Friday, August 27, 2010

Still Struggling.....

I am not sure what is going on with me right now. I have just felt 'off' since coming home from Austin. I am not sure if I got a bit of a bug while I was there or just got overly tired when I got back from a long work week, but I am just not finding my groove right now.
The weather has cooled off and that is really helping. I am putting in a few extra hours of work each week to get caught up on some bills and to buy bicycles for Kaity and I to ride with the dogs. I have several friends out of work right now and I am really grateful that I have a job.
Come to think of it....it has been a while since I have taken a good look at what I am grateful for. Maybe listing some things will help get me back on track.
So here goes (not in any particular order)....

I am grateful for Kaity, and that many of her health problems have improved over the years.
I am grateful for my friends- both old and new and all that they add to my life.
I am grateful to my dog Joey for giving me such wonderful memories from when he starred in Annie.
I am grateful to my dog Jakey and the fun I have had in freestyle and agility with him. He was my 'test' dog while I was learning these sports and I am glad that he still loves me.
I am grateful for my little house and property. It is very small and very old but I love it very much.
I am grateful that I have a job that gives me a paycheck and allows me to pay my bills.
I am grateful that I have my health.
I am grateful that I got back in touch with my Aunt Harriet and my cousin Jack. They are my family and I need them in my life.
I am grateful for the horses in my life- both in my backyard and where I work. They help keep me centered.
I am grateful for TillyBelle who has taught me patience and gives me back so much.
I am grateful for Flag-puppy who makes me smile with his puppy antics.
I am grateful for my church. I love attending Life Church and it helps to renew me each week.
I am grateful that I have never wavered in my love for God- nor He in his love for me. While I may not understand the lessons that I am learning I know that they are important ones.
I am grateful for my new dog Spur. He has become my shadow and I know that he will be important in the lives of others.
I am grateful that I love the written word.
I am grateful for Facebook- it is a tool that has allowed me to get back in touch with many friends that I thought were lost to me forever. I cherish these friendships and I am so thankful that I have been given a second chance with so many people.
I am grateful for the support that I have been given by so many people during this journey of discovery and weight loss that I have undertaken.
I am grateful that I have my health. And that I have never been a smoker. With my family history it is a good thing that I never thought about starting.
I am grateful that the YMCA has a pool and is on my way home from work (sort of)...
I am grateful that I have shelter for my horses.
I am grateful for my barn cats. They keep the varmints away and give me lots of love.
I am grateful that when my truck got hit last weekend it did not affect the doors or driveability.
I am grateful that my daughter is Kaity is so sweet and loving.
I am grateful for the sport of canine freestyle. It has given me deep and forever friendships, wonderful training opportunities and memories to last a lifetime.
I am grateful to the host freestyle clubs that ask me to judge shows. I love seeing all of the freestylers compete.
I am grateful that my horse Gussy gained weight and looks so good and is so happy.
I am grateful for my dogs and all of the love that they provide to me.
I am grateful that I have unlimited long distance on my home phone so that I can all my friends and it is free.
I am grateful that the sixth season of Lost is now available and should show up in my mailbox any day now.
I am grateful that when I bought my house sight unseen over the internet it was in a wonderful area with lots of trees.
I am grateful for trees.
I am grateful for Truvia sweetener- tastes great and better than other sweeteners.
I am grateful that there are so many animal lovers in the world that work so tirelessly to make the world a better place for these animals.
I am grateful for the Kentucky Derby. And the fact that the song still makes me cry.
I am grateful for horses.
I am grateful for dogs.
I am grateful for bing cherries, tomatoes, avocados and good salsa.
I am grateful that I have bought artwork over the years that I love. I am grateful for Tommy Goncharoff who advised me to buy my very first good print and started me off.
I am grateful that I got to be around Mr Doty Bars when he won the Champion of Champions after being a claiming horse.
I am grateful that John Cooper gave me a wonderful job ponying for him when I moved to Southern California many years ago.
I am grateful for my friend Lisa who has always been there for me and Kaity.
I am grateful that my window air conditioner keeps my living room cold in the summer.
I am grateful that my friend Sandy lets me train at her training center.
I am grateful that I splurged and bought a Wi a few years ago. I love playing the cart race.
I am grateful that I was able to buy my laptop and get wireless. It has allowed me to stay in touch in so many ways.
I am grateful that my friend Kris is putting on a local competition next month and that I will get to see my friends while there.

Whew.....guess I could go on and on.....

You know, I know that there are probably people who know that I have a rather low paying job and that I am raising Kaity alone and that we often have a bit of a struggle getting by. But when I see my list of what I have to be grateful for (and believe me when I say that I could have gone on a LOT longer with what I was listing) I know that my life is a good one. I wish that everyone had the opportunities to look at their life from a place of gratefulness.

So nothing to report in the weight loss column this week. I am still struggling to get back on track and back in the pool on a regular basis. But I am getting there. And all of you are helping me to get there. Thank you so much........

Laura

Monday, August 23, 2010

Good Days and Bad Days

Wow....I really got off track with my blog. It has been almost two weeks since I wrote anything. One of the problems with my writing is that I always feel the need to be inspired when I write so as to make sure that my musings appear to be at least somewhat interesting and witty. But I know that I really need to force myself to write even when i do not feel like it.
So I went to Austin for a long weekend. And it was wonderful. We played with dogs, visited friends, made incredible guacamole courtesy (avocados, limes and recipe) of my dear friend Barb from Malibu, went sailing, shopped at thrift stores and the Mexican Market for dog toys and props, taught a seminar to some really fabulous students and had an overall great time.
Came home and went right back to work and it has taken these past ten days to really get back on track. I was exhausted and just could not get caught up on sleep.
But I am back swimming, and heard a rumor that this oppressive heat may start to dissipate tomorrow and plan to start walking as soon as that happens.
Have not lost any more weight, but only gained back three pounds while i was in Austin, so I guess it sure could have been a lot worse. My camera got lost in Austin and then it was found, but the lens was broken so it is officially dead. Thank goodness we still have Kaity's little red camera. We also salvaged the memory card out of the broken camera, so the 200+ photos we took in Austin were not lost either. So all in all it could have been a lot worse.
Parked my truck in the dark Saturday morning at Wal Mart on the way home from work to grocery shop and someone sideswiped it and took out the entire passenger side. Poor Brownie is 15 years old and has 200,000 miles on her so i do not have collision insurance. But at least it is driveable, the passenger door was not affected and it is on the off side so I do not have to look at it. So all in all, could have been a lot worse.
The new Aussie boy has been renamed Spur. His biopsy came back negative and he is an amazing and sweet dog. All in all, could not be much better!
So I drone on. (Re above: hate to be boring and not witty when I write)..........
Next month is one freestyle event that I am judging and competing with Tilly in a Pairs routine, plus it will be Flag Puppy and Spurs debut in the Show and Go offered at the end of each day. The following weekend Tilly and I will be competing in agility.
Still droning.....I am even boring myself at this point.

So....I have begun editing again in my life. Editing my stuff that is. Over the past year we have taken several tubs of clothing, linens and other items to church to donate. Today it was two large tubs of books and kitchen appliances that I never use. It is brutal at times....but I just own too much stuff. I always feel really guilty because at $10 an hour I basically live pay check to paycheck as a single mom so I have never been able to give a tithe to the church. We always bring a small donation, but to give up ten percent would mean that we would not have electricity some months. So I decided to give my stuff to them so that it can be used to help others. I still have too much. There are days that I remember a bit longingly the days when everything fit into my car as I traveled from racetrack to racetrack......but truly, I would not trade my life today for the past in any way. It is hard being a single mom no doubt, but I have become a master at Top Ramon and gourmet Mac and Cheese.

Okay...I am at a loss for something inspiring to talk about....maybe I need to tell a story....hmmmmm let me think about something fun to tell.

I will talk about my dog Jakey. Jakey is a sheltie who is now 13 years old. I got him when he was three years old. He had spent the first couple years of his life tied up behind a mobile home and was finally removed by animal control for barking. From there he went to sheltie rescue and from there he was selected by Dogs For The Deaf as a potential hearing dog. At first Jakey was a wild man. DFD has apartments built above their kennels for training purposes. I was told that Jakey used to race around the apartments like crazy and they were not sure if they could settle him enough for training, but eventually he did start to learn. He was pretty far along in his training when one day out in town he became frightened of the automatic doors going in and out of the stores. They worked with him for awhile, but he did not get any better and it was decided to wash him out of the program and let him be adopted out as a career change dog. He went through a couple of foster homes, but Jakey was not exactly a cuddly sweet boy so nobody wanted to adopt him.
I was asked to foster him when his current foster left to go on vacation. I went and picked him up. At the time I was our regional trainer for Petsmart. I brought him back to work with me and started playing with him. Within a few minutes I called DFD and told them to go ahead and file the adoption papers- Jakey had found his forever home.
Now over the years Jakey earned numerous titles in both agility and freestyle. We called him Jakey the Rocket Dog.....and he was really really fast. He also had a drive in freestyle that was a joy to work with. Once a judge called him a 'once in a lifetime dog' and I do not think that was very far off. But that is not the story that I want to tell.

About three months after I adopted Jakey, DFD hosted our yearly Pet Expo at the fairgrounds. It was a two day event filled with seminars, vendors, exhibitions and games for Southern Oregon pet owners. I went and did demos with Jakey in both obedience and agility. By this time Jakey had become invaluable to me at work. I brought him almost everyday and he had become an amazing dog when it came to showing examples of what a well trained dog could be taught to do. He had simply not made a mistake in the months that I had owned him and I was grateful that I had been allowed to be a part of his life.

But I digress.....this weekend was filled with hundreds of pets and their owners. In the afternoon there were games that were played out in the big covered horse arena (about 200 feet long) and Kaity wanted to take Jakey out and play the games with him. I felt a bit guilty- after all- what dog would have a chance against my magical and perfect sheltie? But Kaity was insistent, so I agreed.

We went out to the ring and the first couple of games were fun. Kaity gave Jakey the cues while I held him and we ribboned in fastest sit and musical chairs. Then came the game we were all waiting for- the Fastest Recall! Who could ever beat Jakey the rocket dog?

The premise of the game was that all of the dogs (about 40 each heat) were held/stayed at one end of the arena while all of the owners went to the other. At a signal from the starter we were all to call our dogs to us and the fastest one to the other end was the winner. A simple, easy game....that had an amazing capacity for disaster when you think about it. 40 strange dogs all racing the length of the arena together? It still amazes me that I was even willing to participate. But my sheltie was having fun, my daughter was imploring and I had enough of an ego that I wanted to show off my brilliant Jakey.

So we lined up all of the dogs. Of the 40 dogs, 39 of them were held by people. I left Jakey on a sit stay and walked with Kaity to the opposite end of the ring. As the announcer started the countdown, someone in the crowd (and there was a BIG crowd) popped a balloon and several dogs were turned loose and began to run to the end of the ring. The announcer shouted that it was a false start and we needed to begin again. And then he said "and folks- just look at that wonderful little sheltie still sitting there'.

Because my beautiful Jakey had never moved even as the dogs around him broke rank. I had continued to hold my hand up in front of me to cue him for his stay, and he had never wavered in his perfect behavior. I remember feeling an actual tightness in my throat as I realized that I had the perfect partner in Jakey. A lovely, intelligent brave little dog who would do anything for me.

Then the announcer called 'go' and I lowered my hand and called Jakey to me along with 39 other handlers. And Jakey shot out of line like a rocket heading straight for me. He was probably 20 feet in front of the closest dogs and the tightness in my throat changed to teary eyes as I watched my loyal and amazing dog heading towards me.

About 50 feet from me I noticed an abrupt shift in Jakey's focus. Without wavering, he changed course like a heat seeking missile. I looked over, and about 20 people away from me a young girl, probably about 10 years old was jumping up and down and screaming for her dog to run faster. I realized that Jakey was heading straight for the screaming child about the same time said screaming child realized that a small and intent sheltie was bearing down on her.

Now to this day I truly believe that had that child just stood there, Jakey would have run to her and showered her with sheltie love. But unfortunately that is not what happened. Said screaming child began to scream louder and to run away from the line up. Jakey, being a herding dog both in breeding and at heart decided to take that moment to reach deep into his ancestry and help to return the errant child to the flock. The faster the child ran, the faster Jakey worked at circling her to bring her back to the line. People were chasing Jakey, the Dogs for the Deaf trainers were attempting to tackle him and the announcer was imploring everyone to stop running so that the situation could be brought under control. Jakey never actually touched the child, but he used every herding technique he could think of to school this child about leaving the safety and order of her flock. Finally one very fast and athletic trainer managed to jump on Jakey and pin him down for a moment so that the child could escape to her family members (who had not helped matter by laughing during the entire display......).

I immediately retrieved my happy and proud dog, trying to cover up the fact that I was wearing a Petsmart Training tee shirt and returned to the main exhibit hall to prepare for my next demonstration of a well trained dog.

To this day, at the grand age of 13, Jakey still keeps an eye out for errant children and always has hope that maybe, just maybe he will be given the chance once more to display his natural ability at controlling any child who might choose to wander from the flock.

Not sure why I decided to share that story........but Jakey is lying on the foot of my bed as I write and I just wanted to talk about him.

So tomorrow I will be back on track completely. Eating healthy, swimming and if it is a bit cooler as predicted starting to walk a few times a week. I am going to try and work some overtime this next month because I told Kaity that I would buy us matching bikes from WalMart and that we could start riding them in the evenings and on weekends. Great thing to do together, good exercise for me, and I can attach a couple of devices onto them to exercise and condition dogs at the same time.........'

So thank you for listening, thank you for not bugging me about not posting sooner, and thank you for your support........

Posting again soon.......

Laura....who is back up to 275 but is back on track again...........

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Weekend Away

When I started this weight loss journey I set three future goals for myself each one month apart. It just worked out that I had three engagements coming up that fell right into that time frame and I knew that these short term goals would help keep me on track and accountable (that and posting weekly photos and weight REALLY helps too).
I do know that it has taken me 15 years to put on this weight and that it will take some time to get it off. I know that sure and steady is better than crash diets. I know that I need to view it as a healthy lifestyle choice instead of a diet or a weight loss journey. But the bottom line is that I spent 15 years trying to fill up every hole that I had in my heart with three things- my daughter (healthy) rescuing animals ( sometimes healthy) and eating (really really unhealthy).
I am a person who likes immediate gratification.
I like to paint rooms in my house because it is a quick way for a big change. I hate to tape off the trim.
I like to cook, but hate the prep work (well that and cleaning up afterwards isn't any picnic).
I like to shop for clothes but do not necessarily love them once I have them (hmmmm maybe because when you weigh what I weigh nothing every really looks good)?
I love to eat just about anything and everything- and ALWAYS feel horrible afterwards because I know that I just added another day to the time when I can feel healthy again.

So now my first 30 days has passed and I lost 12 pounds. I totally understand that a weight loss of an average 3 pounds per week is considered healthy and reasonable. But it just feels very slow to me. When I was younger I could whip that much weight (or at least close to it) off in a week's time. Now I have really worked at it- swimming three times a week and watching every mouthful that I have taken in ......and it feels as though I have the right to have more to show for my efforts.

I really wanted to actually look a little different going down to Austin this weekend. And at my weight, 12 pounds does not really make any difference looks-wise. In all reality, it may be at least a couple more months before anyone will even notice a change in me. And for someone who likes instant gratification that feels like a really long time.

But I know that this is a long journey, and it is one that I have brought on upon myself. I am the one who made the bad choices to eat what I have eaten over the past few years. Nobody forced me. I can use all kinds of excuses, but I am the one who needs to take responsibility for what i have done. And I need to really look at what made me do it. I went from a rather healthy, somewhat attractive woman to throwing away many opportunities over these years by eating and gaining weight.

I have said that I ride horses. I love to ride horses. More than that I love to train and compete with my horses. And I have always had a degree of success in doing so. Most of the times when I have shown I have fared pretty well at the end of the day. So.....is it the horses that caused me any of my issues? I don't think so....other than being pretty expensive pets and needing some of my time, they have given me some of my most peaceful moments. There is nothing quite so therapeutic as just sitting and listening to horses eat. There is a calmness that fills me when I am around them. And I do want to compete again with them. Besides the obvious ease of riding that comes from being fit and healthy there is also the fact that those white dressage breeches are about as unforgiving as anything in the world. Great incentive!

I compete with my dogs. And while I have never had even a moment of being made to feel out of place no matter what my weight is, I certainly know that by losing weight it will help me in all manners of both of my dogs sports. It will sure be a lot easier running an agility course a hundred pounds lighter. And my freestyle can only improve once I am better able to move in the ring (not to mention lots more costuming options)......so this is also a great motivation.

I need to be around for Kaity. I need to be there for a very long time for her because I am the only family that she knows. And so perhaps this is the best encouragement of all- to be there as a healthy strong person for many decades to come.

So what has caused me to let myself go and hide behind this much weight? I know all of the typical theories out there and while I hate to put myself in a stereotypical box, perhaps I truly am no different than many others who got to this point in my life.

I am not sure that I am ready to dig into this yet. It may be enough to know at this point that I have taken steps to get past some old wounds and become healthier emotionally. I used to think that we were a product of our past and that while we still needed to take responsibility for our lives, that we sometimes could have trouble taking the steps to really move on. I now believe that everyone has the right to take as much time as they need to move past the old hurts. And probably there are many people who are able to live full, satisfying and enriched lives even when there has been no resolution to this pain. But for me I needed to start to face them and look at what the truth was behind my previous inability to lead my life as a healthy strong woman. And I know that this will be as much of a journey as the weight loss. But it is also one that I will take one step, one day and one goal at a time.

Thank you again my friends....your support, encouragement and kind words are a blessing and an inspiration to me.

Laura....down a total of 12 pounds in a month ...now weighting 272

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Stormy Days

It has been a hectic week. We have had a really sick horse at the clinic and while logistically he takes a lot of time for care he also is an mental drain because it is just too easy to become emotionally involved with the horses that we care for. On top of everything else, on Thursday night (actually Friday morning at about 4 am) I slammed a heavy steel stall door on my right index finger and broke it.
Now I am a pretty brave girl. I've broken a few things over the years and generally I take injury right in stride. When you grow up around horses it is just expected that you will go through life with more than your share of your bumps and bruises. And let me tell you, the horse world takes no prisoners when it comes to anything other than life threatening injuries. You are expected to put your big girl shoes on and just live with it.
But let me tell you....this really hurts! I tried wearing a splint, but I just caught it on everything and made it worse, so I am now just going with a really big wrap around the entire thing. but it is a great excuse to just lay around today and not do very much. I worked last night and it is surprising how much you use your index finger for in everyday tasks. But such is life, Couldn't swim for the past couple of days which I miss......but because of that (in part) we had a stormy day yesterday.
You see, I used to be heavily involved in dog rescue (horse rescue too....but that is a story for another day). When I lived in Oregon I fostered for several groups and it was soon pretty well known that if you sent me an unadoptable dog I would probably just keep it rather than send it back to an unfortunate end for the dog.
At one point we had well over 20 dogs at our house. And while this is not an extremely high number for many rescues, it was overwhelming for me. I just could not relegate a dog to living in a kennel, so all of our dogs lived with us like a regular family pet. Many of the dogs went with me to demos and performances at different events and some were rather successful in agility and freestyle. But it was just too much for me, and in the past several years I have backed way off of getting involved too much.
I have thought a lot about what drives some of us to rescue large numbers of animals. There are obviously many degrees of this need. A few weeks ago a television show was shown that focused on animal hoarding. I was interested in seeing what a professional therapists take was on the causes, but what was disappointing was that they focused on two very extreme cases. One was a person with about 80 cats and another had about 50 dogs. And neither party allowed the animals outside for any reason. So there was a lot more going on in both cases than just having the need to rescue.
So being a complete amateur when it comes to the psychiatric world, I have some theories of my own. In my own case, I never really felt accepted or comfortable out there in the people world. Both with my own family and with friends and/or colleagues I have always felt out of place and searching for a feeling of belonging. And yet when I am with animals I feel loved, accepted and needed. So is that why we do it? It seems a bit too pat for an answer. I think that for me it goes even deeper. I never really started until after Kaity was born. And I believe that I went a little crazy when I knew what I was in store for raising a child with disabilities. The doctors actually warned me about this being a side effect of the situation. They wanted me to start therapy immediately to help me through the challenging times. But I chose instead to do it my way. And that turned out to not necessarily be the most healthy of choices.
I responded to the feeling of lack of control over my life in three primary ways. First of all, I ate. And I ate a lot. You see, I could not do drugs, or turn to alcohol because I needed to be able to take care of Kaity. So I could not allow myself to be impaired. But when it came to food I could have that instant gratification that also gave myself a reward. It did not matter if anyone else gave me an attaboy for how I was raising her alone- I would give myself a reward. And it was immediate and i could control the level of reward by what and how much I ate.
The second way that I could instantly give myself a pat on the back was by shopping. Clothes, art work, garage sales, furniture, you name it, I bought it. Now mind you I never put myself in debt with credit cards, but I spent every penny that I earned as soon as I cashed my paycheck. It gave (gives) me a feeling of great satisfaction to purchase something that I want. And if I were to be completely honest, I probably only needed about ten percent of the things that I bought. But I continued to do it, and although I have become slightly better about my choices I still struggle with this issue to this very day.
And finally, I rescued animals. It did not take much to get me to agree to save an animal's life by bringing them to our home. A part of the problem- however I do not want to blame anyone but myself for this situation- was that I had a number of friends that were doing the same thing and in some cases on a much higher level than I. So rather than feeling like the crazy old cat lady out in the woods, I was actually encouraged to continue by these friends. And we had a lot of really good times. We showed our dogs together at breed shows and in the agility ring. We traveled together, and spent time together on a regular basis. I had a training area out in front of my house and they would all come over (along with other dog friends) on Saturday nights and we would work dogs and then build a bonfire, and sit around talking and enjoying each other's company until the middle of the night each Saturday. I felt as though I belonged in their circle and that I had found friends who felt like family.
But then over the years people started moving away. There were a couple of divorces. And finally I also chose to move away from that environment and try to get a better handle on my life.
I have been better these past few years. We still have a huge number of dogs (although only about half of what we had before) but I no longer say yes without a great deal of thought into the consequences of saying yes and bringing a specific dog into our household. many of my dogs are quite elderly now, and so in the next few years we will probably lose most of them, and they are certainly past the point of needing any training or extra exercise. They just live with us and get love from now on.
But yesterday I said yes again. My first love in the dog world are the herding dogs. With my passion for training and competing I like to stack the deck my way when at all possible. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for the people who compete with unusual breeds. I have a friend who does freestyle with Beagles and another with Greyhounds. There are gals using Newfoundlands and various terrier breeds. But I will admit that I probably do not have the temperament to choose any of these dogs as my competition dogs. So I stick to herding dogs. My first freestyle dog was a sheltie (still here and about to turn 14) and my TillyBelle is a little Aussie. Our puppy Flag is supposed to be an Aussie, and I believe that he probably has at least some of that breed in him...and whatever else might be there also leans towards herding characteristics.
The other night I got an email about an Aussie that was about to outstay his welcome at a shelter. he had been there awhile, he was estimated to be about 5-7 years old, thus getting himself the 'older dog' label that often turns people away and he had a tumor on his neck that would need to be surgically removed. So three strikes and he was about to be out.
A photo was sent to me along with his plea for help. And when I saw his face, I just knew that he was meant to be my dog. So the next morning found me sitting outside the shelter before they even opened for the day. When the doors were unlocked it took me about ten minutes to meet the dog (named Stormy by shelter workers) and fill out the adoption papers. By last night he had his surgery to remove the tumor and was trotting behind me at work as I went from stall to stall treating my cases.
He would have had his first training session today, but about halfway thru the morning I knew I had to take a pain pill for my (broken) finger and did not feel comfortable driving anywhere under the influence so I have spent the better part of today on the couch.
So three and a half weeks ago I made a great start at taking my life back under control. I went to a healthy eating lifestyle. I called my Auntie, and regained a family. I have not spent any money lately on unneeded purchases (I really DID need those silver conchos off of ebay to put on my sandals). And I saved Stormy's life.
Most people would say that I have been successful this past month at getting control over two out of three vices.
But I am looking at Stormy laying here on the living room floor. Every now and then he sighs with contentment. He went to sleep last night with a full tummy of food and a stitched incision where a large tumor used to be. And this week he will start training to be a freestyle dog.
And I am thinking that I am a winner on all counts.

Laura.....who will weigh in again on Wednesday....but knows that the healthy way I am eating is more important than the amount that shows on the scale this week.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mama said there'd be days like this.....

Just to get it over with right off the bat, I weighed in this morning and I have not lost any weight this week. Didn't gain any, but did not lose any. While intellectually I can process this in my head, it is still a bit of a disappointment. I know that while I am going through this journey I will have weeks where the scale does not move- better than going upwards certainly, but still not the outcome each week that I would hope for.
Oh well.....shaking it off.....

So no photo this week. I figure that you can just scroll down and look at last weeks since nothing has changed.

The easiest thing would be to just stop writing today. After all, I have been writing from a place where I knew each day that I weighed less than I had the day before. And even though it was never a lot less, it was still less. And while this weight felt pretty good last week based on the results of the week before that, all of a sudden this week's does not feel very good.

But if I stop writing every time I have a setback or a disappointment then what good is it to continue this blog? Nobody can expect to be on top every day and this is not going to be an exception to that rule.

I registered Kaity for school yesterday. This probably sounds like a routine event, but for the students in Kaity's class it is a really bid thing. You see this will be the first time any of the high school students in our little town will actually have a high school to go to. Four years ago during an ice storm a power line broke and landed on Jones High School. Before anything could be done it burned to the ground. It was so cold that the firemen could not get any water on the fire because it froze as soon as it left the hoses. Kids lost everything in their lockers, the teachers lost all of their teaching supplies, they books in the library were gone forever and the town of Jones was changed forever.

I suppose that most towns and cities would have just bussed the kids to another school and rebuilt the old one right away. But we live in a town of less than 2000 people and the high school only has about 200 students in grades 9-12. So it was not very high up on the priority list for any agencies.

But a couple of years ago the ground was broken for the new school. And this year the students will not have to walk between churches and trailers around town to be able to go to class. They have lockers for their coats and books instead of having to carry everything with them. And when it is pouring down rain or snowing they will be inside instead of getting soaked all day as they walk from class to class during the day.

And let me tell you- that school is beautiful. It is a credit to all who had a part in designing and building it. The students have a real stage to perform their concerts and plays on. Last year they sang at a very small local church. And their school play was done in a warehouse building on some plywood set up on blocks for a stage.

I know this because my daughter Kaity was given a part in the play and sang at the concerts. Now again, this probably does not seem like a very big accomplishment to many, but Kaity is mentally disabled. She cannot really remember any line in a play, so the teacher made up a part for her that allowed her to be on stage quite a bit without saying anything. She played a character who could not talk, and she carried a small white board with simple one or two word comments on it. When she was nudged she would hold the board up. She had a ball. The kids got together and helped her with her hair and makeup.

And she has sang in the last two concerts that the choir has performed in. She tapes the songs that she is supposed to sing and she practices them night and day to learn them. At the last concert she introduced me to some of the other students. They have been amazing to her.

Life is a series of trade offs. If we lived in a bigger town or city she probably would have had a school the past few years. But I do not think that if we lived in a larger town that she would have been given the special care that has surrounded her from her classmates and teachers. Except for one small incident back in the 6th grade she has never been teased or made to feel any less about herself because of her limitations. I never worry about what happens at her school because I know that everyone there is taking good care of her. It is a very special school filled with really special students and teachers. They have earned that new bright shiny school.

So that is it for today....no weight loss, no new photo, just my life as it is. And it is good.

Thanks everyone, I appreciate your encouragement,

Laura....who didn't lose any weight this week.......but gained more insight....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Facebooking

Last night as I was reading my facebook page and keeping up with old friends I was moved to post on my wall just how grateful I am that facebook was created and that so many people are taking advantage of the phenomenon.
I have close to 300 friends on my page. Now, of those 300 or so, probably 100 are people I have actually met and/or have had personal contact with away from the page. They include people that I went to high school with, people that I showed horses with growing up, people that I worked with at various racetracks over a 20 year span, people that I showed horses with as an adult after I was at the racetrack, people that I have run agility dogs with and people that I have done canine freestyle with. I have gotten back in touch with family members that I truly believed that I would never hear from again. Facebook has given me the opportunity of a number of 'do-overs' with people that I cared about but somehow lost track of over the years.
Why do we love Facebook so much? For me, it is the chance to reconnect and stay in touch with people without the fear of rejection. Oh sure, I can ask someone to be my 'friend' and they can ignore me- or even worse, choose to 'un-friend' me, but at least that is done in private and not out in front of other people.
I have gone thru life believing that I am a 'forgettable' person. That people I have met and have had a past relationship with would not even remember me without a number of specific facts that helped to jog their memory. I am surprised when people recognize my face or my name. I am especially surprised when they remember me without much prompting.
This fear has caused me many times to not approach people when I have seen them later in life- either in person or through the Internet. I worry that they will not want to acknowledge that we even know each other. I suppose that this causes a vicious circle of me coming across as unfriendly and aloof at times. I am afraid to be the first one to smile, or say hello, or approach others, and consequently they do the same and we never make the contact in the first place.
But facebook has resolved so much of these situations. I am friends with people that I barely knew, and that I know I would be afraid to approach in real life if I ran into them. But on facebook I can stay in touch, let people know what I am up to, see what others are doing with their lives and sometimes even live vicariously through each and every one of them.
It almost seems a bit sad to say that facebook has made me a less lonely adult. I know that in a perfect world I would be as active with others away from the computer, but what's true is that as I get older I miss more and more people from my past. And there are not enough hours in the day to stay in touch one on one with them. But facebook has given me the opportunity to find many of them, regain contact and feel as though once again they are part of my life.
Nothing will ever take the place of actually being up in the press box at Los Alamitos after the races with my friends, in the horse show ring with my fellow competitors, going to my high school reunions, spending the weekend with my dog friends or just sitting and catching up with old friends. But if it were not for facebook, I would not be in touch with any of those people. They are scattered across the country now and many have completely different lives than they had when we were together in person. And now we are back in touch and sharing our new lives along with reliving our old joys.
So Thank You Facebook. You have given me a part of my life that I believed was gone forever- that of my family, my old friends and colleagues. I am truly grateful for this gift.
Tomorrow is weigh in day...not sure how it will go as I have added more carbs this week, still keeping them as simple as possible. But no matter what, I know that I feel better eating this healthy style and it reflects in how I am living my every day life.
Thanks Everyone....talk to you tomorrow.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The story of TillyBelle

I'm writing this post from my position on the couch in front of the air conditioner- and there is a chance that I will stay here much of today! Horses are fed, dogs are walked and a very small amount of housework has been done. Perhaps that is it for the day!
Many years ago I gave the sport of agility dogs a go. I put several titles on my sheltie Jakey (aka Jake the rocket dog) and a few on my golden Charlie. Then I discovered freestyle and began devoting my training time to that sport.
Since I began freestyle I have become a judge and have had the great fortune of traveling all over the country- plus a fabulous trip to Holland last year as lead judge for the International and European Championships- and making amazing new friends along the way. My sheltie Jakey was my first real freestyle dog and he has paved the way for all that has come along since then.
But unfortunately our dogs get older and sometimes for health reasons we need to retire them. Jake already had degenerative arthritis in his wrists when we began freestyle and after a couple of years his big high spins and jumps and extremely fast speeds began to take a toll on him. He refused to slow down (and was miserable when I tried to work him slowly) so he retired and I took a year off of competing in freestyle.
Then along came TillyBelle. Tilly had come from a breeder who raises many litters of puppies each year. She has homes for many of them, but Tilly was both shy and very plain looking. So Tilly ended up spending her first year in a kennel without very much human contact and absolutely no socialization. She had never even worn a collar or leash. Every now and then this breeder would spay/neuter any of her excess older dogs and would them place an ad in the local paper offering them free to a new home.
My best friend Lisa went out to take a look. She loved mini aussies and was hoping to find another one to ad to her family.
When she got there, Tilly was the only one left. Not only was she unwanted as a sale puppy, she was not even wanted as a free puppy. She was not what Lisa had hoped for, but she brought her home anyway to at least give her a chance at a decent life.
But Tilly was a lot of dog. She did not know how to live as a pet and started tearing things up in the house and causing havoc with Lisa's other dogs. Long story short, I began playing with clicker training with Tilly and soon she became my dog.
Today she is a very different dog than she was when she came home three years ago with Lisa. A year after she became a house pet she was competing in her first freestyle routine. And while nerves and early experiences sometimes still come up for her, she has become an amazing partner for me, earning 6 titles in freestyle so far and not showing any signs of slowing down.
But it is obvious to me that she does not relish being out in front of a crowd of people. Clapping still concerns her and I know that she is working because she loves me- not because she enjoys it. She loves to train at home and learns very quickly.....but when she gets to a competition she is still nervous even after two years.
But then we tried agility. I thought that it might help boost her confidence if she enjoyed it. At a Christmas party last year I won a six week course from Twister Agility in Edmond, Oklahoma. I took Tilly to class and she loved it! When it ended I unpacked a few of my old pieces of agility equipment and set them up around my very small yard. We played with the pieces for a while off and on and then I took her to an agility fun day.
She had such a good time that I registered her with TDAA (Teacup Dogs Agility Association) and entered her in a trial that was about 6 weeks away. I really meant to get more training in, but the weather got really really hot, and the mosquitos got really really bad in the evenings- so we really did not do very much.
But even so, off we went this past weekend. Entry fees had been less than freestyle, the building was air conditioned and I knew that many of my dog friends would be there. Anything else would be gravy.
Teacup agility is for dogs 17" and under. They jump in their own height divisions against dogs of their own size. Much of the equipment is scaled down somewhat (smaller diameter tunnels and tire jumps, lower A frame and teeter) but other than that it is just like regular agility. Tilly measures at jumping 16" just as she would in other venues.
Well we had a blast! Tilly did really well in all of her classes and finished two of her titles. We came home exhausted but happy. And cannot wait to try it again.
Will it help with her freestyle? That remains to be seen......but while we are waiting to find out we are sure having a good time!
Two weeks until our Austin trip! WooHoo!

And how am I doing with my weight loss? Not sure....I took food with me on Saturday of the trial and stuck to eating healthy. Probably ate too many cashews....but tried to balance it with fruits and veggies that I carried along. I thought that I left the food at the trial for Sunday, but Kaity packed it up when we left and brought it home. So when I got back on Sunday I did not have my food. By about mid day I was pretty hungry and ended up eating some of the snacks that the club had set out for competitors. I made sure to try and be conservative, but I was not completely successful. It was still much better than I would have been a few weeks ago, and I came home and ate watermellon for dinner to try and balance the day out a bit. But I will not be surprised if I do not lose any weight this week. I can live with that, I am back on track and have to accept that there will be days and times when circumstances may dictate that I revert to old habits. So we will see what we will see on Wednesday. What I do know is that even with the small amount of weight loss that I have experienced that I had a lot more energy this weekend than I would have had a few weeks ago. I ran 8 agility runs this weekend and lived to tell the tale!
So back on track..........an easy day today of eating healthy and drinking lots of water!

Thank you for listening....it really does help!

Laura and TillyBelle the agility fiend!