Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Ephemeral

A couple of weeks ago I looked at the huge maples outside my window at work. They were in full golden fire as if they burned from within. I watched the wind blow, stealing armfuls of leaves and realized within days the leaves would be off their branches and in some clean-up crew's bags. I couldn't help but admire and pine for the ephemeral beauty of fall.

The leaves are gone now; some fell in their complete beauty, others clung until brown and crispy. I watched as the gardeners blew them into piles, dragged them off on a huge drop cloth and piled them in their truck. The sun shines strongly through the naked trees into my office and I have a lovely unobstructed view of Library Square. Yet, I still cannot get the beauty of those dying leaves out of my mind.

I've had two lovely friends die in this past year. One was much too young and the other was youthful, even into her eighties. Both glowed from within as if they kept a constant fire alight inside. I want to be like them--burning as brightly as possible until the very last second.

One was a father of six who had more energy than ten people. I've never seen anyone double (or quadruple) task like him. He could be on the phone, holding a meaningful conversation with the person he was physically with, drive a car and decide what would be the best thing to do next, all at the same time. He organized people, companies (probably empires), had an incredible family and was good to the core. He was a thoughtful bishop and made me want to be a better human. He was one of those people who changed the way I thought about things. I remember sitting in Sacrament Meeting and hearing him speak and truly being inspired--inspired enough to change some bad habits.

I love his family and his wife. They are examples of understanding and testimony. I often try to think of what I would do in the same situation and hope that I could be half as valiant as them. He was and I am sure is one of the shiniest people I've ever known.

My other friend Mildred typed up the program for Sacrament Meeting each week and was our Ward Librarian. She had been librarian for years and prepared every lesson's visual aids, games, or activities and had them on file. She and the other librarians prepared a folder filled with these helps each week for every teacher in the ward. If you did not pick them up--they would be delivered to you.

She kept me in line. She made sure I let her know who the new teachers were and helped me stay organized. She prepared my program for the Primary Sacrament Meeting Presentation each year--usually re-typing anything I produced.

Every Sunday morning at 8:15am as I set up chairs for the children, she came in and visited. We talked about everything. We talked about her exercises that she did daily so that arthritis wouldn't immobolize her, we talked about our plans for the week, we talked about our various medical conditions and we just talked. One day 2 months before she died, we talked about how she wasn't feeling well. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer soon after. She continued to prepare the programs, and call people to make sure things were being done until the week she died.

I miss them both. I miss them because honestly they were one of the few people who actually made my life easier and more fun, I miss them for who they were, I miss them because of how I felt when I was with them. I want to be like them. I want to be useful, to make people's lives easier and better because they know me.

They passed in full and unfaded beauty. I've got a long way to go to measure up to my two dear friends who I know are stirring things up on the other side.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fad Diet Here I Come - or - Of Mice and Women

Month 4 vegetarian was a sad and sorry experience. I gained 5 pounds.  Yippeee for me! I am currently on the slowest weight loss plan ever. If your looking for excuses (and I always am) I think putting vegetarian right after vegan was just a little too similar to be fun--and this is all about fun--right?

So this month bring on the fad diets! I am doing the "Up Day Down Day Diet," created by a Dr. Johnson. (Link is on the right under Month 5.)  He read the studies on mice that they fed one day and then didn't the next and found out the mice participants lived longer and healthier lives (I don't know about happier).  He took this to heart and created the diet where you eat normally one day and the next eat 500 calories.

I only found out about this diet from my husband who heard second-hand that a very overweight man's trainer used it as a last resort. It worked wonders for him! With endorsements like that who could resist.

I've been on it for almost a week and I've lost 4 pounds, so I guess it does work so far. It's quite a trick to only eat 500 calories a day. Last night at 10:00pm I couldn't resist some Skittles that were resting less than innocently on my desk. I'm still trying to figure out some tricks to make it through the evening hours.

Gasp! I hope Thanksgiving is on an up day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Modern Torture Chambers--or--What I Have in Common with Keira Knightley

I'm going to be an old lady for just a moment and talk about my sciatica. I have sciatica and if I stand too long or walk on a flat surface my leg hurts like the dickens, my foot falls asleep and it just plain feels like an electric shock running up and down my leg. I found out that the numbness can lead to nerve damage and that I better check it out.

I went into the doctor and he prescribed an MRI. By the way the MRI is really a modern day torture device masquerading as a medical instrament--I am sure of it. First they strip you naked and put on an ugly drape and then they keep asking you questions like, "Do you have any metal inside your body--you better tell us, because if you don't the MRI is going to rip it out of your body and then you'll be sorry if you lie to us about the metal in your body." I kept telling them, "I have metal staples in me from a gall bladderectomy" but then they just said, "Oh those metal type things don't count."

So I entered the room with that tunnel terrified. Then they shove you onto this little board that stuffs you in this thing like toothpaste going back into the tube. If the fear of the staples emerging from your body like the alien from Aliens or the claustrophobia don't get you then there's the noise. It seems impossible that aligning your electrons to form a picture could be so incredible loud--but it is.

This is all beside the point. The point is that one of my discs is being squeezed out of my spine and poking into nerves that cause the painful condition known as sciatica. The radiologist (who turned out to be my brother's best friend from high school) had me come back to his den of wisdom and told me, "The pain you're feeling is real!" Like I should be congratulated for not being delusional!

He thought that I didn't have to have surgery and could maybe take care of it all through physical therapy. Yeah!

So I go to a lovely man who turns out to be a high school buddy of my husband for physical therapy. (I prefer not knowing my doctors--I believe in medical anonymity.) He's great. We do some yoga like moves, he tells me to get my blood pumping on a recumbent bike, he shows me a wonderful power point presentation on my condition and then he pulls out this big, black corset and proceeds to put it on me.

At first I thought there was no way this corset is going to fit around my waist and then I notice all of the Velcro. He got the end through the buckle and started to pull and pull and pull. He laughed and said, "Now you look like Keira Knightley, in Pirates of the Carribean." I looked at him and said, "No one has ever said that to me before," but I thought "yeah, right."

He put me on a treadmill and hooked the corset to straps that go to a scaffolding connected to the treadmill. Then he turned a nob that slowly makes me weigh less by lifting me slightly off the treadmill. He said it was to take pressure of my spine. He set it at 40 pounds lighter and then set the treadmill timer for 3 minutes. The scaffolding pulled me up--except now there is a problem, the corset slipped up and took my breasts with it. I looked down and ouldn't believe my eyes. Somehow over the last 2 minutes I turned into Dolly Parton and the corset kept moving up.

I looked scary and I was scared. I looked over at the helper with desperation in my eyes. She cane over and said "This looks like it needs to be tightened a bit more so it doesn't ride up." She tightened it up and while I was grateful that it wasn't pushing my breasts to my forehead I was starting to have a problem breathing. She set the timer for 2 more minutes. The longest two minutes of my life.

Then, because I am prone to delusional optimism, I realized I do have something in common with Keira Knightley--a corset does do wonders.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

Yes I have been avoiding you. Here is the beginning of the excuse--2 weeks ago I was going through a stressful period. I was in charge of the Primary Program and I also knew that I was about to be released so I had a lot of things to tidy up. Then last week we had our program and it went great! The kids were fantastic.

The day before the program my daughter had her 16th Birthday Party to which she invited 60 kids. Because if you invite one person of course you have to invite 5 more so that no one feels bad. We made caramel apples, decorated pumpkins, had s'mores by the fire, ate dinner, chips, popcorn and watched a movie. All this before I had to be at church by 7AM.

Anyway, through all of that stress I stayed on the wagon. Good for me!

Then Sunday night came. I was in a blissful state of job well done and rested from a wonderful afternoon nap. Then I started obsessing about my daughter's chocolate Costco cake we'd bought for the party. Puffy frosting and all. (I wasn't obsessing about the homemade marzipan cake I'd made on her actual birthday that would have actually tasted good.)

I let that devil sugar in the door--and it made itself right at home in my belly. I had a piece a cake a day for the next 6 days and I enjoyed any kind of Halloween treat that I passed by.

Yes. by my weigh in date I'd gained 3 pounds.

So stats on the first two weeks of Vegetarian is + 3 pounds. Plus 3 pounds!

So there. Now you know. Will you please leave me alone now!