Monday, April 25, 2016

Great weekend things

Can it always be the weekend? 

It might have been the joy of not traveling for work or it could've been the lovely weather. Either way, it was a fantastic time. Lots of great things happened. 

1. Sunshine and warm temps! Oh my goodness. This weekend was sunny and in the mid-70s. Even though it was still crazy windy, it did not take away from being outside and soaking up all things spring. 
I also decided to walk the Emma Creek 5k with my friend, Denise, and her 5 year old daughter. (I will admit that I wished a couple of times that I was running it. Although, let's be real, I would've hated it if I had done that). This is the 3rd time I've done the Emma Creek but the first time I did it with a friend and the first time the weather was sunny and warm. It was a great way to start a Saturday morning, (even if I had to pay just to walk around my town).

2. Food! I had lunch with Denise on Friday. (At Prairie Harvest, which has yummy mac and cheese on Fridays. We also got to sample their new Kombucha, which I am now totally into. Really, it was probably just a matter of time before I jumped on that hippy bandwagon).
Secondly, Levent's Dad is in the area for a funeral and so we had an semi-spontaneous lunch with him and a friend. Grilling in the middle of the day always makes my brain think it's a holiday.

Finally, I also fed my desire to make cake all the time. This time in the form of a blueberry coffee cake from Smitten Kitchen. So yummy.

4. Wichita adventures! On Sunday, I had to go into work to skype into a church service. Afterwards, as a treat to myself, I went to Wichita to basically do things I love to do. So, you know, go to Target and spent all my money. 
I also got coffee at the Reverie. (You know how crazy I am about that place). And I checked out Songbird Juice Company, which is this darling hippy place that I now love completely. I got a punch card now. So it's official. 
I am starting to really love ICT, but the trick with this city is that these little nuggets (like the Reverie and Songbird) have been challenging to find. I have found that a lot of locally own places in Wichita do not have a web presence, or if they do, just social media. It's been quite the adventure discovering them, although quite fun as well. I just want these local gems to thrive and wish they would shout a little louder (and broader) about themselves. 

3. Gardening! It amazing how I always get sucked into buying more plants than I originally plan. Usually, it's the clever names that get me (i.e. Juliet tomatoes). This time, it was the begonias. I haven't been a big annual flower person but for whatever reason, this year I am all about it. It might have something to do with the planting pots that were left behind at my rental place. I think begonias are my favorite flowers. LOOK AT THEM. 
 Okay, I am a little over zealous about them but they are beautiful and I cannot help myself.

This weekend, I also planted some herbs. Yep, I am trying them in pots this year. Since there isn't enough sunlight in my kitchen, right next to the back door will have to suffice.
 I planted another row of green beans too and am impatiently waiting to plant the rest of my veggies. I think I probably could've done it this weekend and been fine, but you never quite know with the weather. I figured my tomatoes would be happier if I just chilled out for a minute and waited until May 1.

Seriously, spring is my favorite time of year. When else do I get this excited about vegetables? I just hope we get a couple more weekends like this one before the heat wave begins.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

health update

Guess what. I did not have to go to Oklahoma for work as originally scheduled this weekend. That was a really good decision. I think I am going to take a break from traveling, at least for a little bit (aka, as long as I can before duty calls again). Physically, my back can't handle long hours in the car, but also mentally, I really need to be home right now. Plus, the weather is in that sweet spot where it's not too hot and not too cold. I wish it could stay like this always. I need to be home so I can open my windows and find delight in the sunlight and the breeze.

Overall, it's been a tough week. I went back to the doctor on Tuesday to ask questions about my back. This was post the steroid epidural I had the Friday before, which, for most people, makes the pain go away within 48 hours. No such luck for me. It was a weird experience and now I have a picture of my bones in my desk.

I know I posted about having arthritis, but turns out, I don't really have arthritis. I have a degenerative condition in my back. Technically arthritis is a degenerative condition, but it's not quite what I have going on in my back. Confused? Yeah me too.

My understanding is that I have some kind of osteophyte, which is a bony outgrowth associated with the degeneration of cartilage at joints. So this is going on in my spine, which is pressing into the cartilage and putting pressure on my nerves. As a result, the pain alternates from being in my gluts, hip, calf and/or foot (and rarely felt in my back itself).  So weird. Am I 95? Yeah, probably.

More news on the old person front was also discovered this week at the eye doctor. I haven't been able to wear my contacts because my eyes are so dry. I thought it was just allergies but apparently my eyes aren't producing some kind of eye oil. (I didn't take notes so I have no idea what the medical terms are here. Sorry). In order to remedy this, I have to increase my intake of omega 3s. So I straight up bought fish oil pills at Dillion's this week. What in the world.

Is it fine if I cash in my social security or what?

Jokes aside, I still feel pretty discouraged about all these discoveries. Plus, this week, I also found out that I did not get a job within the organization for whom I currently work. I was overly hopeful. It was something I was really interested in and would mean limited traveling. No such luck. I am not sure how to balance the demands of work travel with my physical, emotional and mental well being.

Until I sort all that out, in the meanwhile, I am trying, once again, to up my health game. I am going to be an adult and take my vitamins, hence the fish oil pills as well as D3, which supports bone health, and B12 for nerve health. I've also been researching foods that help with arthritis (which is easier to google). I'm trying to eat more salmon and tuna, which are good sources of omega 3s as well as finding more ways to incorporate turmeric into my diet. I'm hoping this means I'll cook up more curries in the next couple of weeks, but in the meanwhile, I've been drinking a turmeric lime kombucha, which is a fermented tea drink and super weird. However, is kind of growing on me. (I've been drinking it faster than I thought I would).
Yep, for sure it looks like pee
Finally, today when I was in Wichita, I stopped by the cutest (and only) juice place and bought some veggie/fruit juice (one of which has turmeric in it) in order to help me be serious about veggies this week.


I'm doing better with all of these discoveries than I was earlier this week. But I did have an emotional down at work (yay) and stood in front of the vitamins at Dillion's for like 10 minutes trying not to gag as I picked out what looked like the most digestible fish pills.  (I actually did pretty good. So far, no fish burps. Geesh. I cannot even type that without getting super grossed out).

Thankfully, this weekend was really, really good. And I was home, which for me is one of the best therapeutic things in my life.

Jill + Ben

Another wedding up on the portfolio blog. Check it out here.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Canada + Survivor Mode

Oh Canada.

That's where I was all last week. And let me tell you, I am exhausted. I've recently realized that I cannot handle stress. At all. Honestly, I don't know if this is linked to my anxiety or not. And maybe I am so used to not handling stress well that now when I am stressed, I don't even really realize it because not handling it is the norm.  Does that sound confusing or what?

I know I need to get a handle on this because I clearly don't. I mean, seriously, the last work trip I went on I got sick. Before I went to Canada, I was a super mess. Levent came over for brunch Sunday morning before I had to leave for the airport and when I said goodbye to him, I cried.

Then I cried when I talked to my sister via the phone on the way to the airport. I did not have it together, nor could I really name what was wrong (minus knowing that some of this was travel anxiety). When I got to Canada, my face broke out like whatever gross metaphor you want to insert here. I also almost got sick again on this last trip. Now, I am home. (I came back Thursday night). But I still cannot get caught up with my sleep and I am sure tomorrow back at my desk is going to be hell. Levent and I went out with some friends last night and I struggled to carry on conversation and make eye contact because I was so exhausted.

I feel as if I am functioning in "survivor mode," although I am not exactly sure why. I hate it. I am too much of an achiever to be okay with just putting my head down, doing the bare minimum and plowing through to get to the end of the day.  I also don't want to be that type of employee. I need to figure my stuff out. Maybe I should give our employee assistant program another shot. (This means that MCC pays for 4 free therapy sessions. I've tried it before but didn't find it very helpful, probably because I didn't really like the person to whom I was assigned).

I'll figure something out.

Don't get me wrong. There were a lot of highlights for me at the Thrift Shop Conference and I feel as if I should mentioned them so you don't get a too negative view of my recent travels. Here they are:

I roomed with Mimi, a fellow donor relations person from a different region. It was really nice to be able to talk about our specific slice of work with someone who knows exactly what it's like. She also bought me a chocolate bar. Fantastic.

One day, we visited area MCC Thrift shops. It was really cool to see high functioning shops and I feel inspired to be a better thrift resource in my own region.

I got to go to a Tim Horton's, which was my first time going to one in Canada. (I have been to several in Ohio before).

I got to see Niagara Falls in real life. Our hotel was right next to it, which means we got to wake up to a stunning view every day. One afternoon, I ditched one of the sessions (where I was not really needed) and went on a walk down to the falls. I am so glad I did that. It was good mental space and stunning, despite being windy and cold.
See? These are good things. But like I always say whenever I come back from work trips, I am so happy to be home.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

plants and pita

Since my last post was a little depressing, I decided to also share today what is making me happy this week. That's easy: Spring things! I love Springtime in Kansas. I think what sets it a part from the other seasons for me is the wheat. It's so green at this point in the season. I love it. I also love the warming temperatures too. Don't get me wrong. It's been incredibly windy this week, which kind of sucks any joy out of being outside, but I did manage to get some things in the ground. 
After finally spreading the manure from Maynard on my garden last weekend, I planted some spinach, onions and a few green beans, on Thursday (which I plan on planting more of when I get back from cold Canada). It might be a little too early for green beans, but it's been so warm lately that I figure I might as well risk it since I am planting more later on anyway. What excites me about this garden is that 1. it's in my backyard and that alone cuts down my garden time by a lot and 2. I finally bought a soaker hose. (It's new, which is why it looks so funny in the picture. I need the sun to soften it a little bit so I can manipulate it a little better). Having a soaker hose is going to be such a time saver and, hopefully, way better for my plants. I can't wait.

I also noticed that my mint is already coming up as are my hostas. I transplanted these things last summer during my move. So there is always the worry that maybe that transition was too hard on them and they wouldn't come up. But don't even worry. They are hardy and doing just fine. I cannot wait to make mint tea when it gets hot outside.

On a completely different note but also one that has brought me joy this week was my successful pita bread making. I've been intimated to make pita bread for years because a long time ago I tried making it and it didn't turn out. (This was back in my parents' kitchen in IL, which tells you how long ago that was. It was definitely before I got better at working with dough and the pita bread didn't puff at all and was very dense). I think there is room for improvement but overall, I was very pleased with how they turned out. Yum. Once again, my intimidation in the kitchen turned out to be ridiculous. (I used Tyler Florence's recipe from the Food Network).
I am already excited to get back from Canada and see what other green things are happening outside and explore more baking adventures inside. (Maybe even another cake).

Anna with Arthritis

I found out this week that I have arthritis in my back.

Yep. You heard me right. Anna Yoder, a 28 year old, has arthritis in her back like the old person we always knew she was. I've been telling people for years that I've never been young in my life, and this just seems to back that up yet again. 

But jokes aside, I am actually really deflated by this news. You may know that I've been loudly complaining on this blog about my weird hip and leg problem. After months of laying low (in terms of physical activity), physical therapy, going to the chiropractor, acupuncture, going to the medical doctor, taking oral steroids and getting deep tissue massages, I finally decided to take plunge (since I am already half way to my deductible for for 2016 already) and get an MRI. 

That was Tuesday and maybe one of the weirdest experiences I've had in awhile. They played music for me to drown out the noises from the machine. I told them I wanted something relaxing, thinking of music they play at spas as I was a little nervous about the whole process. It ended up being this really strange mix of what I would call " hazy space sounds". That, plus the loud banging sounds of the MRI, and maybe feeling a little dizzy from the close confinements left me feeling super trippy. (Not that I know what that's like, but I image it being similar to getting an MRI. Tells you how much I know). Another weird element was that one of the MRI techs looked like Lunchbox from The Bobby Bones Show, my favorite morning radio show. What a weird day. 

The following day, my doctor's office called me with the results. This sounds ridiculous, but I was really hoping it was going to be a stress fracture, or something that resulted from over exercising back last fall. You know, something that one can completely heal from. No such luck. 

I took this news probably way harder than I should have taken it. After all, I am not ill. I am still a young, healthy person. Every day, I think I accept a little piece the fact that I am always going to have arthritis, that my fears of peaking physically already is, in fact, true. But I have a long way to go. Again, I am only 28. There has to be a way I can still be an active person. Even though running is hell, I really enjoy exercising (mostly after the fact). I constantly struggle with eating healthy; so I really took pride in how disciplined I was in my exercise routine. I want that again. I want to go back to my cardio X classes and kickboxing. They were really good workouts and I have found that I really miss the community that I was a part of in those classes. 

So what's next? Well, I have to go to Canada for a conference (which is maybe going to be super stressful) and then next Friday when I get back I am getting a steroid epidural. Then, the following Tuesday, I am going back to my nurse practitioner to ask her more questions about arthritis and hopefully figure out how to still be a healthy, active, young person. 

I'm doing better with this news than I was on Tuesday, that's for sure. On some level, it's probably a relief that I psychically might not be able to (or shouldn't) run ever again. But this whole process makes me really wish I lived in a city where I would have unlimited access to lap swimming in an actual adult size pool where senior water aerobics classes don't dominate prime swimming times. (No jokes about me joining them please. I cannot handle that idea). And if I lived in a big enough city, there would be yoga studios like whoa. I hope that's in my future. 

I also worry about physically not being able to do my job. And then what? I travel a TON for work, spending hours and hours sitting on planes and in cars. Having arthritis in my back is not an ideal situation for needing to drive 1600 miles around the region I represent. This plus the emotional turmoil of travel anxiety is an awful combination. I find myself trying to reevaluate my intimidate vocational future and at the same time being horrified of change like the old person I am. 

In the end, I am going to try really hard to make the best out of this situation and try and find things that work for me. However, I am probably going to complain through this whole process via this blog. Just a disclaimer. But just let me have this space, okay? After all, one should respect one's elders. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A weekend full of spring things

The best part of today is having the windows open. It's really windy today, which means the curtains are dancing around. I absolutely love it. (Well, not necessarily the high winds but if you use your imagination, you can trick yourself into thinking it sounds like the ocean). Ironically, I am spending most of today inside as my allergies are acting up. But I am okay with staying inside for now. After all, it's nice enough to finally open the house up after months of wind being way too cold. It did snow last Sunday. So who knows if we are out of the woods yet, but I would like to think so.

This weekend has been full of spring things.  I finally was able to spread manure on my garden, which this year, is behind my house. Game changer. All I did was get it ready and hopefully this week my landlord (who offered) will till it into the soil. That way, for sure by next weekend, I can plant spinach and onions. Usually at this point of the garden year I worry too much about whether or not I am planting too late. This year, I don't seem to care as much. It will get in the ground soon enough. Maybe living so close to my garden makes it feel way less like a big deal and more like something I occasionally go outside to do. I even bought a soaker hose. Another game changer.

Every summer, I make a "summer bucket list." Most of it centers on food (mostly making ice cream and popsicles). I recently realized, however, that I am going about this summer bucket list all wrong. In Kansas, now is the time to start enjoying outdoor, warm weather things (before things turn into fire from hell temperatures and I go back to wanting to do nothing and never going outside). I fully intend to make another summer bucket list this year, but I have already started doing things that make me get out and enjoy the season. Hopefully, whenever summer arrives with its guns blazing, I won't feel as gipped.

Here are my spring things from this weekend

1. On Thursday evening, I cleaned out my "potting shed" and got pretty jazzed about the gardening season. Mostly, there are a ton of plant pots out there. I am hoping I can find cheap flowers and herbs to put into all of them and dress up my deck a little bit. I think I am more excited about that than my actual garden.

2. This is totally an indoor activity but it definitely counts. On Friday morning, my friend, Amy, and I went to our favorite place, the Reverie in Wichita, and worked all morning long. I was doing MCC stuff and she was working on photography things for her business. It was so nice to change things up. Plus I love that place so much. It has all the good coffee and all the best vibes.
3. I haven't been able to exercise for real because of my hip. (Even yoga has a tendency to "flare it up.)" As an alternative, I've been going on late afternoon walks after work. I typically listen to The Splendid Table podcast, dream about being a skilled cook, and walk. I realize this really makes me sound like a grandma, but I have really enjoyed this time as it allows me to watch spring arrive to Kansas. It's so lovely. (Hip update: I am getting an MRI on Tuesday). And I don't feel guilty about not running.

4. Last summer, I could not wait for it to cool off so I could have dinner parties on my deck and use my twinkle lights. So last night, Levent and I had his friends over for a cook out. Even though it still feels a little too cool for these types of activities, I now own a very well loved and rusty fire pit, which we gathered around in the later part of the evening. It was really nice to sit outside, eat crappy grilled food (brats! love it) and drink wine. Plus it gives me a reason to bust out my vintage trays and make fancy desserts. Speaking of which...
Also, shout out to 2nd hand things. I got all these items featured here at the Newton Et Cetera Shop and garage sales
5. I cannot explain where this comes from, but I have recently decided I want to be a master of making cakes. I've been reading up on how to frost a cake (and how to not make it look like the leaning tower of Pisa). Since we were having people over, I decided to make a funfetti layer cake from scratch. Overall, I give it a solid B. (I think I am still over mixing my cake batter). But it did not lean in any direction. That definitely counts as a victory and I loved every second of it. I think my sudden interest in The Splendid Table podcast has stirred by baking creatively, and for some reason, it has manifested itself solely into cake making, at least for now. The trick will be to balance this with trying to stay on a reasonable grocery budget (see note about the MRI) and not wanting to gain 100 pounds. Good luck to us all.
It took a lot of motivation not to eat this for breakfast this morning
Ah, I really love being home. I am trying hard to not get ahead of myself and think of all the sucky work things I have coming up that will take me far away once again. Oh well. I am enjoying this weekend to the fullest.