I say this every year, and 2021 is no different: April is very tough for me, and the beginning of a difficult season. In normal years, April brings in waves of heat and the beginning of summer. It’s followed by a month of PTSD flashbacks (May) and then by summer vacation for my kids and the inevitable chaos of everyone being home with no time to myself. This year, it’s more difficult, because in addition to heat and PTSD, the kids have been home full time since mid-March 2020, a 13+ month summer vacation. It’s starting to really wear on me, and I’ve started letting go of the last remnants of schedule and routine that I had left: my daily journaling, morning exercise, specific laundry days, etc. Things are becoming more random, more chaotic, and with that, I get more and more overwhelmed, letting things go, so that the cycle deepens. It’s a very hard time of year, rougher this year, and even rougher than it needed to be as a month filled constant medical appointments. Jason once asked me if there was anything I could remove from my calendar to free up more time, and my response was, “Only the things that I like.” It was that kind of month.
It was also a month of grief. My grandfather passed away at the end of March, so a lot of that carried over into April. The full force of it hit me in the days after his memorial toward the end of the month, combining with the beginnings of PTSD and causing panic attacks. Additionally, the vet did an ultrasound on Ash and confirmed that he definitely has some kind of cancer, so we don’t know how long he has left. He turns 12 around June/July.
The month was not, of course, without its good points, but I’m going to save those for the highlights below.
Reading and Watching
I read a lot more this month than I have all year, partly due to the library finally being open for browsing again. Even though I don’t need to browse and can put things on hold, I just find a lot of reading inspiration when I get to walk around and pick things out at random! So I read/listened to five books this month, with Wilde Child being my favorite.
In shows, I was really into true crime documentaries this month for some reason. I watched 1) Murder Among the Mormons (an interesting look into the extremes people go to on both ends of the Mormon spectrum), 2) Evil Genius (this whole story was insane and convoluted, and the combination of smart, not-well-adjusted, and superiority complex in a group of friends is ugh), and 3) The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel (a story I already knew from a podcast, but really creepy in how involved the internet “sleuths” got, especially that creepy guy who was basically a stalker to coopted Lam’s story as his own, gross). I also finished watching the current season of Temptation Island (ha!).
As I’ve said before, my 2021 goals are pretty much a bust because they were just too nonspecific and meh. But I made a new goal this month, that I planned to begin as soon as I could get through all this foot injury stuff. In October, I’m going to Big Bend for a week with some of my hiking group, and toward the end of the trip, we’re going to hike the trail to Emory Peak. It’s a 10-mile out and back trail with an elevation gain of 2500 feet, so it’s WAY beyond my comfort zone! The longest hiking I’ve done with my group has been 5.7 miles at Lost Maples in November. Most are closer to 3-4 miles. The highest elevation gain has been about 550 feet. So…twice as long, and five times the elevation gain. At a much higher altitude (8000 feet vs 1500 feet). That’s going to take some major training! I have a plan picked out that incorporates hiking-specific strength training, higher-intensity cardio or intervals, longer low-intensity walking/hiking, and rest days. Unfortunately, with the news about my foot, this brand new goal might already be a wash. I’m still going to train, but if this will be too much on that arthritic portion of my foot, I’m going to have to sit it out. Boo!
Medical month central: primary care doc, dentist, chiropractor, endocrinologist, three orthopedic surgeon appointments, three x-rays, three MRIs, and metabolic testing. Still need: mammogram, CT scan of abdomen, GI specialist, rheumatologist, potentially another (better) endocrinologist. I am so, so tired of doctors at this point. It’s just too much, with very few answers and no solutions at all. Something else I’m really sick of: unsolicited advice about my health, body, and choice of doctors. My body, my business. (None of y’all – this isn’t something I’m seeing on my blog. Just out in the world in other places.) With the focus on pointless appointments this month, my health didn’t really go anywhere. I was totally unmotivated to do much, and had to take a lot of time off re: my foot from walking/hiking, and wasn’t allowed to run at all. I’m struggling with depression, motivation, all the rest. I just don’t care anymore. Nothing I do matters, so why try?
Work continued on the porch and siding. Jason took the last week of April off work, which I wrote about yesterday. We got a lot done – or rather, he got a lot done, because at this point there’s very little I can help with besides holding the fort down – but with all the rain, there’s still so much to do. One of these days, we’ll be finished with this project and all the tools will go into the garage and we will STOP doing house projects for a good, long time. I remember telling Jason that I wanted to hire people to do the work for us at this house, so that 1) it didn’t take so much of our (especially his) time/effort, and 2) so that it would be done in a timely manner. But then so much went wrong with the original folks who made the posts for us outside, that Jason just took over for the sake of costs and getting it right. He prioritizes the costs, while I prioritize the time, and this time costs won out, and we’ve literally been working on this outdoor project for 17 months now and I’m soooooo tired of construction going on… However, it’s going to be beautiful when it’s all done, and he’s doing a wonderful job.
I actually took a lot of photos that I liked this month, so it was hard narrowing it down, but here are the best of the best. As always, these are taken by me and aren’t always the best photography, just the photos I personally like the most. Full size versions (not cropped or reduced size) are available in my Instagram stories.
Top: Eva and me playing out on a hike – Eva doesn’t like to take photos, so she skipped one, so I made her take a selfie with me, so she hid and I made faces for the camera. This was such a fun moment! // Neko (yes, I named my porch-lizard) flexes for the ladies. Bottom: headless tree at Palmetto State Park; my very obvious tarot the day I asked for guidance after yoga.
Clockwise from top: One of my favorite hiking group-selfies ever, with Sarah being super-silly in the background, inside one of the shelters over the land-bridge at Hardberger Park; iced coffee on the coolest wiggly sideways tree at Walker Ranch Park; a forest tent caterpillar tries to “blend in” along a branch in our nectarine tree; our porch lady lizard plays peekaboo with me as I try to get her photo (she’s much more afraid of me than Neko).
Highlights of April
I really needed to spend extra time finding the good moments this month. These were my lifeline.
- Ambrose came home limping, saying he’d been tapped by a car at the end of his work day at the local nursery. J and I started asking questions about the employer’s response, if the car stopped, etc, and Ambrose said he’d show us the damage. He raised his pant leg to show us this April Fool’s sign… Ha!! My kid.
- wildflower hike at Inks Lake
- basically walking through Jurassic Park (ha!) at Palmetto State Park (the ecosystem there was unlike anything I’ve ever seen)
- playing “indoor” croquet with made up rules on Easter
- we got to harvest and eat beans from our garden!
- girl’s night out to celebrate Alia’s PhD! –> Then later watching her dissertation defense, and celebrating when she officially became a Dr!
- seeing fellow hiker Rosalyn again after more than a year
- Red Hong Yi’s artwork on climate change
- hiking brunch for Lindsay before she has her baby this week (plus later: BABY!!!)
- going back to Medina River Coffee for the first time since covid
- my friend Melanie got engaged!
- the most wholesome graffiti ever (“catch fish and release them!” “ride bikes” “black lives matter -the world”) at the park shelter
- Jason and my boys got their second dose vaccines!
- my unlikely hikers and unsolved mysteries shirts arrived! (plus an extra unlikely hikers sticker that also says “My body took me here.” I put it on my hydroflask!)
- Laurence got his SAT scores back and scored a 1300. He thinks that’s “low” because it’s lower than his brothers’ scores, so I had to explain that that’s still really good!
- seeing my siblings and many other family members for the first time since pre-pandemic
- my first Cairn subscription box arrived, which was very fun!
- getting to know the anole on my porch, Neko, named for Nekomata because of his forked tail, ha!
- Jason bought me a telephoto lens that my cousin-in-law (a retired photojournalist) found and recommended, so now I can take better far-off photos! Having lots of fun with that, too.
- the tornado that passed overhead didn’t hit us – this is the second year in a row where we had to shelter in our bathroom! Tornadoes usually don’t come down this far south. More indication of climate change!! (Does this count as a highlight? The absence of something negative? It’ll have to do.)
- finally got my digital photo frame set up
- my book blogger peeps set up a Discord server of book bloggers from back in the 2010 era, so I’m getting to say hello to folks that I haven’t seen in years!
- my Journey Before Destination shirt arrived, and they sent an extra Strength Before Weakness rubber bracelet as well as a sticker of Shallan! (This is all stuff from the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson, which is my favorite series ever.)
Coming up in May