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Friday, March 28, 2014

The mountains are calling! Much adieu with Crested Butte

AMAZING!  I enjoy these trips so much!  Everyday is a brand new experience.  I love everything about traveling, from the Invariability of arriving on time, to wandering around different airports in my wait, for my next flight.  I also landed early, which never happens.  Only about ten minutes,but still, nice! Getting off the plane in Gunnison, I'd begun talking to an older gentleman, inquiring about which mountain I was headed to.  It seemed that we were both headed to Crested Butte.  The conversation then turned to Saturdays Madis Yahu concert.  Apparantely, his son was in, or managed the band.  I said I was planning to go with my friend, although did not have my ticket yet.  He offered to allow my friend and I VIP access, so I gave him my email, and promptly forgot about the interaction, as I located Maggie.  I was slightly thrown off by her Crested Butte Fire Department attire, but she had just finished a shift, on duty as a paramedic.  As soon as we got in the car, she informed me of my rigorous schedule, for the next 5 days, and I could not have been happier to hear, that I didn't have a free moment, the whole week.  My idea of a vacation, is to have a jam packed schedule full of adrenaline laden activities, and lots of social activities, as that's nearly the opposite of my day to day life.  I knew going into it, I needed to be mindful of the amount of sleep I got.  I was super excited to see Maggie's new place, which still featured a stairway I needed supervision on, though was bright, open, and spacious.  And, to boot, a spectacular view of the mountains, and direct sunlight.

We arrived to her condo around 8:30,  and chatted a bit, before I crashed.  My alarm, went off at 7, and was particularly unwelcome, but as I opened my eyes to blazing sunshine, I remembered where I was, and what my day held in store.  I was slow moving that morning, and the coffee stop was necessary, I've suddenly become a coffee drinker, I'm not too pleased with myself for that, although, it made the morning, all the more glorious.  Going back to the adaptive sports center is always a treat.  It's teeming with energy, and I'm beginning to remember more faces, and names, finally.  and Each trip, I get meet many new faces too.  I was working with Marc squared, which soon becacame Marky, Marc, and the funky bunch.  Guess who I became, in this equation?  'The funky bunch'.  It took me a few days to embrace it, but we all had fun with it.  I worked with Marc D. last year, and was pretty excited or the continuity, and somebody who already had a grasp of my abilities, and difficulties.  It still pisses me off, the first few runs, as I remember I have to wear a seizure belt, on the lift, because I suffer seizures.  There are so many seizure disorders, I understand the precaution,  I just don't agree with it, in my case, as I know when I'm in danger of seizing, and couldn't be moving, let alone getting on my snowboard, in that state.  Oh well, I get it,  it just evokes terrible memories, and takes me back to a time where I needed constant monitoring, and supervision to ensure that I didn't acquire more injuries.  It often seems surreal, to be out having these incredible experiences, considering how incapitatated I was 6 years ago.  I just have to deal with the safety precautions.  As soon as I became distracted on the lift, taking in the view, and bantering about the answer to the trivia question, it was nearly forgotten.

That first morning, the conditions were atrocious.  Hard ice, with a millimeter of snow covering.  Just like the mountains in Maine, where I learned to ski, growing up.  I wondered if I was trying to ride a glacier.  I had a hard time, as I couldn't stop, and we all know falling on ice HURTS.  I was not feeling brave, or ready to make my own turns.  I was overly cautious, which also makes me fall, so, I'd had it after trying once, to make my own turns.  Not, the best start, for my morale, but taking in everything else, it was a great day, we grabbed dinner at the resort, and must've met 4 new people in the course of eating.  It's a small community, so it seems Like Maggie knows everybody.  It's always fun, but I do not like meeting people while I'm eating.    Oh well. It happens everywhere,I should be used to it.

I went to sleep, as soon, as I could, upon returning.  I love being so busy, I'm exhausted, by the end of the day, it's so gratifying.  The next morning, I awoke with sunrise again, peering out the window, to see a dull glow behind the mountain tops.  Maggie blended us these power smoothies.  I had no idea what exactly was in them, but they were an awesome start to the day, on top of the granola I also had. I felt as though I was always eating, and it was all great food.  We stopped for the morning coffee ritual again, while Maggie detailed my insane schedule to me.  She was off to Denver for a  hockey game, between Boston, and Denver.  I'd been invited, but preferred to spend my precious time in the mountains.  It sounded like they had a great time, which made me happy.  I love hockey, just not nearly as much as snowboarding.

I rode with Marc squared again, and while it was a tougher day, for me physically, we made the best of it.  The first run was a hand held asisst, where I hang on for balance, and to prove to myself, I can make it down.  The second run, I opted for hand held asisst again, instead of working on my own turns.  We were making a turn that felt slightly choppy, when I suddenly collided with Marc, and literally saumersaulted over myself.  Talk about dad zed, and confused.  In that moment, I was so thankful for my helmet.  We both fell pretty hard, as we'd caught an edge, and had gone flying. Tthe lunch break was perfectly timed, so gathered ourselves,headed in.  Friday was the first day of ladies camp,  so we all got to catch up a bit, over lunch, get reconnected, and swap stories.  Lunch passed very quickly, and soon enough, we were back on the slopes.  I saw very little of the ladies out skiing, but I also have difficulty visually processing more than one event at a time.  I have a hard time directing my efforts into the physical act of speaking, while doing another physical task.  I'm sharp, but I have a hard time completing 2 physical tasks at the same time.  That afternoon, I opted to try the sit ski.  It was very different.  I couldn't liken it  to anything I'd previously done.  I fell only once, even though I had a very difficult time trusting my left side.  I had keep my focus on using my left and right equally, and my left side has to work twice as hard.  I'm the sit-ski newbie, being the only snowboarder, I can't ever relate to their experiences, or stories.  Also I got to see a lot more of the mountain.  I was really happy to have tried it, but for now, I'm pleased with trying to regain my snowboard abilities.

Dinner that night was hosted by an adaptive volunteer, who goes out of her way to welcome us, and share her life with us.  Her generosity is overwhelming, as she had 10 of us over for dinner, and prepared 3 fantastic quiches, salad, and to die for brownie sundaes.  Over dinner I found myself talking about my writing aspirations, and Sandy told me about a conference at the local University, Western State.  I'm still looking into it, but what could be better, than writing in a inspirational setting, surrounded by so many brilliant writers?

That night, an adaptive intern, Hanna,  had kindly volunteered to help me out, at Maggie's. At first I was nervous about it, only because I didn't know her, though many of the adaptive staff only had great things to say, and she was in fact, a warm, friendly gal, with a kind heart.  It just can be nerve racking to find yourself in the care of a new person.  Given some of my poor past experiences, it's not the easiest thing for me to go into a situation like this with an open mind.  Although, I was able to recognize that his was a very different situation from what I'm used to, and tried to see the best in the circumstances.  And, of course the moment I met Hanna, my uneasiness dissipated.  She was easy to talk to, and great company, just as I'd been told.  The next morning we got ready to go, and zipped out the door, in record time.  I had breakfast plans with Elaine and Julie,from our ladies camp group.  They were staying at the Grand Llodge, which had a fantastic brunch selection.  Brunch, is without question, my favorite meal.  A staff member kindly helped me carry my plate, and acquire way too much food.  I enjoyed my oatmeal, French toast, bacon, fruit cup, and home fries.  Slightly ashamed of myself, I ate it all without hesitation, and attempted to participate in conversation, although eating is still a task that requires a bit more focus, as I have to actively think about it, to ensure that I don't a) choke, b) accidentally inhale food, or c) try to talk, and accidentally spit food out.  Admitting the mental focus, and stamina this injury requires of me, is not the easiest thing, it's just that I find it so frustrating not to participate in the social activities surrounding a meal with friends.

Elaine's sense of humor is fantastic, she loves to have a great time, and make things fun for others.  As she and Julie were staying at the lodge, every morning, staff from adaptive came over to accompany all of us, on the short walk/roll to adaptive.  That was probably my first morning getting on the mountain around 9:30. Even though, I chose last minute to change everything around, and try the ski-bike again.  Physically, it wasn't a great morning, my muscles were tense, and I felt slightly unsteady.  Not the best combination for snowboarding.  I was also slightly sore from yesterday's fall, and was not looking for another opportunity to repeat it.  The  vast beauty the mountain has to offer.  My first year at CBMR (crested butte mountain resort), I did one run, peach-tree, almost every run I took.  The following year, I got to experience more trails, although I still rarely got yo see any of the rest of our group.  I love snowboarding, and am willing to do whatever it takes to get my indepence back, with doing it.  I probably will always need adaptive asisstance, though,I will never lose the drive to keep pushing myself to reacquire whatever abilities I'm able.  I was happy to have the experience, but I knew it wasn't how I wanted to enjoy the mountain.  I don't trust my left side at all, so making left turns was quite awkward.  The mental fears I have in relation to using my left side, it's I never learned to trust in its abilities, due to weakness, and spascity. I usually ask people not to walk on my right, because I find the movement distracting, and feel I'm more likely to lose my balance.  Although, it only happens on my left side.  As always, some days are difficult, others not so much.  I used to get really excited everytime I'd have a recor-breaking good day, because I assumed it meant I was making this grand improvement towards a more mobile lifestyle.  Turns out, there are good days, and bad days with a brain injury.  On my great days, my brain fires on all cylinders, and I feel nearly unphased by limitations.  Then, on a bad day, I need help in the kitchen, or paring food, serving it, cleaning up, getting dressed takes 45 minutes to an hour, because I get so shaky.  I will not ever askfor help dressing, unless it's a difficult zipper, buttons, or tying my shoes.  This is how my body functions, invariably, and spastically.  I've never found the words I felt, summed up my difficulties, until now.  One of the million reasonsI'm so thankful for adaptive programs like this one.

Trying out the sit ski, I got some breathtaking views, and felt all the more driven to improve my snowboarding, and coordination, so that one day I'll be more adept at riding more difficult terrain. That is a dream to shoot for.  I was a feeble snowboarder prior to my injury, never had taken a proper lesson, but it fell in love with riding the snow that way, my first time out.  I grew up skiing, but from the moment I tried boarding, I knew I wanted it to be my preferred choice of mountain sports.  Learning a sport I was barely adept at before my injury, seemed far fetched originally, but thankfully, where the there's a will, there's a way.  This week, Maggie, Marc squared, and the entire adaptive community helped me realize this opportunity.

That evening Madis Yahu was playing a show at the resort.  I would describe them as a Jewish reggae band, if you've never heard of them.  When Maggie originally asked me if I wanted to go see them, I had to check them out on Youtube. I was immediately struck by their unusual appearance, and sound, so I wanted to see them.  I'm so glad Maggie suggested it, otherwise, I would've continued on in my oblivion, having missed a great show.  The show was outside, at night, and somewhat disorganized.   None of the employees had a clue of how  to help people with questions other than directions, and once we were under the dome where the show was, it was chaos.  No seating anywhere, and an open bar, in the back.  At first we were at the very back, on the edge of the dancing/swaying crowd, watching the opening band.  Maggie ran around looking for something I could sit on.  I felt okay on my feet, thankfully, but 3 hours is a long time to stand in place.  Around the time she returned with a milk crate, I sat down, just as Madis Yahu was coming on, and now was sitting so low that I had a glamorous view of 1,000 backsides, and a cool light show.  Just as I was getting aggravated with sitting, I heard my name, and rose to turn around.  It was the man I'd met in the airport, and he was talking to Maggie about getting us VIP access.  I want to remember his name as John, so that's what I'll call him in this story. I had seen him at the resort twice, and both times had difficulty recognizing him, or remembering our interaction at the airport.  However, in that moment I've never been so thankful for a random act of kindness, like that.  My concert experience was instantly transformed from a slight bummer, to an incredible, crazy, hilarious musical experience.  There was a place to sit, as well as space to stand, stage side.  At one point, the guitarist strolled over to bum a light off someone nearby.  Instantly 3 hand with an open flame in each went up, totally thrilled to have the opportunity to give Madis Yahu a light.  Once hey came on the stage, the time flew by, and the show was over way too fast.

It was so hard to get up, that next morning, and I hadn't even been drinking. The sun was out, and I hold myself, when in Rome, you have yo get out and play, so I got up, hating myself for going out to play, the night before.  As soon as I ate, I felt slightly more human, and the icing on the cake, was the coffee stop I'd begged for.  By the time Iwe got to adaptive, I was using full sentences.  And after our first run or two, I'd entirely forgotten how tired I'd been, waking up.  If only I had amazing adventures to wake up to, more often.  Marc had me rtiding on tethers, that day.  I really wanted to be able to work hard, and have a great day, that Sunday, as it was the last day of ladies camp.  We had a great morning, but I was pooped by the time we came in for lunch.  That afternoon, I decided yo try ski biking again.  I loved it, last year.  However, once I was out there,  it seemed as if  I'd conveniently forgotten how much work it was, and found typically underused muscles whining. 

 This trip, I had my first ever, 'ugh, I'm getting old breakdown'.  I am turning 30 this year, but it's just a number.  I am stressed that I'll hit 8 years post injury, and that I'm still living on government resources.  I finally finished my rehab program, but pushing my way out into nothing,  was obviously not a genius move on my part.  I've been in such a rush to move on, I figured things would fall into place, once I finished rehab.  Instead, I just feel like I fell apart, empty, bored, and full of self doubt.  I remember these feelings, I felt like this the summer I graduated from UVM.  I threw myself into a new relationship, and training for my first triathlon, while going for countless interviews for jobs I was less than passionate about.  Sean was my lifeline, in more ways than one, that summer.  I did eventually find the elusive job I'd been looking for, I I just 'died' before I could take it.  Yes, died is my choice word.  Clearly I'm not dead, and I'm ever so thankful for that, though I did lose any semblance of my independent, active, social, and rewarding lifestyle, to start all over.  I'm so fortunate to be the same mentally (for the most part), and I'm lucky to have the oppotunity to grow, and redevelop, my athletic passions, even if its unbelievably frustrating, and difficult, this is an opportunity that many wish for, but very few have the circumstances, or drive to endure. The harder I work to establish my physical abilities to whatever they may, or not be, it's all success in one way, or another.  This is yet another reason why I look forward to these trips so much, as I gain a new vantage point, from which to measure my growth.  Crested Butte Adaptive Sports  Center   is a magical spot, full of adventure, growth, and a vision for change.  Thank you to all who were involved, or took part.




Sunday, March 16, 2014

Heavy things

(Heavy Things is the only Phish song I like, random, but true)

I just watched this awesome clip of an interview, with Lady Gaga.  Not even sure why, really.  I'm not a big fan of pop.  When I realized how long the interview was, I thought, 'I'll just check it out, and carry on.'  The title was about maintaining her independence, which was what grabbed my interest.  It just made me think about following your passions, and doing what makes you happy in life, over selling out, to do what the masses tell you to do.  These are all things I remember being hold, as a child, to follow my heart, and do what makes me happy.  I hear that a lot now too, and genuinely try to follow it. I'm much harder on myself, than most others are on me.  But, I also think that's true of many people.  Life with a disability is my life now.  It's been 6.5 years, I've learned a lot, about people, myself, and many other things.

Yesterday, I went snowboarding, at Smugglers Notch.  I've really enjoyed their adaptive program, over the years, but I was rather unsettled, walking in, in a rain storm.  I was psyched to be there, but not pleased about the conditions.  Rain, makes the snow sticky, and slushy.  You get wet, when you go down, so I was trying to mentally prepare myself for that.  I have to face the fact, I always have at least one fall.

I was working with a new instructor, to me, anyways.  Adaptive is a truly unique world, and I have so much respect, and admiration for most of the people I've worked with over the years.  It is a job, but they help me, and so many other people get out, and enjoy the activities I/we love.  Pretty damn noble, if I think about it like that. Yesterday was not a difficult, unresponsive day, but sometime I'll be stuck in my head, without the ability to talk, and ride, or run, walk whatever.  My mind is always running but the physical aspect of forming my words, and doing another task, is often beyond me.  I can only process the movements, I have to will my body into making, or try making.  I felt fortunate, as yesterday, I could talk, and ride, or ride, and translate my instructions into the mostly correct movements.  I was also working with an instructor who was really easy to talk to.  It's funny how were all different like that, obviously we all can't get along with everyone, but I I can't get over the fact that sometimes you instantly know you like, or really dont like another person you encounter.  I think it's part of our animal ancestry.  I've just lived in a world where I've had 1 mode, apathy.  I had memories of things I used to recognize on an entire range of levels, from good to bad, to indifferent, so that's what I used, to make comparisons, and decide how to judge a situation, or if I liked, or didn't like someone.  My experiences relearning life, are completely unique, I'm not always sure how to relate my experiences, with people I'm just meeting.  But, my day on the mountain helped me realize, I'm still Courney, Cblaze, sloth, Courtee, and the many other charming names you've all devised for me, in my earlier life.  I don't know how my neurons are re-awakening, I /we thought they were dead, but it is possible to create new synapses.  However, against all odds, I'm still the same, in many respects.  The best feeling in the world, is to be yourself, and be proud of it.  I might move, react, and speak differently, but I'm getting there.  I wouldn't wish this journey on anyone, but as they say, 'you don't know how strong you are, until it's tested.'

So, here's to a miraculous ongoing recovery, and all of the unconditional, love, support, coaxing, and will, it has taken to get this far.  Thank you everyone, for helping me get from mute, blind, and 
Bedridden, to a place where I am back to pushing myself to doing bigger, and better things, around each new turn.  Your faith has helped me get here, and I am truly grateful.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Not for the faint of heart... Trust me!

Seriously if you are squeamish at all,read no farther!
So there I was, oh shit!

This is one of those stories.   About a month ago, I was having a terrible mobility day, but there I was at PT, forcing my brain to make my body go through my exercises. A bad mobility day includes what my doctors refer to as myoclonic jerks, where my whole left side will randomly toss me on the ground.  (yes, it's about as fun as it sounds). I move much more cautiously, and even more slowly, then my normal sloth-like pace.  It's as if I can feel my brain trying to find new pathways to get these muscles to move.  Now that I'm thinking about it, I imagine it's  the reason my days can be so variable.  There is  a lot of work being done, to form these new neural pathways.

  Anyways, I diverge from my original story, and there I was,fighting with my body to move, I'd gotten through many of my exercises, and had just finished my 'lazy man' sit-ups, where I sit on a big excercise ball, lean back maybe 45 degrees, and twist my torso, as well as a 15 lb. weighted ball, left, and right.  I don't doubt it helps me in some way.  I refer to it's a lazy man sit up, because I do that 45 times, and rarely feel I've exerted myself in any way.  My PT says I'm doing the movement correctly, but I'm not convinced.  My belly resembles the Pillsbury doughboys, and I do 45 sit-ups 3-4 days a week.  I guess that means I should do more...It's just one of those things, that obviously bothers me.

  I completed my sets, and carried the weighted ball over to the shelf it lived on.  In doing so, that pushed a 15lb chunk of iron (kettle bell) off the the shelf I was standing under.  It lit me square on my big toe.  My whole body became tense , and I grabbed a nearby machine for support.  I couldn't speak, the pain was so intense.  It's like my primal response, I can't really use my words,until I can realize I'm not actually dying.  That's probably an exaggeration, but that is still how my brain operates, one pathway, at a time.  I'm sure most people never have the opportunity to make these comparisons, but I think about it all the time, like when I'm walking with someone, and trying to focus on where to put my feet, maintain my balance, and thinking about the movement patterns for my mouth, and lips to formulate each word I want to say.  It's the same going out to dinner, too. I'm thinking about the physical process of chewing my food, swallowing it, and listening to whomever's talking, while deciding if I want to contribute to the conversation.  I love to eat out, for the food, but the social aspect of it, is generally on the overwhelming side.  I am happy going out in situations where I don't feel pressured to talk, because I can't always get my words out, at the normal rate of conversation.  And, I have to take a break from my meal.  I never used to think about the intricacies of daily life tasks, and now, this is part of everything I do, wherever I go.

In the moment, the toe didn't appear broken, just way painful.  I got a ride home, and put assorted frozen items on it, to reduce the swelling.  Around 6pm, I decided the ibuprofen wasn't cutting it, and I couldn't tolerate the pain.  My roommate/aide brought me to the walk in clinic, where a doctor affirmed a frracture.  He then, drilled a hole in the toenail, to dlieve the pressure, and the pain immediately subsided.  I'd hoped to not lose the nail, but, a couple weeks back I noticed it had begun to detach from the back.  I just left it alone, assuming it would detach when it was ready.  Although, last week, I became suspicios, of infection, when the foot began yo smell like, what I'd  to refer to as death.  I set about inquiring for doctors appointments this week.  The podiatry office I called, offered me an appointment in May, and my general practitioners office, said Monday.  This where I lose my better judgement, and removed the dead portion of the nail, with scissors, and used tweezers to pluck out the obviously foreign body, that was the infection.  I put a bunch of rubbing alcohol on the wound, and headed to find the neosporin.   As I sat back down, and peeled the bandages out, I peered more closely into my open wound.  My stomach clenched a bit, as I realized, I was seeing, an open cavern, and my my big toe bone.  I can only assume the alcohol burned away the necrotic (dead) tissue, but what an unpleasant sight.  I filled the open space with neosporin, and called it good.  I bandaged the toe up, and thought I'd be good to go.  Apparantly, my bandaging skills are shotty, because it came off, in my sleep, and I got up, to repeat the same process.  Upside, as of today, the toe is still alive, and appears infection free.  Downside, I may have unwittingly unleashed trauma upon whoever takes it upon themselves to read this entry.  (Cackles) My deepest apologies...

Side note, please do not lecture me on my home medical practices.  I am fully aware, my unsanitary methods, may, or may not harm me.  I'm not recommending others try my lunatic adventures in 'home surgery'.  This is just how I work, and I'm aware there are risks, so here's to not getting gang-grene!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Filthy/gorgeous

I've been a bit of a homebody the past couple days.  My only outing yesterday, was PT, and today it was for a brain injury support group.  Somehow, I've found found myself facilitating the Burlington day-time support group, and I find it helpful to attend other groups for ways to inspire the group I 'lead'.  There are some hard-core regulars, and even past therapists from my outpatient days.  Attendance of the daytime group was so unbelievably high, last week, I wanted to check out attendance of this group, which is usually large.  .Brain injuries are all SO unique, we can often relate one another's acquired  difficulties, but every combination is so vastly different.

A vision therapist was speaking at this group, which I was also interested in learning more about, oven my own questionable set of visual difficulties.  2 years ago I did a visual field test, and the improvement from 2 years before that, was unbelievable.  Between those 2 scans, from 2009, and 2011, it registered a 50% increase in my visual field! Tthat is, which parts of my eyes, are actually registering the information they're receiving.  I'll try to scan those images in, to demonstrate this miracle of my recovered eyesight.  I remember how fortunate I felt to learn I was a candidate for LASIK, in 2011.  Walking away from contacts, and glasses, changed my life.  Hands down, the best investment I've made, for myself.  The neuropathy in my fingertips, made putting in contacts impossible.  And yes, blue eyes are pretty, but they also refract the most light, so the sunlight can get pretty frustrating.  I literally get the urge to either puch the person nearby commenting on the sunlight, or to curl up in a ball, and hide my face from the sun, if I don't have sunglasses with me, and the sun magically appears.  Burlington is supposedly the 2nd most overcast city , in the US, and given how rarely we see the sun, I don't usually have them on me.  Well, on the bright side, my visual abilities are profoundly miraculous, and there's not a day that goes by, where I'm not thankful for that.  I'm undecided about vision therapy.  Normally, I'll sign up for anything that can potentially help me improve, but eye issues, with regard to the brain, but vision therapy is ambiguous,mand my case is do unique, I more used to being pushed aside, until, I can find a way to explain my difficulties.this transformation has been miraculous, albeit grueling day-in-day-out, I am so thankful for my own progression, and nowto have the opportunity to gibe hope to others in similar ,situations.

I've been so fortunate to have so many amazing souls touch my life, I hope that one day I'll be able to do the same for others.  Am I thankful for this injury, absolutely NOT!  But I am so thankful for theincredible  supportive help received along the way, and for many of the amazing, inspirational folks it has brought into my life.  I may have just found the upside, to the mostfrustrating, and challenging 6.5 years of my life. SCORE!

BTW, today's title is the name of my favorite Scissor Sisters track.  They're an English band, I was crazy about in 04/05, but I seem to recall them making noise here, soon after that.  I was looking for that cd, the other day, and trying to remember my favorite tracks.  So random.  But, a great song!

Monday, March 3, 2014

What is happiness?

Firstoff, today was splendid, by all accounts.  I went running with an intriguing, motivating group of people, enjoyed a super delicious post-run meal, got some amazing deals (70% off) of new running clothes.  One thing I love, is a great deal.  The morning was fantastic, I'm so thankful for all of the incredible people I get meet, through being active.  I know a couple folks from a spin class at the Y, and they volunteered to help me run with them, in a local running group, Team in Training.  I still have a hard time maintaining conversation while I'm out jogging, but the mire opportunity I have to do it, and work on it, the easier it becomes. They're teeming with positivity, I feel so excited to go out and drag myself through the frigid air, before 8 am.  This is not usually favorite time of day.  Although, I'm realizing, it all depends on what my day looks like.  I'm happy to get up at anytime, if I'm looking forward to the days events.  Imagine that.  Although, seriously, it's been really helpful for me to realize that again. Funny how all this works.  I go around having completely obvious realizations all the time, and my readers find it interesting.  Okay...  Once I returned to my place, I sat down to find a favorite, old carryall bag, I've had since college.  It is, in my opinion, the best design for a bag, out there.  I've been looking everywhere for that bag, for months, and today it's there, in a place I've looked through, at least 4 times.  I was so happy to find it, but, frankly confused, and worried too.

Technically, I believe the definition of crazy, is something like, the act of repeating the same process, but expecting a different outcome.  Well today, I took off my hardcore ice cleats for running, and as I bent down to put them under the futon, I saw the bag, in a corner I've checked a few times, in plain sight.  I used to do this kind of stuff from time to time in college, where I'd misplace things, and find them in a rather obvious spot, the next day, after I'd turned my living space inside out.  But now it takes 4 months, and 3-4 intense cleaning frenzies, before I randomly see it, in plain view?  So ridiculous, but, inside, was a bonus.  My favorite sunglasses.  Completely unexpected.  Although, surprising.  I'm, let's face it, rather anal about keeping glasses, in cases.  I'm wearing glasses to cut the glare, and see better, not wonder why my world looks scratched.  I felt confused, and a bit angry with myself, when I wanted to just appreciate the fact I'd located 2 missing items.  So weird.  I had a grilled cheese sandwich, and wondered about solutions to loosing, or thinking I've lost my stuff.  Immediately, after finding the bag, I went to look for my favorite wine glass, and then this sweet mountain hard wear hoodie, that went missing last fall.  They both had sentimental value, so I went nuts looking for them, because I'd just found 2 other favorite things.  I guess I've settled the question, 'am I crazy?  Yes, folks I am.  I went looking for things I knew were missing, and expected to find them, that's a different outcome.  Therefore, by association, I am crazy.  Glad I've settled that one.  I imagine anyone reading this, has now concluded, that I am a fool, as well, because they already knew this to be true.  But let's face it, it's easy to go around pointing the finger at others, but, stepping back to look at yourself, that's just scary.  Really, I did not need to realize I truly fit the definition of crazy.  Sure it's funny, I suppose, but that information doesn't help me in any way.

And then, it was time for community meditation.  There's a potluck dinner before hand.  We all sit down, and share wholesome delicious foods.  I love pot lucks, as they're a great opportunity to try new foods, or things you're not accustomed to eating, and you haven't wasted money, on buying meal you don't appreciate.  That's a win, in my book.

The monk who generally leads this meditation has a great sense of humor.  I'm by no means an authority on this subject, but I did not become I tested in meditation, because I foresaw amusement potential.  When he's trying to be comedi, it's usually dry/sarcastic, and other times' it's clearly not his intention to be funny, but there's a beautiful opportunity for a light hearted jab, and  I can't help myself. Fortunately, he's very good natured about the harrament.  There's always a personal reflection towards the end of the meeting, and tonight's discussion related to happiness, and a mathematical formula.  Math is not a forte I easily relate to, howevever this equation was relatively simple.  In effect it represented the solution that desire does not equal happiness.  Stated so simply, I don't know how anyone could disagree with that.  We see examples of this everyday.  Say you want your morning coffee.  You get it, and theoretically, in that moment, you should be happy.  But, as you take your first sip, you burn your mouth so badly, and now your day seems ruined, and the list goes on and on.  In the end I took away 3 steps, or main principles.

1.  That we all need to slow down and appreciate things, individualally.  
2. Desires can be in good context, or bad, but happiness is commonly viewed as pure good, thus arises a need to be mindful with regard to your desires.
3.  Finding the key to happiness is relatively easy, unlocking it, is the hard part.

How do you like them apples?  It was a really enlightening group discussion, and very intesting to realize that each of us has independent views on the meaning of happiness.  I needed clarification, on the difference between goals, and desires, in this context.  The answer is to break things down into a smaller picture.  I understand that, it makes sense, but I don't look at all the small stuff, I look at the big picture, that's how I see the world, so I didn't find the response as helpful as I'd hoped the answer would be more concrete, like the original equation.  In conclusion, I'm not any closer to achieving true happiness, than I was 4 hours ago, before I listed to this talk.  Although, on the bright side, I have now concluded ethereal questions are, indeed, a waste of time.