Crying through rust

20140719-234911-85751329.jpg

Today was a pretty traumatic day for me. It shouldn’t have been, but it was.

It started with a simple repair to my Jeep: replace the old weatherstripping. My car is 13 years old, paid off, and, mechanically and aesthetically, in great shape. But I noticed some water down near the pedals awhile ago, and my boyfriend (mechanical engineer and general car genius) suggested we replace the weatherstripping to solve the problem.

Removing the weatherstripping was easy. Replacing it was easy. But moving some of the carpeting to access some panels revealed standing water.

Removing the seats, center console, and carpeting revealed rust. Body rust.

I handled all of that well. It was when my boyfriend touched the rust that I lost it. Pieces crumbled away under the pressure from his hand. To see the extent of the damage, he hammered it gently. Then I could see through the car’s body to the ground.

I sobbed.

He stopped hammering and hugged me and said that it will be okay, but it will take some work. Fortunately it isn’t the frame. Fortunately said boyfriend also knows how to weld. Fortunately we fixed the problem of how the water (evil, dreaded water) was entering the car.

He will remove the bad part and weld in new material. But for now I have no carpeting because the old stuff is waterlogged. The interior needs to dry really well before we do anything more work.

It’ll be a few weeks till hints are back to normal with my beloved Jeep. Till then, I have a very rugged interior.

Mad about mantras

I used to think it was bunk. Hubbub. Brouhaha. But the truth is, sometimes mantras keep me going.

My mantras made the short list for the Oiselle blog post about what keeps you running in the summer heat.

Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 12.12.44 PM

 

I recently started running without music. I still use my iPod nano as my timekeeper, but I don’t wear headphones. I feel a little safer running along the roads near my house without the music playing, even at a dull roar. More, though, I feel a little more connected to myself and “the run.” (Note that I’m also running outside and not in the gym… I desperately need music when I run in the gym… too many distractions, so it keeps me focused.)

When I started running, music was imperative. I couldn’t get through a workout without it. It felt strange to run, even with friends, and *not* have my music in my ears. But trying to run without it leaves me searching for that peace that I get when I find a good pace and just run for the sake of running.

And what pops into my brain when I’m just running to run? Sometimes it’s worries or things I need to do, sometimes I’m thinking about my posture or my breathing or that I think I might have a rock in my shoe.

To get myself back on track, I’ve found that a little mantra helps. Being mindful during my running has made the workouts feel like a reward. The two mantras I mentioned in the Oiselle blog post (screenshot above) are the ones I go to most.

If I am struggling, I remember all those laid to rest on the couch who aren’t running and how even though I’m struggling–up a hill, catching my breath, with that dratted rock in my shoe that may or may not exist–I am still running. And that is enough in that single moment. That is enough.

When I feel good, I just try to feel even better. “Head up, wings out” is what the Oiselle Flock taught me and I use this to push though the miles.

Sometimes I miss my music. Maybe I’ll listen to it on later runs. But for now, I’m living free.

 

New job!

Dear friends, it’s finally happened! I landed a job that I will love!

This week I had the interview and, just a few short hours later, I got the call with the job offer. I was speechless on the phone and the lady asked if I needed time to think about it. I said something in response and we decided I’d call her back.

Once I was off the phone? Screams of joy!

My phone blew up with texts, Facebook messages, emails, and calls once I shared my news.

After I calmed down, I called the lady back. “I’m kidding myself if I said I needed time to think about this,” I said. “I accept the offer.” She laughed. All was well.

Turning in my resignation at my current job was tough because I’ve only been there three months. My supervisor was disappointed, but she said, “Who am I to stand in the way of something that’s been your dream.” That was the best response I could’ve hoped for, really. I shared my news with my colleagues and they were all very supportive. They know that I love teaching and that this is a real opportunity for me.

So what will I be doing? It’s a hybrid faculty/staff position at my alma mater. I’m teaching ESL to international students and helping to grow the programs in the Intercultural Services Office. It couldn’t be more exciting. :)

It hasn’t quite registered in my mind that I just landed my dream job…

Hypothyroidism, the energy suck

Oh, Lord. Was it really in April that I last blogged? :( Sorry, guys. Life has gotten in the way, once more…IMG_0329

So health issues, once more, have ruled my life in recent days. It’s so frustrating! I just want to be well! But between working full time, teaching part time, running my household, and the rest of life, things have been hard. My energy has been so, so low.

I went to the doctor. We decided that since thyroid problems run in my family that it would be good to get a few tests for me.

All the tests came back positive. Ugh. Hypothyroidism. Just like mom. Just like my sister. Yikes, it’s a plague!

So I’m taking thyroid medication and hoping to feel better soon. It’s a real pain to have to wait around for things to work. I keep having to tell myself that I’ve literally done everything that I can and that I need to be patient. I like to joke that patience is another bone in my body, one that I’ve carefully grown over the last few years because of all my health problems.

The semester finished, I didn’t run the half marathon, and summer is well on its way. I started my garden with store-bought plants this year since I had no time to start seeds of my own. The plants are thriving. :) I’m trying to run again… Not that my energy is any better… It’s been a tough relationship this year, me and running. But I’m trying. I’m not giving up. I’ll be damned if I let another little endocrine gland ruin things for me.

I’m hoping to get more active here on the blog again too. Look forward to more posts. :)

Giving up my half marathon bib

Ugh. It’s been a whole month since I blogged. There is one thing I need to announce. I’m not happy about it and I think my reluctance to post is based on this one thing…

I won’t be running the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. (insert sad face)

Why? Well, the last few months have been weighed down with many big life changes. As time wore on, I noticed that it became okay not to run. I was still running when I could, but I knew that it wasn’t enough to train me for the half marathon. And since I like running and would like to remain injury free, I decided to give my bib to a friend. I did all the fundraising for it (THANKS to you who have supported me!), so my friend will just run the race for me.

I’m sad about it. I know I’m not in shape, though, so I think I’m making the right call. I just want to stay whole while I battle through these big changes and settle into a routine someday (maybe?).

Between a temp job, teaching at the university,  starting a full-time position (40 hour weeks for the first time in a year), and life (like being sick for over a week, having an injured doggie, and trying to stay afloat financially), I’ve been exhausted. I don’t remember this whirlwind settling down around me, but that’s probably part of the problem too. I didn’t recognize how little I was running until it was too late.

I’ll train for another race soon. Friends are asking me to join them for races, which delights me because when I started running I thought none of my friends ran. Now I know better. :)

Help me to help them: Animal Rescue League

logo

I’m running the Pittsburgh Half Marathon again this year (5/4/14), and I need your help to raise some cash for Pittsburgh’s Animal Rescue League. Seriously, these people are amazing. The group helps care for and place shelter pets in homes and also cares for injured wildlife in western Pennsylvania.

 

How do they use the money donated? Here are some examples:

  • $30 will cover the cost of micro-chipping a cat or dog.
  • $50 will provide low-cost spay/neuter services to a family who couldn’t otherwise afford it.
  • $100 will provide behavioral training for an animal to help her find a new home more quickly.
  • $1,000 will cover the total care for an animal that stays in our shelter for one month.

IMG_1747

My goal is to raise $350. All I need is for 35 of you to donate $10, 10 of you to donate $35… something like that. :) Whatever you can give is SINCERELY appreciated. To give, go here or click the Crowdrise fundraiser link in my blog’s right sidebar.

Last year, this race was my first half marathon. I’m thrilled to participate again this year and raise money for Animal Rescue League. I have a shelter mutt who I couldn’t love more. Helping Animal Rescue League is one of the ways I like to help others discover the joy of adopting a pet.

Lessons Learned: Being a Temp

Today was my last day at my temp job. After almost a year of unemployment or underemployment, I scored a temporary position at a company that deals with parts for locomotives. What did I do for them? I scoured their Oracle database and removed duplicate data, updated data, and generally just cleaned out their “junk drawer,” as my (awesome) manager called it. Over 14 years’ worth of bad information: gone, thanks to me. In some cases, I removed over 50% of the addresses in the lists for various customers. Now that their data is squeaky clean, they can implement a purchase order automation system which will help save paper and human effort, resulting in some pretty great savings. In thanks, they took me to lunch today and got me an ice cream cake. I was touched. I felt so appreciated! I know I worked hard–sometimes I’d get a headache from staring down rogue data for hours on the computer screen–but I’m delighted to know that my hard work will help other people to do their jobs more efficiently.

So what did I learn? Lots!

Having a knowledgeable, compassionate leader with a vision for the project makes a difference.

It was my first time in a temp job. I had a very specific goal and a really terrific manager. She was enthusiastic about the work, made time to teach me what I needed to know, and celebrated even my smallest successes. I can’t express how helpful this was as I trudged through buckets of data. (Let’s remember that my background is in writing and editing…) She was hands-down the best manager I’ve ever had. The project and my role in it were crystal clear to me on day one, and my mission–which I did choose to accept–was to fulfill her well-defined expectations. Instead, I blew them away. ;)

Doing more than is expected isn’t expected.

Faced with piles of spreadsheets, sometimes I was filled with dread. But I decided early on that I wanted to do my very best because this was not my area of expertise. So instead of just removing the bad data, I also fixed up the good data. Example: I removed bad addresses (not used recently), but for the good addresses (used recently) I corrected spelling, fixed postal codes and tax codes, looked up Canadian provinces, and contacted customers about “Attention: So-and-so” fields. This way the data was as clean as it could be. My boss was stunned. She was so excited that I took the initiative to really make things great.

Making positive contacts is key.

As a temp, I was hired by the temp agency but performed work for the locomotive parts company. The company paid the agency, who paid me. It behooved me to keep positive contacts at both. The company wanted to keep me beyond my temporary period (!), but because the temp agency saw my potential, they helped me land a full-time job, which was supposed to be another temp job! I was delighted to feel like I am talented, valued, and liked. (After being unemployed for so long and *not* getting interviews, this feels AMAZING.) Both the temp agency and the company I temped for were so positive about my experience and staying in touch that I can’t help but be excited about the work that I did and the work I will do. I start my new job on Monday. :)

It’s okay to run out of work.

I did. Several times. It made my manager laugh because projects she thought would take me a week only took days, things that might have taken days only took me a handful of hours. Each time I would tell her I was out of work, I could tell she was glad she chose to hire me. (She also told me this on a regular basis.) When you run out of work–as long as you’re not sluffing off or doing a shoddy job–it says “I can do this. May I have some more?” My eagerness and diligence were well received each and every time.

I will always value vacation and sick time. And benefits.

I started this temp job when I was coming off a really awful cold. Then I caught another cold. There were a few days I would have much rather stayed in bed, but knowing that I wouldn’t get paid for the time I took off forced me out the door. My car also decided to blow the radiator at one point. (My manager drove me to work.) I couldn’t afford to not be paid. (Just like in my many part-time jobs before.) I’ve always thought it was nice to have vacation and sick time, but saw it as something standard that employees deserve. Well, now that I’ve worked for over a year without it? It’s a treasure. Also–health benefits? Can I tell you how happy I am to see my dentist again?! And I’ll be getting an annual check-up to follow my pheochromocytoma this year. (I had to skip last year because I couldn’t afford it.)

I’m really excited to start my new job on Monday. I’ll be working at a project coordinator at a civil engineering firm. Their headquarters just so happens to be in Pittsburgh. :)

Adventures in nutrition: making yogurt

I buy a lot of yogurt. I didn’t realize how much yogurt I eat… until I tallied it. I eat between 3-12 cups each week. (!) It’s a great snack. I love it in my work lunches. Sometimes it’s part of breakfast. I really love my yogurt!

Ever the good gift giver, my boyfriend’s mom gave me a yogurt maker for Christmas. Fortunately it has excellent instructions because I was pretty intimidated.

IMG_0173 IMG_0175

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made my first mistake when boiling the milk. Did you know that milk will boil over? It will. And it will make a mess.

IMG_0176 IMG_0181

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depending on the type of milk used, yogurt takes a long time to make. I tried 1% for this first attempt. It takes 10 hours for the yogurt to cook. Unfortunately I did not pay attention to what time I started the yogurt maker… and had to wake up a 1 a.m. to put the yogurt in the refrigerator! D’oh!

IMG_0182 IMG_0183

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It looked a little gross when I put it away. I admit that it did not at all appeal to me. But I knew I would try it no matter what. I made it, so I have to try it!

The liquid stuff is evidently whey. I had no idea. I stirred it in. The texture was lumpy, but still smoother than 1% cottage cheese.

 

 

IMG_0185

 

 

IMG_0184

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my first serving, I added orange marmalade. Delicious! I still need to do some experimenting with the texture, but my first batch wasn’t bad! I’ve eaten it plain, mixed it in protein shakes, and had it with fresh berries. My boyfriend’s mom gave me some tips on how to work with the different kinds of milks, so I’ll report back with what I learn!

Racing in the snow: Mill Creek Classic 5k

photo

In the car warming up after the race.

This Sunday I ran and raced in the snow for the first time! I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, but because of my asthma and fear of injury, I’ve avoided running in the snow at all costs. (I am no stranger to the treadmill.) I wasn’t the crazy one, though. My race was a 5k. My friends? They ran a half marathon.

With winter storm Titan on the way, I hopped in my car at 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning and drove to my friend Eleanor’s house. Then we picked up her friend Beth. At last, we were on our way to Youngstown, Ohio for the local road runners group’s Mill Creek Classic.

I didn’t have my phone with me when I ran, so I didn’t get any photos… But it looked a lot like this: Wintry Weather Illinois

I had my mask, so I was doing okay with my breathing. What was most difficult were the snow covered hills… I wasn’t the only one struggling to get any traction. I now had a greater appreciation for my car’s tires. I ended up slowing down so I wouldn’t fall trying to get up the hills. The goal was to finish without injury. :)

My finish time is the worst of the 5ks I’ve run, but it was also the first time I ever ran in snow. I’m not heartbroken. I finished in 43:55.

My friends did well in the half marathon. I was impressed with their times because the weather was so awful. Here’s all of us before the race:

1970405_10101902446473953_830000701_n

After the race, we enjoyed a pasta luncheon at a local restaurant (sponsored by the racing group). All in all, I think this race could be a great one to repeat next year. My friends agreed. :)

The return of hunger

Maybe you remember, maybe you don’t. But late in 2012, I wasn’t hungry. Like, ever.

IMG_1865At that time I was taking a medication that suppressed my appetite (though not its main goal). I’ve been off of it since July 2013 now and finally–finally!–my hunger has returned.

Let’s get this straight: my goal is not to be hungry. I eat. But it sure is nice to encounter your body’s natural signals for telling you when to eat. I hadn’t experienced that for, well, years… Between medical issues and medication side effects, I felt like I would just have to eat according to the clock for the rest of my life. Meal times really dictated when I’d eat and how much, not my belly.

Sitting at work (work! because I have a (temp) job! another novel idea!), now I can count on my innards to give me a rumble if I’ve waited too long to eat something.

It’s delightful. I never thought I’d be so happy to feel the agonizing grip of a hunger pang at one in the afternoon…