The New Relationship

Saturday, February 7, 2016 by Anna Leida

The summation of this winters movements log is the following:

  • October 26 miles
  • November 9 miles
  • December 12 miles
  • January 29 miles

Logically, everything should be back to normal. Three months really should be nothing to complain about. Three months training to be able to stand on one leg and put on your own pants in the morning. I wonder how long time it took the first time? Suddenly, the struggles of a three-year-old seem much more impressive and a lot less amusing. Is life to learn to put on your own clothes over and over again? How many times can you learn to do things in a lifetime? To pull yourself out of the hole?

The New Love

The sudden boost of movement in January is largely thanks to the rekindling of an old relationship. Thanks to the unpredictable weather (or possibly the affects of global warming), it looks like it will be a short-lived one. At least if I want to avoid splashing through the ice. Sometimes it seems weather is there to teach us only the skill of enjoying the moment. Ice-skiing is an activity which requires both a high level of security thinking, and a high threshold for personal embarrassment. Security thinking tells you always to ski together with someone. Someone who is there to watch your wounded pride when splashing, but hopefully also to save your life. For the curious, there is a short list of must-haves when entering the ice:

  • Company
  • Rope (to toss to your company when they splash)
  • Backpack of dry clothes (to float on when you splash, and to change to afterwards)
  • Knife (to provide a portable handle in the ice, and sometimes as ice-pick)
  • Cell phone (for the modern citizen, and the one who tends to get lost)

The Pride

Wednsday, December 16, 2015 by Anna Leida

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it
- Gandhi

I was brought up in the teachings of Perfection. The main mantra of this belief is:

"Do not start anything unless you know it will be a success, otherwise you just end up making a fool of yourself"

Between the lines: Making a fool of yourself is about the same level as a Christian Hell. As all smart people soon realise, it is one of the most crippling Teachings of all, because it never allows you to do anything. I was never smart enough to see that.

Thank God, I ended up in a fire that burnt away most of that crap. This year has been a year of constant repetitive failures. The best thing about constantly tripping over your own feet is that you learn very well how to crawl back up again, and that any Pride is washed away in the not so very graceful struggle.

The Burning

Burnt in fire no need to weep
Wrapped in blankets of pain rocking gently to sleep
Cradling flames caressing lashes
What can eventually crawl out of the ashes
Will be scorged down to the core
Will be nothing but You, superficial no more

The Quickwalk

Sunday, December 13, 2015 by Anna Leida

This week the running has started slowly again - in the form of quickwalk. Quickwalk is a hybrid between running and walking, alternating between the two. Two steps walking, three steps running. Or four steps running, three steps walking, or whichever other combination suits you. The only important thing to remember is to use an uneven number of steps, so that you start each cycle with alternating legs. This reduces wear. This is a very handy running/walking pace when you need to keep it up for very, very long, or when you, like me, want to reduce the load on the joints. The fact that you constantly slow down again after just a few steps makes it impossible to really stretch the steps and you will be flowting just barely off the ground.

I am starting to feel less and less pain now, luckily. The plan is to keep up the quickwalk maybe another week, then slowly introduce some slow jogging. Together with continued workout. Hopefully the pain will not grow worse again. Fingers crossed - and oh, did I mention I hate workout :P Sacrifices, sacrifices...

The Chicken

Saturday, December 12, 2015 by Anna Leida

I do know I promised to look into the old Diary when I started this blog. And still that chapter is embarrassingly empty. Guess how far I have come. It lies here right in front of me, and it has not been opened yet. I have not opened it. I am to frightened. There are days when I feel strong, and then I don't want to because I don't want to rock the boat. Other days I am weak, and then I am just terrified, because I know even the slightest brush of wind will tobble me over. Some days I think it may be better if that book is never opened again. Other days I think I should close down this blog and move on. Am I moving forward, or just going around in circles? How can you tell, when there is no steerageway fartvind in life.

The End of a Relationship

Tuesday, December 7, 2015 by Anna Leida

Ye Old Faithful

Today we commemorate my old faithful partner, emphasis on old, and thank her for providing good service to the best of her ability. After weeks of cycling, since the doctors told me to cut back on running, the leeks in the tires have finally reached a size where the stopping-and-pumping takes longer than the actual cycling in between. Yesterday I took it into town for the last time. The trip home, which usually took 40 minutes, now took more than an hour. Together with the missing support (the bike can't stand by itself), the wobbly tires, broken package holder and rusted screws, it seems to be time for retirement. So today, I took the bike (minus lights and saddle) to the junk retirement home, a.k.a. recycle center dumpster. It seems to be at the last minute, for today, finally the long indian summer suddenly switched to a November such as we are used to - it has started snowing and has now been snowing all day. Time to take out the skis instead!

Will it last till Christmas?

The Hurry

Wednsday, November 25, 2015 by Anna Leida

An old boss of mine with a very particular sense of humor said to me after I told him about the blood clot:

"Oh good, then maybe now you will learn to take it a bit slowly".

His hopes have unfortunately not come true. Quite the opposite.

I remember one day in Manchester, not long after the clot and when I had just barely started walking around again. I found myself standing at a bus stop, headed into town, looking at the sky, lost in contemplative thought, the way you do when you have done your part in making your way to the stop, now waiting for life (or the bus) to catch up with you. The sky was grayish, a few torn rain clouds passed by, carried by winds that never reached the ground, as it can be sometimes in early October. Black shadows of crows in silhouette against the sky, dancing recklessly on invisible gales. My thoughts wondered about the reason. Why did this happen to me? Why did I get the clot? Is there a meaning to it all? Common themes of brooding on occasions such as these. It must have been shortly after the last of all the examinations were finished and all the doctors, after poking and prodding me for two months, finally came up with the conclusion that "Ok, Sorry - but we can't find anything wrong with you, so this clot must have been one of those things that just happen." I may not be an overly religious person, but I do have a hard time accepting that anything at all "just happens". There is always a reason, even if nobody has been able to spot the cause. A sound unheard is still a sound. Lacking a physical explanation, my thoughts this day went to the metaphysical.

Some people claim that after an experience which brings them in contact with their own mortality, they see life differently, and come to value life more - the life here and now. "I learned to enjoy the moment, to smell the flowers", they say. I frown at such thoughts. If anyone Out There was trying to teach me to enjoy myself, they were gravely mistaken. I always did smell the flowers, even before this happened to me. On the contrary, the clot and all it brought with it, made it impossible for me to enjoy any flowers all for a very, very long time afterwards.

Now, a year later, I can enjoy the flowers again, and I can say that something HAS changed, though I am not always sure what. I have always been a person with a multitude of plans, and a multitude of things on my hands. Sometimes too many. But I like it. And I was never stressed over any of it. Before the clot, I always felt as if I was at the beginning of everything. And being in the beginning, it never bothered me much that I had to wait with some things. There would always be time for it, I assumed, some time later, to do the other stuff. I could afford time.

In less than a year, that perspective changed 180 degrees around and now I seem to feel as if I'm constantly at the end of things.

Now, after the clot, facing the fact that I have some condition, of unknown and undetectable origin, lurking inside me, which statistically has a fairly low (well one in 50 or one in 100 is not that bad) risk to re-occur, but when or if it does, mortality will occur with high probability and in a matter of minutes. The actual mortality rate is debatable, but without treatment is anyway way above 50%. Like a constant sword of Damocles, it is hanging over me. Nothing happens, but anything can happen.

At the same time, I COULD live till 80 years of age, and if I let all that time be clouded by the fear of not having that time, then I will not really have till 80 anyway will I? But it could also be right around the corner, so to account for that, the perspective has to change. Instead of having loads of time on my hands, I now have none. Important stuff can't await, it needs to be done now. Or immediately. Or maybe sooner, if possible. Strangely, the concrete changes to my life made in response have not so much changed what I do, only what I don't do. The irrelevant stuff is going out the window. Head first.

It is not so important what you do, but it is important what you not do.
There is no time to be perfect
There is no time for pride
There is no time for hesitation
There is no time to waste

I have a very dear Friend, who has spent life enjoying it. Living much day to day, seemingly without a care in the world. Days consists of having a good time with friends, working a job that only provides food on the table and some social context but little else. Work is done on predetermined hours, after which Friend comes home, meets with other Friends for a bite to eat, some games, chitchat of topics with few sorrows, and the occasional night out. When prioritizing time, Friend always chooses the path of maximum pleasure. I am so jealous. I feel my life has to be prepared for a farewell at any time. And so much which has to have been done when that happens. My life has to have meaning all the time. And so, instead of engaging myself in anything for my own pleasure (either than writing on a blog which few people are likely to ever read of course), I spend time thinking about one project more grandiose than the other, making the world a better place. How pathetic I can think, in my more sober moments, to be so drunk on doing something useful, I can't relax for even a moment. And yet, looking back, it still doesn't seem I'm doing much difference at all. At least never enough. It seems so much easier to live like Friend does. Eat, drink, be happy and then die. Is it only me, who fears death so much that I have to construct my own eternal life on this planet by creating something lasting? Can I ever be free of this blow torch, this dragon breathing down my neck, forcing me on the endless hopeless, senseless path of world improvement? What is it in Friend, but not in me, that can make Friend accept the ultimate meaninglessness of it all and settle for happiness?

Yes, I am in a hurry. Very much so.

The Sentence

Monday, November 23, 2015 by Anna Leida

One week after the visit at the nice Lady Physiotherapist, and the sentence is commencing to take its toll. A set of leg strengthening exercises every day, every hour, on the hour. And it is starting to HURT. And I love it. Finally some muscular pain. I've had to cut back on the walking too, and absolutely no running. Maybe I mentioned that in a previous post. It must be nagging me.

Today, I listened to some Heavy Metal on the way home in the car. "Wishmaster" and "Bare Grace Misery" and the other old favorites. Nothing special about that. I have had Nightwish alongside Moonspell, Theatre of Tragedy and Manowar for as long as I can remember. But as I listened, suddenly it struck me - I have not listened to that kind of music for all of this year. The CD:s have laid there, but I have never played them. Not since some time Before. (For those of you who just read this post, and missed my previous long-winded essays, a Before with capital B mean before I got the Pulmonary Embolism, or clot in the lungs, which so seem to have changed my life, and set me off on this quest to get some kind of shape back in the good old Body and Brain again).

I remember for a period of time, in bed after the clot, I viewed my way through the TV-series Adams family. (Or is it spelled with two dd)? All the versions, including the black-and-white ones. At the time, it seemed to suit what was left of my sense of humor back then. But I didn't listen to music. In fact I did my best to avoid it. Especially not Heavy Metal, or any of the classical pieces I used to like. I couldn't bare listening to something I love. How sick is that? Can your soul be turned inside out so that everything I love I hate, and everything I hate I start to enjoy?

I think, this music for me is very much a music of Life. Need I explain? A music which is a music of life is simple not a music you can listen to, unless there is a vigor and a spirit, who can dance with it. Or headbang, in this case. Death, and contemplation thereof requires something very different. But what, you may ask, and I have no answer. Must there not be something that can bring joy at times like that? One may think that at times like this, when it is most needed, it would be more important than ever, to be able to touch one's soul with SOMETHING - anything. But no, instead it all seemed to loose its meaning. I wonder if this is something you can be better at with practice - seeing past the meaninglessness, resisting and refuse to be consumed by it. Is learning to deal with this what we are supposed to learn from trials like this? In hindsight, a trial I would much have skipped, of course, but maybe the lesson had no other way to be learned.

Maybe next time this happens, I can hope I have learned the ability to laugh into the abyss. Then again, when I remember the absolute emptiness, for which there are no words, I doubt that I will. But at least until then I can listen to Nightwish one more time. Should I put it on repeat?

The New Layout

Sunday, November 22, 2015 by Anna Leida

It is some time since my last post. It has taken some time to move the blog to a new platform. The first one was a standard template with a standard database with limited access, so I thought it best to move to my own platform. It means I have Total Control - hehe - control freak or what! But do not worry, I have not felt the need to update the old until I had the new site in place, but I have been writing locally in the meantime, so whoever has been awaiting the next post with anxiety - there is new stuff coming.

This is how it works: The main page will always show the latest posts, and the archive is organised chapterwise and can be reached via the links to the left.

The Stress Part 2

Sunday, November 22, 2015 by Anna Leida

It's been months of temper hopping up and down. One day I feel almost back to normal, and at once start to go about things as I used to. Too fast, according to some. Then suddenly, it's like everything stops, and the engine hickups and dies. Suddenly, I can hardly crawl out of bed in a day. Or two. Or more. The plans of what I want to do, just keeps spinning in my head, but without anywhere to go, they just stay there, going round and round forever.

Sensitivity to stress seem to be a huge issue. Not that I have ever been very good at blocking that. But I do remember being better at surfing the chaps. Now, I feel the impuse to withdraw at the slightest sign of commotion. A conversation where people talk a little too fast. Someone knocking on the door, or phoning me when I'm doing something else. I am irritable, short tempered. At the same time I want nobody around, and the depression deepens in isolation. I need people around me, to kickstart the engine again, yet I can't stand them when they do.

Yesterday I went through the exercise of writing down whatever makes me stressed, and whatever gives me energy:

- Physical exercise
- Lazying
- Being together with others
- Being alone
- Being in control
- Being spontaneous
- Travel, see new things
- Learning new things, exploring
- Being a homebudy
- Being alive
- Being dead

You wouldn't believe how many of those things ended up on both lists. How can one stand life, when one both wants to live it and not? At the same time? It must have something to do with that Balance people always talk about.

The Patience

Wednsday, November 11, 2015 by Anna Leida

It was soooooo boring to swim today. Usually when that happens, it is time to change something. I have become an expert on playing the game you play on these occasions.

"Ok, I made the last lap in 2 minutes, that means I have 16 laps to go, and if I count on going a little slower towards the end, I will be here for another 40 minutes, at least. If I instead change from breaststroke to crawl every 4 laps, it will go, let's say 25% faster and then I will be done in... hang on - oh, I lost count, what lap was I on again? Is that kid EVER going to move out of the way?"

It's easy to do the daily boring work when things are continuously improving, but when trying to keep going after a setback, that's when the Black Cloud of Despair settles overhead. You start to wonder if this was the definite setback, and you will never ever be able to pick yourself up again.

Then it can be beneficial to think about all the times you have worked your way up again, and finally past the point of the last setback. It WILL happen. Some day...

When I started swimming this spring, the goal was 300 m per training day, three days a week. Not much, but there were days I couldn't even do that. I went to the pool, swam half of a 25 m stretch and couldn't do any more than that. So I got up and went back home. But I kept going and soon I had worked my way up to 1000 m. Until the February flu struck, and I was back to no swimming - 300 m - 600 m - 900 m and MAYBE 1000 m again. And just by the time I was back on the 1000 m mark, the flu struck again and I was back to square one. Depressing enough to make you want to burrow down for good. I think the reason I succeeded in keeping it up this time was because I didn't let myself off the hook when I felt I couldn't do it, or when I was feeling tired and lazy. I said to myself I still had to go to the pool and get wet, even though I didn't swim. I remember some attempts at rigorous training when I was younger. It always ended at some point, some day when I didn't feel like it, and I said to myself:

"Hey, I don't have to do it today. I can do some extra tomorrow instead". And then I stayed home, doing what I felt like instead. This way, I gave myself a reward for not doing what I should. And the next day I had terrible bad conscience, and felt I had to do twice as much, just to make it up. Then of course that was to much, and since I couldn't even do that, I may as well stay at home again. Brain works in funny ways sometimes. I think the trick is:

1) Don't let yourself off the hook. Go do it anyway! Sometimes you will notice you can do more than you thought, once you get started (and sometimes you will have to turn in the door). 2) Forgive yourself for not pushing harder, faster EVERY time. There will be days you don't have energy to do very much. Don't feel you have to compensate the next day, just go there again and do it again. And again. And again. 3) Keep doing it. Again.

Training 1.0 tells us to practice what we can improve, not on what we already are good at. The good thing about not thinking you're good at anything is that it doesn't matter what you do, you can improve anything you get evolved in!