Sunday, September 11, 2016

More stories to come

I drove to Canby on Friday to make lefse with Mom, a sister-in-law, and two cousins. We had a great time and lots of stories were told. I took a walk Saturday, past the places I remember from my youth. Like this one. 

I'm typing this on my phone at the music festival. I am not a one-finger typist, so this will be short. 

Rock Bend Folk Festival

It's been a wonderful weekend. The weather is perfect, the mosquitoes took a vacation, the music is great, and the park is filled to the brim with happy people. 

Yesterday, we collected almost twenty stories.  Some about water, but we had no rules. I think there is one entitled The Fart Heard Round the World. And so it goes. 

We'll be here another day, soaking up sun and music and magic. 

Friday, September 09, 2016

Testing email blogging

It's going to be a busy weekend with a road trip then Rock Bend Folk Festival where our project, 600 Words, will occupy a booth to collect stories. The weather forecast is glorious so what could be better?

I'm testing my ability to post pics and text via email so I can post "from the road"! See you on the inter webs.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

update, as i promised

Update Saturday, September 3

Today is my 60th day of sobriety. 

I went to an inpatient program on July 5th and spent 30 days there learning about addiction, reflecting on my experiences before and after my addiction reared its head, sharing things about my life and sharing in the revelations of others, and developing a 30 day foundation of sobriety. It was a profound experience in many ways.

For the most part, sobriety has not been difficult for me, so far. It might get more difficult, certainly, but at this point I am grateful that I have had few urges to drink and those have been fairly easy to deal with.

Yesterday, I subbed in a special education classroom in the same school where I taught for most of my career. At the end of the day I went home feeling a little out of sorts and at loose ends. What do I do with a sober Friday afternoon? I settled on 30 minutes of hatha yoga with a DVD and then a nice dinner out with my husband. I had planned to make dinner but I thought the late afternoon being in the kitchen trigger might be just too much! After dinner we went for a walk as the sun was setting.

Exercise has been an important part of my recovery plan. I walk, swim, do yoga, and I think I might do some biking this fall.

Speaking of which, I learned that a recovery plan is often quite fluid and will not look the same at six months that it did at 60 days. Mine certainly has been fluid. It doesn't look anything like the one I developed in my last week of treatment. As I read about the ideas of massive action and overwhelming force that are required for success, I am developing my recovery plan based on what I think that means. Massive action = daily habits that support recovery.

After much reading, I have decided to use the five areas of holistic recovery to plan my recovery plan's daily habits:
1. Emotional health- Includes AA meetings, Women for Sobriety, family support, and my after-care program
2. Physical health- Includes exercise, healthy diet, regular check-ups with oncology and primary care to monitor over-all health and especially liver functions and red blood cells
3. Mental health- Includes volunteer activities, recreation and hobbies (writing, exercise, reading, cooking, education, music, and art
4. Social health- Includes contact with sober friends I have met through inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, AA, and WFS as well as any family and friends who support me in my sobriety (Third Thursday Potluck, Friday afternoon friends, coffee group after yoga)
5. Spiritual health- Includes meditation and prayer, yoga 2-3 times/week, daily walks, journal and blog, happiness practices

Some categories are very broad and some activities overlap two categories. The thing I like about this is that I can use it for flexible planning of daily activities to support recovery and I can also use it as a way to assess throughout the day if I am doing things in each category. As the day winds down, do I need work on my spiritual health or my social health? Do I go for a walk or do I call a supportive friend?

In September, I can go down to two times a week at my outpatient group. The counselor told me I could pick the days, Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday but I think what I will do is make a monthly calendar so I can be flexible. If one week, I have Digital Photography Club on a Thursday, I can attend group on Monday and Tuesday. I don't want to skip a night of group with nothing to replace it.

This week, I wrote a relapse plan. I watched the documentary Memo to Self and learned that it's good, when I am strong, to plan for when I am weak. My relapse plan has a 1-10 scale of risk of relapse with ten being active drinking. At a couple places along the continuum, there are people to call and things to do. The relapse plan is not negotiable. If I am drinking, this is what we will do immediately. It's a little bit like an insurance policy.

I made it through some difficult things this week- the death of a friend, the serious illness of a child I know, working two days with the subsequent feelings from that, news of several relapses, and some health disturbances without drinking.

I am enjoying my sober life and I am grateful for each day.

P.S. And of course, I have binders for this information. And file folders, dividers, plastic sheet liners, charts, and checklists. It's what I do.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

morning miracles

I've been going for walks regularly with Gus and Regis. Regis likes to be out the door so I have to set my alarm for 5am. Not a bad schedule since I have always enjoyed the early mornings and it helps regulate my sleep to have a schedule like that. Not to say that some mornings, I am not cranky at 5am. Just a little.

I love the first picture. The cloud bank that looks like mountains, the hazy sunrise, the geese. Beautiful.

The sunrises this past month have been spectacular. Looking out over the valley as the sun peeks over the horizon is a wonderful way to greet the day. It's hard to be cranky looking at this.

Last night we went out for a Mexican dinner with Tom and Betty. Good food and good company. We told a lot of stories and had a lot of laughs. We ended the evening by sitting on the deck at Westwood which was enjoyable until the mosquito battalions moved in. 

I subbed yesterday in the school where I used to teach. It's always a nice experience being in Joanne's middle school age classroom...until the middle school sense of humor kicks in re: farts. It happens every time. I always tell them I was raised with four brothers and I have heard enough fart humor to last me the rest of my life. And then I laugh.

I have walked with Regis sporadically over the past four years since we got Gus. Gus is a dog who appreciates his exercise which means that one or both of us much learn to appreciate it, too. Regis is dedicated to walking Gus...most days they are out two times for at least a mile each time. Sometimes I am lazy. I am not so fond of the same path every day so I am waiting for the bugs to subside and the paths in the woods to dry up so we can head out into the woods.

Our friend, Tom, died on Sunday at his home at 63. We were stunned and saddened to hear the news of Tom's passing. He and Mary owned Lone Star Barbecue in St. Peter, one of our favorite haunts. From the first time we went there, Tom and Mary remembered us, always came to chat, and made us feel welcomed. This afternoon, we'll attend the visitation and memorial service. Such a sad, sad thing.
Life is short. As Warren Zevon said: Appreciate every sandwich.

Make it a wonderful day, my friends.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

catching up; the long and random way

Several times over the past year, I have vowed to get back to regular blogging. During good times and hard times, I wanted to get back to regular writing and posting. Somehow, and for many reasons, it didn't happen.

One reason is that once you get behind, like anything else, it becomes overwhelming. Months and months of pictures and events and normal's almost too much to trudge through. But this morning, it occurred to me at yoga that I don't need to catch up in minute detail. A few pictures, a few random events, some explanation. It's all good as the hip kids say.

We are feeding hummingbirds this year and the little buggers are glad we are. There are almost always at least two at the feeders from dawn to dusk. We had to train our eyes to spot their darting behavior. They move so fast and rarely sit still in a place where you can take their picture.

Peter and April got married on July 25th. It was a lovely and emotional event. I love this photo of Peter and most of his wedding party. They laughed a lot, which was so nice to see.

I haven't been sure of how to talk about this issue on my blog, but what the hell. Here goes. For the past two years, I have struggled with my abuse of alcohol. Things reached a peak the end of June and I admitted myself to the Intensive Addiction Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. It was a profound experience in so many ways. One Sunday afternoon, I wandered over to a nearby Caribou and had a big iced tea and wrote in my journal.

Regis took a lot of walks with Gus during my unfortunate incarceration. It really wasn't that but it was a good joke. The line is from Designing Women, a wondeerful sit com that nobody remembers anymore. So sad.

Truck wreckage. Could be a metaphor.

Annual trip to the Nicollet County Fair. Much over-priced junk food was consumed but at least we did not attend the demo derby. A guy has to have some standards.

We made our semi-annual pilgrimage to KMSU to be radio programmers for the day. Ella, also known as DJ Lil Miss, loves this gig. She plays music, tells jokes, engages in witty repartee and we always go out for breakfast when all is said and done.

I spent some time playing with Picmonkey this summer. This is my glamour shot.

And this is me standing behind the car outside the Generose Building, the scene of my unfortunate incarceration. Actually, it was considered an outpatient program with lodging so I could sign out to get a haircut or a cup of coffee. Quite civilized.

Mom came to Mankato for Peter and April's wedding. We had a splendid time and great food. Neither of stayed up late to boogie with the young folks but it was fun just the same;


April and her moms at the bachelorette party!

Such a lovely couple. I think this photo looks Gatsby-esque.

Many beautiful sunrises this summer.

Peace Garden at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester

Elliot and Jack at the rehearsal for the wedding.

So, there it is.

I'm busy with recovery stuff, groups, meetings, yoga, swimming, walking with Gus and Regis, cooking, organizing at home, reconnecting with friends, and catching up in many areas of my life. A young fellow I met in my treatment program said this: Alcohol robbed me of all the magic in my life, but now that I am recovering, I can see the color coming back.

Here we go, friends. Back to regular blogging.

Friday, June 10, 2016


I had my six month oncology appointments yesterday. I had a blood draw at 7:30, saw my research nurse at 9 and the doc at 9:20. He forgot to send the order for Zometa so I waited three hours until he could order it and the pharmacy staff could get back from lunch. What might surprise you is that I didn't even come close to losing my mind. I was a very patient patient.

One of the numbers on my blood panel was slightly elevated so I have to have a CT scan. I only deal with generalities regarding medical crap so don't ask about details. I pay a boatload of money to my oncologist so he can pay attention to the details. We decided to do it in Waseca because I could in today and maybe get the results this afternoon. No urgency about it...I didn't feel like waiting until July to have it done in Mankato.

So, while I always have a small kernel of dread in the pit of my stomach when it comes to these things, I try to balance that by reminding myself that the answer is already written down somewhere out there in the universe and I don't want to waste time on worry. I did have the gray faced men marching around the bed for a time during the dark hours before dawn, but they vanished with the sun.

Gus went for an early walk with Regis, Woody had some tuna with his breakfast, and we had a lovely drive through the countryside. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

it's been loud in the neighborhood

I've ranted about this in the past, but today, I proclaim I have found a solution. Some people just have to make noise. My neighbor came home with an industrial sized weed whacker. The kind they use in the bush. The kind that will take down brush as high as your head with trunks as big as your finger. He thas a tidy, conservative's lawn that is manicured frequently. His need for a brush whacker is questionable.

So, believe it or not, I am done complaining about this issue. I keep a pair by the door and don them whenever the noise pollution problem starts climbing up my spine.

It's the human condition that the more irritated you get by something, the more irritated you get by something. I am going to be a better problem solver and not such a complainer. 

We have a dilemma. We love the Blues Fest which is this weekend but the weather forecast shows temps in the 90s. Seriously, we have been at this festival when we have had to go home to get extra clothes, blankets, and hot drinks. Could we be just a little more consistent, Minnesota? (Does this qualify as a rant?)

Regis sent me a link to a great article this morning. 24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear. It's a great blog. This summarizes her opinion (Swear alert.)
Women in today’s world are hit from all sides. Do this. Wear that. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Speak softly. Smile. Agree, agree, agree. Assimilate. Shut up. Stay down. The last thing we need is other women telling us what we should and shouldn’t do. Stand up, ladies, and stand together. Don’t be like Kallie Provencher. (Especially don’t be like her.) Wear what you want, do what you want, and support one another! And like all of these fabulous ladies, don’t give a fuck.
I wrote a snarky reply to a meme on Facebook that was critical of Hillary for wearing a $12,000 Armani jacket to talk about inequality. Who cares? When we are talking about the cost of the clothes men wear, then we can talk. But that will be never.

So, it appears that the first woman ever has been nominated to be a candidate for POTUS. Let that sink in for a minute. It should have happened a long time ago. 

And that rape that is in the news. I can't even talk about that.

All of this seems related but I am not sure how. I guess I will leave it to others to put this together.

If you're interested in words, this is good. Misogyny: Does it Mean Hatred or Bias?

Need coffee. And a sense of humor, apparently.