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My First Blog Post

Wellness

The quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal.

— Merriam-Webster

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been chasing wellness most of my adult life in some way. It’s one of the reasons I chose to become a physical therapist. I wanted to also help others feel well, and it’s not always about medicine. I’ve also been some version of vegetarian my entire adult life, finally making the full jump to vegan over two years ago.

What exactly does it mean, though, to feel well? One could argue that there are many facets to wellness. It’s not just about your physical well-being, but also social, spiritual, emotional, and environmental factors. If one of these is off, you feel unsettled. And sometimes it’s challenging to figure out which one of these elements is the culprit.

We tend to focus on physical wellness, right? What’s my cholesterol? How many medications do I rely on to stay healthy? How can I better manage my chronic diseases? How can I achieve and maintain a healthy weight?  How can I keep up with my kids?

I know I asked myself these questions when I first began my own wellness journey. I was overweight after having 2 kids, dealing with persistent pain, and wearing the largest size clothes in my life. Not exactly great for my emotional wellness! Does this story sound familiar?

So I began with a goal. My goal was to lose weight. 30 lbs to be exact. I started making use of my YMCA membership and used the food and activity tracker myfitnesspal to reach my goal. It took me about a year to lose the weight, but I knew I wanted to keep working toward better fitness. I was already bored with gym equipment.

In the lobby of my local YMCA, I saw a flyer for a local 5k, the Ashland Harvest Run held every October. Running 3.1 miles seemed like a daunting, yet achievable task. The best way to reach a goal is to break it down into smaller ones. I worked toward running a mile without stopping, then 2 miles. And then it was race day. I ran/walked the entire thing, finishing in the middle of the pack! It was so exciting… the whole race experience, meeting my goal, and performing better than I expected. I officially caught the running bug that day. A friend of mine convinced me to join the Sports Backers/YMCA 10k training team, and this is where I met one of my best friends. She would convince me that I was capable of even more… the marathon. A few training teams later, we have a solid crew of running sisters… sole sisters… and my life is exponentially better because of them! So great for my social wellness! I have now completed 6 marathons. I’m currently training for number 7, the Marine Corps Marathon. I’m also now a coach with the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team with Pink Nation.  

What other crazy do I do, you ask? Well, my journey inspired my husband to find his tribe, too, and he started like me at our local YMCA. He eventually found his way to CrossFit, and he is now a level 1 trainer. I told him I would never try CrossFit unless he opened his own gym. In July of 2017, I had to eat my words, because he started a box with some business partners! He has even competed at the Masters level with some success, placing first in the Festivus games and third in the SuperFit games in 2018. We have since left this business endeavor, but Ralph is working out at a new box and focusing on being an athlete for a bit.

I enjoy the new challenges of CrossFit. Everyone is good at something in the box. Maybe you can’t do handstands, but you can lift weight! Maybe I can’t lift as much as you, but I can do pistol squats! The day I climbed that rope for the first time… well, I felt like Shalane Flannagan crossing the finish line of the NYC marathon! But the best part about CrossFit? It’s been great for our marriage.

I’m also spending some time fostering my creativity. I’ve recently launched a tie-dye shirt business, and I am dabbling in turning my favorite quotes into mixed media art. I hope to sell these at some point as well.

So, here I am. A 44 year old mother of two, married to a talented CrossFit coach, working as a physical therapist, 6 time marathoner, Vegan, artist, and sometimes CrossFit athlete. This sounds more impressive on paper than it really is. This is just me, chasing wellness.

Through this blog, I hope you find inspiration in your own journey. I plan to share with you recipes, running stories and tips, CrossFit stories, vegan tips, nutrition information, fitness clothing reviews, vegan food reviews, a bit of art, and fun features of living in Richmond! Thanks for reading!

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

One Nation

One Nation

Ruled by the Minority

Without liberty, without justice, without care for our most marginalized citizens.

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One Nation

Whose lawmakers

Are bought and sold by corporate greed. 

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One Nation

With citizens crippled

By insurmountable debt.

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One Nation

Dumbed down

By conspiracy theories and misinformation.

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One Nation

Exhausted

Because of a pandemic we are still fighting.

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One Nation

Corrupted by Christian Nationalism

Forcing all to live under their church.

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One Nation

In denial 

Of the ugly parts of its history.

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One Nation

With more guns than citizens

Who offer mere thoughts and prayers for those killed by them. 

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One Nation

Where women are worthless

Except for the power of their womb. 

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One Nation

With voices silenced

By gerrymandering and voting restrictions.

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One Nation

Giving up

On the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. 

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One Nation

In distress

With democracy crumbling like sand.

*

One Nation

Unrecognizable

From the noble republic it once was.

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21 innocent people were killed by a lone gunman in Texas on Tuesday in an elementary school. 19 children and 2 teachers. I had hoped that I could slow down on political posts for a while. But, alas, something new and terrible always seems to happen. And yesterday, my county appointed a man to our school board who promised to rule with a “biblical” and “godly” lens, with no regard to the separation of church and state. So I offer you this poem as a reflection of my ongoing frustration with the state of this nation. One Nation. In need of reform. Thoughts and prayers are not effective deterrents for gun violence. We need policy and change. I urge you to contact your senators, congressmen, state, and local legislators. Let them know what matters to you. 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Summer Camp for Grownups is Almost Here!

I don’t feel like I really had an off season this year. With running the Freight Train 50k in December and 3 spring half marathons, I’ve been running quite a bit. It will be fun to get back to the rituals of marathon training, though. We start in 2 weeks! I can’t believe it’s here already!

During our pre-run “benediction” during a pre-pandemic year with Pink Nation!

My, how the years fly! But I guess when you spend half the year training for a marathon, that’s kind of how things roll. This will be my 4th year as an assistant coach with the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team, and my 9th training cycle with them. I’ll once again be coaching with the Pink Nation! I’m super excited that another vegan coach is joining us, too! I love my fellow coaches so very much. 

If you’re in the Richmond area and are looking for the best way to train for a fall marathon, this program is the best. If you’re not convinced you can run a full marathon, but you want to meet with a team earlier than August, we typically have several participants who start with MTT and change over to the Half Marathon Training Team when they start in August. This year, there’s no fee to switch!

Obviously, the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team is designed to help you train for the Richmond Marathon, and your entry fee includes your race fee. However, if you are running a different fall race, rest assured that you will find other folks who will also need to adapt the training schedule for these events. The Chicago and NYC marathons are especially popular! If you need financial assistance, Sports Backers has funding to help.

You can register for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team here!

If you aren’t lucky enough to live in the RVA and want to train for a fall marathon, I strongly encourage you to find a training group in your area, because when you get to those longer, double digit runs, they suck so much less when you have company! Starting with your local run club is a great resource. If you don’t have one, try asking at your local running store. They will also likely know of area training groups. 

I’ve found some of my best friends through participating in training teams. I know that some people consider themselves extreme introverts and would rather run solo, but running with a team has immense benefits. You can glean the knowledge from more experienced runners, including, hopefully, great coaches. Routes are planned and supported. And you have a training plan. It takes so much stress out of the process!

As we slowly resume pre-Covid normals, running with teams and participating in real races is definitely coming back. I hope to see some friends return to MTT this year! And if you’re not from Richmond, but will be here to run America’s Friendliest Marathon, let me know so I can support you on the course!

Your 2022 Pink Nation coaches! (Minus one!)

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I still don’t have a fall marathon lined up. I do know that I want to run a race in person! This marathon will be #10. Does anyone have any suggestions? Must be within driving distance of Richmond!

Are you running any fall races? I’d love to hear about it!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

My Midlife Crisis

One of my former bosses posted this meme:

I can honestly say that this is how I approach each and every work day. I may enter the building in a less than optimal mood, but my patients deserve my best. They deserve to feel better when I leave them, and to feel valued as a human. 

I’m the therapist who will bribe a patient to get out of bed with the promise of fixing their hair or going outside. I’m the therapist who does a little jig and applauds when their patient walks for the first time after a major injury. I’m the therapist who talks to their patients about the emotional aspects of healing. 

My calling in life is to make the world a better place; to help people live their best, most active, healthiest versions of themselves. I’ve always felt this, even as a young child. 

I found my calling as a physical therapist when I was 13, shortly after I broke my arm, essentially ending my meager gymnastics career. But through my own experiences with physical therapy in my recovery, I realized this was something in the medical field that really appealed to me.

I went into college fully understanding the challenging work ahead of me, realizing that I couldn’t dare party my undergrad days away, because my admission into graduate school was entirely dependent on earning the best GPA possible. I graduated magna cum laude, a semester early, with a BS in Biology. 

I went on to my first choice of PT schools: Virginia Commonwealth University, where I was supremely humbled by my coursework and realizing I was no longer the smartest person in all of my classes. I still managed to earn my MS in physical therapy, the entry level degree at the time. My colleagues are mostly DPT’s now. 

In my 23 years of practice, mostly specializing in geriatrics and inpatient rehab, I have helped so many people by reducing their pain, improving their strength and balance, addressing their fears, and restoring their independence with functional mobility. Some days, this feels like enough. But others, I realize there is so much more to be done.  

The biggest eye opener for me was during my days as a home health practitioner. My territory included the inner city of Richmond and in some of the poorest neighborhoods. I finally understood the obstacles facing my patients who were callously labeled “non-compliant.” I was merely a tourist in this world, but I knew that anything I could do as a PT was never going to be enough to fix the matters that were really wrong. Working through the pandemic has only highlighted the inequalities that exist in our healthcare system and in the systemic issues that plague our most marginalized members of society. These are the seemingly unsolvable, overwhelming problems that keep me up at night.

In the days of double masking, re-using N-95’s, and goggles during the height of the pandemic before vaccines were available.

Thus, here I am, at a crossroads in my life. What’s next? I still love being a physical therapist, but I feel called to carry this further. Entering the public health realm may provide some answers. I already have a master’s degree. Maybe the next step is the PhD? 

It seems everything I’ve done in the past 10 years has led me to this point. Not only do I work as a PT, but I also practice what I preach to my patients through my own fitness journey. Now as a coach with Sports Backers, as an advocate for safe spaces for running and cycling with Bike Walk Hanover, as an officer in the Richmond Road Runners Club, advocating for a plant based diet, and even in writing this blog, I’m doing even more to help make fitness and wellness more accessible to everyone. I even have experience teaching at the associate’s degree level. 

But it’s more than fitness. It’s looking at the whole person and the external issues that affect one’s wellness. It’s eliminating social stigmas in healthcare. It’s ensuring access to safe housing, eliminating food deserts, and providing basic education about caring for our bodies. It’s teaching others how to find joy through movement. It’s creating safe spaces to do so. It’s not just education, but developing public policies and fighting inequalities, starting at the local level. This requires more. More education. More money. More student loans. And I’m willing. I just need to figure out how to pay for it without going broke! By putting this out into the universe, I hope that my lofty goal will matriculate somehow. 

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Do you have thoughts about going back to school? Do you yearn to do more to help the world? Inside my nearly 50 year old body is still a young, twenty-something with the idealistic notion that she can change the world. With what’s about to happen in the US, maybe this is a lost cause for a woman to pursue, but it’s a woman’s unique perspective that can create the right kind of change, in my opinion. 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

Buff City Soap: A Review!

On one of my last trips to Trader Joe’s in Short Pump, I noticed a colorful new storefront next door. Buff City Soap is new to the Richmond area, and I’m pretty excited about it! There is another location in Willow Lawn as well. The promise of plant based soaps and no harsh chemicals drew me in the door!

On my first visit, I wandered in, not realizing they actually weren’t open yet. No matter. The store manager was very gracious, introduced herself, educated me about their store and products, and even gave me a couple of samples of their indulgent body soaps and their laundry soap!

My beautiful sample soaps from Buff City Soap!

All of their materials are responsibly sourced, and the only thing that I can see that doesn’t make their products vegan is the use of honey in a few of their items. In addition to their body and laundry soaps, they also make body butter, shower oils, bath bombs, face soap, and even pup soap, among other products!

Details about the oils in their products.

The stores are bright and airy, and the staff are so nice! I’m pretty sensitive to fragrances, especially synthetic ones, but the atmosphere of the store doesn’t inundate me, surprisingly. 

The Short Pump store.

Now that they are officially open, I’ve made a couple visits and purchases. I bought a bar for myself in magnolia, my favorite flower, which is nicely scented, but not overwhelmingly so. The bar lathers well and leaves my skin super soft. Just like my nose, my skin is also super sensitive. I’ve used bar soaps and body washes that have made me break out into a rash. Thankfully, my skin likes this soap. I find myself reaching for my body lotion less than ever. I was impressed enough to take my daughter there so she could pick out her own soap. We also chose a bar for her sister and a face soap for me. 

The face soap I purchased.

There are so many great scents and colors, it’s really difficult to choose just one! Some are simply clean. Some are tailored to kids. Others are definitely more feminine. Yet there are still others that are decidedly more masculine. They even had a bar called Fruity Pebbles. It really did smell like the cereal! And if you don’t find one you absolutely love, they will create a scent just for you. Don’t like scented products? There’s an unscented line, too.

An assortment of items at Buff City Soap.

These products aren’t your everyday drugstore items. They are kind of a treat yourself type of purchase. At $7 for an average bar, it might seem a bit pricey, but when you consider you are getting a handmade product with quality ingredients, it’s worth it! Buff City Soap has a reward program, so be sure to sign up for that if you go.

If you’re in need of a little pick me up, a gift for a friend, or an update in your grooming routine, go check out Buff City Soap. Tell them Anne the Vegan sent you!

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Do you indulge in special grooming products? I’d love to hear about some of your favorites!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Freedom of Speech is Not a Student Right in Hanover County Schools

Ugh. This school board.

Remember last month when a man came to my child’s high school to protest, holding vulgar signs, and he was allowed to do so based on a “technicality,” and that kids who walked out of class later in the month to protest proposed transgeneder rights policies were suspended for several days? Yeah. First of all, the punishment for protesting should have only been the same punishment for skipping class: an unexcused absence. That is per the ACLU’s interpretation of the law. But instead, the school system chose to overreact to prove a point. Now, that overbearing reaction is likely going to be made policy. Not only that, but the language is so vague, that anything a student says or wears could be deemed “disruptive” depending on the administrator. 

Here is the language:

Note that there are also new proposed policies with regard to self-defense that is equally vague.

Here is my letter to the school board:

Dear School Board:

On your agenda tomorrow is a proposed revision in the Code of Conduct for students focused on student protests. 

In it, you state that children will not be allowed to demonstrate under any circumstance, to include engaging in protests, and will be subject to disciplinary action, including suspension. 

I’m writing as a parent of students who are either currently enrolled in or have recently graduated from this school system. And as a parent, I’m deeply concerned by this proposal. 

The ACLU outlines student’s rights to protest on their website. They subscribe to the notion that students can be punished for missing class, but punishment should not be greater if the reason is for participating in a peaceful protest. Nor should students be punished, for example, for wearing items which support their gay or transgender classmates. If you let students wear “Let’s Go Brandon” and “F*ck Biden” merchandise, as my child has reported, she can wear all the versions of rainbows she desires. Consider this email my permission slip for my child to support her friends. 

Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation which allows students excused absences for participating in protests as their right to participate in the democratic process. Your proposal is not congruent with the law of the state. It fails to recognize children as full humans with rights and privileges to freedom of speech. (After all, isn’t this what the Supreme Court is about to do? Recognize children from the moment of fertilization as full humans? That’s a whole other issue, but this supports this point.) 

What a tremendous opportunity for social studies teachers to educate their students on engaging with a democratic government: by talking about their rights to participate in avenues of peaceful civil discourse. There are certainly ways to work with students to allow them to have their voices heard.

By squelching their voices, you’re missing the point of education entirely. 

I’m truly heartbroken for young people right now and the world that the adults in charge are creating for them. It’s draconian. And it’s scary. 

Shame on you for even proposing this. 

I did receive a response from the chair of the school board. She thanked me for my concern and tried to reassure me that this new policy is simply a “proposal.” Sigh. Nothing was decided in the school board meeting this week. 

Other than that, just like every other letter I’ve written to the school board and which have been cc’d to the Board of Supervisors, I’ve heard crickets. 

My voice, it seems, does not matter. 

Does this mean I’m going to stop sending emails? Stop calling my legislators? Stop showing up to vote? Stop protesting? No, it does not. I will continue to be as noisy as I can. 

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How do you get involved in the democratic process? We really must engage right now, even at the local level, or we won’t have a democracy in which to participate very soon. 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Uncorked Half Marathon 2022: Race Recap!

I ran this race in 2018 and swore I was one and done with this event, but I was lucky to win a free entry to the Uncorked Half Marathon from Austin (@eatsbyaustin on Instagram) and Sports Backers, so I was ready to give it a second chance! My reasoning was similar to why I was never going to run the Patrick Henry half again: the heat and the hills! Alas, I ran that one again, too, as the rebranded Ashland Half Marathon.

The New Kent Winery from the start/finish line.

Taking place in New Kent County from the New Kent winery, the event also has a 5k and a pretty great post-race party. They also host a brunch as an add-on to the race. The winery is so pretty! 

As it turns out, the weather for Saturday’s race was nearly perfect! Temperatures were in the upper 50’s with a light mist for the entire race. Admittedly, this was terrible weather for friends and volunteers who weren’t running. 

A wild columbine on the course. My favorite wildflower!

The course, even though it was just as hilly as I remember, was beautiful. The first 10ish miles winds through country roads which would have mainly been in the shade had it been a sunny day. There’s a bit of a tease at the end, because just when you think you are back to the finish with the winery in sight and post-race announcements audible, you are routed through a neighborhood of absolutely stunning homes. You finally make your way back to the winery to finish. I wore my Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon shirt to remind me that just a few weeks ago, I climbed 2 mountains. So, really, the only hill I absolutely walked was during mile 7, where the cheering squad from the Fitness Warriors was there to lift our spirits! And I loved seeing all of the wildflowers in bloom, including my favorite: the wild columbine. 

With the cheering squad of Fitness Warriors at the top of the hill at mile 7!

If you don’t know, the Fitness Warriors is the Sports Backers program that trains fitness enthusiasts to be group fitness instructors. These health advocates go on to serve communities who don’t ordinarily have access to gyms and other wellness outlets and who have high rates of chronic disease. It has made a tremendous impact on the Richmond community, and it was the charity partner for this event. They are also a very enthusiastic bunch whose energy is contagious!

Running for great swag is always fun!

Another awesome thing about this race? The swag! The medal is a wine stopper, and the ladies race shirt is a singlet! I love them both this year! You also get a wine glass and a free glass of wine or beer after the race. My choice? The Vidal Blanc. 

With Austin (@eatsbyaustin on Instagram) after the race.
With Emily (@thedietitianrunner on Instagram) after the race.

It was so much fun to see both old friends and new friends at this race! I’m excited that I met Austin and Emily in person. It’s great to finally meet Instagram friends in real life!

Once again, Sports Backers put on a great event. We really lucked out on the weather this year. Will I be back? We shall see!

My glass of Vidal Blanc with vineyards and the finish area in the background.

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Do you have any spring races on you agenda? I’d love to hear about it! This was half marathon #3 this year for me.

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

It’s Time

I participated in a protest for the first time this week. By now, you have heard the proposed vote of the Supreme Court of the United States in the leaked opinion on Roe vs. Wade. This is happening in a country that touts freedom. Well, apparently that really just means for white men.

For my sisters in the sorority of survivors of sexual assault, my heart aches with yours. The wounds from the insurmountable, enduring trauma have been ripped wide open again. 

With no exception for rape or incest, the drafted opinion, if passed, would mean that children would be forced to carry out a pregnancy from the spawn of a rapist. Imagine the trauma, the risk of death, the badge of shame this carries. Imagine being an 11 year old girl who barely understands her own body going through this. Imagine this is your daughter. 

Despite what some politicians have stated, rape is never ok. Women should not be expected to “just accept and enjoy it.” And coercion is not consent. And pregnancy from rape is not an “opportunity.” It’s a death sentence. The life of the victim, as she knows it, is over. 

For parents of daughters, it’s our responsibility to preserve their rights to body autonomy. If we lose this right, if THEY lose this right, then what rights do women really have? I mean, really. Why bother getting an education if the government views us as property to be taken? As if our only purpose in life is to be an incubator? It’s pointless. This is what it’s come to. 

Whatever your views are about when life begins, you must keep religious views out of the equation of bodily autonomy. Period. Our founding fathers did not intend our country to be a theocracy. That is why there is a separation of Church and State. The phrase “under God” wasn’t even added to the Pledge of Allegiance until the 1950’s. This is stuff that Handmaid’s Tale was made from.

I have not known a world without reproductive rights. I’ve always known that I had a way out if birth control failed, and I ended up with an unintended pregnancy. The generation of my children don’t realize exactly what’s at stake. 

I went to work this week, which was a pleasant distraction from the news of the leaked brief. I expected my much younger colleagues to be up in arms about the news, but no one talked about it. But we must!

Every woman and girl should have autonomy over their bodies. Not allowing this gives all the power to men. All of it. But women aren’t solely responsible for pregnancies. We just bear the burden of carrying them, whether we want them or not. Yet nothing will happen to men in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. They get to live their lives freely. Women will be forced to accept the physical and financial consequences, even if they really can’t afford to do so.

Women who end up with complications will die. Complications like ectopic pregnancies, the death of the fetus that does not naturally miscarry, severe chromosomal anomalies which would cause severe pain and death for a fetus: all of these possible traumatic outcomes would cause harm to a woman. There are no exceptions for cases like these. Women will lose their lives because politicians who write these laws don’t understand medicine. Women’s rights are human rights.

My favorite ahthor, Barbara Kingsolver, states the obvious, but so eloquently, alongside a picture of an egg: 

“This is a fertile egg. Not a chicken. That only happens after a hen gives her whole life over to brooding it. Most hens, on most days, opt to lay and move on. That’s just nature and good sense: motherhood is too important, too all consuming, to be done well unless it’s undertaken by choice, isn’t it?”

Barbara Kingsolver
Speaking up for all women at the Hanover Courthouse.

What can we do?

Like I said, I’ve never participated in a protest until this week. But there is too much on the line now. Our leaders must hear our discontent. Those who said we were overreacting when DT became president have been proven wrong. And I can’t believe that a man who was credibly accused of sexual assault is allowed to determine the reproductive rights of women. 

This time, apathy cannot win. If this first in the big dominoes is allowed to fall, next will be same sex marriage and birth control. Don’t say it won’t happen. It’s in the brief. 

Call your senators and congressmen. Call your state’s governor and representatives. Protest, if you can. And vote like your life depends on it. Be noisy. The freedom of women and girls is on the line. 

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There is so much more to be said. It’s time to fight. Please. For all women.

First photo courtesy of Rachel Levy.

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Totally Yawn Worthy

My patient let out a very audible yawn during our treatment session the other day. This meant that I, too, started to yawn. 

I actually love this phenomenon: the contagiousness of yawns. It gives me an opportunity to discuss a bit of useless trivia with my patients. 

You see, there was a study a few years ago which researched the behavioral traits that contributed to the likelihood of “catching” a yawn. The study linked an empathetic nature to catching a yawn, and psychopathic tendencies to not catching them. I always mention this article when my patients and I start passing yawns back and forth. Since I caught the yawn from my patient, I told him he could rest assured that I’m not a psychopath. This typically yields a laugh out of my patients!

I’m yawning incessantly just writing this blog post. The mere suggestion of a yawn makes me do so. I even catch them from my dog!

Last year, I learned another fact about yawns. A group of scientists studied why we yawn in the first place, trying to link autonomic responses to this very primitive behavior. Their hypothesis? It’s to cool a hot brain! Kind of like air conditioning for your cerebrum. Interesting, huh?

So if you ever wonder what kind of small talk I discuss with my patients on a daily basis, these stories are among my repertoire. 

The next time you catch a yawn, know that you’re not a crazy person. Also note that yawning doesn’t mean you’re bored, or even tired. It just means that your brain is hot!

And if you’re not yawning after reading this, I’d like to know…

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Did you know these things about yawning? I think it’s fascinating. How about you?

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Nightmares

I’ve always had them. I recalled my childhood night terrors to you in an earlier post: the man in the sky admonishing me for being a bad girl, accompanied by booming thunder and lightning. I was 3 or 4 when these began, and these dreams are among my first memories.

As an adult, during times of worldly stress, nightmares emerge again. 

Following the 9/11 attacks, I frequently dreamt about men in long robes wearing turbans and bearing assault rifles rounding up the women and holding us hostage. In some, buildings would catch fire, and I’d have to shimmy down an elevator shaft to escape. In others, I had to run. And in one, we were held in a big room and given electronic devices. No one seemed to care that they were imprisoned; they were too distracted by their devices.

Soon after the Ukraine invasion, dreams about Russia began. In one, a few women, including me, were rounded up by Russians who had invaded the US. I was desperately trying to befriend one of my captors so I could survive. In another, a group of many women and children were being held in a complex of apartments. They were very, very basic with cinder block walls, like what you would find in some church camps that I remember from childhood. There were tiny cameras mounted everywhere that would track our movements, with flashes going off when you least expected it, making it known that someone was aware of your location. I went outside and tried to go for a run, wearing sandals, and with legs that felt so very heavy. 

Sometimes my nightmares have nothing to do with worldly issues at all. 

This week’s dreams included one about snakes. There were multiple types, some poisonous, some not. I was driving over them, and one was trying to get into the car, nudging my seat under me. I woke up to the dog pushing her paw into my backside. So, maybe this dream wasn’t about snakes after all. Maybe it was my brain’s interpretation of what was physically happening to me! 

A copperhead snake that crossed my path on a trail run! What runners refer to as a “nope rope.” Copperheads are venomous.

Some of these dreams are disturbing enough that once I wake up, I struggle to get back to sleep, as my anxiety is triggered and in full gear. Those are the nights when I try to solve all of the world’s problems at 4:15am. Sigh. 

According to one scholarly article I read, about 1 in 20 “normal” people experience one nightmare a week. I’d say that’s about what I have. Sometimes fewer, sometimes more. Nightmares are often associated with times of stress, and are frequent in people with PTSD. This is understandable. 

Nightmares as an adult can be distressful. I personally try to figure out why I’m having them. Sometimes it’s obvious, as my reactions to war were created by my imagination, or my brain makes up a scenario to match physical sensations I’m feeling in my sleep, like my dog kicking me! Other times, they reveal deeper anxieties that let your conscious mind know that your subconscious mind needs to work out some issues. Aren’t our brains frustratingly amazing?

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Have you had nightmares as an adult? Can you always relate them to stressful triggers? I’d love to hear about it. 

Nightmares can definitely affect your stress levels and leave you feeling unsettled, certainly affecting your overall wellness. If they are disturbing your sleep on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to seek help from a professional to get to the root of the issue. 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

And This is Why I’m Grateful for Virtual Races…

Here’s the thing: healthcare providers who work in a hospital have to work weekends. Oftentimes, the managers who work on scheduling these weekend shifts have to plan months in advance, which means their staff do, too. It’s impossible to avoid the inevitable disappointment of not being able to participate in something fun because of work. 

I worked on Saturday. When I chose this weekend, I looked at the spring race calendar, and Richmond’s favorite block party, the Sports Backers Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, was not on the books yet. So I rolled the dice on choosing my April Saturdays that still also worked around the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Half Marathon. And as it worked out, one of the days I chose fell on race weekend for the Monument 10k. 

I had resigned myself to the fact that I would miss out on the party, so I didn’t register. As race day drew closer, I realized that there was still a virtual option! And while I couldn’t run in person, I could still run my 10th Monument 10k on my own. And so when one of my friends had a code for a free bib, I took it!

With some fellow RRRC volunteers at the expo.

Even though I didn’t get to run on Saturday, I did get to spend some time on Friday evening at the expo. I volunteered at the Richmond Road Runners Club booth. We met so many runners! And completely ran out of the Spring issue of Miles and Minutes! I wrote 2 articles for this issue. I recycled my blog post about what it means to be an athlete and wrote a race recap for the Sweetheart 8k. I talked up another local run club in this article, #WeOffTheCouch, and they were also at the expo! I was excited that they had the copy of the magazine open at the booth. I’m glad I stopped to meet them!

I ran my virtual race on Sunday, the day after the real event. It was so hot! And for some reason, my almost 50 year old body has been delivering more than the average number of personal summers in the past few days, so that didn’t help my heat tolerance at all. In fact, the whole run was miserable. Even in the first mile, when I usually feel light, I felt anything but. I may as well have been running on Jupiter. Or at least pulling a parachute behind me! But, alas, I got it done. It was definitely a chipper. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Some runs are like that, right? 

Almost done with my virtual 10k at this point!

If you ran the Sports Backers Monument 10k, it truly looked like a blast! It’s wonderful to have the race in person once again. But I am extremely grateful that one vestige of the pandemic running scene remains, at least for now: the virtual option. 

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Let me just say that men have no idea how challenging it is to run through perimenopause. And the doctors, even my female ones, are like, eh. It’s just the way things are. Sigh. Anyone have any tips to help me out?

If you ran this race, I’d love to hear about your experience, whether you ran it in person or virtually like me!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.