happiness is...

happiness is...
kenya 2010

Monday, November 18, 2013

today i learned how easy it would be to drown

in all fairness, i knew better. funny, but i say that like it is a defense. does it make something more or less idiotic if i recognize the dangers and do it anyway? i guess more idiotic, but at least you know i was being observant. 

yesterday was going to be the last paddle of the season. blair and i originally had plans to kayak at perry lake, but the weather wasn't cooperating. it was warm in the sun (upper 60s), but super windy. i don't mean a little windy. i mean windy in a kansas way. 20mph wind with gusts up to 40+mph. so windy that we had a change of plans. blair suggested, and i agreed, that we paddle the kansas river instead, in hopes that the river banks would provide some protection. we dropped off the van in eudora (about 10 miles downriver as the crow flies), picked up a couple friends, and headed back to the boat ramp in north lawrence. 

the riverbanks didn't seem to be playing along with our plan. if anything, i think they created a wind tunnel. the water was rough in a way that i'd never seen the river. i had seen the water levels high, swelling against the banks, and i had seen the water speed fast, rushing at breakneck speed toward the east...but i had never seen breakers and foot high whitecaps cover the surface, all the way across the river. we were all set to get in when the alarm bells went off in my head. we didn't have life vests. the two friends we were paddling with had brought theirs, but ours were in the van all the way upriver in eudora. i jokingly mentioned that if we tipped, they'd have to save us since they were the only ones with vests. they headed out on the water and it was an immediate struggle but they managed to start making their way down current. i got in my boat next and blair launched me. i didn't realize right away that i was in trouble, but i did recognize that this was no ordinary paddle. the current was pulling my boat straight across the river and i couldn't get my nose pointed downstream. i literally couldn't do it. i ruddered on the left and did wide c strokes on the right and nothing. i was sideways to the waves and they were breaking over the side and top of my boat. i was pitching side to side as they hit. i tried putting more arm into it, and tried to force my nose around, but it kept pulling back to the right. at one point, i felt like my boat was beginning to turn around backward so i gave a really hard thrust to the right...

and i went over, capsizing my kayak and plunging into the frigid kaw.

the water was so cold that it immediately took my breath away, like i had been kicked in the chest. i turned my head toward the boat ramp and saw that blair was preparing to get into his boat, and hadn't seen me flip. i tried to call his name, but barely any sound came out- mostly because i couldn't get a decent breath in. my clothes were quickly soaking up water and getting heavier, trying to drag me under. my boat was floating away, my paddle in the opposite direction, and i couldn't touch the bottom. with the weight of my clothes and the stiffening of my muscles from the cold, i didn't think i could swim to shore. i waved an arm and caught blair's attention, and then i put all my energy into catching up with my boat and clamoring up the side, until my chest was draped over the top like a shipwreck survivor...and i guess, in fact, i was. blair caught up with me as fast as he could and we tried to figure out the best move that wouldn't include him getting in the water, as well. i tried to kick paddle toward shore but the current was moving me more downstream than across. the longer i was in the water, the colder and weaker i got. finally, i drifted/kicked/maneuvered to an area just shallow enough that i could touch bottom. i slowly walked through the chest deep water, pushing the capsized kayak in front of me, until i reached the bank, and blair hauled us both out. though my actual time in the water was under 10 minutes, it felt like eternity (as little as one hour in 50 degree water can cause death due to hypothermia).

this is the part of the story where i end up shirtless at the kansas river for the second time in my life. some of you remember the story of the first. we had shirts in our dry bag so i was at least able to get dry on top- but not on the bottom. i have never been that cold in my life. i decided not to attempt to finish the paddle- the river had shown her superior strength and i thought it unwise to test her. blair, however, had to continue on since our friends had drifted a half mile or so downstream and were unable to make it back to us. we secured the boat on the shore, and i watched while he struggled against the waves and wind, making sure he didn't dunk like i had. when he had made it most of the way there, i started my hike along the bank back toward the trail head and parking lot. god was smiling on me, and just as i came up out of the river, 4 mountain bikers rode off the trail- one of them, a friend. in less than 5 minutes i was loaded into a warm car and driven to shaun's... wet, cold, humbled, and grateful for the chance to learn from this lesson...

...and to heed those pesky alarm bells in my head.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

i can finally do anything a guy can do. well, almost.

i love being a woman. i am not one of those people that daydreams about how great life would be if only i was born into different circumstances. i don't think my life is unfair, and i don't wish that i had been born someone else- especially a male someone else. i really love being a woman. i think we get away with things guys don't get away with (like going 90 mph in a 40 on a country road when we're 21), get bonuses they don't get (like a free $2000 roof upgrade, or an insulated garage door for the cruddy non-insulated door price), and can often charm/wriggle/manipulate our way into or out of a ridiculous plethora of situations that men can't. sorry guys- that's just life, and i love every girly minute of it. the only real advantage that i see in being a guy is the ability to pee standing up. 

today, i thought i had that one all figured out. thanks to amazon.com, i had the promise of being the ultimate man-girl. (enter stage left) the "extreme shewee. the portable urinating device for women." oh yeah....

so let's get this straight. i did not purchase the shewee to be more like a guy, or even to add one more advantage to this already blessed life i live. that was just going to be a bonus. i ordered it because i have had 3 knee surgeries and am moving to a country where all of the "toilets" are basically squat holes in the ground...which, of course, are surrounded by all the stuff that missed the squat holes when the other people were using them. i actually cannot get up from a full squat without pushing up off the ground, and i do not want to touch what i have seen on the ground in nepal. the shewee seemed like a no-brainer. if i can pee standing up, i will eliminate about 90% of the elimination squatting each and every day. woohoooooo! oh, what an interesting life i lead. 

the shewee kind of came with instructions. unfortunately, i didn't read them until after attempt #1. to be fair, they mostly said things like "adjust the amount of pressure you apply and the angle based on your body." well duh. what i didn't realize is that the time to experiment with the amount of pressure and the angle is not DURING attempt #1. it is kind of like learning to drive a car as a teenager- when your reflexes are fast, but you don't know what to do with them so you compensate, and then overcompensate, until you've crashed and burned. or dripped and drizzled. oh yike. i won't give any more details (you are very welcome) except to say that after i threw my jeans and the bathroom rug into the washer, i read those brief little instructions and noted the ones that say, "practice in the shower to find the position that is best for you." that reads like a proverb to me, now. note to self for attempt #2!

so now i can finally do anything a guy can do. well, almost.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

fat, sick, and nearly dead?

fat, sick, and nearly dead...that was a title that caught my eye one night as i was browsing the hulu free documentaries to distract myself from the boredom of having my boyfriend out of town for 2 months. it resonated with me. nearly dead? well, no- of course not. sick? well, sick of being fat. and i AM fat right now. as a matter of fact, probably my fattest since quitting smoking over 10 years ago (not that i got all of that weight off, either). sigh. haven't we been down this road before? yep, and as long as you'll keep reading, i'll keep sharing these struggles and this journey. after all, i have to believe that in most ways i'm pretty average, and others are surely struggling with the same things- especially in the 40-somethings.

so i watched the documentary and it was life changing. i am not just being dramatic (this time. haha). it really was an eye opening, transformational film. it chronicles the journey of a 41 year old guy who found himself fat, out of shape, struggling with an autoimmune disorder, and staring down the reality of his own mortality who decides to go on a 60 day juice fast. okay, that is a little extreme, even for me- and i am the queen of extreme...but he did it and it saved his life. probably literally. he is off all meds, feels great, and is HOT! okay, let's be real here. that is the part that resonated with me the most- the desire to be HOT!  under all that fat, out of shape mediocrity was a much younger looking and much better looking guy. i'm all in.

monday night i watched the movie with teary-eyed admiration. tuesday i bought a juicer. so far, i haven't looked back. i can't get past the desire to chew at least some of my food, so i am juicing about 90%. i have a juice for breakfast, one for lunch, one as an afternoon snack, and another later in the evening. dinner is a large greens salad with some protein (nuts or tuna, etc...) and a little olive oil and vinegar. yay- i get to chew!! the juices are delicious and i haven't found a combination that i haven't loved, yet. today's breakfast was orange beets, grapefruit, oranges, and carrots. lunch was kale, celery, green apple, lemon, and ginger. my snack was beets, carrots, celery, lemon, orange, and basil. the combinations are endless and yummy.

how do i feel? so far, pretty darn good. let's start by saying that between the juicing and walking an hour or so a day, i have lost 6 pounds in the past 10 days. i am peeing like a racehorse (sorry- but it's true!) so try to go to bed a little earlier each night to make up for the interruption of sleep. i can tell that my neurotransmitters are firing differently now that they are getting all of these super concentrated nutrients and aren't bogged down by "junk". my dreams are vivid and crazy. my skin is glowing. my body is firming. it is all good.

is there a downside? giving up coffee (i switched to green tea or yerba mate) made me a little groggy the first couple of days and i found myself dropping things a lot as i adjusted. my energy level was also lower, probably due to a drastic decrease in processed carbs and calories overall. other than that, most of the effects have been positive. i am also not particularly hungry. i am definitely ready for my next juice by the time i can have one, but i am no hungrier (or maybe even less) than i was between solid meals. i think i may be onto something!

i challenge you to at least watch the movie and see what i found so inspiring. then visit the website fatsickandnearlydead.com to read the success stories and check out the before and after pics. there is also info on juice recipes, and how to do a "reboot". you may not end up going on a juice fast, but i bet it gets you up off your couch, moving more and eating better. my roommate already took that challenge and i have dragged her to the dark side. she likes the added bonus that when you juice, you don't have to cook. hey- whatever motivates you, right?! 

stay tuned...


Saturday, January 19, 2013

now i can't be a thong model.

oh, the little heartbreaks in life that can't be avoided. the good news is that i am nearly healed from the brown recluse bite i battled with for the past month. yay!! but there is bad news. as so eloquently stated by one of the physicians in the department where i work, "i am so glad that the spider bite on your butt is healing up- but now you can't be a thong model." what??!!? OMG, he's right!! there is a scar there now! it is absolutely, positively, no-question-about-it true that NOW i can't be a thong model! i am SURE that is the only reason, too (sniff...whimper...sob).

i was keeping that possibility on the back burner for some extra income after retirement. sigh... back to the drawing board.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2012 resolution review- what do you think...did i keep them?!

i can't believe how fast 2012 went! it is already time to consider my new "resolutions" and review the old. i always thought those old people lamenting about how time just rockets by as you get older were exaggerating. nope! zooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom.

first, let's look at last year's resolutions. the first was to implement "no lights night" once a week, and only use candles or a headlamp from 5pm on. that one went pretty well- i actually kept that resolution through may! when my roommate moved in the first of june, i didn't have the heart to tell her she couldn't use lights one night a week- at MY whim. in fairness, she'd probably do it, but i didn't want to press my luck. i need her to want to live here, since she is "plan A" for watching my  house when i move to nepal.

resolution #2 was to go on a spending hiatus during lent, not purchasing anything besides the basic necessities of food, household cleaners, toilet paper, etc... well, not only did i do that during lent, i continued throughout the rest of the year. for the first 10 months of 2012, i purchased NOTHING that wasn't a necessity (with the exception of spending money on going out to eat or the occasional movie/entertainment splurge). the last 2 months i did purchase a pair of earrings in peru and some items i'll need in nepal that i can't buy there (a northface coat, sharp knives, and a couple of long blouses that fit me) but those can be arguably "necessities", right?! not only that, i sold or donated nearly half of my belongings to make room for my roommate and her stuff, and to earn a little money for my move. so, pretty good on #2!

the nepali eating experiment was a little brutal. i have already blogged that, so won't bore you here. just suffice it to say that i completed that one with more difficulty than i anticipated. i really don't like rice!

i also managed to keep #4, which was to keep my thermostat at or under 66 degrees in the cold months. this not only helped me save money, but also helped me adjust to colder temperatures in the house. this is something i'll have to deal with in spades once i'm in nepal- there is no central heat there. at this time of year, the hospital ward gets down to 40 degrees (F) at night and not much warmer during the day. even my sleeping bag is only rated down to 45F! wow- talk about something to be thankful for here in the US! as a matter of fact, do it now. just stop, take a moment, and say a little prayer of thanks for central heat. i'll wait...

so how about 2013? what's on the resolution agenda? well, as i'm sitting here with a brown recluse bite wound that i've been battling for 20 days, a tweaked lower back from sitting cattywompas because of the bite, and a whopping cold virus, i'd say that they need to revolve around health. i am suddenly feeling my biological age and my mortality. i saw a billboard on my trip to st. louis that said "eat like your life depends on it". so wise- i need to get my healthy eating back on track. and exercise more, to strengthen my body. more yoga and meditation to ease and strengthen my mind. and guitar lessons! i have already started those. come on, some of them have to be fun!

oh- and one last one...i vow NOT to look for love in 2013. that little experiment in 2012 was a disaster (you know who you are). 'nuff said.
here we go again....