I wake up and test my left leg. I rotate my ankle. I push out my heel to get a good stretch up the back of the leg. Still there. Perhaps a little better. Good.
I get up carefully. I head down the hallway and I’m limping a little bit. No worries. That will fade. It always does. My issue loosens up over the course of the day, at least.
Well, it has a little help. I pause, considering the ibuprofen. I don’t like to take pain killers, or medications in general, really, unless they are truly the best course of action. I have been maxing out at one extra-strength ibuprofen in the morning per day. I do need something to take the edge off, but I refuse, absolutely refuse, to overtax my liver just so I can go around pretending nothing’s wrong with me, and potentially making it worse.
I decide to skip the ibuprofen. For now.
I’ve basically had “back problems” of some variety or another since about the time when I became pregnant. I’ve been told that I may have had a pre-existing small issue (which I certainly didn’t notice when I was 17 or 18 years old!) and that basically, you know, gestating a whole baby on top of that small issue was probably aggravating to it. The impact of pregnancy may have been the start of the resulting on/off pinch of sciatica that I’ve been feeling in my lower back(ish) ever since. (I must say, I love my daughter very, very much, but between the back issues and the fact that my body just flat-out refused to deliver naturally, I am not very keen to repeat the process!)
At least it has changed a little. Although it’s all connected to the same problem, it is now affecting me, not so much in my back as it has before, but deep in my left hip, and in electricity-like nerve pain down my leg. Sometimes throbbing, sometimes sharp, this time it is mostly a problem when I bend forward in any way, and it likes to make the task of tying shoes more challenging than lifting weights.
I have always been afraid to say that I deal with chronic pain. Something about that really feels like giving up. But then, what do you call it if a couple of weeks go by and you’re thinking about pain management every day? What do you call it if, overall, those weeks seem pretty normal to you? Chronic pain. It’s like saying that you have a disease, like it’s something you have no control over. For some chronic pain sufferers, that may be true, and my heart goes out to them, but for me…well, I know that if I take control of this I can make a difference. I know that I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, but I also know that it’s not permanent, and I will get back to myself. I truly believe in getting back to pain-free.
Heck, there have been long periods of time when I have been pain-free; working out, running as much as I wanted…there have been times I could have almost believed that it wouldn’t happen again. That it couldn’t happen again. That perhaps I had gotten too strong for it.
Yet here I am again. But I swear, I’m not complaining. I’m ok, although it still haunts me, like an irritating companion you desperately wish would leave, (or at least just shut the hell up!). It’s at least feeling better, and I am very grateful for that.
Besides, it’s not like I’m without tools. I have things I absolutely swear by now. This thing with my back has taught me that the following are very powerful, (I recommend them to anyone!):
- Ice baths
- Foam rollers/balls for massage
- Adequate rest (the hardest one!)
I skip the ibuprofen. For now. I’m off to tackle this on the yoga mat. I got this, guys. There’s an uninvited guest about to get kicked the eff out.
My Mother is not the sort of woman to be trifled with. Not because, as you might guess from the title, she can lift a whole lot of weight, but because she is also smart and very driven. My Mother has a history of always trying to do her best, and remaining determined even when things turn difficult. If she believes in something, she will see it through. It is her ambition to succeed and her overall confidence which have led what started as a hobby a couple of years ago to take her all the way to the international stage.
Right now, my 56-year-old mother is in Finland, probably with a whole colony of butterflies in her stomach. Tomorrow she has her chance to compete for Team Canada in the international sport of powerlifting. Wow. Not bad for a woman who would openly say that she has struggled with her weight for most of her life, and until recently had never used a squat rack. I’m proud to say that I was there when the journey started for my mother, but even I am surprised at where it has led!
A few years ago, my sister got interested in weight lifting. I thought she was crazy. However, I eventually became curious enough to want to try it for myself. I was almost instantly hooked! After we became involved, we knew how empowering it could be, and were anxious for Mom to give it a try. After some convincing (mostly from my sister), my mother eventually joined us.
I know that she was scared at first, and I also know that joined mostly to lose weight. At that time, she was more interested in getting into a smaller pants size than in smashing world records! After getting Mom into the gym, there was actually a wonderful period in time when we all three of us worked out at Heavyweights together and were able to support one another as we progressed.
Yes, we all became more fit, but it wasn’t long after she became involved that Mom started out-lifting her girls. I think my sister and I were both genuinely astounded as we watched Mom’s weights get steadily heavier, and heavier. At 5’2″, my mother, now also a grandmother twice over, was distinguishing herself as a little powerhouse with the tenacity to keep up with the boys.
Her strength began to get her noticed, and her new abilities led to my mother changing her approach to working out. It wasn’t just about weight loss anymore; now she had something more fun to chase! In November of 2013, she competed in her first regional powerlifting competition, as she put it, “…just to see what I could do.” My mother hefted a 137.5lb squat and 242lb deadlift. While this was progress, she knew she had more in her.
When she ran into some trouble at her second competition (or, as she put it, “I bombed”), due to mobility issues, she decided to become more serious about her training, her form and recovery. With the support of a gym-load of friends, and the advice of Heavyweights coach Carla Ramsay, Mom’s training improved and her confidence grew alongside her incredible numbers.
In October of 2014, her efforts paid off, as Mom competed at the provincial level and successfully qualified for the National Powerlifting Competition, held right here in April of this year. (More than 300 athletes were involved in that competition; some of the best from this province!)
At that recent competition, her numbers were just a little different from those of her first! She broke the national squat record for her age and weight category by squatting 237.6lbs; 100lbs more than she handled in her first competition. She then broke the two-year-old deadlift record of 265lbs with her first lift of 297.5, but didn’t stop there. She went on to deadlift 308lbs, and then 313.5lbs, breaking the original record by almost 50 lbs, and setting three new records in quick succession. Incredibly, Mom’s talents were taking her to a global stage!
So now it’s a lot of waiting. Thankfully she isn’t alone. She has friendly faces around her, as she is joined by 5 other lifters and 2 coaches from Heavyweights. The event is the 2015 International Powerlifting Federation Classic World Championship in Salo, Finland and I can’t imagine what she is feeling. She is hob-nobbing with the best in the sport; enjoying a huge event, not from the sidelines, but at the center of it all!
From myself and all of Mom’s many supportes, admirers, and people she’s inspired along the way…
Good luck! Chin up! EVERYONE is so proud of how far you’ve come, and blown away by your strength; inside and out!
Love you Mom,
Check out the Classic Powerlifting World Championship Facebook page here, and the International Powerlifting Federation homepage here. The IPF homepage has a “livestream” button, or you can view the event through the Canadian Powerlifting site. Mom lifts on Friday at 12:30PM Nefoundland time!
I fantasize about a ridiculous spoof featuring me and all my crrrrazy postal friends. Definitely some interesting folks in this line of work! Seriously though, it has occurred to me that I haven’t told you guys a single solitary thing about delivering the mail.
That’s unfortunate, because delivering the mail is sometimes pretty interesting, and there is definitely no such thing as a boring day at work! In fact, I find myself complaining that I typically start my shift, and feel as if I suddenly turn around to find that it’s already 4PM. Work goes quickly, and the pace is very challenging.
This is not a job that I would have been able to perform before I got a little into fitness. A good day at work can leave me pretty tired out. I think I’m making tremendous use of my distance running experience especially. I already knew what it felt like to spend considerable time on the road. That’s good because some routes have you on your feet and basically walking as fast as you can. With weight. For hours.
This is not easy, and some temps do not stick around after the Christmas rush. (Heck, some don’t even make it through the Christmas rush.) The snows and ice of winter made it harder still, and I have weathered a few storms out there. Yet, here it is, late May, and somehow I’m still here. Not that I’ve got anything on some of the really impressive lifers I work with!
Seriously, there are mail carriers out there who move like gazelles, and who are also tall enough to not have to go up as many stairs to reach the mail boxes. There are also more experienced postal people who seem to have abnormally fast gears. These people are incredibly fast. I console myself with the fact that I can squeeze into smaller spaces, but while that is useful, it’s not as awesome as being a giant, a freaking gazelle, or a giant freaking gazelle!
Speaking of size, a couple of months after I started I noticed that I was developing a rather superb right bicep. (Yep. Just the one.) It was pretty exciting, until I flexed my limp-noodle left arm. Since the discovery of my imbalance, I make sure to switch carrying arms about equally, and I’m still a little off, but it’s now much better!
I get to drive mail vans. Well, some are really Ford Transits with back-up cameras and everything, but some really are big-ass mail trucks with no-such technology. I didn’t think I would, but I LOVE driving a great big mail truck! In fact, backing and maneuvering with those has been a great learning experience. I am flat-out better at parking and backing now. I can also technically call myself a “professional driver,” which I think is all sorts of ironic for someone who put off even learning for such a long time. (I was 26.)
Some weeks I work soooo much. Other weeks I feel more like a retiree. As you can imagine that’s good and bad. The temp. life can be harsh, and those solid weeks of work make it hard to pick up other work things. The theory right now is that I’m writing my book as well, but that has been slow-going to say the least. When I’m tired from work I don’t write very much, and it can be a little mentally tough to be self-motivated enough to work on something you know may never amount to…anything at all. It almost starts to feel purely self-indulgent. (I AM going to write today. That’s a promise to myself more than you!)
At this job, constantly checking in on yourself is a must. In this way, it actually promotes an intense self-awareness. Am I thirsty? Am I too hot? Too cold? Do I need more sunscreen? Is something feeling tight in my leg? If any factor gets out of whack, it can quickly become a huge problem. I am always the machine I am relying on. If I am not taking care of myself, it will definitely show on the road. (I also know that I CANNOT keep well-organized if I’m hungry!)
I totally meet lots of cool people and adorable porch-sitting kitty cats. Sometimes small children point as my hair. (Sometimes grown-ass adults point at my hair!) I am now recognized by some folks all over the city
What else? Oh! Some people order, like, a bazillion things online, and you get to know them because you see them with parcels day after day. Also, sorting out all the mail, packets, parcels and flyers takes longer than you might think, and some days your forever just getting ready to hit the road. And, no, it’s not just cartoons…some dogs are damn scary, and they HATE THE MAIL CARRIER. (The good news is, you always get to make the call as to whether you deliver or not. A big snarling dog in my path=no mail for you!)
So, that’s basically it. Walking delivery is my favourite, and I now truly love weather that hovers around 5 degrees!
There are plenty of big bad scary things to think about. There are global things, like ISIS, the threat of diseases like Ebola and whatever Boko Haram is up to now. Or, there is the continued threat of the awful things we as a species like to do to the environment. Then there’s all that social unrest and prejudice at play; like the pie charts showing documented evidence of police racism in Missouri. Or, heck, locally, I could point to our rising obesity rate, the epidemic of skeet culture, or the fact that we have, like, almost NO female representation whatsoever in politics, and plenty of people here are totally fine with that. (After all…women? With periods? Making decisions? OMG.)
I admit that I can get a little too caught up in the negative stuff too sometimes. Soooo, with that in mind, let’s go navel-gazing! Let’s take this moment and talk beauty routines! Ok???
Here’s the deal: I’m not a pretty princess pony. Instead I’m naturally very pale, and my skin tends toward dryness. I am the type of person who will burn rather than tan. My skin is also really sensitive. This sucks. On plenty of occasions I have purchased a moisturizer or cleanser and have had to pass it on to my mother or sister, because I just couldn’t use it. Even products specifically for sensitive skin will sometimes burn when I apply them to my face! Basically, I just have to be careful what it is I put upon my visage. This became doubly hard a few years ago when I started getting a lot of acne.
It was weird because I never really had it in High School (not especially, anyway). I never had it when I went away to University. Then, lo and behold, I get into my mid-twenties and the bottom of my face just starts reacting. Sure, I didn’t like how it looked, but the worst part was the irritation and discomfort.
Eventually I had so much acne that I qualified for a treatment study. (Um, yay?) As a part of the trial, my treatment involved a special cream in an unmarked tube and regular trips to a dermatologist. I would go, and they would measure spots on my face for comparison week to week.
Yes, I did see some mild improvement. I would say that the treatments themselves could be drying and irritating though. Once the study was over, I stayed with the dermatologist for a while, and I used a perscription set of creams. However, these creams continued to be pretty harsh. You are supposed to avoid the sun when you use them, and one of them, if you left some on a dark cloth, was even capable of lightening the fabric.
I was less keen on using creams capable of bleaching facecloths on my face. I hunted for other products and routines to keep my face happy without the chemical warfare. I wanted something gentle. I also wasn’t into dropping bux deluxe on some celebrity cream. (I did get a set of samples from an expensive skincare line at one point. They were great, but I couldn’t justify the price tag!)
Then, I read something about how Sophia Loren uses the “occasional olive oil bath” for her skin.
Guys. There’s stunning, and then there’s SOPHIA LOREN.
Well, I was pretty desperate, so I tried it. I went to the kitchen and smeared olive oil all over my face.
At first, I only used it as a moisturizer at night. Right away I saw a big difference. There was never any stinging or burning, and my skin always felt better in the morning. No more dry patches. The biggest bonus? My acne began fading right away. Even though I was counterintuitively putting actual oil on my face, my skin was improving dramatically!
Eventually I also realized what a miracle it is for taking off makeup, especially eye makeup without irritation or pulling. I can just soak even the heaviest of mascara and eyeliner off with olive oil and wipe it away. I got into the cleansing with oil because it actually works very very well. (I do admit, however, that it sucks to get it in your eyes!) That alone is useful to know if you’re ever out or travelling and are stuck without a cleanser/remover somewhere.
As my face got better, a did some online digging around and realized that quite a few people use olive oil on their faces. It’s even popularized online in hippie circles as the “Oil Cleansing Method.” I’m not alone!
Is my face perfect? Nope. I definitely would say that I have some scar tissue on my face, and I might get a blemish here and there. However, when I’m well-rested, using olive oil and a gentle cleanser (if I’m not just cleansing with oil I sometimes use Spectro gel), my skin looks and feels healthier.
I feel like this is hardly something that beauty companies want you to latch onto. This is exactly why I think you should try it anyway! If it doesn’t work for you, that’s ok. Maybe you’re out a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. But if it does? That’s a big savings for you, and a potential improvement in your skin tone.
Personally, I can’t say enough good things about it. My acne is gone, and my face looks better. I even work outside now, and I haven’t gotten a single dry patch on my face all winter.
Worth a shot, anyway.
Holy mackerel and various other migrating fish.
My offspring has just turned 12. Oh my various heathen deities.
She is no longer a little kid. She’s changing every day. It’s really freaking me out.
I mean it too. When they’re babies and toddlers all children change very rapidly. New parents are often stunned at growth from week to week. (I know I was!) Then it feels like maybe the changes aren’t quite so rapid for a little while. They get a good few years of just kinda being a kid. But now? Now on the cusp of teenagerhood? The changes are all coming so fast again. My child is maturing out of childhood at such a rate that it feels immediately observable. GAH.
Nevertheless, I see that she is still a child. No change is seamless. At times she can astound me with the mature depths of her thoughts and musings. At other times, she can be every bit a child again. These two may co-exist within the same hour.
I myself recall the years that follow at this age to have been rough ones. I can only hope that she will have a drastically different experience than I did. (“Awkward” doesn’t begin to cover it.) I am heartened by the fact that Morgana is a lot more confident than I was at that age, and hasn’t exhibited any dissatisfaction with the person she is becoming. (She has friends who worry about their looks, and she really wishes that they wouldn’t.)
I don’t blame little girls for being hard on themselves, although I too hope that they find the strength not to be. I’m not going to turn this into too much of a feminist rant, but being mother to a girl growing up in our culture? It makes me so nervous. We, as a society, are not always kind to girls and women. As much as I sometimes wish I could, it is impossible and unfair for me to try to shield her from everything. I can only give her tools to help her make the right decisions. I can’t be her bodyguard, or even her best friend.
I am, however, very proud to be her mother. Plus, you know, so far, so good! She’s proven herself to be smart, funny, just a touch sarcastic, full of nerdy references and on top of that she’s adorable. ;)
I couldn’t be more thrilled or more grateful.
P.S. I am also very grateful for my awesome partner, Jason. He not only made homemade pizzas for our sleepover birthday guests, but also put together an amazing ice cream cake…the remnants of which are threatening to become my lunch at the moment!
P.P.S. I would be a bad person if I didn’t also thank the moms; mine and his. The moms brought yummy party snacks. We love our moms. :)
Why hello, gentle reader. How are you? Long time, no chat. I’m mostly good, since I know y’all were curious. ;)
Boy, looking back at this blog I realize that I have a lot of drafts piled up. There are so many written odds and ends that I’ll have to get around to finding a use for someday. (Hopefully some day soon!) Most of them are pieces I started and just lost the mustard for about halfway through. I don’t think it’s good for writers should throw out such odds and ends. You never know when an idea might fit well somewhere else, or when you might be inspired by something left unfinished.
Found most of this post in that section. Heh. The blog as a whole is feeling pretty “unfinished” right now. ERMAHGAWD, I have so much I want to say/rant about/update you on! However, I will not overburden this one post with an explosion of overly-enthused rants. I promise! (That would be altogether too ENFP of me!) Speaking of which…
I thought it might be fun to talk about that. Did you know that there are a whole bunch of lunatics out there like me?
Yep! In fact, we’re like, 7% of the population! I know it doesn’t determine everything, but I love the fact that I’m a Myers-Briggs ENFP, and that means that I…am a study of excitability and extremes. (It’s all there in my personality profile.)
“ENFP” is a personality designation given according to my answers (on repeated occasions) to the questions posed by the very popular Myers-Briggs personality test. The test divides people into 16 possible personality types. Each letter has a meaning: the types are made of of all the possible combinations of 4 separate dichotomies. These are: Extraversion/Introversion, Sensing/Intuition (represented by ‘N’), Thinking/Feeling and Judging/Perceiving. The four preferences you express give rise to a very general idea of who you are. It is not intended to fully define you, and we all sometimes act a little unpredictably. (I’m supposed to be extremely extroverted and generally positive, but even I can feel sad and shy sometimes!)
I tried to find the free online version of the test that I took (it was on a pretty official Myers-Briggs site) but I can’t find it now. I DID however find a test here, and there is also a lot of information about all of the types on the site. It’s pretty fun to explore, and I think you should check it out for yourself if you haven’t already.
According to the information I’ve read, people like me tend to be a little reliant on their verbal skills (The phrase “silver tongued” was used) and are also extremely passionate. This makes us basically born advocates. The ENFP will always speak up for a cause they believe in. We naturally feel as if we’re out to create change in the world!
Or, you know, at least act foolishly in it…
Here’s a bit of a more serious breakdown about loud-mouthed folks like me: Portrait of an ENFP. Honestly, it’s a little uncanny. I think the 3rd paragraph is particularly good:
“ENFPs…are good at most things which interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent, in that they have a strong sense of values which they live with throughout their lives. Everything that they do must be in line with their values. An ENFP needs to feel that they are living their lives as their true Self, walking in step with what they believe is right. They see meaning in everything, and are on a continuous quest to adapt their lives and values to achieve inner peace. They’re constantly aware and somewhat fearful of losing touch with themselves. Since emotional excitement is usually an important part of the ENFP’s life, and because they are focused on keeping “centered”, the ENFP is usually an intense individual, with highly evolved values.”
It’s a lot of what I already know, but it’s neat to see all of that stuff in writing. The values thing is a BIG deal to me. I have always believed in having a moral code, and I really do try to live up to it. (Knowing of course that I am imperfect, and fail at it sometimes too.) I believe in self-improvement and in aiming to be “the change you wish to see.” I believe in honour, and it comes from doing the right thing. I want my ideals to drive who I am. I always have something to strive for. (I also DO need to make sure I stay “centered” instead of flying off on random tangents!)
I also found all kinds of interesting images for “ENFP” when I looked. We ENFP’s seem to be a largely eccentric and big-hearted group. Sometimes I DO feel a little like this…full of love for everyone!
I also like how EVERYTHING I read pointed to a lack of love for the mundane paperwork of life. Like, we SUCK at doing boring, tedious things, and we like to break rules. Screw drudgery…I NEED AN ADVENTURE EVERY DAY!
Told ya. Can’t be helped. It’s hard-wired in. ;) In fact, the best phrase I read about my type? “Disconcertingly spontaneous.” Yeah, Baby.
I hope everyone looks into their type if they haven’t already. It’s great fun, and it can help you to see things from an outside view, or to understand why you and your partner/mother/best friend have some trouble seeing eye-to-eye.
Anyway, I’d love to write more about this for you all, but, frankly, I’ve got some other things to rant about/take action against here at home, I’m daydreaming about cupcakes, and I’m currently distracted by both deep universal questions surrounding my life’s purpose and my fluffy grey cat.
I was really freaked out to hear that the province in now even considering fracking on the West Coast. Naturally, I have been writing! I have sent a couple of variations of the following both to The Telegram and to Minister of Natural Resources.
I am absolutely disgusted to see fracking even being talked about as a potential possibility in my beautiful home province. These discussions are obviously the first step required on a long road to implementing a practice which has proven to be devastating to environments and human populations elsewhere.
I was very hopeful back in November when there was an outright moratorium placed on fracking activities in the province. Since the province’s stance has changed, I feel it necessary to speak out against this development.
I realize there’s money to be made from fracking. Who would be surprised to know that there is more money to made by getting more oil out of the ground more quickly? I hardly think anyone questions that. What they should be questioning is whether the non-financial cost of doing so makes hydraulic fracturing worth it, and we already know that it’s not.
Fracking fluid requires thousands of gallons of highly toxic contaminants. (With many operations even refusing to disclose their “proprietary” blend of chemicals.) These gallons and gallons of contaminants have been found to include hundreds of chemicals, including many known carcinogens and toxins.
The creation of the fluid also requires 1-8 million gallons of freshwater to be used per well, per fracking. That essential freshwater is then lost forever from the water cycle. We can never get it back. We may be surrounded by ocean, but we need as much freshwater as we can get. It is required for life, and constitutes just 3% of all water on earth. This water is rendered far worse than useless to us, as the contaminated fluid goes on to pose a disposal problem. It is left to evaporate in open air ponds or sealed into injection wells. Either way it goes on to carry additional risks, including increased air pollution and the possibility of it having to be transported off-site.
Apart from the huge drain on essential natural resources, methane production from processing and the safety risks, we cannot even be assured that waste water will stay safely contained. It is already known that methane and other toxic chemicals leach into groundwater during the fracking process. That is a fact. It is pure blindness to refuse to acknowledge that the act of fracking itself is poison. A Duke study found that Methane levels in private water wells are an average of 17 times higher in wells within 1,000 feet of a natural gas drilling site. Fracking chemicals are already doing immediate and lasting environmental damage.
The number of documented environmental infractions and cases of water contamination number in the thousands. The water contaminated by fracking sites has ruined many lives already through sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage. The environmental costs are not just great, they are extreme, and they have proven themselves to be extremely dangerous. It sickens me that a study is even being undertaken to consider hydraulic fracturing in Newfoundland. This feels too much like the first step in letting the oil companies have their way; a first step down a dark road.
I do not care if big oil whines when the people push back. In fact, I desperately hope to see more and more people driven to action against the relentless domination of the oil companies. The province must think about a secure environmental future, as well as a financial one. That simply isn’t possible if we allow hydraulic fracturing.
In the end, fracking is about one thing, and one thing only. It’s the same thing it has always been about, and it’s the only argument proponents of fracking have got: money. But greed shouldn’t be enough. It has to stop coming first. What an insult to see our government even consider putting fuel before before water. Fracking doesn’t belong in our province. It is time for ordinary people to get informed and speak out.