Diary of a Former Chubby Trainer/Nutrition Coach – another entry

Diary of a Former Chubby Trainer/Nutrition Coach

My story starts in grade school. My story is a long one and it’s not a pretty one. It’s full of winding roads and uphill climbs and some straight roads. I feel like I have been aware of my body image and aware of food my whole life. It became evident to me that my body wasn’t ideal. It became evident when a coach, someone I looked up to, would be the one to tell me my body wasn’t ideal. This started a snowball effect of dieting and bingeing and purging. The snowball got bigger and bigger and bigger. 

I was told to lose ten pounds when I was in gymnastics. I was a sophomore in high school. I weighed 116 at the time. Not 115, not 120, but 116. I remember that detail like it was yesterday. On my 5 feet 4 inch frame that is pretty much considered “ideal.” I have never considered myself ideal. 

There was a time previous though that it was also evident. I was in 6th grade and the school lunch program came out with weight watchers meals. Not the business Weight Watchers, just weight watchers as in watching our weight and what we were eating. In other words they were letting us chubby girls know that we should change. Our school lunch program gave us that option, in 6th grade, a billion years ago. Why? I remember eating tuna, with nothing on it. It came in a styrofoam cup container with carrots and celery. As I type this right now, I wonder if I was even chubby then. I mean, I must have been, right? The indecision runs deep. The trap runs deep. The emotions run deep. 

I take responsibility for my own actions and while I am not very damn happy about my gymnastics coach having a hand in really pushing me over the edge into an eating disorder, I know I made the choices. I did. It was me. I tried every diet. I really did. I couldn’t stick to anything. My after school-before practice-snack was a Reese’s double peanut butter cup and some kind of diet pop. Tab was a favorite. Because the diet pop canceled out all those extra calories, right? Interesting, the ignorance, the irony. 

I always wanted to be skinny. I was always muscular. I was always strong. I thought that was good. I thought it was what it took to succeed in gymnastics. It did take strength and muscles, but at that age, how was I to know I could be strong and muscular and not overweight. That train of thought carried me for years. Strong and muscular became my motto.

I struggled with my weight for what seemed like forever. Years and years. If I tried a diet I would lose some weight, never over ten pounds, but then would just eat what I wanted again. I could never maintain a weight loss. This yo-yo dieting was ridiculous. Bulimia became my eating disorder. It owned me. I couldn’t control it. I finally overcame the eating disorder after a few years. I was very fortunate I didn’t damage my body. 

The way we perceive ourselves is real. The negative self-talk is real. Have you ever looked in the mirror and called yourself a fat ass? I have. Have you ever looked in the mirror and told yourself you were a fucking pig or a lard ass? I have. 

Fast forward to about 2010. That sounds weird to fast forward to the past, but you know that I mean. I became a trainer and a coach. A personal trainer and nutrition coach, something I had always wanted to do. I am not sure what held me back. As I unpack things in my life and am growing in figuring my shit out, I actually think it may have been because I felt like I couldn’t be a trainer because I wasn’t skinny. I didn’t really look the part. I was muscular and strong. One would think that is what a trainer should look like, but in reality that was an excuse. It was an excuse for being overweight. I steadily gained every year. Up by 5s. 

I used strong and muscular as my excuse, my go to excuse. I used it all the time. I TOLD myself this all the time. I told myself I looked good. I was getting really good at lying to myself. 

I got fed up with it though. Every time I weighed myself, which wasn’t that often, because hey, you go by how your clothes fit, or hey, you go by how you feel, so why should I need a scale. Well, when your biggest pair of jeans become tight, it’s fucking time to pull out the scale and take a peek. I was shocked. How could this happen? I told myself again, I was muscular and strong. I let this go on for months. I kept gaining and gaining some more. Here I was a personal trainer AND a nutrition coach. What the hell? 

I was done. Bottom line is I didn’t have a slow metabolism. I didn’t have any thyroid problems (I got tested). It wasn’t my hormones. I didn’t have any kind of disease that would cause the weight gain. I was eating like an asshole, plain and simple. This was not rocket science, not at all. This was called eating way too much. No calorie deficit for this girl, no fucking way. I was eating way tooooo much. That was the problem, not that I was strong and muscular. 

I told myself to wake the fuck up. It was time to take responsibility. I was the only one who could change this. I had to. I was feeling like crap. I was tired all the damn time and I didn’t even care if I worked out. My skin looked like crap and my sleep was miserable. I had hit rock bottom. It was time to change.

I hired a coach. Shocker, right? It shouldn’t be. Even though I am a trainer and nutrition coach, I needed the accountability. I really needed it. You would be surprised how many trainers have coaches. Everybody needs a coach. 

I could feel this time was going to be different though. There was something different about this way of eating, whatever you want to call it, flexible dieting or if it fits your macros or macro budgeting. There was no magic pill. There were no magic powders or wraps. It was hard work. It was changing what I normally did. It was holding myself accountable. It was not eating whatever the hell I wanted when I wanted. It was portion control, which is really what I needed.

My excuses were done. 

I am still in a losing phase and so far am down 38 pounds and about 11 inches off my waist. I made myself a promise that I would never go back to that ridiculous number on the scale. Who cares if I am strong and muscular. That was an excuse and a big whopper of an excuse. 

No more. Losing weight is easy. The hard part is keeping it off. I plan to show up for the hard part. I plan to do the hard part. I plan to make myself a priority and to respect myself enough to stay on track. 

I am doing it. I have finally connected the daisy chain into healthy habits, into learning, into being accountable, into not eating like an asshole anymore. I feel like I am the healthiest I have probably ever been. At 55, I’ll take it. 

The pic is in black and white. Why? Because in color it seems so much worse. I still struggle a little bit seeing the before pics. I know I have come a long, long way, but there is still that inner voice, who sometimes has to pop in and just give you that tiny bit of doubt. I can squash it most of the time and I really, really do. It’s just once in a while…

I can say I finally have my shit together. It only took 55 years. If you need help getting yours together, get a hold of me. I would love to help you!

Screaming, Yelling, Blood and Tattling

It was just another day at the Euclid House. Yelling, screaming, tattling. It must have been a weekend because mom was home. It could have been evening, but it seemed like it was during the day. 

As you have seen from previous blog posts, we were just a little bit naughty. Some people may say we were just kids being kids. Okay then.  

We had been playing in my and Sherry’s room a big part of the day. I wonder where Jeff’s room was, and Wendy’s. I can’t remember. Strange how some parts of the house have faded away. This part hasn’t though. Our room was right by the laundry room. In fact, the sound of the washer and dryer would put me to sleep at night. There was a bathroom at the end of the laundry room area. The other way was the kitchen, dining room and living room. The house kind of went in a circle. You could get to the bathroom from two sides. Maybe the master bedroom was at the other side of the bathroom. Apparently Wendy and Jeff didn’t have bedrooms, because I can’t remember them. 

There was a weird root cellar room that you could get to from the kitchen. Maybe it was just a kind of basement. It had a dirt floor and wooden shelves. Anyway, that’s a story for another time. 

On this day other than screaming yelling and Sherry tattling about everything, we were kind of getting along playing in our room. We usually were doing things we weren’t supposed to, like lighting matches and starting fires. Today was different. We were playing Superman or All Star Wrestling, without the wrestling, just the flying through the air. We climbed up on the dresser which was one of those five drawer tall ones. It was against the wall by the closet. I think the paint was kind of a faded pink or peach color. It was solid wood. No tipping over when kids climbed up it. The bed was against the far wall. We pushed it there so we could get more air time. 

Shit got serious in that bedroom when the butter knife went in the door frame to lock the door. It was happening. Obviously, we knew we shouldn’t be doing what we were doing. Everything was set in place; the bed, the dresser and the knife. I was going first. I didn’t care if Jeff was older. I climbed up on top of the dresser and took a flying leap to the bed. I landed face first on the bed. The bed scooted further along the floor until it was fully against the wall. Oh My God was that fun!!! I wanted to do it again and again and again. I felt like I was flying. I was squealing with delight.

Back up to the top of the dresser. Jeff climbed up and we were both crouched down on the dresser. We couldn’t stand completely up because the ceiling was too low. Jeff was going to take his turn. I told him to just count to 3 and go. It was easy. Just jump out and fly. I wanted him to hurry up so I could jump again, but he was taking his sweet time. I was wondering what his problem was. There was absolutely nothing scary about this. Nothing. Then I noticed, he slipped as he was trying to jump. He had socks on. Why??? 

He was sprawled out like a starfish. I saw him land beside the bed on the floor. Oh wow, it looked like his face hit the bed frame. Dang! I thought oh, at least he didn’t get hurt. Then he got up and blood was running down his face. Oh No! We were going to be in big trouble. As soon as the blood started, he started screaming. Of course. Now we were really going to be in trouble. I was trying to get him to be quiet because I didn’t want to get in trouble. Not good. 

Pretty soon, mom was banging on the door trying to get in the room. “Um, just a minute,” I said. She asked what the hell was going on in there. I opened the door and Jeff ran out to the kitchen. Blood was running down his face. Mom sat him up on the counter and was wiping the blood off his face. Holy crap! He had giant gaping cut right above his eye. I could see the bone.  It was really cool!! Now, I kind of felt sorry for him. Until he opened his mouth. I was so worried about him, until he opened his mouth. He told mom I pushed him! What???? I didn’t push him. He slipped. What the hell did he think was going to happen when a person wears SOCKS to jump off of something. Seriously! What did he think would happen?

I got the death stare. You all know that one your mom gives you when she doesn’t have time to beat your ass, but wants you to know it isn’t over. Yeah, that one. 

Saved by the cut. They left for the ER to get stitches on the eye. 

Moral of that story is that your brother shouldn’t be so accident prone. 

Evaluating

I looked at the clock. I looked again. Back to work. The click seemed audible. Maybe it was. Not too much longer. Friday afternoon. Almost done. I checked the clock again. Soon. Very soon.

I thought about it. I anticipated it. The mouth feel. The slight bite and then the belly burn.

Relaxation came at the first swallow, red, not white. I needed that. It was a long week. That’s what I told myself. So many things. So many stressors. I was convinced I deserved it. Because that’s what we tell ourselves. 

My rule was that I could only drink on weekends. If I drank during the week, I found myself drinking more and more caffeine to burn off the fog of the alcohol. I told myself it was no big deal. I really felt fine. Why should I feel that way though? Why should I do that to myself?

Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday. Telling myself two glasses was the limit. Many times two turned to three. I had to get more because I needed at least two glasses for the next night. If I didn’t, there wouldn’t be enough. I pondered that. Why not just have one glass. Because.  Whatever excuse I could use. Whatever reason to get more. It’s good for you, right? And shit I deserved it. 

I got stuffed up as soon as I had a glass. My cheeks flushed and my whole body got hot. Hot flashes triggered by alcohol. Slight reactions, nothing big. But still, reactions.

I drank in spurts. Sometimes only weekends and then sometimes a period of a month or six weeks when I would drink every day. When I felt like the weekdays were getting away from me again, my rule came back, only weekends. 

During those longer periods, I would drink every day. Waiting for the time to start. The click was real. I had a glass to work on Studio work. I had a glass to relax in front of the TV. And then another.  But sometimes it wasn’t quite enough. It was wearing off. I was constantly chasing the buzz but then going slightly too far. Going to bed and feeling drunk. I told myself I slept well. I didn’t. I told myself I was healthy enough. I wasn’t. I told myself I didn’t really need it. I didn’t. I just wanted it. And then I didn’t want it anymore.

A switch clicked. This click was not drinking. This click was taking responsibility for my health. This click was looking in the mirror and calling bullshit. This click was taking responsibility for what I was doing. This click was not doing whatever everyone else was doing, because it was the norm. I’m not someone who does something just because everyone else does. I’m pretty good at doing my own thing.

It was time to evaluate. It was time to see what happened without it. I had to see. I had to see if I could do it.

It’s been 136 days since I’ve had an alcoholic beverage and I don’t miss it. I sleep better. I feel better. My health is better and I’m happy. How long will I go? Until I’m done. 

Tayler’s Cupboards

First grade, second grade, third grade, fourth.

The memories packed in the cupboard. 

Pencils and glue and hair ties too. 

Tape and markers and super balls to bounce. 

Barbies and papers and trinkets and a bell. 

Two cupboards filled to the brim. 

Full of memories from the life of a kid. 

Standing, nightgown on. 

Tinkering and playing and thinking out loud. 

Far off places and toys that talked. 

Books of angels and animals and even rocks. 

Stickers and lip gloss and dice.

Standing there for hours playing until she knelt. 

Imagining and singing and laughing to herself.

When she was done she shut the cupboard and said goodnight.

Just because she got older didn’t mean she discarded her belongings as junk. Far from it. 

She stored more memories.

The cupboards are full. 

It’s been over 16 years. 

I can’t clean them out.

It makes me miss her being little still.

The life she made. The memories she made. 

A huge part of her childhood is buried in there. 

She won’t let them go. 

It’s something I can’t bear.

The child who is now an adult. 

The child who entertained herself for hours. 

The child, self-sufficient in everything she did. 

The child who grew up. 

And the mom who did too.

The child who still peeks into those cupboards and laughs out loud. 

Memories of more simple times. 

Memories of fun and laughter. 

Memories of a lifetime. 

Always there. 

The Bagel Experience

I was sitting at my computer on Sunday, just like pretty much every Sunday, when all of a sudden I saw a post about bagels. I mean, I like bagels and all, but who wants to take the time to make them? It’s a process and one that I did not want to go through. But these bagels were different. They only had a few ingredients and you didn’t have to boil them. I thought hmmmm, maybe I can make these. Well, everything else I was working on immediately went to the back burner. Bagels here I come! How hard could it be? It said it was simple. I was so excited. 

Okay, ingredients needed – flour – all purpose, baking powder, salt and greek yogurt. This IS going to be easy. The recipe makes four bagels. I will double it, because duh, bagels. I even had “everything bagel seasoning” to put on top of them. These bagels are going to be tasty. As I read the recipe, I checked off in my head the ingredients. I knew I had everything. I was so excited. 

I got my bowl, stainless steel, of course. No special reason. I just feel cool when I use stainless steel bowls. I carefully measured the flour, two cups. Next the baking powder, 4 teaspoons and then the salt about 1.5 teaspoons. Next up the greek yogurt. I know I have Fage in the fridge. That is the kind the recipe lady said she used. I was so excited. 

I opened the fridge and pulled out the yogurt. Hmmmm. Remember I doubled the recipe, so I would need two containers of the yogurt. Well, I only had one. Shit. I looked in the stainless steel bowl. Piles of the baking powder and salt were in separate places on top of the flour. I bet I could take out two piles of baking powder and a pile of salt. Then I could take out a cup of flour and just make the four bagels like the stupid recipe told me to do all along. That was not going to work. Everything starting mixing together when I touched it with a spoon. I could have mixed it all together and then removed a cup, but I wasn’t smart enough to think of that until later. Like now later. Duh. 

I did have other greek yogurt, but it was all flavored. I couldn’t very well make everything bagel flavored bagels with peach and coconut yogurt. Could you imagine? That would taste disgusting. Improvise. Plan B. Always have a plan B. I decided I could make the bagels cinnamon and sugar flavored, because peaches taste good with cinnamon and sugar and I think coconut would taste good with cinnamon and sugar. Okay then, peach and coconut it would be. I put in the Fage first. Crap that was not mixing very well. I used a whisk. Dumbass. I needed a fork. I looked at the container of Fage and noticed the date was January 10, 2019. WTF? 

I legit thought about starting over. I thought about going to Walmart and getting more yogurt and more flour. Except, it was snowing and I live about nine miles from Walmart. Not today. Back to Plan B. 

I smelled the yogurt. It didn’t make me want to gag, so I figured it was good. I had to add a container of coconut and a container of peach to make the dough look like the consistency it was supposed to be. Okay then. I was so excited again. 

The recipe then told me to throw some flour on the counter and put the dough ball on the counter and knead it about 15 or so times. It actually said dust some flour on the counter. I was to then cut the dough into four separate pieces and then roll each piece to about 3/4 inch ropes and to join the ends to make the bagel circle. That worked. I was so excited.

It was time to bake these babies. Ummm, not quite. I first had to put an egg wash on the tops and sides of the bagels so that my cinnamon and sugar would stick. The egg wash is also supposed to make the bagel shiny.  On went the sugar and cinnamon. Mmmmm. They smelled so good. Mine didn’t look very smooth though. They were kind of lumpy. I didn’t care. I was excited. 

Into the 375 degree oven they went. The recipe said bake them for about 25 minutes. That was correct. They puffed up slightly and smelled delicious. 

Once the 25 minutes was up, I checked them. They were done. Mine weren’t shiny. I took them out of the oven and brought them over to the counter to rest. “Squirrel.” The cat was on the counter, laying in the flour that was left from rolling them out. Lovely. Had to get the cat off the counter. At least she laid in it after I rolled them out and not before. See, glass half full, right here. 

Even though they weren’t shiny and they weren’t the most even circles, they still looked really good. Now the true test. The taste test. I got the knife. The serrated bread cutting knife, because you know, bagels are basically bread. I cut the bagel in half. Ohhhh, it looked pretty inside. I wondered what to put on it. I didn’t have any cream cheese. That would have been good. I settled on butter and honey. I had some vanilla infused honey and Kerrygold butter. Mmmmmmmmmm. Delicious! 

Even though I messed up the recipe, it wasn’t a complete disaster. These bagels tasted amazing. I could taste a hint of peach. It paired well with the honey and the butter and I didn’t die from the out of date yogurt. I will definitely be making these again. 

Lessons learned: 

Make sure all ingredients are readily available.

Yogurt lasts a month past the date.

Watch what the cat is doing at all times.

 

 

Frugal February – Money-Saving March

Frugal February anyone? Money-Saving March anyone? I’m doing it. I am imposing a shopping ban on myself for the months of February and March. Have you ever done that–imposed a shopping ban on yourself? I really never have. I don’t go overboard with spending, but I want to change a few things and form some better habits when it comes to money.

If there was one positive that came out of the most recent government shut down, it taught me how to get by with less, way less. I’m still in less mode. I’m still in the basics of basics mode. Why not continue? 

There are many unanswered questions. Can I go that long? What can I buy? What can’t I buy? Can I really do this? Do I really want to do this?

I have made myself some rules. If you are on my email list, you might remember a book I read about a shopping ban. It was called The Year of Less by Cait Flanders. The timing of that could not have been more perfect and really, maybe it was a sign. A sign to get my shit together and just quit spending money. A sign to start saving more. A sign. 

Like I said, I don’t go overboard but there are definitely some places I can cut back and not feel like I am being deprived. 

So, here are my rules, if you will, or my I can buy this, but not that list:

  1. No new clothes
  2. No new shoes
  3. No new workout clothes
  4. Can only buy things as they run out, for example deodorant or shampoo. How many of you have a shit ton of shampoos and conditioners? I bet a lot of you. Same with makeup.
  5. Can buy groceries of course. A girl’s gotta eat.
  6. No new notebooks, notecards, pens, etc. I am a notebook whore. Not even kidding. I love journals and notebooks and notecards. Any size, all sizes. I want them all. This one will be tough for me.
  7. No new books, except for my business and then I will limit that to one per month! I have enough. I really do. I love books. I love reading them, I love listening to them, but I have enough!
  8. I will unsubscribe to emails that are trying to persuade me to buy their stuff. Believe me, that is a lot of subscriptions. 
  9. I can buy gifts, if needed.
  10. This is the last rule, but the most important rule. When I buy something, I will be asking myself if I really need it or if I just want it. This goes for everything I will be buying. THIS, is the most important rule. 

I think this is a great place to start. I also plan on opening a separate savings account and stashing as much money as I can in there every month. 

I have decluttered my closet and bathroom already and I have a few more things to declutter. I am ready to just get rid of crap.

If anyone wants to join, I would love the company and the accountability. 

I will be checking in and updating at least once a week, and possibly more. I will let you know when it gets hard. I will let you know when it feels easy. I will let you know. 

…off to unsubscribe to a crap ton of email lists. Later. 

Determined. And stubborn.

 

I was about seven or eight years old. It was the Euclid house. When I put my mind to something, I didn’t stop until I accomplished what I set out to do. Like a goal. You know that about me, if you have read my posts. Remember the broken collar bone? Yeah. I was determined. And, I was stubborn. Some might say I am still that way. I think they are pretty good traits to have, to a point. Determined is great, stubborn maybe not as much. I have gotten way better and have learned to control my stubbornness. I’ve grown. When I was a kid though, it helped me become better at things. 

At the back of the Euclid house, outside, there were steps that led to the upstairs apartment. Two women lived there, Myra and Sharon. They were nice and put up with a lot from us. I am sure we were loud and obnoxious. We were always outside so I am guessing they could hear us all the time. The steps were made of wood. I used those steps religiously to up my jump rope game.

I was learning how to do double jumps. These days they are called double unders. I couldn’t do them. I was mad and frustrated and frankly pissed off. Why couldn’t I do them? They seemed easy enough. You jumped and twirled the rope underneath your feet twice. Big deal. Why should that be so hard? Why couldn’t I just do that? I loved jumping rope. I had a jump rope in my hands most of the time when I was a kid. I loved it. It was fun. It was challenging. That’s why I loved it. 

The rope itself was not made of rope. It was made of plastic. That part had to be perfect. Not too thick, not too thin, just right. Like Goldilocks. Red Owl (now Dakotamart) is where I bought my jump ropes. They had the best ones for sure. I bought a lot of them. The worst part about finding a favorite jump rope was when they were used so much, they wore out in the middle and broke in half. The concrete did that to them. Back to square one. Good thing jump ropes were cheap. They came in many different colors and lengths. The best way to measure was to step on the jump rope at the center and to hold the handles to your armpits. That was how to measure for length. If it wasn’t measured correctly, jump roping did not work. At all. It messed up the timing. 

I came up with a plan on how to finally master the double jumps. I thought about it for days. I tested it multiple times. I was sure it would work. How could it not? I was determined. And stubborn, so it had to work. My plan was to start out on the bottom step. I would stand on the step sideways. I would then jump off the step to the side and perform the double jump. I figured I would get higher in the air and then be able to turn the rope faster and therefore be able to get it twirled twice under my feet. A few times I jumped too far to the side and lost my balance. Several times I landed on my knees. But I was determined. And, I was stubborn. I kept trying. Nothing was going to stop me. Timing was everything, when it came to jump rope. If the timing wasn’t there, it just was not going to work.  

I would get off the step and practice other jumps. Criss cross, backwards jumping, backwards criss cross, front criss cross, moving the feet AND the elusive double jump. I still couldn’t get the timing down. Back to the step it would have to be. 

Standing on the step, I got the jump rope behind me and told myself this was it. It was time to get this. Because I was determined. And, I was stubborn. I jumped and twirled the rope at the same time. It felt like slow motion. It felt like this time it was going to happen. I could feel it. The jump rope twirled twice under my feet and I landed on the ground without falling! I was elated. I did it. I did a double jump. I did it! Holy crap, time to try again. I got up on the step again. I repeated everything as before, step by step. I did it again! It worked, again! I was so excited. 

Well, you know what came next, right? Of course I had to try it off the step. I made it a big production, even though I was by myself. I acted like I was on a stage and I had no choice but to do it. I had no choice but to get this jump. I was determined. And, I was stubborn. I got in position. Feet together on the ground, jump rope behind me. Deep breath. 1-2-3. I jumped and twirled. Twice. I got it. Again. It felt good. It felt, almost easy. Had I practiced so much that now every piece was going to fall into place, every dot was going to be connected and all of my hard work was going to pay off? Could it be that easy? Could practicing so much really pay off? Why yes, it can. It really can. That is the only way we are going to get better at something. Sometimes we want it right now. I should say a lot of times we want it right now and we are not willing to work for it. I see it all the time. We need to be patient and we need to work and practice something if we want to get better at it. That should be common sense. 

After I got the one double jump, I started practicing more and more. I started stringing together one after the other, until I could do 25 unbroken double jumps. I then started practicing backwards double jumps until I perfected those as well. I was so happy with my progress. I was determined to reach my goal. And, I was stubborn.

Be determined. And, be stubborn. 

Wedding Vows

It’s our anniversary tomorrow (January 10th). It is 21 years. It feels like two. I feel like we have known each other our whole lives, not just 21 years of our lives. 

The promise:

I Peggie, take thee John, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

I, John, take thee, Peggie, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. 

Love, respect, life, living. Happy, connected, forever, love. True love, soul mate, the one, unconditional love.

Man of my dreams

Life is not guaranteed

Wedded bliss

In sickness and in health

A picture. I was at work today and the picture fell out from some papers I have. It is one of my favorites, if not favorite, picture of John and Tayler. Tayler is about 10 months old in it. John is about 44, a few months shy of 45. John has a giant horseshoe full of staples on his head. Tayler has burned fingers on her hand. It shows the fragility that life is. It shows that nothing is guaranteed, no matter what we may think. It shows.

Life was good. Life was beautiful. Then on June 3, 2000, dad died and life was very, very sad. John got me through it. Every night he held me while I cried the ugly cry. 

A week or so after dad died, John started acting weird. I know, hard to believe right? LOL. We would be sitting there talking and all of a sudden he would just be silent and it was like he was looking right through me. After dad’s funeral, John and I and my sisters and their husbands sat up drinking White Russians, reminiscing and telling dad stories. We knew he was there, because he broke the tree. The tree actually split. No storm, no lightning, just dad. 

John thought maybe he just had a wicked, wicked hangover. He said his head felt like there was an axe in it. This went on for a while and he continued to act weird and to look straight through me. He said he was going to go the chiropractor the next day because he thought maybe his neck was out of place. At the time, I didn’t realize he was having seizures. I actually thought he may be having a stroke when he had a really bad seizure. 

I should have taken him. I don’t know why I didn’t. At that time we lived on the river, right past the Pizza Ranch and down from AmericInn (which was not there then). I watched. I was scared and really, really nervous. I could see his pickup on the bridge. He was going extremely slow. He definitely had a guardian angel that day because he was having a seizure as he was driving over to Pierre to the chiropractor’s office. 

I received a telephone call. John was being taken to the hospital by ambulance. I immediately called his brother, Roy, and he met me at the hospital. We knew nothing at that point. He was being monitored and all kinds of tests were being conducted. 

Ironically, my dad’s physician, Dr. Hoffsten, figured out what was going on. After testing and more testing, it turned out John had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins, which disrupts normal blood flow and oxygen circulation. They are typically found in the brain and if it ruptures can cause bleeding in the brain, stroke or brain damage. 

We were referred to Rapid City, to a neurosurgeon. We liked him. Seljeskog. Ed. He reminded me of dad. He made us feel comfortable. Next up, brain surgery. June 30, 2000.

John had to have surgery to remove the AVM. It seemed like the surgery took forever. It was a very long day. The AVM was removed and everything was going to be okay. More angels looking over us and God for sure. 

It seems so long ago that this happened. It seems so long ago that Tayler was little. It seems so long ago that our life was completely turned upside down, yet it feels like it was yesterday. The emotions are there, on the surface, just waiting to spring to life. It can’t be helped. I can’t stop them. I see that picture and the lump in my throat is right there. The tears are waiting to fall. 

I don’t take anything for granted. Things can change in a second. You hear that all the time. It really is true. None of us know how much time we have. None of us. 

So with my time, I choose to live life. I choose to live life with my true love.

Man of my dreams

Life is not guaranteed

Wedded bliss

In sickness and in health

…till death do us part

Watermelons and station wagons

I think I was around 10 or 11, which means we lived in the Prospect House. It was summer. We went on a vacation. A family vacation. I’m not sure what spurred this vacation. I have no idea why. We never went on vacations. We never did family outings. We never did family pictures. We never did family stuff. Not that that is bad, we just never did. 

The destination was Arkansas. Why? I don’t know why. I don’t think we knew anyone in Arkansas. The trip was taken in a station wagon. You know, the colored panel ones with a crap ton of room. We could spread out in the way back and not have to worry about being seat belted in. It was not a law then. We could sleep way in the back and be comfortable. The humming of the engine, the sound of the tires rolling down the interstate made it easy to relax and fall asleep. That gentle noise always put me to sleep. 

It seemed like we drove forever. Forever in kid time. It had to have been a couple of days at least. I remember when we got “there,” we stopped at a grocery store. We bought a watermelon and some other items. I only remember the watermelon. It had to be solid dark green though. That’s what dad wanted. Those were the best kind of watermelons. Why that is significant to me, I’m not sure. We went to the place where we were staying. It wasn’t a hotel or anything like that. It was a house. It was a cabin/house in the woods with lots and lots of trees. There were no other houses close by. It was strange. It was like a scary movie. I wouldn’t realize that then, but now, that’s what I feel. 

This house was big. It had lots of room and a big deck on the back. We played outside. I don’t remember doing any other kinds of activities while we were on vacation. One of the days I went out back and was playing in the “yard,” if you could call it that. There really wasn’t a yard, just trees. The deck was sloped, so there must have been a walk out basement in the house. 

The details are vague. It’s weird, I remember the watermelon clearly and the next incident clearly. That’s it. I remember nothing else about the trip. I remember nothing about why we were there. I remember nothing of what the inside of the house looked like, just the outside yard and the deck.

I went out to play in the back. I noticed that I could hang on to part of the deck and swing under it, like gymnastics bars. I wondered if I would get slivers from the wood. I thought I would try it. I was bored. There really wasn’t anything to do. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, my typical summer attire. I don’t think I was wearing shoes. I grabbed the deck. It was good. No slivers. I started swinging by hanging on to the boards with my hands and swinging my legs up underneath the deck. I felt something. It felt like fire. It was stinging. I wanted to let go, but I couldn’t. If I did I would fall on my back or my head. I had to wait until my legs came back down and then out from underneath the deck. My leg was burning like crazy. Once I could let go, I looked at my leg. The pattern was a circle, then another circle in that circle and finally the center. My skin was red and puffy. Huge bubbles of skin. Red bubbles of skin. Skin on fire. Stinging skin. I was screaming and jumping up and down. 

Unbeknownst to me, up underneath the deck was a flying ant nest. I never even knew there was such a thing. After I had run back in the house and told mom and dad what had happened they went out and looked. I wasn’t going anywhere near there again. My leg was on fire. It hurt for days after that. I think mom put something on it to help with the sting and the swelling, but it didn’t seem like it helped much. 

So that was the extent of the family vacation. I can’t remember anything else about it. I used to envy my friends who went on vacations every summer. After that vacation, I didn’t care if I ever went on another one again. 

Halloween Tradition

Happy Halloween

Do you ever wonder what the history of Halloween is? Me either. 

Okay, I kind of do wonder. I had to go look. Basically, the practices of Halloween mostly come from Celtic paganism in the British Isles, and their feast of Samhain, the new year. They believed it was the time when ghosts and spirits came out to haunt, and the Celts would appease the spirits by giving them treats. Interesting. 

Back to my Halloween. Back to plastic masks with the stinky smell and the eye holes, nose holes and mouth holes that would practically cut your skin if they were moved just right. We could eat a sucker and the stick would stick out the small hole that was the mouth hole. We thought it was cool. Like we were smoking a cigarette. Those things made your whole face sweat and it was hard to breathe. They were also creepy. 

Costumes are creepy. Costumes are uncomfortable. Costumes are weird. But we all did it. We all wore those creepy plastic masks to hide our true identity. Nobody knew who we were unless they were trick or treating with us. Or unless they recognized our parents who took us out trick or treating. Wait a second. That never happened. We went by ourselves. Every year. All the time. Do kids even do that anymore? I mean, it is kind of a scary world out there anymore. 

We used to hit all the “good” houses. The ones that gave “good” Halloween candy. As in none of that rotten crappy candy, such as Necco wafers (GAWD), or candy corn (heaven forbid) or those disgusting peanut butter chews that were wrapped in orange and black paper to make them more appealing looking. It never worked. We could all see right through that little trick. The best houses were remembered every single year. It was tradition. I remember some highlights. 

One in particular was the Mateer House. They lived on Broadway. They gave presents! Can you believe that? Presents. The line was crazy. You had to get there early and you had to wait in line. They greeted kids at the door and then proceeded to take down the kids’ name and write it in a book. I wonder how many kids tried to dupe them and get double presents. I would like to think none, but I bet it happened. They were the cutest little old couple. They obviously loved Halloween. One year I got a sleep mask. It was black. I wonder if I ever used it. 

Another house on Yankton street gave away popcorn balls. Delicious, chewy and sweet popcorn balls. Not too sweet and not full of seeds. Perfect popcorn balls. They lived on the corner of Yankton and Capitol. The Brasel house. The best popcorn ball house. That was definitely a house not to miss. 

If you were lucky enough, some houses gave out full size candy bars. That was definitely a huge score in the trick or treating world. If you found the house, you immediately told all other trick or treaters you came in contact with. Sometimes when it was getting time to head back home and people were turning off porch lights, and you happened to hit their house, they gave you all the candy they had left. That was a huge Halloween score. 

Once it started getting late, and we got home, it was time. My absolute favorite part of Halloween. It was time to sort the candy. Everything had to be perfect. I got rid of my costume. I got rid of my coat, if I needed to wear one that year. I sat down in the living room. The lights had to be on. The bucket or bag, or whatever receptacle was used as the candy collector, was dumped on the floor. I had to shoo away the dog and the Dad. Dad would constantly be in the pile. He would always sneak a Baby Ruth or a Butterfinger. The sorting would begin. The candy sorting ritual. Everything in piles. Baby Ruths in a pile. Kit Kats in a pile. Reese’s in a pile. Every single different kind of candy was in a pile. The only thing I would eat while sorting was gum. Dubble Bubble. Five or six pieces at once. Slupring up that sugary pile of pink putty. Mmmmmmmm. I don’t chew gum anymore. You can probably see why. 

Once everything was sorted into piles, the pieces were counted. It was a tradition. Then the trading could commence with siblings. Sometimes nothing was traded. Sometimes a few things were traded and even sometimes the gross candy was thrown away. Dad wouldn’t even eat it. Every year it was done the exact same way. Every year. It was tradition.