Next, we’ll try electric shock therapy.

As if sticking needles in my back wasn’t fun enough, the chiropractor suggested we try a little electric stimulus for my back pain. Now that sounds awesome and all, but I still remember a dozen-plus years ago when my then-husband was playing with a little Jacob’s Ladder he’d made. It left burn-holes in his t-shirt where the electricity decided to escape via his shoulder. Yeah, not thrilled with the idea of any added electricity in my body.

not me, but a similarly hued woman
But she says electrotherapy will be good, ease the pain. Maybe, we can hope, get my back muscles to stop going into spasms that last for hours. At the possibility of that, I consented.

The why of it working for pain relief isn’t really well-documented from what I can find, but the ideas floated around are that it:

  • tires out the muscles so they relax,
  • releases endorphins, our body’s own painkiller, and/or
  • blocks the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain.

Now, I don’t know if it did any of that for me, really. I was completely sidetracked by the fact that my left shoulder (and eventually my right, too) was dancing on its own. Up, down, back, up, up, down, up, down, up, back, up. It was going at its own rhythm, dancing to the tune only it could hear through the electricity streaming into my back. For ten minutes. It was weird.

I want to do it again just to see if we can get my shoulders to move in sync.

It’s all up to me, it seems.

Nearly two years after we’d started dating, it has come to an end. The split had taken me by surprise and I’m still trying to pull my heart back together two months later.

It’s taken a toll on me and my moxie, and the Universe seems to know it. Unpacking more boxes this past week, I came across each of these bits of sage advice and hung them on my fridge:

One of the prominent features in your make up is self-reliance and confidence in your ability to accomplish what you undertake; your courage is strong; you do not hesitate to lead. The Mystic Ray advises you not to be impetuous.

You would be wise not to seek too much from others, at this time.

True happiness must come from within.

I guess it is time for me to take a deep breath and realize it will be a solitary life for me–a solo mama who needed a little shove to get her moxie back.

Working is Hard Work. Duh.

Three days in and I’m totally, completely exhausted from the inside out. Everything is tired–my muscles, my brain, my interest in doing anything at all. Really? Who knew it was this difficult to work eight hours a day?! Okay, so it’s not really the workday that is killing me, it’s the drive home, the errands afterward, the dinner and dishes and managing some time to watch a movie or TV show with the daughter so she doesn’t feel too neglected.

I’ve been going in early this week and will do so until school starts, but at that point, I’ll start going in a half hour later and coming home in even denser traffic. I’m certainly not thrilled with that, but it’s really the only negative the job has going against it.

Because the job itself rocks my world. I get to write blog posts, follow blogs, interview shop owners and fabric designers, try out new patterns and see the newest fabric lines before they hit the stores. Crazy awesome is what it is and I’m loving it.

Now, if my neck and shoulders could just get used to sitting at a desk all day and my body could get a full eight hours of nightmare-free sleep, I’d be without complaint.

But before hitting the hay, I have some reading to do for an article about apron collecting that I need to write tomorrow. Oh, new job, how I love you!

I Can See The Light

After five long months of daily searches and more than a year of irregular searching, I no longer have to pull up Craigslist, Mac’s List, Monster, Yahoo Jobs or any other website that I’ve been stalking.

I finally landed a job.

And a job I think I’m gonna love, which makes it all the better. I get to write, edit, blog, tweet and all that communication stuff that I adore doing and best of all, it has to relate to sewing, my second great love. It’s been a hella long wait, but I think the wait might have been worth it.

I start on the 22nd with a little meet-and-greet with the other employees and office a few days before.

I. Can’t. Wait.

What I Did On Summer Break: Belize

My first grown-up vacation, spent without herding kids or worrying about them at all. Just me and the GuyFriend walking, driving, and biking our way around Belize for two weeks. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer vacation, especially amid the months of unemployment gloom. I’d paid for my flight months before and the Guy made sure it was a real vacation. He’s always the one to be credited for the lovely photos. Thank you. Gracias. Mesi.

Oh Yes, Brownies!

[Sorry for the lousy ipod pic, the good camera was with its owner today.]

It’s been nearly four years since I had a “real” brownie, or any other gluten-laden delight for that matter. But I keep trying to find gluten-free versions that will emulate the look and taste of the “real” thing. Yes, yes, I know I can make them for cheaper and probably as good or better, but when it’s just me I have to make it for… well, I like the ease of the package. Everyone else gets the homemade goodies.

Now I’ve tried a few different brownie mixes and I don’t particularly like Trader Joe’s version and there’s a non-dairy/non-gluten version out there that I keep mistakenly buying which I absolutely hate. It’s a big ol’ pan of oil every single time. Hate it. Even so, I can’t remember what it’s called and will probably buy it again at some point, excited that both the GuyFriend and I can eat it. I love every by Pamela’s Products, but not really her brownie mix. The pancake mix is the bomb, though. But this week, I finally found the gluten-free brownie mix that beats them all…Hodgson’s Mill. I haven’t seen the brand before and only found it because I was looking for sugar substitutes and it was there among the sugar-free/diabetic friendly offerings. I have no idea why because it isn’t sugar-free, but that’s where it was at Fred Meyer–not in the gluten-free section where it should be. The package makes it look like they’ll turn into those lousy, dense brownies you get out of vending machines, but I added about a cup of chocolate chips and a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts and -bam- these were the absolute best brownies I’ve had in years. Delightful enough that there are only three brownies left (thanks, in large part, to my visiting nephew!).

Definitely recommended: Hodgson’s Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix.

P.S. For all you gluten-free cooks/bakers out there, Pamela’s Products is having a recipe contest. You should enter. I might.

Summer Reading

Summer again–the perfect time to do a bit of reading.

That’s what I think every year and yet, every summer comes and goes without me doing nearly the amount of reading I’d like to do. Usually I set a lofty goal of a book every two weeks, but that hasn’t happened since I could justify reading for hours on end as a university requirement. Now, between all the laundry, job searching, sewing, skill building, cooking, working, etc. it’s hard to find the time. In fact, I’m not sure if I actually read-read a book at all over the six months prior to the ol’ budget cuts at the school.

I do listen to audiobooks fairly regularly, though, and enjoy them immensely. There’s always the argument if it’s really reading to listen to an audiobook and while I am all in favor of them, it is a completely different experience from reading a book with your own eyes. I hadn’t realized it until this summer started and I have been making a more conscious effort to read paper copies of books that I’ve bought and never read. It’s slightly embarrassing to admit how many books I have on my myriad bookshelves that I haven’t read yet. The sheer volume of them keeps me away from Powell’s though, at least for a little while. My pocketbook certainly needs the rest.

I read The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore, (buy it)and loved the way it made me think about my own life and about my children’s lives. How small things make big differences and the big sacrifices people make. I couldn’t help but compare my choices as a single mother to both of the Wes’ moms. The author’s mother not only moved in with her parents to have them help with the kids, but also worked two jobs and send the author away to military school. While part of me is awed by her dedication to making the cash needed for private school, I just don’t think it’s something I could do. I love being with my kids. I love the fact that I haven’t had to leave them to fend for themselves during the summer months (though this year, I’ve got my fingers crossed some job comes up before fall!). I don’t want to have either kid spend the majority of their year elsewhere, and certainly can’t imagine having sent them off before they even hit their teen years. But for Moore, it may have been the best choice. He’s successful financially, seems emotionally solid and has shelves of accolades, degrees and awards. I have to wonder, and maybe it’s just the guilt-lovin’ part of me, just what it would have been like for my kids if I’d sent them off to boarding school. Would they be more successful as adults? Who knows, really. Parenting is so difficult and each child has their own drive, personality and quirks that I really can’t say that what worked for Moore’s family would work for mine. But it has made me wonder just a little more about the effects of my choices for our family.

A fellow teacher recommended The Hunger Games by Suzanne Colllins (buy it) months and months ago, but I finally got around to listening to it in May. I’m not sure I would have actually sat and read it, thanks to a predisposition to ignore young adult fiction, but listening to it while I sewed was perfect. It is a long book, nearly eleven hours in audiobook format, but I got through it in just four days. And that is why I love audiobooks so very much. When would I ever find three hours a day to sit in a chair and read? I wouldn’t and won’t. Ever. But stick those little earbuds in and let me listen to it while I cut and sew and pick seams and I’m happy as a little clam. Especially when a story is as engaging and interesting as this one. I have to yet to listen to the next two of the trilogy (waiting for them to show up on audiobook at the library), but from what I’ve heard it’s more of the same great story-telling.

Currently, I’m reading the paperback version of Lit by Mary Karr. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get around to reading Karr since I’ve heard her praise for years now, but it took a sale shelf at Powell’s to get me to pick it up. And then it sat there for months, just waiting for me to pick it up and crack it open. Two weeks ago, I finally did. And while I love her writing, I have yet to love her. Parenting, and doing what I hope is my very best, is so important to me and to read how a mother can put alcohol before her child and before her marriage… well, I haven’t been enamored by that part. But her honesty and willingness to put herself out there, along with her magical way of writing memoir, has kept me reading. She’s coming around at this point and there have been enough redemptive moments, that I’ll finish it. And then I will read her other books, as well. Her writing truly is beautiful. Also available as an audiobook.

Next up? I’m not sure. What are you reading and would you recommend it?

Finding Peace and Quiet

I’d had brilliant plans to return to Vietnam this year–go with a group of girlfriends, show off my favorite cities, visit with my beloved orphan friends (oh, how I still miss Lan and Tu!)–but one job loss after another thwarted those plans. It was too much money, too much time away from my kids. I couldn’t justify it. Luckily for me, the GuyFriend was being asked to take some of that vacation time he’s been accruing. He did, and I got to come along for a visit to Belize in Central America.

While the vacation sat in the future, I ignored it, didn’t really plan for it. There was hope that some job or another would come along and I didn’t want to get all excited for a vacation that might not happen. Months longer than I expected to be looking for a job, I still am…so, as the date approached for our departure, I figured “Why not?” The job search has been overwhelmingly frustrating, money is running low, my son can’t find work, the kids are arguing and I’ve never had a real vacation as an adult. The travels with the kids have been work related, except for the week or two at the end of each visit to Southeast Asia. But as I found out, traveling with kids and traveling with another adult are vastly different propositions. I gave all the planning to him–one, so I didn’t have to stress about that,t too; two, he was the one paying for it anyway.

From all the crazy, frustrating, suffocating stress of life, we flew away and landed here, in Bullet Falls. And this is how I started my first grown-up vacation. It couldn’t have been a better escape, for both of us.

Train Graffiti

I don’t know why I find it so appealing, but I do. This particular tag was on nearly every car.

Also…I really, really wanted to hop this train instead of waiting patiently to cross.