Jubilant – The Finish Line!

The Weekly Photo Challenge is Jubilant!

I decided to post a recent photo where I’m standing by a Finish sign.

If you know my story then you’re aware that I’ve been on a journey over the past three years to improve then maintain my health.

One of my primary goals was to strengthen my right leg as I’d been struggling with chronic pain and injuries for more than 20 years.

I may not be jumping for joy in this photo, but I was proud, albeit humbled.  After a lot of hard work, and continued dedication I achieved a milestone that in the past was, at least in my own mind, unattainable.

On March 26th I ran, not walked, my first 5k! I was ecstatic that my legs, and especially my right leg, were strong enough to complete the race!!

This photo also reminds me when the going gets tough that I can make it to the end of other challenges. I made it to the finish line once and I can do it again!

…and yes, I’m looking forward to running another 5k…

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Posted in 2016

For Some of Us, Every Day is Autism Awareness Day

April 2nd is designated as Autism Awareness Day.

I decided not to post on that day. You see, for some of us, every day is Autism Awareness Day.

If you know my story, then you know a couple of years ago my husband and I became our daughter’s legal guardians. She is 20 years old, autistic, and developmentally delayed. Her vocabulary is extremely limited. To say life can be a challenge is often an understatement. Still, over the past 20 years we’ve managed as best as we can with numerous health care, and, social service providers. We lean on each other, and we’re committed to do what we can to care for our daughter.

I decided to write a few posts this month about simple, everyday happenings. Our daughter has allowed my husband and me into her world. I can’t really express what’s on her mind. I can only hope to give you a glimpse of what she experiences. We love her very deeply. As you may imagine, she’s also quite unique.

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Cathy's teapot.  She finds the dragonfly scene relaxing as she sips her daily tea.

Cathy’s teapot.  She finds the dragonfly scene relaxing as she sips her daily tea.

“My daughter has become a tea drinker,” my husband lamented incredulously.  I just laughed. Then shook his head and laughed along with me.

Deciding to drink a cup of coffee, tea, or some other beverage is an activity that most adults take for granted. You brew your own, or you pull up to a window and order some variation of a large, fully-leaded with extra something.

So, while my husband is coffee, I am tea! That said, I often make his coffee in the morning. I love to do that for him!

Our daughter doesn’t generally make those choices. Around 5 years ago she was finally able to say the word, “juice” which is a catch-all for something to drink. Perhaps at some point in the future she’ll learn more words. Language is always a work in progress.

So, what kicked off the tea drinking?

At the start of this year the three of us were trading colds and coughs. We were also dealing with severe seasonal allergies. Overall we weren’t doing very well.

Cathy's daughter begins morning tea time.

Cathy’s daughter begins morning tea time.

I grew up on the receiving end of my grandmother’s home remedies. She brewed tea and added lemon and honey to sooth the throat and help clear the sinuses.

I made some and offered it to my husband. Surprisingly, he was open to having a cup.

We decided to give the brew to our daughter. We let the hot tea cool a bit, then asked her to sit down at the table.

She touched the cup and drew her hands away. I told her it was hot, but she needed to stay sitting down so she could drink it.

The "Rudolph Cup"  has become a daily staple.  The tea is just as tasty even if it's not Christmastime!

The “Rudolph Cup”  has become a daily staple.  The tea is just as tasty even if it’s not Christmastime!

We used a ceramic Christmas cup that was given to her as a gift a few years ago. It’s red with Rudolph on one side and Santa on the other. For her, the season doesn’t matter. She could enjoy Christmas items at any time of year.

We tried to show her how to pick up the cup by the handle. She didn’t respond to that, so she rapidly tapped her fingers repeatedly against the warm cup until she was able to hold it with two hands.

Tea time can often finish with a gulp!

Tea time can often finish with a gulp!

Trying to gulp it, she swallowed then threw her head back. Then she shook her head rapidly from side to side, her hands tense. We told her to slow down and relax. She wasn’t going anywhere, and she needed to finish her tea. She tried it again. She began to sip it.

Over the next few days we continued to give her tea in the morning and the evening. It seemed to help sooth her throat and loosen all the junk in her chest.

The following week I made her other types of tea. My husband asked why I was still doing that since she was feeling better.

I noticed in the morning she’d come to the table and take a few minutes to drink it.

Often during the week tea time was followed by an appointment with a therapist so the pause was a good thing.

In the evening it was a way to wind down just before bed time.

It was now part of the routine.

My husband commented about our daughter becoming a tea drinker, because he saw me stocking the pantry. There seemed to be some flavors she was enjoying so I figured she should have her own supply.

It may not seem like much to most people, but for us, introducing a warm beverage to our daughter was one more sign of progress, one more advancement for her. Years ago this could have left all three of us exhausted and frazzled.

Not this time. Instead, we were pleasantly surprised!

Cathy's husband is coffee, and she is tea. They live very happily together!

Cathy’s husband is coffee, and she is tea. They live very happily together!

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Posted in 2016

Silent Sunday

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Posted in 2016

Optimism – From the Couch to a 5k

The weekly photo challenge is “Optimistic.”

I decided to post about a somewhat recent event that taught me how my outlook has changed over the past three years.

About nine weeks ago, I fell and twisted my foot when I walked outdoors to go talk to my husband.

At the time he was with our daughter waiting for her school bus.  My husband said it looked like I fell in slow motion off the landing step.

At first he thought I was playing. Then I told him I couldn’t stand up.

After a slip and fall at home, Cathy's right ankle is "on ice."

After a slip and fall at home, Cathy’s right ankle is “on ice.”

“What?”

“I twisted my foot. I don’t think I stand up. Just help me up and I’ll get into the house while you’re waiting for the bus.”

“No, I’ll carry you into the house. I just need to get back to Mija right away before the bus comes.”

“You don’t have to carry me into the house! I don’t want you to hurt yourself! Just help me up!”

“No, I’ll carry you.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s right! I’m a lot lighter than I used to be! Ha! Ow this hurts!”

Al scooped me off the floor and carried me to the couch while calling to our daughter not to go anywhere.

Then he ran back out to get back to our daughter. Once she was on the bus, he came back in to get ice for my foot

Over the past three years Cathy has become a dedicated gym rat. In this photo she's wearing an ankle wrap since she was recovering from her slip and fall a few weeks earlier.

Over the past three years Cathy has become a dedicated gym rat. In this photo she’s wearing an ankle wrap since she was recovering from her slip and fall a few weeks earlier.

“It took me falling on the ground for you to carry me over the threshold, huh?”

We laughed. Then I winced.

Years ago something like this could have put me into a tailspin. Missing work, other obligations…worry, worry, worry.

Not now.  That was a pleasant eye-opener for me!
If you’re familiar with my story you know that I’ve made a lot of changes over the past three years to reclaim my health.

I typically exercise around 6 hours a week. I realized with an injury that I could be suddenly sedentary.

My concern wasn’t weight gain.

My concerned was conditioning, and, about making sure that my right leg stayed mobile since it gets stiff and weak very easily.

Oh yeah, it was my right foot that was now bruised and swelling even though I knew it wasn’t broken.

The optimist in me surfaced as I told Al, “It’s just a small setback.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, this isn’t too bad. I’ve definitely been through worse. I mean, just because I can’t be on my feet for a little bit doesn’t mean I can’t stop exercising completely, right? I can do upper body work with the hand weights.”

My husband just laughed and shook his head.

Hand made yoga socks worked well to be sure Cathy's foot had traction while it was wrapped. Slow, steady movement from yoga was a way to focus on recovery while her foot was healing.

Hand made yoga socks worked well to be sure Cathy’s foot had traction while it was wrapped. Slow, steady movement from yoga was a way to focus on recovery while her foot was healing.

Over the couple of weeks I slowly began to use my exercise bicycle to test my foot and keep my legs moving.

I also went back to the gym to do yoga then eventually core work and weights. I just made modifications so that I could keep going.

Fast forward nine weeks.

A few days ago I saw a sign as I walked out of the elevator at work . A company running club advertised their first, and hopefully annual, 5k event.

I immediately thought, “I could do that.  I can really do that!”

 

I previously made a decision that I wanted run a 5k. This was my chance to make that happen!

I logged onto the team web site and registered.

It was time to take on a new challenge! Here's the before and after shot from her first three-mile run!

It was time to take on a new challenge! Here’s the before and after shot from her first three-mile run!

Today I decided to test my legs so that I could start training for the 5k. Based on all my current activities I figured I could run most, if not all of the three-mile route that I generally walk in my neighborhood.

I kept a slow steady pace and ran the entire three miles!

About an hour later my daughter was restless so I went for another walk, this time with her.

Six miles in one day! When it was done my legs were a bit tired but I also felt very satisfied.

I look at the photo with my twisted, bruised foot and while I do see a photo of an injury, I also see a sign of perseverance and optimism.

I was able to put this injury into perspective. It slowed me down from everyday activities, but it didn’t stop me.

It confirmed that I still have more that I more to accomplish!

 

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Posted in 2016

Boundaries–Fenced In

The weekly Photo Challenge is Boundaries.

I knew immediately that the family gallery had a photo that was perfect for this challenge.

My nephew Bob had boundless energy.  He was always on the move, or so it seemed.

My dad managed to catch him at a moment where he had to take a pause.

The photo was originally in color, but I enjoy the black and white detail of the wall, then the image of the fence as it blurs away from my nephew.

What was on the other side of the fence?

Was something out of reach?

Was he just exploring?

Who knows…

I can only imagine what was running through his mind when he was stopped by this boundary.

I’m glad my dad managed to catch this moment as I also imagine my nephew was true to form and on the run moments later.

Cathy's nephew Bob ponders the fence that stops him.

Cathy’s nephew Bob ponders the fence that stops him.

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Posted in 2015

Change – A Personal Transformation

The Weekly Photo Challenge is Change.

I’ve experienced my share since the end of 2012.

Yes, all these photos are of Cathy. The first three are taken on the same date in October 2012, then 2013, 2014, then September 2015. To see more of her story see the tab in her blog called "My Journey to Better Health."

Yes, all these photos are of Cathy. The first three are taken on the same date in October 2012, then 2013, 2014, then September 2015. To see more of her story see the tab in her blog called “My Journey to Better Health.”

Achieving change has taken a lot of work…

Cathy started her journey with an activity that she loves, namely, swimming. While challenging her, swimming also was akin to a relaxing, moving meditation.

Cathy started her journey with an activity that she loves, namely, swimming. While challenging her, swimming also was akin to a relaxing, moving meditation.

Achieving change has taken time…

The changes Cathy experienced may not have seem like much on a day to day basis but, over time, it can be seen that small changes add up to big gains!

The changes Cathy experienced may not have seem like much on a day to day basis but, over time, it can be seen that small changes add up to big gains!

…consistency…

Dig deep, and keep striving. You have to find it within yourself to keep moving forward, even when the going gets tough.

Dig deep, and keep striving. You have to find it within yourself to keep moving forward, even when the going gets tough.

…tenacity…

"When the going gets tough, think about how far you've already come." Just another comment from Cathy. :)

“When the going gets tough, think about how far you’ve already come.” Just another comment from Cathy.:)

…passion…

Discover what makes you tick, what makes your heart soar. If you know Cathy's story, you may remember she's had issues with one of her legs. At first walking was a challenge. As her strength increased, so did her love of walking. Never take everyday activities for granted!

Discover what makes you tick, what makes your heart soar. If you know Cathy’s story, you may remember she’s had issues with one of her legs. At first walking was a challenge. As her strength increased, so did her love of walking. Never take everyday activities for granted!

…continually resetting goals…

In order to continually grow and improve we need to keep challenging ourselves. Learn to do something correctly, then continue to challenge yourself to still improve day after day.

In order to continually grow and improve we need to keep challenging ourselves. Learn to do something correctly, then continue to challenge yourself to still improve day after day.

…the ability to laugh at myself…

After a hard workout Cathy let her hair loose then had a great laugh at herself. It felt refreshing to accomplish her goals for the day while not caring about how she looked! It wasn't a bad hair day - it was a great workout day!

After a hard workout Cathy let her hair loose then had a great laugh at herself. It felt refreshing to accomplish her goals for the day while not caring about how she looked! It wasn’t a bad hair day – it was a great workout day!

…the willingness to take one more challenge…

Years ago Cathy used to cycle. That ended with injuries from a car accident more than 20 years ago. It was a major accomplishment when she was able to start spin classes. Previously that was a dream. Now it's a reality!

Years ago Cathy used to cycle. That ended with injuries from a car accident more than 20 years ago. It was a major accomplishment when she was able to start spin classes. Previously that was a dream. Now it’s a reality!

…and another…

More spin class! It never gets easier as you have to constantly reset your goals. You also tell yourself that it's okay to struggle. Every day is different. Take each situation as it comes. You take one challenge at a time, every time.  Yes, it's an outlook that stretches far beyond spinning but it seems to be particularly relevant there!

More spin class! It never gets easier as you have to constantly reset your goals. You also tell yourself that it’s okay to struggle. Every day is different. Take each situation as it comes. You take one challenge at a time, every time. Yes, it’s an outlook that stretches far beyond spinning but it seems to be particularly relevant there!

…and the understanding that reaching goals is just the beginning of more changes to come!

Cathy in September 2015. Every goal that you achieve lays the groundwork for more goals and achievements to come! For Cathy this means ensuring she maintains a healthy lifestyle, and, also continuing to gain strength and endurance. She is grateful for many people who have supported her and assisted her along the way!

Cathy in September 2015. Every goal that you achieve lays the groundwork for more goals and achievements to come! For Cathy this means ensuring she maintains a healthy lifestyle, and, also continuing to gain strength and endurance. She is grateful for many people who have supported her and assisted her along the way!

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Posted in 2015

Dawn

image

In quiet…in peace…in stillness I hold you.

In laughter…in joy…I set you free.

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Posted in 2015, B4Peace

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