I am an outlier. I am an old fart who is also a CrossFitter. This makes me weird, but it also makes me incredibly unlike most old farts out there. First of all, I live in world that is growing increasingly fat. Our food is abominable and we are bombarded with advertisements urging us to eat, eat, eat. Every trip down the road brings us past a fast food establishment offering a host of high calorie, low nutrition “foods”.

I prefer cooking my own food and find going out to eat far more work than actually cooking a meal. By the time I decide where to go, get in the car, get there, wait for a table, wait for wait staff to take my order, wait for it to be cooked, wait for it to come to the table, wait for a bill, and get back home, I could have cooked the meal twice over. It’s not that I’m that busy and don’t have the time to waste on such endeavors, it’s that I’m lazy and find the interminable waiting to be a pain in the ass.

So, I eat clean. Well, not really. I eat cleaner than most Americans. I have perhaps one soda a year and I like to try McDonald’s fish sandwich once a year just to make sure they are still ruining it. No cheese/orange slab on mine. Small fries to go with it. And coffee, so this isn’t even when I have my yearly soda.

I love sweets and desserts but even so, I limit this part of my diet to something a bit more manageable. I love pasta and my only limit there is to really only serve one serving size at a time. I’m a fan of really good bakery bread, but I don’t eat too much of that either. It’s not that I’m a saint about eating clean, it’s that my likes and dislikes aren’t tipping me over into the “all junk food” diet.

All this makes me a bit of an outlier, but this isn’t where I’m most obvious. You see, I CrossFit. A lot. Not really all that well, but consistently. And because I’ve been consistent over a long period of time, the people I work out alongside don’t remember how very astoundingly crappy I was when I began.

They see this rather amazing old fart who has heart rate issues but can manage to muddle along with the WODs and get crap done, albeit slowly and without an excess amount of weight. Having said that, every single damn thing I do today was something I couldn’t do at all when I began. I needed a damn cane to lunge down the mat, for God’s sake. I used a PVC pipe for almost every lift. I had a kid sized med ball for wall balls.

Today, I have weight on my weight for almost everything (I still can’t fall under the bar in a full snatch without falling over if I use more than the lightest bar we have). I lunge down the mat without a stick to support myself. I use a real med ball to a nine foot mark for wall balls and as much as I whine about everything, I do it anyway.

And so, people who can see me at the box think it’s possible for parents or grandparents to be like me. It is, but not right away. Anyone can do what I do, as long as they work at it as hard as I have worked. I know I sound like I’m bragging right now and I don’t mean to, but I’m really sort of a big deal. Not that I’m breaking any world records, but I am doing things women of my generation didn’t always do.

It’s hard. It’s hard for everyone. This whole CrossFit thing is a lot of work. And it matters what happens for the rest of the day outside the box. You can’t blow off the other 23 hours in the day and then be a superstar in the gym. It doesn’t work that way. And it doesn’t matter if you are the best athlete in the world, it’s hard. The weights are heavy. The WODs are difficult. It takes skill and determination to get through this shit.

I don’t know if it is even harder for a Little Old Lady or not. I don’t know how much other people struggle with any of this nonsense. I do know how hard I’ve worked and how many tears I’ve shed. I know how often I’ve thought of quitting. I know that I’ve gone back again anyway. I know I struggle with every single part of this CrossFit thing. And I know I have won. I have balance, core strength, muscles, even endurance that beats anything I had five years ago when I was younger and unfitter. I’m not a star, but I am impressive as hell. And if you or your mother or your grandmother wants this, you or they can work for it and get here, too. Even if I might make it look very doable, I want to be sure you understand, this is really hard. So I guess that makes me a hardass. I’m good with that. I earned the title.

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This is not me. My hair isn’t this long. 

I am gaining weight. I’m not fat. I’ve never really been fat. But I am gaining weight and it isn’t muscle mass, it is fat. I’m ten pounds heavier than I was six months ago. I’m almost what I weighed before I began CrossFit, although it is packaged different.

My mother put herself on a low-low-low-fat diet for the last ten or fifteen years of her life. “If it tastes good, spit it out” was her motto. She drove us all nuts. She wouldn’t eat an egg so when I made a breakfast lasagna, I had to make a corner with all egg whites and mark it so she would have some. She denied herself many of her taste pleasures.

I don’t really know if it prolonged her life or not. I don’t even know if she got some satisfaction from controlling her diet. She started the rigorous stuff after Dad’s unsuccessful surgery and perhaps taking over a portion of her life in which she could have complete control gave her some sense of peace. Or maybe she was just nuts.

I don’t want to turn into my mom – at least regarding the whole crazy eating thing. But I’m getting fat. Okay, not fat. But I’m gaining weight.

It’s been two years since I did the Whole Life Challenge and I’ve gotten away from much of the cleaner eating stuff I learned to do during those eight weeks. Of course, during those eight weeks, I made Mom’s eating issues look like child’s play. I was crazy nuts about anything I ate. They gave out points and this was something I had control over. I couldn’t do much at the gym, but by God, I could manage my diet.

Except, I’m still at the gym and still crappy at it. But now I’m not watching my diet. I know what I need to do. I know pretty much where it fell apart. I bought a vat of Moose Munch and I ate the whole thing. I had to. Dick can’t eat popcorn or nuts and so I had this vat of deliciousness and I ate it. All.

Then I bought a two, not one, but two different large containers of cashews. I love cashews. I ate all of them, too. I’m on my fourth or maybe fifth bag of cheese curls. Delicious and salty. I have three favorite foods – chocolate, coffee, and salt. And I’m eating all of it.

Almond milk is really just white water with a bit of grit thrown in to make your last gulp of coffee regrettable. It doesn’t work well for cooking and doesn’t taste good in coffee or on cereal. Another thing I couldn’t have while doing the Whole Life Challenge was cereal, but notice how I know almond milk doesn’t taste good on it. I’ve fallen off the healthy food wagon.

I started drinking milk again instead and it is 120 calories per cup more than the white water with grit. But my coffee tastes better and we can actually cook with it.

My problem seems to be that although I know what I’m supposed to do, I’m not doing it. Not even pretending to do it. I’m just watching myself get fatter.

And since I’m not fat, when I say I’m getting fatter, it upsets those who care about me. I’m not fat. I know I’m not fat. I’m not about to turn into a anorexic at this late date. I do not miss a meal. One of the worst things about the whole new car buying experience was that I did, in fact, miss a meal and it was awful.

Since I’m just ten pounds heavier than I was six months ago, it doesn’t show too much and I’m still fitting into my clothes. But I won’t for long if I don’t do something about the continual uptick in numbers. But I keep hearing how I shouldn’t turn into the crazy diet person. But I don’t want to have to lose thirty pounds later. If I can get a handle on things and rein in my snacking and munching and grazing, I will be fine.

But if I mention I need to do so, I’m told I’m thin and I should enjoy life. I do enjoy life. I enjoy being this size and fitting in all my clothes and not having to pick and choose what I pull from the closet because only a few things still fit. I hated that.

It is hard to realize that as I age, I just can’t metabolize all the calories I used to. And as I age, I’m sitting more. I’m no longer even walking around an office for a few hours a week. I’m left to my own devices and I find I’m a complete slug. I don’t move out of my chair unless it is to go and get a snack.

I don’t want to do another Whole Life Challenge because I was completely nuts. But I don’t really know how to make myself behave even when it is in my own best interest. Life is just hard.

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Yesterday we went to Hilton Head and saw the completed Conviction Training Facility and got to play a little there. They began their own health and wellness challenge yesterday and thirty people have made a commitment toward healthier living for the next six weeks.

After everyone was finished with their pre-challenge measurements, Craig and I worked on my pull-ups. I didn’t mean for that to happen, but when I asked him what I could do to get my pull-ups conquered before the end of the year, he wanted to know where I was currently and we did several different things. He gave me homework. I’m pitiful, is pretty much what we decided, but I’m also determined and willing to work toward a goal.

I’m working on various portions of banded pull-ups that will translated into real pull-ups and I’m working on negative pull-ups to get the muscle mass built. Both are challenging but I’m smarter today than I was yesterday and I know where and how to work. I will get this.

I looked at the WOD last night which wasn’t easy since the cable blipped again, but I finally could see it and I just giggled.

Got up in the middle of the cold night and headed to the box. Cindy and Todd were both back but Ricky was MIA. Carma was back, too. Two other women were there so Todd was completely outnumbered.

Warm-up was a 800 meter run and I did 400 meters and my knee mostly held out. I wanted to quit halfway through and pushed myself for the next 100 meters and then figured there was only 100 more and I could run it in – it wasn’t my legs giving out; it was my head. So I ran the whole way. I am not a runner. We did other stuff and I still can’t lunge with my right knee all the way to the mat and holding a squat is painful. We did stretches and then went to the WOD.

Today’s WOD as written:
5,4,3,2,1 Front squats
Quarter gone bad
5 RFT
15 sec of work 45 sec of rest with
135/95# thrusters
50/35# pull ups
burpees

I haven’t done front squats in a while and my weight on squats has been low. My knee seems to be nearly healed and as soon as it squawks, I’ve been quitting. But I opted to at least start, which was more than I did a couple weeks ago. I began with 43# and did five reps, went to 53# for the 4 reps, 63# for the 3 reps, 68# for the 2 reps and that was hurting a smidgeon so I stayed with that for one more rep. No sense reinjuring myself.

Last night I was trying to figure out how a timed on/off work load would be Rounds For Time, but I gave up trying to make any sense of it and figured it was written wrong and they were rounds for total reps, which is what happened.

I used just the 33# for the thrusters, the 2″ band for the pull-ups. But I did them Craig style. I did not cross my feet and that took some thinking. I pushed off from the top of the bar. No kipping allowed and no chin pointing up. It was arms that got me up there and good luck with all that nonsense. Then burpees. I firmly believe the two weeks of constant burpees is what did my knee it. In large numbers I have to walk them in and out and that torques my knee. We had something like 300 burpees in the WODs over a two week period and my right leg died. I was frightened by these today. But I did real burpees instead of walking them at all and it was only 15 seconds at a time. I gave myself permission to quit any of this as soon as my knee hurt.

Thrusters – 33# Pull-ups – 2″ band Burpees

Total per round

5

8

4

17

5

7

4

16

5

8

4

17

5

8

4

17

5

7

5

17

I was pretty dang consistent with this. I was beeping like crazy at the end of each 15 second push and would barely get back to 150-155 range before it was time to start up again.

I got done without dying and got my heart rate back down to about 130 before I started on my homework. I did 3 sets of 2 negative pull-ups and I can hold for just a fraction of a second at the top and drop like not-quite-a-stone-but-pretty-fast which isn’t anywhere at all like the 3 seconds I’m shooting for. I’m to do this twice a week until I can get a controlled slow drop and then go to 3 sets of 3.

After everyone was gone, Ryan and I talked about my diet. I’m not getting enough protein. I really know that. I’m good with salads and with fruits and veggies. But my protein intake isn’t high enough to give my body the building blocks it needs to increase muscle mass and if I want to crank my fat ass up to a pull-up, I’m going to need some muscles. I’m going to have to work on my diet some more. Damn. I also have been not eating quite as clean and I have gained 2.5 pounds since the end of the WLC, which isn’t too bad because I’m not yet back to my top permissible weight. But it is easier to lose 2.5 pounds than it is to lose 5 pounds. However, if I’m trying to gain muscle mass, that is going to screw up my weight numbers. I have no idea how to manage this. I could do some research and figure it out. Great, more work.

This living healthy is really hard. There are so many parts to it. But I want to rage against the dark and not go quietly into that good night. So, I have work to do. And, my knee still doesn’t hurt.

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What I learned in 2013

1. I learned if I keep at something, even when I’m really bad at it, I improve. There were so many times I wanted to quit the whole CrossFit experience. I couldn’t do anything. I was impossible. I was old and weak and just couldn’t do this. It was a young person’s game. I wasn’t a young person. I should quit. I can’t quit. Old people CAN do CrossFit. It is all scalable. There is a way. Practice makes perfect. Just keep on keeping on.

The highs and lows of pushing myself was a tremendous learning experience. Usually, I either excel at something or quit. I hate failing. I hate being the worst at anything. It has taken everything I have to keep going back. Coach Mike saved me one day when I was in tears. He told me, “You are always the best in your age group. Do you realize how impressive it is that you come back here day after day while most people, not even most people your age, but most people are still home in bed?” He gave me permission to frame my failings as successes. Pretty good for a 23-year-old kid.

2. I learned that traveling is really, really fun but that it also throws curveballs your way. I loved the river cruise we took. I hated hearing time and again, “You should have been here last year” since the year before it wasn’t snowing in March and April. I learned that wearing socks on your hands for mittens beats having frozen fingers but they aren’t really that good as mittens.

I learned that Roman construction is so durable that it still stands all this time later. I learned that the history of the US is puny and insignificant when compared to the history of Europe. Both places were inhabited for nearly the same amount of time, but writing keeps the stories alive. As a writer of history, this is both gratifying and scary. How many stories have we lost forever and what is the cost of that loss?

3. I learned that technology is both my friend and my enemy. When my computer died, I had to replace it. I have been using the Windows GUI interface since 1995. I liked my desktop and my start button. I still miss the start button and still hate my Windows 8 computer. I still don’t know how to find the things I used to know how to get to with a simple click. I have no idea why they did this, but because I need a computer, I have had to deal with it.

I am online now via this horrible computer, my smart phone which has its own idiosyncratic behavior, and my Kindle Fire which is even crankier. I really need a tablet in here to round out my technological frustration level.

4. I learned that even nurses who worked in the field for decades can learn new things about health. I also learned that many people recite health myths because they have heard them preached before and they aren’t based in any medical fact. It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the myths and the facts and being an informed consumer is essential. Also, knowing where to look for reliable information is mandatory.

I don’t know who started some of the myths or why they have had such a long life. I do know that just because “everyone” says something doesn’t make it right or true and it usually isn’t even everyone but a bunch of loud mouths.

5. I have learned that my family is made up of individuals who cannot be controlled by my wishes. We love each other and yet, we each have to live our own lives and make our own choices. No one is checking in with me to see if I approve which works out pretty well since I check in with no one else and ask their approval for my choices.

The best I can do in any of these familial situations is deal with myself and hope for the best. I love my family members to the moon and back and their choices are their choices. I can only hope they return the affection and permission and that we can all learn to live together in peace and harmony or at least without acrimony and accusations.

6. I have learned that I’m braver than I thought I could be while being frightened by nearly everything. I have learned that there is much more to learn and I will never know it all but can always know more than I did yesterday. I have learned to take a deep breath, regroup, and try again. I have learned that laughter makes even the most wretched of times more bearable. I have learned that love truly does make the world go round.

And now, as I face the next moment, day, week, month, year – I’m ready to learn some more stuff. Bring it on, world, I’m as ready as I can be.

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I’m on Facebook and get to see the insides of way too many people’s minds. Sometimes the filtering system is slightly askew and I see way more than I see daily in my real life. We tend to not filter when speaking to a wider audience of the hundreds of friends on Facebook but when speaking to one or a small group, there is some internal dialog that keeps us from sharing too much information – sometimes.

Today, on my News Feed was a bunch of stuff about body image, body shape, fatness, fat shaming, and the like. It is the holiday season and so there were also links to various and sundry tasty dishes made especially for the holiday or for parties. What a disconnect.

Some of the recipes that appear on my feed are not all that bad. I have liked some Paleo sites and they put up recipes made from whole foods and lacking in sugars and starches.

Many of us claim to want the perfect body. I have no idea what that would look like but I know I’m too old to have one since when I picture it, there aren’t a bunch of wrinkles and … well I don’t want to get into TMI, but I am sixty.

That body, whatever it looks like, is not for sale. It isn’t for sale no matter what your age or gender. That sculpted look comes from sculpting. You don’t buy it in a box of Oreos, you get it at a gym. And slender or slim is not the same as skinny and while not necessarily dooming, skinny isn’t always healthy. Although, as a teenager I was skinny AND healthy (just a high metabolism and active life), it isn’t a guarantee.

And that’s the thing. We stress the LOOK of a weight or body type or shape or whatever. What we need to concentrate on is the health aspect. Being healthy isn’t a given. Like anything else worthwhile, it is earned. It comes from doing the right things.

If you eat fast food daily, you aren’t going to be as healthy as you could manage. Eating healthy means more fruits and veggies and less bread around them. Processed foods aren’t healthy no matter how they taste or what the label says. And that is our problem. We base our food choices, far too often, on taste alone. Or maybe the advertising. It is harder to have healthy food around. It takes more effort to peel an orange than to open a bag of chips. It’s easy to pick up a pizza and cooking parsnips takes a long time.

To add insult to injury, even foods that could be purchased off the shelf are made unhealthy by our food suppliers. We are having ever more difficult times trying to get food as Mother Nature made instead of Monsanto and the GMO crowd. Yes, it is nice that Round Up can kill the weeds and not the plants, but I’m not all that crazy about the entire population of the US being used for long term studies on how these modifications will affect lifespan and health.

The hardest thing I’ve done in years has been going BACK to the gym four times a week. It is daunting and lots of work each time I go. It is difficult and at times humiliating. The only way to get back to the body I knew was hiding here was to work for it. I was tired of being old and fat, old and tired, old and out of shape, old and winded, old and creaky. Now I’m just old and there isn’t much I can do about that. I don’t think I’ve been humiliated for a while, but I am still often chagrined. I am much younger and more able inside my head than outside it and I make attempts at things that old farts, or at least this old fart, can’t manage – yet.

But the thing is, with cleaner eating and more exercise, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for the last couple decades. That’s what I’m really saying. I’m better now than I was at 40 (maybe, I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I stopped playing racquetball, but around that age). I’m stronger than I have ever been, for sure. I know there was never a time in my previous life when I could back squat with close to 100 pounds resting on my shoulders.

It didn’t come free and it sure wasn’t easy. It is difficult to get out of a nice warm bed on a cold winter morning and hit the gym. Eating better isn’t all that easy, either. Not only because of the work or price of healthier foods, but because of habit. It is ridiculously easy to grab a granola bar of any variety, but when you read the ingredient label and understand what it says, it is scary. And nauseating.

When I was born, Americans ate 0 pounds of high fructose corn syrup per year. It wasn’t around yet. Today, Americans average over 50 pounds of that shit per person per year. I eat some because I’m not a purist, but I don’t get my 50 pounds in – someone else is getting that for me.

You deserve health which means you have to take care of the place you live. This means that some of your snack food needs to be rethought. It means working at a better diet and working at working out or at least getting off your ass. It means taking care of your heart and soul as well. Being kind and generous does wonders for your health. Intellectually stimulating your precious brain does great things for your overall worthiness. Doing something that matters with your days gives not only structure but meaning to your life.

It isn’t easy – this health crap. It takes effort and planning – lots of planning. You must buy healthy food, set your alarm, make the time to do the things on your personal To Do list, and care for yourself. Nope. Not easy at all. But so very worth it.

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I live in the South which means that it doesn’t get cold until later and when it does, it isn’t all that cold. It also means that some leaves have started to fall off the trees, but there are plenty more where those came from.

Today is sunny with wispy clouds streaking a bright blue sky. It is also windy. My wind chimes are making lots of noise outside my window as I type. But I knew it was windy before because as I was leaving the development to get to the store, the leaves were falling like rain. It was such a pretty sight. They were swirling through the sky like large snowflakes and without the bitter cold.

Part of the Whole Life Challenge was to appreciate the world around me. I have tried, although not consistently, to notice the beauty of the world, the simplicity of nature, and the wonder of living here and now. Today I was struck by the who shebang.

I was buying food and once again I noticed that while the WLC is over, I have actually incorporated many things into my life over the eight weeks. I bought a second small saucepan today which doesn’t sound very momentous, but it is. It was a conscious choice to eat different stuff. Dick hated the quinoa and I liked it. He doesn’t want to eat it ever again and I do.

Tomorrow, I want to have ham and broccoli and then have quinoa. He can have rice. I have three different saucepans already, but how do you cook one serving of either of those in a two or three quart pan and not burn it to death. I needed another smaller pan. I spend money like we have it. Okay, it was $8 and not going to break the bank. The bigger problem I had at the store was deciding if I had a good place to keep it when not in use.

I also bought some more natural, no sugar added, peanut butter for me and some Jif peanut butter for him. This is a choice. I have learned how to make the stuff without sugar taste good buy stirring in some Stevia. Duh. But it tastes wonderful on my apples and so, I enjoy it.

I have butter for me and margarine for him. He eats bread and I don’t. While I was on this challenge, Thomas’s changed the recipe for their English muffins and they simply do not taste right which I thought at first was just me after eight weeks of no bread. But they don’t cut right either and so I don’t think it is me. I’m trying to decide what to do about no bread with my eggs and I think I will just have to scramble them.

I’m still drinking almond milk and have no problem with it. I like it in my coffee and I’ve tried cooking with it and it seems to work okay. I’m sure when I go to make the next batch of Beer Cheese Soup, I will get my regular pint of 1/2 and 1/2 and make the soup the right way because I sure don’t want to ruin a batch of that.

I’ve been eating dried fruit and been less diligent about the sugar added to that. The dates are fine but the dried cranberries aren’t. I’m not on a point system, so I’m not as fanatic about stuff. I’m still eating lots of cashews, almonds, and pistachios but some of the almonds had flavored sugar around them.

And the drop in fanaticism or lack of points led me to a bit of a problem this past week. I didn’t mobilize for two days in a row because I have no idea why except I was too lazy to actually do it. Somehow, taking ten to fifteen minutes seemed like a struggle and instead I was tight and sore and didn’t really need to be. I know better but I chose poorly because of – no good reason. Laziness, slacker status, dumbness – all are possible.

I don’t know exactly what percentage of my food is “good” or “Paleo” or whatever designation. I’ve been eating Honey Mustard Dressing (homemade) on my salads, but after a few weeks of that, I’m ready for some vinaigrette again. My salads themselves stayed exactly the same. I bought some rice crackers which were better than wheat crackers inside my head, but I don’t know about anywhere else. I made olive dip/spread again. I’ve eaten some cheese.

Dick brought me back some taffy from his trip to Florida. I don’t know how much there was, but I ate it all. Every single piece. It was delicious and tasty but I didn’t need it. I have asked him to not do that again, not because I don’t like taffy, but because I do. I would have enjoyed ten pieces and been happy but instead I had at least a pound of the stuff and feel guilty and like I have no willpower or am ruled by appetites that should be controlled.

All that said, all the badness foods, four weeks after the challenge, and I’m back up a pound. So I need to rethink some of that. Mostly, I need to remember that life is for living and some bad foods are wonderful. The three bowls of ice cream with Velvet Fudge Sauce were worth every morsel. Even some of the taffy was. Eating out with friends and not obsessing about the menu was priceless. Knowing how to choose better was, too.

Appreciating not just the scenery, but the freedom to choose foods is something we all take for granted. There are some places in the world where food is so scarce, you eat what you have and hope there will be more tomorrow – which is truly Paleo, but not the way I want to select my diet.

I’m looking forward to our Thanksgiving feast. Sarah is hosting and is a wonderful cook. So is Dayna and quite frankly, so am I. I know that the food we are eating is not “compliant” and I know it will be tasty. And I’m willing to throw caution to the winds and enjoy the food and the family that surrounds it. What an easy choice to make.

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Rambling and unassociated thoughts for the day.

I’ve been obsessing about food as much post-WLC as I did during. I can tell you every “bad” thing I’ve eaten since this ended. I can’t tell you every “good” thing I’ve eaten, but they have been in the majority. I don’t know if 80% Paleo means that eight out of ten days is completely Paleo or if 80% of the food by weight or calories or something is compliant.

Regardless of what I am or am not eating, I weighed in this morning just to see if I was off track or not. I am the exact same weight as I was last Wednesday. I pick this day to weigh because it is a non-WOD day. My performance at the box has been okay this week, too. I have done mobilization each and every night immediately after supper/dinner/whatever you call the evening meal and before I’m allowed any dessert or treat.

Next topic.

A friend has been punished with a dental issue and talk of dentists crept into her writing. I personally hate going to the dentist. I have hated this since I was ten and Dr. Anderson pulled two healthy and so not very willing teeth and I got braces in order to fit all my teeth into my small, delicate, girly mouth. I’m not a good dental patient. I am always nervous and I try to remember not to bite anyone, but it is not always easy.

My dentist understands my fear, loathing, and possible psychosis on this. She is great and makes sure I’m always numbed to the gills before doing anything. This meant that last time I had two fillings, it was nightfall before the numbing stuff completely wore off, but at least it didn’t hurt during the filling stuff.

I always feel bad, because when I had my big girl job, people hated to see me. I was seeing people day after day, as they were experiencing one of the worst days in their lives. I always tried to be as pleasant and understanding as possible as I helped them cope with this totally frightening and horrific experience.

I was an OR nurse for twelve years. (Prior to that I was ICU/CCU and those people were so glad to be alive and their families were so grateful when we maintained that status, that some of the loathing was gone – but the fear was still there. Before that even, I worked the regular Med/Surg floors and those people just hated the whole experience, too. Hospitals are simply not fun places to be.)

Like my dentist, I knew that people didn’t hate me personally. I also knew that they needed me to take care of them to the best of my ability. And so, that’s what I did. I had my routine blah, blah, blah checklist I HAD to work through before anything else could happen. But instead of being robotic, I always tried to make it personal and ask open-ended questions and pause to LISTEN to the answer. By doing this, I found out some very interesting things over the years. Life-saving or life-altering types of things. I listened. I believe this is the greatest gift we can give to anyone.

This segues into the next topic.  I think this is why blogging is so popular. Bloggers write about topics of interest and then … this is the tricky part … other people might read it. Sometimes you know they read it because stats say so many hits on your blog for the day. Sometimes you know they read it because they hit the Like button, if there is one. Sometimes they reply and leave a comment. That’s amazing.

Total strangers come across something you wrote and then they leave a comment. You “spoke” and they liked or sometimes disliked what you said enough to respond. Seven billion people on the planet and somehow these strangers out there in the world found your blog, read it, and replied. That, to me, is astounding. And then even more remarkably, sometimes you get to know and care about these people.

I don’t know how I have found all the people I follow. I sample a few days’ worth of blogs and if I like it enough, I start following. I’ve done it so many times that I’m following too many blogs and my inbox is overfilled with notifications that they have written something. Some people I always – always, always – read, some I usually read, some I read when the title catches my eye, and some I’ve lost interest in. That last is sad, but … and here is the kicker, I let the notifications come and then they write something that catches my attention once again.

Listening is the most human thing we can do. It is also the most humane. It is kind and patient. It is the offering of our time to hear what someone has to say. Thanks for listening.

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