Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our Walk In The Woods

The day before leap-year-day, Larry and I took Jackson and Mattie Grace for a long walk in Weetamoo Woods here in Tiverton. The East Road entrance is about a half-mile past Gray's Ice Cream. We are making a point of touring local sites, and trying new (for us) local restaurants to get a better "feel" for where we retired. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!

We took a short trip to Bristol for a little shopping, then we ate at The Beehive Restaurant at the recommendation of my trainer. It's a small place on Franklin Street that serves mostly breakfast and lunch. It does serve limited dinner on specific days too though. Larry got a delicious meatloaf sandwich and I had a salmon BLT, both on flax toast. We shared a curried spinach soup, and each sandwich came with a small, "dressed" salad. They were really very good, but pricey. The desserts were recommended and looked really delicious in the case, but I ran out of there before succumbing to temptation. I settled instead for a small, non-fat caramel latte to go. It was really, really good...tastier than Starbucks; so creamy and sweet.
Once we got home, we grabbed the pups and headed to woods. There's something different about walking in the woods versus walking along the beach that I just love. Once you are enveloped by trees, babbling brooks and silence, I love just hearing the sounds of our footsteps on leaves and birdsong in the air.

Winter can be just as lovely there as other times, but our uncharacteristic winter did not spare us from ticks. Larry found one crawling on his laptop keyboard while the pups sat on his lap after we got home. Consequently, both pups were dowsed with Frontline and got their heartworm pills. Whatever it takes to remind me works just fine.

There were old stone walls throughout the woods. I love them. These acres must once have been farmland whose territorial boundaries the walls delineate. Now, they are grown over with trees, shrub and vine, but never lose their beauty, even when falling apart. The stone walls around here remind me of those on Martha's Vineyard. I love the way they make me feel safe and grounded. And I love appreciating the way they hold the history of a place.

There was an old saw mill that has been gone for many years, but the ruins remain along with human's ingenious talent for making arched-bridges over running water. The little arches in these woods reminded me of the same style of arch formation that support Echo Bridge in my hometown of Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts. They are really beautiful, and leave me feeling in awe of raw human talent and ingenuity.
More beauty of winter woods lies in the moss and lichen growing on everything. Looking at all this growth reminds me of when I went scuba diving in Aruba and saw all the sea-life growing on submerged sailing ship lines and masts. Nature will just take over when humans and done playing. This IS the "Circle of Life". We just have to learn to live with it instead of trying to control it all the time. I have learned to fully appreciate its beauty and am grateful to have it all so close by our home.

Tree Ribbon Sculpture

I also love to look at bark on different trees. There are lichen and moss-covered tree trunks, and bare trunks revealing lovely markings underneath. Some look like Jackson's "cow spots" on skin that can only be seen when he gets his short "spring" cut. God is an incredible artist with an unlimited pallet.

 My favorte part of "winter into spring" season is all the new growth peaking up through dead leaves and branches. The green birth of new plants gives me a loving feeling of "New Beginnings" in my heart every year. I am so grateful for the opportunity of so many beautiful landscapes to walk through. Their beauty never ceases to amaze and move me.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Two steps forward, one step back

How does this happen? I had such a great beginning of the week: so full of energy and feeling good. Yesterday and today I feel like crap. I'm exhausted and my knees are killing me, despite getting both acupuncture and chiropractic treatments on them and the rest of me. I'm doing everything right: eating well and exercising regularly. I don't get it.

Everyone says I need to rest for my muscles to heal. I get that. But, then I get nervous that if I stop exercising, I won't go back to it. I told my chiropractor as much this morning. He said I needed to rest. The older we get, the harder it is for our bodies to repair and restore themselves. Just rest. So I am. I'm feeling guilty, but my knees are reminding me to stop. I rescheduled my personal trainer appointment for tomorrow at 11 a.m.

It is also amazing that when I don't feel well or energized, depressing thoughts invade my mind. These thoughts bring me down even more and make me think I'm depressed. I know I'm not. I just need to push those "stinkin'" thoughts out of my head. These days when I see a baby or a happy grandmother, I cry. It doesn't last long, and I thought I'd be over this by now, but I'm not. So be it.

I know I'll feel better tomorrow. The sun is shining now after the fog and rain this morning. So, I'll cook swordfish for supper and hope for a better night.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy "Love" Day!

"Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all." Poor Whitney Houston sang this song like an angel, but just didn't take those words in. I can relate to her plight. I'm sure lots of us can. Oh, we like ourselves, and we tell ourselves we love our Selves, but our behavior doesn't necessarily demonstrate that love. We abuse our bodies with food, drink, sweets, smoke and several other things I could name but won't.. We make time for everyone else before we give ourselves equal time. We take care of anyone else before we care for our own body, mind or spirit. I know I always have. But, today I fully realized I am finally living that lovely song.

This is the first time I actually believe I am changing my lifestyle from one of self-abuse to one of self-love. I feel it in the way I choose to eat and drink. I am choosing healthier foods, drinking enough water daily, and drinking way less alcohol than I used to. I'm not smoking anything these days because my ability to reach those high notes feels so much more important than numbing my mind and heart by getting high. I am feeling my feelings, and crying when I need to. But my sadness does not overcome me.

I feel angry sometimes, but with the help of my Chakra class, I am learning to express it in a responsible way, so I can let it go sooner than I used to. I always either lashed out in hurtful ways, or stuffed my anger down and let it fester inside me. At some point,  it came out in ways that had nothing to do with what made me angry in the first place. I still need work on this one, but I'm getting there...slowly. The point is that I am learning. I keep trying. I continue the process of self-awareness, and really believe I am more conscious about my choices. Being "conscious" is very important to me. I choose to take responsibility for my own thoughts, words and actions rather than blame others. Blaming doesn't help anyone.

My knees have been cracking like crazy lately, so I bought some "Joint Juice" (liquid Glucosomine and Chondroitin, advertised by Joe Montana) at Target. My chiropractor says I need more lubrication in my knees, so I hope this juice will help over time. I discovered that if I have to take pills more than once a day, I just won't remember to do it. I used to take Glucosomine and Chondroitin tablets, but never took it as often as was required, so I didn't derive their purported benefits. "Trader Joe's" had pills I could take once a day, but I didn't keep it up. I tried a liquid version I found at Shaw's Supermarket one day, and didn't keep that up either. But, now the osteo-arthritis in my knees is progressing to a new place, and I am determined to slow its progression. I hope the juice will help. Because I'm drinking the juice, I'm more devoted to taking my multivitamin, calcium and Omega-3 pills on a daily basis. I'm still not taking them every day, but I am on most days. This is progress for me.

And, my weekly exercise is becoming routine. I go to the gym twice a week; lifting weights and using their treadmill for thirty minutes afterwards. Lately, I've been using the elliptical machine and finding I can burn off more calories and get my heart rate up higher in twenty minutes than I can in thirty on the treadmill. I used to avoid this machine because it was too hard. Now I choose it first. I am meeting very nice, local people, and we support each other. "Good job today. Thanks so much. You too!" That's also progress.

When I'm not at the gym, I briskly walk four miles in my beautiful south coast neighborhood. Not only do these walks help my knees and my heart, they soothe my mind and fill my spirit with the beauty of nature. I love my "critter" friends, and these walks bring me great joy. I spend at least two hours a day, five days a week exercising. By Friday, my knees are screaming at me to stop, so I do. I take Friday and Saturday off in general to rest them. By Sunday, they are ready for their walk again. This routine has become very comforting, because I finally have one.

When I was working, having a routine was something I could count on, but I was unhappy. That routine was about supporting myself financially, and I had no choice in the matter. Being retired now, I have many more choices and more time to find out what they are and if I want to make them. Spending two hours a day exercising at something, has become well worth the time and the effort. I look forward to it. I have never been able to say this before. More progress.

Singing in the community chorus has also become a great joy. The music we create moves me to tears sometimes. I am again meeting nice, local people, and look forward to it each week. I am learning to read music again, and I find this incredibly challenging. Simultaneous focusing is very difficult, but is getting a little easier at each rehearsal. I am exercising my brain, and that also feels good. Progress.

I always believed I loved my Self. But, I know now that for the most part, I was fooling myself into believing it. Now, I feel it. I do love myself. I love my Self as much, if not more, than I love my family and my good friends. I am once again choosing Me over them. I don't see this choice as a negative, selfish one, but a necessary one for my own survival. I am the only one I will be with for the entirety of my life. Just Me. If I am not happy and content, nobody will be happy being in my company. If I don't give to myself, I have nothing to give anyone else. If I don't love myself, how can I possibly be lovable to anyone else or be free to receive their love. I need to know what Love is first.
Life is so interesting. So is learning to Love. Great Love is bigger than we can even take in or comprehend. Unconditional Love is the hardest Love to live. But learning to Love unconditionally is by far the most rewarding. I consider my Self a student of Unconditional Love. I learn more about this Love every day. Every time I let go of judgement or criticism, I am learning to love. I realize that when I judge or criticize another, I am really doing it to my Self. Enough already. The Catholic Church may tell me I am unworthy, but I refuse to say those words now. I am worthy. Just like the commercials say for Preference by Loreal color I use on my hair, "I'm worth it."

God bless you, Whitney. Thank you for your beautiful voice and for bringing us inspiration and joy. I pray you will be at peace now, and have found that love of your Self in Heavenly arms. Happy "Love" Day, everyone. Celebrate You tomorrow.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Superbowl Sunday

It was twenty-eight degrees outside this morning, but I layered up and hit the road for a good walk in the sunshine. I slacked off over the last two days and have been feeling a little guilty. On the upside, my knees felt good, so I was more motivated to get out there; cold and all. It was great to be outside. I keep forgetting how nice it is. I walk and wave at passing drivers who wave back at me. It's a friendly area, and so beautiful. I said hello to my horse friend, and met a new friend, Mr. Sheep. He came to meet me for the first time ever.

Although it is early February in New England, Mother Nature thinks it is early spring. I don't care what Punxsutawney Phil said, the bulbs are popping up, and the robins are showing up. It's a very strange feeling. I like the warmer weather, but I just can't help feeling the snowshoe will hit us sometime soon. There's no evidence of this from the weather reports, but I just can't help feeling this weather just ain't right.

Skunk Cabbage
As I walked and listened to Jennifer Nettles sing about dreams, I thought about my lost grandbaby boys, Aidan and Owen, and shed a few tears. I miss them so much today. Superbowl Sunday is about the boys. It's about rough-housing boys, loud-yelling boys, and back-slapping; butt-tapping boys. After feeling the sadness of their loss, I decided to stop lamenting. Instead, I thought about them sitting in Heaven with their Great Grampy and Uncle Paul, sitting on bleachers made of fluffy clouds. They are wearing their Patriots jerseys, eating hot dogs, and yelling in support of their family's favorite football team. I wish they could be here with us in body instead of in spirit. The thought of them being with us at all, though, made that little piece of my broken heart sing again. Go Pats! I can hear you, boys. Can you hear us? We love you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Little by Little

When I left the gym the other day, the owner asked me if I was losing weight. I said I didn't know because my scale is broken. He said, "Well, it looks like you've lost an inch or two."

That was the right thing to say to me that day. I've been fighting discouragement with exercising, but have in fact noticed that I am a tad smaller also. I feel a little stronger too. I laughed at myself because I was flexing in the bathroom. No muscles popping up on my biceps yet, but I feel better. My muscles are very sore, and it's hard to stretch them out. A therapeutic massage on Friday worked for a little while, but that night, I was sore all over again. My knees have been crying, but I just keep moving them, go to the chiropractor, take pain relievers when necessary, and use BioFreeze now and then. I know that when I build up the muscles that support them, they will get to spell "r-e-l-i-e-f".

I'm better today, but feel guilty that I didn't get a walk in. I took yesterday off because my knees were sore and I was tired. I'll make up for it tomorrow. I am very aware of making sure I at least exercise five to six days out of seven. So far, I have been successful. And, I am eating very well.  I plan to renew my training sessions, and actually like going. This is a huge milestone overcome. I feel proud of myself tonight.