29 October 2012

Weekend Roundup! 10/27-10/28

The past weekend, like every weekend in October, was a flurry of activity and I wasn't home nearly as much as I'd have liked to be (I have numerous unfinished/unstarted around-the-house projects).  Saturday's test screening of "Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent" went really well; I have no idea how many people attended, but the turn out seemed good.  The previous night several of us took the film's producer out on the town (dinner, drinks, and silliness...), which was supremely fun especially since most of us are homebodies and Friday nights are generally much more low key.  Needless to say, I spent the rest of Saturday (post-screening) napping and recovering.

My cellphone was dead the entire weekend, which was a mixed blessing.  I have to say... it was pretty relaxing!  Thankfully I can make phone calls via Google from my laptop, so I was able to make plans with R. on Sunday for lunch and shopping... as well as order a veggie pizza from Magpie's on Saturday because I was too exhausted to cook.  The dogs may or may not have had a piece of pizza each...  (I picked off the onions for them.)

I scored some great buy's at Betty Blue's Junk Shop on Sunday.  A pale ice blue Glasbake dish with lid for only $9, a nice small/medium sized Federal glass bowl, three vintage/repro skirts for work, a vintage sweater clip with mink "powder puffs" (not sure how else to describe them...), and a vintage plastic & brass floral brooch with rhinestone accents.  I also won an eBay auction on Sunday for a really cute aqua & white cotton gingham 1950s day dress.  It's missing a few buttons, but cards of vintage buttons are easy to find on Etsy & eBay.

Tonight I am running Day One/Week Four of C25K and am feeling woefully unprepared.  I only ran two days last week and the first day of a new week is always the most daunting.  I will probably be running at a slower pace during the running portions, but I am determined to complete this step and continue on.  And not keel over from an asthma attack, hopefully!  Wish me luck!

Update: I just read the regimen for Week Four and I am pretty sure it is going to almost kill me.  My anxiety just went through the roof...

26 October 2012

On Being Astounded

A sentiment that I often hear in my work in dog rescue is that it is so shocking what people can do to an animal:  starving them, physically abusing them, dumping them in the middle of nowhere to die, etc.

But what I find so inspiring is how so many people are willing to extend their hearts, homes, time, and efforts to a suffering animal.  I have to believe the good people outnumber the cruel and careless; every day I see that truth illustrated.  For every one animal that needs help, there are dozens of people willing to do whatever is in their capacity to do, to help.  Help them find a home, a save haven, someone willing to take them into their homes and care for them until they can find a home of their own.  It's a big deal to welcome a strange animal into your home and family.

So often I feel overwhelmed and consider giving up; not on life, but on continuing my work in rescuing dogs.  It's endless, it's so emotionally draining, and it feels thankless so much of the time.  No one gives you accolades for cleaning up other people's "messes."  But at the end of the day, the week, and the month... I am so glad to be doing what I do.  I see compassion working firsthand.  I see dogs that others thought were hopeless or doomed grow into amazing and well balanced companions.  I see other people's trash become treasured family members.

It's hard, it's unrelenting, but I could not imagine my life apart from these dogs.

23 October 2012

Daily Gratitude - 23 October, 2012

I haven't done a posting of five things I am grateful for right now in quite a while... so it's about time to put it down in writing instead of musing to myself throughout the day.  I find it beneficial to take a moment to stop, reflect, and recognize time simple things we have to be thankful for each and every day.

#1 - I am learning to control my newly diagnosed asthma and still continue my fitness journey alongside my dearest darling friend R.  :)

#2 - I am back to cooking more of my meals from scratch (which is such a stress-reducer for me!) and am not eating emotionally/compulsively.  Getting weighed at the doctor's office last Friday was a real eye-opener; it makes me even more determined to take control of my eating and exercising habits.

#3 - Since Lemons passing, my home has had a new sense of calm that I did not expect.  My friends who have visited in the past few days have all remarked upon it.  I had not realized how much stress his being sick had put on Lola Lulu and Gatsby.  I know it was hard on me, but seeing them visibly happier and more relaxed is proving to be a much-needed succor while I am still grieving the loss of Lemons from our lives.

#4 - My favourite mid-morning snack (I tend to eat a light breakfast around 6:30am and my lunch hour doesn't begin until 11:30am) is Yoplait fat free Greek yogurt, honey vanilla flavour.  It's only 100 calories, 0g fat, 8g protein, only 12g sugar, and 80mg sodium!  The coconut (which contains actual flakes of coconut!) is delicious as well, but I ate it so frequently that I'm a little burned out on it for time being.  I believe it is also available in blueberry and strawberry.

#5 - Every day I am more and more thankful that I have such an amazing, compassionate, and thoroughly enriching group of friends, who have over the approximately two years I have lived in Tucson become my family.  I love you all!

Catching Up

So many things have happened during the past week or so, that I haven't had the time or the energy to put my experiences into writing.  Some things I am not completely ready to talk about, yet.

Last Wednesday, October 17th, I lost my beloved 10 year old English pointer Jack Lemon (fondly referred to as simply "Lemons").  I chose to adopt him last June knowing that he had terminal hemangiosarcoma and there was no way of knowing how much or how little time he had left.

 Two weeks ago I began the Couch to 5K training program with my friend R.  The first time I ran, I had an extremely difficult time breathing afterward.  For several hours.  I chalked it up to being woefully out of shape.  I had two other severe reactions post-run, where I could not take a full breath without wheezing for hours and usually woke up coughing still the next morning.  I made a doctor's appointment to be checked out for asthma on the 31st, but last Friday after three days of shortness of breath and feeling like my chest was being internally crushed (and bruised) I missed work to go to an urgent care center. 

I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma that was further complicated by my allergies.  Basically when I ran, my lungs opened up more fully, taking in more pollen and causing a severe histamine reaction on top of the asthmatic inflammation and bronchial spasms.  I'm on three more medications now (for a grand total of four, more about that later...).  So far, so good on this regimen.  I finished Day Three of Week Two after a six day lay off.  Between losing Lemons and the doctor's two days mandatory rest from physical exertion, I felt pretty rusty last night, but I did it anyway which felt great.

Today I biked the three miles to work and will bike home stopping about halfway to go to the bank.  I used my inhaler before and after the morning's ride, but I feel okay and only have coughed a little bit.  I made a point of giving myself ample time to get to work so I wouldn't have to rush.  It took a little longer than usual, but to me it's not a race.  As long as I get to work on time and physically feel good, that's what is most important.

Last Saturday was the first big event for my non-profit dog rescue, Arizona Bird Dog Rescue.  You can read more about it here.  There are quite a few more photos on our Facebook page, which you can find by clicking the big chocolate coloured dog logo on the right-hand sidebar of this blog.

Next Saturday is another big dog-related event here in Tucson: the special test screening of the unreleased documentary "Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent" which we will be attending to show our support of the film and both my own & my rescue's opposition to breed specific legislation (aka, BSL).  You can read more about the invitation only event and my stance on BSL on my rescue blog here.

16 October 2012

C25K - Day Two/Week Two!

Whew!  Done!  I had to use Google Maps to calculate the distance I ran/walked in 21 minutes... 1.5 miles!  Which equals a 14 minute mile.  I'm not sure how far R. and I ran on our first day training, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't have traveled a mile in 14 minutes on my own to feet at that point.

The best part is that Gatsby is a GREAT running partner!  Well, aside from wanting to stop to lift his leg every minute or two.  Gotta love boy dogs.  Granted, Gats power-walked while I jogged, but he was still very easy for me to walk and jog with tonight.  What a relief after the bad run I had with Lola on Sunday!

Overall I am proud of myself for going out and completing today's regimen.  Better late than never, right?  I still miss running with R., though.  Gatsby was really fun to work out with and I will definitely continue jogging with him, but he's not much of a conversationalist and his own encouragement is a sideways grin over his shoulder every so often.

Again, I am experiencing my chest feeling constricted and I keep coughing.  If I try to take a deep breath, I only wheeze and then can't stop coughing spasmodically... I think I really do need to make a doctor's appointment.  Pretty sure this is another possible asthma attack.

Running Melodrama

Completing Day Three and Week One felt like a justified reason for celebration... the hardest part of the journey was over, right?  That's what I thought last Friday after running with R. downtown and enjoying amazing drinks & food at Elliott's afterward.

Saturday wasn't truly an "off day" since I clocked 3 miles walking (with Gatsby, to the Farmer's market and then home) and 3 more miles biking (downtown to meet R. & D. at Tucson Meet Yourself).

Sunday was hot (almost 90 F), sunny, and I really was not feeling it but R. bullied/charmed/convinced me to get my butt out of the house.  I suggested bringing Lola Lulu with us since I had run with her in the past and that seemed to really help her fearful reactivity in public. The run started off with my shins aching and I felt pretty rusty.  Lola was also not on her best walking behavior and I was getting tired a lot more quickly by trying to keep her focused and not underfoot.  It wasn't the best workout we've had but I was finally starting to find my groove when a guy standing behind a car startled Lola, who bolted and ran across my path tripping me.  I went down hard and landed on my right knee (which I had scraped open the night before after laying my bike down by taking the turn into my driveway too sharply).  Ouch.  Big time.  We only had 30 more seconds of jogging to do, so after walking a block or so (and having rolled my capris up over my knees so they didn't rub on my wounds)... we finished our run, damnit!  In fact, we ran an extra 30 seconds just to do it.  Then we walked back to my house so I could clean and dress my knees.

We agreed to take Monday off so my knee could heal a little, but R. did Day Two/Week Two by herself.  Today I was horrifically hung over after an unplanned extended cocktail hour (with excellent live jazz) at Elliott's, so I chose not to run after work (even though the constant threat of vomiting had been replaced by a splitting headache).  So again, R. did it without me and furthermore accused me of giving up.  Which isn't remotely true.  The real slap in the face was the bragging on Facebook that she'd completed Week Two (even though she didn't follow the C25K program and did it in all in three days with no rests).

I no longer feel like I have a partner on this journey and that really sucks.  

There is a reason the program is designed to run one day then rest a day (even though on "off" days I still bike, walk the dogs, do yoga, etc. but the point is that I do different forms of exercise).  Running everyday for three days straight then not running for 3 or 4 days doesn't work for me.  Firstly, I inherited some less-than-ideal knees from my grandmother and am trying to strengthen them gradually so that I don't have the painful knee problems she has experienced later in life.  I also had shin splints about 3 months ago and am not eager to repeat that any time soon.  Thirdly, I think I may have had two post-run asthma attacks since we started.  Day One I didn't think anything of it... I'm pretty out of shape, so a tight chest and shortness of breath was to be expected.  However, it lasted for several hours and I was raspy & unable to take a full breath for the duration.  I've never had asthma in the past, so I'm not sure what an asthma attack feels like, but the second time it happened after what felt like a fairly easy workout and again lasted for a few hours until I could breathe normally again. So yes, I am a "wuss" who would like to alternate running days with more low-impact, less strenuous exercise until I get a bit more fit (for the sake of my knees and shins) and get in to see a doctor about the painful chest tightening & inability to breath normally post-workout.

The real reason I feel angry is that I feel hurt that R. is doing it without me and completing the work outs faster than I am.  I know it's not a competition, but I still feel left behind in the dust like a loser. She started a day before me to begin with and re-did Day One so that we could start C25K together.

My new sports watch (with stopwatch feature) will arrive on Thursday, but for tonight I have a downloaded stopwatch app on my not-so-smart-phone.

Now that my hangover has mostly worn off, I'm going to try taking Gatsby out with me to complete Day Two of Week Two.  Wish us luck!

11 October 2012

Reflecting on Day Two of C25K, the Day After

I had every intention of blogging about my experience with Day Two of C25K, but honestly it was pretty anticlimactic.  It was remarkably painless and dare I say it... easy?  So easy, in fact, that R. and I are going to do Day Three TODAY instead of skipping a day.  Then to celebrate working out for two weeks straight and finishing Week One of C25K, we're celebrating after our downtown run at Elliott's On Congress.

While it may not warrant the title of this post, I did (and still do) find it astonishing how quickly my body is getting used to this level of activity (which I know is modest) and yesterday I actually felt as if I'd found a sort of coordinated rhythm instead of my accustomed "I-am-not-a-runner" awkwardly lurching gait.  Did I posses latent athleticism underneath my chubby exterior??

I'll try to be a little more interesting and introspective later... today my head feels like it's been stuffed with wool and my allergies are going absolutely ballistic despite medication.  I am leaving work early today for a doctor's appointment (more about that, later) and then heading home before meeting R. downtown for Day Three.

Tootle-loo!  (Is that how that is even spelled?  I have no idea.)

08 October 2012

Couch To 5K - Day One!

You know the trite but true saying, "today is the first day of the rest of your life?"  I don't think I have ever felt that idiom as viscerally as I do right now.  From my rasping lungs to my only somewhat aching muscles (it's amazing how that extra time walking afterward helped my poor burning shins calm down to a dull warm throb and then to almost nothing).

The best part is the sense of accomplishment I feel for having done it.  Correction: for R. making me finish it instead of wussing out and just walking the last 60 second long jogging period.  I jogged it, I 100% did it, and yes I am proud of myself.

The second best part was during the first 60 second jog when R. said, "I need a sports bra for the booty," and I almost tripped from laughing so hard.  I couldn't get that sentiment out of my head every time we jogged and various parts of my anatomy bounced violently.

Guess what?  We're going to do it again on Wednesday!  Tomorrow I will stick to walking the dogs a couple miles paired with yoga.

That's all I have to report.  I survived and I'm going to do it again.

Over and out!

(I don't know why I said that, post-exercise delirium probably.)

Weekend Roundup - October 6th & 7th, 2012

"Weekend Roundup"  ...I like that!  It reminds me of the Wild West, which is where I live.  Although perhaps "wild" doesn't need to be capitalized anymore.  People don't rob banks, steal horses, and pin stars on their chests then shoot people in the streets in broad daylight anymore... or at least not most of the time.

"Roundup" also makes me think of Monsanto, but we won't even go there...  it's too impolite a topic and this is a happy post!

Last weekend was one of the best I have had since moving to Tucson after flipping a coin.  (I think I won that toss!)

Saturday morning my dear friend S. brought over my niece-dog Laney Lou and we (me and Lola Lulu) went for a nice walk around the U of A campus and mall.  Lola even walked past a marching band (playing a slow tune or warming up or something) and didn't completely freak out.  We stopped a couple of times to take photos and give Lola a chance to relax.  All the strangers, bicycles, and especially skateboards frighten her, but by the end of the walk she was doing pretty well and once we got home she got to run around in the yard with Laney and the boys (Gatsby & Lemons).

Laney Lou & Lola Lulu!

Later that morning my friend A. and I headed up into the Santa Catalina Mountains to take Jack Lemon (aka, "Lemons") hiking on Mt. Lemmon.  We ended up doing about 2 miles on the Marshall Gulch trail and the weather was sunny, brisk, and utterly perfect.  Lemons had a blast playing in the creek, smelling and pointing things, and he napped hard on the hour-long trip back home.  I may or may not have bought half a pound of fudge... but if I did, it would have been half traditional chocolate and half maple nut.  (It was delicious and reminded me of childhood vacations in northern Michigan where a lot of historic, touristy towns have confectionery shops.)  For those who may not know Jack Lemon's story, he is an almost 10 year old English pointer that I adopted last June knowing that he has terminal cancer (hemangiosarcoma) with an unknown expiration date.  He is just about the sweetest creature on four legs and everyone who meets him falls instantly in love with his gentle nature.  I make a point to take him places and make sure he has fun for however long he has left.

LOVING the creek that ran alongside the trail!

Me & Lemons (toward the end of the hike; he was getting tired). <3

04 October 2012


I really have no idea what to title this post, so hopefully some idea forms by the time I finish writing it...

Today marks exactly three months until my 30th birthday. 

Perhaps surprisingly, I am looking forward to this birthday far more than I traditionally would (I usually don't look forward to my birthday at all).  To me, 30 is more than a three decade milestone or the end of my 20s (which weren't particularly peachy, for the most part).  I've spent so many years moving around the country, going from major to major in college (never finishing any of my partial degrees), job to job, and always trying to "Start Over" or "Start Fresh."  I think the fact that this was an almost compulsive reaction to any real or perceived failure illustrates the fact that I never did anything more than turn a page in the same chapter I was already in.

Moving to Tucson on a whim in June of 2010 was yet another attempt to begin a new life in a new and unfamiliar city.  In some ways, I have repeated old patterns (such as not coping with my clinical depression, but that's another topic for another day) but looking back I also tried new things which although begun halfheartedly (and for the wrong reasons), have changed the entire course and fabric of my life.  Yes, I know how vague that sounds.  Allow me to elaborate.

One day, a couple of months after I moved to Tucson (knowing only one person and having a falling out with them shortly after I arrived), the loneliness of not having my two cats (they couldn't fly into Arizona in the summer due to temperature restrictions at the airports) became unbearable and I spent a few days scrolling through the "Pets" section on Craigslist.  What started out as a search for "free kitten" ads (to fill the gap of my own cats) culminated in my calling the local shelter to inquire about adopting a red purebred Chow Chow (crazy, I know!!) named Sylvia.  She had already been adopted.  So I continued to read ads and noticed how so many of them were seeking foster homes for needy dogs.  I grew up with both dogs and cats; the only reason I had never owned a dog as an adult was because I wanted the freedom to be able to move whenever/wherever I wanted to.  Cats were easy and small to travel with; my cats have probably flown cross-country more times than most people.  Feeling lonely and not used to living in a pet-less home combined with the "well fostering a dog is only temporary!" gave me the courage to respond to an ad.

Twenty minutes later the rescue group replied and the next afternoon I had a 6 month old German shepherd mix puppy named Ruby.

Fast forward two years and I've fostered over 20 dogs, adopted two, and started my own non-profit dog rescue dedicated to the breeds I fell in love with (namely, pointing breeds).  A long-time apartment dweller, I now live in a small one bedroom house with a yard and room for my dogs to run & play.  I've never been a very athletic person (in fact, I rather loathe exercise!), but now I am working out everyday with my friend R. and we're going to run a 5K in January!  I own a bicycle and a pair of running shoes (two things I have never owned as an adult).  I even use them sometimes.  (ha)

I also use parentheses to an extreme degree.  I don't apologize for it, either.

A quote that I always used to think about with some degree of irony is, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." (John Lennon)

I have always been someone who spent more time daydreaming about what I want my life to be like, who I want to become, and that type of farsightedness has prevented me from really understanding and even more importantly, appreciating, who I am right now.

I'm not the 30s or 40s housewife that I daydream about being... I'm not the owner of a bed & breakfast with a huge garden, who brews her own beer and keeps bees... I'm not an expatriate writer in the south of France or the mountains of Nepal.  I'm not the slimmer, more fit, or more whatever person that I hope to become someday.

I'm a 29 year old woman with two amazing rescue dogs, a job with people I genuinely like, a small house that almost feels like a home, and I never have enough free time.  I have the most amazingly supportive and wonderful group of friends, both near and far.  And I'm training to run the first 5K of my life.

Maybe it's not grandiose, but it's good.

P.S.  I still don't know what to title this post.  Oh, well!


03 October 2012

Daily Gratitude - 3 October, 2012

#1 - My amazing taking an early bus/getting bagels/cab ride/getting to work early adventure this morning was a success!

#2 - Today is Day Three of me and R. being exercise buddies (...bullies, as necessary!) and after work we are either going to the YMCA gym or starting Day One of the Couch to 5K program.  (Yes I mentioned this before, did two days, and lost motivation... but this time I will stick with it!)  This is the most exciting change in my life right now and I'm so happy to be doing it with my dearest friend.

#3 - Last night R. and I took all three dogs for a walk and guess who was the best walker?  Lemons!

#4 - A free pumpernickel bagel (with hummus) for breakfast is never a bad thing.

#5 - I woke up feeling rested and ready to tackle the day.  So far, tasks are being tackled left and right!