Lessons I learned from trees

I am always happy out in nature. But I have a particular affection for trees.

I love being in a forest, and will lag behind everyone else snowmobiling as I take in the trees. I love texture, and trees have tons of that. Craggy bark, smooth bark, light bark, dark bark, curling bark. And leaves! Smooth, fringey, delicately shaped or large and bold, with varying shades of green. In the fall I am truly am a distracted driver when all the gorgeous burgundys, oranges and golds appear. The variety of trees living and growing side by side is a lesson in itself for us.

don’t be afraid to be the first one to change
-or maybe-
don’t be afraid to stand out

as Jeff Goldblum likes to say, life will find a way.
Even after falling or being cut down, these trees continue to put out fresh growth each year.

You can’t always get what you want
I love birch trees. The color, the fringy leaves, the curling bark. My town is littered with birch, I took this picture less than half a mile from my house.
However, I don’t have any birch trees on my property!

you can thrive anywhere, regardless of your surroundings
unique beauty comes from adversity


So, its Saturday. Three years ago today I had a really bad day. I didn’t know it was going to be a bad day. Started out just fine.

I remember feeding the horses, and I have a clear view of Daisy sitting on the rug, waiting for me as I came back in. I told her as I went by that I had to work and couldn’t stay home with her. I took a shower, and I remember deciding to take my running stuff so I could run at the hospital, knowing that by the time I got home in the early afternoon I wouldn’t want to run (an unfortunate decision, as I lost my running gear).

That is my last memory for about a week. They tell me some idiot (driving for a school with kids in the van) ran the red light and slammed into my driver side door doing 50 MPH. Totaled my car. Paramedics  got me out and took me to the hospital where I work (fortunately I was only about a mile from work at that point), and apparently I got a Life Flight ride to the bigger hospital down state. It does irritate me  that I got a helicopter ride for the first time ever and I wasn’t awake to enjoy it!

My lung was punctured, ribs were broken and my pelvic girdle  snapped in three places, along with various lacerations. After they stabilized me, my mom asked why my right foot was hanging at a really odd angle, and they realized my knee needed some help too. Strangely, that last thing they found is the longest lasting effect of the accident–besides me being a really bad passenger. I mean, seriously. You do NOT want to put me in a car and take me on the highway unless you have a lot of patience.

I was hospitalized for two weeks, one week in CCU and one week at rehab in my home hospital after my surgery for my knee. A marvelous surgeon rebuilt my knee, added some bone grafts and stuck a metal plate under it to hold it all together while I healed (he did another surgery a year later to take the plate out).  I spent two months home, using a walker and unable to put any weight on my leg. I was very happy when my home therapist put a basket on my walker–I couldn’t even get carry a cup of coffee til then.

Gonna say, it was boring! And daytime tv is awful. The doc okayed me to put weight on the leg on a Friday and I gratefully  went back to work the following Monday (with a cane). I used the cane until I started leaving it in patient rooms, then I decided I must not need it anymore.

I followed the surgeon’s rules (and added a few of my own), and have seen great improvements in my knee in the last three years. He thought I needed to look two years out before seeing how my knee would recover. I have actually made great improvements in this, my third year.

My best moment came when I sat on the floor and unconsciously folded my legs into a cross-legged seat. I’m short, and that was always my favorite position–on the floor, on chairs, wherever. It’s not a tight cross, but I am sitting with my knees bent. I never thought I could do that again.  My running expanded this summer too, I ran better times and even a  10K this summer.

Not that everything is perfect. My knees (yes, plural) did not react well to my pushing this summer, and I had to take most of September off from running. My left knee has been achy too, probably the effect of taking the brunt of, well, everything in the last three years.

But I am fine tuning my workouts to keep my knees happy, and I believe that I am seeing the full ability that my right knee will have. I can’t bend it completely, but when doing a quad stretch, I can at least hold the heel now.  I may not run a 10k again, but I am already planning my 5Ks for this summer. Now it is not so much about pushing my limits as much as it is just running.



Fun Fact

Everyone is always wondering if herbal medicine  works. We see all these vitamin boosts, miracle herbs, and energy mixes and wonder, hmmm, can that actually help me? GNC has definitely made a business of it. And I don’t know if they all work. I don’t feel the need for most of them.

But I do take turmeric for my knee. Shortly after my accident I read an article touting ginger and turmeric for inflammation. I decided to get turmeric* pills, and I added ginger root to my tea for a while. I don’t know that the ginger helped, frankly I think it is better for digestion. But everyone’s body reacts differently, so it might help with inflammation for some. The turmeric works for me. How can I be sure, you ask?

Well, I ran out. My knees were achy anyway (I don’t think they like the cold), and I realized the bottle was almost empty. I took one instead of two for three days, then forgot to order more. My knees reminded me when I was going down the stairs at work a couple of days later.

This happened right after I realized that I can’t run on an incline. I was on the full dose of turmeric when I tried to run the incline, I ran out directly after I ran the second mile on the incline. Bad timing!

I immediately ordered the pill from my trusty Amazon and they arrived yesterday. I am curious to see how long it takes for them to kick. It’s going to be warmer next week, so that should help. Meanwhile, I am doing a lot of walking and yoga!

*there is a wide variety of turmeric pills available. Unfortunately, not all come with curcumin, also known as black pepper. Curcumin is necessary for the turmeric to be absorbed into your body and affect the inflammation. Or do anything else. Something to keep in mind if your choose to try some.

Do what you gotta do!

Those of you who have been following along know that I am coming up on my three-year mark of the accident that shattered my knee ( it did more, but that seems to be the longest lasting effect).

I still wear a brace almost every day. I have gathered a plethora; light knits and compressions and hefty ones for the actual running. I may be addicted, as I am always looking for the “perfect” brace that won’t slide and will give excellent support.

Sometimes at home I don’t wear one–but I can always go grab one if needed. I am amazed at how a little piece of compression nylon can make my leg feel so much better. I have tried to not use them at various points in the last couple years, and my leg always informs me the it really does still need them.

And the point of this, you are wondering?

I had a wonderful surgeon who rebuilt my knee, and I am deeply indebted to him.  He was supportive about my future progress, although he really didn’t think I would like running. But he never suggested the knee supports.

That was a light bulb moment for me in the local drug store.  And I am so glad I stopped in front of the brace section that day. I probably wouldn’t  enjoy running without the braces; both the heavier ones for exercising and the lighter ones for every day.

But the point. The point is that sometimes you have to think outside the box, and if you want to try something, do it. Absolutely do whatever your doctor suggests, but feel free to add-on (safely-I would suggest caution when it comes to unusual medications. There was a very low risk factor putting a nylon brace on my leg!). You never know what will help your progress until you try. And if it doesn’t work, try something else!

My Week of Not Running

I spent most of the week avoiding exercise and being, well, pissy.

I didn’t realize until I was sitting at my desk on Wednesday afternoon just why I felt that way. I had taken Monday off, cuz that is always my day off. I took Tuesday off cuz I was tired and cranky. I didn’t want to get up the next morning and walk on the treadmill.

So I was sitting there at my desk, thinking about how much I DIDN’T want to go home and exercise and how much I needed to after taking two days off.  And the lightbulb went on.

I was pissy because I couldn’t run. After walking the last half mile on my run last Friday, I’d decided my knees needed some serious time off. It seems to be working, walking down stairs isn’t as painful as it was. I still think I need to give them a little more time. Clearly taking six days off last week wasn’t enough.  Therefore, I am resisting temptation.

I have known for some time that my knees had a shelf life–and it probably wasn’t all that long. But I didn’t think they were going to give out just yet. And they most likely haven’t. But I am worried. And while, in theory, I had a plan for when they do give out, I don’t want to do it.  I don’t want to exercise this week because I am pouting. Just took me a few days to realize it.

I went home Wednesday night and walked Daisy–briskly. We did a mile in 15:16. Might have been 15 flat if someone hadn’t gotten all excited about seeing the neighbor’s dog. To be fair, he was barking at us from the lawn, and they hadn’t met yet. And still haven’t, as I scooped her up (she HATES that) and carried her right past. I followed the walk  with weights (for my core) and yoga (for my brain). Then I got up the next morning and did another brisk mile on the treadmill before heading out to work.

And felt the best on Thursday I had felt all week.
(but I still want to run!)

Sunday Trails


                       Daisy didn’t get the point of a shadow selfie — to not be in the picture! 
                                                (my fav kind of pic-plus it makes me look tall)


      for a  forecasted cloudy day, that was an awful lot of blue sky




                                                                  Sniffing wears a puppy out!



I did NOT want to run Sunday morning.

I finally got up out of my chair to feed the horses, and decided I might as well get moving. Honestly, I felt better as soon as laced up my sneakers–the decision was made. Not that I wanted to go out there. But I was going.

I decided to do just a couple of miles, and do them slowly, to “enjoy” them. Truth was, I had pushed with every run the past week and my legs were tired. By the second of the seven hills in my route, I decided that hills really suck!

But I made it through, and it even felt pretty good while I was doing it. And then I could go on with my day, feeling relaxed and happy that I had run.

Happy Accidents

I was doing my yoga last week and I had a thrilling moment when I sat down, absently and automatically placing my legs in Lotus.

One of the things I miss most in the two years since the accident shattered my knee is sitting tailor  fashion with my legs crossed. I don’t think I have mentioned this before, but I am, as one friend likes to say, vertically challenged–5’0″ on a good day. So I frequently sat cross-legged when my feet didn’t reach the floor, or when I had to sit on the floor, or any opportunity that it would seem comfortable.

They did a fabulous job getting my knee back together, but the muscles are very tight and I still can’t bend my knee enough to sit on my heels. At least, not without some hysterical screaming from the pain. I try to avoid that.

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t really been trying to increase the bend. I can ride, and run, and work around most yoga moves, so I figured it is what it is. When I stretch out, I push the leg to bend as much as possible, but I wasn’t doing any special PT to make it bend more.

I still have to wear a light brace everyday to give it support.  I use a pull-on neoprene for most daily use, and a bit heavier one for actual exercise. I have tried twice to give it up, once last March (my leg didn’t like it at all), and once last August (my leg was fine the first week but quite unhappy the second). I will probably try again this summer, but if I have to wear a brace on my leg for the rest of my life in order to be active, I can live with that.

But I am gleeful beyond description that an ability I figured lost to me forever has returned. It’s not perfect, my right leg is three or four inches in front of the left one if the left one is tucked in properly. But it IS a cross-legged position 🙂 and-

-I can sit in Lotus at the end of my practice, breathing deeply and happily.

Me vs Tech, #1

I didn’t forget my Weekly Rundown post this week.  I lost internet. It is unbelievable how much we rely on that now. How odd that I grew up without internet and now can’t live without it.   I just felt lost.

My husband and I don’t have a lot of data on our phones, as we have internet at home (usually) and at both our workplaces. So we hopped on email or Facebook for a quick moment, then got right back off.

And, I admit, texting is great, but I prefer a real keyboard for lengthy  writing. Also, since I am on open wi-fi 40 hours a week at work, I don’t have anything important on my phone. Wanna hack my email? Dang. You got into my Facebook? Ah well. But I don’t have any bill or finance info on my phone. That sucked over the weekend,  I couldn’t do anything.

When I called my company the first time on Saturday, they said Wednesday. I said that was really unacceptable, and the tech agreed. He told me dispatch would call in an hour to see if they could do sooner.  Two hours later I called back. And then again several hours after that I called again, when I found out that the following Sunday was the soonest I could be home when they could get here.

A whole week of no internet? What, were we in the 80s? I couldn’t take it.

Fortunately,it occurred to me–no help from my internet company–that I could exchange the modem (which we all believed was the  problem) at my local cable office.

And lo, we got internet back last night. Much rejoicing was had. But no typing was done…..ooops!


Exercise Plan?

I am having an unusual week, as I am flying by the seat of my pants this week. I normally sit down Sunday  and figure out my plan for the week. I admit to being a bit OCD/controlling when it comes to, well, just about everything. Except housecleaning.  I will cheerfully let dust gather.

I find that once I write down what I plan on doing each day, I DO it. Otherwise I tend to just float and I find I took more days than I should have on off at the end of the week.  Or that I didn’t work hard enough on the days I did exercise.

I am kinda enjoying this week, tho. I took Monday off, so I know I have to exercise for the rest of the week. In the back of my mind I know I want to run as much as possible, and I should do yoga to stretch out a couple of times. But I can mostly do whatever I want each day.  Freedom! 

So my question is, do you plan your exercise week?  Why or why not?