Alcoholism is a Disease

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. There hasn’t been much going on in my life that is suitable for public, so I’ve been neglecting this blog. My knitting’s fallen off the charts into “occasionally” and my cooking is just enough to get my family by.

There’s been some drama… My karate instructor is an alcoholic, and when it came down to him choosing between his two best families or his booze, he picked his booze. Up until now, I’d never dealt with a friend being an alcoholic. I wasn’t too sure I bought into the whole “alcoholism is a disease” thing, and I couldn’t imagine why he couldn’t just shake it. After dealing with him and his problems for YEARS, I can honestly say that it is absolutely a disease. It is a devastating illness that clouds his view of the world to the point where he doesn’t see anything realistically anymore. He refuses to see how much his behavior is hurting the people around him, and it is heartbreaking. He is driving to the school in the evenings drunk. He is teaching 5-7 year old children DRUNK. He has a good heart, but he is so self-centered that he refuses to ask for help. He is so self centered, that he sticks his head in the sand any time someone tries to talk to him.

Needless to say, this was devastating to everyone involved. We spoke to him two years ago about at least waiting until after class was over for the day to get wasted. We spoke to him one year ago about not drinking before class. Then he showed up to an important event very personal to me with alcohol on his breath and a slur in his speech, and I was done. We’ve been licking our spiritual wounds, and trying to move on ever since. It’s been rough going. I’ve only just now gotten back into running after a month and a half long hiatus, and every joint on my body aches. I haven’t been taking my vitamins, and I’ve been staying up too late. I try to be a model of fitness and health for the people around me, but it just got too hard after having to leave the karate school that’s been my home for the past five years. I’ve identified as a martial artist for so long, I’m a little lost without that direction.

I want to talk to my instructor. I want to speak to him and hear his plan for getting healthy again. I want everything to be okay. I want my friend back. But there’s nothing more I can do. In the end, sobriety and recovery are a personal decision, and he has no interest regardless of the consequences.

But you know what? No matter what happens, life goes on. So here I am, trying to move on. I don’t have any new recipes to post or knitting patterns to show off, but hopefully I’ll have something to share soon.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Books I Will Read Over, and Over, and Over Again

I love to read. It’s my preferred method of escape, since I can pretty much do it anywhere at anytime. The invention of .mobi files and smartphones has furthered my addiction by allowing a book to be at my fingertips at all times, as long as I have my phone and a 3G connection. There are some books that I will always, always love. There are some books that I have read over and over, and show no signs of stopping. Usually I read them once a year. Sometimes I skip a year, and there are some books that I’ve gone a couple years without reading, but can feel their time coming like the inevitability of a thunderstorm. This is my list of series/books that I will always have on my shelves. They are listed in no particular order, and in fact if you asked me to pick a favorite… I couldn’t.

  • The Sword of Truth series, Terry Goodkind
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Rick Riordan
  • Lords of the Sky, Angus Wells
  • The Dresden Files series, Jim Butcher
  • the Mercy Thompson series, Patricia Briggs
  • the Study series 1-3, Maria V. Snyder
  • the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, Angus Wells
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See
  • Julia’s Chocolates, Cathy Lamb
  • the Tower and the Hive series, Anne McCaffrey
  • the Heralds of the Queen series, Mercedes Lackey
  • the New Species series, Laurann Dohner
  • Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  • the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling
  • The Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins
  • the Sirantha Jax series, Ann Aguirre
  • Firefly, Piers Anthony
  • The Hollows series, Kim Harrison
  • the Watch series, Sergei Lukyanenko
  • A Breath of Fresh Air, Amulya Mulladi
  • The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • The Godwars series, Angus Wells
  • The Host, Stephenie Meyer

2x Tough Mudder Legion Mom

Tough Mudder Kansas 2014

immediately after my first Tough Mudder, i decided i was crazy enough to sign up for my 2nd Tough Mudder. i’ll spare you the details, since you can get them in the blog post from my last Tough Mudder. (HERE) let’s just say that i trained just as hard for this Mudder. i managed to add one more pull up to my list of attributes, bringing me up to a whopping 2 whole pull ups in a row. i managed to run 10.5 miles twice just for fun, and i’ve been doing all sorts of bodyweight calisthenics to get into shape. i was still really scared, though. with about a month to go in my training, i got really burnt out with the whole “training for the Tough Mudder” thing. we had a hard winter, and i was DONE with the burpees and the wall balls and the jumping rope. i had HAD IT with all the pushups and the crunches, and my hands were callused and tired from hanging from the pull up bars. i kept going as best i could, with my flagging spirit. i had one goal this Tough Mudder…. to make it all the way across the Funky Monkey. they’re just monkey bars… but set up in a barn-roof style with an incline, then a decline. apparently, only 40% of mudders make it across the Funky Monkey, and last year i splashed into the water on the 2nd rung. i really, really wanted to conquer this obstacle this time.

my first Mudder was in September of 2013. we had so much fun that we signed up for the next one the day after the event. later, the date for the event was announced…. May 3rd, only 9 months after the last Tough Mudder! i think i took a month or two off, but i remember jumping back into training pretty quickly.

here we are now, not even a year later…. not even a year older (!) and i just completed my second Tough Mudder.

this one was a completely different event.

first, the stats: 25 obstacles and 11 miles. 11 people on our team with 5 Legionnaires. Cliff was no longer a sponsor… this year it went to MetRx. not okay for me… Cliff Builder’s bars are vegan. NOTHING MetRx makes is without dairy. i was very, very disappointed i would have to pack energy snacks again this year, but oh well. they didn’t get in the way too much last year. i packed my Spi Belt with 3 quadruple wrapped medjool dates and 2 miniature Cliff Builder’s Bars. let the fun begin.

right off the bat, we all climbed the wall into the pit and huddled together like cattle at market. we were given the uplifting “you got this shit” speech, met a couple World’s Toughest Mudders, and we started jogging onto the track. there was no fire to jump over this time, and no mud crawl through to anoint us into the Mudder event…. just a REALLY LONG FUCKING RUN IN THE GODDAMN PRARIE. we twisted and snaked around, all the while wondering where the hell the mud was, and were we really in the Tough Mudder or did we accidentally enter into an off road marathon? i was thanking my lucky stars i had removed my long sleeved shirt before the race, because by the time we came up to Balls to the Wall, we were sweaty, irritable, and sick of jogging. up and over we went, and off we went…. to run some more.

we made it to Pole Dancer, where i fell into the water about two feet in. surprisingly, i was quite pleased with this failure to successfully complete the obstacle. by the time we got there we were HOT and hadn’t seen any mud yet. the water was cold and only just below my waist. it was pleasant and refreshing. not quite what they had in mind, i’m sure… but i was recommending everybody fall in just to cool off, as we hadn’t seen a single goddamn water station yet. nobody else did, but it was totally their loss.

we next came up on the Berlin Walls, which i am proud to say i actually went over one of them this year. last year i didn’t even try because they were so slippery and muddy. this time none of had even seen any mud yet, so they were pristine and pretty. there were two walls, but i figured one was enough. like i said…. hot and grouchy. (where the hell was the mud???!?)

finally, we reached an obstacle that sounded promising. the Muddersection. it was a large stretch of churned up dirt that was supposed to be slippery, wet and muddy. actually, it was just dry, cakey, and annoying. all it did was slow us down a little bit because we actually had to watch our feet to avoid twisting an ankle on the dry, caked tracts of earth.

another worthless obstacle after that (a short hop over a creek) and we were finally to the Funky Monkey. i’ll be honest, i nearly skipped this one. it terrified me. i didn’t want to fall into the water. i didn’t want to fail yet again in front of everybody. i had to consciously steel up my nerves, but i began the journey across the monkey bars. right off the bat i knew i was going to be screwed if i couldn’t figure out a way to reach the next rungs. the inclined bars were designed so that i couldn’t reach the next rung unless i swung myself over with a conscious effort. eventually, i got a rhythm down, and i made it to the decline section. i grunted and groaned and cussed and fretted, but by golly I MADE IT OVER THE FUNKY MONKEY!!! i was now one of the 40% who successfully completed the obstacle! another teammate of mine who was in the same position as i successfully completed it as well, so we smugly high five’d each other before realizing one of our team members fell into the water, and literally breathed that shit in. and by “that shit” i mean the dyed green water that people had probably pissed in not to long ago. he was around a corner vomiting for a good 5 minutes before he managed to collect himself enough to continue.

after that, things finally got muddy and picked up a little bit. 3 and a half miles into the course, we finally saw our first bit of mud that wasn’t optional by falling accidentally into a pit, or intentionally stepping into a puddle that just happened to be there. it moved a bit quicker when we managed to get dirty. sadly, it didn’t make us move faster, it was just more entertaining to move as slow as we were. we were a big group of 11 people at various degrees of fitness…. me and at least 3 other people on our team had a chest cold when we started, and one of our team members didn’t quite know how Tough it was going to be. they hadn’t trained, and nearly gave up after that first miserable sweaty jog. we kept that person going, though, and i am proud to say that they crossed the finish line and earned their headband (though many skipped obstacles) it will probably be the last headband that person ever attempts to acquire, but that person acquired it, and that’s what matters.

i officially skipped one obstacle this year…. the Electric Eel. no fucking way was i going to crawl through a big puddle of water with electrified wires hanging over my head. this year, i got to watch one of our team members get hit, black out for a brief second, face plant in the water, lose their prescription eye glasses, fumble for said eye glasses, get hit AGAIN, then face plant AGAIN, the sit up AGAIN, get hit AGAIN, then finally give up on the several hundred dollar prescription glasses, and trudge through to the end. every time one of those electric wires popped on somebody i involuntarily flinched and jumped. let’s just say that i wasn’t the only one to bypass this obstacle, and i am okay with that.

much to my disappointment and pleasure, there was no Arctic Enema this year. we had a Legionnaires Loop… supposedly, it was a special stretch of obstacles that only multiple mudders could go through. you know what we got? a tire pull (that was part of the regular obstacles last year) a dingy, dry tunnel with a couple lame wires hanging down the end, and a marshy bog-type area that was just unpleasant to trudge through. it wasn’t fun, and didn’t make any of us feel special. it did, however, give us first dibs at the next obstacle… a big water slide with fire at the end. i hated it. i wanted to skip it. i bitched and moaned the whole time about how much i didn’t want to do it. i did it anyways. (overcoming fears, right?) i hated climbing up there, i hated going down the slide, and i hated the feeling of being uncontrollably flung through the air. i have to plug my nose in water, so i freaked out when my hand was flung off my nose. i banged my head on the slide, and the water was cold and deep. i’m not a great swimmer, so doggy paddling to the ladder was the most miserable experience of the entire Mudder. i was cold and wet and DONE at that point.

the last obstacle, as always, was Electroshock Therapy. as a Mudder Legionnaire, i was given the option to by pass it shame-free. me and 2 other teammates said HELL YES and we watched our team members one by one screech and trip their way through the obstacle. we got our headbands, we got our tshirts, we got our protein bars. (that i gave to my kids later that night because i don’t consume products with dairy in them) . we got our optional beer (yuck) and we got our traditional trip to a fast-food food-court.

there were some great moments in this Mudder…. watching one member laugh uncontrollably at my husband, Darth Mudder, go to running up Mount Everest, and instead trip in a hole, have his cape catch on a pole, and face plant into the dirt, was quite amusing. i think she’s still laughing at it a day later.

i don’t know if i’ll run another Tough Mudder. honestly, this one was a little disappointing. it was WAY less muddy, and there weren’t as many rest stations as there were last year. MetRx was much more stingy with their snacks than Cliff was. the design of the course seemed poorly thought out, and Legionnaires Loop was a JOKE. also? NO CAMERA COVERAGE. we were stuck (involuntarily) at one of the last start times of the day. all the Tough Mudder camera people were gone. my husband dressed up in a big, flowing orange cape and a Darth Vader mask with a GoPro camera mounted to it, and he didn’t make it to the facebook page at all, because there was no one left to take pictures of us. last year, Marathon Photo people were everywhere, snapping action shots and group photos… this year? nothing. we were lucky to have one spectator come with us and snap photographs of us, or we’d have nothing but our word and our muddy clothes to prove that we’d even been there. so… shout out to you, our lone spectator looking out for us and taking pictures! we had my husband’s GoPro shots, but you got the ONLY other photos of us that day! so THANK YOU for being there, and shoving medjool dates in our mouths with your clean hands right when we needed them most. 😉

unfortunately, the mud i finally managed to get covered in didn’t help protect me from sun burn…. the back of my calves and my shoulders are lobster red. i’m a little sore and a little tired, but i’m happy to say i survived another one. over the next week my husband and i will discuss the prospect of another Tough Mudder. i’m thinking about giving them one more chance not to suck…. but we’ll see.

Tough Mudder Mom

(this post was originally posted on another blog of mine. i didn’t want it to die with the blog, so i transferred it to this one.)

6 months before September 22nd 2013, my husband declared his intentions to run the Tough Mudder. for those of you who don’t know, it’s a 10-12 mile obstacle course with 18+ obstacles that are not made for wimps. after milling it over in my mind, i decided that i’d run it with him if we had a team. to be honest, i had my doubts that we’d be able to pull together team. after all, the race (actually, it’s not a race- it’s a challenge) is hard. somehow, we managed to pull together a really awesome team, and our start time was set. 

The Day Before

for the last 6 months i had been training. when i signed up, i couldn’t run more than 3 miles in one go, i couldn’t do any pullups, and i was utterly terrified. The entire 6 months i tried to stick with my training schedule. sometimes i didn’t succeed, but in the end i got results that made me happy. when i finally worked myself up to running 5 miles, i ran a minimum of 5 miles every other day. when i wasn’t running, i was working on my calisthenics… i did 1 round of 20 burpees-ups, 30 burpees, 100 crunches, 60 pushups, 50 squats, 50 lunges, and 30 supported pullups. Then, if i hadn’t run earlier that day, i did it all again. by the day before the Tough Mudder, i could do pullups, had run 10 miles a week ago, and actually felt confident that i had done everything i could to get my body in shape. i’m not a fast runner, but i didn’t need to be. it was the cardio fitness i wanted. i couldn’t do a million pullups, but i didn’t have to. i just needed enough upper body strength to pull myself over an obstacle one at a time. the day before the race, i did nothing except drink 96 ozs water and freak out. when my husband first pointed out the Tough Mudder race, i flatly told him that i would never be able to do that…. and there i was, about to do that. 

The Morning Of

That morning, my alarm was set for 6, but i was wide-ass-awake by 5. i planned my wake up time so i’d have plenty of time to eat, drink coffee, and get dressed in a leisurely fashion. there’s nothing worse than being terrified AND in a rush. i packed dates in a belt pack because I am a vegan, and i heard they’d have energy snacks along the way, but wasn’t sure what kind. i didn’t want to introduce dairy into my diet while i was under that kind of stress, and end up making myself sick. i dressed in moisture wicking under-shorts, tight yoga pants, and a moisture wicking tank top. (a sports bra is a given) i wore my Merrell Pace Gloves, the shoes i bought a year and 2 months ago when i began my fitness journey by running. i knew that whatever pair of shoes i wore in the Mudder would be destroyed, and since i got those shoes i’ve clocked in over 400 miles. They were falling apart, and it was time to retire them. i figured it would be a fitting send-off for the shoes i have loved so much, and for the shoes that began it all.

Upon Arrival

when we got there, i was jittery and nervous. i had never seen so many fit people in one place in my life… it was awesome. they wrote my number on my forehead and my arm, and i pinned my number to my waist. the only thing i forgot to do was put sunblock on. i accepted the fact that i would be burnt to a crisp by the end of the event, and moved on. i peed for the umpteenth time, i took nervous sips of water. i stretched, and made jokes, and bounced on the balls of my feet. we were the last heat of the entire event, so we were pretty special… we got to sing the national anthem instead of just listen to it, and my favorite quote of the day was said: “you are the Sunday mudders. you don’t need any time to rest. you’re going to go to work on Monday bloody, muddy, and drunk. you’re going to put your feet up on the desk, and ask your boss for a raise.”

The Race

the race…. well, it was actually pretty awesome. our track was 11 miles long and had 18 mapped obstacles, with a few surprise obstacles thrown in. when i examined the map before hand, i had picked 4 obstacles i would skip over. i am not a strong swimmer because i can’t go underwater without holding my nose. i can swim, but if i’m underwater, i need a hand free to plug my nose. i decided beforehand that all the obstacles involving tight spaces and water immersion weren’t for me, and there were 4 of them. in the end, they were do-able. only 2 obstacles proved themselves too tough for me to handle. the first was Dark Lightening. that’s basically a crawlspace filled with several inches of water and hanging electrical wires. our team consisted of 3 women and 3 men, and all the women decided to bypass that obstacle. upon seeing the faces of the men as they exited this obstacle, we were very, very happy we did. there isn’t a single shred of regret in my mind for having bypassed it, because those dudes were pissed off and miserable. getting repeatedly shocked while crawling through water in a dark crawlspace? no thanks. i’m here for fun-torture, not torture-torture. 😉 the other obstacle i skipped was the Berlin Walls. i didn’t skip it because i didn’t want to do it… i skipped it because i physically couldn’t do it. the walls were 12 feet tall with no handholds, and by the time our group got to it, they were so slimy and muddy that i would say over 75% of the mudders in our heat skipped them over as well. only 2 of our group successfully completed that obstacle. i actually did 3 of the other obstacles i initially said i wouldn’t. mostly it was so i could get in the water to wash the mud off. in one obstacle, the Boa Constrictor, our teamwork was at it’s best. in the Mudder you can go in with a team, but once you pass the starting line, the whole group is a team, and you don’t leave anybody behind. without a teammate to pull me out of the Constrictor, i don’t know if i could have pulled myself out because it was so slippery and tight. the rather large and muscley guy who went in behind me actually got stuck…. i heard him begin to get panicky saying “oh shit, i’m stuck. i didn’t know i was claustrophobic until now…” i told him that if he promised not to pull my shoe off, i’d shove my leg down in there and pull him out. i braced one foot on the edge of the tube and thanked every single squat i had done over the last 6 months as i pulled this very large dude out of the pipes. when he finally got out he said “thank you so much, you’re my hero.” 🙂 i’m not gonna lie, that made me feel pretty good. throughout the course of the event i was being pulled up and out by many different people whose faces i will never remember, and did the same for others. it was definitely an experience for the books. (or the blog!) my mantra for the day was “keep breathing, and keep moving forward”. it worked pretty well.

The Conclusion

it’s been less than 24 hours since i crossed the finish line of my first Tough Mudder, and my husband has already signed us up for the next one… 8 months from now. i am bruised (i bruise easily, so this isn’t a surprise) i am exhausted and sore, but i feel good about what i accomplished. i retired my favorite pair of running shoes by donating them to a good cause, i finished an event i never thought i would be able to.

My Advice

jog. you only have to work up to 5 miles at a slow pace, but you’ll be thankful for the cardio during the Mudder.
help others, and allow yourself to be helped. it really is a team sport.
keep breathing, and keep moving forward. that’s half the game in the harder obstacles. they suck, but you’ll finish as long as you keep moving forward. you can even skip some obstacles, and as long as you keep moving forward, you’ll still finish.
drink the water, eat the snacks. even if you don’t quite feel it, just eat a little and take a few sips of water at least. on my Mudder course, there were Cliff Builder Bars and Cliff Energy Chews. they were fantastic. there were also bananas, which i decided to pass on. shortly after passing on the bananas, i got hungry. thankfully i brought some dates along in a belt pack. i wrapped them all individually in saran wrap, bagged 3 in one snack baggy, 3 in another snack baggy, then double bagged those together. then put another ziplock baggy over them. i got them out around mile 8 and they were dry and fresh as they were when i wrapped them the night before. i only ate one, then passed the rest out to my fellow mudders to keep us going. it was fantastic… 130 calories per medjool date, nature’s little energy pack. also, i don’t ever want to forget the grateful look of the guy who lost his shoes on the course when i gave him a date. i’m pretty sure i was carried over the finish line by my teammates and a date. i will do it the next time as well.

My Favorite Obstacle: Just the Tip. i didn’t expect to make it across that one, but i did.
My Least Favorite Obstacle: Mud Mile. it didn’t even occur to me to worry about this one, but it was awful. the hills were over 6 feet high, and a minimum of 3 feet of mud in the bottom. we slid everywhere, got completely covered in mud, and the majority of my bruises were gotten by sliding uncontrolled down the other side. that was the most miserable of all the obstacles, and had they had one more hill than they did, i may have climbed out the side and said FUCK IT.
Honorable Mention: the Arctic Enema. i knew it was going to be awful. i knew my muscles would seize, my breath would catch, and my mouth would curse. what i didn’t expect was for my lower extremities to hurt so goddamn much. my legs were numb, but my lady parts fucking froze. i was very, very, veryveryvery glad i was not a dude when i got out of that one. to the volunteer who stuck that hand out at me on the other side to pull me out: THANK YOU. without that hand of salvation waving in my face, i may have just stood there and cursed until i turned into a meat popsicle.

and that’s that. i’m a 31 year old mother of 2, and i just completed my first Tough Mudder.

How Do you Get Back Into It?

here’s a question for you: How do you rev yourself back up for your workouts when you’re in the middle of a slump?

here’s my answer: you don’t. for the past 2 days i’ve felt like i have lead bricks strapped to the bottom of my feet. my toe and my knees are achy. my arms feel weak. my head is fuzzy. i don’t want to work out. but i have to. so here’s my answer…. you don’t. you just get the fuck up and DO IT. that’s how i deal with a slump. yesterday i did my minimum workout. today i woke up feeling just as shitty, but said to myself “you might feel like crap, but you will do your regular work out. you have to.” so i did. i feel a little better now, but still pretty craptastic. i figure i’ll just keep doing my workouts until i don’t feel craptastic anymore. eventually i’ll find myself on an upswing, and it will be glorious. at least i hope so.

sheesh.

if you’ll excuse me, now that i’m completely exhausted, i have a shit-ton of house work to do.

huzzah.

1 Step Forward, 5 Steps Back.

where is Spring? where is the warm weather, and the fitness motivation??? WHERE?!?! I am so tired of being cold. also, i am tired of being out of shape. the last several weeks, i’ve done what i can to get back up to fitness…. but something ALWAYS happens. one week, we all fell victim to the plague. (hacking chest cold plus sinus fun) another week we went on vacation. another week, it snowed so goddamn much i didn’t leave my house for days. as for our vacation…sadly, it wasn’t the FUN kind of vacation, it was the kind where the temperatures were 20 degrees lower than they promised, and we were all so cold we could barely move, let alone exercise. (i even brought my jump rope, but never got it out of my bag)

i’m trying to get back into the swing of things. i’m going to kenpo classes more often (been needing to do that anyways. it’ll get even better when i have some new material to work on) and when i can’t make it to a class, i workout at home. but still. 20 minutes of calisthenics, and i’m bushed. my husband says “it doesn’t wear me out that much… but my normal workout is twice that long.” gee, thanks for making me feel even more inadequate than i already do! it’s not his fault… he was just making conversation, and i tend to take things a little too personally as well as being a little too hard on myself.

i’d like to some day feel like i’m in shape… not just in shape for the average 30 year old housewife, but in shape in general. i don’t want to be a professional athlete, but i’d like to be at least in the middle of the standards for in shape young women. right now, i am not. i am in better shape than people who don’t exercise, but for people who do… i’m on the bottom tier. i hate that. it pisses me off. the worst part, is that there is nobody to blame but myself. i’ve been running for over a year, but haven’t improved because i can’t keep a steady schedule. i’ve been doing pushups for a while, but haven’t improved in them because i just don’t do them enough. i’m my own worst enemy… i’m frustrated. i’m trying, but i’m not trying hard enough.

i wish it would stop fucking snowing.

Sent from the iPad of me.

Vegan Sour Cream

One of my favorite things to eat are burritos and quesadillas. I don’t exactly follow the “authentic” recipe (Hello, Vegan!) but what I make tastes damn good. One thing I love is sour cream. I could eat that shit with a spoon in my pre-Vegan days. Fortunately for me, all is not lost. There IS an excellent substitute. Here is is:

Vegan Sour Cream

  • 1 block Extra Firm Silken Tofu
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsps Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Light Tasting Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Salt, or to taste

Blend together until it has the texture of…. Sour Cream. Enjoy!

Sent from the iPad of Nobody.

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