Monday, August 8, 2016

Good Times

I went to the reunion. It turned out to be really fun. I had a really nice time. 

On Friday night, the was a pre-reunion meetup at a local bar. My BFF and I decided to go without the husbands. BFF commented that the bar that was chosen was an odd pick. It was not in the usually bar location in Hometown. We figured we would go. If it really sucked, we would go somewhere else. 

Well, there was about 20 classmates there, some with spouses, some left them behind to watch kids. As I mingled among my classmates, those who are on FB commented that they missed me and were so sorry about the offensive post. Some said that they un-friended the person as well. I was shocked and amazed at the outpouring of support from so many. BFF and I ended up staying the entire time, about midnight. We then went to another place where we debriefed the evening's events. 

The actual reunion was on Saturday. It was a picnic at a local park. Again, there was an outpouring of support for me from those who knew what happened. One of my old friends commented that she was hoping that I would return to FB. She said that she loved my positive posts, especially about running. She said that because of me, she started running and getting fit. Others said what Rebecca and Chicago Foodie Girl said. That wanted me back on FB. I told them that I would give it some thought. 

The rest of the reunion was fun. I laughed, danced, reminisced, and participated in some really bad karaoke. People were not interested in one-upping anyone. People talked about their lives, not bragging, but just great fun to share the good in their lives. And, there was this unspoken understanding that no one would discuss politics or religion. Well, I did talk some social justice with a fellow crusader! 

As I write this, I keep thinking about something my mother-in-law said. "At this stage, people really don't care about one-upping each other. No one has time for that anymore." I guess that's true. It wasn't a brag fest. It was just a group of people sharing memories with each other. No one cared about who has what, or how much one accomplished. It was good times, good music, and good food. Maybe at this stage of our lives, at least for some f us, none of that stuff matters. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Seeing True Colors

I took another break from Facebook.

During the height of the shootings in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Dallas, a friend posted a very offensive meme. The picture was a group of black men who were part of a Black Lives Matter protest running away from a black child. The caption read "How do you clear a Black Lives Matter protest?" The speech balloon from the child read "Are you my daddy?".

I was sick. I was speechless. I was angry.  I showed the meme to Husband. He asked me "Who the fuck posted THAT? That is so racist and so wrong!" When I told him, he was dumbfounded.  I asked if I was crazy. He said "No. I'm White and I'm offended. But, I'm even more upset that a friend did it."

Never mind the obvious stereotype that such a meme presents. I've helped many White women go after deadbeat White fathers who don't pay for their kids. That is beside the point. This was a purely inappropriate, racist, prejudice, meme that someone I grew up with, spent time in her home, shared secrets, and all the things that teen girls do, posted on her FB page.

It wasn't the first inappropriate comment that I've seen on FB. It's not the first from someone on my friend list either. Many of these have come from people who I grew up with and still remain in my rural hometown. Most of these people have not experienced life beyond the town's boarders except for the occasional trip to the city an hour away or the beaches on the east coast. Those people were quickly un-friended with little afterthought.

But, the meme from my former childhood friend stung big time. Does she think of all Black people in that regard? What does she think of me? Has she always harbored those feelings? How could someone that I've known since middle school think like that while having a friend like ME? I was so disgusted that I un-freinded her. Then, I posted a piece that I would not tolerate any racist, prejudice comments or meme on my timeline. I decided to take a timeout from that space. I honestly needed to regroup and think about what that space is.

My mom went through something similar last year. She ended a friendship with someone that was her best friend for 50 years. In a conversation about some recent crimes in the area, my mother's former friend used the N-word to describe Black people in general. My mom was livid. This person knew that she was in an interracial marriage for 21 years and had two biracial children. My family never used the N-word...ever. My parents would not allow rap music in the house that used the N-word. Needless to say, my mom cussed her former friend out. They have not spoken since. My mother said that some peoples' true colors take time to show. Unfortunately, we are in an environment where this is happening more often. It just hurts more when its someone close to you.

After my exit from Facebook, I received a couple of private messages from people supporting me. I did check my post and a few people commented their support as well. A few suggested that I just un-follow or just pray for them, as if that will make things better. I shouldn't judge their intentions. Maybe people just don't know what to say. Maybe they are afraid to say what they know is true. Maybe they are questioning what they think is right.

I started thinking about my upcoming high school reunion. I seriously considered not going. I didn't want to have deal with a bunch of racist hypocrites. These are the people who are nice to your face. They have "black friends". But when push comes to shove, their true colors shine. At the same time, there are some good people who do not fall into that category, that I would like to see. But boundaries will be set. I will be respectful, should I run into my former friend. But, I will have no other contact with her. She chose to burn that bridge. It can never be rebuilt. If she asks, I will tell her. I will not yell, cuss her out, or anything like that. But, I will let her know what she did has lasting consequences.

As for my return to Facebook, it is to be determined.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ups and Downs

My weight has gone up a couple of pounds. It's about two pounds within my original goal, but about four pounds higher than my "sweet spot'. That is the weight where I feel my best.

There are a couple of things that could be the reason. One of the downsides to my PT position is the amount of food that in the office. There are a lot of student events that our office sponsors, which means a lot of leftovers. Also, folks bring in all kinds of sweet and tasty treats. Needless to say, it has been a challenge for me to stay on track.  I do my best to ignore the temptation, or to just indulge a little. But damn, it is so hard! I do try to take breaks to go for a walk and I take the stairs as often as possible. Even when it's crazy outside, I will walk the halls, just to get my butt moving.

I have increased the number of days that I run and the distance. I am being mindful of how much the joints can take. I don't run every day; it's more like three days a week. However, I do walk Junior every day. The joints have not been too angry with me. Also, I've increased the number of days that I do yoga. I wonder if that is part of the reason for the weight increase. More muscle? I mean, I'm pretty sculpted right now. 

The other thing that crossed my mind, and this is probably where I will get a little TMI, but my period has returned after a 7 month hiatus. Not uncommon, since I am in the homestretch of my 40's. But, Auntie Flo's return has put me back on that up and down roller coaster with weight gain (Hello...bloating!). 

Lastly, I've been feeling rather sluggish for the past couple of weeks. Even with eating well and exercising, something is "off".  I am eating well; I usually do in the summer. I drink plenty of water. My calorie tracking does not show anything off. I do wonder if with the chaos of the last six months has finally caught up with me. Perhaps the exhaustion is my RA body attacking itself a little harder than it normally does? 

So, I am trying to figure out where to go from here. All of my usual tricks, hacks, and strategies are not working. Or, they are working for a short period and then I bounce back to being in my current state. I shouldn't complain. I still look great. My current size still fits, for the most part. But, I am just not feeling my best. I've scheduled a physical with my PCP, so maybe she will have some insight. Something needs to be done because I have about a month before my final year of coursework for the PhD kicks into high gear. I will need all the energy that I can muster to make it. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Still Alive

Yes...I am still here. 

OK, so I've been a bad blogger. In my defense, and I need one, the spring semester and early summer were crazy. The last time I wrote, I started a part time job at PhD U. With that job, my adjunct gig at HBCU, nine credit hours, and presenting at two conferences kept me beyond busy. It was the most busy I've been since my law school days. 

I am surprised that the RA did not go into full blown flare and completely knock me out of commission. I did a have a day or two where it was a little rough and I had to take a day off to rest. But, of the most part, the RA cooperated with my intense schedule. Part of the reason was that I made exercise a probity, rather than the first thing to go. I ran and walked with Husband and Junior. I got back into regular yoga practice. Additionally, I ate healthy meals. Husband and I cooked on weekends to ensure there was enough leftovers to get us through until Thursday, which is our dine out night. 

Most importantly, I really listened to my body. If I was tired, I slowed down and took care of myself first. Not an easy thing to do, but it had to be done. I have this awful habit of pushing myself to the point of exhaustion. That exhaustion would ultimately lead not only to an RA flare, but the depression and self loathing that comes with burnout. This time, I said  "NO" to that perfectionist, anxiety-driven voice that leads me down that self destructive path. I had to let some things go and redefine what "Good Enough' meant. "Good Enough" does not mean perfection. It doesn't mean half-assed.  It's when I can objectively say that I've done enough. And, that's good. 

Now that most of the heinousness is over and done, I am getting ready for my last year of coursework with the PhD. I resigned my adjunct position at HBCU. I got a research fellowship in my program, which comes with a full tuition wavier. This means that I Iwill be able to focus on research in my field   No more paying out of pocket for my PhD. No more adjuncting. Once my position in my temporary position ends in August, I will roll right into the fellowship. 

So, that's the short version of where I've been fo the tast couple of months. I didn't include the races I've completed or some other stuff, but I'll save that for later. Truth is, I miss writing in this space, any space really. Hopefully, I will be more proactive about that. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Portion Control

I haz new job!

I am working in the Education department at PhD U. It is a temporary position until the start of the fall semester, but there is the possibility of it turning into a graduate assistantship. This means I will be even busier that before, with the new job, teaching one class at HBCU, two doctoral classes, and one independent study and research work with Advisor. Oh yeah, and somewhere in that mess, I have to be a wife and a dog mom. And, most importantly, I have to take care of ME!  That is one full plate.

One of the questions that the dean asked me was whether or not I could handle all of that responsibility. I conceded that this is quite a full plate. And, my plate has not been this full since I left Tech College. But, I have learned a great deal over the past 2.5 years of being in a state of transition. One thing I learned actually came from my weight loss journey (two years of maintenance...WOOT!). I learned that one must eat sensible portions to lose and maintain one's weight. Too much of anything will cause overload (or overweight). Too little of anything means you do not have enough fuel, and you crash and burn. I learned that everything in life is about balance. With that in mind, I have trying to set up my life to be in balance with my new job responsibilities.

  • Proper rest, eating well, and exercise are non-negotiable. I need to keep myself well, especially if the RA decides to act up, like it did a couple of weeks ago. I don't anticipate any more big flares now that the weather is getting nicer in Elsewhere. But, RA can act up anytime because it can. Keeping myself well is the best defense, but it's not 100%. My new boss knows my situation and totally gets it. 
  • I am working on adjustments to my exercise routine. Running and yoga are a part of my life. They keep me fit and sane. Junior is not happy that Mom is gone more, but making sure he gets his exercise when I get my exercise will help both of us. 
  • Husband is awesome. He is picking up some of the slack while I adjust to my new routine. We have some practices in place for stuff around the house, so we are good on that front. He also runs with Junior. FYI, Husband is on his own weight loss journey. His goal is to be under 200 lbs by the end of May. He is getting close!
  • I've pre-booked my hair, mani/pedi and other girly-girl stuff. First, so that I am not walking around looking like a hot mess. Second, it's my time to take care of ME. I started this last semester of taking off one full day a month, just for me. It has really helped me because I have something fun to look forward to doing. That comes in handy as the semester gets crazy. 
  • Thankfully, my job is in the same building as my classes and professors, so I can pop in to see them if I need anything. During the interview process, I front loaded some due dates for my classes. I wanted some breathing room for training. The last two weeks were crazy with papers and presentations. But, those assignments are done and I can coast the rest of the semester...and it's not even midterm yet! 
  • My research project with my Advisor is about to go from 0-100 mph. The amended IRB was granted, so Advisor and I will need to get moving because we have about a month before we need to present our preliminary findings. I am excited and nervous about that! 
  • Finally, I made some significant changes to my course at HBCU. It's online this semester, which is a good thing. I have lowered the number of deliverables to something more manageable. There is nothing I can do about the ridiculous class size, but I can do something about how much work I have to make for myself. plate is full. But this time, I am managing my portions.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Love - Hate Relationship

I started a 12 day prednisone taper the other day. I just could not take the pain and the extreme fatigue that I have experienced for the past week and a half. The fatigue was so bad on Tuesday that I have no idea what my professor was talking about during my qualitative methods class.

I have a love-hate relationship with prednisone. Actually, I have a love-hate relationship with all the meds that I take for RA. All of them have done a good job of keeping the disease from progressing. My pain level is significantly lover. Most days, it's nonexistent. And, I've had fewer flares of the past couple of years. But, there are some serious side effects that I worry about. Prednisone can do some serious damage to the liver and stomach. Enbrel suppresses the immune system, making it easier to contract an infection. Those infections can be fatal, as in the case of Glenn Frey. Enbrel can also cause lymphoma. There are those who blame the meds for Glenn Fry's death. And, they are partially correct. He was allegedly taking one of the biologic meds for RA. He allegedly had pneumonia, which was taking a while to recover.

Of course, I am vigilant with getting my bloodwork done every 10 weeks. In fact, the people at the lab all know me, which comes in handy. I only use a prednisone taper if I absolutely have to do so. The last one I had was a year ago, and that was for a serious sinus infections. I do everything possible to keep myself healthy. My RA doc is amazing and she works with me to keep me in the best health possible.

Yet, I still get scared sometimes. It's not RA that kills you. It is the medications and the other problems that come with RA that can kill you. It's like those commercials you see on TV where the side effects of the medication sound worse than the disease?  As I am in my 19th year of fighting (4 years not knowing and 15 years diagnosed)  RA, I can't help but wonder how much longer my body will be able to handle all that the meds are doing to my body. I try to stay positive by looking at all of the good that resulted from my meds, i.e. running, no disease progression or joint damage. But, it's pretty scary sometimes.

I bet Glenn Frey had the same love-hate relationship with his meds as I do. The meds allowed him to ride the ebb and flow that is RA for a while without, I'm guessing, too much hassle. Maybe, like me, the benefit was greater than the risk. I don't regret taking these meds. I know the good they can do and the harm they can do. I don't think Glenn Frey had regrets either. With RA, it's about survival and living the best life you can.

Love it or hate it, we have to do what we need to do to survive..for as long as we can.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


I am three weeks into the semester at PhD U and two weeks in at HBCU. Usually at this stage, I am have a routine and a rhythm  going with my studies, teaching, and everything else that I have to do in my crazy life. However this semester, I feel disconnected. I am struggling to find a routine. I am floundering through all of my responsibilities with little sense of direction.

I think some of it has to do with having a minor RA flare last week. It was not enough to keep me home unable to function. But, it was enough to slow me down enough that I am having trouble refocusing my efforts. Part of the problem with RA is that the flares just zap so much of your energy, including brain function. I like to think of it as walking around in a haze or fog. I suppose it's just part of the body attacking itself, but it sure doesn't help when you need to think about a lot of deep shit. The flare has kept me from exercising, which really helps keep my endorphins bouncing. But, with the pain, I just didn't want to make things worse. So, I did nothing until this past Sunday when I walked briskly on the treadmill for 2 miles.

Also, there is just something different about this semester. I am not sure what it is. I can't put my finger on it. This semester just feels different.  I have a large online class at HBCU, no surprise there. But, I have more than my fair share of students who need my attention. Some in a very legitimate way, such as disability issues, which I am more than happy to accommodate. Having a disability makes me a very sensitive to another person's disability accommodation. I have a lot of students who do not have the money for the textbook, which frustrates me on several fronts and I will save for another post.  But, it's just there are so many that it is making my head spin.

At PhD U, I have two classes and an independent study. One class has a lot of reading. The other has a lot of writing. The independent study is based on my research work with my advisor. We can't do anything until the amended IRB is approved to include me, so I have a little bit of a reprieve, But once it is approved, things are going to happen quickly. We have a conference in March and need to get our data collected and analyzed. But, it's still a lot, and my brain is just trying to catch up. It's just so much stuff to think about.

This morning. I seriously considered taking the day off. Not going to class at PhD U and just taking the day to regroup. But, I have a group project meeting that needs to happen today, so that's out. I am thinking that I spend some time this morning trying to map out a plan before I have to go to campus. Then tomorrow I will take the morning off and regroup a little more.

I know I will get it together. I just need a plan. Being disconnected is just no way to go through life.