Katrina, this thought crossed my mind: Those were note-worthy years. Some years just aren’t. Obligations, expenses, losses get in the way. In times like these, self-focused isn’t necessarily a negative way to go.

Since its the end of the year, I’ll accept the insignificance and aspire elevation. The good news is the new one begins today. The better news is, new days are plentiful; each with new opportunities for future note-worthiness.

Quote for the Week:

2019 01 01 may our feet be firmly guided jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

In Any Season: Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

Nothing but Good News: Good News Network . Org

Hope for the New Year: From the Bible From the Bible

 

 

 

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

Paths, Altered

Here’s what I’ve been leading up to: I spend a lot of time looking down.

For the past few wonderfully warm months, it’s been at sidewalks and I’ve been mostly noticing this.

It hasn’t exactly been three years in coming. The first year was the struggle year. I fought to get out there. I fought to keep moving, keep challenging. Eventually, I noticed. Flowers, trees, blue skies, an occasional name scrawled in cement, a lot of cracks, uneven and uninteresting surfaces.

The second year, I pushed some more; booked longer jaunts, explored new neighborhoods, occasionally stopping to take pictures; fascinated by flowers, trees, blue skies, shadows, fences, a lot of cracks and uneven and now interesting surfaces. Sun glare left me snapping a lot of blind cellphone shots. Always, later, enjoying both the fun and frustration of reviewing the results, because even if what I meant to capture wasn’t the subject, sometimes something cooler came out of it.

As autumn came around, I searched for card-worthy photo-opportunities hoping to find the one sunset-hued tree-lined street or that one huge majestic oak. Looking down lead to great discoveries; a perfect leaf brilliant against grey dappled paths, an impressive impression pressed into wet cement likely by a hard-driving rain, piles piled up on lawns or swept into the street, hugging curbs in groups of brown haphazardly flecked with near-hidden yellows and oranges, reds and variegated prematurely released greens.

This year, traveling the same paths, everyday has taken over.  Embossed concrete company names and dates, chalk art, paint art, cat feet, dog feet, bird feet, squirrel and chipmunk and raccoon prints, and shoe stamps. There were way more people-were-here foot statements than previously noted. I was surprised by how many. Really.

Attributed to inconsiderate via abuse, patterned imprints in repeat and array, made me wonder.

Could there really be that many destructively intent sidewalk users? So many egotistically minded semi-eternal foot-printers? So many post-Kilroy era jokers laughingly adding “I Was Here” footnotes?

A slight step-back from the shadow I cast and a minute of reexamination made me think again. Maybe that’s not it at all.

Maybe there are kinder, equally plausible explanations for this side-walked trample.

Runners, confident, in the zone, might move eight full steps into the wet before they realized it. (Slightly jealous of this notion.)

Walkers, missing clues might misjudge liquidity levels. (Perhaps, if I wasn’t wearing my glasses…)

Bus stop standers waiting for buses or trying to sprint-step step-around navigate. (Glad, my commute hasn’t come to that, yet…)

Whatever the reason, whoever you are, accidentally or on-purpose, you’ve given me pause for thought, photographic memories, and left an impression now sparked with creativity.

It’s been an interesting, observational summer. Looking forward to walking an equally inspiring fall.

Quote for the Week:

2015 08 18 shadows on the sidewalks jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Was Here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilroy_was_here

Walk in the Rain: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/30/artist-sidewalk-art-appears-only-when-wet_n_6957470.html

Cure This: http://www.engr.psu.edu/ce/courses/ce584/concrete/library/construction/curing/curing.html

Paths, Almost

Looking down.

Habit; necessity.

I remember learning to walk, perhaps because I was a little older when I started to. With my mother at one end, and my older brother at the other, we played a game that required me to take a certain color ball from one person and bring it to the other. Not only did I have to know the color, I had to say the color, and then I had to deliver it to the other end. I recall being stuck on “yellow.” I couldn’t keep playing until I said “yellow,” and I wasn’t very good at saying “yellow.” It came out “weh-woh,” no matter how many times my mother instructed, “Say, yellow. Yell – o.”

The generational practice to correct club-feet was casting. It took me years, and a visit to a chiropractor to determine that while my feet are straight, and I move without a noticeable gait, my hips are ill-aligned.

The result is unsteadiness, a tendency for my ankles to turn. Looking down for sure-footedness constantly warred with the grade-school how-young-ladies-walk admonition, “Look up and ahead when walking.”

This is the reason I don’t run; experience has made me too nervous footed. I need to see exactly where the next foot-step is going to land. I am not comfortable the long-distance scan and memorization of holes, or cracks, or puddles, second nature to regular runners.

I do not want to fall; therefore I do not run. Never have. Not for buses, or subways, or taxis, or to be first in line for concert tickets or anything, nada. There was that one time, when a friend convinced me that it would be a good idea to do the day after Christmas early-morning sale stampede at a Wal*Mart in Tennessee. I ran, only for fear of being trampled and only off to the side until I was safe.

I’m sure there’s some sort of opposite visionary inspirational out there. “Do not let fear of falling stop you from running,” or something along those lines.

I’ve come to a good clip, though, constantly working to up-pace. Not quite speed-walker fast, but not quite as awkward appearing, either. I do imagine running while I’m walking. I also imagine dancing, and leaping in joy. I really did enjoy dance-walking, and was sad to see it end.

Some people don’t quite understand the competitive speed walking delineation. It does beg the question, “If you’re going to almost run, why not run?” This argument makes sense, unless you’re hosting a slight impairment, magnified by fear and habit.

It always comes down to this:

Who knows what brings people to where they are, or why they do or don’t do certain things?

… and this:

Gift someone with encouragement.

Quote for the Week:

2015 08 11 For every visionary inspirational out there jakorte

Enjoy this week’s Discovery Links:

Pluswalk: http://eracewalk.walkingclubofgeorgia.com/PlusFAQsWhy.htm

Posturing: http://www.racewalk.com/howTo/posture.php

For beginners: http://www.thewalkingsite.com/beginner.html

 

Paths, Walking

I love summer morning strolls. Early, when the air is sweet, dew is everywhere and there are fewer cross walk delays. It feels good and feeds my photographic passions. Each year finds its own focus. Most of last year was flower-obsessed. This year, it’s about the paths.

I make most of my picture stops on weekend mornings when the walks can be longer, and slower. Weekday walks are more like work; calculated for maximum accomplishment, a bit forced, and not so photo friendly. The evening challenge is trying not to go too early or too late, taking shorter and faster routes in order to get life’s other evening things settled before midnight. It gets complicated.

Too early, it’s too hot and muggy and cranky commuters seem to find button-pushing cross-walkers offensive. Too late, when the air is cooler and breezes begin, I’ve felt unsafe. Loiterers make me nervous. I’ve had to ask myself, while picking up my pace, why an adult man is riding a rather small bike around in circles in the middle of an after-work deserted road while his buddy turtle-walks toward me unsteadily. Could be the guy on the bike is just an escort keeping pace with his buddy on their way home from grabbing a shift-end cold-one; could be something sinister.

The key seems to be to set out closely following the supper window. Winding my way around corners and clusters, rare repeats – an elderly couple, a solo dog-walker – nod as paths cross. I enjoy the nicety, but keep walking in true New York City style; never taking the same route two days in a row.

I do this for my own safety. It annoys me, though, that I can’t walk where I want, when I want without having to conceive and calculate danger, and that I must let logic push pleasure aside.

Quote for the week:

2015 08 04 logic pushes pleasure aside 08 04 2015 jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

August is Brake Safety Awareness Month: http://www.wgem.com/story/29699274/2015/08/03/be-sure-to-check-your-brakes-august-is-brake-safety-awareness-month

Why Some Brains Enjoy Fear: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/10/why-do-some-brains-enjoy-fear/280938/

Walking Benefits: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1199

 

Nutritional Upheaval

I’m not that old, but like many others I’ve been through countless diets, life changes, recommendations, scientifically based sort-of facts-for-now stuff.

Along the way I have discovered a few things I probably could have gotten large government grants for. Too strict does not work. Too lax does not work. Reasonable works. Reasonable works even better with exercise.

Results are even more pronounced when everything else is in order: chakra, auras, spirits, godliness, centering, being comfortable in the universe. I have a hard time believing anyone is 100% comfortable in or with their own being 100% of the time. The odds just aren’t in that scenario’s favor. But, as long as we are operating with a more-good-than-bad mentality, things can mostly go well.

Five months into an enthusiastic recommitment to my own well-being, well…  I experienced a nutritional upheaval. Not in a good way; in a birthday-triggered sort of way. Celebrations tend to derail me. Luckily they are mostly scattered among weeks of normalcy. Last week, I abandoned normalcy. Back on the “food is fun” band wagon, I barreled straight through the swinging kitchen door of delights and kept going.

Monday: Max & Erma’s, lunch with friends, and a little pre-birthday celebrating last year plus one.  Economically, it didn’t make sense to avoid the lunch special – tortilla soup and a cheeseburger and fries and a cookie. About half of the fries were abandoned. Afternoon sluggishness isn’t uncommon when I indulge. I argued myself out of my evening walk, and took a 4:30 PM intentionally short nap. I define an intentional short nap as one that I set an alarm for, fully expecting to be productive later on.

Waking up at 6:00 pm is disorienting. My two most common mistakes are napping and not eating. I wasn’t hungry for dinner, so I grabbed a homemade chocolate-chip Miralax muffin. There’s that age birthday-connected thing again. Fiber: I need the stuff. Might as well enjoy it.

Tuesday: The Buffalo Wild Wings experience: Margarita, Salted Caramel, Honey BBQ and Fiery chicken flappers, split 4 ways with one basket of onion rings, and an iced tea. One took a slippery jump and did a terrific tumble down my dress shirt. While unsuccessfully attempting to minimize the disaster, I slapped the iced tea sending a wave across the table into a lap, and ended up letting the sticky blob plop onto my pants. Coincidentally, I had difficulty dressing for the non-Michigan summer-fall routine we have going on here. I grabbed an extra, slightly heavier, long sleeve shirt just in case the air conditioner didn’t get the 65 degrees in July memo. The change left me too warm, but less embarrassed. Tuesday is a dedicated non-walk day, and I didn’t. I also didn’t eat much again. I was excessively thirsty. I was also up stumbling around a few times taking in and letting out liquids.

Wednesday: Rising earlier than usual was harder than usual after my interrupted evening. I noticed my ankles weren’t looking like ankles. I couldn’t even see my ankle bones. Obviously retaining fluids – the wings were covered with sea salt, so that made sense. Still, I was sore and headachy and unenthusiastic. I mustered.

Long, unusual, and unpredictable days demand early morning substantiality. At 7:30 AM, armed with a Sausage McGriddle (no egg) and a diet coke (no hash browns) I parked in my usual headed-to-Detroit ride-share spot at Sam’s. The first three hours of paper sorting, cardboard piling and kilo-watt generating were followed by baked ziti, a nice salad, a glass of sugary punch and a cookie. I skipped the roll and butter. The second three hours of learning, watching, doing were interesting and a bit nerve-wracking. The wind-down dinner break was a planned roll to Corktown’s Taqueria Mi Puebla (on Dix.) The headache never really cleared, and I didn’t have the energy to care.

Hard work makes me less hungry, but I know by now I have to eat even if I don’t feel like it. The big meal thing wasn’t going to happen but splitting one meal and adding a small dish seemed like a good idea. Even shared, there was still plenty of food. I didn’t finish my halves, and experientially ignored the rice, mostly likely, because I was introduced to Horchata. Ordering a small was a good call on my part, as was adding a request for water. I loved it. It was creamy and sweet, and would have happily helped me avoid dessert, except for the even sweeter kindness of a friend and the cooperation of waitresses. One 30 gallon red-velvet, silver embellished sombrero, a serenade en Espanola and half a piece of Tres Leches cake, I was pretty happy. And pretty buzzy, too. And a little teary-eyed. And achy. And sore.

Before falling into bed, I munched on another convenient homemade chocolate-chip Miralax muffin.

Thursday: I woke up with donuts on my mind. Actually, I woke up a little nauseous and carb-crazy. The only way to get out of bed was to slither to the edge. My ankles were still pretty solid. My rings didn’t fit on my fingers so I didn’t wear them. An incoming call about the availability of vase, determined that I would not be stopping for donuts. I did, however, stop for a medium iced Mocha, and a diet Coke. The diet Coke wasn’t for me.

Donuts. I can never resist donuts. It’s well-known enough that I am frequently offered post-meeting baked goods. I know I ate two donuts. I think I might have had an extra half. I know I added jittery and spacy to my list of growing symptoms. But, that didn’t deter me from the boarding the next celebration train. Pulling into Red Lobster, I decided to eat sensibly. Another round of round-shape inducing food ensued. One cheddar biscuit, two cheddar biscuits and a “can’t count this as vegetables” creamy Caesar salad later, I realized I wasn’t even trying. After the side potatoes, salad and biscuits, only 3 coconut shrimp (no pina-colada sauce) were consumed. Dinner, 3 more shrimp.

Friday: Disgusting. That’s how I felt. My previously control fibromyalgia was solidly uncontrolled. Every joint was swollen, every limb puffy, and my tummy uncomfortably bloated. My mind was cloudy. My head was approaching migraine achy. I did not pack a lunch. I had nothing readily available to eat in the house, and I was out of those easy-eat muffins. I’m really not that fond of smoky burgers, but it seems Burger King has turned into a semi-regular Friday lunch run with a few women I don’t see very often. So, of course, I went with justification. There are always coupons to be used. A Whopper with cheese, a small fry, a small diet root beer and what I considered to be my last fling of unreasonableness, a rather small hot fudge sundae, filled my eat-in tray.

So, there you have it. A week in a non-dieting mode had ended. Voila! Done with the episodic nutrition-lacking stupidity!

Shortly after sluggishly returning to my desk, a coworker arrived with a salad bowl full of individual ice cream cups from Stucchi’s. Luckily, I didn’t care much for the flavor I was offered. Unluckily, I was feeling feisty enough to go back to the break room and trade it in for another flavor. To my food-dazed credit, I realized that it probably wasn’t in my best interest to have another round of ice cream.  I stuck it in the freezer, for the moment, and then lugged it home at the end of the day. Why? I guess, because, I could.

Before that, before I could make it safely home, before I even left the office, there was one more opportunity for obstinate denial. The birthday celebration cake: Busch’s really does make a tasty sheet-cake. Have I mentioned my birthday? Yep, I went for cake. By the time I got there was no longer a determinable decorating theme, but it didn’t matter. There on the counter, cut into unusually large pieces, were dozens of pieces of cake. I did not choose the petitest marbled piece. It went down quickly in a completely unmemorable kind of way and left me with a sugar cough, incredible thirst and a deep blue melancholy tinged with a little anger.

I hadn’t even made a serious half-attempt at control. So, I rounded it out for good. Dinner was the 4 remaining left-over coconut shrimp, the last homemade chocolate-chip Miralx muffin and the formulation of a repair the damage plan.

Saturday: I spent a lot of time prone. Switch the laundry; lie down. Make the bed; lie down. Empty the dishwasher; lie down. That’s when it occurred to me. I had food poisoning. Not the traditional kind, but my special brand of “keep ignoring the signs and symptoms, dummy.” Within one week, I exacerbated every quirk physical quirk and concern I have: high sugars, low sugars, rampant FM weakness and pain, headaches that turn into migraines, thirst, exhaustion, fluid retention. It was also hard to breathe after one staircase, and more than once a leg felt as if it would buckle. I dropped a lot of things. It brought back memories of 298 and misery.

I weigh myself Monday and Friday each week. Monday, at the start of this debacle, I was something something 4.2. Friday, I was something something 8.6. In one week, it seemed I had lost almost everything I had accomplished in the last five months.

I also devoted two days to detox. Not in the traditional way, but in the chicken-fruits-vegetables-antioxident tea and water routine. Two days of reasonableness helped somewhat. Monday, I began to feel less cloudy; more awake. I almost ruined the day with a sweet coffee drink, but saved it with a veggie laden lunch at Leaf and fruit salad and more chicken for dinner.

Tuesday: today. I made myself walk to work. After work, getting out the door to make the short loop around the neighborhood took longer than the trek. 40 minutes to mentally prepare for 26 minutes, 1.2 miles, 19:33 pace and a measly 180 kcal wasn’t a bad restart. It also isn’t the 42 minutes, 2.47 miles, 19:13 pace or 336 kcal of the dance/walk two weeks ago.  I delayed weigh-in by one day. This morning I was something something 4.6. Net, not so bad – everything else, not so good.

Sometimes, when we do unintelligent things, we console ourselves with the thought that we will be too intelligent to ever make the same mistake again.

Sometimes, we aren’t. More importantly, sometimes, we are.

Quote for the week:

You are strong when you know your weaknesses. You are beautiful when you appreciate your flaws. You are wise when you learn from your mistakes. ~ Unknown

Enjoy this week’s Discovery Links:

Determining Pace: http://walking.about.com/od/measure/f/howfastwalking.htm

“Fibroglycemia”: http://www.fibromyalgia-symptoms.org/effect-of-carbohydrate-consumption-on-fibromyalgia

Drop the Fatitude: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1366

Sometimes, when we do unintelligent things 07 29 2014