Thursday, October 29, 2015

Trails & Tribulations

My best friend texted asking that we get together . . . immediately.  

We sat at our usual table in the back corner of our favorite cafe and she slid an article across the table to me.  The headline read:

The First Woman to Hike the Appalachian Trail Was 67 Years Old

It goes on to describe this grandmother of 23 who, in 1955, hiked the entire 2050 mile trail in 146 days.  

Crap. How long has it been since we were out backpacking?  We couldn’t even remember.  

Oh we've had our excuses.  She tore her ACL while skiing in Italy. Which was a lot sexier than me tearing a meniscus when slipping on some wet leaves in the driveway. But mostly our excuses have been lame.  Miscellaneous aches and pains.  Family issues. The desire for a soft warm bed over the hard packed ground.  We have aged.  It's not as easy as it used to be. But mostly we have gotten lazy. Yes, we still often hike our locals trails. For an hour or two. Followed by a nice meal in a restaurant where we complain about how sore we are.  


So feeling shamed by this article, we began planning our next trip into the wilderness.   At first we thought big.  A week long trek of 10 to 15 mile days, and challenging mountains like we used to do. But then reality set in.  Maybe we should take it slow at first and see how we do.  It’s getting cold at night so maybe we should only go out for a couple of days.   I love climbing the high, bald mountains so I can sleep under a full canopy of stars but, hmmm, will our knees hold up to that?  Will my back be screaming for mercy?

By the time we had talked ourselves down, we settled on one of my favorite places in the Adirondacks. The trail is only a little over 4 miles to a pristine, white sand beach surrounding a lovely lake. Since it is only a short distance it has become a very popular spot, often with groups carrying in alcohol and partying there.  Because of this I haven’t been there in decades.  But I am hopeful that by going after peak season, it will be quiet and secluded.  If not we have an option to continue along the trail for another couple of miles.  We will make camp and then do a couple of day hikes, without having to carry our packs.  

Over the years, packing has become somewhat of a science.  I have already wheedled down every ounce of extra weight.  My pack is 27 pounds for a 3 day, 2 night outing. But nighttime temps are going down into the low 30s so I will need some heavier clothes.  And then there’s all the extra Ibuprofen and BenGay I am going to need.  

I am beginning to feel a little anxious and a lot wimpy.  “Grandma Gatewood” completed her trek without a sleeping bag, tent or compass.  She was quoted as saying “ I would never have started this trip had I known how tough it was, but I couldn’t and I wouldn’t quit.” I have a tent, a high tech, whisper-lite cooking stove, space age dehydrated food, expensive hiking boots, and a sleeping bag rated for sub-zero temperatures.  It's not exactly "roughing it."

So I am about to strap that almost 30 pound pack on my also overweight body and hope for the best. The spiritual benefits of being out in nature far outweigh the physical side effects. (I hope) And if Gatewood could do 2050 miles in 146 days, I should be able to do 15 or so miles in 3 days.

If I don't post a Full of Grace story on Tuesday, come looking for me. I'll be the one moaning and groaning, limping down the mountainside with a thousand excuses about why I'm too old for this.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Full of Grace

  • That I live in a place that looks like this in Autumn.

  • And we’ve had perfect, crisp clear weather that makes it delightful to be outside and marvel at it.

  • That our new step-cat (acquired because of the break-up) is starting to warm up to his new home, currently in the basement.   He is a very large, young, male, black cat who had been swiping and hissing at me.  Now he purrs and plays and cuddles.  Next step - trying to introduce him to the dog and cat upstairs without causing the 15 year old, tiny female fur ball to have a heart attack.

  • That Beaner’s college friends came from far and wide to boost her spirits this weekend.  It’s probably one of my greatest comforts to know that my daughters have great friends and a solid support system that will serve them well as they continue to find their own way.

  • That Beaner’s friends finally left.  I really love these young women as my own daughters, but a very small house, lots of liquor and commotion until the wee hours made me feel like I was living in a dorm.  And I am, very thankfully, so past that.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Full of Grace

  • The first snow fall of the season.  I know a lot of people don’t like the snow and think of it as a nuisance, but there is something about seeing the first snow that still fills me with joy and wonder.

  • Fresh baked cookies.  Peachie’s team had a cookie dough fund raiser and now we can bake up just a few cookies at a time without making a mess.  My house smells like fresh baked cookies almost all the time and there is something so right with that.

  • The break up.  Still doing a happy dance that Beaner’s relationship is over.  And he screwed up so badly that there is no chance that she would ever consider going back to him.  

  • That Beaner was smart enough to get to her OBGYN and be tested for whatever the ex might have spread.  She also immediately made an appointment with a therapist who has given her some very good strategies to help heal and move on.

  • That her best friend since pre-school sent her an edible arrangement.  It came in a pink ribbon vase with this note:   "They didn’t have a “fuck you” vase so I went with the breast cancer awareness theme because now your boobs are back on the market."  It made everyone laugh at a time when we really all needed a laugh.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

They broke up!

First, thank you for all the advice on the last post.  It was some very useful advice and I will it use no matter what the future holds for my daughters.

Meanwhile, Beaner and the BF flew to Indianapolis Wednesday for a wedding in his family.  But she discovered he was texting another girl there about getting together and then worse, lying about it.  Much drama ensued at his family home shortly before the wedding and Beaner called to say she wanted to come home.  So we made arrangements for her,and BF’s mother, sobbing, said she would get her to the airport, and then we had to drive 3 hours to pick her up at the closest airport we could get her to on such short notice.   It’s been quite the weekend.

The story actually gets much more bizarre and she has gone from hurt to anger.  Four of her college roommates have called to say they are coming this weekend to be with her.  And we will sit her her until she heals a little.  

But Martha and I are secretly doing a happy dance.  And I think Beaner will be too.  Eventually.

Thanks again for all your help.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Opinions requested

I am throwing this question out into my blogging world in hopes of getting some feedback on this dilemma.

Many, many years ago my sister happened to say to me “wow, two daughters. That’s two weddings you’ll have to pay for.”  Our girls were babies at the time but as the fiscally responsible parent I started savings accounts, earmarked for weddings.

My daughters are now in their early 20s and both have serious boyfriends.  I have been able to save a substantial amount for each of them and they have each been told that there will be a tidy sum they can use for their weddings, honeymoon, a down payment on a house, or a nice nest egg should they choose not to marry.


We do not like Beaner’s boyfriend. Well that is not entirely true.  We like him.  He
s gentle and treats her well. But he often forgets commitments and stands her up. And it is quite obvious to everyone, except Beaner, that this is not a healthy relationship.  It is very out of balance with him being a needy little boy in need of a mother rather than being a life partner.  My daughter, do-gooder that she is, may not mind taking constant care of him now, but we are quite sure that it will get old very fast.

And so here is the dilemma:

Should she choose to marry this man (and we sincerely hope she won’t but she is always talking about it) do I still give all this money, knowing (okay assuming) that it will not last long?  To me it seems like throwing 20 years of savings away, or blessing a marriage that is not healthy.  But on the other hand, I don’t think its right to say that such a gift has strings.  

What say you?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Full of Grace

  • My niece sent me a link called “Cate Blanchett is A Fucking Flawless Queen”.  Great link and also nice to know that even my extended family recognizes my alternate universe relationship with Cate.

  • Everybody agreeing to adjust their schedules to be able to go apple picking.  It is something we have done as a family since we were carrying the girls in pouches and although I know there will come a time when we will no longer go all together, I am grateful to eke out another year.

  • Then Martha made her “best I’ve ever had” apple pie and batches of applesauce.  I wish my phone would record smells like it can record pictures, because I would love to keep that apple pie baking smell with me wherever I go.

  • Survived a 10 mile Habitat for Humanity bike ride with my daughter without too much damage to my body or my pride.  It doesn’t seem that long ago that I could easily do a 50 mile ride.  I’m still not sure what happened to my body.

  • Celebrating 26 mostly wonderful years, together with Martha.   I really can’t imagine where I would be if she hadn’t stepped into my life.  She is always first on my list of gratitudes when I close my eyes at night and again when she is still there in the morning.  I am incredibly blessed.

Friday, October 9, 2015

After Thoughts

As I am prone to do, I analyze, and often over analyze, my PTSD reactions and relapses.  These are just some random thoughts I am putting to paper to help me sort out how I feel about this last trip down the rabbit hole.

  • First, thank you to everyone who commented so kindly on my last posts.  It never ceases to amaze me how therapeutic writing can be and to get such wonderful support and feedback is very humbling and very appreciated.

  • In response to those posts a friend sent me this:

  • But the reality is, life did break me.  I was broken for a very long time.  And sometimes it’s easier to go back to that place of brokenness than to keep trying to get up.  I think this was the case this time.  It was easier to withdraw than to do the work.
  • I am very aware of how easy it is to just withdraw and isolate myself, even when I know I need to do the opposite to get out the hole.  Like going to the gym - it always feels good to go and you know you are doing something good for yourself and maintaining your health, but then something temporarily keeps you from going.  And it becomes easier and easier just not to go. And then really hard to get back going.

  • When I fall down the hole and don’t bother to do the work, I always feel like a failure.  Mostly I feel that I’ve let Lauren (my former therapist) down.   She would never let me be that lazy.

  • The weird thing about my scars is that the one major scar I had from that assault was removed when I had a mastectomy. It used to be very triggering.  Now I miss it.  

  • For all my work, I know there is a place inside me that is still broken.  The screams still inhabit me. They remind me that I am still bruised and vulnerable. And I sometimes feel that I need to visit that place.

  • Somehow I need to reconcile my very strong desire to be healed and healthy with my equally strong desire not to forget, which I am often afraid I am doing . . . until something reminds me. Sometimes I wonder if my regressions aren’t self inflicted.

  • Even at my emotionally strongest, I continue to have issues with memory and control.  But they are a subject for a different post.

There is no neat and tidy way to wrap this train of thought up so I will end by asking a favor. A very dear friend of mine’s partner is having a double mastectomy today.  Any prayers, thoughts, healing energy or good mojo you could send up into the universe on her behalf would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Full of Grace

  • Waking up.  Both literally and figuratively.

  • I bought this bush at the end of the season because it was on sale.  I had no idea that it would bloom daisies.  Daisies in October!  In upstate New York!  While everything else in my yard is brown and dying. It is making me smile, enormously.

  • Going to New York City to see this.

            James Earl Jones is 84.  Cicely Tyson is 81.  
Together they were both powerful and charming and awesome.

  • And very thankful that my mom gave me a huge love of live theater and that I still live close enough to NYC to take advantage of it’s incredible cultural offerings.

  • Breast cancer awareness month.  I am grateful for any effort that might help women get screened because I know that early detection saved my life. (Please keep up on your screenings)  Still, I’m not sure how I feel about this: