Monthly Archives: August 2011

These shoes were made for running…

Look at my newest friends:

You can tell I went by feel and not by looks, because these things are butt ugly!

That’s right, I am the proud owner of my very first pair of real running shoes!

I have heard so many women blog about doing the Couch to 5k program, which seemed impossible to me. I mean, really, a 5k? Five is a big number! That’s overwhelming! But I’ve been looking for a way to get in shape, and I know myself and that I do better when I have a program of some kind. So Sunday I googled it and checked out their website. The opening immediately turned me on:

Too many people have been turned off of running simply by trying to start off too fast. Their bodies rebel, and they wind up miserable, wondering why anyone would possibly want to do this to themselves.

Well, gee, I have a “friend” who has wondered that exact thing many times. I read a little more and was even more encouraged:

It’s easy to get impatient, and you may feel tempted to skip ahead in the program, but hold yourself back. Don’t try to do more, even if you feel you can. If, on the other hand, you find the program too strenuous, just stretch it out. Don’t feel pressured to continue faster than you’re able.

I loved the emphasis of taking it slow, easing into things, not jumping ahead and working at your max. I liked that it was only three times a week, not something I had to try to fit in every-day, just the right amount of flexibility. So even though 20 minutes of “running” seemed incredible to me, I figured I’d give the first workout a try. I downloaded a free app to my phone so I didn’t have to think (and couldn’t make bargains with myself to make it easier. No amount of wheedling will make the “ding” come any faster), uploaded a bunch of music and made a running list, and headed over to the track right across from my house.

And I almost died.

But I didn’t!

I will admit, after that run, I was not motivated to run again. It was hot. It was somewhat miserable. My exercise-induced asthma didn’t act up, thanks to the heat, but still, not my idea of a good time. But I was proud of having done it. And I figured I could slog through it again.

I set Wednesday as my goal. Wednesday came. Wednesday went. I did not go running.

Wednesday evening I was hanging out with my friends (and long-term students) after dog class. These people are nutso. One does triathalons. Approximately every-other weekend.  The other is more sane, but still runs half-marathons. They have talked about running before and I have been intrigued. While we were chatting, the topic of what races they were going to run came up. The saner one mentioned she was going to be doing a 5k with her 7 year old daughter in October. I asked when, and they both jumped on it, asking if I wanted to run it. They had seen I had run on Sunday, and are just the kind of encouraging, awesome people who would welcome a newbie into their circle.

I agreed to run this 5k “with” the saner runner and her daughter (“with” = we’ll both sign up for the same race. I refuse to hold anyone back. They can beat me and cheer for me at the end :-).

(Eeeeeee! I’m running a freaking 5k! Or, you know, walking. But still!)

Which means I have a goal to work towards.

Which meant that this morning I woke up early, grabbed my dirty running clothes and old, beat-up junky shoes, and headed over to the track to do day 2 of the C25k program.

And you know, this time I felt less like dying at the end.

In fact, I can’t wait to go and run tomorrow (sporting my fugly new running shoes)!

Dang, maybe what people say about running being addicting is actually true…I never, ever thought I would look forward to going for a run!

In closing, I will leave you with my lessons-learned when buying a pair of running shoes:

1) When you buy running shoes, in order to test them out you will have to actually, you know, run.

2) Given this, do not go running-shoe shopping wearing jeans and a normal bra. Nor anything fresh out of the washer. Especially if the store you are going to is on a hill and it is the hottest part of a hot day.

3) I also do not recommend going the same day you already went for a run. It gets awfully hard to test shoes when your legs refuse to run anymore.

4) Save your shower until after you go shopping. After all, the salesman is going to see you all hot and sweaty after the 6th pair of shoes, anyway, why start him out with any expectations?

A big thanks to Kathryn, Lauri, Corey, and anyone else who talks about their running on their blog. After two years of reading/hearing other people say how positive it is in their lives, I finally started to doubt my assurance that it was nothing but a grueling form of torture.

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So sleepy…

It has been 16 months since I left my job as a full time engineer, which I loved, due to my illnesses. I couldn’t keep up the work level. I couldn’t wake up every day, go in for 8+ hours, work at a high stress job, with no break, no end, no way to recharge but the too-short weekends. I was falling apart. Losing my hair. Falling asleep at the wheel of my car. Getting sick constantly. Barely able to take care of my basic needs, and unable to do any more than that.

So I quit. And left a fulfilling career, which I was very good at, knowing odds were I would never be able to go back.

For a year I basically took time off. The first months were all recovery. Learning to smile again. Thinking about more than basic needs. Visiting specialist after specialist to try to get my health back under control.

And largely, I did.

After about 6 months I began to want more. More than my part-time jobs, cobbled together. More than time to rest and recuperate. I needed purpose. That desire continued to grow, until I not only wanted it, I felt I could handle it. I no longer thought so all-consumingly about my illnesses every day. Rarely did I sink into deep depression. Rarely was I so fatigued I couldn’t function. I was resting 12-16 hours a day, and it felt like I could do more with my remaining time.

So 2 months ago I enrolled in a masters program. It is online, so flexible, so I thought it would work well for me. I could adapt it to my energy needs. When I had more energy, I’d do school. When I had less, I’d rest, or do less taxing jobs. It seemed perfect. I fit it in around my other jobs, running Companions and tutoring/teaching at an after-school center. Ideal.

And it was working pretty well. I was feeling purposeful. I was feeling alive. I was feeling good about myself and what I was doing with my days for the first time in a long time.

I didn’t realize how close to the edge I was living.

Last week was a little bit harder than normal. It was my last week of my first semester, so I had final projects due in school. My tutoring summer camps ended that week, so classes were a bit hectic and I had some extra students as we transitioned over to the post-camp schedule. I left for a silent weekend on Thursday, and then left that early to go run a race on Saturday. And through it all, I was training, and had a mini rash of private client requests.

And in that week I borrowed heavily against my future spoons.

I didn’t quite realize I was doing it. I thought I was just handling things well. I knew I was tired last week, but with it being so crazy I figured that was OK. After all, I was getting through and doing everything! If it tired me out a little, that was OK! I was managing!

What I didn’t understand was that to be able to get through and do everything, I had had to borrow against my spoons for this week. I wasn’t able to do it with what I had. I had to take out a loan. And when you borrow spoons from the future, the interest on them is heavy.  So now, this week I am starting each day missing the spoons I borrowed to use last week. Plus missing extra spoons because of the interest on that loan. My days are starting with very few spoons. To the point that just getting out of bed almost depletes my stores.

So this week, when I am between semesters and thought I would be enjoying a relaxed week off, I am exhausted. I can barely function. I am sleeping in every morning, and still waking up tired. Last night I slept 11 hours, and only woke up when my dog decided he needed me (and no, it is not over sleeping, my body needs extra sleep) and I am still so groggy just standing up to straighten my hair so I can go to work is daunting. Yesterday I spent part of one tutoring session playing hangman because I was too tired to do the mental work necessary to come up with things to teach my student and keep up with his energy.

I am exhausted.

Because I have been living such a sheltered life these past 16 months, I thought I had made some progress. Maybe gotten beyond being so dependant on spoons. Maybe expanded my starting number of spoons, so it wasn’t such a big deal.

This is crashing me harshly back to reality. Sure, as long as I am an unproductive member of society working 20 hours a week and doing almost nothing at home I can function just fine. But try to add some more in there? And I can’t keep it up.

I hate this. It scares me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to successfully hold down a “real” job.

I just want to be normal. God, it would be nice to not have to think about spoons.

Or at least close enough to normal I can be a functioning adult for a week without running myself into the ground.

Is that too much to ask?

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Book catch-up

It’s been awhile since I discussed books I’ve been reading for several reasons. With school, I had less time to read. I was in the middle of a series that was meh. And I just haven’t been getting over to this here blog. Which leads to me now having seven, count ’em, SEVEN books to review! (Don’t worry, three are in a series…) So here we go!

Lord of Snow & Shadows
Prisoner of the Iron Tower
Children of the Serpent Gate
Sarah Ash

This series opens with Gavril, a painter living in sunny Smarna with his mother, whose innocence is shattered when strange men appear at his door to inform him that he is the heir and new ruler of the kingdom of Azkendir. As they take him to assume the role of Drakhoul he notices the physical changes that are beginning to overtake him, and he realizes this role of ruling is not something he can just shrug off. Through his travails we meet many other characters, and watch what happens to the continent during this time of upheaval.

This series was just…meh. It was good enough to keep me reading, and I didn’t hate it, but there was very little positive about it. I kept waiting for it to become good, to become interesting, for the characters to develop, for the focus to shift to the human element, and it just..never..happened.  By the third book I was thinking about the characters some when I wasn’t reading it (which usually I do with books but just wasn’t with this series), but when I’d pick it up I had virtually no draw to keep reading it. Most books I’m meh about I get into once I have them in my hands, but this book couldn’t even shine there. The plot is interesting, the characters are interesting, the whole thing just isn’t well done. The characters are interesting in theory, but are never given any depth. Things happen to them, and you grab onto the occurences to try to figure out who these characters are, but with nothing developed it’s hard to really care. As one reviewer said on Amazon, “Somewhere inside this book is a better book dying to get out.” I think that sums it up perfectly. Overall this series is fine. I wouldn’t not recommend it. If the plot appeals to you, you may enjoy it. But I just can’t bring myself to give it any kind of positive endorsement.

Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children
Todd R. Risley & Betty Hart

As you can see from the cover design, this is a little bit older book. It discusses the research the authors did in the language development of young American children. They followed 42 families for about 2 1/2 years, recording one full hour of every month and transcribing every single thing uttered in that time period. They then used this to look at the differences in the experience of language children have, and how those differences affected the children’s future language development. Their results were astounding, showing that families from poorer socio-economic groups speak to their children less on average and with lower “quality” speech for learning language than families from higher economic groups. This leads to vastly higher rates of vocabulary and language acquisition, and these differences continue to have an effect throughout the school years. It really highlights the importance of speaking to and interacting with children while they are young, as their experiences at this young age can set the path of their language development for the rest of their lives. Very interesting and informative, easy to read for the scholarly level of information being presented, and important information. Not a “fun” book, but a good one.

Language Development
Erika Hoff

I have to start by saying I am so freaking proud of having read this whole book cover to cover. It is DENSE. There is a LOT of information in here. But it is amazing. This book describes how children go from not being intentionally communicative at birth to speaking with largely adult-like language by age four, often with no direct instruction. It is a giant topic to tackle in one book, which means this is not a light read! But the information is fascinating, and it is presented in an organized format. And what I most appreciate is that there are a plethora of examples. Basically every topic has a description of some experiment, observation or research done on young children to illustrate what is being discussed. This makes the subject very real and tangible.

I don’t suspect many people will be picking this book up for fun. It will most often be read for  a class, simply because people don’t read into a topic like this in such depth on their own. But it is a good book, and I am glad I read it. I will be keeping it in my library!

One Child
Torey Hayden

This book is, in a word, fantastic. It is the story of Torey Hayden, a psychologist and special education teacher, working in the 1970s. In this book she describes her time in a special education classroom for the severely disturbed, children who do not fit in any other place. This book is mainly about her relationship with Shelia, a little girl who was sent to Torey’s classroom after she, at age 6, lured a 3 year old into the woods and set him on fire. Torey discusses her work with the girl and the amazing transformation that takes place in her classroom. There is so much emotion in this book, and so much heart, and you cannot help but be sucked in and feel for the characters passionately. I have read this book repeatedly and still get fully absorbed in it. My only word of caution is that this is a book from another time. Psychological knowledge was different. Approaches were different. Teacher boundaries were different. So if her stating things which might now be out of date is going to bother you, this isn’t the book for you. However, if you can get past that, you will find a truly phenomenal book waits.

Ghost Girl
Torey Hayden


Again, a fantastic book by Torey Hayden. This one is even more disturbing than One Child, and the story that comes to life is truly horrifying. Masterfully told, as always, at the beginning of the book we meet 8 year old Jadie of Torey’s newest class, an elective mute who walks completely doubled-over with her arms wrapped around her stomach. Over approximately one year Hayden breaks Jadie’s silence and gains her trust, discovering that Jadie’s world is not for the faint-hearted. Fair warning – this book is extremely disturbing. If you have experienced sexual abuse this may be too triggering for you. Also, this is a non-fiction story. Which means, unlike in fiction, we don’t get a nice, pat ending all tied up in a bow. This, however, is one of the few books that I find so amazing that a non-satisfying ending doesn’t ruin the book at all. I highly recommend it.

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Wheeeeeee!

Fair warning: I will be talking about lady problems.

So today my body decided to add injury to insult and not only full-on bring on my period, assuring me I’m not pregnant, but also bring on the worst cramps I have suffered since I went on the pill 5 years ago.

OW.

And to add to the joy, the pain pills my doctor prescribed me didn’t do a whole lot of good. I took one right when the pain woke me up this morning, so before it got too much of a head start, and…nothing. Still excruciating pain so I could do nothing but cope. I took ibuprofin (not supposed to, but needed more…). Nothing. I hopped in the shower so the hot water could counter the pain. Changed it, but still barely coping. I got out a weightless heat pack (the kind that sticks to your skin and is good for just one use). Took the edge off, but still all energy was going to dealing with the pain. I rolled one of my dog’s balls across my back in counter pressure. Helped, but I couldn’t keep it up myself.

So, since I have nothing to do today except a bullshit homework assignment, and I couldn’t do it if I was just trying to not give in to the pain, I took the back up Vicodin I was given.

Which worked. Yay!

However I am now extremely loopy. Floating. Disconnected from my body.

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Yeah, this should be an interesting assignment.

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And the masters degree is in…

I’ve mentioned in passing that I enrolled in a masters program, but I have yet to mention what it is in.

I’m pretty excited. It just started this summer in early June. I will finish at the end of the summer of 2013. So if I could just get knocked up, that timing would work out relatively well.

It’s an online program through Texas Women’s University. Which is why I call it a “masters light” program. Lots and lots of reading and lots of papers with very little instructor interaction and thus guidance. I’ve been told this first summer is the worst for lack of contact, so I’m hoping in future classes there will be more interaction by the professors.

I have had a few group chats so far where we can all use text, mics and cameras to communicate. The camera sharing is kind of hard, but the typing and talking is easy. The nice thing is that the professor can turn on his/her mic and video camera and simcomm (sign and voice) lectures. I’ve had a two of my three professors do this. One was definitely better at simcomming than the other. Her signs actually made sense on their own and she would code switch, sometimes having signs support her voicing and sometimes shutting off her voice to illustrate a point that could be better done in ASL , as opposed to just using random signs that were literally related to the words being spoken but made no visual sense on their own. The other professor is Deaf, and just held his Wimba session via chat, no cameras.

There have been ups and downs. The professors have been somewhat absent. It’s hard to know how much is due to it being summer and how much is due to it being an online program. We shall see. I’m hoping for the former, so the fall is better! I jut got an A in my first class, which was pretty awesome. :-D (It’s not technically over for a week but I turned in my final paper early and all I have left is worth about 1% of my grade….so I know what I got).

My classes so far have been/are:

Linguistics of Early Childhood. AWESOME. So very cool. Learning about how young children develop language. When you stop and think about it it is crazy that in a few years with virtually no direct instruction children can go from not even being intentionally communicative to expressing complex thoughts with mostly correct grammar and syntax. We were studying how that happens.

Fundamentals of Audiology. I really had no interest in this, but it’s been good. It is good to have the foundation in knowing how audiology works, how the ear and hearing mechanism work, different types of tests and what they can tell you, and how to read an audiogram. This is one of the better professors in terms of just being present, so that’s nice.

Parent-Professional Communication. This is a class with a good concept. I am not going to say any more than that. Because this is the interwebs and you never know who will see what.

Figured out what the program is in yet?

Deaf Education.

When I’m done I’ll have a masters degree in Deaf Education, and should be eligible to get a teaching certificate in Washington state. Which is *awesome*. I do love tutoring and training…but I really want my own classroom with more students and a wider curriculum. Deaf ed can, hopefully, be more flexible in terms of potential scheduling than some other teaching positions while being more reliable than what I’m doing now. So…we’ll see! Already I have learned a lot that is extremely applicable no matter what I end up doing. My Linguistics of EC course was fascinating to me, and gave me great information for raising my own little ones. I’m sure there will be more classes with useful general information, too. It is a strange thing to be in classes where I really enjoy the subject material and have long discussions outside of class with my classmates about subject topics.

For now I’m sitting back and enjoying the ride. We’ll see where it takes me.

But it feels so good to finally be doing something again!

 

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Sorry I suck

Sorry I haven’t been around much. I know. I suck. Every day the past few weeks could have been summed up by this (awesome) song:

(I usually hate music videos. Clearly what they are missing is five guys in ape masks as back up dancers.)

Unfortunately, I have been doing far from nothing. Reasons contributing to my suckage:

  • I have been tutoring 15+ hours a week. This week it will be 18. And that doesn’t include time grading and writing tests outside of class. Nor shopping for supplies to supplement my classes with my own money. Remind me again how teachers are lazy and barely work? I’m just a freaking *tutor* and I’m doing this shit.
  • Along with that I have been training about 6 hours a week. Plus probably another couple hours a week taking care of finances, answering calls, responding to e-mails. So all together? Twenty-some hours a week working.
  • Concurrently I have been taking 3 summer classes for my masters degree. Two were two months long (As opposed to a regular semester, which is four). One they decided to cram into one month. So school? Yeah, definitely full-time.
  • Insomia has been kicking my butt. I can’t fall asleep. I wake up early and can’t go back to sleep. And when I do sleep? I have nightmares which make it far from restful. And for the first time in a year, I’m having to get up for a set morning start time 5 days a week. Not so much on the flexibility. I am exhausted.
  • My computer got a virus a couple weeks ago. It was annoying me, so last week my hubby decided to fix it. And the damn virus wouldn’t extricate itself from my computer without pulling some vital things with it. Which made my computer a very heavy, very hot brick. Have I mentioned my masters degree is an online program? So yes, everything has been taking more time. My hubby stayed up the past few nights to flatten my computer down to nothing and build it back up. It is now functional enough for use again. The things you take for granted!

That’s really it. But between all those things, blogging has just not made it onto my to-do list. I miss you guys (“you guys” being the people I make up in my head to pretend someone reads my blog). My summer semester is almost over. And I’m *really* hoping the fall, when I have four months for classes instead of one or two, will be a bit less crazy. Plus I tend to tutor less during the school year. We’ll see…

Driving home today I just wanted to sit down and write, though. Today was..interesting. I woke up EXHAUSTED. But figured, yay! Day off-ish! I only have to get up and tutor my 9:30-12:30 class, then the rest of the day I can devote to homework! Unfortunately, this particular class makes me a bit batty. And my period has been flirting with starting all day, which means I am hormonal and bitchy for all the normal reasons *plus* I’m disappointed I’m not pregnant. Again. I get to work. Am one hour from freedom. And the director says, “Oh, can you start meeting with this student from 1-2 on Monday and Wednesday? I say sure, no problem. She then says great, and youl start today. Awesome. Another 1.5 hours at work, and I’ll have to run and buy lunch. OK. Then, about 10 minutes later, she comes in. Also, she has a class she wants me to start teaching Wednesday evenings from 4-6. OK? Sure, why not, just move it so it’s back -to-back with the 1-2 appointment. My camps are about to end. I’ll need more hours. That one starts today, too, OK? And I can’t move it this week. Um..what? …sure.

So instead of a day that was over at 12:30 I got a day that was over at 6 with short little mostly-useless breaks in-between. I was hormonal. I was bitchy. I was disappointed. I was tired. And I FORGOT MY PHONE AT HOME so I couldn’t even kill time reading blogs.

Here’s to not doing anything for the rest of the day.

(You know. Other than homework.)

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