Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cubicle Movement and Positive Thought

The contact improv dance last night was incredible. I was a bit more forceful in keeping myself safe from having heavy bodies twisting me wrong. The knee pads were great, too! I’m still a little sore this morning, but I can feel my body strengthening. I’m hooked on this new motion activity! I have regular ecstatic dance tonight, so I will try wearing the kneepads there, too.

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I sit in a cubicle all day long, and tend to hunch over the keyboard for hours at a time. I installed a simple alarm program on my computer desktop that goes off every hour instructing me to “Stand UP!!” When the alarm goes off, I sit up straight, twist each direction in my chair a few times, lift my arms above my head and lean back. Then I stand up and repeat the twists and back bend with raised arms. Then I scoot my chair out of the way and lean against my desk and do 15 “pushups” against the desk.  I’ve been doing this for about two weeks now. It feels good, even though I get strange looks from my fellow cubicle dwellers.

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It seems the more I move my body, the less time my brain dwells on negativity. It’s funny though… I move my body at social events that force me to interact with people. These people invite me out for food and other events, and my negative thoughts are pushed even further away. Common sense, right?


A groovy light in the darkness

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Best. Massage. Ever.With FEET! like as in toes, and heels and arches, and balls of the foot!


Seriously. I’ve had a massage almost continuously every 6-8 weeks for the last 20 years from a multitude of massage therapists. This was the best I’ve ever had. I may need to switch every other massage with this.  I’ve been seeing the same massage therapist for about 6 years, so I’m not willing to switch completely.

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Tonight, I’m going to that new (new to me) dance class called Contact Improv. It will be interesting to see if it is as much fun the second time. I bought some lightweight kneepads, (the kind cheerleaders use) to help as I bang around on the hardwood floor.

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I’ve written about guilt a few times in past posts. The guilt that my life is moving forward in a really positive way that may not have happened when my wife was alive. Our life was fairly idyllic together. We had no real pressing wants or needs. We were able to float through life with the happy acceptance of everything.

When my wife died, and I had to look closer within myself to keep from going crazy, the guilt started to build. I was expanding myself, opening myself to look deeper. With the unrealistic thought of how horrible I was not to dig deeper and open wider with the relationship with my wife. What did I miss out on with her? What did I deny her of knowing? The guilt that our incredibly beautiful and loving relationship could possibly have been even better. Yes, unrealistic feelings.  We had a wonderful relationship that was extremely fulfilling for both of us. I am thankful and blessed for our lives being intertwined.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome- vascular type 4

Saturday breakfast with my vintage store owner friend was great. We spent some time in my basement pondering the possibilities of the space. He had some amazing ideas that I will definitely be using.

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I went to a dinner party Saturday night, and SuperBowl Woman was there. We had another great time together, and even party hopped to another place across town after dinner.  The more time spent with her, the better I feel about keeping our friendship on a close level. Our “stuff” would not fit well together in a relationship, and we both know it.

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I missed my regular Sunday ecstatic dance; I was helping a friend move. Unfortunately I hurt my back lifting boxes of books up from a basement. I spent the remainder of the day in bed. But on the bright side, she is a massage therapist and has offered me a message tonight after work.

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I’ve had several phone conversations with my in-laws over the weekend. We have plans to meet next Saturday at the cemetery that my wife’s biological father is buried. He died at 40 years old from the same genetic disease my wife died from.


We plan on creating some type of permanent memorial with her ashes. Her mother, step-father, and brother will all be meeting the funeral director with me.  I will be bringing the ashes down with me. I don’t really want to bring any back.

Her ashes are split in two boxes. Most of the ashes are in a nice wooden box urn, the remaining are in an easily opened cardboard box. I really don’t want the full urn back. I have told my in-laws to think about the urn, and where they might like it to end up. I suggested perhaps just keeping the nameplate side of the urn.

I don’t want to move the urn into the new house.

Guilt. Sadness. Fear. Longing…..empty.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Forcing a Smile on my Face

Decision has been made. I am tearing out the entire basement. All of the walls we opened had significant mold problems. We are even tearing out the shower and kitchen area. All of the bamboo flooring has been removed. We will be rearranging the configuration, so all of the tile will need to be removed also. I can’t afford any of this work, but it needs to be done.

It appears the problem was created by a couple of things.  The ground outside the house is not draining away from the foundation properly. Some slope grading and drainage options will take care of that problem.  The basement walls were never sealed or even painted. The framing and heavy duty insulation did not allow any moisture to evaporate.

On the bright side, the heater works great, the siding is about halfway done and looks beautiful, and …and….and…..I’m forcing a smile on my face because it will all work out fine

On the fun side, I’m having breakfast tomorrow with my friend who owns a vintage clothing store. He is encouraging me to “Use The Gay” (his words) for interior design ideas. I think I will drag him (no pun intended) downstairs to check out the space since. Now is the time we can completely rearrange the walls so input would be greatly appreciated.

Yes, I’m stereotyping my friend, but all in good fun, and he really does have a great eye for fashion and architecture. He was/is a graphic designer and photographer in another life on top of owning the vintage store.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Molding to the Body Electric

Found the mold

The main water pipe coming into the house had a slow leak right at the foundation, keeping everything wet, but not enough leaking enough to noticeably see it through the sheetrock or flooring.  We found it only because I wanted a whole house water filter installed. We’ve ripped out one room of the basement already, and will open up a few more walls.

The concrete foundation is solid and looks good. We think the mold problem is a result of how the basement was framed in. They used 2X6 boards right up against the concrete, with heavy duty insulating foam board tightly glued to the wall and packed between the studs . We think they sealed it up too air-tight so there was nowhere for the normal moisture and humidity to go from the concrete foundation wall.

We may rip out all of the 2X6 boards and replace with metal studs and standard insulation held away from the wall for some breathing space, after we seal the wall.

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Last night, I went to a “contact” style of dance.  It was very physical and challenging. My body is very sore today. The gist of it is you lean into a partner as they lean into you, moving gently with the flow.

We touch shoulders and just leaned in, each slowly moving in opposite circles like two cogs in a machine. We locked arms and leaned back as a matter of trust. We rolled on the floor, putting our full weight on each other. There was pseudo leg wrestling. There were human pyramids.  There were simple gymnastic and acrobatic moves against each other.

It was kind of like slow motion wrestling, but without the aggression of trying to “win” anything or end up in any particular position.

The dance was filled with men and women, with no distinction for a dance partner. I did find the movement with other men was a bit harder and physical, gently testing each other’s strength and balance constantly. Dancing with the women was much slower and smoother, sensual without being sexual. At times there were three or four people moving together in a big pile. At one point a woman that was well into her 60’s laid on her back as her feet balanced my hips, and her arms supported my shoulders….I floated in the air supported by her strength. Amazing feeling of floating and letting go.

Why am I doing something like this?  Because I long for touch.  I long for connection. The dance  builds my confidence, raises my self-esteem, allows me to see myself as a beautiful and desirable human being.

I will be going back next week.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shine the Spotlight on Me?

Went to a birthday party Saturday night.  They were having a round of performances by the guests. These performances are usually somebody strumming a guitar and singing a song, a poem recital, or a monologue. I’ve never joined in before, as fear and insecurity keep me from standing up in a crowd. Except for karaoke. I can sing the stupidest songs at the drop of a hat… but that is a structured thing. I stand and sing a known song, following a guideline of the bouncing ball on the screen. My attention is not on the audience, but rather the TV monitor.

So the birthday girl wouldn’t take no for an answer, and requested that I do “something”.  There was plenty of time to freak out….I didn’t know most of these people. What the hell was I supposed to do? … I could sing a song!  But what song? And without backup music? Fear set in.

I turned to this blog.

Perhaps this would be the perfect time to lay bare some of my inner thoughts with these people. Most of them don’t know I’m widowed. Maybe that would be a downer for a birthday party if I talked about grief and death.

I finally figured out what I would do, right as they called my name to stand up in front of the crowd.

There were a few monologues already, and they were well received. I decided to just read verbatim my post on My First Horror Movie Experience.

The crowd loved it. I loved it. I found myself filled with intensity as I delivered the lines. It was light-hearted and delivered like a stand-up comedy routine. There was the rush I feel at the karaoke bar, only better, as this was of my own doing. My own thoughts.  My own writing.

The response was overwhelming. Afterwards people were asking if I had actually written it, if it was a true story. One of the people that had delivered a monologue earlier asked me if I normally do that sort of thing, as she was a speaking/debate teacher  and thought I did a great job, saying I was a natural if that really was my first time. Wow! That felt great! Another person asked if I was in local theater! 

I realize they might have just been overly generous with their accolades, but boy-howdy, it was nice.

This is all part of my inner self-work of  SpeakingUp, Being Seen, Being Heard .


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There was also a woman at the birthday party that I had previously met at Ecstatic Dance. Seems she facilitates a dance workshop that involves free-form partner dancing….. Kind of hard to explain, but it is a very physical partner dance where people sort of “roll” over each other, lifting their weight, and just basically interacting with the body of the other person. Think of a close partner interpretive modern dance routine and that is sort of what this woman helps teach.

I have watched people do this dance, and I have tried a bit myself. It is much harder than it looks. I have plans to go for the first time on Tuesday night.

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The young widows and widowers dinner group was Sunday night, and again I felt a disconnect. I started to mini-facilitate with questions and statements bout grief, but quickly stopped and let other people lead the discussion.  The topics quickly gravitated towards the food.

After the dinner, I spent a good 30 minutes in the car of the original organizer. She is ready to give up the group as well. I think it is time for both of us.










Thursday, February 16, 2012

Brand New Beat

Dinner with the organizer of the young widows and widowers dinner group went better than expected. We talked a lot about how very different we are now, since our partners died. Almost unrecognizable in the difference. Validation with each other that our lives are indeed moving forward. Guilt and awe, realizing our spouses would be shocked at how much we have changed. And also that horrifying realization that we would be hard pressed to fit back into that life. It's a difficult thing to admit that life is good. Life is happy.

There is still that dark hole deep in my soul, but the screaming mournfulness has subsided into gentle sadness of beautiful memories.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + +

Half of the siding has been torn off the house, and there is some good looking wood underneath. The insulation that was blown in has turned out not to be the expanding foam, but rather loose-fill fiber. No surprises yet, and everything so far is very smooth.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + +

Ecstatic Dance was again a beautiful thing last night. I found myself open to people and afterwards I stuck around to socialize a bit. There was even an offer to get some food, and I joined them. The interesting part is during the meal, I reverted back to my very quiet and reserved self. I didn't speak much, but listened intently. I was the newcomer in the midst of a group of old friends, so I don't think my quietness was noticed much.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + +

I had a massage tonight, and my massage therapist vocalized about how much weight I've lost. I hadn't really noticed it myself, but after I got off the table, I stood in front of the mirror and looked at my unclothed body.  My stomach is noticeably smaller, and the double chin action is not quite so pronounced!
This dancing activity is paying off!
 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

If you've got the money, I've got the time to eat

I am having dinner tonight with the organizer of the young widows and widowers dinner group that I go to once a month. I had previously stepped down as assistant organizer. It’s a strange thought….that I am having less and less in common with these people.

My daily activity has not included grief for many months. I still have my dark moments, and there is still a lot of work to do, but I don’t feel I am getting anything out of these dinners anymore.

But this is just a dinner with the organizer, not the whole group. And I find I don’t have much in common with her either, even though she was a great sounding board for my thoughts and extremely helpful in my first year of grief.

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I downloaded an app for my phone called “PocketMoney

I hope to track my spending on the house. The app was so easy to use, I decided to track a couple of other items as well.

I added categories for  Transportation (gas, bus tickets), Entertainment…..and the big one……Restaurants.

I just started this at the beginning of the month, and I am already shocked at the amount of money I spend on restaurants. And I cook food at home!

I am literally shocked and it is only 2 weeks into the experiment.

And my entertainment category? Depressingly the least amount has been spent. I guess it’s all perspective though, as most of my “Entertainment” is having dinner out with friends to socialize.

Lefty Frizzell - If you've got the money (I've got the time)


Monday, February 13, 2012

Hot and Bothered, Moist and Steamy.

And I finally have heat in the new house. The hot water heater heats up to about 150 degrees for the heating coils, and then the hot water is tempered down to a cooler temperature before it reaches the shower or sinks.
Once the entire inside work is done, I will have all of the duct work cleaned. It should cost between $400 -$600 for a certified NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association) job. There are giant wads of dog hair in the vents and duct work.
I took some good advice, and moved some kitchen stuff and books into the house. It felt non-threatening and ok!
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Met two of the neighbors, and got the low-down on the mold. Seems the upstairs kitchen sink leaked for months at a time and soaked the basement wall on the south side of the building. The sink no longer leaks and I will keep an eye on it.

The outside ground on the south side of the building slopes toward the house. A nice French Drain would work wonders in moving water away from the house during the rainy season.

The neighbor gave me a printout of a mold inspector and a DVD. The DVD didn’t have any pictures of mold, but it did have a very nice video of a sewer drain inspection from 2007. It looked great! The mold report listed some high indoor air particles… but I am still convinced that with proper water control, humidity monitoring, and general cleaning (I just found old mouse droppings in a cabinet dead space) I won’t have any problems. I might not move myself into the basement right away, but I don’t expect any difficulties once I do.

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Went out to dinner with Super Bowl Woman, and re-established some boundaries. We spent most of the dinner talking about website dating. It was quite fun, and I think we are building our existing friendship to a stronger place. We will definitely hang out again. And I also confirmed for myself that her intensity, while great for a friendship, would be a challenge for me.

But let’s face it. Half my problem is I’m just plain old horny. The great thing about that is Ecstatic Dance and Massage can at least give me Touch from another person. Sometimes we just need a hug.

Norman Cook, aka FatBoy Slim, FreakPower, Beats International, The Housemartins,Brighton Port Authority 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Turning Emotions Off, Going Around in Circles

I suppose I should have been ready for flaky potential roommates to cancel at the last minute. I also probably shouldn’t have changed my own personal plans to accommodate potential roommates.

The woman that seemed eager to see the place just a few days ago, called me five minutes after our scheduled meeting time to cancel.  Oh well. I went roller skating instead.

It was another fun night at the roller rink. What cheap entertainment! And it’s quite a workout for the legs. I fell once. Hard.  Face first. Chin making solid and direct contact with the wooden floor. Dazed, I stood up, expecting blood. Surprisingly there was none. I didn’t bite my tongue off, nor did I break my jaw. 

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Got a call from my late wife’s step-father today. I had asked him to look into a plaque, headstone, or some type of memorial for my wife. The family and I would like to spread or bury some of her ashes with her father. Her father died at 41 years old of the same genetic disease.

It was a bit tough taking that phone call at work, but I’m glad it happened. I had asked her folks to help with this plan, as I thought it might help them with some closure. I think getting the information from the cemetery was a bit harder on them than I expected, but they also seemed very thankful to be doing the legwork.  We have an appointment to meet with the cemetery people in a couple of weeks. I feel strangely detached yet full of grief.

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I have a busy weekend planned. Tonight I have an appointment with my shrink, then breakfast with my hiking partner Saturday morning, and trying to move a few things Saturday afternoon. Sunday I am skipping Ecstatic Dance in order to have breakfast with my Vintage store owner friend, and then the two of us are going to some estate sales to look at dead people’s things for my new house. Sunday evening I have dinner with Super Bowl Woman….I still need to find a groovy restaurant for us to go to….

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It might be fun to buy my own set of roller-skates. .......A couples skate in the reverse direction, while Journey's "Faithfully" plays over the loudspeaker.......

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sweet Toxic Love running through my Ecstatic Dance

Ecstatic Dance is more than just a physical exercise for me.

It is encouraging me to interact with people I normally would not interact with. Pushing my boundaries of acceptable closeness with people of all ages and differences.  I find myself dancing sensuously with older women , aggressively with younger men , and playful joy with everyone in between.
Building a quiet self-esteem in my body, in my desirability towards others, giving me confidence to open up at the end of the dance and let my voice be heard by others. At 44 years old, I feel like I am just now beginning to learn how to communicate.

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I have a friend coming to look at the house today as a possible short term renter.
She is looking for 5-6 months at the most. I really hope she likes the place and moves in. She is about 10 years younger than I, and has a beautiful voice and also plays guitar.  Selfishly, I think it would be great to have her as a renter, as she would introduce me to a different crowd. She is the woman that was holding the singer/songwriter soirĂ©e events. We could start to have them at my place!

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Going against some good advice, I am having dinner with Super Bowl woman on Sunday.

I would just like to acknowledge my attraction to her, and also keep up that boundary and not try to move anything forward more than good friends. I think we both realize we are too different for each other. She has a very strong intensity that is very desirable, yet I know that intensity doesn’t work well with me. And from a previous discussion with her, she is not one to be a friend with benefits…and I really don’t think I could be one of those either.

Boy George from Culture Club- Sweet Toxic Love

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sh!t people say to Widows

There is a fun new YouTube video going around that was created by the awesome blogger over at  FreshWidow 

It’s a short clip in the vein of all the recent “Sh!t people say” series.

Sh!t people say to Widows & Widowers




It’s hilariously well done.

So this also begs the question….What DO you say to a grieving person?

Perhaps the best thing to say is……. “I’m Sorry”

Then present an inviting stance to the grieving person that would allow a hug if the grieving person so chooses, but not so inviting that would cause awkwardness if the person doesn’t want a hug.

Then promptly DO something for them without asking.  Like emptying the trash or doing some dishes….


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And make sure you stick around to the end to read the credits…..There is a familiar name in there J


Monday, February 6, 2012

Oh, the Places You'll Go in Life!

I have a reluctance to move any items into the new house. What is my hesitation?

The new path. The shift. The physical act of moving further away from my wife’s death. Acknowledging I have a new life. The unrealistic but very real guilt I feel at having this new life. How dare I enjoy this life. How dare I actually admit I feel like I am a better person since she died. All foolishness, I know.

Before my wife died, we talked about her expectations for my life after she was gone. She wants me to remarry. I have permission to be happy. I just need to accept it.

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It was a weekend full of parties. Literally.

On Friday I had dinner with my mentor and with a beautiful and amazing woman who was also a complete train wreck. A very successful business owner that divulged a large amount of very horrific personal information. The three of us had a great dinner, and I was both enthralled with this woman and reluctant to spend any more time with her. In my younger years, I would have pursued her with wild abandon with disastrous results. At the end of the night, she said something that really touched me.  She said she felt comfortable about sharing her story with me. She said I had a gentle and un-judging nature, She had assumed I was a counselor or therapist… a colleague of my mentor. She invited us to a “Burning Man” type of party for Saturday night, with a theme of “glitter and sparkles”.

Saturday morning found myself up early to hit a couple of second hand clothing thrift stores for some glittery clothing. I found a black sequined blouse that looked vaguely masculine, so I ripped the shoulder pads out, threw on some shiny black tights and some short black athletic shorts and I was set.
Went to lunch with my father, and showed him the new house. He really liked it.

The first party of the night was a 41st birthday party for a friend early Saturday evening. Another small business owner that I have gone out on a date with a few times. I’ve known her for about 3 years. I would like to spend more time with her, but she has put some clear boundaries between us for dating. She has made it clear we can be wonderful friends, but that is it. But I constantly seem to be getting mixed messages from her.

I left her birthday party and made my way across town to the “Burner” gathering. These are a fun and crazy bunch. Very artistic and colorful. Not really my scene, but fun every once in a while. Saw the beautiful train wreck woman that had invited us, and once again, she thanked me for being open to her story and reiterated that she thought I would be a great counselor or “Life Coach”.

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Sunday morning found me with a hangover, but I still got myself up to sweat it out at Ecstatic Dance. The theme for the dance was “Happy” and it was a very happy dance right up until the end. As a tribute, they played Etta James’ At Last.  This song was played at our wedding (along with millions of others weddings) and I immediately left the dance floor with tears streaming down my face.  I gave myself a few moments, wiped my eyes, and slowly walked back into the room and closed my eyes and gently moved back and forth to the song. The darkness moving through me. Quickly dissipating.

And then the Superbowl party!  The birthday girl from the previous night was there. We are very touchy feely. She will initiate contact with a hand on my back, of a pull of my hand in hers. Quite conflicting information for me. After the game ends, and after she had a few Adult Beverages, she exclaims to me in front of a few close friends of ours, that “everyone thinks we should be together” and that she should be “open to a relationship with me”. 

I was a bit taken aback with this publicly made statement, and we casually made our way to a more private area to talk. We didn’t resolve much, but we did agree to get together again (without Adult Beverages).

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Am I keeping myself this busy so I don’t have time to think about moving into the new house? Probably.

Oh, the Places You'll Go at Burning Man!



Thursday, February 2, 2012

Moving Through the Doorway of a Nation

I started this blog with the intention of downsizing and buying a large van or small RV.  With the final intention of downsizing to only a vehicle. Along the way I found that I really need a strong sense of home. I want to travel, but only in short spurts with a home waiting for me.


I haven’t given up my dream of travel, I’ve just modified it. 

So here I am, with another 30 year mortgage, hoping I can pay it off in 10 years. The house is already costing me more than I want to spend, but if I get things done right the first time, I should have minimal upkeep as the years go by.

I struggle with the need to have this materialistic home. My wife and I had a beautiful ranch style home in the suburbs on a 1/3 acre lot, with a 5 acre wooded area against our back fence. There would be deer and raccoons that would come into the yard to drink water from our in-ground swimming pool. There were summer BBQ’s and swim parties. There were dinner parties and get-togethers. My wife was the organizer and the glue that held our circle together.

I would like to bring some of that back into my life with this house. Minus the swimming pool. Those things are a real bummer to keep clean. The new house has a hot tub and that will be more than enough work for me, thank you.

Friends over for dinner, around a backyard fire pit. I miss that.  And I can have that again, with new friends and new traditions.

Moving through this new doorway, open to new situations.

Tom Jones Situation- The lead and how to swing it
cover of Yaz song

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More house stuff!

 The HVAC guy came out to the house this morning. Seems I have an extra strength water heater that pumps water into coils that a blower then moves the air.  The technician seemed to think it was a pretty nice setup, and apparently it is a very cost effective way to heat smaller homes. I will need to do more research on it.

The bad news is, there is a broken part on unit, and of course it is a special order piece.  I won’t have heat until middle of next week.

I did find an incredible amount of dog hair and dust completely clogging the air filters though. It looks like the previous owners never cleaned the filters. At all. No wonder they were always sick. I’m going to have all of the duct work cleaned out.
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The house currently has cedar lap siding. Very nice and expensive stuff. But the south side of the house needs extensive work, and the entire house has 2 inch holes drilled between the studs where they sprayed in expanding foam for insulation.  The cost of replacing the south side of the house will be expensive.

I am thinking of tearing off ALL of the cedar siding, and replacing it with a Tyvek wrap and Hardi-plank.  And putting some better insulation in the walls instead of little squirts of expanding foam that may or may not have covered the entire wall.

And if I do the siding, the roof will be re-done as well.
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I am also getting an estimate from a custom cabinet finisher to re-build some of the built-ins. The picture below shows the closet in the main bedroom. The closet in the second bedroom at one point in time probably looked exactly the same. The second bedroom has these horrible 70’s 3-piece sliders installed where the doors and mirror used to be. It would be great if I could get it to match the main bedroom.

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It’s not all about the house though. I will be going to my regular ecstatic dance tonight.
I’ve also downloaded a phone app that will help me track where my money goes. I originally wanted it just for purchases related to the house, but I’ve added a column for Food and another for Entertainment. I think I will be shocked at the monthly food outlay.