When Your Sister’s a Grandmother

I generally don’t mind telling people my age, at least I didn’t until I turned 40.  I didn’t like turning 40.  I mean, I remember my mom turning 40 and being embarrassed to tell anyone her age because 40 was next to ancient and of course, none of my friends would have parents anywhere near as old as my 40 year old mom, right?  But I did okay pretending I wasn’t 40 until I went for my wellness check (you know, that one that you’re supposed to get every year) and walked out with a referral for a mammogram.  Wow.  Just like that my age reached up and smacked me in the face.  No denying it now; I really must be 40.

But I gradually adjusted to being 40, and then my sister invited me to her stepdaughter’s baby shower.  I nearly choked.  My sister was about to become a grandmother!  A grandma, a nana, a granny.  And she’s two years younger than me!  Isn’t a granny supposed to be an old woman?  Smack.  My age reached up and smacked me again because if my younger sister was taking on the title of grandmother, that must mean I’m really getting old.

The baby shower was cute.  My baby sister, cake decorator extraordinaire, created the cutest caterpillar cake01036c3597a98bf4491fd9b1b1bfc687f8e401e2a2 for the Very Hungry Caterpillar (you know, that cute children’s book?) party theme.  And then my niece had her baby, and poof, my sister is a grandmother.01b6aff84eed08000b36b45f4ea16c92ab142fa948

 

So I’m seeing adorable pictures and videos of this little baby on Facebook, thinking to myself how cute my sister’s granddaughter is.  But then I find my thoughts taking a dark turn.

Aging, I’m sure, is probably scary for most people.  I try not to dwell on the what ifs of life because why worry about things that may never happen?  Still, I find myself thinking about the what ifs anyway.  Maybe it’s because I’m single?  I find myself thinking about my mom and grandma who both had dementia and died in their early 60s.  They each had children to take care of them when they couldn’t care for themselves.  But I don’t have children or even a spouse.  My stomach knots in fear when I think about that.  I think about being unable to work.  How would I take care of myself?  I have no one else in my life to depend on.  I envision myself in a seedy cheap nursing home that no one ever visits.  See what I mean when I say my thoughts take a dark turn?

So I’ve been thinking about finding a healthy perspective in being single and well into my 40’s now.  I refuse to live in fear of things that may never happen, but how do I keep from doing that?

  1.  I live by faith.  My faith is important to me.  And as I’ve thought about aging and being single and alone in my older, vulnerable years, I’ve come to the realization that if I truly believe that God loves me, then I have to believe He will take care of me.  Period.  I don’t have to figure out how He’ll do it, I just need to have the faith that He will.
  2. I do what I can to prevent chronic illness.  I don’t think that living by faith and taking care of myself are mutually exclusive.  I think I also have a responsibility to live wisely.  To that end, I do things like run, lift weights, and eat a healthy diet to lower my risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.  And I try to keep my mind active by reading and learning new things to lower my risk of dementia.
  3. I save for the future.  I have to admit.  Sometimes I just want to hoard all the money I make so that I can pay for my care when I can no longer care for myself.  But that kind of fear and attitude limits generosity, and I don’t want to rob myself of the blessing of giving.  So I save a portion of each paycheck and contribute routinely to my retirement fund, but I also try to give to causes that are important to me.
  4. I redefine what my age means.  What I mean is that we tend to lump people sometimes into categories based on age and say what someone of this age should or shouldn’t do.  And of course, there are developmental milestones that are common to people in similar age categories and there are well researched guidelines about illness and aging, but I refuse to let my age dictate what I can and cannot do.  At 40, I lost 63 pounds.  I became a marathoner at 43 and a two time marathoner at 44.  I can deadlift and back squat more than my body weight which I’ve never been able to do in my life.  I’m learning a new subject matter with kids who weren’t even alive when I graduated college.  Bottom line, at 44 I’m healthier in mind, body, and spirit than I was at 21.  Boom!

So my sister’s a grandmother.  I’m happy for her.  Ecstatic for her, actually!  Her granddaughter is adorable!  And my sister is one hot 01b081889bf5e374d83d7c8bf45097f6d22a8ef07dgrandma!  But I’m also happy for me, single at 44, headed straight for 50 in a full on sprint.  As long as I have breath in my lungs, I intend to explore life and all that it offers within my physical ability.  I have no intention of sitting back and letting age and marital status stop me before I try, whatever the outcome.  What I’ve realized is that you’re never too old to make healthy choices and to find the adventure in life.  Hey, God doesn’t put an age requirement or limit on people He can use, so why should I let age limit me?

Talk to me:

What did you call your grandmother?  What do your grandchildren call you?

What’s something you think you’re too old to do? 

Being Single at Christmas

The holiday season is kind of a hard time to be single.  For a lot of us single folks, the holidays are filled with the pain of lost families and traditions because of divorce.  For some of us, it’s filled with the pain of unfulfilled longing, of wanting and waiting to establish our own families and traditions.

If I’m not careful, I find myself falling into a well of apathy this time of year.  Sure, I have friends and family who invite me to spend Christmas with them, but I always feel like a fifth-wheel.  Not because of anything they say or do, but because of this persistent feeling of being “less-than” because of my singleness that seems to rear its head at the most inopportune times.

And being a hospital based nurse, I spend a lot of Christmas holidays at work, as I will this year.  Having to work on Christmas intensifies this urge to be apathetic about the holiday.  I mean, why get excited about a day that will be just like any other day of the year, right?

But that’s the error in my thinking, right there.  Christmas is not about a day; it’s about a person.  It’s about the birth of Jesus, about God incarnate, about the ultimate gift of sacrifice, about our salvation.  And whether I’m at work or gathered around a Christmas tree with family, that fact doesn’t change.

So over the years, fighting this singleness induced temptation to apathy, I’ve discovered a unique gift in being single at Christmas.  I see people scurrying about, stressing out about getting presents for everyone on their list, going into debt to get just the right gift, spending hours cooking and baking, working frantically to make Christmas day perfect.  Me?  Because there’s no one I’m “obligated” to buy gifts for and there are no expectations on me to prepare a traditional Christmas celebration, 007I get to sit back and just enjoy the holiday, taking in all the good things this time of year offers.  I just get to soak in the Christmas music, revel in the Christmas lights, stare at my nativity scene and think about what Mary and Joseph  must have gone through.

Being single has taught me to truly celebrate Christmas.  I’ve learned that celebrating is not about the food, the decorations, the gifts.  It’s a heart thing.  It’s giving glory to God for his selfless act of giving.  It’s being thankful that Jesus was born to be our savior.  Sure, I love the parties and gift giving and all the traditions, but whether I’m alone or with people, true celebration is in my heart.

So I’m thankful for the gift singleness this year.  I’m thankful that I get to take care of people on Christmas day instead of being the one needing to be taken care of.  I’m thankful that I have ears to hear the Christmas music, eyes to see the sparkling lights, and a heart to love Jesus with.  I’m thankful that celebration can happen whether I’m in the midst of a 12 hour shift, alone in my house, or surrounded with friends or family.

From my heart to yours, have a very happy, blessed holiday season!

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Rudolph Run and the Magical Reappearance of My Earbuds

So this is a story of  my Saturday, ending with a real life mystery.  Theories on what happened are welcome.

This past Saturday, because I still can’t run, I volunteered to pass out medals to all the finishers of the Rudolph Run 5K.  I’m usually running the race, so being on the other side of the race was an interesting experience.  And a COLD one!  Holy cow!  A blast of arctic air decided to visit our state.  It was something like 30 degrees F with drizzle falling from the sky.  I had on leggings under my jeans, 2 shirts, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of gloves, a knit cap and my fleecy coat.  Still, when the last finisher crossed the finish line about 1.5 hours after the start of the race, my toes were blocks of ice.  Seriously.  It took 30 minutes with my feet under a blanket and a heating pad when I got home to get all the feeling back in my toes.

It was a miserable experience, but it was a lot of fun too.  Runners are a creative bunch.  Some of them really get in the spirit of the run and come up with all kinds of cool costumes.  There were lots of hats with reindeer antlers running around.  One guy ran in Santa decorated pajamas.  Yep. 017182ca25c3450ba363204b60f179c40242b4113e Flannel shirt and pants with little Santas all over them.  Then, there was the guy who ran in a blow up Santa suit.  How could he move, let alone run?!  And of course, Santa himself was there, cheering on the runners.  Here’s what the race looked like from my vantage point on the sidelines.

016252e6bf4391b3ebffae7be4bd7ec562f83bcca6And getting to hand out medals to first time 5K finishers was so fun.  There were so many kids, like under 10 years old, who ran the Rudolph Run as their first 5K.  I loved being able to high-five them, congratulate them, and hand them their medal.  And then there were my friends.  There was my friend who blazed through that 5K in record time.  And I got to give him his medal!  And my marathon training buddy who ran the race with his cutie pie of a daughter.  I loved seeing them and being able to give them their medals too.  And seeing the overall winner of the race all the way to the very last finisher…pretty neat.

And then I got home and am still perplexed by what happened next.

Almost a year ago, I came home from a run and laid my earbuds on my dresser while I changed clothes.  It was one of those single earbuds made especially for runners.  Anywho, when I went to put them away, they were gone.  I couldn’t find them anywhere.  I looked behind the dresser, under the bed, in drawers…couldn’t find them anywhere.  It was like they had disappeared into thin air.  And with it just being me and my cat in the house, having them moved from the dresser was unlikely, although my assumption was that Sunny probably knocked them off the dresser to play with them.  He can’t resist anything that resembles a string.  But I eventually quit looking for them, thinking they’d turn up one of these days.  When months went by and they still didn’t show up, I just chalked it up to them being long gone.  But the mystery of what happened to them drove me nuts.

Saturday, I was sitting on the couch, trying to thaw my feet under the heating pad, watching my cat jump and pounce on something in the corner of the loveseat.  He’d stick his paw under the pillow like he was trying to catch something.  “What’s he playing with?” I wondered.  All of his toys were in the basket.  I decided it was probably a loose string on the pillow, but the more he pounced on whatever it was and tried to catch it, the more curious I got.

I got my frozen toes out from under the heating pad and hobbled over to take a look at Sunny’s entertainment.  And there in the corner of the loveseat…THE MISSING EARBUDS!  01b226147dc9a0bf51c04f79b1b15dc3e93088ef6bWhat the heck?!  Do you know how many people have sat on that loveseat over the last year, how many times I’ve moved that pillow?  Where in the world…?  Where those earbuds have been for the last year is just about to drive me crazy!  I want to know where they were and how they happened to reappear in the corner of the loveseat.  If only my cat could talk…

Talk to me:

What do you think happened to my earbuds?

What’s your favorite way to warm up after being outside in the cold?

 

 

Post-Marathon Blues

The days, and weeks, after a marathon are kind of strange.  At least they are for me.  You’ve been working and training for a race for 4 and a half months, and suddenly it’s done.  Poof.  Now what?  Not having to go for a run feels weird.

You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet here on the Other Side.  It’s because I’m in a serious post-marathon funk.  I remember this happening after my first marathon, but it seems a little more intense this time.

Part of it is that I haven’t really been able to recover like I did last time.  Following my first marathon, I met up with my training group for a recovery run a week after the race.  We rehashed the race, spent some time celebrating our accomplishment, and talked about future running plans and races we want to run.

This time, I haven’t been able to run since I crossed the finish line.  I’ve had a persistent pain in my right shin since the race.  With immediate running the pain intensifies, and then I spend the rest of the day walking in pain.  It’s been 3 weeks since the race, and I’ve not run at all.  It is seriously messing with me.  I am in such a funk.  (Yes, I have an appointment next week to get my leg checked out.)

There really is a phenomena called post-race blues.  I see it as a loss of focus and lack of a goal.  One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I need to be challenged.  I need a goal to work towards.  Unfortunately, pain is preventing me from setting a new running goal.  I can’t sign up for a race until whatever is making my leg hurt goes away.  Sigh…I just want to run!  (I know.  I’m whining.)

Anywho…perspective.  That’s a big part of what keeps me healthy in mind and spirit.  So I’ve been trying to find the positive in not being able to run.  It’s taken me a while, but I think I’ve found a couple of good things about taking some time off from running.

  1.  It gives me an opportunity to volunteer at a race.  Next weekend is a holiday 5K that I was hoping to run.  It would have been race number 12 for 2016, a goal I had set for myself.  But I’m quite sure things won’t be up to running order in a week, so I decided to take the opportunity to volunteer to help with the race instead, something I’ve wanted to do but have found it hard to do when I’m running the race!  I’ll be standing at the finish line handing out medals and water.  How fun to see those runners cross that finish line and be able to celebrate their achievement by handing them a medal!  I feel my spirit lifting a bit.
  2. It gives me time to try yoga.  I’ve read some about the health benefits of yoga, the core and balance work, the stretching aspect, and how helpful it can be to runners.  I know I need work in the balance and flexibility department, so even before the marathon, I’d been thinking about incorporating yoga into my workout routine.  The only thing stopping me now, since I’m not running hours a week, is…nothing!  I just need to make it a point to go.
  3. It gives me time to sleep.  I can’t seem to get enough sleep since the race finished.  Maybe I just didn’t let myself think about how tired I was before, or maybe I’m tired because I’m just in a funk or maybe still recovering physically from the beating I gave my body, img_1351but at any rate, I’ve had time for lots of naps since afternoons aren’t taken up with running.  Lots of naps.  Maybe one day I’ll catch up on my sleep…
  4. It makes me hungry to run.  After my first marathon, I kind of lost the desire to run.  It seemed hard.  Not running for several weeks now has made me crave a run.  I seriously almost salivate when I see runners on the street.  I want to be out there so badly too.  But while not running has put me in a funk, not running also makes me love running more if that makes sense.

So hopefully soon this post-marathon funk will lift, and I’ll be back to myself and running in no time.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy some activities that I haven’t had time for before, and look forward with eager anticipation to my first post-marathon run!

Talk to me:

What pulls you up when you’re down in the dumps?

What’s something you’re looking forward to right now?

 

Having Christmas and Eating Too

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.  See?  img_1356Everything’s brown, a sure sign of winter in Oklahoma.  But a wreath on the door helps to make all that brown feel a bit more festive.img_1357

We’ve officially entered the holiday season; I just attended my first Christmas party, and I find my thoughts turning to Christmas of 2013.  It was the img_1361first holiday season I’d encountered on my weight loss journey.  I thought about all the Christmas parties with all their delectable treats that only come around once a year but have enough calories to choke a horse.  I thought about Christmas dinner.  Everything tastes so amazingly good, but if Christmas dinner is anything like Thanksgiving dinner, every food is either brown or yellow, not the best choices for healthy eating.  I had been consistently losing weight.  I was motivated to make healthy changes, and I was terrified of gaining weight.  How was I going to be sociable at the parties and Christmas gatherings without gaining back all that weight I’d lost? It was like going into a final exam.  I had to put to the test everything I’d learned about healthy eating and losing weight.  Could I do it?  Maybe this could be the year that Santa skipped Christmas?  Please…?

Maybe you find yourself in that pickle this year.  You’ve made some healthy choices, maybe even lost some weight, but the thought of all the holiday food threatens to derail all your good choices.  With the holiday season in full swing, I thought I’d give you some tips that have carried me through 3 holiday seasons now with no weight gain.

  1.  Have realistic goals.  Being realistic in weight loss goals is probably one of the most important things I did to lose weight, and when it comes to the holidays, being realistic is even more important.  My goal every year is not to lose weight between Thanksgiving and New Year but to just MAINTAIN my weight.  Realistically, I’m going to want to eat at parties and Christmas dinner.  But if I can manage to somehow avoid the weight gain that seems inevitable this time of year, I’ll be happy.
  2. Remember that you are empowered.  YOU control what you put in your mouth.  That second slice of pumpkin pie piled high with whipped cream may be calling your name, but it has NO control over you.  You alone decide if you’re going to eat it or not.
  3. Ration your calories.  When I know that I’m going to a party or have a holiday meal coming up, I eat wisely during the rest of the day.  I think of my calories as a bank account of sorts.  I have a predetermined number of calories to use for the day.  I know at that Christmas party or dinner that I will probably be using up more calories than normal, so to make sure I don’t “overdraw” my account, or eat more calories than I need, I choose very low calorie foods for the rest of the day, like salads and fresh fruits and vegetables.  And don’t forget to drink your water!
  4. Make the best choices possible.  When it comes to what you’re going to eat at that holiday gathering, make the best choices possible.  Is there a salad or a green vegetable?  Opt for larger portions of that over sweet potatoes swimming in brown sugar and marshmallows.  Do you have a choice of turkey or ham?  Go for white meat turkey.  It has a lower fat content.  Think about portion size.  Small amounts of the things you love but know are bad for you, AKA those sweet potatoes loaded with sugar, may be just enough to satisfy your taste without totally wrecking your health plan.
  5. Skip the gravy and whipped cream.  It’s easy for me to say “skip the gravy”since I’m not a big fan of gravy, but gravy is loaded with calories.  Whipped cream is a bit tougher to say no to, but when I think about how delicious my dessert tastes even without that pile of calories masquerading as total yumminess, I’ll let it go in a heartbeat.
  6. Get some kind of physical activity every day.  Even during Christmas, you ask?  YES!  Even during Christmas!  Go for a walk.  It’s a great way to enjoy your neighbors’ outdoor Christmas decorations.  You don’t have to spend an hour in the gym, but keep yourself moving.  Believe me, you’ll feel better for it.
  7. Enjoy yourself!  Last but not least, enjoy the holiday gatherings.  Don’t get so hung up on watching calories and your weight that you totally miss out on the fun.  Be sensible.  Make healthy choices.  Eat in moderation.  Be active.  But at the end of the day, if you find that you’ve eaten more than you intended or had things that you know are not good for you, remember that this does not mean the end of your health plan.  Tomorrow’s a new day.  Be determined to make good choices.  Stay away from holiday leftovers, remember your goals, and keep on going.  You can do it!

Here’s to a happy and healthy Christmas!

Talk to me:

What Christmas traditions do you have?

What will you do to make healthy choices this holiday season?