An Ode to a Midwinter Cold

midwinter-cold

Hark!

Is that a death rattle I hear, trembling the dark wood around me?

Nope.

‘Tis the phlegm from thy chest cold shaking the bed frame as I hack up another loogie.

A midwinter cold has claimed yet another Kleenex which shroud thy bedclothes like moguls on ski slopes in thy feverish dreams.

Okay, so I don’t have a fever, but as I gaze out the window, red nose pressed against the glass, the lengthening daylight draws me outdoors, like a siren, or Beckham, or some other hot guy. Thy waning energy, thy only defense against overdoing it on yonder slackline. (A gift from Santa.)

yonder-slackline

Each day, upon wakening, hope soars that its hold has loosened. Alas all that has loosened are the reeds in thy larynx as I croak in a strong baritone, “Coffee, I need coffee.” Perhaps I should audition for a boy band.

And so linger do I like fingerprints upon thy neti pot. Only a shadow of thyself, stretching out with the day, on the couch, zapper clutched tight in one pale hand while guzzling mugs of green tea like shots of tequila with the other.

The next few days would certainly ring brighter. But, alas, I awake slack-jawed with energy zapped. Now rapid-fire sneezing and nasal congestion appear. I try to sleep it off.

Then darkness swallows all hope as a shiver slices thy core. I tunnel deep within the tangled sheets, tossing then turning to Web MD – How to sleep with a fever. Reduced to a mouth-breather, I check off thy list until the corners’ of thy cracked lips curl in a smile.

Nasal strips. Duh!

I dash to the bathroom to see if drawers contain the desired breathing implement. Aha! I apply it to nose’s bridge and can instantly breathe. Oh, the relief and sanguine bliss and scent of flowers and sunshine and… then I notice thy reflection which resembles a prizefighter after losing the prize. What if my nose sticks like that?

I quiet down for a long midwinter’s nap, snoozing for two hours at a time. By morning, the fever has fizzled. Yes! My expectations fly away with my imagination. I would rest, then go running tomorrow and then write, then replenish thy refrigerator, and then… I dragged through another day.

I curse thy pharmacist. How dare she send me away since thy flu shot was almost in hand (or arm) and with such a lame excuse. Something about anti-cancer drugs suppressing thy immune system and not giving anyone a shot who had double boobectomies. Never before have I beset such an outrage. Instead of smiling and leaving, I should have explained, “I only had one bad boob!” Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

And here am I, a mere shell of thyself, crawling with legs splayed sideways, skittering from bed to couch to chair, always hiding, the light too bright still.

Oh, when, doth midwinter’s cold end? Hack, cough, spit.

It better be soon, dammit. Snow’s in the forecast and there are wild rides to be had.

Did you get your flu shot? It’s not too late. When I’m well, I’m demanding one.

I drew Midwinter’s Cold as I imagined it when I wrote this poem. Yes, thy mind is a very scary place.

The Boob Report – The Sun Rises After Cancer Drugs

Sunrise over Breckenridge

Shy of three weeks into 2017, I thought I’d check in and let you know how The Year of the Big Chill is going. It’s all about working hard, but playing harder. Little did I know these lifestyle changes would affect me in a different way. It banished a horrible side effect of my anti-cancer drug.

Two simple changes have made a HUGE impact. So Huge, I have to tell you about it.

I meditate for ten minutes a day.

After attending the Wanderlust Yoga Festival in Whistler, I felt super chill and grounded for about a week. Then that fantastic feeling disappeared. I figured I had to go to another festival to regain it.

Meditation clears my mind for new ideas. Practicing ten minutes before I write unlocks my creative flow. It helps me focus. I’m less distracted by sparkly things. I love sparkly things.

I write for three hours (or more, depending on my groove) and then shut my laptop to go on an adventure. That may be anything from skiing to taking a hike to going to the grocery store. It doesn’t matter, as long as I get out of the house to do something.

The isolation of writing books and screenplays was a downer for me last year. I’m an adventure junkie. It’s my rocket fuel. Now I get out every day. Ideas pop into my tiny cranium out of nowhere.

The combination of both of these changes resulted in the coolest thing ever.

After my double boobectomities, my radiologist prescribed Tamoxifen. I felt a low grade sluggish, PMS, blues. It would clench my gut with anxiety upon waking and follow me like a shadow during the day. I attributed it to normal worry any cancer patient goes through. Nope. It’s a side-effect of anti-estrogen drugs. I had to keep taking it. My cancer ate estrogen like a starved pig at a Las Vegas buffet.

the-sun-rises-after-cancer-drugsWhen my doctor took me off Tamoxifen over a year ago, I went pill-free for two weeks. I was so excited!! I felt super charged upon waking!! My Susie Sunshine self was BACK!! Yes, this warrants lots of exclamation points. (My baseline normal is like other people’s most optimistic and best days.) But after two weeks on Anastrozole, that same guilty, worried, clench my gut feeling returned. GAH. 

By the way, my diet hasn’t changed, except for one thing. I stopped eating pizza. Once a month or so, I’d indulge in a pan style veggie lovers, then I would crash the next day. I mentioned it to my daughter, Courtney, who is a personal trainer. She said that pizza is the worst. With so much cheese and carbs, it becomes greasy glop in our stomachs and sends our bodies into detox overload.

I haven’t drank alcohol for two and a half years after finding out the correlation between it and seven different cancers. (Check out this post about that dirty little secret. Alcohol means any kind of alcohol, including wine.) It also causes osteoporosis. Bummer.

Here’s the good news:

After meditating and going outside every day for about ten days, I noticed that same grounded, peaceful feeling in my gut had reappeared. The anxiety from Anastrozole had VANISHED! Ten minutes to zen. How cool is that?

Okay, so the super-hopped up, excited me may have to wait another eighteen months when I’ll be off the drugs forever. But, that low grade, I must have done something wrong feeling, is history! Who knows? Maybe my over-endorphined self will return with a couple more weeks of this new lifestyle. People who know me will read this and say, “You will be even more manic?”

I wonder if Danny will hide my yoga mat?

This could help you too!

Ever feel a little down? I would think this combination of getting outside to do something away from the computer and ten minute meditation would work for others, especially mid-winter when lack of Vitamin D slows us down and causes the blues. You should try it. It truly works! If nothing else, life is a lot more fun.

What do you think? What lifestyle changes have you made over the years? How are the sunrises in your neighborhood?

Appointment? Wonder Why We Wait So Long?

Wonder why we wait so long for appointmentsThree months ago, I made a doctor’s appointment. Later, I decided to fill my day with them. Why not blow one day instead of three? I scheduled another at 10:30 and my last at 4:45.

I arrived at the doctor’s office on time. This was the first appointment of the day, so I thought I’d get in and out quickly. I’d have plenty of time to run errands before my next.

The minutes clicked away as patients seeing other doctors came and went. Maybe I didn’t allow enough time for my next appointment. My palms began to sweat while I caught up with blog comments on my phone. I waited and waited and waited as my gut tightened.

Thirty minutes later, I considered downloading a book to read. The nurse called my name.

After hustling into the examination room, I stripped naked and donned one of those lovely tie-in-the-back gowns. Then I sat up on the table and waited and waited and waited again. I stared at my purse and longed for a book to read.

Another THIRTY MINUTES passed.

Finally, my OB-Gyn arrived. Whew! He had checked out my old fibroids with walkers and seeing eye dogs the last time we met and also performed an endometrial biopsy. The first time it had been so painful, I almost bolted from the room. I had been nervous about this appointment and didn’t want any more problems. After a thorough examination, he told me that my uterus had shrunk. The seeing-eye dogs have left the building. YAY!

It’s all good now. Only routine exams from now on.

While I raced to my next appointment, I had an AHA moment.

THE MOON. Of course! It was a full moon the night before. My doctor probably delivered babies all night. I would think that many doctors’ offices are filled after that particular phase.

I made it to my second appointment since they were running late too. No surprise there. At 4:45, I prepared for a long wait at the hair salon and it didn’t disappoint. No matter. I wrote a new chapter for my book.

Early the next morning, I had an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon with a follow up about my knee and broken wrist in January. The moon continued its crazy spell on people and the x-ray order was screwed up. I should have brought War and Peace.

From now on, when I book ANY kind of appointment, I’m going to make sure the moon is in its fingernail stage.

What do you think? Have you noticed a correlation? I bet you will now!

Click here for more Wild Riding Adventures.

Wild Rider Magazine – The Premier Issue

Apps * Movies * Twitter * Blogging * Life Hack * Recipe * Inspiration

Wild Rider Magazine Discoveries from the web and my wild lifeHappy TGIF, Wild Riders!

Welcome to the premier issue of Wild Rider Magazine. Bringing you discoveries from around the web and my wild life.

I had been toying with a Friday bi-monthly magazine to share highlights of the newsworthy, including tips, hacks and a sweet recipe, so here it is.

App News: Pokemon Go! Why you should give it a go.

Heard of Pokemon? I remember my son, Kelly, being too old for it while his sister, Courtney, beat all the boys at school. The playing cards are still in a binder in her room. If you’ve been wondering what everyone is doing while walking around looking down at their phones, they are probably engaged with the new app, Pokemon Go!

Before you groan and tune out, let me tell you why this is brilliant. Kelly just moved to the Los Angeles area. He and his girlfriend, Leksy, downloaded the app and walked all over LA until 4:00 AM. last Saturday night. They ran into several people while trying to find “gyms” (places where you are challenged to win points). Soon they traveled in a posse meeting many others along the way. Seems like a great way to make new friends, get some fresh air and exercise.

Having a problem getting out of the house? Download the app. I did. You can find me on the app at Soosiemon walking with my eyes glued to my phone somewhere on Pearl Street, Boulder.

Movie News:

Have you ever noticed how many books and movies feature writers? I guess some authors hang on to the idea, “Write what you know.”

Top literary agent, Donald Maass, tweeted this news:

Two major surprises. I had no idea Thomas Wolfe was such a dick and who knew Jude Law could pull off a southern accent? Looks like a great movie.

Twitter contests for authors of unpublished books:

For everyone who has a book to pitch, this is for you.

There are several Twitter pitch contests for writers who have finished their novels and are ready to publish. #Pit2Pub and #PitMad are popular hashtags among many others that give us a chance to pitch our books to literary agents and direct to publishers.

Tweet a 140 character hook:

Who is your main character? What’s the inciting incident?  What are the stakes?

If an agent or editor “favorites” or gives your tweet a heart, then you’ve won! Check out their tweets to find out how to send your manuscript. But only send it after you’ve happy-danced around your kitchen at least once.

The next #PitMad is September 8th. The next #Pit2Pub is January 18th, 2017. That gives you plenty of time to write a book to pitch.

Check your website’s loading time:

Do you think your site loads pretty fast or does it take for freakin’ ever? You don’t want potential readers to give up while the tiny wheely thingamajig spins.

Click to Pingdom.com and find out how many seconds it takes. It will compare your site to the loading time of others and give you a percentile and grade rating.

When I posted large photographs, mine became slothlike. After reducing their size, it cut the loading time in half. Widgets can also add seconds.

See how fast your blog loads.

Life hack of the week:

I have a million of these. My dad was the original MacGyver, so it’s probably genetic.

Being a writer, I stare at my computer screen for hours on end. The knots in my neck become gargantuan. It makes me really sleepy since the blood doesn’t flow properly.

Tennis balls to the rescue. Lay down on the floor. Place one of them under your neck and roll it around until you find the painful spot. Push down on it in a circular motion. I stacked two of them with one hand to really hit the spot. After two minutes of massage, I rested on the floor then slowly rose to my feet. I could feel the difference. No afternoon nap today. Yay!

A recipe for sweet readers:

I found my daughter’s recipe for brownies and made them last week. They were super easy and delicious, so I had to share.

Courtney’s Chocolate Brownies

Prep time: 25 min. Bake: 45 min. 16 Brownies.

2/3 cup butter or margarine

5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into pieces.

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 large eggs

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts – optional.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of 9 inch square pan with shortening.

In a 1 quart sauce pan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Or heat in microwave 30 seconds at at time. Stir at intervals. Cool 5 minutes.

In medium bowl, beat sugar, vanilla, and eggs with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture on low speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in nuts. Spread in pan.

Chocolate sweetness, viola!

Inspiration for the weekend:

Have you ever noticed how the smallest things in life can hold you back? Calling an old friend, making an appointment, going to the gym. There are so many things that eat at us. It takes so little effort and yet the payoffs can be huge.

 

I hope you enjoyed the first issue. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Click for more of my Wild Adventures.

The Boob Report – Three Years Cancer-Free

The first Sunday in June is National Cancer Survivor Day. I first heard about it through Facebook when Lynn Kelley posted a photo from a get-together in California. August McLaughlin “embellished” this photo when I had a double boobectomy (mastectomies) in 2013.

Breast cancer boob support friends

Lynn Kelley, me, Debra Eve, August McLaughlin, and Debra Kristi.

Four thoughts hit me in this order:
1. Hello fabulous California friends! I hope to see you soon.

This photo was taken when I met up with these amazing writers and blogger friends on a California trip back in 2012. It brought back very fond memories. They, along with many others, gave me tremendous boob support while going through my surgeries. My son, Kelly, is moving out to attend music production school, so I ‘ll be spending a lot more time in Los Angeles. Sorry Kelly, but Dad and I plan to couch surf at your place. Kidding! I’m looking forward all kinds of adventures this year.

2. I’ve been cancer-free for three years. Wow.

Every six months I check in with the nicest oncologist for blood tests. He puts me at ease, but it’s still nerve-wracking. He reads one of the results while I’m in the office. The second batch of tests take a few days. I would only be notified if those come back positive. For five days afterward, I freak out every time the phone rings. I only have four more blood draws, the next one in August. I’m counting down.

3. I don’t think about cancer very often these days. The first two years, I thought about it A LOT.

It really bothered me that I had lived a really healthy, green, organic life and still got the stinkin’ disease. That was so not fair. I was angry. But sometime during the last two years, I stopped obsessing. I let it go. Now I live my life, make plans for the future, and rarely look back.

Part of that transformation occurred because of even more healthy choices. I gave up alcohol linked to breast cancer and osteoporosis, even though I only drank a few glasses of wine per week. I try to avoid eating food that could increase estrogen since that’s what my cancer ate. It must have raised my metabolism with all that munching. I was so thin!

These lifestyle changes have given me confidence in my health, so I don’t worry about recurrence.

Instead of thinking about cancer crapola, I’m focused on writing books, screenplays and getting back into shape after knee surgery and a broken wrist. Yep. Normal stuff. I’m looking ahead, way ahead.

4. Being called a survivor is not an accurate portrayal of my cancer journey.

Sure I survived cancer, but haven’t a lot of us survived something? I never told you about the time U-Haul saved my life or when my family was stuck in snowstorm and divine intervention came knocking. I’ll have to post those stories sometime. Okay, so those stories are close calls not stories of survival. But many have survived other horrific diseases or catastrophic events.

So what makes me different than a lot of other people?

It’s not that I’m a cancer survivor,
I’m a thriver.

I will continue to step onto the ledge and jump. I plan to live large, and will enjoy my Wild Life.

What have you survived? Are you a thriver? What are you doing today?

Follow @susielindau on Twitter and Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride on Facebook.

Dissolving Bone, Wimping Out and Shaping Up

Hey, Wild Riders! How was your weekend?

Would you take a pill that dissolved bone?

dissolving bone

You’ve seen the commercials. Almost every drug has side-effects. My oncologist switched me from Tamoxifen, which can cause uterine cancer to Anastrozole, which breaks down bone. You can imagine I’ve been more than a little concerned. I picture a vinegar-like substance hitting my bloodstream. It rushes through my veins and arteries. When it comes in contact with my bone, Tsssssss, it dissolves it like acid. Not good, right?

I’ve become obsessed with everything that strengthens bone. I’m 5’4” and don’t want to lose any height. As it is, I have a hard time reaching the top shelf on tippy toe.

With all the calcification they saw in my breast tissue before my double boobectomies, (the radiologist said my boob x-rays lit up), I was reluctant to go back to taking calcium supplements. Instead, I’ve been on a calcium-rich diet. My oncologist also mentioned, weight-bearing exercise.

You might remember how I broke my wrist the first week in January. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? The fall could have broken anyone’s wrist, according to my doctor, but you never know. After being relegated to sitting inside my house for eight weeks, I hit the gym way too hard. My knee ballooned up like a basketball. I overdid it, so I cut back. Waaaaay back.

Have you ever seen a penned up mustang? That’s how I felt, without the mane.

penned horse

My daughter texted me last week. She has been taking classes to become a certified personal trainer. The next best thing to having a doctor in the family. She told me in order to build bone I needed to engage in weight-bearing exercises including quickness, speed, and agility.

Parkour jumping from ledge to ledge

Whoa. That sounded a lot like tennis and skiing. Parkour looks like fun though.

I looked it up. Walking, hiking, running, weight-lifting, tennis.

Yep.

The next morning, I scheduled the ball machine. I couldn’t imagine sprinting again after weeks of taking it easy. Even though I had been on the exercise bike (which is NOT weight-bearing exercise), and had been walking, I felt weak.

Would I dog after the ball like an old lady? Would I injure myself in some other horrific way?

I quickly banished those thoughts. Geez! I’m a Wild Rider, after all.

The last person who used the machine set it so the ball would go straight up the middle. I sighed and set a big span. Yep. I would run for every random ball that was fed.

tennis player's racket turns into light saber

I felt like a Jedi warrior.

Soaking wet and out of breath afterward, I felt great. The true test was the next day. No pain. My knee was normal-sized. Wow. Ha!

I had been babying myself, BIG TIME

No more.

Danny and I skied on the first of May. I plowed through the moguls and hit the trees. Not literally, thank God.

Take a look!

 

view of A-basin from the top

The weather has changed once again and it will be a lovely week. Time for Wild Adventure!

IMG_5897

Are you shaping up for summer? Have you challenged yourself recently? How do you feel about videos on the Wild Ride?

 

A “Tail” of a Whale Adventure in Three Acts

ACT I

Last Friday, a monstrous spring snowstorm promised downed powerlines and trashed landscaping in Colorado. My husband, Danny, and I shrugged and headed up to the mountains. We looked forward to tremendous ski conditions and assumed we would share the highway with many others. Forecasters predicted snow in feet.

Funny thing. As we merged onto I-70 in Golden, our daughter, Courtney, called on her way home from work. She had to pack and pick up a friend before driving up to meet us in Breckenridge.

As expected, we got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. One mere mile outside of Georgetown, we came to a dead halt. CDOT had closed the highway hours earlier because of “hazardous driving conditions,” but we had ignored all the warning signs.

I-70 in snowstorm

Then Courtney called. She had just started on I-70. I suggested taking the frontage road to Georgetown instead of the crowded highway.

An hour later, we started to inch forward. As we passed Georgetown, Danny said, “I think we just passed Courtney’s car.

They ended up right behind us. No lie.

ACT II

It’s been over a year since my partial knee replacement. Before going under the crazy laser scalpel, that is Makoplasty, to replace messed up bone and cartilage, I could only ski two, maybe three runs before calling it a day. Since surgery, I’ve been careful.

Peak 7

 

The dump of snow proved to be heavenly for skiers and snowboarders. Saturday, I sailed through fifteen inches of ice cream snow in Breckenridge and took NINE runs. Courtney and I quit before exhaustion caused a crash and burn scenario. She had a business trip in Utah the next day.

snowboarder Courtney Lindau at Peak 7

On our way down the gondola, we met three people in the medical field from California. They all looked twenty-five because California. One was an orthopedic surgeon. Whoa! I asked him about my squeaking, squawking knee after replacement. He said that was normal for some people. YAY! Then he added the technology was so new, they don’t know how much time we have before wearing it out. Bummer. I did point out that I was pretty small and wouldn’t stress out my joints as much as a linebacker.

That boosted my confidence. It concurred with some on my online research for mule-kicking, hee-hawing knees. I tuned out the part about not knowing how much time I have on these manufactured parts.

Forecasters predicted more snow, so I planned to ski again on Sunday.

ACT III

Sunday night seven more inches dropped. A little stiff and sore from the day before, I headed out with the intention to ski a couple of runs and quit early. My son, Kelly, and I, took three chairlifts to meet his girlfriend and Danny on the top of Imperial. As we ascended into a cloud and white-out conditions, I assumed we would ski down the face.

Nope.

Danny led us to Whale’s Tail.

Whale's Tail

My favorite bowl, in the shape of its name, had just opened for the first time that weekend. Danny said it would be filled with feet of deep powder, meaning sweet, easy skiing for me.

I followed my group by sidestepping up the mountain to the steep catwalk. Yes. This was farther into the deceptive angelic clouds masking a sheer head wall on the edge of the bowl forming the tail fin.

Then it hit me.

They hadn’t skied it.

We had no idea what conditions existed. I wasn’t sure if my knee could handle heavy, deep snow.

It had been painful to ski Whale’s Tail before surgery and I hadn’t skied it since. My shoulders tightened as we hugged the mountain. Then we skied down to the edge.

I would be dropping into my favorite run from a cornice, but we were still in thick clouds and it snowed hard. We had very low visibility. I wouldn’t be able to see where I was going.

I wanted to ski down to the middle of the tail and drop into my usual spot. Everyone else wanted to drop in from the tip of the fin. I lost.

looking down whales tail

Whale’s Tail on a clear day.

I had always had skied this after several warm up runs.

This was my first run of the day.

I stood on the edge of the mountain and looked down. As everyone dropped in, they disappeared into the cloud.

FullSizeRender (7)

In the cloud.

I freaked.

Then I had a flashback to my heli-ski trip. After being dropped off on a mountaintop by helicopter the first time, I followed the group and carved fresh tracks alongside the rest. Sounds wonderful, right? My new boots dug into my calves. The skis they provided seemed way too long for me. They chattered while I carved turns in the wet, deep snow. It put tremendous stress on my knees. I didn’t know how to up-weight through the turns and fought through every one of them. I lagged behind and then watched in horror as our guide headed into the trees. I had never been a tree skier. I couldn’t control my crazy equipment.

Hail Mary’s became my mantra.

I made it through the trip and learned a lot about skiing and myself. Sometimes I had to dig deep.

This time, I took a deep breath and dropped in.

My pole sunk into the soft fin, never reaching bottom, unbalancing and thrashing me about. Unsupported and unsure, I kept my weight over my skis instead of my more aggressive stance on a steep incline.

When I turned to the left, I said, “This is your good knee.” When I turned to the right, I said, “Right turns have always been your strongest.” I said this every time, back and forth and back and forth until I reached the bottom.

As I caught my breath, I looked back up the mountain. It had cleared and the word was out. Tons of skiers learned there were fresh tracks to be made on Whale’s Tail.

skiers and boarders on Whale's Tail Breckenridge

Those dots are people along the ridge to give you scale. Scale on the fin of Whale’s Tail. Ha!

 

They hooted and hollered as they made their way down the fresh snow. Some tumbled. Others face-planted, but they all had fun in the deep snow.

My knee felt strained as if I had taken twenty runs already. Pain from tendons and muscles made me wonder if I would make it down the rest of the mountain. I wasn’t even halfway.

Danny caught up with me.

Danny skiing Whale's Tail

I was furious. “I can’t believe you took me down this. It was my first run.”

“You did great!” he said and then reminded me of rule #1: “A skier never trusts their friends. Not when there’s fresh powder.”

As I iced my knee at Vista Lodge, I swore I would never ski anything that difficult again. The orthopod’s warning rushed back and I felt like I was on borrowed time. I had to face facts.

More snow dumped in Breckenridge as we drove back to Boulder. I woke up and expected to be gimped out and limping, but my muscles only felt the usual strain after exercise. We only lost one branch in the wet snow over the weekend.

Both the trees and I survived.

If we had skied another day, would I have played it safe? Would I stick to easy runs? Keep my knee functioning as long as possible?

Nah. I’m going to wear a full-on knee brace next time.

I am kind of a Wild Child.

Do you take chances to live your life? Has fear gotten the best of you? What is holding you back?