Tag Archives: People shouldn’t have this much fun!

How I Spent my Birthday

…or, is there any reason for a 51-year-old woman with fibromyalgia to go zip-lining?

It was supposed to be a Chopin recital in Blacksburg. Garrick Ohlsson. Only it got cancelled because of a scheduling conflict. I’m not all that surprised, since I was wondering why a pianist of this magnitude was coming to Blacksburg in the first place.

So, hubby had already scheduled to take the day off, and we had nowhere to go. Alecto sent me Maxwell’s zip line commercial for my birthday, and that got me thinking. Since I’d just been to the high country for the annual ski retreat (think 35 teenagers, 10 adults and Ski Sugar, it’s scary) I knew there were zip lines around. There are billboards all over the place, advertising the adventure. One interweb search and two clicks later, there it was. Hawksnest. I emailed hubby at work: “Can we go ziplining? Please??” Knowing full well that he was NOT interested in doing anything like this.  He gets sick riding the Teacup at the fair; he ain’t gonna do this.

Only he did. He answered, “I’ll do it. For you.” So, we got up the next morning, dressed appropriately and headed up the mountain. He didn’t speak, at all, until we arrived in Boone, early. We checked out the student housing he’d drawn the plans for, talked about getting food and decided not to. Then we headed to Seven Devils, NC. Switchback roads galore.

Hawksnest used to be a ski resort. Now it’s snow tubing and the zip line course. There were several people snow tubing. We were still early, so we wandered around a bit, then sulked our way into the zip line office. They had us scheduled to go out with another group in an hour. But, one phone call and 5 minutes later, there were two guides suited up and ready to take us out. First we had to sign the release that says, in essence, that the resort is not responsible if you die during your adventure. Hey, I had to sign the same form many moons ago when I went white water rafting on the French Broad. Not much white water-it was a class II/III ride, the first rule was “no splashing”, and as soon as we were all in the water, what did our guide do?  Splashed us repeatedly until we were soaked, of course.

Harness, hardware, helmet and gloves. Check. Out we go, up the steps to the first platform. Five minutes of instruction and I’m attached to the line. Good thing the guide said it was ok if you wound up backwards, because I did. Then it was hubby’s turn. Did he turn backwards: nope.

Long story, short. Nine lines, plus a swinging bridge. Hubby performed like a pro. I had some teensy issues, and one rescue stop that was AWESOME. It took an hour, and we were back in the office, peeling off gear. I was grinning. Hubby wasn’t green. We’re ok.

On the way back down the mountain, hubby is speaking to me again. After some debriefing, we decide that I would definitely do it again, and yep, he probably would too. We learned a lot about ourselves during our adventure.

Which leads me to the original question: Is there any reason for a 51-year-old woman with fibromyalgia to go zip-lining? You know the answer, but just in case, I’ll spell it out for you: YES!!!! YesYesYesYesYes!!!!!!!!!

Why? Well, because

I learned that it is essential to trust your gear. It’s designed to take care of you, so let it. I didn’t learn this lesson very well until afterward, when my biceps were so stiff I couldn’t move my arms. I was holding on to the gear so tightly, as if it was all up to ME to keep myself from plunging to the snow tubers below. Our guides were amazing to watch, gliding across the lines, flapping their arms like birds, or just laying on their backs, riding the wind. It was right there in front of me, but I didn’t see it until AFTER I was suffering from my lack of vision. Hubby didn’t have nearly as much trouble with this one as I did.

However, hubby learned (and I learned through osmosis) that fear is crippling. He didn’t speak to me on the way up because he was TERRIFIED of what we were going to do. As it turns out, his fear was unfounded. Now he’s thinking about fear and what he’s allowed it to do in his life. And so am I.

We both learned to trust our teachers, and sometimes teachers don’t look like “teachers”. At other times our  teachers are the same age, or younger, than our children. Maybe our children are trying to teach us something while we’re trying to teach them something else?

Listening is important, and can mean the difference between safety and potential danger. The same is true of observation. Shut up and look at what’s going on around you, ok? Again, that works both ways with our children. We all need to listen more and observe more and talk less.

I’m sure there were other lessons in there that I can’t exactly get from by brain, through my fingers, and into this text box. But they ARE there, and they will make their presence known when the appropriate time comes.

I didn’t really address how the lessons apply directly to fibromites. But, if you are one, then you should see your part as it goes by.

And the most important thing I learned: If someone loves you enough to say “Yes, I’ll do it, for you, even though I am terrified”, then, well…that’s what love looks like.

Pure. Adrenaline.


a fable….because someone dared me

[cue dramatic music]

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away……no, wait. That one’s taken.


[cue something else]

In the time before time, there were three civilizations separated by a great ocean. One civilization was make up of tree-dwelling people, another of cave-dwellers, and the third civilization lived in a great city.

In each of those civilizations there were dreamers who wondered if they were the only people who existed, or if maybe there might just be more people like them living somewhere across the ocean. Never did they dream that there might be people NOT like them,or, if there were, that they would ever meet and be able to adapt to each other’s cultures. But it was nice to think about…

One day a tree-dwelling princess who was known for her dreamy ways, took some leaves from her tree, wrote a message in her language on one of them, asking, “Is anyone out there?”. She then fashioned a boat out of the remaining leaves, placed the message inside, and set the boat adrift at the ocean’s edge.

Meanwhile, another princess from the city was thinking about the same great question, “Is anyone out there?” She would walk to the ocean’s edge and search the coastline. She would gaze toward the horizon. But she never saw anything except the empty water. So she went back to her city home, wrote out the same message, placed it inside a bottle, which was a container for holding liquids that someone in her city had created, and took it back to the ocean’s edge. She placed it into the water, wondering what would happen. Amazingly enough, it floated away.

You can guess what the cave-dwelling princess did.

She stayed in her cave, hiding. She was afraid of the ocean, and although she wondered the same question as the other two, she never really asked it.

One day the city princess walked down to the water’s edge. She expected to find what she always found: nothing. But, this was a special day, for when she looked at the waves breaking on the shoreline, she saw a small green package bobbing on the waves. She waded into the water and picked up the tree princess’ leaf boat. Looking inside, she found the message: “Is anyone out there?” Her heart raced, for she could read and understand this message even though she did not recognize the material it was written on, as there were no trees in the city. She rushed back to her home, scribble the answer on a piece of paper (another nifty thing that someone in the city had invented), placed it in another bottle, rushed back to the water and dropped it in. Her answer was (you guessed it): YES!

Across the water, the tree princess was at the water’s edge dreaming her dreamy dreams, when she saw a very strange thing: it was the first bottle the city princess had sent into the great ocean. Since she had never seen a bottle before, she was perplexed by it. She picked it out of the water, rolled it between her hands, feeling its smooth surface. She peered inside the bottle and was again surprised to find: paper. She turned the bottle upside down and shook it vigorously until the paper fell out of the bottle and landed at her feet. She gingerly picked it up, unrolled it, and saw HER message, written by someone else: “Is anyone out there?” She went back to her tree, wrote the answer on another leaf, built another boat, took it back to the ocean and set it adrift. Her answer: “Hell YES!”

As the world turned and the seasons changed, the currents of the ocean became apparent to these two amazing women, and they began to correspond across the waters, teaching each other about their tree and city ways.

Meanwhile, back in the cave…..things were getting very boring, as cave life is known to be for anyone who has actually lived in a cave. The cave princess’ fear of the ocean eventually outweighed her boring cave life. She summoned up her tiny bit of courage and set out for the water’s edge. As she walked on the shore, she constantly looked down at her feet, making sure she didn’t step on any dangerous sea creatures that might have washed up. There were no sea creatures; but there was a BOTTLE. What on the ocean was this thing? She picked it up and, like the tree princess before her, examined it and discovered a message inside. She was shocked to see that she could read the words. However, she had intercepted a message from city princess to tree princess. She could indeed read the words, but she did not understand the message. She took the bottle back to her cave, picked up a soft rock that left black marks on the paper when she rubbed it across the surface, and wrote a message of her own. It said, “HUH????” She put the message back into the bottle, went back to the shore, put the bottle back in the ocean, and waited.

Eventually she received two messages, one arriving in a bottle and the other arriving in a leaf boat. They both read: “Who the heck are YOU?”

So she entered the conversation across the water.

And THAT was how pollution was invented….no, wait.

[cue dramatic music again]

And THAT was how Pocahontas, CoCo Chanel, and I wound up in a hot tub in the mountains and not eating the traveling chicken because it was the WRONG chicken.

AlectoBloPoMo 2

You Have died. You are in hell. Discuss.

There’s a joke that goes something like this: A man dies and goes to hell. He looks around and sees everyone standing waist-deep in crap, smoking cigarettes. Old Scratch himself is nowhere in sight. The man thinks to himself, “Well if this is hell, it doesn’t look too bad.” He wades into the crap where someone welcomes him and offers him a smoke. He accepts, and for a moment he lets the cigarette slide gently between his fingers as he anticipates lighting it and taking that first long drag. His neighbor strikes a match and turns toward him, offering to light the cigarette. He leans in, empties his lungs so he can inhale deeply. He hasn’t smoked in DECADES. As he begins to draw breath through the once-banned giver of pleasure…Satan walks into the room and shouts, “All right people! Break time’s over. Back on your heads!!!”

Sometimes what looks like “heaven” is actually “hell”, and the other way ’round in reverse.

Take bikram, for instance.

when you fall off a horse

….the best thing to do is to get right back up there.

Last week I fell off a horse. Really. No metaphors. Horse is a white paint named Inki. Very strange looking horse, but she’s pretty in her own way.

For the past three or four months I’ve been riding with Little Girl during lessons, and a little in between lesson times. We started by putting a big old Western saddle on poor Inki. Next thing I know, I’m cantering and not really thinking about it. The (real) girls in our group lesson were all doing jumping courses. No jumping in a Western saddle.

I say “real” girls because I am our barn’s token seasoned citizen lesson rider.

After about three weeks I decided to give up the big saddle and go back to the normal English-or-whatever-you-call-it saddle. I’m not very good with equestrian lingo. I just know that going from western back to whatever was sort of like going from a sofa to a balance beam.

Another week went by and I’m cantering Inki comfortably and our wonderful trainer says it’s time for cross-rails. Well, ok.

That went better than I ever expected it to, so we go with small verticals. And I mean small. After a couple of weeks I’m doing that and keeping my balance and everything is just peachy. Trainer and daughter are both talking to me about showing. For the record, I am not, nor have I ever in my life been, a participant in any athletic event. Ever. Clarinet and piano playing are not sports. Neither is book-reading or computer-geeking. Not even stacking plastic cups. (Personally, I think plastic-cup-stacking was invented to make geeky kids like I was have a “sport” to call their own. I just don’t get it.)

Last week I fell off the Inki horse. I’ve fallen off a horse before, more than once. I am an expert at the emergency dismount. We were riding mini-jump courses. I had already successfully taken this jump, at the canter, several times. This time I took the jump just fine, Inki took a couple of strides, then I lost my balance and fell. Actually, I grabbed her neck and rolled off her left side, landed on my ample tush.

So, I got up, brushed off the sand and dirt, got back on the horse, and did the jump again.

Yesterday was lesson day. I didn’t try to canter any verticals, but I did canter cross-rails. I learned that I should not eat lunch at Taco Bell and then ride in 80+ degree weather. I learned that I should have gone back to the barn after last week’s lesson and worked on getting my balance and my confidence back a little quicker. I was reminded that sometimes fibromyalgia gets in the way of my progress and I don’t have the strength or energy I had even one day earlier. And it’s true what they say about activity level and fibro. The best thing to do is to keep pushing, even when you don’t feel like it. I didn’t do that after I fell, and I should have. I will next time.

I have a great bruise. Our barn owner said we should take a picture of it and put it on the barn’s website. “Yes, you too can learn to ride a horse in your fifties and you can have your own big purple butt to prove your success!!”
I’d like to think there’s a lesson in here for the Wubby.

But the difference, and it’s a big one, is this: when you fall off the horse, you have to WANT to get back on.

A real guitar hero

I made Wubby mad a while back when I said something like “Guitar Hero is for dudes who can’t really play the guitar.”  Now, Wubby is a pretty good guitar player. Actually, he’s a pretty awesome guitar player.

I think it may be hereditary.

This is Brian, my adorable cousin.

And a REAL guitar hero.

Quick post

October 31, 2008 concert in Kernersville, NC

October 31, 2008 concert in Kernersville, NC

I was in Cielo last week hanging out with the Dominican (and American) ladies. It was a great week, exhausting, lots of highs and a couple of lows…..tons of pictures to process and words to write.

For now, check out this interview with my awesome cousin Brian.

Change is coming! (and we’re not talking politics)

There’s a commercial for something-or-other. A woman about my age talking about how her mother told her that “when the right one comes along, you’ll know.” The scene opens up to an outdoor wedding, and her mother is taking her own advice and getting married.

Mom is getting married.


As one of the political campaigns says, or is it both at this point:

Change is coming!