5 Reasons I’m Becoming Grandma

My Grandmother was a strong, beautiful woman. After my granddad died, she continued to have boyfriends, go out dancing and have bridge/cocktail parties. She walked at least a mile everyday up at our cabin, and frequently swam every day in the lake. All with macular degeneration (legally blind). and often alone.

So don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy about becoming Grandma. I’m just puzzled it’s happening so quickly.At age 47. In Grandma’s later life, I remember her teaching me how to apply nail polish and lipstick. This was a big deal since I was not allowed to wear makeup at home. In turn, I would take her shopping; she loved to coordinate her dangling earrings with her outfits and she couldn’t see well enough to choose the right colors.

There IS a strong family resemblance.

Me, as an undergrad
Me, as an undergrad
Grandma is in the upper left hand corner of this photo. 9 siblings!
Grandma is in the upper left hand corner of this photo. 9 siblings!

The thing is, I’m kind of embracing this stage of my life as a little inevitable, and a little enviable. My Grandma was attractive, strong as an ox and she lived a good long life. What more could I ask for?

Without further ado, here are the 5 Reasons I’m Becoming My Grandma:

  1. This is breakfast:

photo 2 (10)

moo moo
Moo Moo

2. All I want to wear all the time are Cuddl Duds. Although Cuddl Duds are OBVIOUSLY loungewear, they now have a “Work” section on their website. Yes! Let’s all wear leisure wear at work! Elastic waistbands, leggings, long sweaters and thermal undershirts. I’m in. Or I could just wear Athleta ALL the time. This would be the modern day equivalent of my Grandmothers Moo Moo, which she wore all the time at home. If you don’t know what a Moo Moo is, it is sort of like a hippie tent dress, I’m assuming inspired by someone’s trip to Hawaii in the 60’s.

Cuddl Duds for work!
Cuddl Duds for work!

3. When I get out of bed in the morning, everything hurts. My hips crack, my plantar fasciitis kills me, my neck is sore and I can’t open my eyes. As if decaf coffee is going to change this! Which is why you can refer back to my breakfast on No.1.

4. I shuffle instead of walking. Okay, this might be due to the plantar fasciitis (which is NOT rapidly improving). I swear I was using my grocery cart as a walker at Costco yesterday. My grandmother had a cane or walking stick, but she was blind. I can see, supposedly. I still run into things.

5. Recently I purchased bras that were the most comfortable, best-fitting design ever. The nurse at the Breast Clinic suggested this. We’re talking full coverage, wide straps and a full fitting at Dillard’s. I found out that I had gone up two cup sizes. Goodness! They were the most expensive by far,  but they were also possibly the least sexy I’ve ever bought. And you know what? I don’t care! What’s next? Spanx, I guess.

Wacoal! Pretty, functional, but not the height of sexy.
Wacoal! Pretty, functional, but not the height of sexy.

The Nitty Gritty

Finally we got to the bottom of it. My foot, that is. Gray442

My physical therapist discovered last Wednesday just how tight my calf muscle is. In fact, he brought on so much pain massaging it that I was whimpering. Auriel is usually a pretty funny guy, but that day I wasn’t laughing. At all.

The next day I felt better. I wasn’t sure if it was the Iontophoresis (small cortisone patch with electric or ionic diffusion) or the massage. But I was slightly better.

Today I told him that my plantar fasciitis felt little less horrible. His response? To go even harder on my calf. “Dude, I’m scaring all the other patients!” I cried. He laughed.

My flexor hallucis longus is NOT happy

Auriel did show me some neat pictures. He taught me about this muscle that wraps around my calf down to my foot, right where I’m feeling pain. Usually plantar fasciitis is caused by some sort of muscle or tendon tightness that causes the bottom of the foot to contract.

Great! I can add “Inflexible” to my self-descriptive words. After reading more about flexor hallucis longus pain, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have flexor hallucis longus tendonitis. But I’ll leave that up the experts and keep doing yoga, stretching and icing it.

I can tell you that I was in a lot of pain after that massage riding my bike home and up a small hill. My idea of going out to see the Brewmaster at the brewery which is about 10 miles out from my house was squashed. Pain. So much pain.

It’s 80 degrees almost, sunny, and the leaves are all turning color. I can’t wait to get out on the road and see the beautiful Iowa countryside in its fall splendor. But that is not for today. After lunch with Ibuprofen, I put on my orthopedic boot and hobbled around the grocery store. I bought stuff to make gluten-free pumpkin bars. Don’t put pumpkin spice in my drinks and don’t shower me with autumnal candles, but I do love some seasonal food.

Gluten free pumpkin bars
Gluten free pumpkin bars

They turned out really yummy, and I hope they will cheer up Ballet Boy who is also having foot pain today. It’s time to mama-fy and mummify (I’m going to wrap his foot before dance). If you have a lot of GF flours on hand, it’s a great recipe!


Monday Muffins: Gluten Free Vegan Banana Almond

Today I had some sugar cravings even after eating a good breakfast of 2 scrambled eggs with spinach, so I googled some banana muffin recipes.

I came across this one and was intrigued by using flax instead of egg since that is one supplement I have been trying to incorporate into my diet to reduce breast pain and bloating in this lovely stage of my life called perimenopause.


I whipped these up and stuck them in the oven while I put my yoga DVD on. I was already a little giggly before I started because in graduate school there was a Brazilian guy who couldn’t pronounce “focus.” It came out something close to, “Guyz, we really need to Fuck-us!” My “focus” got worse because my Gaiam A.M. Focus session was led by a toned guy with a long braid lying in the sand on one of Hawaii’s gorgeous beaches….in a Speedo! I wasn’t quite expecting that.

Honestly, I like this DVD as it is slow and uses a lot of meditation as well as slow careful movements that I know loosen up my hips and back, which are generally very tight from cello, running, biking (leaning over the handles) and swimming.

The muffins turned out ok, but I wished I had not spread out the batter to 8 jumbo cups and just made 6 as it didn’t rise very much. I took the author’s advice and added some home made peanut butter (no sugar) and raw honey made by my friend who I will call GPS (because she often gets lost). I swear that her honey cured my son’s sore throat this weekend in two days! The antibiotic/antiseptic properties of honey are scientifically proven and true.

The result was sort of like a warm, soft oatcake. Really delicious! Happy Monday, everyone. Breathe and stretch, and enjoy Fall and the beautiful colors on the maple trees.

Gluten Free Vegan Banana Almond muffin with honey and natural peanut butter
Gluten Free Vegan Banana Almond muffin with honey and natural peanut butter

From Blue to Green

“Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead.” – Kara Goucher

It’s been hard to read anything about running recently since I’ve had plantar fasciitis, but this quote on the Runner’s World Facebook page rang true this morning.

I’ve been in a big bump in the road. My foot feels worse instead of better, and I’ve started wearing a boot in the daytime as well as a splint at night. My therapist has me doing eccentric exercises as well as stretching, ultrasound and massages. We just tried Iontophoresis at my request on Friday, and that felt pretty good.

But I know that I won’t be running for a while. I can’t even walk my dog! 10439431_10152228599141025_5643597651967761252_n

Being very goal-driven, I’ve struggled since my triathlon in August with NOT having a goal. I feel like I’ve been floundering. I’m not inspired to swim and have trouble getting out on my bike. Candy Ass reached out and suggested I borrow her yoga DVD after my last blog, and then I realized that I have several yoga and pilates DVD’s of my own.

After huffing and puffing through something I own called a Cardio Yoga workout, I almost died. This was supposed to be relaxing, but I felt weak and discouraged. Ballet Boy, who is also Mr. Flexible and incredibly strong in the lower body, commented that Cardio Yoga was nothing like any Yoga class he had taken. So I bought an easier DVD with six workouts, including two short meditation sequences. I’ve started doing Pilates and hitting the bike trainer on rainy days.

And I feel better. No more blues.

Ha, no surprise! The big revelation is that I’ve accepted my sleepier, less active state. I’ve accepted that this is a time of healing of my foot, and taking some time to focus on breathing and relaxation. I can look forward, because I’m enjoying the moment, or the bump in the road, and I feel less impatient to keep travelling.

This is coupled by the satisfaction that little by little I am going green. I’m trying to use up products before throwing them away since I can’t afford to buy a ton of new stuff, but last week I made my own vinegar and water spray for the kitchen counters. And it works! Next in line will be laundry detergent.Sustainability

I got some free samples of Origins facial oil and skin cream at Sephoras. I love the product, but it is quite beyond my economic means. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the samples of paraben free, plant-based cosmetics. We have a store in town called the Soap Opera that makes simple, unscented Vitamin E creams and other products that I may try next. I’d like to experiment with almond oil and my own mixes. I’m not having a lot of success with my Tom’s and Kiss My Face Deodorant. They just don’t last as long as Secret. But I will have to deal with that.

I wonder why I haven’t been more careful all my life, inspite of being part of a vegetarian Co-Op at Oberlin College in the 1980s.  I hope to raise my son to go green. It’s amazing how many chemicals and pesticides have been introduced into our lives. I’d like to eradicate as many as possible. I feel better knowing that I’m simplifying, preventing cancer and helping my hormonal balance by respecting my body and what I put in and on it.

Maybe my homemade cleaning supplies will balance out the cost of organic vegetables. I’m glad I grew kale, squash and tomatoes this year as I’ve been eating daily yummy meals out of the garden, like this Thai coconut milk butternut squash soup prepared by the Brewmaster.


I’m counting my blessings (Ballet Boy, the Brewmaster, Rose and a happy home) and taking time to breathe.

What could be better?

Detoxing, Destressing

The cancer clinic at the UI is beautiful, full of colorful glass chandeliers, soft lighting and lovely images. There is an infusion therapy desk at the entrance, and tables and comfortable chairs seated in random patterns for families to wait and converse.

In spite of the calm and tranquility the decor inspires, as soon as I stepped foot in the clinic on Friday my anxiety levels shot sky high. Even though both a 3D mammogram and ultrasound were pronounced “normal” by the radiologist on Monday, the final nurse I saw in the breast clinic last week wanted me to do a fine needle aspiration just to make sure that the palpable lump she could see clearly on the mammogram was just fibrous tissue.

The breast nurse (a highly trained nurse who has taken a big interest in breast cancer and breast issues) had the most valuable information I have heard yet. She was very empathetic about my weight gain and immediately made connections between my thyroid deficiency, my endometriosis and my age. We all know that estrogen increases and progesterone decreases in perimenopause; that’s why women stop ovulating eventually. What I didn’t know is that excess estrogen basically can really slow down my metabolism and that my thyroid disease also blocks the receptors in my body and tricks my body into producing even more estrogen. estrogen

We discussed ways I could cut back on estrogen production, by eating even more organic food since chemicals in processed food and in sprays can cause increased estrogen production.  (There are xenoestrogens, or estrogens in food/meat that is injected with hormones.) We talked about parabens in cosmetics, and also stress reduction.

Stress reduction. With a forced smile I told her that normally running is my big de-stresser, but I can’t. And the plantar fasciitis doesn’t appear to be responding very quickly to therapy, so I’m not going to be running soon.

Of course, I could be biking and swimming more than I have. But somehow I’ve felt terribly lethargic and depressed this last week. It’s been a vicious hormonal cycle. The nurse explained a lot about cortisol. Our body’s normal response to stress is to produce cortisol to calm us down. Too much cortisol also makes fat cells stick to our bodies and not break down. It can cause depression, sleepiness and all the other symptoms I’m having.

I have about every issue on this chart, except hypertension. UGH.

After reading about cortisol, I’m not even sure I want to be tested to see if I have excess cortisol. There no cure for it. Basically I need to reduce stress in my life.

My status as an adjunct faculty member and freelance musician does not make this easy. I know I can’t make money grow on trees, but it is a constant worry.  This summer my “fallback” job of online scoring has been very disappointing. In the last two years there was plenty of summer work, but this year almost none. It’s been a rough summer financially.

Sometimes I’m good at taking care of myself;  I take time to take a nap, or go for a run, or a long bike ride. I know the pool can be a tranquility tank, but some days it’s hard to get myself across town knowing how much time a shower afterwards will take.

Honestly, I can’t see myself meditating.Lotus position on the edge of a cliff

I’m sure it would be amazing, but I am both physically and mentally kind of hyper. I’m sure it would be good to clear my brain and do deep breathing. I’m just not there yet.  I would need someone to hold my hand and drag me to a session, and make sure that it wouldn’t be a friend that I would get the compulsive giggles with as I say “OMMMMMM.”

Yoga would be wonderful, but right now I am avoiding gym fees until my finances improve. I’m sure it would help my tight calves and tendons and help my plantar fasciitis disappear.

In the meantime, I will eat healthier. Yep, even healthier than before! I’m taking Vitamin E for inflammation and to fight stress. Vitamin E acts in a similar way to progesterone to  calm and soothe our bodies. I’m taking Flax Seed Oil or Evening Primrose Oil pills every night to  also help with hormonal balance. Both of these are supposed to reduce breast pain and swelling. In addition, she did commend my efforts to stop caffeine, although she says that research only shows that caffeine avoidance only helps with 50% of women studied. I always take a multivitamin that contains Vitamin C and D, which are also very important at this stage of my life.

The news after the fine needle aspiration was good; it confirmed that my lump is just a bunch of tough tissue. I still have a lot to live for and enjoy. I’m one of the lucky ones who entered the cancer clinic last Friday and I need to celebrate that.

Let the detoxing and de-stressing begin. It’s about time!


Truth Be Told

“It’s plantar fasciitis. You can run on it if you feel like it’s not hurting.”

Even though I was at the doctor because my foot hurt, especially after running, I came home overjoyed that he had mentioned that I could run. It wasn’t a stress fracture, after all.

Yes, I have painful flames coming out of the arch of my foot. OW!
Yes, I have painful flames coming out of the arch of my foot. OW!


Truth be told, it’s not a good idea to run on plantar fasciitis. That truth came from my physical therapist the next day as he suggested resting it “at least another week,” along with massage, ultrasound, and many different stretching and strengthening exercises.

The truth can be hard to hear. When I was talking about a half-marathon in three weeks as my therapist counseled me to do a “walk to run” rehab program when I was healed, I knew I was ignoring the truth.

One week later, truth be told, I am STILL super-tight. My hamstring is tight. My calf is tight. My plantar region is super tight. My achilles is tight. And I’m stretching almost always three times a day.

No running for me.

No coffee for me, either! “But,” you say, “You gave that up last year! You wrote a whole blog post about it!”

Truth be told, that addiction crept back into my life with the Brewmaster. It’s really hard to wake up in the morning and smell a freshly ground French press. The cravings took over, and this summer I was back to me 3-5 cups a day. And the fatigue that comes with the coffee crash.

This time, the truth was administered by my women’s health doctor. I was complaining about more booby pain and she asked if I consumed caffeine. Apparently that is the first thing that the booby doctor is going to tell me to give up when I see her today after doing more imaging. Caffeine, in coffee, tea or any form, is not good for the cystic masses I get.

Truth be told, I don’t really like the truth.decaf

But I’ve put my Big Girl panties on. I don’t pretend to love my weak decaf in the morning, but it helps me to pretend I’m sipping coffee with the Brewmaster. I’ve gotten to the pool three times and dusted off my mountain bike to do some commuting around town. I bike to PT, and walked a couple of 2+milers, although that sometimes aggravates the plantar.

Many mornings last week I got up with Ballet Boy at 6:30 and had a bleary-eyed breakfast with him. Many mornings I was fortunate enough to have time to go back to sleep virtually all morning. The headaches are getting better.

Although that particular half-marathon is off the books, I believe in these therapists I work with and I know if I listen, I will run again. It’s hard to have SO many come backs and rehabs, but it’s also better than becoming a couch potato.

Truth be told, it could be much worse. Just be aware that if I seem like Grouchy Sleepy Dopey all-in-one, I have a few lame reasons, but it will pass.

Goal keeping

Today I was sipping coffee around 8 a.m., thinking about a group of friends I have doing the “Pigman” triathlon series in Palo, Iowa. Many of them are doing a Half-Ironman, or 70.3 miles today. I couldn’t help thinking back to a week ago when I was struggling through my first real tri (not counting indoors) in several years, but I was primarily look forward to a bike ride with Ironcelloman who offered to go out on the “Sugarbottom loop”, a very hilly route that heads north from my house through the rolling country hills around the dam on the local reservoir. However, mainly I was very excited that Ballet Boy is finally on his way home today from one month at a dance conservatory in Florida followed by an immediate month in Southern France with his father.

Different jitters than my pre-race. Happy jitters!

Top of the hill after lots of construction. Tired? Glad to not have gotten side-swiped!
Top of the hill after lots of construction. Tired? Glad to not have gotten side-swiped!

We had a wonderful bike ride, in spite of a nasty construction zone with lots of cones. Early Sunday morning is probably the best time to attempt such a route. Ironcelloman got up the hills a lot faster and snapped some good pics.

It was fun to see a group of 200 cyclists riding in the opposite direction: they had done a big ride from Hiawatha, Iowa, to Riverside (home of a Casino) and were on their second day of fund-raising for cycling north of Cedar Rapids. I hope they influence the construction of the Cedar Valley Bike trail between Iowa City and Ely, Iowa, where the trail dies. If that’s completed, we could ride almost 100 miles!

This week I took a day off, swam once and then got into some major painting projects with the Brewmaster. He doesn’t joke around; when I told him that I’ve always dreamed of changing the bleak white walls of my basement into something cosier, he was on it. We are a great team; he does most of the cutting in and trim since I am a spazz, and I follow him with the roller. I did some cutting in, but mostly it was him. I did most of the sorting of junk and putting things out of the way so we could actually paint. I made some messes (think dripping and spattering paint), and he patiently cleaned up after me with a kind word or joke.

Mostly I took time off to rest my foot, which intermittently feels great and then will hurt. I’m anxious to see the doctors at the University of Iowa Sport’s Medicine and, more importantly, a therapist. 

Because I REALLY want to do a half-marathon this fall, or maybe two. I’d like to start training for an Olympic Triathlon, and I’ve been having funny twinges of “Maybe I Could Do a Half-Ironman, TOO!” Yikes. Honestly, after seeing me compared to the other ladies last week, the Brewmaster went from saying “You’re nuts” to “You’re still nuts, but I bet you could do a Half-Ironman!”

So, cross you’re fingers that this arch pain I have is something like plantar fasciitis and treatable, and not a stress fracture. In the meantime, I’ll keep making some little goals and working on my swim/bike. 

Gorgeous Iowa Countryside
Gorgeous Iowa Countryside

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