Into the Wilderness

A few weeks ago, I went on a hut trip. I’ve never been on a trip like this, had heard about them and thought it would be fun. Now, I happen to know people who do this every year and I thought, why not have a girls weekend doing something quintessentially Coloradoan? In the winter, it turns out that this is a serious backpacking endeavor. The snowshoe in is 7 miles long, and you have to carry everything except the kitchen sink (and dishes) Everything else goes on your back. In my case, it was 35 pounds of gear, clothes, food, meds, everything I would need for 2 nights in the remote wilderness. 

In the weeks leading up to the trip, I planned on snowshoeing at high altitude every weekend to get ready and in shape. Lofty goal as it turns out as I managed exactly 2 snowshoes and one hike. As our departure date approached, I grew more anxious knowing that I only had whatever conditioning I had built up in the gym to rely on getting me through the trek. By the time I had to pack and meet my friends, I was wishing for a blizzard that would keep us home, and keep me from certain failure.  Unfortunately, we are not that lucky here in CO this year, and the day dawned sunny and unseasonably warm. I packed up my gear and headed to my friend’s house with trepidation.  We drove to Carbondale  with a few others, and the whole way up I got pep talk after pep talk. 

See, despite growing up at high altitude, it kicks my ass every single time. Any hike starting at 9,000 ft is guaranteed to see a Geochick dragging along at a snails pace while people 20 years older than me practically run by me on the trail. This hike starts at 9,000 ft, finishes at 11,000 ft and over 7 miles, the last 2 miles contains 1,000 ft of the 2,000ft total of elevation gain. 

After spending the night in a hotel, re-packing my backpack on the advice of my friends, shedding another pound or two, the next day, we started the hike on a blue sky sunny day where the sun, sometimes a friend, began to turn into our foe, relentlessly beating down on the first 5 miles of road making me sweat buckets under my heavy pack.

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Once we got to the final 2 mile hill, I welcomed the chance to dive into the forest for some coolness. The steepness of the switchbacks slowed us all down, saving the mountain goats of the group, and we slogged on, one foot in front of the other, stopping every 5 or so steps to catch our breath.  

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Finally, after 5 hours, we made it, exhausted, hot, and sweaty, and treated to these views

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It was totally worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Gray Update 1

I stopped coloring my hair 7 weeks ago and got myself a pixie cut to ease the transition/make this happen faster. At the moment, I feel like I've hit the OH SHIT phase of the grow out and wonder if I can get through it. I've been walking around with a low level of anxiety and constant chatter,

  • does that person on the street see the skunk stripe
  • what does the back look like?,
  • why won't my hairdresser just indulge me and strip my hair so I don't have to go through this?,
  • maybe I should just color it  
  • why didn't I just go gray naturally?????
 The dreaded part shot. At my last appointment my hairdresser added some lowlights to try to blur the line of demarcation.

The dreaded part shot. At my last appointment my hairdresser added some lowlights to try to blur the line of demarcation.

 What it looks like when my hair is styled forward (how the cut is supposed to be styled)

What it looks like when my hair is styled forward (how the cut is supposed to be styled)

My hair grows fast, but it can't grow fast enough to keep me from freaking out. It's time to invest in some root cover up spray, powder, or something to get through this next phase.

Which brings me to this commercial: 

 

yikes.

 

 

#MicroblogMondays: UGH, Meds

I've had it with Cele.xa after being on it for several years. (5?) I know it's helped level me out, but I've also made a lot of progress with therapy and life is generally even at the moment. 

Maybe here is where I should mention I'm starting somatic therapy perhaps with EMDR. Yep, I finally found a new therapist and had my first appointment last week. Maybe this isn't the time to come off the drug? Probably not, but I'm not sure it's working as well as it used to (anxiety is up), I've had to be on Prilosec for several years because it gives me major acid reflux and I'm sick of that. Lastly, if I'm being brutally honest. It's not helping my mental health to have 10 extra pounds on my frame that will NOT COME OFF. Besides, depression for me isn't major, it's more of a low level clinical thing that has to be managed, but there's got to be a better way than pharmaceuticals. 

Here goes an experiment: I started CBD oil over the weekend (reminds me of taking Chinese herb remedies that taste like dirt. ugh), and I'm going to take magnesium and fish oil regularly (so bad about consistency there). I'm taking 15mg of Celexa as of last week after first trying to cut it in half to 10mg, but that made me dizzy. At 15mg, so far, I'm having some brain fog and constant nausea. Awesome.

This should be a fun ride. 

 

 

Valentine’s on a Day of Tragedy.

 I’m not addressing what happened in Florida even though it feels like I should, but I’d be screaming into the wind and largely preaching to the choir. I’m choosing to put my energy toward what I can do to make change. VOTE. CALL.  Until the lawmakers pull their heads out of their asses and stop accepting NRA money, and actually pass legislation to ban certain types of weapons: until lawmakers stop throwing tons of money at the rich and actually start giving a shit about mental health and health care, nothing will change. They won’t care until we address them directly. 5calls.org. I’m going to use it. THIS is what I can do. 

 

With that being said, S and I had a really amusing exchange of cards last night.

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Mine is the top card. Often, when this dissonance in card giving occurs, it’s me buying the snark and gifting it to him. heh. 

Building Trust

In a recent stretch appointment, the crap started surfacing again. I’ve been going regularly for about a year and after the initial emotional breakdowns prompting a couple of conversations with Stretch Guy, I've settled into learning to trust him and building my comfort level. A couple of appointments ago, the conversation turned more personal again and he shared more with me about his story.

Feeling understood is something I don't seem to receive very often. Or, I don’t let anyone in close enough (S notwithstanding) to even give them a chance. I keep trying out this vulnerability thing with Stretch Guy and it's a seriously uncomfortable slog. When I pulled back a little, after the couple of conversations we had around my emotional reactions, nothing came up during sessions. This last time, after a couple sessions where I started saying things, feelings rooted in attachment bubbled up, as always really coming up when I’m most vulnerable in the session, the shoulder work. I never feel particularly vulnerable when my arms are free, even if he is all up in my business stretching hips and back. But when arms are bound, I feel completely helpless. In this particular session, there was another stretch that requires him to put himself in a precarious position. It was like one huge trust fall for the last 30 minutes. 

I almost cried. Almost. a little shaking, a few tears in my car, then nothing. It feels like I need to, but it’s not quite there yet. I have such a hard time processing all of this, and several days later I'm trying to work through emotions that came up, a constant stream of thoughts in my head wondering about why I react, how I react, is this ok? Is this what it's supposed to feel like to be vulnerable? How the hell do people do it????

While I wish I could turn off the constant chatter in my head (hi anxiety!), maybe this is just part and parcel of the process? Maybe this whole trust/vulnerability thing takes a hell of a lot longer than I thought. Or hoped. 

On Letting Go of the Color

First, a distinction, gray hair is actually not gray. it's white hair, but it looks gray because some hair with pigment still exists and mixing the two ends up looking gray. 

I finally made the decision to transition from my (now fake) medium-dark brown hair to the silver that it has become under all that dye, money and time.  I first brought it up to my hairdresser when I started to notice that it was more difficult to keep up with the roots. Earlier this year, I started seeing her every 4 weeks because my usual routine of touching up the roots on my own wasn't working anymore. I needed 2 boxes of the root touch-up and it never matched very well. She talked me out of making the transition citing that I'm only 43 and it'll age me 10 years...and I listened. We started a 4 week rotation of color then color and cut. It was working fine, but you know the thing about having 75%+ white hair? It's coarse and wiry, especially because my hair is already coarse. It doesn't act the same as my hair did when it was 50% white.  It's dry all the time and even though I get high quality salon coloring done, there's a tinge of brassiness that develops as the color grows out. I don't like the roots, and I don't like feeling like I'm obviously covering it up. I doubt anyone else notices, but I'm stressing out about my roots, and I'm sure not going to start touching up the roots every 2 weeks! Of all the things that add stress to my life, hair color should not be one of them.

I also had a revelation that, who cares? Who am I really trying to impress? Sure, when I was in my mid-20's and had to start coloring because I was going prematurely gray, it made sense.  And, embracing a perceived aging hair color in my 30's was not even a thought. At this point, having gray hair in my 40's? *shrug* I'm, getting crow's feet, parentheses, furrowed brow and a droopy chin. I take care of my skin through treatments, but I'm not under any illusion that I can possibly turn back the hands of time. When women turn to injectables and Botox, it's so obvious that they are a woman of a certain age who is trying to fight it. No one ever looks 25 again. At some point, the same thing happens with hair. It becomes obvious that the color is fake. I find I'm more interested in working with what I've got vs. fighting it. So, I'll work with it, and if these damn roots are any indication, I've got some pretty cool silver that's about to be unleashed

It's time. 

Wish me luck.

Check back next year to see if I freaked out and dyed it back. 

Update on the Other Half of My Bio-Family

It's been....interesting trying to process this intrusion of sorts on my psyche. To bring you up to speed and understanding, here's the cast of players:

Bio-Dad - died in 2005 from alcoholism. He was about 58 years old if I did the math right. No other kids. One other ex-wife.

Uncle T - died in 2005 8 months after bio-Dad from alcoholism. No kids?

Uncle B - He's the one who called me back in the spring of 2017 at work and exploded my world. No kids, not married.

Uncle J - His wife Aunt L is the one who searched for me and my brother and she found our info. They have one son who has 2 kids about the same ages as mine.  

I finally screwed up the courage to call Aunt L, because Uncle B gave me her cell phone number. She was over the moon excited to hear me and we had a pretty good conversation. Pretty good for me learning that my Uncle J is now battling a life threatening heart disease for which there's no treatment and it's only a matter of time. He's somewhere between 65-70 years old? I also learned that there's more extended family members on that side who have died from alcoholism. 

Do you know what this does? I literally was found, and now am actively losing family. If I don't get out to visit Aunt L and Uncle J, I'll probably never get a real account of the family. Out of the brothers, Uncle J is the one who managed to have a career and a family and not succumb to the disease that apparently rampages through that bloodline. I'm not ready. I was barely ready to call her, and now I feel like the clock is ticking and if Uncle J dies before I travel, I'll regret not meeting him. While I'll probably keep in some kind of contact with Aunt L, it won't be the same. He's my chance to get a first hand account of what it was like growing up in that family and what he did to avoid going down the same path as his brothers.

I can't process. I keep pushing it away.

The Anti-Resolution

I've been thinking a lot about how to approach nutrition and habits given that it's the new year. I always feel like I SHOULD be tracking on MFP. I SHOULD be making sure I eat 120g Protein a day. I SHOULD try a dry month....

SHOULDS make me crazy and feel like a failure. So, for this year, I'm working on changing that mindset more than anything. I've decided to stay the course focusing on eating well, fueling for workouts, and not stressing out about the drinking thing. A couple of recent revelations have steered me in this direction:

1) I've learned that most of my family on my bio dad's side are alcoholics. I am not. I drink more than most people, I guess...but not to excess. I've never felt like I needed to drink in the morning, and I've never been late/missed work/got a DUI because of alcohol. Yeah. I'm fine. I need to stop beating myself up about it.

2) I spent the back half of last year not really tracking, and when I completely fell off the wagon (ahem, Christmas cookies), it was noticeable how crappy I felt. My body tells me when I've had enough, and I need to learn how to listen to it. Obsessive tracking doesn't make me pay attention to how my body feels or is reacting to whatever I'm putting into it.

There you have it. The Anti-Resolution. 

0.5 #NaBloMoPo - Body Image

 

I started this last night...does it still count? 😉

 

It’s hard to be a former dancer and not have body image issues. I obsess over where I carry weight (stomach) and where I don’t (boobs). I obsess over my profile or how plump my cheeks look in pictures. I’ve been doing this since I gained my first 15 lbs in college. Since then I’m up another 15. 

When I gained the initial 15 it wasn’t a big deal because I was underweight to begin with. Over the years after college I gained another 15, then lost it before my wedding and kept it off for a long time. The recent 15 has come from a combination of taking medication that causes weight gain, getting older, not tracking food as closely as I should and muscle development. What I’ve found the past 5 years or so is that it’s really difficult for me to lose weight anymore without being super strict about my diet and instead of doing that, I’ve been trying to focus on the positives. I’m not in a place now where I have the energy to tackle the eating part and I’m already a relatively healthy eater. When I’m ready, it’ll be a long and slow haul as I don’t think I’ll be stopping the cele.xa anytime soon. 

The positives I can see now about my body? I have good muscle development and I’m proportionate upper body to lower body. I can see muscle definition in my shoulders and arms and legs. I’m moving better now than I had been when I was teaching Jazz.ercise. The coaches at the gym know what they’re doing with this program! Mobility in my shoulders, back and hips has improved, which is huge. I haven’t had a major setback for months (also huge), and I can snatch my 30+ lb three year old in one smooth movement to get him on my shoulders. 

That is progress! I work hard getting up early 4 times a week to hit the gym, get my ass handed to me while I’m there and it primes me to make better eating choices throughout the day. I focus on getting enough protein, eating fruits and vegetables (some days better than others) and eating frequently to keep my blood sugar stable throughout the day. 

I’m trying really hard to focus on all the positives at the moment vs. the scale and how I look in the mirror. It’s tough day to day, but I’m getting there.  

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