Head and Shoulders, Knees and…Elbows?

Dear Vi,

I hate to be a complainer, but I just have to tell you:

Too much hand quilting, knitting, typing, and gripping heavy weights at the gym have given me tennis elbow in both arms and caused the arthritis in my hands to flare up.

It’s my own fault. I let it go too far. I let it get away from me. I let it get to the point where it hurts to even pick up a cup of tea.

And that’s not all. Poor ergonomics in my sewing and writing life are affecting my shoulders, neck and back, which (not surprisingly) has worked it’s way down into the knees.

‘It hurts when I cackle!’

Because I’m a writer, I’m often at my laptop for several hours a day. If I want to continue, it’s imperative that I address the ergonomics problem.

Fortunately, I know what I have to do to fix it.

Yesterday I went to Staples and bought myself a properly adjustable office chair. My lower half notices the improved sitting situation already, but my shoulders are still complaining because the keyboard is too high.

In a perfect world, I’d buy a properly adjustable computer desk. But the reality is, we all have to work with what we’ve got and live within our means. Whatever modifications I make to my writing space cannot infringe on the rest of my very small house, and they also have to fall within my fixed-income budget.

Installing a sliding, adjustable keyboard tray (and new keyboard) under my sewing table and using my laptop like a desk computer may be the best solution.

The laptop can easily share real estate with the sewing machine. Both are lightweight & portable, and can easily be unplugged and set it aside to make room for the other. Mr. C will have the final say on whether or not the sewing table can be modified.

It may take a month or more, but getting back to my home yoga practice, doing physio & massage therapy for the elbows, and making these ergonomic fixes will hopefully take care of the worst of the problems.

Have you ever suffered repetitive strain injuries or dealt with ergonomic issues when sitting for long periods at the keyboard or sewing machine? Has knitting or hand quilting ever given you tennis elbow?

Do tell!

Four things to build Momentum in 2015

Do you choose a word to guide you for the year?

Last year I chose the word Play. You can read about it here (and there are also some great family photos on that post, too!) It was the perfect word for my first year of retirement.

But now it’s time to switch things up. I’ve thought about it a lot and the word that keeps popping into my head is Momentum.

Driving Power…Strength…to (continue) Moving Forward…to Repeat Recent Success.  I’ve felt stagnant lately. Bored, even. Recognizing signs of depression hovering around the atmosphere, like little dull grey sparkles just inside my peripheral vision.

Time to start moving forward again….build up some Momentum!

There are four areas I’ve identified that need some work. That need some momentum.

  1. Writing: I wrote over 50,000 words last November during NaNoWriMo and then totally let it fall to the side.
    What I’m doing about it: I’ve joined a writing critique group. In fact, I have someone’s first three chapters on my laptop waiting for my own comments right now! Wow! Now, not only does this give me serious aakk! moments but it also gives me incentive to keep on writing. In fact, my goal for today is to get a chapter ready to send around for a look-see. I’d like to send it out this afternoon. And a bonus is that it reminds me that I am capable and competent – something I have struggled with this first year of retirement.
  2. That number on the scale: I gained 15 pounds. Yup. In one year. You’ve heard of the Freshman 15, right? Bet you hadn’t heard of the retirement 15, l0l! Eee Gads. How embarrassing to have to admit this out loud.  Several years ago I lost 65 pounds with Weight Watchers. Read about it here. Then Weight Watchers changed from the Momentum plan to the “new” Points Plus plan. The new plan just didn’t work for me, and my weight crept up until I had re-gained 15 pounds.Over the next 4 years I started and quit weight watchers three times.  Finally it sunk in. The new plan just doesn’t work for me. At all.
    What I’m doing about it: I’ve dug out my old weight watcher’s momentum plan stuff. I’m going back to what worked for me the first time before any more damage is done. Did you do the math? Yup…15 + 15 = 30 pounds “found.” I remember my friend Judy saying that she wasn’t loosing weight, she was getting rid of it because she didn’t want to find it again. Right on, Judy! Does this put me in the same category as all the other people who vow to loose weight and get fit in the new year. I suppose so, but I don’t care. What I care about is regaining that feeling of good health that I enjoyed up till recently. So YAY for the old Momentum plan. It worked for me before and so far it’s working for me again as I am already down 4 pounds in the first two weeks. And I’m having fun! Just like I did before.
  3. Fitness: My fitness plans went sideways, and I’m not sure why. I’d been doing a fair bit of walking…Sammy and I have covered quite a bit of ground over the year, and I’m really pleased about it. But I’ve also been doing a fair bit of sitting, what with all the sewing and quilting and book-reading I’ve been doing. I really missed my treadmill this winter when the weather hasn’t been cooperative for going out.
    What I’m doing about it: we moved my treadmill out of storage in the garage where it has resided since we moved in last year and set it up in the sewing room. Yup. My little 99 square-foot sewing room just got a little bit smaller, lol! And better yet, I’ve built a little desk for my laptop, so that I can move while I write.
    046Yup! and the little pink balls you see there weigh a couple of pounds each, perfect for a few overhead presses while I’m thinking or watching an episode of SG-1 on DVD. How’s that for two birds with one stone, eh?
    045It isn’t hard…I haven’t fallen off once. In fact, I’ve spent 68 minutes writing this post  at the low low setting of 1.2 mph and have walked 1.35 miles. That’s over a mile on my feet instead of on my butt! Awesome!
  4. Social: I often feel isolated and lonely.
    What I’m dong about it: Not 100% sure yet, but things are going to change. I’ve gone to a second quilter’s group and may join – though I am deathly afraid of becoming an old lady who does nothing but quilt. I am thinking of maybe joining a line dance class or something active and fun like that. Even teach a dance class, maybe? Tomorrow night I’m going to attend a meeting at the Sunnybrae Community Hall down the street from us and see if I want to get involved there in some capacity. The important thing is that getting more involved is on my radar and this will be the year to do something about it. I need to make a life for myself outside of being home alone all the time.

So there you go. Four things to build some momentum on. Four things to move me forward. AND a plan to help me do so.

And did you notice that sewing and quilting didn’t even make the list? That’s because there isn’t anything at all wrong or lacking in that area. I aim to continue learning and growing and playing with needle and thread.

Do you have a plan for the year? and seriously…what do you think of my walking desk? too cool, right?

Dear Maya Angelou

Dear Madame Angelou,
I was so sad to hear of your passing this morning. Perhaps your physical presence has moved on, but your influence will be with me forever. The words of your poem, Phenomenal Woman, influence who I am every time I read them. Thank you for teaching me how powerful I can be if I allow it. You showed me that my power resides in the arch of my back, the sun of my smile, the ride of my breasts, and the grace of my style. Thank you for mentoring my generation.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou

20140528-083608-30968414.jpg