Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Snow and My Brain

All these pictures were taken on one recent winter’s day.

I’m driving through this period in my life…my time with what I have to call “living with a brain injury.” Hi, my name is Barbara. And, I have a brain injury. Who woulda knew?

Almost ten months now. No other way to describe it. I’m trying to accept it. I even go to a brain injury support group. Wouldn't have guessed I'd ever be doing that either.

My life is very different. Trying to figure out where I'm going. At times, it feels heavy. There’s an amount of grief involved.

It pulls…it weighs…

I know this is not who I was…it’s not who I want to be. Will I find a happy medium?

I try to use humor every day. Have to learn to make fun of myself even more than I do.

I still try to see the beauty in and around my life.

The lightness of my world.

And not dwell on the constant pain in my head or get wrapped up in the changes that have made me not feel like me. But, it’s hard.

I have to believe that time will heal my head. (Yes, B., more time. Be patient.)

And maybe someday, I can use what I’ve learned to help others? To give them hope that the cold and dark winter they think they always feel…will eventually warm and that their thoughts and bodies will once again…just flow.

That’s what I’m wishing for.

A story written by the old me…of loss, love, hope and new love…Unexpectations.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Everyone Is Damaged

A conversation with a friend today prompted me to come up with this. 
The rose is from Five Eleven from Valentine's Day.

Unexpectations on Kindle

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Don’t Get Rid of All Your Fat Pants

I’m going to give you some advice that goes against all other advice you’ve probably heard before. Advice that health-minded people will totally poo-poo (because I totally would have been one of those poo-pooing people before). If you’ve lost weight enough to change pant sizes, don’t get rid of all your fat pants! Save one. Save one pair. One comfy pair. Or, two.

A newer acquisition of desperate proportions. And, I found them for under 25 bucks!

Now, this advice is really only a backup plan. A contingency plan of sorts. If you’re healthy, it isn’t a reason for you to wimp out and gain that weight back because it’s the holidays or Valentine’s Day or Easter, or summer barbeque season or whatever food-eating holiday excuse comes up. If you’ve worked hard and conquered your weight-loss goals and got yourself fit…never give up on that.

That’s where I felt I was just last spring. Healthy and fit. Quite a few years ago now, I had lost extra weight that had slowly crept on. I had finally felt like I was getting in the best shape I had been in since my early 20s. I had kept that weight off because I made a lifestyle change. I was eating healthy and I was exercising regularly. I was getting that six pack on my abs and feeling so great about myself and then…I had my head injury.

I love this meme. Not sure I'm ready for stretchy pants, though.

Every day for the last 9 months, I’ve had to deal with the effects of this concussion. Even small amounts of physical activity cause my head to pound, cause an increase in intensity of my now-constant headaches, and cause nausea or dizziness. I’m having a hard time not looking back at what I used to be able to do. I’m not supposed to compare my hiking ten hours in the White Mountains of New Hampshire or going out for a fun 15 or 20 mile bike ride to what I can do now. On a good day, on a really good day, I can walk about a mile. On flat ground. With lots of breaks. Forget about activity that requires balance or positional changes like biking or yoga.

So, without physical activity, what happens to your body? Um, as we all know from shows like The Biggest Loser, we gain weight. I’m lucky that I haven’t turned to emotional eating on top of all this. I still try to eat as healthy as I can. Part of that is from the lifestyle change I made. I still do yogurt and flax meal most mornings for breakfast. I watch my carbs. I watch my fats. But, without that cardio exercise I had before my injury, I’m finding it difficult to keep the weight off.

Darned comfy GAP jeans. Unfortunately, they are covered in paint.
Most of my jeans have worn out in the right knee. I'm okay with that.

I’m looking at a new twenty extra pounds. Most people look at me and say I look great (I look fine, remember?) But, for me, I don’t feel as great. My abs are losing their definition. My thighs are bigger. My butt is bigger. My boobs are bigger. Okay, so the bigger boobs are fine. My pants are snuggly. Some are way snuggly.

I had made a promise to myself to never gain that weight back that I lost. I promised myself to always be as active as I could. I thought I was invincible in that thinking. I thought I’d maintain that level of fitness that I had achieved and then some. And, if I lost that level, it would be slowly as I got (much) older. Little did I know that something would happen where I had no control and that it would change in an instant.

I’ve made a new plan with my doctor to try to help. It involves setting very small goals of physicality and putting smiley stickers on my calendar when I meet those goals. I’ll have a happy visual that works well in my fluffy bunnies and happy rainbows sort of world.

These are clipped to my calendar. As I meet an exercise goal,
one of these happy little faces gets a new home!

So, here I find myself digging through my closet trying to find pants that give me just a little more room. Especially on those bloaty days when women just need that extra room. But, I don’t have any. Well, except for one pair of “painting pants” that I don’t want to wear out of the ‘hood. So, don’t be like me and give away all your fat pants. And, Jillian Michaels, please don’t kill me for saying that. I just might need to borrow them.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Nothing Says Love Like a Chocolate Boob

Do you ever come across an idea and think, “Oh, my gosh, this is SO awesome!” and “Why didn’t I think of that?” Yea, but, then it doesn’t turn out so awesome (and, you’re kinda glad it wasn’t your idea?). I had one of those things happen today. I don’t know where I got the idea, so sorry that I can’t give proper credit. It was either in a long-distance relationship ideas article or maybe a romantic ideas article. Anyway, it struck me as super cool so I jotted it down. It said, “Mold a chocolate body part.” I’m thinking, chocolate and boob. Wow! Doesn’t get much better than that! You would think.

So, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Five Eleven still lives 2400 miles away and we can’t be together. A blizzard is bearing down on us here in New England. If I’m going to get this out in time for her to get it by the 14th, it needs to be in the mail today.

After barely sleeping because of a headache, I grab a cup of coffee and take a quick shower. After all, if I’m going to put chocolate on my boob for her consumption, it should be a clean boob.

Maybe I should Google how to do this? No. Can’t be that hard. I went to art school. Melt some chocolate. Don’t make it so hot that I burn my nipple off. Slather it on fairly thick. Let it harden. Pop it off. Wrap it up. Voila! Valentine’s Day gift is ready to mail.

If only chocolate boobs were that easy. I’m afraid to say that is not how my chocolate boob adventure went. It started off like that…somewhat.

So, here I am wearing jeans and a zip up sweatshirt, fresh out of the shower. It’s too cold to be totally topless. I melt some nice 60% Ghiradelli chips down; add a touch of Grand Marnier…ready to go. I get a towel and some paper towels because I know me. Grace is not my middle name. Made a note to grab a hand mirror but forgot to. Lay down on the couch, bare my right breast and spoon on some warm chocolate. Hope I have the edges looking good. Can’t see because I forgot the mirror. Nice.

The fateful ingredients.

Flip on one of those morning shows that I never watch figuring it’ll only take a few minutes. Touch the edge. Still liquidy. Lick my finger. Hmm… Try to sip my coffee. I am not in a comfortable position. Hope this doesn’t take too long.

Test it again. Not even close. Lick my fingers. I shift to get more comfortable. The inside of the sweatshirt now has chocolate on it. The sun starts shining in through the window directly on my breast. Well, that balmy stream won’t help it. The furnace is running non-stop, too, since I turned it on. Should have left it at the 53 degrees like it was in here when I woke up. So, I carefully get up, turn the furnace down and reposition out of the sun. Of course, I get more chocolate on my fingers. Lick it off.

A half hour of morning show dribble goes by. Touch the chocolate. Dang! Not even close to solidifying. Lick my finger. It must be too warm in here along with my warm body temperature. So, I go to my side door, crouch down and open it up. I’m hoping the air that can now seep in around the ill-fitting storm door is cool enough to harden my chocolate boob. As I’m crouched on the floor, I can see movement at my neighbor’s. Oh my god, I think they can totally see me! They see everything I do anyway. No, wait, the window is fogging up. I’m good. Why is there so much glass on this storm door? I lean back against the inside door hoping to blend in, just in case.

The cool air comes in. Nothing is happening. So, I lift the storm window to let more cool air in. Did I mention that it’s 18 degrees out? Yes. One. Eight. So, now, my other nipple is totally erect and the chocolate is not getting any harder. Somehow, I manage to bump it with half my hand. I lick it off.

Okay, now I’m desperate. I need to get really cold. I grab the key to the shed. Cover the non-chocolate boob, hold my sweatshirt out like a wing to shield the chocolate boob so I don’t freak out my neighbors and I make a dash for the shed.

I close the door behind me. I can see my breath. It’s freaking cold in here. I start shivering. I can see goose bumps all over my stomach and chest. Both my nipples can now cut glass. The right one will drill itself out of its chocolate sheath if this takes too long. I test the chocolate. What the heck?! Lick my finger. I’ll bend over. Maybe if my boob is hanging away from my body, it’ll finally harden. So there I am. Bent over two Ziploc baggies full of smelly shells from beach walks and a five gallon tank of gas. Wow. This is a romantic gift in the making.

Hey, my boob looks like it’ll be a good shape though. Perky and round. I’m starting to feel hypothermic. I test the chocolate. Barely firm but I swear I feel it pulling away from my skin. It must be time. Maybe, just maybe it’ll work? I try to pop off my chocolate boob.

The chocolate in the bowl hardened up just fine.
Instead of a nice chocolate cup that I was envisioning (ooh, to fill with ice cream?), I get a handful of thick, mushy chocolate. I jam it into my mouth. Scrape off another handful. This is breakfast. Way past breakfast time. I wipe my hands off on some of those manly blue paper towels I keep in the shed, pull my sweatshirt closed and run back into the house.

Strip off the sweatshirt and jeans and jump in the shower. Again. Sadly, the rest of the chocolate boob goes down the drain. I still had to go to the post office to mail other things. Just not a chocolate boob. So, sorry, Five Eleven. You’ll be getting a nice Valentine’s Day card from me anyway. But, wait. Did I mention that I took pictures of this whole adventure? Just for you. Nothing says love like pictures of a chocolate boob.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Don’t Bite My Junk aka Things in Your Toilet

Do you ever get a creepy thought in your head that just won’t go away? Five Eleven told me that she was always afraid of a hand coming up out of the toilet. I had never thought of that. I had heard of snakes doing that and really only worried in the summertime (when snakes would be out). But, now, I have to worry about hands coming up to grab me while I’m peeing? What the?

If only the critters we needed to worry about were of the plush kind.
How about that scary Kandoo lizard on the tank? Can't get much cuter than that.

If I think of the design of toilets, this is nearly impossible, but when one is fearful, one doesn’t think rationally. Now, Five Eleven grew up with an outhouse most of her childhood. By a “crick” (we pronounced creek that way too) and a holler (I only knew that term from a Loretta Lynn song). Imagine a rickety old outhouse with a few holes in a bench kind-of-thing in the middle of nowhere (well, by the edge of some creepy woods). Yea, I could see a hand coming up from that. No thank you.

This is also why I don’t watch scary movies. I have enough of an imagination. Five Eleven loves scary movies. I told her that I’d watch them with her only if she’ll protect me (like a good Butch should) and not freak out if I scream or jump while watching them. And, only if she doesn’t have to be away for work immediately following the watching of any scary movies.

I Googled things in toilets and found quite a list. Many of these sightings have happened in other parts of the world, but depending on cracks in your pipes, they could happen anywhere.

Snakes. Yep. Snakes are definitely on the list. All kinds of snakes. Ten foot boa constrictors. Water moccasins. Pythons. I knew that.

Rats. These are just furry critters with a snake on their butt.

Baby possums. See the description for rats above. Same thing. They’ll also come down your vent pipes and end up in your toilets if they don’t swim there.

Carnivorous lizards. Yea. Because we don’t have enough meat-eating reptiles in our lives trying to nibble on our junk.

Frogs. Like the skies sometimes rain frogs, they can be found anywhere, including in our toilets. Frogs like water. Our toilets contain water. That’s all you need.

One other critter to watch out for…just because that list isn’t long enough…are spiders. They like to hide under toilet seats. Isn’t that a lovely thought? And, not always just regular spiders, but deadly spiders of course. Black widow spiders and brown recluse fit that bill in the US. Swell.

So, now, with the thought of creepy critters in my toilets and documented cases of creepy critters in other peoples’ toilets, I won’t worry so much about the hands coming up to grab my bits. I just now turn on the light at night and do a little check. And, that could be a good thing. My junk will thank me.

What are you afraid of coming out of your toilet? Or, had you not even thought of it until I mentioned it? (Sorry if that was the case.) Have you ever had a creepy critter in your toilet or bathroom? Please share!