Nothing In My Head To Say

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Train Song

“Traveling north, traveling north to find you
Train wheels beating, the wind in my eyes
Don’t even know what I’ll find when I get to you
Call out your name love, don’t be surprised”

“Nothing at all, in my head, to say to you
Only the beat of the train I’m on
Nothing I’ve learned all my life on the way to you
One day our love was over and gone”

Dark Was The Night, Feist and Ben Gibbard

You Know How I Feel

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Feeling Good

“Fish in the sea, you know how I feel
River runnin’ free, you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree, you know how I feel
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day,
it’s a new life for me,
And I’m feelin’ good”

“Stars when you shine, you know how I feel
Scent of the pine, you know how I feel
Yeah, freedom is mine, and I know how I feel..
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me”

I Put A Spell on You by Nina Simone

Chronic Pain and Strength Training

This is something that I rarely talk about: I’ve been dealing with chronic pain since I was a kid.

Until my early 20s it was officially dismissed as ‘growing pains.’ In my 20s I was ‘to young for that problem’ and officially categorized as having a tendency towards hypochondria. From that point on, every medical concern and question were conveniently ignored by doctors who were more than willing to charge outrageous prices for doing nothing – and that was when I had access to medical care at all.

Over several decades it progressed from pain and minimal migraines to occasionally disruptive pain and regular headaches/migraines. From there it eventually (inevitably?) progressed to near-constant debilitating pain. In short, it was real, unavoidable, physical pain; and it wasn’t going away. Sometimes I was fully functional but most days I was swimming through a tortuous fog.

Like most people dealing with a physical illness/problem without support or assistance from the medical community, I did my own research and tried everything I could financially afford that sounded reasonable. Some worked temporarily, others did nothing or made the problem worse. All of it provided clues about the size, scope, origin and cause of the horrid pain monster whose nasty teeth were piercing deep into my life.

Fast forward to the beginning of my current fitness journey. Two years ago, I started working with a personal trainer. I was honest about my reasons for trying to get in shape: I was in pain pain PAIN! Most of it was concentrated in my back and neck, and I had good reason to believe it was (at least partially) a direct result of being out of shape. We talked about bad posture, limited mobility, overly-tight chest muscles, over-extended back muscles, and general weakness throughout my back, hips and legs. We talked about old sports injuries and the kinds of exercises I habitually used when working out and why (read: they were the only exercises I knew how to do).

For the first time in my entire life a personal trainer (or a gym, for that matter) didn’t freak out over the words ‘back pain’ and immediately dismiss me as both a legal liability and a physical fitness lost cause.

Better. It was the first time someone took my reasons seriously and actually developed a workout routine focused on addressing everything we discussed.

This is going to sound like a bad commercial but I swear…pinky swear, girl scouts honor…by the end of three weeks the workouts were noticeably reducing the pain! It was happening in little tiny chunks, but that horrible pain monster was getting smaller.

After many months the pain reduction plateaued. The workouts maintained the reduction already achieved but did not reduce it further. That was when I found a chiropractor. I didn’t realize how badly locked up and out-of-alignment portions of my neck and upper back were until he cracked them back into place. It took a few weeks and a lot of ice, but I finally reached a point where my head and spine moved freely – like they’re supposed to.

Here it is, about two years later, and the pain is completely under control. There are days when it returns but a workout at the gym usually takes care of it. When that doesn’t work, a visit to the Chiropractor does.

It’s amazing. I’m convinced my chiropractor and personal trainer are miracle workers! For purely financial reasons, I’ve stopped working with the personal trainer, but I visit the gym regularly and put what I learned to good use.

Magic Fight-The-Pain Workout

The Magic Fight-The-Pain Workout

For those who also struggle with chronic pain, I am including my pain/stress workout. These are the things I do, at least twice a week, without fail.

It is important to note that these are not the only things I do. There are other exercises and stretches that I use to work on (or stretch out) different muscle groups and change things up a bit. This is merely the absolute core of my fitness routine – everything else builds on these exercises.

Therefore, this is not a goal-setting workout or a get-in-shape workout or even a hot-body workout. This is a fight-the-pain workout. Just pain management and stress reduction. Nothing else.

Strength Training:

Stretching:

If you are dealing with chronic pain and nothing is making it better, then take my story under consideration. I am not a doctor or physical fitness expert, but I can say with absolute certainty that this is the only thing that has worked for me. So, if something like this won’t make your situation worse (read: talk to your doctor) then consider talking to a personal trainer. It might work.

Dream House

After (finally) updating my Wild Raccoon Farm blog, I started thinking about my ‘ideal home.’ The Wild Raccoon explores a form of community living that I would love to participate in, but finding an intentional community can be extremely difficult. It’s the kind of thing that potentially borders on impossible for people who don’t already have a network of friends and family who also want to live like that.

This begs the question – what else? What is the alternative near-perfect option? I’ve started a Pinterest board called Homes and Gardens, where I pin pictures of living spaces. There’s a lot of rustic cabins, Hobbit houses, fairy houses, travel trailer, stone garden sidewalks, reading nooks and similarly rustic-yet-cozy things featured there.

But designing the ‘perfect house’ requires a focus on function over design. How will the space be used? What elements are most important to the lifestyle of the owner?

Personally, I keep coming back to a very old fashioned family business and home combination. This model has become near-obsolete and zoning laws in the United States make finding, buying and maintaining the commercial/residential status difficult. Legalities aside, I just love the idea of owning a house with a storefront, running a business or office out of the store and living above or behind the shop.

Of course, there has to be a large backyard for pets, a garden and recreational activities. A little hobby farm would be even better. And then there’s those below ground homes with grass roofs, which are wonderful for both heating/cooling and extra garden space.

Interestingly enough, my dream home does not have a swimming pool. I love to swim, but every time I see a house with an in-ground pool I start wondering what it would cost to fill it in and put the land to better use. A beach, lake or swimming hole (provided by nature) are en entirely different matter.

I guess that’s what makes designing a dream home both fun and challenging – how do you incorporate everything?

Trafficking Victims Are Your Equals

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January is Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

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Letter To A John

“I want you to pay me for my beauty
I think it’s only right
‘Cause I have been paying for it
All of my life”

“We barely have time to react in this world
Let alone rehearse
And I don’t think I’m better than you
But I don’t think that I’m worse
Women learn to be women
And men learn to be men
And I don’t blame it all on you
But I don’t want to be your friend”

Out of Range by Ani DiFranco

Additional resources for Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month:

 

A Terrible Mistake – Steps One and Two

I made a terrible mistake. It’s embarrassing, but it happened. Worse, it happened online. What do you do after making a stupid and public mistake? Take three steps: 1) own it, 2) fix it and 3) move on.

Step 1: Owning It

The word Raccoon is misspelled in the Wild Raccoon Press and Wild Raccoon Market logos.

I’ve spent the majority of my professional life working as a writer and editor in some capacity or another. I spend the bulk of my days creating and editing documents. I have spent (literally) thousands upon thousands of hours dealing with words, words, WORDS! Yet, somehow, I did not see the missing C – until now.

This simple, stupid and embarrassingly obvious mistake has been out there for many months. The logos have been posted to my website for ages, and I’ve proudly placed them on social media and professional accounts (read: everywhere), so there’s no hiding the fact.

These logos were the result of a 48hourslogo.com contest, and (now that I see it) all of the other logos are spelled correctly. Palm slap to the forehead, banging head against wall, hand sign for ‘loser’ held in front of face…I did not see it.

So, there it is, the mistake was made and it’s public. It’s big. Much bigger than a misspelled word in a blog posting because it’s so key, central and visible. There’s no escaping the fact, no hiding it under the rug and no changing it. What’s done it done.

Step 2: Fixing it

If you know a designer who would like to help fix this mistake, please direct them toward this UpWork posting. Sadly, 48 Hours Logo does not provide an option for contacting and working with the original designer (without posting a brand-new contest), so UpWork it is.

Step 3: Moving On

I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. For now, I’m so embarrassed….

Security or Identity?

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On the Steps of the Palace

“So then which do you pick:
Where you’re safe out of sight,
And yourself, but where everything’s wrong,
Or where everything’s right,
And you know that you’ll never belong?”

Into The Woods, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine