Living Through It All Again

It’s been a really tough couple of weeks.  My focus has been awful, sleep has been interrupted at best, my emotions all over the place, I can’t write anything for lack of concentration and my productivity non-existent.  It started in a subtle way and was hardly noticeable but before I knew it the wheels had come completely off the bus and it was a train wreck of chaos.   I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  Maybe it was the change in the seasons.  After all, we’ve been living with tropical storm winds for over 72 hours now and it was starting to get on my nerves.  Maybe it was my moon was in Virgo and Pisces was in retrograde.  Maybe it was my biorhythms (remember those?!)

Whatever it was I kept plowing ahead feeling like I had a lead shoes on my feet and a kryptonite helmet on my head.  Nothing was coming very easy.  Everything was a challenge.  It was really starting to get to me.

But last night I was awoken yet again at around 4:09amish but this time I remembered the dream I was dreaming just before I woke up.  I was being laid off all over again.  There were a few minor details that weren’t the same, like for some reason my Mom was with me and what I was cleaning out of my files included lots of bags of vegetables and a squashed PB&J sammie which I never took to work, but everything else was the same.  Except for one vital thing, this time I wasn’t happy to be leaving to start my new life, this time I was anxious and worried.

AHA!  Finally some enlightenment.  You see the past several weeks I’ve been looking for new health insurance.  I stayed on my old plan because it was really good and surprisingly wasn’t super expensive.  But now I’m making the last break with my old life and it’s a biggie.  I never realized how difficult it is to compare and select plans because for so many years I just picked between the 2 plans my job offered.  Now I’m having to do all the leg work and evaluation by myself and apparently I’m a lot more anxious about this than I thought I was.  What a relief to finally realize what was holding me back and to identify the dark cloud in my mind.

I think I’ve found a few plans that I’m interested in.  Once I get that done I’ll be able to get back to my new life with excitement, hope and energy.  It’s funny how something can weigh on you and you don’t even know it.  But it sure is great to figure it out and take the boogy out of the boogy man.

Finding Your Pace

It’s actually spring here in Chicago.  Surprisingly we are having the type of weather one would normally associate with spring.  We usually don’t get any sort of moderation, we go from winter wools to sundresses in about 4 days time.  But this year has been a lovely aberration.  So I’m back out hitting the pavement trying to get a run/walk in every day.  I’ve been trying to get my stamina and endurance up for quite some time and have been having very little luck.  I can walk to the end of the earth but if you ask me to run, it’s like a slow motion train wreck as everything starts to fall apart one piece at a time.  Pretty soon I’m back to just walking, albeit at a brisk 4.5 mph pace.  I listen to my bottomless iPod when I’m out to keep me engaged and on pace.  There’s a mix of songs from the 80’s that are fun to walk fast to.  Today I went deeper into my song selection and stumbled upon a run of power ballads from the early 80’s.  You  know the type of song, headbangers crooning their unrequited love while the lead guitar cries along and the drum bangs out the broken heartbeats.  Good times.  At first I skipped past a song thinking it was too slow but then I had an aha moment.  What if I used this slower beat to pace my run?  Eureka!  It worked!  It wasn’t pretty but I was able to run about 30% of the way around my usual route.  My IT band didn’t get all tied up.  I didn’t run out of breath.  I felt like I was paint drying I was moving so slow but I was able to string together many intervals of running and walking.  And I was still able to do this even towards the end of my route.  I think I might be on to something.  My problem is I walk so fast that in order to feel as if I was doing anything different, I really stepped up my pace but I was in no shape to be able to sustain that pace.

The funny thing is, slowing down is something I’ve been trying to do with my voiceover and acting.  I have a tendency to talk really fast when working both of these crafts and that hasn’t served me well at all.  Perhaps I’m finding a theme here, that I should slow down and smell the roses.  Be more turtle-less hare.  I think I’ll make a new playlist on my iPod dedicated to power ballads.  Who knew about the wondrous powers of these types of songs?

Flip Flops

This time of year, we start to go a bit batty because we’ve been stuck indoors for far too long staring at the same four walls and looking out the window at cement skies.  Chicago doesn’t really have a spring, we usually go from 40 degree weather to upper 70’s in about a weeks time.  The skies finally clear and we can see that the atmosphere is indeed blue above our heads, it’s just been covered up in permaclouds.  This usually happens in mid June.  Seriously.  Every once in a while we’ll get a sunny clear day with temps that are moderate but we just don’t have a spring to speak of here.

Anywho, last weekend we had one of those days that just teases our memories of how wonderful summers are here.  The skies cleared to absolute brilliant blue and the sun warmed the air to the low 40’s.  It was the first time this year we’d had some moderation.  Chicagoan’s tend to explode out of doors on a day like this and today was no exception.  I took advantage of it by strapping on my running shoes and getting back to my routine of last year.  I had lots to do around the office and house so by the time I finally left, it was 4pmish.  The sun was getting lower in the skies and because we still had significant snow on the ground, there was a definite chill in the air.  I wasn’t bundled as much as I would have liked (forgot my gloves!).  But I was determined to get this back on track so I pushed through.  Along my route, I passed not just one, but 3 people wearing flip flops.  One girl had on a down coat, hat, gloves, scarf and bare feet.  Now I know I’m showing my age when I shake my head in confusion over this but it happens every year and I can’t understand why.  If you are that cold you have to wear all that stuff, why wouldn’t you wear socks and shoes also?  It just doesn’t make sense.  Are you that desperate to expose your ghostly white, unpainted toes to a wind chill of 35 degrees?  Really?

I just don’t get it.  Maybe I’m too practical.  My feet are not any where near summer ready yet and quite frankly I can’t stand being cold.  If that’s what getting old is all about, well, I’m fine with that.  Now where did I put my bifocals?

4 minutes

As you might have guessed, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to numbers and most especially when it comes to the weather.  Living in Chicago right next to this really big body of water, we are continually impacted in ways that not only are fascinating, but affect one’s daily life a lot.  All year long, we exist in what many call a concrete jungle but what they don’t know is most of the winter we live with concrete skies over our heads.  Because Lake Michigan is so deep, it takes a long time for it to freeze so the water temperatures stay right around the high 20’s/low 30’s.  Add to that air temps that are about the same and you have a perfect recipe for concrete skies.  Low clouds that obliterate the sun and guarantee to obliterate any good mood you might have.  We do occasionally have blue skies but the trade off here is they are the result of a extremely cold arctic front visiting from Canada.  And it’s that word arctic that the sticking point.  When they say arctic, they mean arctic.  But you do get to see the sun which is so welcome if you don’t have to venture out in it.

This time of year we are, and by that I mean I am, at our wits end with all this nonsense.  The snow continues to fall and because it’s late season snow, it’s very heavy wet snow.  The winds are starting to change so we get more snow off the lake from the east.  And there’s not a bit of green to be found anywhere.  It’s enough to break even the hardiest of spirits.  One thing that has helped me get through this period each year is the amount of sunshine we gain with each day.  Even though I can’t see that sunshine, I check the Weather Channel every morning to see the changes in sunrise and sunset.  Most days it’s a minute or two, but the other day, it was 4 MINUTES! I know, I could barely contain my excitement.  The sun is now rising before 7am and setting after 530p.  I’m all aquiver.

This may seem like a silly thing to be obsessed about.  I’ll admit it, I’m a bit obsessed.  But it’s the small things that make a difference.  The attention to detail that set you apart in any situation.  Now this particular quirk of mine may set me apart in a way I hadn’t counted on (I can see the comments now “oh HER, she’s a little too excited about the weather)!  But in a broader sense, paying attention to details will help me remember the names of my clients children, their favorite restaurant or what college they went to.

And of course, I’m in with all the other weather geeks.  You know who you are.

Headwinds and Tailwinds

Holy mackaroly!  Fall came blasting in last night with bang.  Yesterday was absolutely beautiful, temps were in the high 70’s, low 80’s.  Sunny skies with with puffy clouds lazily rolling by.  Everyone in Chicago was out taking advantage of the unbelievable blessing Mother Nature gave us.  That is one cool thing about the people in Chicago, when we get good weather, everyone is outside enjoying every last bit of it.  The bars and restaurants were hopping with various and sundry NFL games on their big screens.  I was able to keep up with quite a few games on my run as they all had their windows and doors open to the day.  It was fantastic.

For once, the weather forecasters got it right in their assertion that things were going to change pretty dramatically that night.  Sure enough, as I was enjoying the Colts on Sunday Night Football, the wind picked up and the sideways rain started.  Sideways rain always fascinates me, but I usually only appreciate it when I’m indoors and dry.  The rain didn’t last for very long but the winds kept up all night long, bringing much cooler temperatures.  By the time I woke up the next morning for my run, it was in the low 50’s and the winds were still howling at about 35 MPH, gusting to 50 MPH.  Reason enough to blow off my run right?  Unfortunately the grown up in me did the right thing and ran anyway.  I hate being a grown up sometimes.  Anywho, according to the Worry Channel, the winds were coming from WSW so as I was getting ready to run, I figured I’d have the headwinds at my face for the beginning of the run, when I was at my freshest.  And even better, when I was tired, I’d have a tailwind to scootch me along.  A good idea in theory.  What I didn’t count on was when winds are sustained at 35 MPH, it really doesn’t matter which direction it’s coming from, I’m going to be buffeted either way.  And forget it when a gust hits.  It was all I could do to maintain my direction.  Like the good little soldier I am, I completed my 5.5 mile trek but the last mile was done with my head down and my upper body pointing into the wind, a pose usually observed during blizzard season.

I hope to high heavens this isn’t a portend of things to come.  I’m just not ready for that.

Dark clouds

I’m a bit of weather geek and proud of it.  So is my sister.  We inherited this from our Dad who used to sit on the front porch watching the approaching storms.  I often joined him on the porch.  Daddy is always brought to mind when I see the clouds organizing into something interesting.  We grew up in the Midwest where approaching storms can be seen for miles, especially if it contained any sort of lightening.  One of our favorite channels is the Weather Channel which my brother-in-law calls the “worry channel” because of the oohs and aahs that are emitted when we watch the radar.

One thing I’ve noticed over years of storm watching, is how dark it gets as the storm gets closer.  The tension rises in anticipation.  You know it’s coming, you just don’t know how bad it will be or how long it will last.  It just keeps getting darker and darker.  When it finally starts to rain, you feel a release for a moment.  No more anticipation, it’s here.  But then it doesn’t stop, the wind and the rain just keep coming, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days.  Eventually it dies out or moves on, the sun peaks out, the damage is surveyed and we realize we’re just fine, we’ve gotten through the worst of it.  There will be others, just not today.

And so it happens with many endeavors.  You keep trying and trying but can’t seem to get any traction.  Success remains elusive.  The effort fruitless.  The clouds just get darker.  This is where courage, persistence and faith become your umbrella.  Keeping you moving toward your goal until the watershed is over and the sun comes out.  Because the sun will come out.  It always does.  Just keep moving through the storm.