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Year Three, Day 218: Smile and Enjoy the Ride

I love riding the Max!



I am on the Orange Line heading to Portland Meadows to meet my daughter, son-in-law and Baby Gracie. We're going to watch a few horse races before heading to their home in Vancouver.

Today was my first time catching the Max from the downtown Milwaukie transit center. We just crossed over the Willamette River on the Tillicum Bridge. It is a quiet, mild day here in Portland. Very few people are out. I am feeling quite calm, peaceful and happy to be alive!



I am feeling like I am taking a train ride through the memories of my life. Looking out the window, I see the Cheerful Tortoise. One of my favorite hangouts in college.



It reminded me of my college days at Portland State University.


Speaking of PSU, one of the choir members of a group I accompany was chatting with me last week. We were talking about grandchildren and retirement. She told me that one of the most wonderful discoveries she made when she turned 65, was that senior citizens can register at PSU and…

Year Three, Day 217: I am Happy Tonight

I do believe I'm catching the Christmas spirit! I am waiting for the bus near SE Belmont. Heading out to visit my son and his girlfriend. Not sure if I'll see them Christmas day, so I come bearing gifts.

I stopped and had a lovely pumpkin tofu curry with brown rice at ImJai Thai for dinner. Gluten free vegan seems to be agreeing with me.


I did cough a bit last night. But I seem to have things under control today. My nurse practitioner had said to use my inhaler "as needed". I was afraid to overuse it. But I did a bit of research today. And it seems it is quite acceptable to use it every four hours for acute episodes. I had a puff every four hours along with hot tea with lemon and fresh minced ginger root. Feeling quite chipper, I am!

On top of that, I was thrilled to discover Peacock Lane is open! I am enjoy watching many merry people walk by. Quite a few families with young children. And just now, a group of young people dressed as reindeer pushing a stroller holdin…

Year Three, Day 216: Six Months of Daily Hooping

Today is Day 180 of my daily weighted hula hooping experiment. Time moves on whether you are doing anything or not.

I am proud of myself for sticking with it!

Here is my Day 1 Video:

And here is today's video. Six months later!



Now if I could only get rid of this cough. Sigh. I'm sticking with my no meat, no wheat, no sugar, no dairy diet. Today is day 3. I am finding it not difficult. After all, I've had plenty of experience eliminating various food substances from my diet.


In addition to my dietary changes, I'm using an inhaler, taking Allegra and using a saline nose spray. I think I'm going to have vegetarian pho for dinner. My energy level is higher than usual. My head feels pretty clear. But the cough persists. And I have a sniffly nose.

But...I can walk several miles a day. I can hoop every morning. I am alive. I have a family I love, even when they annoy me. I have wonderful students, many who have become like family. I have work. I have a roof over my head…

Year Three, Day 215: Simply Amazing!

I feel like I have been reborn! It must be the L-Lysine! Combined with eating no meat, dairy, wheat or sugar yesterday. And not eating right before bed.
My face is less poofy! I have very little pain. The cough is still there but, less so. 
Plus Baby Gracie slept through the night - from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.!
My daughter was ecstatic to get a full night's sleep. She got up and fed her from 6 a.m. until about 6:30 a.m. My daughter was exhausted. I told her to go lay back down and I would stay up with Gracie if she did not want to go back to sleep. 
My daughter breathed a heavy sigh of relief and lay Gracie gently in her crib.  But as soon as my daughter left the room, Gracie started to fuss. I remembered a Youtube video I saw recently. A woman showed her aunt putting her baby to sleep with light facial massage in just a few minutes.
I've given Gracie baby massage before. And stretches.  But the light facial massage intrigued me. Back in the day, I was a licensed massage therapist…

Year Three, Day 214: Fate, L-Lysine and Eliminating Dairy

I believe in fate.

There I was. Having lunch. Suddenly my phone rang. It was the father of two of my students.

I rarely get phone calls these days, other than family members. Parents of students usually text or email.

I was tempted to let it go to voicemail, so I could enjoy my lunch. But then I realized it was Wednesday. His kids usually had a lesson with me on Wednesday. Maybe he forgot that I had a homeless concert that I was playing, and wouldn't be teaching.

So I answered. I was right. He couldn't recall if there was a lesson today. I reminded him that I was not teaching because I was playing the piano with my friends of Portland Chamber Music. We play music for several homeless meals over the holidays. Tonight was Portland Rescue Mission. One of my favorite gigs.

He then asked me when their next lesson was.

I told him I needed to do so serious work on my health, so I was going to take the next few weeks off. We would resume lessons after the New Year.

He said that was fi…

Year Three, Day 213 and Day 214: Chai Tea Memories

I was going to blog last night when I got home. I started to, but then fell right to sleep! So I am blogging for yesterday and today right now!

It will be short. I need to go get in a hot tub soak and steam room experience before I teach. My cough and congestion is back. With vengeance!

I called my nurse practitioner. The receptionist told me they just received the results of my x-ray. He will consult with her to see if I need an appointment. I told him I was busy this week, but next week I am off and can come in. I also told him that the antibiotics worked pretty well the first few days, but I completed my course Friday and now my symptoms have returned. I asked him if he could ask her if I could get a refill of my Azithromycin to hold me over until I see her again?

They will call me later today.

On the way to the library today, I stopped at Starbucks. I felt the need for a Chai tea.  I got a "lightly sweetened Chai with almond milk". It is lovely!

And as I sat, sipping th…

Year Three, Day 212: The Best Ever

I know. I say this every time. But tonight was my best student recital ever! I was moved nearly to tears to hear so many of my students play with expression.

This is why I teach!

My office assistant is my favorite. He has worked with me for most of my recitals for the past several years.

It was a perfect night!

But I will have to tell you more tomorrow. I'm here at my daughter's house. It is Baby Gracie's bedtime. And yet she is wide awake! It may be a long night.

So I will say goodbye and talk to you tomorrow!

Love,

Zita


P.S. Here is today's hooping video. Day 175!

Year Three, Day 211: Focus

Tomorrow is my end of term piano student recital. My programs are typed and ready to print. My students are all prepared. I am really looking forward to hearing them perform. This is the highlight of my teaching career.

Today, I asked each of my students what they felt was the most important part of performance. Many of them said, "Enjoy the moment". Or "don't worry about mistakes". I can tell I've had an impact on them! One little boy made me laugh out loud when he said, "Don't worry about the people watching you. Just don't look them in the eyes!" Lol!

But this recital, I finally reached inside if myself and discovered my secret for overcoming stage fright and giving the best performances I am capable of.

FOCUS.

I wrote this on each of their music pages.

Then I explained that the most important part of performance is what happens right before they play the first note of their piece.

I had them practice walking to the piano, sitting down,…

Year Three, Day 210: Most Politically Incorrect Was I! (My Face is Still Red...)

It is quite late, so I will probably not write much tonight. Although I really could use a good venting. And this blog has been so therapeutic to me!
I did not hear from my doctor yet about the results of my x-ray. And I am breathing better. I am still coughing a little. But I noticed that after my hoop session this morning (outside my daughter's home in Vancouver, in freezing temps!), I did not wheeze at all. This is progress!
I had a lovely visit with my daughter and Baby Grace.  She slept 6 whole hours last night!  My daughter went to work in the morning. Grace and I had a wonderful time with our activities. Then my mom arrived to relieve me so I could hop on the bus back to Portland to teach piano classes.  
My mom is the designated "nap-lap".  We hand the baby to her in the rocking chair.  Gracie takes one look at my mom, puts her head on her shoulder and usually goes right to sleep!
On the bus back to Portland, I felt a bit odd. I think because my lungs are finally…

Year Three, Day 209: No News is Good News...

At least that's what I've always been told!

I have not yet heard about the results from my x-ray. But the technician said it will be 1-2 days. Most impatient am I!

I woke up all congested again.  And coughing a bit. Oy.  I took my meds. Drank vitamin C powder mixed with water and a plethora of black tea with lemon, honey and the "citron tea" I bought at the Chinese grocery store last week.

Still stuffed up.  But my knee no longer hurts.

I am beginning to wonder if I am a hypchondriac?

Other than my health woes, I feel good. It is a glorious, crisp, cold, but amazing December day here in Portland, Oregon. The sky is clear and a brilliant blue.

I have an afternoon of students. Most of whom all live in the same neighborhood. All of whom are boys.  I love my Thursday schedule. I start at one home, walk across the street to teach two brothers, walk three houses down to teach a brand new beginner, then end up at the house I started with. 

I usually walk about with my mug  …

Year Three, Day 208: The X-Ray and Happy Homeless People (and a Dog)

I slept like a log last night. Very little coughing. But I woke up super early. I think I finally got into some good, deep REM sleep!  I also think I was worried about making it to my x-ray appointment on time.

So I popped up, hooped and headed out the door to catch my bus super early. I was pleased to discover that the clinic where I was to be x-rayed was just a 5 minute walk from the Village Inn restaurant near Mall 205.  So I hopped on the max and headed out for a leisurely breakfast before my appointment.

It was quite cold this morning. And windy!  My chest felt remarkably clear. It must be the Azithromycin!  But my nose was congested. And my right knee was aching.  Oy. Am I turning into an old woman or what?

Aside from my aches and pains, I felt good. It was a relief to know that I am finally being taken seriously. I had a wonderful breakfast:  A cheese omelette, grits, turkey sausage, fruit and hot tea.  Then I walked up to the clinic.  It was quite busy, but I was seen on time.…

Year Three, Day 207: The Nurse Practitioner

Results at last! I saw the nurse practitioner at my clinic this morning. My usual doctor was not available. Thank goodness!

She walked in and asked what the problem was.  I had an itemized list. I took my mother's advice seriously. (To "exaggerate" my symptoms).

I pretty much told the truth. The difference between the nurse practitioner and the doctor was like night and day. She listened. She consulted my chart. She asked many questions. She actually listened to me breathe with a stethoscope.

I told her I have been coughing.  I am tired. My cough keeps me up at night. Sometimes I have moments where I cannot stop and I can hardly catch my breath. It is worse at night when I lay down. And in the morning after I exercise.  But it comes and goes throughout the day. Every day.  Sometimes it is a dry, itchy cough. Sometimes it is a productive cough. (At this point she asked me for an in depth description of the mucous. I will spare you that. You're welcome!)

She took my te…

Year Three, Day 206: Amazing Gracie!

I had such a lovely visit with Baby Grace this morning. I spent the night last night. She fussed quite a bit before bedtime, but once she was down, she was down for the count! She slept straight through from 10:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.!  My daughter, the exhausted working mama was ecstatic!  She said when they get their new home, they would like me to be the live in nanny!  I would love that!

At 5:30 a.m., my daughter fed Gracie for about an hour and then put her in her crib. She slept again from 5:30 to 10:30 a.m., giving her grandma some much needed rest!

Then when I heard her starting to grunt and wake up, I greeted her at her crib. She was all smiles and "goo-goo gah gahs"!  She wasn't even interested in eating when she first woke up. She we did some activities. Such a wonderful way to spend the morning!

I am on my way to grab a bowl of pho before I teach. I have my doctor's appointment tomorrow (but thankfully with the nurse practitioner since doctor is booked up).…

Year Three, Day 205: Something is Working!

I feel better today!  Cough is very minimal!  Not sure exactly what worked, but I slept in, drank much tea yesterday including my new find "Citron Tea" from the Chinese Market, drank tons of water, elevated my pillow, did breathing exercises, stayed off of social media, and prayed. I guess I need to just keep doing what I'm doing!

This morning, I had a nice hoop workout. Then I started to type up programs for my student recital which is coming up. I am so looking forward to this recital. My students are better prepared than ever. And the musical selections are quite diverse, all reflecting their individual tastes in music.

I am so glad I am feeling better. Because after I finish blogging and typing up my programs, I am heading to Vancouver to see Baby Gracie. I can't wait!

So, this is a short blog today.  I will talk to you tomorrow!

Love,

Zita

Here is today's hooping video. Day 168!


Year Three, Day 204: Citron Tea v. Antibiotics

The cough continues. I am wondering if it will last for the rest of my mortal life.

At breakfast this morning my mother firmly suggested that I make another doctor's appointment. She sounded serious. So I obeyed. I know better than to argue when she has that look. She definitely had that look!

I was surprised when the clinic answered the phone on a Saturday. I made an appointment for Tuesday morning. The receptionist informed me that my regular doctor was unavailable at that time. He asked me if I would be ok seeing the nurse practitioner?

OK?! I wanted to dance and sing. But my mother was looking at me. She still had the look. So I just smiled and said, "That would be fine."

I have been frustrated with the minimalist care (i.e. continually prescribing Prednisone, nothing else) of my primary care physician.

My mother looked at me knowingly when I finished scheduling.

"Exaggerate your symptoms", she said, sipping her black coffe.

"Why?" I asked, stirri…

Year Three, Day 203: All These Gentlemen - The Matt Lauer Effect?

This will be short.

Most exhausted am I!

I had a lovely time with Baby Gracie last night. She slept like an angel and I slept like a log!

I managed to stay away from FB. I did go on once to post condolences to my dearvfruebd who lost both her mother and father thus week. My heart aches for her.

I also started a 14 day course of Prilosec. I read it takes several days to kick in, but I am already noticing a difference. I also ate clean again. No chocolate, coffee or fried foods. I trying to eat slower, and smaller portions. I did eat a late dinner at 7:00 - Friday is fish taco night at my favorite Mexican dive. But in general, I try to eat my last meal before 7:00 p.m. Trying to drink more water, as usual. My daughter would be proud!

I noticed something today. I am being treated with kindness and respect by men everywhere I go. Especially on the bus! Is it because men are starting to behave more like gentlemen in the wake of Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, Charlie Rose, Harvey Weinstein a…

Year Three, Day 202: The 24 Hour Social Media Fast Experiment

I am tired today. And my cough is returning. It feels more like an anxious cough, like I mentioned last night. I am going to explore the connection between COPD and GERD.  My daughter astutely observed that when I spent too much time focused on the news, Facebook, and playing Words with Friends, I cough more.  I think she's right. I can almost feel my stomach acid boiling.

Last night, after walking with my new conspiracy theory friend, I felt really good. We had such a nice conversation. And, even though it was risky walking at night with a stranger (I left him off over a block from home and went the other way, in case you were wondering!), the conversation left me exhilerated.

I went home and looked up some of the books he recommended. I should have just stretched, drank herbal tea and gone to bed. But I was wide awake. I went on Facebook and checked into my groups that were followed the Mariah Kay Woods story. That was my first mistake.  It does warm my heart that thousands of p…

Year Three, Day 201: I Prayed and Prayed

My head is reeling.  I am also sleep deprived. I was up all night reading comments from concerned citizens about the alleged abduction of the three year-old Mariah Kay Woods in North Carolina.  Heartbreaking. I prayed and prayed.

Then, some time after midnight I got a text from my son's girlfriend. He has an unusual bruise on his head. His pupils are both the same size. He doesn't remember honking his head. No headache. Just weird bruise. She texted me a picture. Told them to call if he had any other strange developments.

I prayed and prayed.

Tossed and turned. Read about North Korea preparing to fire a missile at us. Prayed and prayed. Coughed a bit too. See, I think my cough is anxiety related!

Then, finally drifted off to sleep.

Only to be woken up at 6;30 a.m. to a text from my mom:

"They fired Matt Lauer"!


NOOOO!  I wanted to scream. I flipped on th me television. Just in time to catch Savannah and Hoda give the tearful announcement. Both visibly shaken. Me too…

Year Three, Day 200: Lethal Weapon II and the Weight Loss Train

I got brave this morning. I stepped on the scale. It wasn't quite as horrible as I had imagined. 184.6 pounds. About 5 pounds heavier than my last weight in.  This is after several months of too much late night eating, too many cheeseburgers (at least I've stuck with my bun ban! I am still gluten free.), and some moments of chocolate and potato chip comfort.

I'm ready to go back to clean eating. Fresh veggies, fruits, no grains except for rice. I just can't manage without my rice cakes!  I'm going to cut back on dairy and stay away from all things fried, processed and sugared!

I would really like to drop about 50 pounds.  I was inspired, strangely enough by a scene from Lethal Weapon II.  Mel Gibson hooks up with an attractive, petite blonde secretary to the South African consulate played by Patsy Kensit.

"Why does she looks so cute?" I asked my daughter. "No obvious makeup, boy haircut, jeans and a t-shirt! If I were to try that look, it simply woul…

Year Three, Day 199: Focusing on Joy

On the bus back to Portland this afternoon, I was feeling sad. I already missed Baby Gracie, my daughter and my mother! I spent most of the past 5 days with them, pausing only to teach some students on Saturday!

People who tell us to enjoy the precious moments of  babyhood, because they go by fast are correct. It is hard work, but well worth it.  But, actually all of life is precious and can speed by in a blink if we are not paying attention.

On the bus, over the I-205 bridge today, I found out a dear friend lost her mother last night. Suddenly. Unexpectantly. And her father had a heart attack. I do not know if he had the heart attack after his wife died or before. But my heart goes out to her. She is flying back home now as I type this. On Facebook she wrote that she at least was glad she got to say "I love you!" to her one more time. Just yesterday.


 Whenever I hear of an expected death, I vow to cherish my loved ones and my life more.  To live more fully present. To focu…

Year Three, Day 198: These Precious Baby Moments

My daughter and I tried a new bedtime routine with Baby Gracie last night. For her last feeding at 10 p.m., I gave her a bottle so my daughter could go to bed. The plan was for me to do her final feeding before bedtime and then rock or dance her to sleep. Then my daughter would wake up and nurse her at her next awakening, which we predicted would be some time in the 2:00 a.m. hour.

It started out well. She consumed an entire bottle and passed out. I rocked her for a bit and then tiptoed slowly to the crib and gently placed her in. I covered her with her blanket and kept my hand on her belly for a few moments. I put in her favorite CD (Walela) and began to tiptoe out of the room. And I almost made it! But then came her bellow of protest.

I scooped her up. We danced. I rocked her. Burped her. Changed her diaper. And repeated. She finally gave in and fell asleep at 11:00.

I lay down. Most exhausted. It really does take a village to raise a child!

But amazingly, she did not wake up at 2 …