Sunday Night Check-In: Hair Obsessions, Tracks and Escape Fantasies

I had one of those weekends that’s hard to categorize. I didn’t feel like doing very much. I read a lot, did my scheduled run/walk, met up with my Women in Transition meetup group at Magpie Cafe, met a couple of Match guys, cooked some yummy food and and obsessed over my hair. All in all, it was a regular weekend for me.

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I sort of decided that I’d like to go ahead and take a camping trip to North Carolina sooner rather than later. My plans changed dramatically when I saw this weather forecast for my intended destination:

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After sweating approximately 20 times this weekend, a string of 80 degree days seems absolutely divine! The only problem is I have my next Devacut scheduled for August 15. When I texted my hairdresser extraordinaire to see when his next available Saturday would be, he said it’s not until October. Oh, no. I don’t think I can do that. But I definitely am not the kind of gal who will schedule my life around a salon appointment. So, I’ve been trying to figure out if I can wait that long or find another Devacurl expert in New Orleans or even in North Carolina. These people are in in high demand. If you are a hairdresser and are reading this, I recommend you get trained on this process. Your business will explode.

I spent some time on the phone with a Devacurl expert in Asheville NC. She can squeeze me in for a cut only, but she gave me some instructions on how to fix my hair that will cut down on frizz. Unfortunately, they are not the same instructions I got from my local hairdresser, so I started googling You Tube videos to see if there were other methods of using the DevaCurl products that might make a difference in my hair. I stumbled up this lady who has absolutely gorgeous curls, and she only has to wash her hair a couple of times a week. I took notes and will be giving her method a try.

So, I’m on the fence as to whether or not I’ll be heading to North Carolina next week. I’d like to, but I may need to just cool my jets a little and do it when it’s more convenient. At any rate, the humidity has been much more pleasant the last few days, and I at least can enjoy my morning runs/walks with Ashok. That makes me a happy camper. It was even cool enough to sit outside yesterday for coffee at Magpie and today with my friend Beth at Garden District Coffee.

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I made a mango-black rice pudding yesterday. It was fabulous. I actually made two of them. The first one I left bubbling on the stove until I burnt it up. The pan is now soaking in Clorox in the sink trying to loosen the charred rice from the bottom of the pan. The second batch is chilling in the fridge, and it is delicious. It may be breakfast in the morning. Dinner last night and tonight was a Mexican-inspired dirty rice with my free Whole Foods ground meat, brown rice, onion, garlic and poblano peppers. It was spicy but very tasty and fresh. A beet salad counterbalanced the heat. I’ve got plenty for tomorrow’s lunch, too.

My friend Leah in Memphis recommended a book called “Tracks” to me awhile back, and I read a good part of it this weekend. The main character is a young woman, and she’s crossing the Australian desert with 3 camels. The story is really interesting. I guess when you are involved in such a trek, it changes you, and she’s very reflective. I found myself wondering how I would handle some of the events she experiences. One of the hardest things for her to do is to shoot camels. I didn’t really know this, but camels can be really mean – especially the bulls. They are so mean that often she kills them before they can harm her or her own camels. I had no idea. I thought camels were these nice little pack animals. If I learned nothing else, I know that I don’t want to cross the desert with camels. It’s too hot, first of all. But, dealing with camels is a big pain in the ass. Ironically, she seems to get more frustrated dealing with the men in her life than crossing a desert with a bunch of ill-tempered beasts.

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I hope you all had a great weekend. I feel pretty rested, but, honestly, I wish it was only Saturday. I could use another day off. It truly is time for me to take a vacation. Mentally, I need it badly. Perhaps I could take a long weekend if I don’t think I can swing a whole week right now. A 4- or 5- day weekend might just give me the break I need if I can get to a cooler climate. I’m ready to leave my own tracks.

Y’all have a great week. :)

Dear August: I Hate You.

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Dear August,

Thank you for a lovely morning this morning. I noticed last night that it felt cooler outside. The temperature hasn’t dropped, but I can tell the humidity has relented a bit. I actually sat outside for coffee with some girlfriends. It didn’t heat up until about 10 AM. I felt very blessed and very happy that the morning was nice. Let me be the first to say thank you.

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I have something to say that’s a little difficult to say without hurting your feelings. I know that your name means ‘respected and impressive’, and you are impressive. I do respect you, and, honestly, I have to or I’ll die of heat stroke, but I really don’t like you too much. I know this probably comes as a shock to you since there have been times in the past when I have adored you. In Michigan, you were the crown jewel of my summer. I rode bikes, hiked and had a great time hanging out downtown. Your gift was the last of the really warm days before the temps started signifying a rapid descent into winter. If truth be known, I loved you. In Tennessee, cooler mornings usually greeted me sometimes during your tenure. It could still be hot, but you gave us a break overnight.

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I know that it’s not you who has changed. It’s me. I moved across country, and over the years I’ve grown to dislike you quite a great deal. You are what’s standing between me and fall. Now, I know September isn’t much better here, but it is a tad better. If I look at average temperatures in Baton Rouge, July and August stand even at 92 degrees, and September is at 89. It’s only 3 degrees, but, hey, it’s 3 degrees. I’ve been preparing myself for July since last summer. I knew it would be brutal, and I launched an all-out attack to try to make the best of July this year. It took all of my energy and brain power. I did it. July was much more tolerable. But, this morning I woke up, and here you were…. July’s wicked stepsister.

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Now, I’m tired. I’m hot and sweaty. I’m tired of the AC, but I have no recourse. Even my dog is starting to rebel about walking outside in the heat. So, I’m continuing to drink my iced tea, dab my skin with Peppermint Oil and run my ceiling fans 24 hours a day. I hope that I can keep up this pace. I can’t leave you. We’re stuck with each other. At least Whole Foods is giving away meat in August! That’s something to celebrate!

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I’m going to try to find a way to re-energize myself to survive the 31 days of living hell you’ve promised to provide me. I pulled out the National Day Calendar. Today is National Girlfriends’ Day! Hooray! I actually spent it with some girlfriends. Tomorrow is National Coloring Book Day. I bought some adult coloring books last week. I think I’ll celebrate tomorrow by coloring in them. Perhaps I can use that calendar to help me enjoy some things that I don’t typically enjoy.

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I boiled some okra today, too. It’s so hot out that most of the veggies are starting to dry up. The variety is not the same as it was at the Farmer’s Market earlier in the year. Even the okra is getting a little tough and stringy. But I boiled some. The truth is it reminds me of being a child in this heat and eating boiled okra for lunch. We only had a window unit AC back then. Daddy kept that front living room a cool 35 degrees while the rest of the house was clocking in at 95. At least we had a place we could go to cool off. Because, August, you can be mean, relentless and brutal.

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I don’t have a lot to look forward to this year in August. I’m taking my annual vacation after it cools down. But, I’m going to try to tolerate you a little better than I did last year. I clocked improvement with July. Perhaps I can be as successful with you. I’m just tired right now. I think I’ll lie down for a bit and rest. This is going to take all I can muster. And, if you decide that you can meet me halfway and provide at least a few nice mornings like you did today, I’d certainly appreciate it. If you can do that on days when I have long runs that would be even better.

Thanks for listening,

Sweltering Sharon

I See a Long Walk in My Future

Thanks to my friend Patrick for letting me steal some of his Jackson Hole photos for my backpacking daydream! Enjoy... I have been here, but I think I'll be there in person sometime in my future. :)

Thanks to my friend Patrick for letting me steal some of his Jackson Hole photos for my backpacking daydream! Enjoy… I have never been here, but I think I’ll need to put it on my list of possibilities. :)

I saw the movie “Wild” a month or so ago on the recommendation of a friend. “She reminds me so much of you,” my friend Tiffany proclaimed. I didn’t really think so. I mean, I camp, but I’ve never backpacked in my life. I’ve always thought that leaving the hot showers and real food behind and traipsing off to bathe in streams and eat dehydrated food sounded … well … not very fun. Truth is, it seemed a little scary. And I’d have to carry that big pack. I know how I am. I never pack the right clothes when I go somewhere, and I can’t leave behind my yoga mat, my hair products or a great pair of wedges. I’d be stuck if I was out backpacking and brought clothes that weren’t warm enough or – heaven forbid – too warm.

After watching the movie, I started to think about backpacking. I even wrote a blog about my thoughts of being alone on a trail. Could I do that? Would I want to do that? The more I noodled it, the more I liked the idea. But, I don’t know what to bring. What about water? Do I really trust that whole iodine solution to clean my water enough so that I don’t get sick? Can I bring Ashok? She’d never let me go off backpacking and leave her at home… nor would I want to. I got interested enough that I looked up the Louisiana Hiking Club on the internet and attended a meeting. It was fun, but when a couple of women my age got up and talked about hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail their first time out, I got really excited.

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These two women – whom I now admire – told me that they took a backpacking course at LSU with the club’s president, Katherine. She taught them what to bring, how to pack and even helped them pick a destination for their first adventure. So I started looking for the class online. I couldn’t find it, but then I started wondering if I’d rather take a class in the mountains where I could learn while I backpack. I could see whether or not I even like it. Then a weird thing happened. It is rare that my female friends want to join me for my adventurous outdoor hobbies. When I told the women in my Meetup Group that I was considering learning to backpack, they ALL wanted to take the class. Really? You mean, I have come to Louisiana and am going to find a backpacking community. So, I signed up for the class today. At least two more of my friends have already registered, too. From October 7 – November 11, I will be learning to take care of myself out in the backcountry!

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The class will also help me meet more people who are learning to backpack. If I go away for a weekend workshop, none of those people will live close to me. I’d still have to build a local community. Of course, the hiking club has lots of folks in it that already backpack, but I don’t know most of them. After spending 6 Wednesday nights in class and going on an overnight hike, I’ll know some of these people really well. And, hopefully, they will be excited enough to try out their skills that they’ll want to go on a hike real soon. I’m already thinking that a winter backpacking adventure to Big Bend or the Ozarks between Christmas and New Years sounds like a great idea. My office is closed, and I never have anything to do. It drives me crazy. Backpacking seems to fit the bill, and it’s affordable, too.

11013525_873498126064952_349342402772550066_nI’m already daydreaming about waking up in the middle of a National Forest or Park somewhere on a cool morning. I stretch as I climb out of the tent and a doe and her fawn are standing about 100 feet to my right. I stop and watch. The sunlight is filtering through the trees, and I listen to the quiet. There is nothing except the breeze moving. I can hear the river roaring behind me. Breathing in … breathing out …. I realize that this is all there is. This is all there ever needs to be. I look at Ashok. She looks back at me. We have a quick breakfast, pack up and take off down the trail. It’s going to be a beautiful day. I see a really long walk in my future. I just have to figure out where it’s going to be.

BTW … if you are interested in learning to backpack, why don’t you join a class in your area or the one in Baton Rouge if you’re local and join us on our new adventure? I’ve linked the details below on the Baton Rouge class. Backpack in the woods, backpack Europe, backpack anywhere. Maybe you won’t like it at all, but wouldn’t you like to at least try?! And if you don’t want to backpack, learn something else. It’s how you stay young.

LSU Leisure Course Catalog – Look at Page 12

Sign up here for $196

The Hiking Club Newsletter – Details on the class are on Page 4

Texting is NOT Dating

Apple Silver iPhone 6 Plus showing the home screen with iOS 8.I’m sure I’ve written about this before. So, move along if you’ve already heard it. I do not understand this cultural change to texting as a primary form of communication in dating relationships. Well, I shouldn’t say I don’t understand it. It’s easy. It’s available. It’s tempting. And we really don’t have a lot of self-discipline, do we?

Yesterday I was running, and one of my favorite all-time songs played on Pandora.

“Farmer’s Daughter” by Rodney Atkins

I can never get enough of this song. In fact, I’m listening to it over and over right now. The tune is catchy if you like country twang, and I do, but what I love most about this song is its story. Country music is not afraid to talk about those everyday miracles that happen when people and nature interact. The first time I heard this song, I was sucked right in to how I would feel when I found out the new worker on my father’s farm was a hot, young thing who had an eye for me. Every time I hear it I get swept away on the urgency of wanting somebody so bad that I need to sneak out and steal every minute I can. And, there’s nothing like an urge like that when you see the same urge in your lover’s eyes. If he can’t work or sleep because he wants to be with you, there is nothing sexier.

Yeah… you might say that’s teenage love. If you don’t believe that happens when you are 50, then you must be married and have been that way for a very long time. It’s happened to me several times since I’ve been out of my 20s. In fact, it’s happened in the last 3 years. Love, infatuation, and the whirlwind is not discriminatory based on age or experience. Yes, I know it’s not everything, and I know it doesn’t last. But, it is the stuff that attracts me to dating. I WANT THAT. I want to be swept away. I want to see, feel, and touch the person that is so hot for me that he can’t stand that he has to be at work 8 hours a day. I want to have an urge so bad to be in his presence that I totally forget my 9 o’clock bedtime. When I’m in that state, I can’t sleep anyway, so why not get all tangled up to pass the time.

Today’s constant communication doesn’t have the ooomph that builds desire in new relationships. The whole reason our bodies go crazy when we meet somebody that attracts us is that it creates an urgency for us to be together. The hormones urge us to connect, to mate, to see this thing through. Texting gives the impression that we are connecting, but we aren’t. In fact, it affects me exactly the opposite. It feels cold. It gives me the impression that a man is lazy or not interested enough to want to hear a woman’s voice. Constant texting gives me the same feeling that I get when a mosquito is buzzing around my head when I’m trying to have fun. And, if I don’t know the texter in question, I’m usually going to get irritated with him. I don’t know his sense of humor. I don’t know his intentions. I don’t even really know if he’s single. It doesn’t take long for me to lose interest.

I’ve started to set boundaries around texting when I’m getting to know someone. I’m an extrovert, and I’m looking for human connection. I’m so irritated that I have to train 50 year old men to relate. Texting is not dating. When I ask my friends if they are dating somebody, inevitably they answer that they are texting a few guys right now, but no… they are NOT dating. Then they roll their eyes. We are stuck in a world where men can’t seem to push that green button to call you, but they want to see pictures of your boobs. I guess that’s why sexting has become so popular. Texting is so boring and uninteresting that you have to spice it up. We live in a bizarre, disconnected world.

I read two articles this morning in my search for whether or not I’m being picky or if this texting thing is really a relationship-killer. EHarmony agrees and suggests that people draw boundaries on texters. And, even Evan Katz urges women to teach mean to call instead of text. He says that “Texting must be the icing; it can’t be the cake.”  There is a magic that happens between a man and a woman when they lock eyes. Even a phone call provides a sexy voice, a laugh and a hint of a smile. Why aren’t men hungry for that anymore? I know I’m starving for it.

Dancing With Fear – Resting in Acceptance

Friday morning I woke up and clicked on FB before heading out to walk Ashok. My friend Gretchen had posted this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 8.47.54 AMI closed Facebook. I knew immediately some shooter had opened fire in some public place. I just didn’t know how many people were killed or whether it was a restaurant, bar, movie theater or church. I did not want to see what was posted on FB. I went to Twitter and put in the hashtag #lafayette. It was the top trending post. I’m not going to rehash the story. If you haven’t heard, you can read about it. Ironically, with my Twitter feed having more of an international and national audience, I saw a very different reaction than what I usually see on my Facebook page.

IMG_3134At first I got mad and wanted to blame somebody, our culture, angry white men, our obsession with guns, the Middle East, whatever. I wanted to find someone or something to blame. I wanted to find, hang on to and scream about the solution. A still voice inside me told me that blame was not the answer, and there really is no solution. We live in a gun culture here in this country, and this is a side effect of that culture. I’m sure people wake up in the Middle East and want a solution that will stop the violence, but it’s where they happened to be born, and it’s the way it is. The solution is so far away and so complicated that there will likely never be a resolution. I began to feel the comforting wave of acceptance wash over me.

I went for a walk Friday evening, and about 10 bicyclists were riding toward me. They were laughing and happy. They were having so much fun it made me smile. “We are alive,” my brain said to me. “Yes, we are,” my heart answered back. I’ve had this blog half-written for a few days. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to post it. I hate writing about the news, and I particularly hate writing about anything that could be perceived as political. But, this morning I asked God to help me decide what to write about, and my meditation book offered up a reading about fear. I took that as a nudge.

You can read Melody Beattie’s wisdom here from The Language of Letting Go.

We live in a scary place here on earth. There’s lots going on that I don’t like and that makes me afraid. I count my lucky stars that somehow I won the earth lottery and was born in this country rather than Afghanistan or some other place where it’s a war zone every day. In my quest for comfort about the mass shootings in this country, I found none. NPR had a podcast that pointed out eerily that mass killings (not just shootings) happen every two weeks in this country. 70% of the time, the weapon is a gun. We only hear about the public, really random ones in the media. The vast majority are committed by family members. 96% of the killers are male. So, the public shootings we read about and react to are only the tip of a very large iceberg. There is a website that is tracking them, and click here for the facts. Mass killings happen with a lot of frequency, but I’m more at risk at a family gathering than I am at a movie theater. This is our culture. This is the way it is …. until it’s not that way anymore.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 8.07.14 AMIn my reading this morning, the woman and her son capsized on a jet ski. She was afraid of drowning. Her son pointed out that they had on life jackets, and jet skis are meant to be easily uprighted and boarded from the water. She almost drowned at one time in her life, and she guesses that’s why the water scares her. But, a still voice inside of her reminded her that she didn’t drown the last time. She survived. She would probably survive this time, too. My fears are much like that. I ruminate on what can happen. Instead of realizing that most people don’t get killed in mass killings in this country, I ruminate on the incidents that do happen. And, ironically, one of the most dangerous activities in this country is driving a car, and I don’t give that a second thought. My mind latches onto fear in an indiscriminate way.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 8.07.55 AMThe reality is life can be snuffed out at any minute. I can be sitting here on my sofa and an asteroid fly through the roof. More likely, I’ll head out to get light bulbs from Target and get creamed by an 18-wheeler or a texting teenager on the interstate. I have to remember that I am cloaked in the protection of God, and, if I should die, death is just another transition. Supposedly it’s even better on the other side. What is there to fear? Right now, I have 24 hours set before me. I can enjoy what’s set before me … or I can be afraid to walk about the planet. “To be or not to be. That is the question,”  said Hamlet. I have the choice to live or die … figuratively or literally. What’s it going to be?

For the Love of Mowing… It’s What They Do Down Here

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It’s that time of year again. When the heat sets in and people start sweating, the topic of every conversation turns to the grandaddy of all frustrations down here in the south. It’s taken me a couple of years to notice how much it is talked about and how much of the culture revolves around it. It doesn’t matter if you are middle-class or income-deficient or a city dweller or a country boy. Even LSU football pales in comparison to the passion and angst and worry that comes with … are you ready for this … mowing.

I’ve lived all over the country, and mowing my yard was something that had to be done a few months out of the year. Usually my husband did it, or, in some cases, I lived in a condo and the maintenance fee took care of it. When I lived in my house in Memphis, I actually didn’t have any grass, so I didn’t have to mow at all. I used a weed-eater to take care of the little patch on the side of my house that bumped up against my neighbors house. Mowing was just something that got done on occasion during the hot summer months. Then the mower was stowed until spring-time.

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When I was growing up, my PawPaw mowed all the time. He was always on his tractor mowing the acres of property where we resided. In the small amount of time that he wasn’t mowing, he was pruning azaleas, tending a garden or doing some kind of yard work. I thought it was his hobby. It was what he did, and he had a fabulous yard. I drive by that patch of property now, and I can’t believe it’s the same piece of land. I’m sure he’s up in heaven right now wringing his hands over the state of that little corner lot which received so many hours of his affection. I thought it was his love of the land and growing things that kept him going, but I think my childhood observation was inaccurate. That yard was a demanding monster who consumed its master.

She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy

I grew up in the country in Livingston Parish. So, I know lots of people there. They have big plots of land, and mowing is what they do….. ALL THE TIME.  I have had men from Livingston Parish text me pictures of tractors, lawnmowers, rakes and bush-hogs. I’ve never been so familiar with John Deere. I even had a guy choose mowing over a day in Bay St. Louis with me. Kenny Chesney, it’s no wonder she thinks your tractor’s sexy. If you live in the country in the South, you are on your freaking tractor all of the time! She doesn’t have a choice. Your ass is always on that seat.

Even my citified girlfriends tonight were high-fiving when complaining passionately about the hours and hours of time they spend working on their yards. My friend Laura said, “Everybody keeps saying we need rain. I don’t want it to rain. I need some of this stuff to DIE!!”  “Why don’t you move into a condo?” I asked. They love their neighborhoods, and their houses are almost paid off, so the lack of a clear choice keeps them locked into the status quo. “Why don’t you pay somebody to do it?” I asked. Laura just paid $175 for landscaping services, and it has to be done every week. It’s not affordable. Earlene said if she doesn’t do 3 hours of yard work every Friday when she gets home, she’s already behind. And she got really behind this winter. “You have to do it in the winter, too?” I asked.

Feed Me, Seymour …

I sat there listening to this conversation and thinking about all of my friends who are on a merry-go-round of mowing and landscaping down here, and I was suddenly very grateful that I have a 2-minute commute and my landlord mowing my yard. Of course, I have no equity in anything, so I’ll be paying rent or a mortgage until I die, but I have time to go kayaking and hiking and to walk my dog. I guess I’ve never been a ‘house’ kind of person. I’ve owned 7 properties throughout my life, but most have been condos. I did most of the yard-work in my first house, and, when my second husband insisted on buying a house, I flat told him that he would be doing the yard-work. I wanted a condo because I wanted to play on my days off. I don’t think he thought I was serious, but his teenage son made a good bit of money taking care of our yard.

I finally understand the mowing thing. I thought it was some kind of weird, conservative obsession like chewing tobacco. It’s more of a necessity. Tractors start to look more luxurious than boats as a weekend toy. Blowers outrank LSU season football tickets on the priority list. And, heaven forbid, you must have your own power washer. Because, down here, plants don’t just grow on the ground. Oh no no no no..… Plants grow on top of each other, all over the sides of your house and – I heard tonight – on top of your freaking roof. Weekend plans are for renters, the wealthy and condo owners. Everybody else will be mowing. It’s what they do down here.

Consistently Inconsistent but Inevitably Consistent

consistency_quoteThis morning when I was walking Ashok in the blazing hot, muggy early morning, I was thinking about consistency. I was thinking about my new food plan which I’ve been following consistently for about 6 weeks. But then I remembered that I hadn’t really been all that consistent. I’ve had sugary treats about 5 times during that 6 weeks period. Is that really being consistent, I wondered?

I thought about my history with working out, staying fit, eating right and abstaining from all kinds of addictive foods. It took me many, many years to stop binging and gorging on sugary treats when I was depressed or stressed. I was really bad about it. I know I have done a lot of damage to my body. I definitely had disordered eating if not a full-blown eating disorder. After I got into recovery and divorced my second husband, food binges became less and less of a habit for me. I remember one time I binged, and I got sick afterwards. That had never happened before. A friend of mine reminded me that my body wasn’t accustomed to it anymore, so it rebelled. It was actually a good sign even though I was really ashamed about it. In the last 3 years or so, I really haven’t binged at all.

I’ve really made headway in my journey with my disordered eating. My desire to eat right and healthfully has started to replace any desire to eat bad food on a regular basis. I still enjoy food on occasion that is not healthy and may even be junk food, but it’s always a passing fancy, and I’m not really driven to consume it very often. I’m not putting restrictions on myself, my tastes have actually changed. I always wanted to be able to eat whatever I’m finally doing so. The difference is that I don’t want as much food anymore. When I moved here to Baton Rouge – the most obese city in the country – I was worried about how my eating would be impacted. Turns out, the availability of fresh local produce all year round and the low cost of healthy food have made it easier to stay healthy here than anywhere else I’ve lived.

So, if I think about consistency in the context of a long period of time, I am very consistent. I continue to improve my health and make better choices. I have setbacks. In fact, sometimes the setbacks are somewhat significant in their span of time. But, I consistently get back on track, and the consistency with getting back on track has become a way of life.

I’ve always been active. My parents were active, and I learned to exercise as part of a daily habit when I was very young. It’s like brushing my teeth. I do skip it every now and again, but I very consistently exercise 5-6 times per week. I change it up, I get bored with it, I struggle to get myself up off the couch and I whine about it, but I consistently do it even if it’s just taking the dog out for a long walk every morning.

I’m feeling a lot better with this new food plan (Potatoes not Prozac). I’m sleeping through the night almost every single night. I think in 6 weeks I’ve had two nights that I didn’t sleep well, and they were both as a result of being on the road for several days eating too much white flour and sugar and sleeping in a different bed every night. But I got right back on track, and immediately I started sleeping through the night again. One of the biggest gifts from this new food plan – no sugar, balanced protein and complex carbs and a potato before going to bed – is that I do not have to get up to pee in the middle of the night anymore. I had no idea that was sugar-related. But, apparently it is. I have also noticed on the rare occasion that I’ve consumed sugar, my anxiety starts up again. It’s never been really serious, but I can feel the fear rise. I’ve even learned to tell myself, “It’s just the sugar, Sharon. It’ll be gone in the morning.” And it is.

FullSizeRender-10I had a long day today. We traveled to Jackson MS and back in one day. We had a stressful meeting, and I was beat when I got home. But, I knew I had to work out. I moaned and groaned about it. I ate something healthy and surfed the internet until I started feeling like I wanted to move. I chose a resistance band workout with Jessica on Live Streaming Fitness. It wasn’t a super hard workout, but it got me moving, and moving got me smiling. Even Ashok got in on the action.

I think you need someone to push you!

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Move it, you slimy worm!!!!!!

FullSizeRender-3You don’t want to be fat, do you??????

FullSizeRender-4Looking at those wimpy arms…. push yourself … harder.. harder … HARDER!!!!

FullSizeRender-6Stop smiling. You should be crying if you are really working. I’m disgusted with you!!!!FullSizeRender

That’s it … 10 more … 9 …8 ….7 … 9 …. 8… 7 … 9 …..

FullSizeRender-8Now, let’s stretch it all out. Good job!

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Sunday Night Check-In: The Stink is On!

I need one of these!!

I need one of these!!

I have no idea what else to write about but the heat. Holy freaking cow, I thought I was absolutely going to die when I walked Ashok this evening for her after-dinner poo. I cut it at least half as short as usual, and I was still in a state of pure oppression before I got home. This really hot young man came running by with his shirt off, and I told him I had no idea how he could run in this stuff. “Would you like to come to my place for some iced tea,” I said. Not really. I hate it that I think of the great lines after the fact.

My friend Ann posted a weather map that proclaimed that we had a heat advisory out until Monday evening.

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 7.30.07 PMI’m wondering if it’s going to stop on Monday. Remember all that crap they told us about those ‘cooler temps than normal’  this summer. Now what? Are they saying that Tuesday will be a lot nicer? Or is this just a way to say that it’s hot and not cooling down anytime in the foreseeable future – as if we don’t know it! My AC is working overtime. My poor dog is having to subsist on very short walks with a very grumpy dogwalker. Every time she stops to sniff, I yell at her that we are out there to walk not to ‘sniff.’ I can’t bear being out a second longer than necessary.

Today’s Day Trip to Pat’s in Henderson

My friend Autumn called tonight, and I told her that I had decided to postpone any vacation until the weather became more amenable. I’d have to go pretty far north to find any cooler weather. Even Memphis temps are tracking right along with Baton Rouge. I feel like I just want to stick out the next 2 months or so and get to nirvana before I head out to get moving again. I’m pretending it’s the middle of January up north, and I’m stuck inside unless I want to bundle up and shovel snow. In fact, thinking about shoveling snow and freezing feels pretty good, too. I just keep telling myself that this will pass .. it will pass … it will pass.

IMG_3063I was able to get my 4-miler in yesterday morning, and I managed to stay inside most of the day afterwards. The Farmer’s Market is out for me for awhile. I can’t get there early enough to stay comfortable. Besides, the fruits and veggies are starting to dry up and there is not much variety. I’ll shop in the stores for awhile. I’m just praying that my AC holds out in my car and home until the summer is over. My house AC quit a couple of weeks ago, and my landlord fixed it pretty quickly. I hope it holds on. She’s working overtime. I got to spend some time with my sister today, and we nearly burned up in the time it took us to walk from Academy to the car. I am very grateful for air conditioning. I can’t imagine life without it.

Ice Cold Treats … I splurged this weekend! And today was National Ice Cream Day!

A few weeks ago I joined the Louisiana Hiking Club. They meet at the Bluebonnet Library the first Thursday of every month. The second Saturday of every month, they have a hike somewhere in Louisiana. I skipped last month’s hike because it sounded way too hot, but I put August’s hike on my calendar. It’s in the Homochitto National Forest, and there is a crystal pool where everybody swims at the end of the hike. I’m already looking forward to jumping in. This month’s newsletter has me looking forward to the future. The club president, Katherine, teaches Backpacking 101 on Wednesday nights from October 7 – November 15. The class includes a day hike where you experiment with cooking and ends with an overnighter where you actually get to backpack. I’m totally stoked about this. It will be cooler for those dates, and I’m really wanting to learn to backpack after reading Wild. Who knows? Next year, I might be a backpacking fool! But, I have to get through July and August first. Ugh …. It’s killing me!

Hiking Club Meeting in July

Y’all have a good week and stay cool! I don’t really think it’s going to ease up all that much on Tuesday. This is the time of year when my Yankee friends are living it up. I remember packing a light wrap whenever I was going to be out on a balmy July evening. No wrap necessary here!! All of my southern friends are posting about how hot it is. In January, the table will be turned. But, for now, it’s sweating time down here! The stink is on!

Onism: The Awareness That I’ll Never See it All

Earth_Western_HemisphereMy friend Karen sent a link to me last night that led to a list of 23 emotions that people feel but seldom notice. I found it intriguing because I’d never seen any of the words before. Before my run, I looked at it briefly, and my curiosity got the best of me. I googled one of them, sonder, to see if it was a real word, made-up word or just a word in a foreign language. My search led me to the origin of this material, a webpage called The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

I scanned the videos on the page and one of the titles grabbed my attention.

Onism: The Awareness of How Little of the World You’ll Experience

I had to get going to avoid the heat, so I made a mental note to come back and watch that video – or a few – when I returned. But that feeling – onism – was stuck in my head. One of the demons I’ve wrestled with in midlife is my fear that the adventure is over. I remember as a teenage country girl NEEDING to go away and live in many different places. There was never a doubt in my mind that I would do it. I knew that was my life. I just had to check the college box so I could be on my way. It was excruciating waiting for my time to come, and the first thing I did after I graduated was pack up my belongings in my Mercury Lynx and drive away. I’m not even sure I looked in the rear view mirror.

A trip to Disneyworld with friends from Pittsburgh the week I moved to Jacksonville.

A trip to Disneyworld with friends from Pittsburgh the week I moved to Jacksonville.

The next 20 or so years I did whatever looked interesting. Moving was no problem. Marrying was no problem. Changing jobs was no problem. Many things were difficult, and I ended up in the wrong place many times, but I took advantage of my ability to move about the planet. I was settled at one point in Knoxville, and I got an opportunity to move to Seattle. One of my girlfriends told me, “You won’t do it.” I asked her why she would say that, and she said I was always talking about all of these places I could go and job opportunities I had, but I never took them. That was NOT who I wanted to be! I knew more than anything that I didn’t want to be the person who stayed in one place. I don’t like to let the grass grow under my feet. I took that opportunity, and I’m glad I did.

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My second wedding in Sedona AZ at Oak Creek Canyon

Moving back home has brought up some unexpected feelings for me. I’d often thought maybe I should move home when I got older because of family and connections and familiarity, but I didn’t know if I really wanted to live in Louisiana again. Since I’ve been here, the very real fear of my adventure being over has struck me cold more than a few times. It actually sends me into a bit of a panic. The root of this is the fact that there is some stupid finish line that one day I must cross. I want to argue and see if we can get the legislature to change this and at some point – maybe before my last day – they’ll decide that we can live forever or a cure for death will suddenly be discovered. But, I know realistically that will never happen. It’s my attempt at denying the inevitable. And so I’m faced with what’s between then and now. I want that to be rich – as rich or richer – than what I’ve already experienced, and I’m terrified that it won’t be. I don’t want the best to be behind me.

A Lake Michigan Sunset

A Lake Michigan Sunset

With onism on my mind, I took a new route on my run this morning. I usually turn left on Capitol Heights to run through my neighborhood, but sometimes I go right when I need a change. But, this time, I not only went right but I veered off that route, too, to explore a new area. I found my mind running back to all of the places I’d been in my life and what got me there. I also noodled what things might be important for me to experience before I reach that final finish line. It’s so hard to decide!! The world is so vast, and there is so much to do. Some choices are limited by budget. Some are limited by the amount of risk I’m willing to take. Now, some things are limited by my physical ability. All of these things will only get more limiting as time goes on. I feel such a critical need to make more thoughtful decisions about how I live my life now. The time before me is so precious. The time behind me was precious, too, but I was too young and unaware to realize it. I never realized that with every choice I made, I left a million possibilities behind me. I took so little time to consider my options. Now, I want to be more thoughtful about what path I take.

The image of myself as a fish appeared in my mind. As a fish, I swim through the ocean, eating whatever is before me. I might swim a few miles away, looking for something else to eat, but I am really limited as to where I am in the ocean, and the types of food I must eat. And I am limited, quite frankly, by my focus. I go about my daily life eating, mating, swimming – not even aware of all of the many oceans across the world. Little do I know there are even bigger worlds to see beyond the water. We are so much like fish. We get caught up in our culture and our little map spot, that we really don’t realize how much of the world we will never see. We are focused on eating, mating and the daily grind, and we don’t look up to see all of the other mind-blowing things we are missing. There are many things in this world I don’t care to see. But … oh myyyyyy.. there is so much of it that I do. And I know that I never will. Onism ….. yes, I feel it.

Animal Lost and Found

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Tiffany’s ‘found’ kitten. If you want this sweet thing, let me know!

What a crazy, weird day. I got to work this morning, and my friend Tiffany came running in to tell me that she found this lovely little stray kitten in the parking lot of her ex’s apartment complex. The kitten was so friendly and attentive that she couldn’t just leave it, so she took it home. Almost as soon as she finished the story, she started worrying about what to do with it. It is so hard with stray or lost animals. You can’t just leave them, and most of us have a full house or we’d have more anyway. I always cringe when one finds me and I know it’s my responsibility to do something with it. I’ve taken ’em to the vet, cleaned ’em and found homes many times. But, sometimes I just can’t. I watched Tiffany grapple with what she was going to do and her broken heart for that kitty most of the day. I told her I’d help her with it. We’d find a home.

I’d been having an off and on toothache, and I went to the dentist. Seemingly out of nowhere I now have to another root canal. This is number 2 this year. My vet bills with Ashok’s mattress-eating surgery and the year’s earlier root canal surgery were painful enough. I’d already ditched vacation plans and decided to camp to save money again this year. Now, I’ve got ANOTHER one! I’m almost numb to it. Whatever … I thought. Here we go again. That’ll be $1000 – cha-ching. Thank you to the State of Louisiana for having horrible dental insurance.

Depressing as that was, I went to pick up my antibiotics at the pharmacy, and the pharmacy was really busy. They also had the nastiest attitudes I’ve ever seen. They couldn’t find my prescription that was called in while I was standing in the dentist’s office two hours before. “They haven’t called it in yet,” the moron said. “I heard them call it in at 3 PM,” I said. “Well, we’ve been really busy, and the pharmacist hasn’t checked her voice mail,” she answered. I left and called my dentist and asked them to call in my prescription to the CVS down the street instead of that crazy Walgreen’s. I knew better than to go there. It was a zoo.

I had a headache when I got home, so I laid down and practiced yoga nidra. That made things better, so I fixed dinner and then took Ashok for a walk. While I was over by Webb Park golf course, I walked by a yard with a Golden Retriever and a little white curly-haired dog in it. They ran to the fence and the white dog ran right through it. I realized then that the dog was wandering. It didn’t have on a collar, and it looked like it had a type of skin disorder or something. The poor thing’s tongue was hanging out of his mouth. It’s so hot outside it’s stifling.

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He followed us all the way home which was about a 15-minute walk. I gave him some water with ice and dog food. He didn’t eat anything, but he did drink. Now, I was in the same spot that Tiffany was in this morning. What do I do with a stray dog? I can’t bring him inside. I’ve got other animals that might catch whatever he might have. So, I looked on the internet, and it said the best place to bring a lost dog is to the animal shelter. Yes, I know shelters are awful, but that’s the first place people look if they’ve lost a pet. And, I just can’t afford to bring a dog to the vet and have to pay for its care or decide what to do with it. The thing is it makes me feel horrible that I don’t have a better answer, but what do you do? I don’t have a place to put this dog, and if he runs out on the road, he’s bound to get killed.

IMG_3047-1My friend Jo Ann told me to post his pics on Lost Pets of Baton Rouge Facebook page, so I did. Maybe somebody will be looking for him. But, he didn’t look all that well-cared for. He’s either been lost for awhile, or somebody put him out. I know that’s not a good omen for his future at the shelter, but I don’t know what else to do. I’m so tired. I just want to go to bed, but I have to wait for them to come by and get this dog. This is always so hard!! I wish I had a big farm where I could keep them all. If anybody wants one of these babies, please let me know ASAP. They sure could use a good home. And the dog does seem really sweet.