Thursday, March 27, 2014

We were the lucky ones...

My coworker called me late last night, weeping, saying "She's gone."
I tried to process what that meant all the while trying to comfort my coworker.
I tried to figure out whether I needed to call my bosses.

I've spent the past day feeling a lot of things, and also marveling at my coworkers and friends, and thinking about how a tragedy brought out the best in all of us -- the good memories, the people that are rocks, the people that nurture, the people that are good with words -- all for someone so gentle and kind.

I've experienced death so many ways -- being in the room when my grandmother took her last breath, the death of my mother, the murder of a classmate, the untimely death of friends, the long and drawn-out diseases that robbed people of their identities. But no death perplexes me more than the coworker death (and I've experienced a few).  People who are a blend of stranger, acquaintance, friend, teammate, (nemesis), mentor, and peer.  You never realize what a fixture they are in your life until they are no longer there.

Right now we can only speculate as to how my coworker passed away, but we know how she lived -- with joy, with humor, with gusto.  We all had such fond memories of her inside the walls of the office.  Some of us were even luckier to have memories of her during happy hours and other gatherings. 

On a more personal note, she helped me greatly when Spike was diagnosed with diabetes.  She helped me understand the disease and reassured me that I wasn't doing everything wrong (as I often felt I was doing everything wrong).  She was always good for a bit of silliness and a giggle or a laugh.  And when she listened, she really listened. 

I know you all are going to try and support me as I grieve my friend and for as much as I appreciate your words of support, I would prefer an action of support:  think of all your friends that live alone and reach out to them.  Give them a call, let them know you care.  Be present in their lives.  Choose to gentle and kind with others.

Get your blood glucose levels tested. 

And if you really want to, donate a few bucks to the American Diabetes Association.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Sweet Embraceable You

Last week, I tweeted that I should do a PSA about how to hug a person with a back injury (cause I had suffered a few bad hugs).  My amazing friend, Paul, was like "LET'S DO THIS!" So we did it.  I think he did a great job of compressing 27 of me acting like a creepy idiot into 7 minutes of semi-coherent awesomeness.  Kudos Paul. (You should also check out Druidzilla's (Paul's doggie) Twitter feed.)

Paul brings up a very good point -- that any and all physical contact requires consent (verbal or physical) each and every time.   There are times when even someone with the best intentions in a hug (to comfort and show affection) can go very wrong in the application (unwanted contact or the hug exacerbates an injury). Not everyone is a hugger (like me) and that's 100% okay and within his or her rights. 

Many times if I see someone going for a hug, I'll say "I have a bad back, please be careful." Most well-behaved Homo sapiens will respect that and either switch to a handshake or they let me lead the hug.  But there are a few people who don't get the message.  Not all of the "bad hugs" made it into the video so I'll list them here:

1.  The Bear Hug 
2.  Wiggle/Weeble Hug (with Twist variation)
3.  Side strangle Hug (with Slap variation)
4.  High Velocity Hug (with Tackle variation)
5.  Crack-your-back/Amateur Chiropractor Hug
6.  Jump-up-and-down Hug (a/k/a the Giggly Sorority Hug)
7.  Pick-you-up/Go Low Hug (a/k/a Feat of Strength Hug)
8.  The Limp Body Hug (this isn't injurious, it's just lame)
9.  (The Little Kid Hugs -- this one kills me because I love my niece and little ones in the family, but I can't always pick them up or bend over to hug them, which sometimes hurts their feelings.  In this case I really need mommy and daddy's help in explaining that I have a boo-boo.)

What makes a good hug? 
1.  Consent 
2.  Balance (in terms of gravity and that hugger/huggee mirror each other's physicality)

Again -- BIG THANKS to Paul for filming this with me and thank you all for (hopefully) your future hugs.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Fit of Fitting In Part III: BOOBS!

The Fit of Fitting In, Part I:  All people deserve to feel comfortable when exercising, not just athletic models.
 Give us options that make us feel fast and strong, not just like we need to be camouflaged.

The Fit of Fitting In, Part II:  Taking City Sports' extended sizes for a spin, or rather, for a cha cha cha.

Also related:  my thoughts on being "Lulu-Worthy" well before they were publicly criticized for shunning plus-sized shoppers.

I'd love to give credit, but I don't
know who took this originally.
So the title of this post says it all:  BOOBS.  Boobies. Tatas.  Breasts.

They've always been a part of my body that (1) I've been proud of, but (2) have been made to feel ashamed about.  My first bra was a sports bra that flattened my breasts into my chest, all because my mom was jealous of my development.  The old ladies at the store kept trying to show me cute things with little bows, but my mom would have none of it.

Because of my history with sports bras, I'm VERY particular about sports bras now.
  1. The bra must perform.  They need to keep up with me in the gym.  
  2. The bra must be easy to put on and not require the Jaws of Life to remove. 
  3. The bra must be stylish and not look like a granny bra.  (For instance, they may work like a charm, but I've never thought Enell sports bras were pretty.) 
  4. The bra must not give me uniboob.  Compression doesn't always limit breast movement. 
  5. The bra must not cost an arm and a leg.  A good bra is worth its price, but only if it performs. 
I've been a big fan of Moving Comfort for a while now.  Instead of sizes being S, M, L, XL, Suspension Bridge, they mix up band and cup size (you know, like a regular bra).  I'm wearing the Moving Comfort Vixen bra in my "Joy of Exercise" and "Spokesbody" videos.  Recently, City Sports Bethesda (MD) had Moving Comfort in to do a sports bra fitting and they invited me to come in.  Their awesome rep, Christine M., measured me (a 38DD or its 'sister-size' 40C) and gave me a few options to try on.  

So much of the bra fitting process is about finding what works for you personally, not what works for anyone else.  Try on a few bras, jump up and down, bend over, jog around.  Don't be afraid to test the bra!

I wanted to like this bra but it didn't happen for me.  I felt it ran a little small (see the stretch across the front?). 

Also, there was no underwire in this bra, which means it broke the uniboob rule. 

I did, however, like the wide, adjustable straps. With some of my older VSX bras (before they redesigned the line), I'm always shortening the straps (from the back).  These shorten from the front, which is BRILLIANT.

This one was all sorts of wrong for me.   I didn't like the relatively high neckline and how close it cut under my arms.  And while I appreciate that there is an underwire and support, the underwire poked out in a way that made it look like I had a roaming third nipple.  

I did like that they had gel-padded straps.  I can see this being a very important feature for larger-chested runners.  

Maybe it was because the bra that I tried on was green, but my first comment to Christine M. was "HULK SMASH BOOBS."  It wants to pretend that it is a very supportive bra, but it compresses without supporting/encapsulating, and thus failed the jump test. 
From the outside it looks like there are molded cups, but there are not.  And as you can see, the fabric was doing something funky.

Rebound Racer
For all the reasons the other bras weren't quite doing it for me, the Rebound Racer ( the bra that I tried on first!) was a better choice.

The Rebound Racer had the wide, adjustable straps that I liked from the Jubralee.  While there was no underwire, there was plenty of support.  The pattern helped skirt the uniboob issue, but not completely.

I just did a 5-mile run on the elliptical and it did okay, not great.  I purchased it in the 38DD, but like many of the reviews on the site, I found the band to be a little tight.  I did find there was a bit more vertical jiggle than I would like.

The Urban X-Over
I've been wearing this model of Moving Comfort Bra for 2 years and I love it for a lot of reasons.  The molded cups mean I'm not flashing my nipples to everyone in a cold gym (see Jubralee, Maia, Endurance Racer).  The molded cups also keep my boobs separate and secure.  I don't have a uniboob in this.  The racerback fully unhooks.  It's one of the easiest sports bras in my collection to get in/out of .  It is also the bra that stays the most dry (= less chafing).  And because it's an adjustable racerback, I can put my boobs where I want them, and they'll stay there.

So while I didn't find a new bra that blew my mind, I'll stick with the Moving Comfort bras on which I've come to rely (The Urban X-Over and the Vixen), as well as my surprising love for the Victoria's Secret Incredible sports bra (which I hadn't expected to love, but is a serious contender for a running bra).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hug Me, Hug Me Not.

Friday (3/14/14) wasn't just a "rest day" -- it was an "I know tomorrow is going to be hard on my back, so I'm not going to poke the bear by going to the gym today" day.

On Saturday (3/15/14), I had the pleasure of volunteering at the DC Rock'n'Roll Race Series at Water Station No. 8 (the first station for those continuing past the half marathon to the full -- "Eight is great, come hydrate!").  It's bittersweet that I couldn't run the 5k, like I had wanted to, but it was awesome to get out there and see all the runners.  Also awesome were the number of runners that said "thank you" as they ran by.

But... six hours on my feet, bending over and pouring wee little cups of water/Gatorade took its toll.
After lunch with my co-captain and a neighbor who came down to help, I came home to take a nap (and some anti-inflammatories) in order to have a modicum of energy for a friend's birthday celebration later that night.

I used to be, but I'm no longer a fan of crowded bars.  I'm less a fan of crowded Irish bars the weekend before St. Patrick's Day. But I'm a good friend and sometimes you just gotta show up. I lost count of the number of people who bumped into me or put an elbow right in my back.  Or you say "I have a bad back" and they try to give you a back massage.

Harder to bear, though, were the few who tried to do side-bend wiggle hugs.  These were the few times I actually winced or yelped in pain.  I tried to keep that happy-go-lucky face on, but there's nothing that scares me more than a wiggle hug.  They start off all benign, and then you feel the person begin to shift their weight.  You do everything you can to resist this movement, but they are determined to treat you like a slinky.

A few of those hugs and a few drunk people falling into/spilling beer on me was enough to send me packing.
Morning the next day (3/16/14) was rough.  I had multiple invites to go and do things (visit my niece, grab a beer, hang out) but it was all I could do to get out of bed and make myself some tea.  Nurse Jack Cat took care of me, but the woozle can't make a waffle to save his nine lives.

Point is this:
Having an injury sucks.
Having a chronic injury sucks.
Having an "invisible" chronic injury sucks.  (For instance, everyone gave the guy at the bar with his leg in a cast a wide berth, but when I asked a guy to stop elbowing me because I had a bad back he thought that I was just saying it for shits and giggles).

But you know what doesn't suck?  Having people in my life who understand that my saying to them "I can't, my back won't let me" isn't a personal attack against them.  I'm not trying to be anti-social or inflexible.  I'm not trying to weasel out of plans with people.  Some people understand that I'm saying "My pain is preventing me from putting pants on."

Also in the realm of "not sucking" -- people who give "solid as a rock" hugs -- they use their arms to give a gentle squeeze and just let me drop my guard and relax into it.

And some people just give me crap about it.
I have some moccasins they should try on.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This Gift

This morning I woke up early.  Sometimes I sleep in a position that feels okay for a bit but will wake me up in oodles of pain. Today was one of those mornings. Then I have a choice to make:  try for more sleep or start the day. 

I went to Twitter in search of an answer and found Erika Andersen's post about "Fit Mom" once again banking on her "What's your excuse" bullshit. You all know how I feel about her.

If you didn't already know, I will say it here:  not everyone has or wants the same body; sometimes an "excuse" is a very good reason; and we shouldn't use anyone else's body as permission to treat our own mind/body badly.

I am lying in bed, seething over "Fit Mom's" narcissism and lack of empathy. I am also trying to figure out if I will be able to walk without pain today. I know I bitch about my body all the time cause I feel that it is holding me back, but never doubt that I am thankful for every good day that it gives me. I am also fearful of the time when there are more bad days than good, but I try to not let that fear paralyze me. I think about all my friends who struggle and suffer their bodies more than I do--friends who have bodies that fail them every day from their DNA to their nerves to their bones to their muscles.  Those are the people that inspire me to honor my body with movement.

So I am here at the gym, moving slowly on an elliptical.  Not because I want to be or look like "Fit Mom" but because I know that if I keep moving that my back will loosen up. I keep moving because I can.

The first song on my iPod said it all (to the point that I have had it on repeat).  My "gift" isn't my body (sometimes it does let me down) but rather how I feel about my body (thankful, proud, strong, worthy) is the "gift" (and you can't PhotoShop that into/annotate that onto a picture):


This gift will last forever
This gift will never let you down
Some things are made from better stuff
This gift is waiting to be found

Your heart's in wide receiving
Been too long buried in the sand
Some things require leaving
This gift will fall right in your hand
Just try to understand

If you long enough
And you don't give up
If you're strong enough
And you don't give up
And you

You'll be no harbor to the sorrow
Just let it go.

Don't hang your head in sorrow
Don't give up just before you win
Don't wait around for tomorrow
Open up your arms and let it in

This gift will last forever
This gift will never let you down
Some things are made from better stuff
This gift is ready to be found
Just you believe it now

This gift will last forever
This gift will never let you down
Some things are made from better stuff
This gift is ready to be found
Your heart's in wide receiving
Been too long buried in the sand
Some things require believing
These things just fall right in your hand
Just try to understand

If you long enough
And you don't give up
If you're strong enough
And you don't give up 

I wish I could give you all the gift of loving and honoring yourself. It is armor and compass. It is a deep
breath and an infinite heart. 

And if you love yourself, you don't judge yourself by other people and you are generous enough to not ask them measure their worth through you. It isn't "What's your excuse?" it is "How can I help?"