Lose Wisdom, Gain Wisdom

I’m a changed woman… Changed in the sense that I have four less teeth than I did one week ago. I didn’t like them anyways. But seriously, wisdom tooth extraction is not that great of a time unless you love painkillers and Netflix. I have the attention span of a fly and the energy of a small child (wicked bursts followed by leave me alone and let me lay here by myself in silence) so you could say the whole being trapped in my apartment was not my thing. Which is probably why I wound up getting a dog.

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There’s my new baby in all of her underbite glory! 1.5 and hailing from adopt-a-dog in Armonk, New York, she was surrendered by her family and rescued by us. Don’t fret, I wasn’t hopped up on a Percocet and wobbling down the stairs to take her for a float walk- I waited until the pain basically subsided and I was clear headed enough to know that we could handle this pup in our life. I would also like to clarify that I’ve been thinking about adopting her for over a month and I had previously visited her before the adoption process. Adopting a dog is like adopting a child but with more hair and no opposable thumbs… It’s a ton of work! How do I know this? Because I have raised a puppy previously!

Truth talk: when I was 21 and had just graduated college the only thing I wanted was a puggle… Yes, if it has the face only a mother can love AND has an underbite, DEAL BREAKER, I will probably love it. Well, I got him, Hudson. An awesome pooch! By the time he was 1.5 I was offered my job and made the plunge to move my whole life to Long Island. Hud came with but the adjustment wasn’t easy for him. For one, Hudson’s “dad” and I had just broken up and the responsibility for raising a dog doubled for me in his absence. I had never realized how much work a dog would be for a single parent- which makes me SUPER appreciative towards all the single parents out there doing their best to raise their children…I couldn’t do it with a dog! Another issue was the move in general- new location, new environment and Hudson wasn’t having it. And finally- I had a brand new job that I wanted to pour my heart and soul into, and by heart and soul I mean over 12 hour workdays. That’s not fair with a dog- it just isn’t! I’m fortunate enough to tell you that my mom offered to take care of him until my life was situated… And then she fell in love. It was a relief that she did because my life was so overwhelming that having him alone didn’t fit into my aspirations at the time. I learned the hard way that having a dog is a real life choice… Not a trend.

Flash forward five years later and my life is more settled, comfortable, and overall confident. I can leave work at a reasonable hour and finish what I’m doing right from the comforts of my own home. I have a supportive partner that is also right by my side to help. I’m also not 21. And- Tilly, our pup, is not a puppy. As cute as puppies are, they are babies and need a ton of work to make an awesome dog. Our girl is 1.5 and appears to be trained on commands and within the house. So if you do choose to get a dog, think about the older ones!

Will your life be different with a dog? Absolutely. Gone are the days of living completely selfishly (which is not a bad thing either so don’t give it up if you don’t want to). But any dog owner will tell you that the joys of having a dog far outweigh the challenges- unconditional love, hello! Tilly will always be more excited to see John when he walks in the door than I could ever muster up!

You could say that this week was very exciting in our household and that within a seven day window I have both lost and gained wisdom and I love it. Well, maybe not the pulling of the teeth thing. Today is a beautiful day and I’m feeling wonderful, and full of life (and amoxicillin for these stupid teeth). And with that we are off to take a walk and hit up the park- enjoy our life from the perspective of our new family member.

Peace, love, and dogs!

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Teeth Ruin Everything

If you’re wondering why I’m so quiet, it’s because speaking is impossible at the moment. I’m out of commission with an infection- wisdom teeth to be removed within the week. On a positive note, any excuse to eat ice cream is good… Pistachio for lunch, I’m thinking peanut butter for dinner. Maybe when I’m on less Vicodin I will write about my recent yoga experiences! This is coming from a person who had to take Vicodin one time for a surgery, and then in fear, dumped the rest. This week I got to take a class with one of my favorite people, and recent yoga school graduate, Jess. I was so fortunate to attend her first official class! Here’s to her accomplishments and many more in the future! Particularly her ability to make me reflect on truth and perception. But more on that later!

For now, I’m going to finish painting my nails, maybe pass out, and I can only hope that when I wake up they look as good as I think they do in this moment.

Wanderlust Festival

wan·der·lust
ˈwändərˌləst/
noun
a strong desire to travel.
“a man consumed by wanderlust”

On Saturday, September 13, Jess and I packed up our yoga mats and headed out to board a train to Brooklyn’s Wanderlust Festival.

Wanderlust 108 is a mindful triathlon, combining a 5k run, an inspirational meditation, and a massive outdoor yoga class.
Gather your friends for a day of live music, mindful movement, healthy food, retro yard games and a few surprises.

– See more at: http://brooklyn.wanderlustfestival.com/about-wanderlust-108#sthash.ekzRxGIv.dpuf

Tickets ranged from FREE if you skipped the 5k and the gift bag to $40 to have the full experience to $80 if you forgot to sign up when you were supposed to… like I did. Yep, I waited until the last minute again so I signed up for a free ticket the night before and figured I could still enjoy my day in Brooklyn.

The morning of did not start out as intended as I realized, while passing our stop, that we passed our stop. Deep yogi breath, please. Grant me the serenity to not go ham on a stranger. One hour out of our way later and we stepped into a new world, one with brownstones and trees lining the streets- Toto, we weren’t in the south shore of Long Island anymore. Follow the yellow brick road, just kidding, follow the lulu lemon gear.

When we arrived at the pearly black gates of prospect park we were amazed to find that Brooklyn is actually much nicer than we anticipated. People from Long Island rarely go OTB (over the bridge) so it was a nice change of scenery. Though I had my sneakers in my backpack I figured I would skip the run and wander around the shops by myself until Jess was done. She would have none of that…Needless to say I found myself running next to Jess for the 5k. Can’t keep me down!

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Though she’s not a runner herself she’s a bikram regular and a yoga instructor- girls got strength both mentally and physically. Though she says she felt muscles she never feels in yoga and that she was sore, I don’t buy it. She rocked the run and then we meandered around yuppies, and puppies, and people dancing with hoola hoops for a few hours.

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The best thing about festivals… Ok, maybe not for you, but I love free stuff. I can’t help it- you are going to give me headphones that say Kashi on the side of them, I’m going to take it. You want me to try your new flavor of Zico , fine. You want me to eat you densely packed protein Greek frozen yogurt, no prob, bob. I will take this off of your hands. We even waited in line for over one hour for a free yoga towel for your mat from Manduka. All we had to do was SMILE:

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And lose an hour of our lives… But that’s neither here nor there.

Then the time came for yoga. And the sky opened up. A light drizzle. Continued light drizzle. Slipping on my mat. A densely packed drizzle… Now it’s just rain. And we continued to practice.

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A new bucket list item: practice yoga in the rain. Check. And yes it was a nice life experience, especially dancing in the rain afterwards, but let’s not be cutesy for a second- it was cold! The park cleared out faster than a college party after they kick the keg. Back to the train… This time the right one.

As we headed home, shivering, we were smiling and exhausted. It was a great day. Making your practice, whether it’s running, yoga, whatever, a part of your social life makes it an even better experience. Find something that brings you joy in life and figure out how to never stop loving it.

Love Thighself

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Muahaha. My cousin posted this online and I couldn’t help but to put it on here. Wouldn’t it be amazing if diddly squats worked half as well as full squats, body weight squats, jump squats, and many other evil squat variations that exist in the world, a la here. I would do diddly squats all the damn time. But it just doesn’t work like that, now does it?!

This post comes at an interesting time considering last night I dreamt that I had liposuction on my knees… Then woke up and I didn’t… Disappointed. But whatever. One conversation I have very frequently with my female friends goes something like this- I don’t look like I did in my early twenties. And I wish I appreciated it then. I said something like this because the conversation can never truly be replicated due to its vapid nature, but you get the point. We are always so focused on what was, rather than what is. AND to make matters worse, we never appreciate what we got ’till it’s gone. I have a few theories as to why, but for years I have been trying to praise myself for what I can do instead of remembering what I never had to do (except munch on some bagels every day for breakfast and eat fries every day for lunch) to have a size four frame that no longer exists. Those were the days.

Now that I know the truth, that I will only truly appreciate my skin, hair, figure, until years after I regularly bashed it, I need to make it my mission (and maybe you should to?) to shut the you know what up. And make a promise with myself to appreciate things like the gentle lines developing around my eyes, or as john calls them , my happiness lines. Thanks, babe. You must be super happy. Because getting older is the inevitable, and as my mom says, it’s much better than the alternative. If you can’t figure out the alternative it means being dead. I’ll pass. I’ll get older. So here’s to getting older and eating better and working a little bit harder. And here’s to being able to say that at 2 months shy of 27, I am in such better shape than I ever was at 22, 18, 16, and every age in between.

Lupus and Travel

I recently made a vow with myself to stop sleeping with my Ipad and cell phone on my nightstand. It all started with these scenarios that maybe you are familiar with as well:

  • you wake up to find out (always weeks later) that you responded to multiple texts *while sleeping- not that you will remember sleep-confirming to that birthday party.
  • and/or looked at your messages to fall back asleep and never acknowledge the text message again. Sorry I never responded… 
  • and/or look at your messages and become in a state of panic/anxiety because WHY DID I NEED TO CHECK MY WORK E-MAIL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?

It’s a sickness, an absolute addiction, and sickness that many of us suffer from… or am I alone on this one? Please tell me I’m not alone on this on.

In an effort to end example un,du, and trois above, I have relocated my drug of choice (just to be clear I’m talking about an Ipad and cell phone…) to across the room and I have made sure they are on silent. Best part about it?

  • No more sleep-texting 
  • No more reading/sleep ignoring
  • No more middle of the night technology induced anxiety

and my personal favorite part- waking up to social media alerts. I’m such a sucker for a good message and waking up to a question from a reader, known as a.r., made my whole morning:

I came across your blog when I googled something like “birthright Israel with chronic disease”, so I have to ask, were you able to do everything? Did they let you sit out if you couldn’t?

I have a type of arthritis and I’ve been putting off birthright for a while now. I’m not in remission but I’m pretty stable at the moment, and I’ve traveled quite a bit. but group trips make me nervous – i’m not “out” (no one really knows I have arthritis), and I’m worried about things like the hiking (mostly Masada), and other activities. Like you mentioned in one of your posts, the fatigue hits me too. Did you find them accommodating to you? Were you able to participate in everything?

thanks 🙂

Riddle me this:

HOW IN MY ONE YEAR OF BLOGGING HAVE I NOT MADE A POST ABOUT TRAVELING WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS?

Answer: I’m really not sure. So, here I am to address A.R. and their question!

Dear A.R.,

Let me start off by thanking you for your thoughtful question and I hope I can help to ease some of your concerns. I’m thrilled to see that you love to travel- life can seem overwhelming when living with a chronic disease. I’m not here to sugarcoat life with a disease either- I started to write a response and I erased an entire paragraph… did I really just say “now I live my life to the fullest.” That’s half true and half untrue. I wish I did not have a disease that can feel debilitating and limiting- no laying out in the sun, no staying up to all hours, if I do too much activity, I might have a flare. blah blah blah. There is no easy way to say it, but let’s be real- that sucks. I remember when travel was a thoughtless process and I took my health for granted. Now I have to travel smart:

  • Do I have my medicine?
  • Am I able to get my medicine if I forget it?
  • Do I have insurance that will cover overseas expenses if necessary?
  • What if I get sick?

I have asked these questions to myself each time I plan for another trip as I’m sure is the reality for many living with an illness. But! I still travel. And! I now appreciate the fact that I am breathing, walking, living, and fortunate enough to experience this amazing world. Know thyself, right? Meaning, I have learned my limits while still appreciating what the world has to offer- especially Israel, a place that I too pushed off for far too long.

Israel is bikram studio level hot- for those of you that don’t speak sweat, I’m talking 105 degrees hot. And the sun is excruciatingly sunny (I couldn’t think of a better description, deal with it), no hyperbole. I would love to think of more similes to further explain the sun to heat ratio but I think you get the picture. And to do some basic math for you: 

Lupus + Sun = ughhhhhhhhh*

http://www.lupus.org/answers/entry/how-lupus-affects-skin

So I packed a ton of sun block. Like two extra bottles worth. And I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. And on a few occasions when we sat by a pool, I sat in a shaded area. That’s the reality of my disease. We also did more physical activity on extremely limited amounts of sleep every.single.day. BUT I love being active. I can see Israel being a very challenging trip for a person that is inactive. I know it can be difficult for a person living with pain to workout, believe me, I experience lupus as though I have rheumatoid arthritis. There are times making a fist is excruciating and on most days a dull ache in my joints is the norm. I would never suggest pushing yourself past your comfort zone, but I started to run after I found out that I was no longer in remission. I am a firm believer in living to the best of my ability and since I refuse to give up deliciously scrumptious foods, it was time to become active. Better now than never. Now, if you cannot participate in all activities, that’s fine too. There are additional people on the trips to be there for those that cannot do it all- a friend with severe asthma made the decision to meet us at the top of Masada by cable car (they have those!). At the end of the hike to the top we were given the option to take the cable car to the bottom or to hike to the bottom:

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I chose to hike to the bottom. And my legs were shaking, and I felt invincible. But I did it because I knew that I was physically able to- it was my choice. If I had felt sick or fatigued I would have chosen to take the cable car. Having the option made me feel safer as well.

Finally, I remember the feeling of not wanting people to know that I have a chronic illness- are they going to judge me? pity me? be overly cautious with me? pay any attention to me? I didn’t want any of that, particularly those sad, pitying, you have a disease, eyes. Please, not those! That being said, not sharing your illness with others is your choice, but it’s truly important that before you go on any big trip you let the travel organization know. Initially I was furious that they made me receive approval from my rheumatologist- am I a child, Israel? I’ve been dealing with this for ten years. But I get it- Not only is it their liability if something were to happen to you, but even more important is your health, well-being, and safety, and they can’t provide that for you if they don’t know what you may or may not need. 

I want to be loud and clear: My biggest regret in life would be to stop living for a disease that could kill me. Instead I believe in living smart. Emphasis on living. Because, in the words of Socrates-

The unexamined life is not worth living

 

 

ughhhhhhhhh* – fatigue, soreness, swelling, skin rashes

Step Right Up

Have you ever woken up feeling more appreciative than you have felt about life in a long time? Warning: That was me this morning, so, I suggest you stop reading if you despise the happiness of others. And then quickly find a therapist or a hobby because you have some stuff to straighten out. 

To be cliche, I have always felt like life is similar to a roller-coaster in that it’s thrilling, terrifying, exhilarating, and sometimes nauseating all at once. It’s because of the ups and downs, isn’t it? I am an emotional person and I have always been an emotional person, but I love feeling it all, making me receptive to the good as well as the bad. At times when I’m feeling particularly wallow-y, I imagine myself as an artist feeding off my own negativity to fuel whatever creation I’m currently working on. And I can use my occasional cynicism to truly appreciate the loveliness that surrounds me as well. So you could say that I kind of revel in the twists and the turns and the unpredictability of it all. And that’s what takes me to where I’ve been.

With the start of the school year approaching, I felt myself getting off the ride of summer and it was like this insane adrenaline high that was disappearing. I felt vacant and the end of summer began to feel like a never ending Sunday. Dramatic, I know. But it did- because I felt unprepared and sensitive and nervous…and full of irrational fears such as: What if I forgot how to teach?! dun…dun…dun…

And so as the first week approached and then passed I was able to get back into the swing of life and predictability. And closed-toe shoes. Which completely suck, by the way. I met my students, and gave hugs to work friends that I haven’t seen since June. It was so easy to remember why I chose this profession from the get-go and how powerful of a career teaching is. And just like that I climbed out of my hole of insecurities. And, clearly, I did not forget how to teach.

 

This morning as I did monotonous tasks such as laundry and grading, I thought over the weekend I just had. One with laughs, friends, as well as a volleyball tournament in memory of Michelle O’Neill, a young woman, only 24 1/2 when she lost her battle to cancer (http://monfoundation.org/). A full day event, we spent the entire day on the beach with the sun beating down on us. I had forgotten my umbrella and two hours into the day I recognized I was being foolish for sitting in the sun. A kind group of people offered me theirs and I spent the remainder of the day when we weren’t in the ocean or on the court hiding from the sun. Once a month I allow myself to get angry at lupus- that bitch. A friend asked me earnestly, what is lupus? I explained the disease. Embarrassed that I was explaining something I live with to a person that is also a cancer survivor on a day that was for a young girl that had lost her life to her battle. And I was humbled. Humbled by his question and a discussion on life and appreciating the one we have and how envying the life of another does nothing for anyone because we all have our ups and our downs. Every person has their own story. 

And on this Sunday, despite the day on the calendar telling me that it’s still summer, I walked outside to a strong sun and a cool fall breeze. I took in the air as I temporarily stepped away from my work to turn over the laundry. I’m so fortunate. 

 

Grinding

When the summer began to wind down, the last thing I felt like doing was stationing myself in front of a computer to write about life. If life is about living I wanted to make sure I was actually doing that in my fleeting hours of irresponsibility. Irresponsibility because I did not work at all this summer. And it was glorious. Side note: somewhere along the line I convinced myself that I am a workaholic and not working would be like not breathing. Impossible. That was what I believed until I didn’t work this summer. Turns out I can still breath.

So in my final few weeks I was determined to do a lot of running- I mentioned in my last post that I ran four miles. Oh, was that overshadowed by my whining that I didn’t see James Franco? Sorry. Four miles might not seem like much of anything considering in my heyday I was doing that each day. Now…times have changed. As I slept in during the long days of irresponsibility, I dreaded physical activity. I was pushing it most days with two miles runs, or I would ride my bike six miles, do a 1.5 miles beach run, ride my bike home and call it a day. Three mile days were few and far between until the past two weeks when I finally acknowledged how lazy I have become. As I mentioned before, it turns out that I’m marvelous at watching every season and episode of any Real Housewives. Indiscriminately.

I forced myself up and out, riding my bike to the gym on days it was too hot to run outside, I took my bike everywhere I needed to go, and I stopped thinking I can’t. Because I have run that much and more. And before I could put in the distance I started with the basics. No excuses. And it was one day as I was riding my bike, blasting some version of Calvin Harris / Avicii something or another that it clicked in my head- today I did not think about going for a run. I just did it. And it took one whole year, but it happened. The day has finally arrived where I workout because it’s what I do and not because I require it of myself. And it feels damn good.

And today I went back to my daily grind and into my fifth year of teaching. I went back to the mornings of fighting with John for mirror space before the sun is out. Back to the days of responsibility- in my job and for myself. And now that the days of irresponsibility are over I hope that stays true. I hope I continue to hold myself accountable and I hope I continue to remember that it always feels worth it after the workout is over. Even when you swear you are going to die and ice cream seems like the only cure in this harsh, harsh world we live in.

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