Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: June 2022

Ruminating my noodles

I miss writing.

Thankfully I don’t have to miss swimming anymore, can go whenever I want now!

Not just “journaling” like I’ve done as of late (I did this and now I want to do this next), but using my words to dance about a subject, exploring an emotion or three, splaying the contents of my noggin’ on the page for analysis, and coming to the other side of the exercise with some deeper understanding of what it is to be this particular human.

As you can see, I’m rusty at it (hi2u one run on sentence paragraphs), but I’m going to give it a go.

In 2018, at some point, there lit a fire inside of me. It hungered. It wanted to be more, better, faster, stronger, more powerful, more capable, more everything. I’ve always been competitive, but something about that year just took things to the next level. I found opportunities to practice confidence and courage in all facets of life over the coming years. Driven was an understatement. I didn’t just want to play. I wanted to WIN, even if there wasn’t really a win condition.

And sometimes, I did win!

I wouldn’t change that time of fire for anything in the world. I have made vertical leaps and bounds career-wise. I went gone from “someday it would be cool to place at races” to “this race sucked, I only got fourth”. I’ve packed so much useful knowledge in my brain the last few years, personally and professionally, and I fully believe I’ve become a better human. I’ve added a ton of hobbies to my overflowing arsenal of interesting ways to spend my free time that make me happy, some that really intimidated me before (painting, guitar). I became a human that was good at more things, which is something I truly enjoy.

However, this had a side effect I wasn’t too fond of. Before 2018, I would have self-described as a very calm, relaxed person. Yeah, sure, I’ve always been type A all the way, but I knew how to shut it off. For some reason, the switch just broke that year, and my brain just. wouldn’t. stop. I went from sleeping like a baby to often waking up in the middle of the night working through problems, hatching plots and schemes, and otherwise ruminating on my noodles.

It me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not laying awake just worrying about things, and I absolutely LOVE working through problems. It’s, like, what I do. Sometimes I’ve come up with ingenious solutions to what’s troubling me (I tend to put together VERY successful 2am notes and pitches). However, sometimes it just wastes hours I should be sleeping instead exploring every facet of a problem that ends up either being stupid simple or just going away. Either way, it’s not helpful to not be able to switch it off and relax when I want.

For some reason, this two-week vacation and then Covid experience has been enough time at lower mental taxation and then capacity – I think I’ve found the off switch again.

When I was away, the business continued to operate, and actually operated just fine without me. I’ve now given away the last extra hat I was wearing (user acquisition) to someone experienced and capable at it. I have the team and support structure in place where I could in theory go do something else for a while and the world would keep spinning. That’s a huge relief.

Pretty nice to be able to go somewhere like here and have backup so you don’t have to work from somewhere like here.

And it’s just in time. I’m on the precipice, should all the dominos fall as I predict, of taking the next leap career-wise, and the first that I won’t really immediately be thinking “what’s next” and working toward that. Maybe that’s part of the hunger quieting – it’s professionally satiated for a while. I will always be striving to be better, but once you hit a rung on the ladder you’re happy with, maybe it’s okay to hang out there and just enjoy the view for a moment.

Really focusing on work for the last 3 years has been incredibly gratifying, but it also created some chaos elsewhere in life. From the day we were sent home on March 13th, 2020, until January 2022, I gained about 25 lbs. I abandoned my writing projects first because “the muse left me” and then because I was so sick of typing all day in the new WFH scenario, I couldn’t imagine writing to be relaxing. My command of words has suffered greatly. I can’t really make them be gooder like I used to. For a long time, until I could put races back on the schedule, just didn’t do anything sporty, choosing to spend the time working instead. Beyond just the weight gain, I went from being ready to complete an Ironman to just barely limping through races since then, and tripping over a back then a heel injury, the latter of which I’m still trying figure out.

So, maybe the fire just went out because it finally expended all the fuel. I kinda feel it. I can’t even imagine the headspace to dig into the floor of my pain cave anymore and go HURT like I used to on the race course. I keep putting off things like speedwork, and FTP tests, and anything that isn’t just completing some miles or time, and I think I’ve expended all that mental energy elsewhere, and I don’t have an infinite well of “give a shit”. It’s a little disconcerting to feel content, simply because I just… haven’t much in the last few years, and maybe it’s just some level of mental exhaustion driving me there. However, even if it’s some false BS hiding underneath the emotion, I’ll take content. I need the break from being megamaniacial me for a minute.

Another possibility – I’m finally back on the downswing here. And we’ve established that I am a vain human who, for better or for worse, needs to be reasonably happy with her appearance to be the best version of herself.

Like, a really nice downswing, see? We’re at the point where my body looks and feels a little different and that’s nice, just in time to be living in about 6 different rotating swimsuits that fit a little bit better than they did when I went on vacation a month ago.

All of this progress is made in the kitchen, or more accurately, staying the hell out of the kitchen more often. Most days I’m eating about 1300 calories and that’s plenty. Besides ordering pizza one day when we were sick, I haven’t eaten any takeout until this weekend (and I was reasonably responsible with it). I’ve been drinking less alcohol. I’ve been getting full nights of sleep, averaging over 8 hours/night. Being sick broke some bad habits and I’m reaping the benefits now.

I made good on some of my activity goals last week, and not on others. I’m okay with this.

Ignore the 3 bikes on Sunday, none of which were right. I went 10 miles. 😛

I did something every day last week, though it was not always 30 minutes. I did not resume strength training until today. I almost grabbed the weights after my bike on Monday last week and decided against it, giving myself a little bit of time to recover after the workout. In that short time some unknown evil force tweaked my shoulder (getting old sucks!) and it hurt for days. Ah well, I shall resume this week, doing a little something every day.

I’m still in the phase where the doctor doesn’t recommend intense exercise. The last day of that ends on Sunday, which also is Lake Pflugerville Triathlon, for which I am slightly more ready than I expected if yesterday’s workout can be believed. I can definitely swim for 15 minutes. I’ll take a lovely, relaxed tour of country roads for 14 miles on the bike. Then, I’ll finish up the morning with however long it takes to amble around the lake in some combination of walking and running. I fully expect a personal worst and will be happy just to play triathlon and see some friends.

Can almost guarantee this won’t be happening unless everyone is out of shape as I am.

And that will be it for a while. I’ll spend 30 minutes moving my body each day, picking up and putting down heavy things at least three times per week, and keeping the calories in check. Hopefully it can continue to be just that simple. I don’t really need the fire and the flames alight for my goals this year, just calm patience and persistence, and perhaps yet again I know this subconsciously, and I’m becoming the human I need to be to achieve what I want to achieve.

Grandeur, Back2Back

My parents love to go on cruises. Like, a lot of cruises.

We do not hate them either…

They love the ships, the food, the entertainment, but they do not care about the ports in the slightest. So, they’ve occasionally just gone on back-to-back shorter cruises if it’s worked out for them schedule/pricewise even if they just visit the same places twice. They asked us if we wanted to go on a back-to-back as the family vacation this year, so we set sail on the Grandeur of the Seas twice last month!

If you’ve been around here, you may have read a few cruise recaps since it’s the family vacation of choice, so I’ll stick to the interesting and unique stuff about this particular jaunt to Mexico and then Mexico again.

The top is deck 10. Many ships, there’s a deck 14, 15, or even 16!

The Grandeur of the Seas is a VERY SMALL ship in comparison to most sailing these days. I do love the big floating cities with 20 different restaurants and 30 different bars and 15 different entertainment venues, but it was also nice to have some simplicity. You could obtain food in the buffet, the poolside grill, and the dining room. There were 6 bars open on the whole ship and probably about that many entertainment venues. It removed a lot of the decision fatigue. If you were hungry at noon, there were two choices (buffet or dining room).

Since we had more sea days than port days, we settled into our normal cruise rhythm. Right around sunrise, I’d wander out of bed and take some pictures from the balcony, then crawl back into bed and read/sleep until Joel was up too. Then, we’d head to the gym most mornings to do 30+min cardio and some lifting/stretching. It was a point of pride for us that we hit the gym every single day that we weren’t in port. It may sound laaaaaame, but we really do enjoy working out, especially when we’re not rushed.

A typical plate of lunch nonsense

I aimed to skip most breakfasts, occasionally I’d snack on something and Joel would grab a small plate of eggs. That typically meant that we were ready for lunch right when the buffet opened, so we’d meet my parents and partake of whatever goodness was there. I kept with my plan and started with a salad and then had no more than another plate of food. Wasn’t always the healthiest (e.g. one day that was nachos) but it kept the portions in check.

There was no card room, so we ended up playing in the solarium (adults only enclosed pool area) instead. I *LOVED* this because it wasn’t cold, it was right next to the drink station so I could stay full of tea, coffee, or water without having to go on shipboard adventures to do so, and I got to be outside instead of in an interior room with no windows. It was right next to the cafe that was open afternoons, and that meant an OCCASIONAL snack, but I resisted most days.

Sometimes, there’d be a nap or extra reading time in there, and sometimes when the clock hit 7 we’d go see the nightly show, but we played A LOT of cards – 14 games total over 9 days.

Hello lover

We opted for late dinner, which meant we ate at 8pm and with multiple courses, finished around 930-10pm. Again, my goal was to splurge here only when it was worth it. I mostly avoided fried foods unless it sounded OMG AMAZING MUST HAVE, stopped eating when I felt super full, and split desserts with Joel every night. I did fall in love with their French Onion soup and ended up with that and shrimp cocktail for many appetizers. Their simple chicken plate was actually REALLY good, and after a conversation with the Maitre-D about Indian food, we had a stretch of three nights where they made us tiki masala and magic wings off the menu (some of the best I’ve had!).

Occasionally, a beverage or two before dinner but always early to bed

With earlier wakeups and late dinner, we didn’t make it out to do anything after dinner during the whole cruise. I think we may have finished some of a bottle of wine on the balcony whilst reading ONCE, but typically we just crashed into bed with our books and fell asleep digesting. After talking with the fam, we all felt pretty gross eating so much so late, so we’re going to try early dinner again next cruise.

There were four breaks in the sea day routine – Costa Maya (Friday), Cozumel (Saturday), disembarkation/embarkation day (Monday), and Cozumel redux (Wednesday).

Costa Maya was a bit of a bust (well, as much of a “bust” as it can be with views like that). The seas were too rough to do the dive, and since we didn’t book our excursion through the ship, we didn’t find out until we got there. They did offer a snorkeling trip in a little protected cove area for really cheap, and since going in the ocean is always > not going in the ocean, we signed up.

The trip was not the best snorkeling of our life. It featured poor visibility, fighting strong current the entire time, and since we had to wear life jackets (for damn good reasons), there was no swimming down to get pictures. However, we did get to see two eels fighting and the bigger one devour the smaller one, so that was something, even if photographic evidence was pretty spotty.

Maybe I’ll be able to clean it up in the editing software but not that much…

With a storm rolling in, we weren’t too sure about our diving prospects in Cozumel the next day either. There wasn’t enough interest to do the official ship dive (it was mostly college kids), so we were on our own. We called our favorite dive shop in the morning as soon as we docked and they said dives were happening, so back to Dive Paradise in the Hotel Cozumel resort we went!

Right before they took it down due to winds…

We got two solid back-to-back morning dives in, though we both felt like we were swimming in place against the current at times. When we surfaced, the yellow flag on the shore had been replaced with the red flag, so the port was closed and no more dives were allowed for the day. Before we noticed the chane, we were debating between Dive #3 and a cerveza, and that made the decision super easy!

Was fun to see the ship super empty but also a trip how quickly they turn things around. Cruise #1 ended around 9am, Cruise #2 had people on board by 11am!

I wasn’t sure how it would feel to go on two back-to-back cruises instead of one single longer one. In some cases, it was a bit of a hassle – we didn’t get the same room for the second cruise so we had to pack and unpack twice. We still had to be up and out of our room by 8am. We had to do a very quick walk through customs and registration again, but we were one of 30 people instead of one of thousands, so it went super quick. Besides all that, it was kinda neat. We got to see two different groups of people enjoying the ship and each had a different vibe. We got two different “first days” of the cruise and the first last day didn’t count at all. Going to Cozumel twice in one week was sort of novel as well.

Speaking of, we had much better weather on the second outing, and two more phenomenal dives. Since we’ve been back to Hotel Cozumel and Dive Paradise so many times in the last four years, that resort just kinda feels like home away from home now. We did regret missing out on the beautiful blue open water you only experience from a boat dive, but there’s just so much to see right off the shore and tanks only cost 12$ each.

Disembarkation was so quick with such a small ship (we took our time and were some of the last people off the ship around 9am and were driving home about 9:30am). Our only inconvenience was a flat tire in Houston, but we were able to spend an extra hour reading our books on the side of the road and then roadside assistance fixed us right up.

How Friday started vs how it ended

After 9 days, we were ready for own bed, our own food, to set up the pool, and apparently for all of us… to get sick. I did see it coming. Masks were optional, which meant that Joel and I were one of maybe ten people on the whole ship besides the crew that were wearing them, and we didn’t wear them while working out. The buffet was self-service, with plenty of finger food, so pretty much if anyone had Covid on that ship, it was spreading. I’d prefer not to repeat the experience next time we travel, so we’ll have to think on how we can be more careful.

14 Days Later

Sometimes you make plans and the universe laughs at them.

Spending most of my days like this lately, could be worse.

Just ONE day after laying out this plan, Joel started feeling awful. The next day, my father tested positive for Covid, and the day after, so did my husband. While I tested negative at first and did everything I could not to get it (wearing masks in the house, sleeping in separate bedrooms), it wasn’t to be and on Wednesday night I got a scratchy throat and by Thursday afternoon I was just laid out sick.

Up until last Thursday, I was following my plan nicely, but after that, it’s been a goose egg, and that’s intentional.

Last Thursday and Friday, I really just felt low energy and brain-foggy to go along with my scratchy throat and decided to go to the doctor to ask about any options, and also to get a test for sure. She talked with me about the possibility of doing some medication and also an antibody infusion because I asked about them, but then didn’t recommend them for me (unknown side effects for likely no benefit for the former, and my risk factors were so low it was unlikely I’d get the latter). She sent me home with orders not to exercise for 10 days (and no intense exercise for 14 days after that), advice to take a multi w/zinc, 1000 IU Vitamin D, and 500 mg Vitamin C 3xday. She offered a prescription cough medicine, which I declined, as Nyquil has never not done its thing for me.

My goal was to aggressively rest/sleep through the weekend to get healthy as quick as possible, but my plans were foiled by a VERY painful sore throat to the point where I had no voice. I couldn’t sleep unless I was sitting up or – this is lovely – the snot would run down the back of my throat and make it feel like knives were stabbing me, so I was napping in 15–30-minute segments which is OBVIOUSLY not optimal for recovery. Or anything, really. NOTE TO SELF: always get the dang cough medicine, even if you don’t use it.

Was SO jealous of my lizard’s sleeping capabilities last weekend

We called back on Monday and got that rectified, it cost me all of 2.01$ to fulfill. I “went” to work that day (in my home office) and told everyone I had no voice and I was going to push off most meetings, which actually afforded me a nice quiet day to get some stuff done. I had no intention on staying the whole day, but I felt good, and it was actually relaxing to dig into work and put together a plan. I approached every day last week the same way, ready to bounce out if I felt bad, but I never did.

However, the brain fog was REAL. The lack of sleep inflated the problem, sure, but this was… bad. I had no choice but to play my league Bloodbowl game last Sunday and it was like swimming through mental soup to try and figure out how to even move the pieces on the board let alone strategize. I don’t lose very often these days, and certainly don’t lose 4-1. Monday, I found that if I could focus on ONE thing, I was awesome. The minute something else appeared in my viewfinder… first thing goes *POOF*. I am typically excellent at keeping a multitude of plates spinning. Early last week, I’d start spinning one plate, and then when I had to spin the next one, the first one just didn’t exist anymore. I was an interesting conversation partner, easily distractable, but hopefully at least amusing at my most “Squirrel” times. It all got a bit better later in the week but I’m still not feeling quite as sharp as normal.

It hasn’t been all bad though. First of all, I wasn’t able to eat much with the sore throat and was DEFINITELY not drinking during this escapade. Even now, I have very little appetite (because I’m not really doing anything) so the June trend line is looking… a verra nice.

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Second slice of happiness: it’s been an excuse to slow the eff down. For the last week, we’ve been in the pool every day and started walks again on Wednesday – extra vitamin D to hopefully shorten our convalescence. Without the ability to be quite as megamanaical in all facets of life, I’ve just kind of given myself permission to do a little less this month, and that feels nice. Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE doing a lot, but it’s a refreshing break to be okay with less for just a little while.

Lesson learned: anything can be pool food if you try hard enough. I present to you: pool chili!

So, today we are set to test again later today and that will determine how we proceed into next week. If’n we’re negative and resume all plans as schedule, it’s a busy one. We’ve got chiropractor and massage appointments and want to go back to the office and play in our D&D game and we’re hosting a family gathering on Saturday and we’re itching to get back to the gym and strength training with the trainer. If’n we’re still positive, then almost all of that drops off and life waits one more week. Whew, after listing all of that out… not sure which result I’m rooting for (obviously negative as I’d like to have the choice, but still…).

No matter what, the ten-day exercise ban ends tomorrow, and I’m ready for it. I aim not to overdo it, but I’m ready to get back on the bike (inside, at low intensity), continue walking, and make some use of the swim treadmill on the lower settings for short segments. I’m ready to get back to at least 3xweekly weights sessions even if I keep it a little light for the first week or two. I’ve spent so much time on the couch/in bed that I know my body could use some stretching so that will be on the plan next week fer shure.

More walks outside on tap next week looking at these beauties all around the neighborhood.

I’ve done a pretty bang-up job not eating like a complete jerk over this ordeal, and the goal will be to start tracking again tomorrow to keep it that way. I don’t want to starve myself because I’m still not 100%, but once I get back to normal daily life, I want to make sure that line keeps going the right direction as quickly as possible!

I’m incredibly happy that I was able to avoid Covid for about 2 1/2 years, and will continue to take precautions not to get it again as much as possible, but thankfully, my experience was mild. We’ll see what the long term effects are (fingers crossed for none!) but I’m thrilled to be over the hump of the sickness and on the mend. Now it’s my mission to NOT EFF IT UP.

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