Every Thanksgiving I try to sit down for at least a few minutes and remember the things that I am thankful for over this past year. I’m typing this up a bit later than I usually like, but considering I spent a considerable amount of my time today in the kitchen with no computers around, I think it’s acceptable. I have so much to be thankful for this year. There have certainly been many points in the year in which I am reminded how wonderfully blessed I am. Where to start…

I am thankful for having the large supportive family that I have, both the one I was born into and the one that I was married into. Sean and I have made a few tough decisions this year and our families have been incredibly supportive in those decisions.

I am thankful for the friends that I have. I am thankful that one of my good friends has recovered from a serious accident late last year and got the opportunity recently to move back home finally. I am thankful that I have friends that I can call up late in the evening and still have a chat with them like we never stopped talking. I am thankful that I have friends that are willing to drive a distance to our house and sit down for a meal with us (even if it means they eat an experimental recipe).

I am thankful for my job. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t realize how much I would truly be thankful for something like that. I used to think that my job was so solid that nothing could touch it. Well, the economy’s gotten bad enough, that yeah, it’s definitely something to be thankful for. I am even more thankful that I have a job I can go to every day that I love. I might not love every day of my job, but the sum total of it is that I love my job.

I am thankful for the wonderful yoga community that I have become deeply embedded in over the past year. I’ve gone to my yoga studio for almost 3 years now, but studying to be a teacher has helped me discover so much more in that community that I never knew was there. I have developed friendships that I hope last my lifetime and I have learned so many new things about myself that I wouldn’t have had the courage to learn without the loving and understanding community that was there for me.

I am thankful to the craft beer community that has welcomed Sean and me into the group. I think that Sean and I have finally found a community that both of us can equally belong to. There are so many aspects to this that I don’t even know where to begin. I am thankful of finding a group of awesome women that support other women who love craft beer. I am thankful to the great guys that always have awesome beers on tap at the back of a Whole Foods Market (I swear it’s true). I am thankful to the terrific group of home brewers who have welcomed us into their group.

The one thing that I am most thankful for, though, is Sean. He has pushed me when I needed a push in the right direction. He’s given me hugs and kisses when I’ve needed them most. He’s cooked me countless dinners so that I can be out late at work or in a yoga class. He’s just been there for me whenever I’ve needed him.

I am thankful for the life that I have. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

chakra quilt

Part of my yoga teacher training including an independent project. How do I apply the yoga I learn on my mat when I get off my mat? For my independent project, I made a quilt of the chakra colors. While the colors are beautiful and have a lot of meaning, it wasn’t my primary focus when making the quilt. My primary focus was the process itself of making a quilt and how I felt that this quilt is a story of my life.
Quilting can be broken down into two major parts. The first part of the process is the piecing. The fabric must be cut into various shapes and sizes and pieced together. While the matching of the colors is very artistic, the cutting and piecing of the fabric is mathematical and precise. If you don’t cut each piece to be just the right size with straight and accurate lines, your fabric won’t be sewn together straight. You can even cut the fabric correctly and then sew the pieces together too quickly or clumsily and the fabric can bunch together. Intersections of where multiple pieces of fabric fit together line up incorrectly. The design of the quilt is completely changed by carelessness and hurry in the foundation. If care, though, is taken to cut each piece with straight lines and in the right size and shape and then if those pieces are sewn carefully together a beautiful quilt top can emerge. This is the part of the quilt that the world sees most easily.
This quilt top is the part of me that the world sees. I can choose to not care for my body and soul. I can not take the care and time to figure out who the real me is. This person can get through life, but so much of it will be illusion. I can also choose to take the care and time to properly cut out the different parts of me and put them together into a tapestry of who I am. I can examine each piece and choose to get rid of the parts that don’t go with the rest of the quilt or the pieces that just don’t fit. When I’m finished, I will have a representation of who I am to show to the world.

The second part of quilting is the most important part in my opinion. Once the quilt top is finished, that’s all it is; a single dimension of fabric that while it’s pretty it has no depth to it. This is where a piece of batting (cotton or wool that’s been pressed together almost like felt), the quilt top and a backing are layered together. Once these three pieces have been layered, the pieces are stitched or quilted together with thread and needle. Each stitch binds these layers together a little more tightly. Quilting can be done quickly and it will hold the pieces together for at least a short period of time. Over time, though, the pieces will slowly unravel and all you will be left with is a quilt top, a piece of cotton or wool and another piece of fabric. If the stitching is tight and done carefully, though, these pieces of fabric can be held together for generations.
The quilt itself is my world. It is the ties that bind me to all of the relationships I have formed in my life and will form as I continue through my journey. Each stitch is a person that I have been touched by in however a minor way. That tie can either be loose and eventually unravel or that tie can be held tight by care in the making and maintenance of it.
My studies have taught me how to look at myself and be honest with the person that I want to be. I’m willing to take the care and time to construct a quilt top of all the pieces that make up who I am. I have also learned how to interact with the world so that I can make ties that bind and hold with the people around me. This quilt is my life.

The best part of the quilt was when I presented it to my classmates. We shared ourselves and our lives when we were in that class. I wanted to take that with me, so I had my classmates and teachers sign a piece of fabric and I appliqued it onto the back of my quilt. Now, whenever I look at this quilt, I will remember what a wonderful experience teacher training was for me and the great friends that I made.

The Barrett Identitiy

So there is an ongoing joke in my family that the Barrett blood always carries with it weird medical situations. I am not going to name everything that has happened, but needless to say my Mom and my sister have been affected, as well as myself in my earlier years. Well it look like issues have struck again for me.

For those that I have not talked with lately I have been having problems for about the past 5 months with my lower back and right leg. I sometimes have pain in my lower back and I get sciatica symptoms down my right leg. At first it was not too big of a deal, I thought it would just go away, at the time I only felt the sciatica. But after it did not go away for the next two months I knew something else was up.

So I went to my general practice doctor, he had me checked out and then referred me to a back doctor, usually the type of symptoms I have originate in the back. So I go to the new doctor, he has me go in for a MRI scan, unfortunately looking at the pictures that came back there was nothing definitive that he could see that might be causing the problems. We decided that physical therapy would be a good way to start, usually strengthening the core of the body will take pressure off the spine and fix the issue. Since sciatica is usually caused by a pinched nerve or a herniated (one that is swelling outside its normal place) disc in the spinal cord, most of the time being the L4 and L5 vertebrae.

After a month of PT I was actually worse off, not only did the sciatica not go away, I was not have a bunch of pain in my lower back. To the point that I am driving in Kat’s Fit and not my Legacy (that is a big deal, I love my car). So the doctor did a trigger point injection to see if it was not a spinal problem but instead a problem with a muscle in my butt to be precise, one of your major nerves runs under the muscle, and if it is tight, it can cause the same symptoms as the disk problem. Other than hurting this did not do too much, it was an injection of lydocane and some steroids (no, it did not make me have one regular and one very muscular butt cheek).

My next step was one that I was trying to avoid- a steroid epidural, basically a couple of injections directly into the spinal cord area. It is an outpatient procedure, and I had to be awake for it. I did manage not to pass out (I have a needle thing) but they did have to hold smelling salts under my nose, I was getting nauseated and that is usually how I feel just before I pass out. I had that done about 2 weeks ago. It did fix that lower back pain I was having, but the sciatica is still there.

So where I stand now is that I am trying out a drug called Lyrica that is supposed to be specifically for nerve pain, and I have referrals to two other doctors, one being an acupuncturist. At this point (no pun intended) I am willing to give anything a shot to get back to normal. My Sister had a herniated disk in her back and had spinal surgery. While that is an option, my doctor wants to avoid that if at all possible, he does not like doing invasive procedures, and that is one thing I greatly respect about him, also the fact that he looks into alternative medicine like acupuncture (he went to med school with the doctor he referred me to.

So that is the back story for now, I basically live with the pain and hopefully something I do here in the next few weeks with the new doctors might work, cross your fingers out there for me folks, my spirits are good and everything outside of this for my life is great. I would also like to thank Kat for being exactly the person I needed by my side going through all of this, I could not imagine having anyone else here.


random acts of kindness

I’m back up in Denver tonight. When I leave the airport, I take a toll road to get down to where I stay and work while I’m up here. It’s faster and more convenient than the highways, even if it does cost $5.75 each way. As I pulled up to the last toll booth and I get ready to hand the attendant my money, greeting him at the same time, he smiled down at me and asked how my day was going. “It’s going really well,” I replied.
“Well, it just got better. The man who just came through this tollbooth paid for the next person through as well. You don’t have to pay anything.”
I wasn’t even sure how to reply. At 10:30 at night, you don’t expect such wonderful acts of generosity. I finally stuttered out a thank you and then got myself back to my senses enough to tell the attendant to have a wonderful evening and drove off.
This week is off to a great start.

a new year, a new leaf

It’s been a while since either Sean or I have written on this blog. It’s kind of hard to say why. Our lives have continued on. I know we’ve had lots to write about. We just haven’t, for one reason or another.
Work has continued to be consuming for me, which honestly isn’t new news to anyone who has talked to me since about June of last year. As the new year has started, though, I have approached work from a new angle and turned over a new leaf with my attitude towards my coworkers. I have approached each one of my coworkers with a clean slate to work on, in hopes that perhaps this year will be more rewarding than last.
Last year, I struggled with my new position. Not only was it a new position for me, but also a new position as a whole with my software team. As a result, we all struggled to find where I fit into the grand scheme of our development effort. 10 months later, now that everyone’s determined that I’m not going to quit easily (including myself) and that I apparently don’t go crazy too easily, things are starting to go smoother.
I’m getting the hang of the documentation process that I have to go through for every test I conduct. I’m making friends with all the people necessary in order for this job to go smoother. Baked good bribery is never out of the question. (Note to anyone trying to butter someone up: Lemon pound cake is always a winner. That and chocolate chip cookies.) I’m also getting to know our customer better. I understand their processes better and I understand their expectations better. They have also become living, breathing people to me, too, instead of this nebulous idea of people booming demands down upon us. I can make most of them laugh or at least crack a smile. I also am getting to know when all they want is the honest truth and when they just want to hear what they want to hear.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve already had a day or two of coming home and being ready to break down because I don’t think I’ll get things done on time, or I’m running into this or that problem with either a coworker or the stupid processes that we have to follow. Somehow, though, it’s all gotten done so far. I’m resolving my problems or I’m finally taking them to my boss and asking him to fix them. That’s his job. I do my job and whatever is out of that scope, I go to him for.
That’s the part that I’m learning most of all. I’m learning that I can’t do everything myself. I spend so much of my effort trying to be independent and do everything myself that I sometimes forget that I can ask for help. It nearly killed me last year. If Christmas break had not come when it did, I would have either come within a hair’s breath or actually had a nervous breakdown. Instead, I got a week to take a breath, actually get some things done around the house, and get a new perspective on life and work and how they meld. We’ll see how things progress over this year.

Now that I’ve managed to be introspective for a little while, there’s a pile of paperwork sitting next to me that needs to be filtered through and I need to figure out what I’m going to pack for Denver next week. Here’s to hoping that it at least won’t snow on me.