Category Archives: Running

Two Things

Two things I’ve been obsessing over this week: 1) I need to get back in the habit of running on a more consistent basis and 2) I want to try to get more writing done with my memoir.

The first one is easy, really. It’s just a matter of reminding myself that if I can just lace up those shoes and get out there, my fatigue will be kept at bay. It’s amazing how effective the regular running is at combating the MS fatigue I normally experience. It’s been the best weapon for fatigue, for sure. I’ve tried lots of things in the past but running has been the best. The tricky thing is, it only works if I actually do it. So my goal this week is to get back to it. I talked to my son about running, because he was saying he wants to start running to train for cross country in the fall (crossing our fingers they still let the kids run, geesh). So we agreed we were both going to go running every afternoon, and once he feels stronger – i.e. recovered from playing video games all day, every day – then he’ll probably go off and run on his own. He’s much faster than I’ll ever be but I’m so glad he slows down to run with me. He’s a lot of fun to run with because he does all the talking while I huff and puff alongside him.

That second thing I’m obsessing about is the memoir. This is much tougher, because I really have no clue what I’m doing writing a book. I am finding that I’m at the point of needing to organize what I’ve written so far, and I’m stuck. I’ve always been one who has to see to understand, so not having the ability to really get a clear visual of the outline of the book has me needing to brainstorm in order to get unstuck. I printed what I have so far, and this coming week I’m hoping to look at it under the crafting light and maybe take notes with a Sharpie, so I can see what I’m writing. I would really love to write this book by hand, but not being able to see what you’re writing poses a special kind of challenge. So. I’m not giving up with this, but I am having to be creative and think outside the box. If any of you are outside-the-box thinkers and have any suggestions for me, I’m all ears!

Seeing the whole picture

I had a good weekend. I can’t say it was much different than most other weekends, but after last weekend it was just nice to have some positive moments. Last weekend I was faced with a pretty frustrating situation. I had been informed on Good Friday that my long term disability insurance claim (the one they’ve been paying me on for 6+ years without issue) was being terminated. The letter of explanation detailed my level of activity with running and Bible study and so forth (based largely on what they read here in my blog) and my 20/20 vision that was noted in a recent visit to the low vision specialist.

Now, most people probably assume that 20/20 vision means perfect vision, but that’s not the case. I have a visual field defect, and that means I only see a portion of what others see. Of that portion that I can see, I see clearly, i.e. 20/20. So, to say someone has 20/20 vision does not always mean they are seeing the whole picture. And while I love to think about how this concept can be applied to life in so many abstract ways, my brain isn’t ready to go down that rabbit hole today. So maybe another day. Or maybe not.

All that to say, this letter of determination from the insurance company completely left out the details of my visual field defect. Of course, I’m appealing the decision and I have an attorney working for me to file the appeal. I’m really hoping and praying that God is in my corner on this one and that I’ll be able to restore my long term disability income. But if I’m being honest, I was livid when I initially received the news. Trembling, fuming, crying in the shower livid. However, I’ve had lots of time to pray about this and to hash out all my feelings with a few friends and family members, and I’m doing much better now. I’m still holding onto a little bit of bitterness, but I’m working hard to let that go. Last night I had written an entirely different blog post and I felt God nudging me away from the Publish button and towards reading James chapter 3. I’m so glad I responded to the nudging because James chapter 3 was all about taming the tongue. It was definitely a message meant for me. I love how God speaks to us so clearly, when we take the time to listen.

In other news – I haven’t been running much but I’m trying to get my stamina back up because I need to run a virtual 5k this week. I’ve never done a virtual race before but I signed up for this months ago and this is the week we are “supposed” to be running. I went for an almost 3 mile run yesterday, and only had to walk for a short portion at the end. In the first mile though, I nearly fell. I always wish I had these moments on video, because in my mind they are quite comical. I was running alongside the curb, on the street because there are fewer cracks to avoid, and at a whopping 13 minute mile pace, I ran directly into a fallen tree branch. I whispered profanities as I scrambled not-so-gracefully forward in order to escape the clutches of the evil tree branch. (If I don’t have a video, the least I can do is describe it Dramatically lol) I did not fall, thankfully, but I’m sure the van that was passing as I struggled to free myself got a kick out of the sight. I sustained only one tiny injury, a scrape on my shin, and am ready to get back out again as soon as the temperatures climb back up above 40 degrees.

This past week I’ve had a lot of great interactions with family members I don’t talk to nearly often enough, and that has been refreshing. Phone calls to and from my big brother and my oldest younger sister. A refreshing Zoom call with my cousins here in Michigan and down in Georgia. And grilling out with my husband and kids. All in all it was a great week. This coming week is when the online learning officially starts for the kids, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m winding down with BSF and FPU so those will be out of the way very soon. I’m looking forward to warmer days and praying that God would heal this world quickly, and sustain us in the meantime. Be well, my friends, be well.

School is back in session

This past week has been a challenging week. I was hit with some pretty crummy news on Friday, but I’m dealing with the situation and am trusting God at every step along the way. Pray for me, if you would.

We recently informed the kids they could no longer play video games all day long. From the hours of 10 am to 3 pm on weekdays, they are not allowed to be playing video games. Instead, they need to be cleaning their rooms, completing their regular weekly chores, and doing schoolwork. If all those things are done and they are feeling bored, they are welcome to do extra chores, take the dog for a walk, read a book, etc. Now if they have everything done and they’ve not given us any attitude, we are willing to negotiate extra video game time. Because we’re not monsters, usually.

We’ve known that the teachers at our kids’ schools have been working feverishly to establish online learning programs for the kids, so we’ve been warning them that the corona-vacation is ending any day now. Well, that day has come. We received instructions from all the teachers this week, and tomorrow morning we’ll have our first round of online meetings with teachers. I’m excited that the kids will have something to be working on that’s more engaging then say, Minecraft and Roblox, but I’m so nervous about how this new format is going to work. This is new for everyone so I’m hopeful that we can all be patient and gracious with each other. Again, pray for me.

I don’t know if I had mentioned, but we are still meeting for Bible Study Fellowship, only we meet on Zoom in order to comply with the social distancing. It’s worked out rather well, but I do miss seeing my ladies in person. We only have one week left as a group, and that makes me kind of sad, but relieved at the same time. Especially with this online learning for the kids ramping up. I had decided back around the Christmas break that I wouldn’t be returning next year to be a group leader, but I haven’t told my group yet. I don’t think they’ll care much. People hardly ever get assigned to the same discussion leader. And Lord willing, they’ll still see me around at regular Wednesday classes.

Oh my gosh, y’all. It snowed yesterday. Seriously. I woke up to see the ground covered in white stuff. It was a crazy day. And then here in Michigan we had a bunch of people protesting at the Capitol, which is all political nonsense that I try very hard not to get mixed up in. I absolutely despise politics and I know that probably makes me less of a grown-up, but I don’t care. I just want to stick my fingers in my ears (or just take off my cochlear implants, HA!) and pretend for awhile that it’s not as screwed up as it is. Don’t ask me how I went from snow in April to politics. All of it’s bizarre, and beyond comprehension. Moving on.

I have done almost no writing throughout this quarantine business because, well, it’s hard to write when your mind is distracted by a global pandemic. So I hear. What I’ve been doing instead is reading books and listening to podcasts. I’m actually finishing books I had started but was unable to finish in time. I recently finished The Boys in the Boat, The Greatest Generation, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, The Glass Castle, and Know My Name. Many of the books have been audio versions, which I find refreshing because they give my eyes a rest, and I can crochet while I’m “reading”. True multi-tasking!

The other hobby I have, at night when I’m too tired to do much of anything, is watching tv on my laptop (the smaller screen helps so I can see most of what’s going on while I read the captions). I have discovered an absolute gem for mental health and getting to sleep at night – Golden Girls reruns on Hulu. Check it out, and let me know if it doesn’t make you smile.

I’m hoping to get out this weekend and run a Bob Ross themed virtual 5k. We shall see. I haven’t run that far in awhile so it might end up to be a lot of walking. The original plan was to run this with friends, but now that we have shelter in place orders, that’s no longer an option. So I’m just going to run three laps around my neighborhood, and call that a race. I may even wear the bib!

I hope you are all doing well, and are safe and healthy. If you’re feeling a little lonely and blue, watch some Golden Girls. They’ll never let you down.

Runs with Birds

Laundry Always Waits

I ran today. I hadn’t run in over a week, and I would say 90% of that was because I was feeling emotionally drained. And I won’t lie, I’m still feeling somewhat emotionally exhausted, but I knew I needed to get some sunshine and fresh air. My soul needs it. So I jogged, I walked, I waved at strangers, and I listened to the birds sing.

I came back to the house and all the world’s problems are still here, but they don’t seem to be weighing me down as much. For now. Until they get too heavy again and then I will go out again and offer my cares up to the Lord and let the birdsongs fill the empty space in my heart.

I pray you are all doing well and staying healthy. May God sustain you and meet you wherever you are.

Slowing down has its perks

When times are tough it helps to look at the positive right? The proverbial silver lining. So here is my list of things I’ve enjoyed about this mandated social distancing:

  1. All meetings are held online, so I don’t need to concern myself with arranging rides.
  2. More time to crochet blankets, hats and coasters.
  3. More time to read the ridiculously long list of library books I’ve started reading and wasn’t able to finish before the loan expired.
  4. I don’t have to arrange the family dinner around evening activities.
  5. I can make breakfast for my family on Saturday mornings.
  6. Walks around the neighborhood with my kids (well, so far 1 kid and the dog).
  7. Running nearly every day.

I feel like last all last week I had a lot to say, a lot to blog about, but it didn’t feel right to publish anything just yet. I wanted to hold it close for awhile and see how I felt about things first. The first part of the week was busy because we had to do all our BSF meetings online. It was a little nerve-wracking but it all worked out very well. The second part of the week was a whole lot of nothing, giving me more time to really process the gravity of the situation we are all in. So now I’m feel a little less unsettled. Now I can comfortably get back to boring you all with my daily minutiae. I’ll probably keep talking about running, crocheting, and maybe even about the books I’m reading. I’m sure I’ll throw some tidbits in regarding the dog too. Be on the lookout!

Nearly 2 months

It’s been a long time since I posted. I know. And it’s been a nice break, I suppose, but the wheels start turning again, and I have stuff to share, if you care to listen.

For starters, I left off talking about the memoir I’m writing. Progress is not at a complete halt, but it’s really slow going. I’ll get there, I’m sure of it. I’ve been focused on a lot of things that are happening now, so that detracts from the writing about the past. It was tax season for awhile there, so I had a lot of tasks to complete for the church. Getting W2s and 1099s out, filing them with the appropriate agencies, that sort of thing.

I’ve also been fully immersed in my daughter’s involvement with Girl Scouts, including some meeting planning and selling cookies. Being a part of this troop gives her a number of opportunities to reach out of her comfort zone and discover what she’s really capable of. When she does, she oozes with pride and I am one proud momma for sure. My son stays busy with wrestling and he always works hard and is continuously improving, and that also makes me proud. We try really hard to raise good kids but we can’t take credit for most of what they do well. We just stand back amazed and thank God, praying that we don’t screw it up.

I’ve been running a little bit. I joined a free good form walking/running class with a friend of mine, so two afternoons every week we get to learn how to walk and run properly so that we don’t injure ourselves. In four weeks, when the class ends, we’ll all participate in a 5k race together. It’s been a lot of fun mingling with other like-minded people and I’m learning a lot. I hadn’t realized I had sort of lost some of the joy of running but this class is helping me to rekindle it.

My fatigue level was pretty high there for awhile following the holidays but it’s getting a lot better. I have no doubt the regular running is helping. I’m still quite tired a lot of the time, meaning that I’m sleeping a lot more, but it’s manageable. It’s hard to explain the difference between fatigue and being tired. I guess I only know the difference because when I’m fatigued, I’m not yawning or wanting to sleep. I just can’t seem to move my body. My legs are heavier and walking up the stairs takes considerable effort, but I don’t feel like I could sleep. When I’m fatigued, my mind is often still very active, so I sit a lot and think about what needs to be done, and strategize how to get it done in the most efficient way. So I guess it’s not all bad. You’ve gotta look at the bright side, or the clouds will consume you.

One of the things I’ve been doing a lot more of is crocheting, because that’s something that doesn’t require a lot of thought or energy, so it’s the perfect activity for when I’m fatigued. I’m finishing up an afghan for one of my nephews, and when I’m done I’ll start on one for the next niece or nephew. I have 14 nieces and nephews, so I’ll be at this for many years to come. The plan is to complete them while they’re still in school. I’ve done six so far so I’m not even halfway through. It’s been a lot of fun so far and I just hope the ones who have received their blankets are enjoying them.

I’m starting another Financial Peace class a week from tomorrow, and I’m pretty excited about it. I only have 3 registrations, but two of them are people I met through Bible Study Fellowship, so I’m hopeful they will work the plan and stay for the full 9 weeks. It’s always exciting to watch people go through this class and to see what kinds of things change in their thinking and their habits. A lot of people believe you can’t live without credit cards or a high FICO score or a car payment, and to watch them as they learn the truth of a better way, God’s way, of handling their finances is truly inspiring. I always come away from every week of class motivated to keep on working the plan in our own home, and teaching the principles to our children. I don’t mind doing the class for only 3 members (at least 2 are married couples) but discussion is much more dynamic when you have more, so I’m praying we get more people signed up. We shall see.

I hope you all are having a good year so far. I’ll try to post more regularly to keep you posted on what’s happening in my itty bitty world.

Going back in order to move on

Okay guys. I have intentionally not been blogging because it was winter break and I wanted to be more present and “in the moment” as I spent time with my families over the Christmas and New Year festivities. That mission accomplished, I’m moving on to the next big goal.

I had previously said (maybe not here, maybe just in person to other people) that I was going to run a full marathon in the fall of 2020. But while I contemplated all the training necessary for such an endeavor, I realized I had another big goal I was wanting to accomplish this year. I want to finish writing my memoir. This is very important to me, as I’ve got a lot of stuff to say about my dramatic entrance into this life of disability that I feel God is calling me to share. So I decided I can’t focus properly on both at the same time, and I had to pick which one to work towards first. I’m choosing to write.

I had started writing the memoir a long time ago. I was able to write about what happened, but after 6 or 7000 words I was stuck. And the real problem is that the facts of what happened is only the tip of the iceberg. I need to write about how I felt at each turn, and how we all coped. I need to get real and raw. So even though I’m up way past my bedtime, I made a point to just sit and at least spend 20 minutes writing something. I just started writing, and I didn’t bother with editing or proofing as I went. And here it’s an hour later and I’ve written something, but also I’m in tears. Because I am revisiting some of my darkest, most heartbreaking days. I understand now why I was procrastinating on this. Because I almost have to relive the pain in order to share with others how I made it through. I need to go back to that place if I want my readers to go there with me.

This is going to be really effing hard, folks. Please pray for me, that God would continue to give me courage to rip open these wounds in order to write these words. These words that only He can give me. Because He has called me to share my story, and it is my understanding that He equips those whom He calls.

Focus

Did I mention I went to see a low vision specialist a couple weeks ago? My neuro-ophthalmologist had recommended it, since my vision has remained stable over the past six years. I’m not sure why he waited so long to suggest it, because I could have used the help a lot sooner, but that doesn’t matter. Better late than never.

So I went to see this low vision specialist, Dr. Putnam, and I learned a lot. I learned that what I’ve been doing up to this point to manage my low vision has been helpful, in that I’ve adapted. However, I also learned that in many areas rather than adapt, I avoid. Take using cash, for example. It takes so long to figure out what denomination a bill is, or what type of coin I’m holding, that I just use my debit card for everything. Or if cash is my only option, I’ll ask one of my children to get the cash for me. Who knows how many other things I’ve come to avoid because they are too difficult?

The biggest thing I’ve avoided is driving. I’ve never actually had a doctor tell me I couldn’t. I just don’t because I assumed I can’t because I have low vision. When it was time to renew my license, rather than taking the required test, I opted for the state identification card instead. When doctors ask me if I drive, I chuckle. Because to me it seems so obvious that I CANNOT drive. So when this low vision doctor asked me if I drive, I reacted the same as always. I chuckled and said “No, that would be impossible.” Her response surprised me. Now this doctor has seen my visual field tests. She knows very clearly what I can and cannot see. And yet she said to me, “Don’t say it’s impossible. I don’t want you to get your hopes up too high, but I also don’t want you to count it out. There’s a lot we can do. Even if it’s restricted driving, it may be something that’s an option for you.”

This idea floored me, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I’ve lost about 60% of my field of vision, but the other 40% is clear, as long as I’m wearing my glasses. Is 40% enough to safely drive a car? Dr. Putnam seems to think it could be, or it’s at least enough to warrant exploring the idea.

Speaking of my glasses, a year and a half ago, I bought a new pair with the recommended progressive lenses. The low vision doctor believed that the progressive lenses were not helping me, but were actually hurting me. The way they work, I guess they kind of block out or distort a good portion of that 40% where my eyes can actually see. Which would explain why I had secretly felt extra blind for awhile. I just figured that was the way it was going to be, and I just moved on. But now I have these new lenses, with an updated prescription, and without the progressive lenses. And let me tell you, there is a remarkable difference. It was a little strange the first day wearing them, but now that my brain has adjusted to them I can tell you I see so much better. Not close up of course, but that’s okay because I’m nearsighted. Seeing far away is greatly improved, and that has me thinking again about what Dr. Putnam said to me about driving.

My husband asked me about this today, the idea of me driving again, and I had to be honest, it scares the crap out of me. BUT – I’m trying to open my mind up to the possibility, just like Dr. Putnam encouraged me to do. I’m trying to ditch my all-or-nothing thinking here. Digging up the idea of me driving that I had successfully grieved and buried in its grave. It’s a big idea. Scary too. But I changed my mind once about this, I can change it back. It’s just going to take some time. We are deciding to reopen the chapter on this aspect of my disability and give it more thought and prayer.

So that is the exciting news around here. We have lots of other things going on but I won’t bore you today with the details. In addition to family and kid stuff I’m remaining semi-focused on running and writing, but that’s probably another blog post of its own. Stay tuned, I’ll try to be back at least once before Christmas. Happy Wednesday and peace to you, my friends.

Reading and Running

Lately, I haven’t had anything very inspirational I’ve felt like writing. So I just haven’t been writing. For fear of boring you with all the details of my day to day. But the alternative to writing the mundane hodgepodge is to not write at all, and that’s maybe not great either. Because as I learned in a recent audio book I just finished “reading” (The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr, if you love science!), your brain is like a muscle. If you don’t use parts of it, they shrink and it becomes harder to access them down the road. So I’m exercising my writing muscle by writing even when I don’t have anything to write about. And as I’m writing, I’m sure something will come to mind. That’s always how it seems to work, anyway.

I’ve really been craving dark chocolate. I don’t know why I never keep any around the house.

I have not been running these past couple of weeks. I think after the bout of fatigue following Thanksgiving, I sort of fell out of the habit. I’m hoping to get back into it this weekend though. If the weather cooperates, of course. Treadmill running still sucks.

BUT! I do want to tell you how the Turkey Trot 5k went, but I want to be careful not to toot my own horn too loudly. So you know I was training, sort of, trying to increase my speed, and was hoping to beat my previous PR of 38:24. But even if I didn’t beat my PR, this was a memorable race. I ran it with my son, who is much faster than I am. I wished him luck and left him at the head of the pack with all the seriously fast runners, and scooted back as far as I could because I knew otherwise I would get trampled when the race started. This race was huge. I think the final count was around 5000 people. Maybe not large by other people’s standards, but it was by far the biggest 5k I had ever run. So with that many people the energy was pretty awesome.

The gun went off and I started running, and people immediately started zooming past me. I would have moved to the side to get out of the way, but I was so worried about tripping I stayed in the middle of the road where I knew there would be fewer potholes and cracks. Did I mention this was the first race I have ever run solo? No guide runners, no sign on my back to alert people that I was a deaf/blind runner. I had this sort of overwhelming sense – throughout the race – that I belonged there. That I was a real runner just like the rest of them. Note that I had not realized until this moment that I ever felt like I wasn’t one of them. So this was a brand new revelation, and I believe it is what propelled me forward, as fast as my feet would let me.

I was getting periodic updates from Runkeeper to tell me of my current speed, but I wasn’t paying attention enough to calculate what my average was looking like. I was just trying to enjoy the moment. So when I reached the finish and saw that my time was just coming up on 34 minutes, I was flabbergasted. My finish time was 34:03 – a full four minutes and 21 seconds faster than my last PR in May. I still don’t even understand how that is humanly possible. Not for me, at least, a woman with M.S. And certainly not in that short of a time period.

I’m still in a mild state of disbelief over the whole thing, but I’m now finally able to process it a bit more. I think the difference for that race, and my speed training on the treadmill leading up to it, is that I dared to run a pace that was just a bit past my comfort zone. Then when that felt comfortable, I pushed a little harder. So if I can just remember to push myself a little bit each time I’m out there, push the envelope so to speak, I know I can complete a full marathon next year, which is my next big running goal. I just have to be careful to be wise about it, and not push myself too hard or too fast. Know my limits, listen to my body and rest when it needs rest. I’ve learned so much this year about my capabilities, both mentally and physically, that I feel ready for this next step.

So I guess this post ended up being mostly about running. Sorry, not sorry. What else? Christmas is coming! I’m not ready, but who ever is? I’ll be ready when I need to be. I’ve been keeping busy with Bible Study Fellowship, bookkeeping for the church, and taking care of the home. Sadly the home sometimes takes a backseat to the other stuff but I’m working on fixing that. In my down time, my relaxing time, I’m doing a lot of crocheting and reading. I have a growing list of books I’ve started reading but couldn’t finish before the library’s digital copy expired, so I’m one by one working through knocking those off the Goodreads list. Not to say that like it’s a chore or anything. I still love my books.

That’s all for now folks! Tell me, what’s your favorite book to read over the holiday season?

Running With Dogs

I’m seriously not trying to draw pictures when I run, but this map looks like the profile of a dog. Do you see it? The pointy little ears and turned up nose?


But! What’s even cooler is that this was my fastest 3 miles, and that was even while running with Piper for the first mile. I’ve been secretly hoping to run a PR at the Turkey Trot on Thursday and I’m starting to really believe it’s possible! My current 5k PR is 38:24 and I would LOVE to come in under that and then go home and chow down on Grandma’s homemade stuffing and corn casserole.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?