Headspace

“Write hard and clear about what hurts”

-Ernest Hemingway

My personal headspace has been the hardest part of this journey. It’s constantly up and down depending on the day, time of day, or what is going on. I haven’t figured out what sets off a hard day and what contributes to a good day. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to a good day verse a bad day.

The good days are really okay days, at best. I’ve fallen into a little routine that I take a lot of comfort in. Routines have always been a coping mechanism for me and I have never handled them being interrupted very well. The days that I stay on my routine feel like a new normal for me.

I have mixed feelings about this new normal because I so desperately want my life to get back to its regular normal. But I’ll take the new normal because it’s better than miserable.

The bad days are frustrating. You just kind of fall into them and before you know it you’re frustrated and annoyed at everything. Once you’re knee deep in a bad day it just keeps pulling you in, like quick sand. Most of the time, I think it’s easier to just accept that it’s going to be a hard day and go with it rather than fight it. Going with it means you’ll spend a decent amount of time crying.

On a bad day I can feel myself blindly grabbing for anything that will offer any type of relief or distraction from my broken leg and shattered heel. I laid in bed one night, sobbing, and prayed. It was the first time I had prayed in years and I had no idea if it would help but I figured it wouldn’t hurt.

The first week I was home was the most difficult. I had a lot of time to myself, which allowed me to really think about the accident for the first time. I kept replaying the entire thing over and over in my head until my mom would come home and I would be in tears. I saw myself sitting at the top of the hill on my little sled with a gut feeling that I shouldn’t go down but did it anyway. It would then flash to me screaming and laying on my broken sled at the bottom of the hill. I saw Joe’s face standing over me with as much fear in it as I could hear in my own voice. It just kept playing in my head on a loop.

I carry a certain amount of guilt for the burden I’ve placed on my parents. I apologized to my mom one night as she was helping me out of the shower because I’m so much work right now. She told me she didn’t want to hear me say it again, but it sneaks into my thoughts on hard days. It was the first time I have ever been scolded for apologizing; normally it’s the other way around.

One of my friends sent a very nice card with a letter in it. In the letter it said, “You will defy any limitation the accident places on you.” I’m putting a lot of stock in that right now because I’m really nervous I’m going to be too scared to try new things because this recovery process feels like it has been so long. I was already a pretty cautious person when it came to anything somewhat dangerous. Heights, skiing, and tubing are all things that give me a decent amount of anxiety. Every time I watch a video reel of people wiping out while sledding, skating, running, etc, I cringe and my stomach turns a little.

Normally, when I’m stressed or frustrated with something I go on a run or do a little yoga. It’s hard to find an outlet right now because I can’t do either of those things. Writing these posts have been helpful but it’s not as satisfying as a long run used to be.

Overall, the hard days are becoming far and few between. I feel like I’m on the upswing. It just happens to be a very long and slow swing.

With a Grateful Heart

There aren’t enough thank you cards in the world for me to properly thank everyone who has helped me since my sledding accident.

I feel so fortunate and lucky for everything my family and friends have done. I am so grateful for every care package, get well card, afternoon visit, and well wishes. It all makes my heart so full.

While all the outreach from family and friends has been incredibly helpful is has also been overwhelming in equal amounts. When I was in the hospital my boss came to visit and brought me a walker. She told me she and my co-workers came together and bought me a bed and helped move a couch (I was in the process of moving at the time). I was so overwhelmed by their generosity that I just started crying. My co-workers have also picked up a lot of my work load, which I am very grateful for.

One of my best friends from high school, Morgan, flew out to Montana to help during the first week home from the hospital. She put her life on hold for a week to help me get dressed each day. Morgan was the only reason I was able to fly home. She helped get me on and off planes, pushed me around the airport, and got dinner for us in Denver. If she hadn’t been with me I wouldn’t have been able to come home.

I have another friend from high school, Challiss, who flew into Iowa to help me and my family before my second surgery. She helped cook meals, get me up and going at the beginning of the day, and anything else I needed throughout the day. She made everything so much easier the first week I was home.

There were also a slew of people who came to visit, sent cards and care packages, brought dinner, and called. One of my mom’s friends sat with me in the afternoon and fixed me lunch after my second surgery. My friends have taken me out to lunch, dinner, and around town. Each visit, care package, and phone call reminds me of how many people I have on my team.

How do I thank these people who have done so much? A thank you card doesn’t seem to be enough. I’ve always found it amazing how people come together to help others. Like a little village is built from nothing with everyone working towards the same goal. That’s kind of how I feel. Like a little village has popped up to help me recover. I’m incredibly grateful for my village and don’t know what I would do with out it.

And We Adjust

Four weeks ago, on January 3, I had a sledding accident and shattered my left femur and heel. Since then it has been a roller coaster of pain, fear, frustration, worry, and every other emotion you can think of.

The accident happened just outside of Monarch, MT, in a little mountain campground area. After snowshoeing, we stopped there so Joe, my friend, could shoot his new gun. After we finished shooting I wanted to take the sled, which happened to be in the car, down a little hill. At the bottom of the hill was a campfire ring that was off to the side. I thought I would be able to avoid it and was doing pretty well until the very bottom when my sled veered right toward the fire pit. I didn’t have any time to slow down or jump off the sled and I hit the fire pit with my left leg. As soon as I hit it I knew something was broken. My leg laid there limp, like a log and there was no chance I was going to be able to move it. My sled was also broken.

We were very luck that Joe was able to flag down a car that happened to be driving down the small mountain road because he wasn’t going to be able to move me on his own. There were two men and one women who helped Joe get me back on the half broken sled, slide me across the snow, and hoist me into the back of his car like a make-shift ambulance. We then drove the 10-15 minutes to Monarch to use the landline at the local bar and call 911 (There isn’t any cell service in Monarch, MT). I then waited 30-40 minutes lying on the broken sled in the back of the car for the ambulance to get there. When the ambulance arrived they wanted to slide me off the broken sled onto a flat board and then on their gurney. I wouldn’t let them take me off the sled because the pain was too much. They pulled me out of the car on the sled and put me and my sled on their ambulance gurney. I laid on the broken sled for the 46 mile ride into Great Falls.

Once I got to the ER it was kind of a whirlwind. The nurses and doctors wanted to take me off the broken sled when I transferred from the ambulance gurney to the ER gurney. I wasn’t going to let them take the sled out from under me until I was given some pain medicine. I was finally given something for pain, which wasn’t very effective, before I went in for x-rays. I lost my battle to stay on the sled when I went back for x-rays because they weren’t going to get a good picture with me on it.

Shortly after x-rays, the surgeon came in to talk about the game plan. He explained that he would put a metal rod that would run the length of my thigh and would be there forever. It would be held in place by two pins, one at my hip and one at my knee. He also said that my broken leg was about an inch and a half shorter than my right leg and he would do his best to make them the same length. Finally, he said I would need a second surgery in a couple weeks to repair my shattered heel. I had about 15 minutes to process the fact that I was going into surgery. After surgery, I spent two nights in the hospital working on pain control and walking. I was sent home scared, frustrated, and unsure of how I was going to manage.

Five days later I followed up with my surgeon to talk about my heel surgery. After talking with him, family, and friends we decided it would be best for me to fly home for my second surgery. This would calm my nerves, as I didn’t have the support system to have around the clock care that I would need. Coming home would also calm my family’s worries. One week after the accident, I flew home with the help of a friend. After looking at many options, we quickly realized we were going to have to fly commercial. Flying with a shattered femur and heel in tow is one of the most stressful things I have done. I think my friend would say the same thing.

Once I got home the second surgery was scheduled about 3 weeks after the accident. I went into surgery and after two and a half hours, a lot of bone graft, five screws, and a plate later I had a new heel. Since the heel surgery I have been recovering at home with my parents and working on pain management and getting around the house.

The details of the accident are not something I like to tell and relive but they seem to be the thing that everyone wants to know. I understand why people want to know the details. It was a pretty bad accident that has laid me up for a significant amount of time and changed my plan for the next year or two. Friends and family want to know what happened and how it happened. However, retelling the story is mentally exhausting.

Through all this, I think it’s important to be able to mentally pull myself away from this situation and recognize that this is probably the hardest thing I have dealt with in my 25 years. I think it’s equally important to throw myself back into the situation and allow myself to feel frustrated, sad, scared, and overwhelmed. Headspace is a weird and difficult thing.

It can be hard to focus on the positive things but it’s important to remember that there are some good things that have come from this. I’m getting to spend a lot of time with my family and high school friends. I’ve seen some of my high school friends more in the past three weeks than I did in the last year. I’ve learned that I’m stronger and can handle more than I ever thought possible. This accident has also given me the opportunity to slow down and enjoy small things.

It’s comforting to remember that humans have an incredible ability to adjust to their circumstances. That is what I feel myself doing. In a short-term aspect, I’m learning a new way to taking care of myself, getting into bed, and getting dressed. In a long-term aspect I may need to adjust to chronic pain, a permanent limp, or not being able to run. I’ll deal with those things and adjust as they come. I’ll figure out how to mange the pain and might replace running with swimming.

All in all, it will be fine. I will be fine.

What if you read this?

What if…what if…what if it’s terrible…what if it’s great?

I stumbled across a poem this morning that stood out to me.

“There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask, ‘What if I fall?’

Oh but my darling,

What if you fly?”

-Erin Hanson

I like it because I think it is easy to relate to, especially if you’re a 20 something trying to figure it out. We are constantly looking for opportunities and weighing all the ‘what ifs.’

About 3 months ago I was laid off from my new job because of budget cuts. I had only been working there for a month. Since March, my life has been a constant battle of what if this and what if that.

Sometimes I think we focus of the negative ‘what ifs’ and forget about the positive ones. What if it doesn’t work? What if I fail? What if we end up hating each other? Because of this fear of a negative ‘what if’ we step away from an opportunity, a job, a relationship, ect. But the thing is, that ‘what if’ that we’re so afraid of, isn’t even real yet and might not ever be real.

It’s the positive ‘what if’ that we should focus on. What if it’s great? What if it’s my dream job? What if we fall in love? What if I’m happy? We’ll never know unless we try and take a leap of faith.

And if it doesn’t work you’ll pick yourself up and move on. Sure, you might fail, but if you do, you’ll grow and learn from it. That’s the beauty of life, everyday is a chance to grow and change. Wouldn’t you rather try something new and know it doesn’t work rather than wonder your entire life?

So take the chance and make the change. Take the leap of faith you’ve been thinking about. The only way to find out is to jump.

Don’t let the fear of a ‘what if’ ruin you’re chance at being happy.

I want a puppy, not a husband

When I moved home in August I knew I would be hanging out with my parents a lot. And it’s fine; they are actually kind of cool, fun, and not terrible to live with. Because I have been spending more time with them I have been watching the same shows they watch. One of their favorite shows is The Bachelor.

1389047393_the-bachelor-zoom

The Bachelor freaks me out. It’s been on for years and I have always understood the concept of it, but I’ve never really watched it. When they started watching the current season it really caught me off guard.

Maybe it affects me more because the women on the show are close to my age. These women are my peers and they are head over heels in love with this man, literally competing to marry him. It just seems so strange to me.

It’s not the getting married young part that freaks me out. I know a lot of people getting married right out of college. It seems like there is a new engagement popping up on Facebook every other day. If you’ve found your person, are in love, and it’s the right choice for you, go for it. I will gladly attend your wedding and enjoy the open bar. I’m just not at that point. (Read as single) The part about The Bachelor that really freaks me out is that they are competing for him.

It’s like romance gladiator style. Like they said, ‘Hey, let’s take this hot, single guy, throw a bunch of pretty, single women at him, tell them he is going to marry one and we’ll see what happens.” The only thing they are missing is the Coliseum and the tigers that used to eat people. Although, if there were tigers on the show I might be more inclined to watch it. Tigers are awesome.

The winner of the show gets the guy and the losers get a glass of champagne and a sad limo ride. The women that get sent home are losers. So, if we were going by that logic, every failed first date or failed relationship I have had would make me a loser. I am a dating/relationship loser according to the show’s standards, but there is no champagne or limo to take me home after a terrible first date.

Seriously, an entire show about women competing to marry one man. Why not have a show where young men and women are competing to get jobs and figure out their life? That would be more realistic and useful. I could watch that and learn from it. The winner would get the job and a puppy. It would really be a win-win for everyone.

Why is there so much pressure to be married, engaged, or in a relationship? I am the only one of my cousins that is still single. They are all married or in long term relationships. I can’t tell you the number of times a family member has said, “Alli, when are you going to get a boyfriend?” or “Alli, there’s a wedding coming up, are you going to have a date?” I just don’t get it. Why do I have to be in a relationship?

I’m happy and I’m enjoying life. It will happen when it happens. And maybe I’ll get a puppy in the meantime.

Let me see your stone curl

Olympic glory is in my future. It turns out my friend, Steph, and I are natural curlers. We are currently looking at going to the 2018 Winter Olympics and hope to bring home the gold. Like I said, glory.

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but we weren’t half bad. At least the instructors said we were somewhat of naturals.

The Cedar Rapids Curling Club hosted an open curling event at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena over the weekend. For $10 you could learn the rules of the game, how to sweep, and how to throw or deliver the stone. Going in, I thought it was going to be something fun and easy to do, but it was a lot more physically demanding than I realized. I think we both walked away with a new appreciation for the sport.

The one picture I took of the event.

The one picture I took of the event.

A lot of people of all ages turned out for the event. They made us sign a waver in case we got hurt. I signed it but didn’t think much of it. I figured it’s ice and I know it’s slick. However, a number of people did fall and get hurt. There was one man who fell and hit his head. His feet came up from under him and he fell back. His baseball hat flew off and he cracked the back of his head on the ice. Steph and I saw it happen from behind the flexi-glass and were worried and horrified. When the man sat up there was blood running down his head. He was fine, but may have needed stitches.

Curling. Is. Intense.

The event started at 9 am (sunrise curling) with registration. Then we were given a short lecture on the rules, terms, and scoring. The object of the game is to get your stone(s) as close as possible to the center of the rings called the house. Each team gets to throw 8 stones (2 stones for each player on a team) for a total of 16 stones being thrown in a game. You can knock the other team’s stone out of play if necessary.

Once we got through the lecture they taught us how to sweep the ice. The point of sweeping is the create friction on the ice so the stone slides further and controls how much it curls or bends. They said a good sweeper can make a stone go 12-14 feet further compared to it not being swept at all. I’m going to tell you that it does a number on your arms and back.

Once we finished with the sweeping lesson we learned how to deliver the stone. They told us it’s like riding a bike – once you find your balance you’ll never forget how to do it. The hard part about finding your balance is that you’re on ice, which is slick. They also give you a shoe to put on the has teflon on the bottom so you can slide easier. It’s like strapping a banana peel to your foot and walking around. That thing is a slippery little devil. So you’ve got one teflon shoe and a 42 lb stone that you’re trying to slide across the ice while in a deep lunge. It’s very tricky, but they were right, once you get it, you get it. It took a couple tries and a number of falls before we got the hang of it.

And that concluded the curling lesson. It was a lot of fun and a great way to kick off my New Year’s Resolution. If their league wasn’t during my shift at work I would totally join and play regularly.

Here is some local news coverage of the event so you can get a better feel for it.

 

New year, new goals, same struggle

Lose weight. Eat better. Find a boyfriend. Land your dream job. Be happy.

NewYearsResolutions

New Year’s Resolution tend to make me sad. They always feel like goals that never have a true intention of being met. Because of this I have not made one in a long time.

But two years ago I made two very simple goals: run more and donate my hair by the end of the year. Donating my hair was very easy, even though growing your hair out for an entire year is very serious. It really takes a lot of work. (Not really)

I knew the goal of running more was going to be a bit harder, but it wasn’t until a couple months in that I realized why. It was because the goal of ‘running more’ was too vague. Getting up every morning and thinking, ‘Gosh, I should really run today because it was my New Year’s Resolution,’ just wasn’t enough to get me to do it. So I decided to take a little more action with it and signed up for a half marathon. And it worked. Setting up a second goal to go with my resolution gave me the extra push.

I think this can go across all resolutions. If you feel yourself starting to slack on your goal think of something you can do to keep yourself going. Want to eat more healthy? Try having a meatless Monday dinner night. Want to go to church more regularly? Try joining a group in your church that meets during the week to get more involved. Want to lose wight? Try joining some type of training class like yoga or Crossfit.

Most of the second goals involve joining an existing group or class. I think it works better because it’s easier to make yourself go to these classes and keep your resolution if there are other people involved in the same activity.  It’s easy to skip going to the gym if you’re going alone.

This year, I’ve decided to do a different type of resolution. My goal is to try new things. I’m going to try to do a new recreational activity every 3 months, so 4 new things by the end of the year. I want to have fun with it, meet new people and maybe start some new hobbies. I’m going to start with curling this Sunday with one of  my best friends.

So do more, play more and laugh more. Have fun and enjoy yourself this year. It will only be 2014 once, so take advantage of it.

sNOw Joke About It

We all know it’s winter and we all know what comes with winter. But it feels like this winter has been going on for years. We can’t seem to get a break. Cold, then snow, then more cold, then more snow and repeat. While we seem to have a little break right now, I’m sure it is going to be short lived.

And I’m going to tell you now that I. Am Sick. Of. It.

But you wouldn’t have been able to tell that I hate snow if you saw me working on my snow fort in our front yard. I was working on it and kept thinking, “my mom is going to think this is so cool when she gets home from work.” She, in fact, thought I was dorky for building a snow fort but whatever.

I’ve decided to take a different approach to the snow. I’m going to try and enjoy it. I’m hoping it’s going to be easier than hating it. Because hating is starting to get old. With this new out look on the weather I’ve been trying to think of snow related things to do.

So far I’ve come up with:

  • Snow shoeing (Fin and Feather in Iowa City provides rentals for $15 a day. Cha ching)
  • Curling (The Cedar Rapids Curling Club has 3 sessions of open curling coming up. I’m looking to partners to go with me)
  • Sledding (Traditional but always fun)
  • Finishing my snow fort and then hanging out in it with my dog

I think trying to enjoy the winter weather will be more fun than hating it, or at least I hope so. I figure nothing fun or productive can come out of hating something.

I tried to force this “winter is fun!” idea on our dog and she did not agree with me. Of course my method was to lightly  toss her into a pile of snow. (She’s little) She was not happy. I hope she’ll still hang out with me in my fort.

I yelled “Tinder”, but it didn’t go down

I want to start off by saying that the Tinder app is probably the worst thing ever. That being said I find it fascinating and addicting at the same time. If you don’t know what Tinder is, Google it. Unless you’re reading this and you’re my grandmother. In that case, please, stop reading, Grandma.

I started ‘Tindering’ in October and have been using the app on and off. I have not met my ‘prince charming’ or yet alone anyone. It’s just something fun (although a little strange) to do right now. So far, I have talked to several men and met one for coffee (totally innocent).

I have noticed that the male users of Tinder don’t really know the best way to use the app. For example, choose your pictures wisely. Seeing a photo with a bunch of people is great because I can see that you actually have friends, but I need to know which one you are. Also, make sure I can see your face. This is a hot or not app and I need to be able to judge accordingly. I can’t judge your hotness off a poorly cropped photo that only shows your bicep. However, your arm is looking pretty good, maybe I will swipe right. False.

My second pet peeve about Tinder is the ‘About’ section. Please, use it! If I owned a company I wouldn’t hire someone who handed me a blank resume. If you can’t come up with a sentence about yourself, I’ll swipe left. And coming up with a clever saying about the song “Timber” and Tinder is not really that clever. (Please disregard the title of this post.) And my personal favorite ‘About’ section line is, “I’m down to lie about how we met.” I see it a lot but it never gets old.

Once you are matched with someone the conversations can be very interesting. As a general personal rule, I very rarely talk first. Not sure why, I just don’t. A conversation deal breaker on Tinder is giving me a nick name. I’m not your babe, hun or sweetie. And never, never give me a nick name based on my hair. The best I’ve gotten was ‘fire fox.’ I’m a person, not an Internet browser.

Tinder makes me wonder how my generation is going to meet people. We’re so plugged in that it seems there is a network for everything. We’ll get a job on LinkedIn, share our random thoughts on Twitter, share our more thought out thoughts on blogs (thank you for reading), and creep till our hearts content on Facebook. There are people that I know solely on Facebook and it’s weird when I have to interact with them in real life. I once found a social network for neighbors to connect and share ideas on ways to improve their community. What about knocking on your neighbor’s door and inviting them to a block party? Doesn’t that sound more fun? And I admit, I fall victim to the social network madness. Actually, I fall pretty hard.

I highly doubt I’ll meet my ‘prince charming’ on Tinder, but it’s fun and harmless right now. (As long as you’re smart about it) But let’s say, just for fun, that I meet the ‘one’ on Tinder, we could say it was love at first swipe.

And I’ll leave you with a short video about a girl and a boy on Tinder.

Confessions of a Cashier

I have been a part time cashier for seven years. Being a grocer has been my part time job since I was a sophomore in high school and through out college. Now, in the wake of accepting a full time job, I will hang up my bow tie and name tag (unless I can pick up a shift on the weekend). I figured it was time to shed some light on the art of distributing food to the locals, aka: scanning groceries.

Some things:

  • I only judge customers on one thing: how you want your groceries bagged. You want double bagged? Okay, no problem. You want paper? We can do that. You want double paper? Really, double paper? You brought your own bags that smell like your cats? Ugh, fine.  You want one item per bag and then double bagged? Okay, but you’re going to get 100 bags. You want an origami swan with your food nestled in the belly of the swan? Leave the store right now.
  • I don’t really care what you buy, junk or healthy food. You don’t need to justify your junk food. When you say, “Gosh, I’m only buying junk food. It’s terrible,” I’m thinking, “What time do you want me to come over and help you eat it?”
  • Do not, under any circumstances, talk on your phone when you come through my line. I will crush your bread.
  • If you’re purchasing flowers, shampoo or a basil plant, I will smell them. That’s just how it is. Sorry.

In all honesty I’m going to miss all the weirdos that come through my line. They keep the world interesting and always make for a good story. Like the time a man came through my line, bought a rose (which I smelled), then left it on my check stand with a note that said “text me” with his number (I did not text him per my mothers warning). Or the time a man came through my coworkers line with his pants unzipped and his penis hanging out (she kept a straight face, I was impressed). Or when a man told me I should be a hand model (maybe I’ll rethink my career plan). Or when my former professor came through my line and purchased condoms (super awkward).

I could go on for days, but I won’t.

There are a lot of interesting people and they all need food.