Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Of Sweat

Today I want to share a helpful hint. I am a little hesitant to do this, for fear of evoking the "Too much information" response. However, in an era where we are bombarded with pharmaceutical ads for erectile dysfunction and ads for feminine hygiene products and lingerie ads that seem more like soft core porn than actual adverts, I've decided that this is actually a public service announcement.

The heat and humidity in Pittsburgh and indeed, in North America must have caused more women to struggle with this issue than just me. The problem is sweat. Not just the "glow" we women are supposed to attain in the summer (Horses sweat; men perspire; women glow), but the agonizing under breast sweat that cause chaffing and sometimes fungal infections under our breasts and in any area where breasts meet other flesh.

Several years ago, both a sweet older lady friend at church and my PCP, recommended using an athlete's foot, anti-fungal cream. This does work. My goal in this heat however is to prevent such rashes from taking hold to begin with.

My internet search lead to several sites that offer reusable pads to place in our bras to absorb excess sweat. While they may or may not work, looking at them sparked an idea in me.

In my bathroom closet I have an box of panti-liners. Since I am well past the need to use them for their intended purpose, yet too frugal to throw them away, I was happy for this light bulb moment!

So, here you go! Before putting on your bra, take a panti-liner and place in to the cup of your bra, in the area most afflicted by sweat. This area should be easy to recognize by the persistent stain that, despite use of a multitude of stain removers, continues to leave it's mark.You simply press the adhesive side to the bra, to allow the absorbent side to contact your skin. Seriously! If the bra you are wearing isn't quite as "uplifting" as it once was, you can add to the absorbency effect by also placing a panti-liner on the outside, to prevent inadvertent contact with your skin. I kid you not, this works!

Depending on your activity level and the heat index, you may have to change these little helpers a couple of times during the course of the day. But if you can avoid experiencing that awful, unpleasant and sometimes painful rash, why wouldn't you? I suggest buying the cheap store brand, unscented. I mean why waste extra money on "delicate scent" or "odor fighting" when it's just going to absorb sweat and then be thrown away. And you really must change them when you become aware of dampness, because to keep them on after that defeats the purpose and invites fungus. And don't get all freaked out about fungus; it's everywhere! The idea is to prevent it from taking up residence and growth. To do that, dryness is essential, so bust out those panti-liners, women!

And you thought the days of stuffing your bra were over! HA!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gassing Up

Yesterday, Raymond and I took the dog and went for a brief drive in the RV, essentially to get gas. There is a gas station about three blocks from our house, but we avoided gassing up there because of the small area, which would require skills I barely have in the SUV, in regard to tight turns. So, we headed down Ohio River Blvd to a large gas station.

I made the turn off the blvd between the thrift store and the gas station, thinking to enter from the area above the station, thereby allowing us to be pointed head first toward the adjoining street for easy egress to the light and an relatively easy turn back onto the blvd. The thought was, easy in and easy out. Oops! Wrong again! There used to be access. Apparently the owners of the gas station felt the need to fence off that area.

I fear I allowed this to cause some major anxiety. I now had to enter traffic on Elizabeth St and then make a left turn into the gas station. Why is it these little glitches are the ones that mess with my head the most?

Providentially, the gas station was nearly empty.

I decided to access the pump closest to the main road, hoping for a way out that wouldn't involve trying to cut around the pumps to get back to Elizabeth Street and what I saw as easier access to Ohio River Blvd via the traffic light. I should have been focused on the moment, instead of worrying about how I'd get out.

As I turned off Elizabeth into the gas station, I forgot to think about pivot points and how the motorhome turns differently from the Mazda. "C ... R ... U ... N ... C ... H," is what I heard. I had scrunched into one of those brightly painted barriers they place alongside the pumps so that you don't hit the actual gas pump!

I backed up; made the appropriate adjustment and pulled alongside the pump. I was mortified! We haven't even made the first payment yet! At first, I wanted to take it as a sign that we are not meant to do this. That's how much I let this get to me. Thank goodness for my dear husband. We got out, looked at the crunch and he said, "That's no big deal! Besides, now we don't have to worry about the first scratch." I was still feeling embarrassed, but also blessed. How is it that R takes things so much in stride and with an eye to the bigger picture? After filling the tank, which surprisingly cost less than what we had anticipated, R assisted me in checking for traffic so that I could pull out of the gas station directly onto the Blvd, eliminating any need for tight turns back onto Elizabeth St. As we headed back the way we had come, R continued to be supportive and encouraging. Then, as we approached Marshall Avenue and the posted detours, I realized that we would have to make a left turn, followed quickly by moving into the right lane and taking a relatively hard right onto Superior Avenue, in order to get back home. R continued to offer support and even said that I should consider how much easier driving the open road would seem compared to navigating city streets. We made it back into the grocery store parking lot behind our house without further incident. Now, the tricky part where I have to back up through the gate to our yard with just several inches clearance on each side of the motorhome. Then, back the rest of the way in blind,depending on R to make sure of clearance, as the mirrors must be pulled all the way in, to fit through the gate.

We made it!

Seems the most important lessons I learned in that short little trip were: Be prepared; Stay present in the moment; Adjust; Trust R to assist; and Laugh at yourself.

The last one comes as a result of our neighbor who looked at the yellow paint along the bottom of the slide and said, "Hey! You need to sign it! That's what they do at Talladega!"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Yesterday, THE Day!

Yesterday was THE DAY! We drove out to Akron to pick up our new motorhome!

In the time since we signed all the paperwork, my anxiety level has been constantly rising. So much so that I was having constant tension headaches. One of my biggest concerns before actually picking up the RV was if I could possibly drive 30 feet of Class C machinery safely. The never-ending headache was the result. The excellent news is that the headache is gone! I'm not sure of the actual timing of when the tension lifted, but somewhere on the road between Akron and Pittsburgh, I became aware that I no longer had pain just below the mastoid bones and at the junction of my skull and neck.

"We" includes Raymond, my brother Vinny, our dog Greyla and me. The reason Vinny was along was to drive our Mazda back, following me in order to critique my motorhome driving. Greyla was along because R wanted her there.

The RV is now in our back yard. Mostly. We still have some details to work out so that we can get it all the way into the yard and close the gate. That we'll work on when R gets home from work today.

There are many more details of this pick up story to be told, but first I need to come to grips with the reality of the fact that we are indeed RV owners and I think I can drive this baby!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A New Beginning?

The verse I posted on Facebook last night was the first thing I read yesterday. [Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.]. A pastor friend of mine in NC had it as his status yesterday. And it just seemed to set the tone for the day, especially when I purposefully kept it in my heart and mind.

The day started out with me sleeping in until 10:30! When I woke up originally at 7, my back was hurting a lot, so I went back to bed, but I never expected to sleep so late! Then when I got up, I made coffee & went on Facebook, where I read Pastor Dan's status and spent some time in thought and prayer.

Then I read the quote that I blogged about yesterday. [‎"Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark.” - Elizabeth Gilbert]. That had myself in a space of introspection, wondering where my faith had gone and how I had become so lacking where once I had been strong.

Yesterday was garbage day and usually when R takes out the trash, he leaves the garbage can in the middle of the kitchen floor so that when I get up, I put new bags in and return it to its home. Only yesterday, I didn't have any trash bags. So, I was irritated with myself that I had forgotten to get them when I went shopping the previous day, now I was going have to take another trip to the store. That was so NOT what I wanted to do.

When R came home from work, I kept finding myself being irritated with him for the way he was processing the impending RV pick up. He was trying to be practical, which is a good thing, but because of the way I process events, it was annoying me. And my annoyed attitude caused R to become annoyed with me. It wasn't very pretty.

But being the good procrastinator that I am, I decided to call my sister, Janet first, since she had been on my list of calls I needed to make and while I was out on the porch reading the paper she had called. So, I called her and ended up spending about 90 min on the phone with her. This is the reason I hate talking on the phone! She wants one of our computers and she's going to take the two dressers & the table Daddy finished for me. She offered to store R's records at her house, too. We spent a lot of time talking about our dysfunctional family, which probably didn't do anything to lighten my mood :) Although my sister did remark that talking to me was better than therapy for her, which is OK, I guess.

When I got off the phone it was about 1:30, so I figured I should get to the store. There were just a couple of thing to get, and when I came home I wanted to put together a pasta & veggie salad for the next day's dinner. It always tastes better if the flavors have had a day to blend.

So off I went to the Giant Eagle. As I was turning onto Shadeland Avenue, I saw my friend Ronnie, sitting on her porch. Normally, I would just toot hello and keep going, but something told me to stop. So I did. Since we hadn't seen one another in a few weeks, I was sharing the story of R's dislocated shoulder when James, who is one of the elders at New Hope Church, stopped as he was walking by. He actually remembered my name, which surprised me. We had a very comforting conversation regarding the possibility of me coming back to NHC. We even touched on Rodger (the former pastor who when he and I met, told me "perhaps it is time for you to find another church"). James was very kind and talked about some of the way in which things have changed at NHC in the time since my departure. I shared my feeling as someone who has been part of the church and then an outsider, that it is sometimes very easy to perceive NHC as a clique, rather than as an outreach in the neighborhood. He asked me to return to New Hope because, as he said, "We are still your brothers and sisters in Christ." I shared with James that just that morning I had been wondering how I had strayed so far from where had been. When I explained that we had recently bought an RV and hope to be traveling as soon as September or October, he said, "Then at least come back to allow us to pray over you before you go." He and I gave and got a big hugs as I left for the store. I honestly felt as if the Holy Spirit had orchestrated the whole day: From reading Pastor Dan's status, to reading the quote that started me thinking about my faith, to my leaving for the store two hours later than I intended, to stopping to see Ronnie, to James walking by, remembering my name, talking and offering fellowship and kindness. It felt like one of the first steps toward healing what had been a festering wound.

I also told James about our house, the good and the bad. I told him we'd like to sell it "as is" and explained about my unfinished projects. I also told him we'd prefer to sell it to a family for 35K, than to sell it to Allegheny City Electric,whose owner wants tear it down and make a parking lot. We would rather make less money and have it be a blessing to some family who would like to have a home of their own. He said he would put the word out on the grapevine.

I went to the store (and STILL forgot to get cleanser for the sink!) I came home with a much improved attitude, although when I shared with R, he still seemed a little irritated. Then I told him that I wasn't sure why he and I were getting under each other's skin so much, but that I was sorry and would try to curb my irritability. He said that he was sorry too and we should begin again.

I made the salad for the next day. Then I made us dinner. All in all, a much improved mood prevailed : )

That is, until, I went to put the leftovers away and dropped the coconut cream pie that was going to be my dessert all week! As I was putting it in the fridge, I bumped it and PLOP! it flipped over and landed half on the floor and half on the bottom of the fridge!

Here's hoping THAT wasn't an intervention by the Holy Spirit!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Faith, Grace and Mercy

"Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark.” - Elizabeth Gilbert.
My first reaction to this quote was cynicism - "That's not faith, that's stupidity." After chastising myself for my immediate response, I thought about it a little. Two thoughts were immediately recognizable. One, that if faith is as described by Ms Gilbert, then Grace and Mercy are what keep us from stubbing our toes in the dark as we walk face first and full speed into the dark. And two, how far from faith I have become stranded.