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September 20, 2012

Swimming For Your Life

When I was about 4 or 5 there was a commercial running on television. I remember it as a commercial for the Olympics which would have made it the 1972 Olympics. (When I realized today which Olympics it was it shook me up a little. Putting our memories in a larger context can be strange.) This commercial featured slow motion footage of a swimmer doing the butterfly. I couldn't find the commercial online anywhere and knowing how popular Mark Spitz was at the time it could have been a commercial for anything featuring him.

Anyway, what I'm leading up to is this was the year I was going to get to take swimming lessons at the YMCA. I remember watching those commercials intently. I took in every detail and memorized the movement. When I finally got into the pool with my class and new swimming teacher, I announced to the teacher that I could swim. The teacher asked me to demonstrate so I made a valiant attempt at the butterfly. If anyone has ever done the butterfly they know it is a rather brutal swim stroke that taxes most everyone let alone a 4-year-old kid who can't actually swim. So I sunk.

I remember being under the water, still trying to butterfly, thinking, "hmm, this isn't going the way I thought it would." The teacher pulled me up, placed me with the rest of the class and proceeded with the lesson. I didn't say anything about what I had just done or cry or even be afraid. Actually I wasn't afraid at all. Even after that. It seems odd. We'll not explore it...

I ended up being a very good swimmer and have spent most of my life in the pool. I grew up with pools in the backyard and even swam on a swim team in high school.

I haven't swum in a few years. You don't really want to prance around in a bathing suit when you are overweight and since I don't have a pool anymore I have to swim in *gasp* public pools.

Now I have lousy knees. I am fairly young but with "really bad" arthritis, no cartilage and a torn meniscus, I'm finding my workout routine very painful. My doctor said I should swim. I wonder why that never occurred to me! So I joined a health club that has a nice pool (as well as swimming coaches).

It was important to me that I get a really good workout so I researched swimming workouts and swimming drills. I found a core workout from a tri-athlete that looked pretty good. I knew the tri-athlete was likely at a different fitness level than me (said tongue-in-cheek!) but I figured I could get through it if I went much slower and took breaks. Also I figured that even if I didn't finish it I would still get a great workout which was the goal. So I wrote out this workout (in giant letters so I could read it without my glasses) and slipped it into a plastic sandwich bag (so it could get wet) and trooped over to the pool early this morning.

As soon as I set off I felt it. By the time I was halfway across the pool I thought I might be having an asthma attack and then realized I was just breathless because I was exerted already! I powered through and on the return lap I realized I wasn't even going to finish the warm up. I was just repeating history 40 years later! Actually that first swimming lesson was pretty indicative of how I would run the rest of my life. I'm just not afraid to try and I'm often in over my head (figuratively and literally).

Some things never change. But I do believe that when you work out, go big and fail big. No one is looking.


September 04, 2012

Like sands through the hourglass...

Time off from writing in general. I kind of needed it. More life adjustments. I finally decided I needed to either commit completely to my own business or look for a permanent position. I picked up two clients pretty quickly for my business and I'm glad I had that experience. It is cool being your own boss but that also means I'm the financing dept., sales, HR, etc. That kind of sucked. Especially since client #2 was very slow to pay their bill. That helped me decide I was probably not ready for my own business. If I'm going to do it in the future I'm going to get funding or a loan or something and do it right. If I had another income that would provide some security then I could do the slow business build up but mine is the only income and thus a shaky foundation that can be knocked over by one reluctant-to-pay client.

So I whipped up the perm position job search and with the market being so much better I was successful. Super successful actually. I had three offers at the same time so I had the luxury of negotiating a little and selecting the right fit for me. It wasn't easy because all three offers were great and with orgs I was interested in. Fingers crossed that I made the right decision because seriously, if I get laid off in 6 months again or find I'm working for an idiot psycho again, I don't know if I can hack it.

Anyway, so far the new job seems great. I adore the people I'm working with and I've been very impressed with everyone I've met so far. Usually in a job you interact with people and pretty quickly you find a couple you realize are idiots. Well, maybe that is just me. But so far everyone I've interacted with has been super cool and whip smart. I love the project I'm working on and I think I can be really successful at it. That is a nice feeling!

So random updates:

1. The puppers are doing well. I think we've been holding our breath for a while since the last year had so many losses. Both dogs are due for shots but dragging myself to the vet after everything we went through just since last October (losing Daisy, Sapphire and Suki) was just too much. We needed a break. All of us. I'm even considering getting a kitty this weekend. There has been some advantage to just the two dogs but I miss living with a feline so I think I'll go to the shelter and scope out the kitties that they are having a hard time placing and bringing them home. We'll see. I'm still kind of raw.

2. Still kickboxing. I am still having a ton of fun and now I've been doing this for a year. My knee trouble has increased lately and my last doctor was no help at all. She did an x-ray and told me I had "some arthritis." That didn't really fit with what I was feeling. I could tell I had some achy knees but there is something else going on in the left knee. At times a sharp pain and some real weakness in addition to some catching when I bend the knee. So I dumped my old doctor (I was less than satisfied with her in general. She has also blown off my anemia which can be down right debilitating some days) and went to a new doctor. The new doc ordered an MRI which actually showed us that I have no more cartilage in my left knee as well as a miniscal tear. Ouch! She sent me right over to a surgeon who took one look at me and dismissed me as "fatty with knee pain." So no one is going to do anything right now. I still have a follow up with my primary doc and maybe she can give me a cortisone shot and a brace or something. Because no one was going to do anything I just went ahead and signed up for the next UBC session and I'm just being gentle to the knee as much as possible. It seems like everything makes it hurt so I might as well keep going.

3. The knitting has picked way up. Such a soothing hobby that I really feel more stress if I don't get some time with the needles and wool. I'm also a little overwhelmed with the amount of yarn I have and frustrated by the ginormous volume of works in progress. I have to keep buying new needles because all my needles are tucked into some bag, basket, or box on a project I abandoned for some reason. So my big thing right now is finishing or ripping out. I've tackled some scarves that I still loved and wanted and had just got set aside for something sexier. I'm finishing up one of my blankets I started a few years ago. I'm on the last square so I could probably sew it all together this weekend. I think it is going to end up rather spectacular. I'm very excited because this blanket has been just for me from the beginning. I stuck with blues and browns because I'm so enamored of that color combo. I picked up yarn I loved and adore and I've had a lot of fun with each individual square. This will look stunning on my bed.

4. This has been a great summer and I'm trying to get ready for Fall. I neglected a lot of basic yard work and household chores so I'm sort of paying for it now with a large To Do list. If I can knock out one big chore a week, I might be OK. This week is getting my air ducts clean. I think I'll also try to get a yard crew in to do general clean up. I never like how they prune or clean up the plants themselves so I'll have to do that myself but I really need to get lawns mowed and trees trimmed. Oh and roof cleaned, windows washed, grass pulled, mulch down. Ugh. On and on. Also, I have back yard dilemma that I haven't been able to solve. At some point (before I moved in), the grass in my backyard grew kind of clumpy and the soil started eroding between the clumps. The result has been a wildly uneven ground in the backyard. I mean it is a real ankle breaker. Some of the valleys in the yard are as deep as a tennis ball (I have mowed the grass right over a tennis ball and never touched the ball with the mower blades). I've had multiple people in to consult on it and offer suggestions and most everyone kind of throw up their shoulders and don't really want to take it on. What really needs to be done is the whole backyard rototilled, evened out and lay down some sod. That will be thousands of dollars though. That isn't really in my budget. I'm thinking I'll just get a load of dirt delivered, have the neighbor boy spread the dirt out over the yard over the grass and everything and then just seed it and let the old grass come up too. I don't need a perfect lawn because this is the dog's yard. This is all too much information for you but you can see how frustrating it is and how much time and conversation has already been invested in it. I just want to have a usable yard!

5. Things I've discovered I love:

  • The Geek & Sundry channel on YouTube. The Flog and Written by a Kid are very entertaining.

  • Sally Hanson nail decals. I had some friends visit who were wearing them and they looked so cute. So now I wear them pretty regularly. I keep my nails short but these do help keep my nails from peeling. Today my nails are tie-dyed. It is a little disappointing to me how much I love sparkly nails.

  • The Vaginal Fantasy book club on Goodreads.com. As scintillating as it sounds, it is actually pretty tame. This is a book club led by some very cool geek girls and mainly they read urban fantasy/romance. I've never considered myself a romance fan at all but most of the books we read are much smarter and more interesting than the old-school romance. No heaving bosoms or straining breeches. Instead I've found some steam punk series and sci fi books that I ended up enjoying a LOT. Some of them have a little smut in them and I guess that is the romance part but I've never minded smut so I'm having fun. Because I check out all my books at the library I'm not committed to this genre I don't know well and it has been really fun to step out of my comfort zone.

  • Mike and Tom Eat Snacks podcasts. I keep recommending them to people for commuting because they are about an hour long. Two guys (Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavenaugh) eat snacks and rate them. Oh, they also improv silliness which may work and may not work. Either way it feels like you are hanging out with two comedians as they entertain themselves and it entertains me as well. It also makes you want to snack so be careful.

I'll try to get back to regular posting now that I'm not self-employed. But keeping in mind random update #4, it may be closer to the holidays before I have more free time.