Category Archives: Updates

Where Do You Draw The Line?

Yes, I’ve been away for a few days here, but trying to at least answer followed posts. I’ve been dealing with the fallout of yet another battle with my mother. I’ve tried for years to get along with her, and when she gave me her wedding (ring) set, I’d hoped we’d truly rounded a corner in a lifetime long shitty relationship.

Image from depedkto12.blogspot.com

This time around, it was over my spinal problems and how I’m supposedly not doing anything to contribute to the household here. I’ve shown the woman my first MRI report from years back, tried to explain it over and over for almost a decade, and she refuses to accept any of it. At best, I should just got get surgery because I have insurance. As if it’s that simple.

After dropping hints repeatedly, trying to explain the problem and it’s side effects, etc… I finally had enough after our last phone call. I snapped and sent her a fairly strongly worded email saying I was sick of it, and if she spent not even half the time she did researching my grandfather’s alzheimers, she’d know what I’ve been going through. Also that I was sick of her efforts to bully me and destroy my self respect.

Her response was that “maybe we shouldn’t talk anymore since she always seems to piss me off”. Typical emotional manipulation and playing the victim card. If she’d listened the countless other times I tried to explain it all, it never would have hit the point it did.

I shouldn’t be surprised. She reacts poorly to any criticism. I’ve cut her out of my life for years at a time on two previous occasions too. This is the woman who ripped into me verbally if I brought home a B and had my first step dad beat me for Cs while I was in school. When I went to college, I was supposed to take double a full time load and work full time at a “real” job. I got crucified for any little mistake to the point I went from a major extrovert in elementary school to an isolationist level introvert from about the fourth grade on.

Oh yes, and I was told I was too much of a wimp to go take martial arts so I could learn to defend myself from all the bullies that I attracted. Belts in 6 styles later (Shou Shu Chi, Tae Kwon Do, American Sport Karate, Parker Kenpo, Tracy Kenpo and Wing Chun), I guess she can kiss my ass on that one.

Never got any credit for it either after I’d achieved it.

At this point, I want to just tell her “Fine, kiss off!”.

All the self doubt she beat into me over the years always seems to factor into situations like this though. *I* should be doing more, I should do something different, word things better, be more understanding.

She’ll quickly point out this verbal abuse goes back generations also and blame her behavior on that. It’s as close as she comes to taking responsibility. Otherwise she just blames me for not tolerating it.

I’ve worked hard to grow the last few years. Longer than that really, but it’s been a snowball; slowly picking up momentum and mass. Every time I start to do better, she seems to want to throw a boulder into my calm pond. I’m at a breaking point here, or rather the relationship is.

So, yeah… When is enough enough? Because where I’m sitting right now:

Spring Has Sprung

Well, actually it’s pretty overcast here today and supposed to rain later, but the temperatures are nicer, and the flowers are starting to bloom. I had no idea we even had daffodils in our backyard. I just walked out there a few days ago and there they were:

Spinal Decompression Treatment; 6 Months Later

I got asked a very legitimate question a little while ago regarding if I thought my spinal decompression treatment was worth it. Given that I’m still having issues with my back, *I* consider it a reasonable question anyway. 🙂

The very short answer is YES.

The detailed answer, with all the wheres and whys takes a little explaining however.

First, let me start with the obvious caveat that lawyers have none the less made mandatory anymore; your medical professional is the best person to advise you if ANY form of treatment is suitable for you Specifically.

Likewise everything I’m going to write here comes from a layperson. A moderately well read layperson who has put the advice given to personal use and seen benefits, but I am NOT a licensed health care professional in any form. Everybody’s physiology and biochemistry is a bit different too, so results may vary.

A Little Background:

Yes, I am still having troubles, but they’re largely focused on my lower back at this point. The area that I had decompression on was my neck or cervical spine area.

My neck was worse off, which is why the doctor decided to try it first. The degeneration there caused all manner of problems. I had sleep issues, severe headaches that were a mix of extreme tension headaches and migraines, brain fog and trouble focusing, and probably a dozen other issues, including a Parkinson’s-like tremor in my left arm. All that from pinched nerves in my neck caused by the spinal degeneration. My neck was at stage 3 spinal degeneration per the diagram below.

My lower back / lumbar region, on the other hand was at phase 2.

I had the headaches since the mid 1990s also. Since there was no real neck pain to accompany them and the other symptoms, I had NO idea for years that it was actually a spinal issue. Flair ups were bad enough and I was scared enough of addiction to opioid pain killers that I was taking 8 extra strength Advil pills at a time. If I didn’t have a constitution like Charlie Sheen’s, I probably would not have a stomach or liver left at this point. DO NOT do what I did there.

The real breakthrough came about 9 or 10 years ago. I was sitting at the PC, suffering through another severe headache when I heard something on the balcony of our apartment (probably just a bird or the neighbor’s cat). I turned my head to the left, and my neck popped so loud it sounded like a gunshot going off. My pain almost instantly went from an 11 on a 1 to 10 scale down to a 2, and a zero within minutes.

Over the following years, we tried multiple treatment options. Chiropractic treatment was variable. My first chiropractor actually tore a disc in my neck! The one after that was much better, but could only hold the situation at bay pain-wise. Acupuncture did wonders for the pain itself but nothing to fix the actual degeneration either.

By the time I was considering the spinal decompression, my MRI scans showed I was getting close to the point of either surgery or letting the bones fuse themselves together.

Side Note: You can see that process in the diagram above. it’s the body’s answer to protecting itself when it can’t actually heal the compressed disc(s) on it’s own. The vertebrae will literally grow out towards each other and try to fuse together.

Surgery, as I pointed out in previous posts, is expensive and has a very high fail rate over time. Decompression is $4000 vs anywhere from $100,000 and frequently more for surgery that fails regularly, and typically transfers the strain to other parts of the spine. I also saw enough benefit from the earlier alternative medicine that I had legitimate reason to believe decompression could work.

So, LONG story short, I was in nearly 25 year, long-term bad shape and out of options when I tried decompression. It still helped me.

I’ve never told that whole story in 3+ years of time here because I try to avoid personal drama online. It’s toxic and it focuses on the problem instead of moving forward. In this case though, it’s important to understand how bad off I was before treatment.

The Right Doctor Makes All the Difference:

The reason the lower back pain is still there and there are a few minor ongoing neck issues is that I chose the wrong doctor. He was very hands-off, letting his office staff run the computerized automatic decompression table, didn’t communicate well, etc…

We also got off on the wrong foot when we did my initial test treatment to see how I’d respond. The treatment did OK for my neck but he refused to look at my lower back that day, and sent me home in so much lower back pain that I could barely get in and out of the Mustang. I verbally lit him up when I showed up for the next treatment and told him if he did that again, I’d cancel treatments, get a refund for the balance and trash him on every review site I could find.

I didn’t have a treatment problem after that, but needless to say, we were politely cold to each other from then on. My original neck treatment pack was 24 treatments with a review of progress at that point and possible continuation for the full normal package of 36 (12 extra treatments).

He also just gave me the vibe of somebody more interested in dollars than patient well-being, but that is only a personal opinion.

So second long story short, assuming you have options in choice, is to find a doctor you feel comfortable with, will answer questions, and gives the vibe of caring as opposed to wishing you’d hurry up so they can be off to something else. In the case of the greater Nashville area, I had at least 4 other clinics I could have looked into beyond the local one.

My actual progress, combined with my dislike of the doctor meant I never even went back in for the re-evaluation or possible lower back treatment.

The Process Will NOT Be Fun, At First

I wrote about this in my earlier posts. I had quite a bit of subdermal scar tissue along my spine at the neck. Normally this kind of scar tissue only forms as a result of surgery and other “invasive” incidents or procedures. It DOES happen otherwise though, and the longer term your injury is, the more likely the scar tissue is there, or at least fibrous tissue that VERY closely resembles surface scar tissue. In the case of spine problems, the tissue will or may form to try to protect and reinforce the area around a damaged or compressed disc.

Even if you don’t have any subdermal ‘scar’ tissue, keep in mind that you’re still stretching muscles, tissue, etc… that have been constricted and tight for a while. Discs will try to expand to their natural shape also, and nerves will shift. It’s all going to hurt.

With all the scar tissue that broke loose in my neck, I was miserable for the first week. I lived with a cold pack on my neck. I could feel the difference in the type of pain though, and a reduction in the secondary issues I was dealing with. No brain fog, muscle ache pain vs severe migraine pain, etc… The cold packs really did help also and are important for fighting inflammation caused by the treatment.

About half way through the treatments, the pain was minimal, and I was “Hell yeah! let’s keep the ball rolling!”. By treatment 24, my neck felt like it did when I was 20.

Post-Treatment Makes ALL the Difference:

If you want to make sure you get your money’s worth out of treatment, doing the right things afterwards makes ALL the difference. Lead a dumb lifestyle and stress your back, and I’ll guarantee you’ll reverse everything you gained in a matter of mere months. Our forced move away from Nashville (mainly doing it ourselves), and a few other events put a definite strain on my lower back and neck so I’ve felt it first hand.

I’ve also stuck with the therapy and other habits that are undoing that strain and continuing my healing progress.

Here’s the work you’re going to expect to have to do:

Dietary Changes: Simple and sometimes obvious. If you’re overweight, that puts an extra burden on your spine. Sugar causes inflamation. Highly acidic food leach calcium from your bones. Changes do NOT have to be instantaneous. It’s awesome if you can quit cold turkey. If not, work on slowly reducing unhealthy foods while you search for healthy alternatives and ways to cook them where you enjoy eating them. If you’re a sugary drink junkie, like me, slowly reduce them and substitute with water. I do NOT recommend the vast majority of diet drinks as their artificial sweeteners often cause more issues than they fix. Stevia and Monkfruit ‘sugar’ being notable exceptions and natural.

Nutritional Supplements: specifically those designed for bone health and nervous system support. Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium in particular are important, if not outright vital. Get them naturally via food as much as you can. Use high quality supplements otherwise. That means no junk sold at the local drug or grocery store.

Personally, I take Animal Pak vitamins intended for competition bodybuilders. I’m anything but a bodybuilder. However, the vitamins and minerals are top quality and sourced from easily bio-absorbed sources. There are no nasty fillers or binding agents either. Did you know that many cheap vitamins use Plaster of Paris as a binding agent or silicon dioxide (ie sand) as a filler ? Think either of those are good for your digestive system?

Solaray is another good supplement company that I can recommend. Anywhere my main multivitamin falls short, such as the aforementioned Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium, I supplement with Solaray.

At Home Physical Therapy: It will take work to finish rehab of your injured spine. Because my back and neck were in such bad shape initially, I have two home traction units I use (updated reviews on them coming soon). Overall, I think they’re a worthwhile investment if you get the right ones and use them properly and regularly.

If your spine wasn’t in as bad a shape or suffering for such an extended period of time, you can possibly get away with with a massage wand, stretching, yoga and relaxation exercises. If you’re inclined to label yoga as some new age BS for soccer moms, consider that Diamond Dallas Page’s yoga program has literally saved the life and restored the health of some former big name wrestling stars. Scott Hall being the biggest success story.

Bottom line is that you have to maintain flexibility and range of motion as part of maintaining and strengthening your back.

I should include using proper lifting techniques and such as part of the general category of “therapy”. Continue lifting with your lower back instead of your knees and you’re just asking for a return to back pain. Trying to lift more than you safely can; also trouble. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. 🙂

LASTLY; IF You Were Long-Term Sedentary Because of Your Injuries: Remember it will take time to undo all of the muscle loss and weight gain. DO NOT push yourself in some blind determination to return to your glory days overnight. At best, you’ll be so exhausted you can’t do anything. At worst, you’ll re-injure yourself.

Go slow, keep your exercises as low-impact as possible (which is why I like rowing), and progress at a rate your body is comfortable with. Save the macho, “no pain, no gain” stuff for the military, and kids who will end up with their own back issues eventually. You’ll get stronger and more active, it just takes time and a sensible approach to it.

ALL of this should be considered life long stuff also. The biggest mistake that people who injure their backs make is to only do these kind of things until they start to feel better. Inversion tables are a great example. They’re frequently bought by people in the early stages of back pain. They really work too so long as you don’t have bad knees or a couple of other medical conditions that can make them unsafe.

The new owner will use them for a few weeks, feel better, and immediately toss the thing on Craigslist though. Inevitably they end up hurting again eventually too because they didn’t change the habits that got them hurt, or continue doing what they needed to rehab and strengthen their back.

Yes, the exercises and therapy takes time. Quality nutritional supplements cost money also. Consider the alternative of an unproductive, pain filled sedentary lifestyle though.

PAST SPINAL DECOMPRESSION POSTS:

Treatment, Days 1 & 2

Spinal Decompression; Day 5

Where I’ve Been; Grappling with Changing Realities

Spinal Decompression; Day 14

Pronex Traction Unit Review / How I’ve Learned to Use One

Brief Spinal Decompression Update

One Last Spinal Decompression Update

General Update

I’ve been idle again for a couple of days. My goal anymore is to do 2 or 3 posts a day (more often 2) and make only one of them “heavy” in any sort of way. I think keeping it at 2 or 3 keeps the work load manageable, and I don’t overload readers.

Lately I’ve been battling to catch up on sleep though. Around 5 years back, we bought a Sleep Number bed. Given the condition of my back at the time, it was a worthwhile investment despite the cost.

I should actually do a review post on them for my readers. Maybe the next day or so. 🙂

The sleep problem that came up is that the center of the bed is an air chamber. Taking air in or out is how you adjust the firmness. And, the air chamber sprung a small leak apparently. Ever tried sleeping on an air mattress and waking up with it half deflated and your back hurting? THAT is what I was dealing with for the past few weeks.

We got a new air chamber, and the bed is working fine again. It’s really been a matter of trying to catch up on my sleep now and let my creative batteries recharge.

The Back and Neck:

image from nata.org

As you can imagine, the whole incident with the bed set me back a little here. I was moving along fairly well on the rehab path after my spinal decompression treatments. The new traction devices helped, as did the rower and exercise.

At this point, I’m coming to the conclusion that healing the back to a meaningful degree and losing weight is going to take time. More then I’d like for sure. I’m making progress though. I can lift more than I could before without hurting, I’ve got more energy and more flexibility. It’s a mix of positivity that I’m making progress and frustration that it’s so slow.

The Shadow Hunt:

Overall, things have been going well here also. As long as I remember the prayer, meditation, ho’oponopono, etc… I’m having great days. When I forget, or the sleep issue was interfering, not quite as much. Again, progress even if this one will be a long slow uphill battle. Personal demons don’t disappear in a night anymore than they’re created that quickly though.

The Blog:

I’m still here, and there are no plans to change that. 🙂 As mentioned at the start, I’ve decided to limit my posting to 2 or 3 posts a day with an occasional day off. I’m trying to reorganize the whole daily topic thing that I had going before, but I’m not there yet.

I will be adding regular martial arts and self-dense related posts to the blog, once a week I suspect.

Politics specifically I still plan to avoid. It’s just too toxic anymore. I want to try to discuss some social issues in a non-political way though. Suggest middle of the road solutions, etc… That’s another thing I’m still trying to work out though. To be honest, a part of me doesn’t want to bring them back. Tuning out the news and politics has been like removing a dark weight from my soul. There’s just too much hate surrounding it all anymore. REALLY hard to deal with when you’re an empath too.

I want to get back to more writing related posts too. That’s what this whole thing was started for originally. The cooking posts will definitely stay also. I think you all have noticed there have been more of those thanks to the weather lately. 🙂 It’s something I’m moderately talented at and truly enjoy (usually, lol).

That’s about all I’ve got for now. 🙂

Still Drifting…

But the ship is coming under control ever so slowly. 🙂

So what to say here? I try to avoid personal drama here. It’s toxic, and it alienates good readers, and bad readers take pleasure in it.

LONG story short; my baggage goes WAY back. BAD childhood, equally bad first marriage, etc… For ages, I’ve tried the Western, new age BS way to deal with my “shadow”: all the pain, self-doubt and anger over it. That being to make peace with it, or bury it. Let me tell yah; that don’t work.

Shaka Zulu was credited as saying never leave an enemy alive lest they rise again and strike you down (paraphrased). That is exactly what happens with psychological baggage when you try that. You start to feel good, and it comes back attacking from a different angle. Even Seinfeld recognized that:

The only answer is to kill the bitch. How? Detailed instructions would be another, LONG post, and I can’t say as I’ve got all the answers YET. I do know I’ve made huge progress with prayer, meditation, grounding, energy work, and working hard to forgive myself and others. I can also honestly say that it takes some real introspection and self-awareness to hunt your own shadow as well.

Is it truly killable? Yes, but achieving that (IMO) would put somebody at the level of a Buddha or just short of that. Can *I* do it? Saying yes would be arrogant. Saying no would allow doubt and fear to creep into the fight, strengthening the shadow.

I’m already doing better too. I’ve come too far to let myself fall back also.

I will leave all of you with one VERY helpful tool while I continue to work, and compile a complete battle plan.

Ho’oponopono is Hawaiian prayer or meditation technique. It’s name roughly translates as ‘to release’. That’s exactly what it’s goal is also; to help you forgive yourself and others, and release the associated negative emotions and energy connected to people and events. The video above is one of several videos on YouTube covering Ho’oponopono. The process is as powerful as it is deceptively simple; an analogy would be the Israelites being told to gaze at Moses’s staff to be healed. Yes, it’s THAT good, especially with regular use.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by life or just want to grow, give it a try.

Beyond that; I’ll leave you with this post’s theme song; dedicated to getting better and supportive friends:

Feeling Adrift…

Yep, a personal post. I haven’t been posting because I’ve been in sort of a funk the last week or so. I’ve had posts ready to write out, but haven’t been able to “get pen to paper” as it were.

Honestly, it’s felt vaguely like the esoteric definition of a ‘dark night of the soul’, but without most of the negative emotion that accompanies one. None the less, there is the feeling of being without direction and like nothing I want to try (such as writing) is going to move in the right direction.

The simple definition.

Aside from the same worries that everyone else is dealing with nowadays, I suspect there’s something I need to make peace with and release. That, I will have to meditate on.

In the mean time, the prescribed way to deal with a spiritual dark night is to keep pushing through it, so that’s what I’m here starting to do. 🙂

More posts to come… such as my scratch made chili verde.

Destructive Little Peckerhead

A play on words as well as a legitimate statement of annoyance. The target of my wrath?

A woodpecker (maybe more than one). Not just ANY woodpecker though. On NO, we had to attract something special:

A Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. They apparently hang out in this neck of the woods during the winter.

Late yesterday morning, I take a peek out the front door and I see THIS:

For half a second, I thought the tree had been hit by lightning during the storm the night before (although there was no thunder or lightning). Closer inspection turned up these:

A little research ruled out termites and led me to our culprit above. These filthy little beasts drill holes in trees to drink their sap. And this poor tree was just covered with holes! All that black gunk in the picture above was tree sap, running five feet down the trunk.

We were on the way out the door to go to Home Depot and get some pruning sealant spray when it came back too. At that point, I introduced it to Red Ryder.

Red Ryder is my preferred discipline tool for these situations. It stings, but doesn’t have enough power to hurt even a bird that size unless you shot it point blank.

A pop in the arse sent our destructive woodpecker friend on her way. Afterwards, we got a can of Spectracide pruning seal. It took nearly the entire can to seal all the holes too. Given that the seal smells like and has the consistency of road tar, I doubt the bird will be attacking those areas again. 😝

*sigh* I like nature. I’ve been told I have some fae blood in me (hasn’t everyone who is Scottish or Irish? LOL), so it comes natural… pun intended. That’s a nearly 100 year old tree that stupid bird was destroying though. One that also sits far too close to the house and our cars for my comfort.

Between that, squirrels tearing up our lawn and garden back in Sacramento and crows attacking our house and cars regularly…

well, let’s just say I’m liking nature a bit less nowadays. 😕

It’s In The Cards?

Picture borrowed from Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosaumbra/3567680676

This one is a repost from my adult blog, originally done yesterday. It’s going to get a bit new-agey, but just hang in there. I promise it’ll be interesting regardless. First, let’s start with a little honesty, both with myself and you all:

Yes, life has been a seemingly never ending series of small train wrecks the last few years (and before that, lol), BUT, even as frustrating as multiple moves, dogs barking and stampeding, etc… have been… The real reason I’ve done so little (creative) writing is self-doubt.

In terms of the adult blog and writing erotica / romance, well… Anything sexual is both complicated and draining for an Empath also.

Only Arrowverse fans will get it, but… LOLOL

Even just creative writing about it tends to pull on or out a great deal of emotional energy. That MAY be something for another post however. It would take time to discuss properly.

LONG story short, I’ve spent a great deal of time the last few weeks reflecting on whether or not writing, erotica in particular, was something that I was truly ready to pursue… or if maybe I should focus on more mundane pursuits. Not coming to any real conclusions on my own, I turned to the tarot card reading software I have to see if I could get a little insight.

As a Side Note, I know what a few of you MAY be thinking; “Get a reading from a piece of software?!?” Well, I actually DO have a real deck, but I’m still learning to read it. More importantly, whether you’re using physical cards or software, it’s just your subconscious mind / higher self trying to communicate with you. With the software, you pick the cards, the software places them, and tell you their base meaning, and how being inverted and or it’s position with other cards effects it’s meaning. Once the cards are all read, the software leaves you to interpret how it all comes together to answer your question. Again, because it’s all really about getting an answer from your subconscious, it’s been surprisingly accurate for me every time I’ve used it.

With that clarification, I’m going to post the “reading” I did on becoming an author. Coincidentally, what you see below is exactly what the program spit out in terms of describing each card.

Cards from the Celtic Dragon Tarot deck; the style of deck I own.

Summary (Career Reading)

QUESTION: How Successful Will I Be as a Writer?

First card: The first card describes the past. It can also signify past factors such as study or work experience.

(1) YOU GOT: The World.
This card is about joy of the senses, the cosmic origin of life, love and happiness. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means that its neighbor cards strengthen it. Meanings: Well-dignified it signifies success, a favorable issue to the circumstances. Sometimes change of place.

Second card: The second card describes the present situation. It’s the current state of the subject’s career.

(2) YOU GOT: Five of Staves.
This card is about persuasion, hot speech, demonstration of love or desire and egotism. Meanings: Power, and pleasure in exercising it; adventure, speculation, and uncertainty; strong attachments. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means: Boldness, command, generosity.

Third card: The third card describes the positives, the ‘pros’.

(3) YOU GOT: Knight of Swords.
This card is about a military man, painful memories, distress in the family and war. Meanings: A youngish man, with some talent for governing, rather materialistic, though with some artistic appreciation, active, clever, fond of travel, dexterous, and skillful in management. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means: Favorable to the enterprises of the Querent.

Fourth card: The fourth card describes the negatives, the ‘cons’.

(4) YOU GOT: Seven of Cups.
This card is about thoughts, ideas, intelligence, plans and imagination. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means that its neighbor cards strengthen it. Meanings: Possible victory, but the person to whom the card applies may be too indolent to take advantage of his opportunities for commanding circumstance; success may be gained, but not followed up; necessity for choosing the highest possible objectives.

Fifth card: The fifth card describes the influence of colleagues, management and others with whom the subject has professional dealings.

(5) YOU GOT: The Lovers.
This card is about sensuality and human love. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means that its neighbor cards strengthen it. Meanings: Attraction, beauty, love, sympathy. Balance of forces, and reciprocal activity. Particularly, agreement in things of the mind, symbolized by the six-pointed star, or hexagram. It is a card of harmony between the inner and outer life.

Sixth card: The sixth card describes the best path to take in order to further the subject’s best interest in the matter.

(6) YOU GOT: Nine of Swords.
This card is about dogmatism, ritual, ecclesiastic spirit and hard judgment. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means that its neighbor cards strengthen it. Meanings: Faithfulness, obedience, unselfishness, patience; fortunate news about legal affairs or partnerships, especially if the outcome has been delayed or in doubt; aid or gain through relatives, short journeys, or writings, but not until the Querent has passed through a period of more or less uncertainty and worry; ultimate good fortune resulting from a series of events which present unfavorable appearances at first.

Seventh card: The seventh card describes the outcome. It indicates the final result if the path shown is followed.

(7) YOU GOT: Two of Swords.
This card is about magnetic attraction, intimacy, affection and sensuality.
This card is well-dignified (100%), this means that its neighbor cards strengthen it. Meanings: Contradictory characters in the same nature: strength through suffering; pleasure after pain. Delay in the realization of objectives. It intimates a period of uncertainty, in which the Querent, through he has a sense of adequate power, does not know just what to do with it. Justice, unselfishness, and the restoration of peace.

MY (Short) Take On It:

The first card; The World meant that my past work, while needing improvement, is better than I’ve given myself credit for, and is an indication that I have ability. The second card; 5 of Staves, is along the same lines. It means I’ve got the ability and need to put it to use. The third card; Knight of Swords, means I have the organizational skills to handle the choice. The fourth card; Seven of Cups, means I’ll have to be dedicated to the work and improving my craft if I want to succeed. The fifth card; The Lovers, I’m *guessing* means I’ll have some support in the effort. As for the sixth card; The 9 of Swords, it means the best path is hard work, serious effort at growth, and releasing the self doubt. The seventh card; the 2 of Swords (interesting that so many of the minor arcana cards were Swords… means it’ll be a struggle at first, but if I keep at it, I’ll be successful.

All in all, I’d say it was a very positive reading.

Erotica and Witchfire Specifically (Link is NSFW):

A few hints in the above reading indicated that erotica was indeed in the cards for me, (pun always intended, lol). None the less, I did separate readings on both of those with similar results. The main difference being that the readings indicated that they would both be tools to help me find increased peace with that part of my nature. They’d both be growth tools in their own unique ways. How long they’d remain a part of my life however, was hard to say.

Wrapping it Up:

I’ve overcome a great deal the last few months. I even got my neck and back returned to a (somewhat) functional state and am continuing to work hard there. I can and will make this work too. It’s long past time I let go of the self doubts.

I have alot of half finished stories and posted story ideas to work on too. 😀

What A Workout!

Yes, I still like my vague titles, lol. Keeps people curious.

OK, so I had hoped to be back here (and at my other blog) writing again sooner, but things have been busy. There’s alot of little chores with a house this old and a fairly sizable yard. We’re also still sorting and tossing things in an effort to trim back and simplify.

On top of that, I’ve been working HARD at one of my New Year’s resolutions… You know, that one that EVERYBODY makes:

I’m Going to Get In Shape!!!

THIS has been my torture device of choice:

It’s a water based rowing machine. LONG story short, we decided months back that when we moved we were going to get one more exercise machine to go with our stationary bike. I thought long and hard about it, and pushed for a rowing machine because it works so many muscle groups at once.

Picture from Amazon’s store page

It also works your back and shoulders. I even feel it in my forearms. Rowing around on a lake (in an inflatable boat) was how I first got in shape in my younger days, and it’s a habit I still enjoy, so this was a natural choice to me.

I still have yet to get a certain lazy spouse on it however. >_<

For those of you who have been slacking on your fitness… Let me tell yah; you don’t realize how badly you can go downhill before you truly feel it. I knew I was out of shape thanks to my back and neck keeping me sedentary for 8 or so years. I walked, I did things around the house, so I assumed I wasn’t THAT bad off.

The first time I got on the rower, I could only do fifty reps. 😶 NOT good, since the rower pretty much provides the same moderate level of resistance as real rowing.

I’ve busted my butt however, and am determined to NEVER go back to that condition I was in before decompression therapy. In roughly three weeks, I’ve gone from 50 reps to 1000 yesterday. Some of my improvement was probably just the exercise working fatigue poisons and other toxins out of my system. I know I’m feeling mentally and physically better, even if pushing hard leaves me wiped out afterwards. 😀

I’ve also lost 10 pounds and am determined to keep that up also.

The Best Diet Advice I Ever Got:

Was something so simple that most people wouldn’t believe it works; just SLOW DOWN and enjoy your food. Take your time, thoroughly chew it, actually make conversation with people while you eat, etc… The ideas being that first, it takes 15 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s had enough, no matter how much food you scarf down. So yes, closely related to that, it’s also better for your digestive system.

The hidden benefit to it though is that you AND your body will quickly figure out what’s truly good food. I was skeptical on this one and actually tested the idea on a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin one day. I used to love the things. Slowing down and chewing it though… truly giving myself time to sample the flavors… The sausage is REALLY disgusting, and the muffin and cheese aren’t much better.

Some of you may have had similar experiences with other foods. Little Ceasar’s pizza for example; it actually tastes good if it’s hot and you don’t truly take your time. Let it cool off even a little though… Yuck! Even if you eat it quickly.

If you want to read more about the whole concept, there’s a book called “The Slow Down Diet” that goes into more details, but I’ve given you most of the highlights here.

Just make that one simple change in your eating routine and see how much changes in your life.

The Ongoing Neck and Back War:

Speaking of the neck and back… Moving REALLY took a toll on both of them, given how rushed everything was. My worthless ProNex therapy tool broke on me also:

The damned thing tore in half at the narrow center section of the top piece, just from normal use. Talk about cheap! I mean I knew it was foam rubber, but still…

Pronex doesn’t stand by their products either, even if brand new. Needless to say, I’m changing my review to zero stars, wouldn’t recommend. After some meticulous research, I came across an alternative:

Only $50 more than the Pronex, but it’s solid construction, not low grade foam rubber.

It worked so well that we bought the lower back unit made by ComfortTrac also:

With my bad back and the auto accident my other half suffered in the Subaru, this unit has been a godsend for both of us. Chiropractic treatment never did anything long term for my back, but this is helping tremendously.

Neither unit is QUITE as good as full blown professional decompression treatment, BUT with common sense and regular use, they come VERY VERY close, for a good deal less. My previous decompression treatments ran almost $4000, and the moving undid a large portion of that. These two units had a combined cost of roughly $1000 on Amazon. That’s still ALOT of money, but we’re both benefiting from them, and it’s cheaper than professional treatment, and FAR FAR cheaper than surgery.

If there’s enough interest, I’ll do a more in-depth review on both. For now, suffice it to say they’re a large part of why I’ve been able to push myself so hard, and will help guarantee I never go back to that broken down state EVER again.

Oh yes… Remember that recurve bow I bought also?

Well, I finally got it out and started shooting also. The weather has provided limited opportunities there, but I finally got out the other day and shot a few flights. This was at about 30 feet of distance BTW. Not too impressive. My first volley was a bit of a mess also, LOL:

I hit the target with all 3 arrows though! I consider that fairly good since it was the first time I’d shot a bow since 1987 or 88. There was no nock point (a little piece of brass wrapped around the string) on the bow string, no sights, and the tab (finger guard) I was using on my drawing hand was incredibly sloppy.

Picture from Amazon’s store page of the exact one I purchased. Somebody sure chews their nails, LOL

I have to replace it with a shooting glove for sure.

BUT, I shot bare bow for the first time in 33 years and out of 50 arrows at between 30 and 35 feet, I only missed the target 3 times. By the last flight of arrows, my accuracy had improved too:

I even put one nearly dead center!

Funny… I was worried that a 40 pound draw weight on the bow might be a hair too much. It’s actually proving to be just about right for me, and is giving my arms a little extra workout also.

I’ve forgotten some of the technique I was taught back in college, but it’s amazing how I could pick up on what I was physically doing wrong with my shots; primarily being too tense, and sometimes not just simply releasing the bow string.

For those who have never shot a bow, the ideal release technique is to just simply let the fingers holding the bow string go limp. It prevents an accidental jerk of the string sideways, which will make your shot go wide. That can happen if you try to force your hand to release the string, or outright jerk your hand away.

ANYWAY… I need some practice for sure, but it wasn’t bad for a first outing. 🙂

I’ve also taken a few preliminary steps towards brushing up on my Kenpo and Wing Chun. That’s a story for another time however. 🙂

Five MAVO Points to anyone who can tell me what that last picture is though… WITHOUT an internet search. 😛

New Years Update & Some Thoughts

Let’s start with a slightly belated Happy New Year to everyone out there. Here’s hoping that 2021 will indeed be a better year.

As for 2020… The WWE had the best answer there:

Personal Updates:

I’ve been away the last few days just taking a break. It’s been a hellish last few months with the move and everything. Pack, unpack, clean a filthy house we moved into, enough yard work to keep a full landscaping crew busy full time, the holidays, and some other things I didn’t get into earlier.

My other half had to go into the hospital to have some heart blockage checked. Long story short, there was some modest amount and it’s treatable with medication. That much is a relief. I am hammering for better eating habits and exercise at this point though.

The situation had two other uncomfortable issues come up as well. A) I’m completely in the dark about most of our finances. B) The life insurance I thought was in place was never taken care of. We’re working on correcting *A* at least.

I was also forced to cut loose my longest running friendship also. We’ve known each other since my first run at college back in 1987. Unfortunately said friend has also drank the FAR right kool-aid, and become pretty classless. I already dragged them away from Stormfront (a neo-nazi forum) once before and thought they had their head on straight. Ever since the George Floyd incident though, they’ve been increasingly negative and using “BLM” as a replacement for the N Word, among other inappropriate talk.

Several attempts at reasoning had no luck, and in the end I got verbally attacked. Enough was enough, and I had to break ties. It’s something I’m not happy about on one level, BUT at the same time, I have to take a stand for what’s right. Yes, elements of BLM have acted very poorly (although more often than not it’s Antifa crashing their protests), and the things A FEW people that claim to represent them have said have been royally offensive. I can’t hold the whole group responsible for a few publicity hounds and loose cannons though.

So yes, my “we all need to shun the crazy extremists” talk **IS** something I back with action. While I wish i could have talked some sense into them, you can’t help anybody who doesn’t want to be helped. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way more than once in the past.

On a more positive note, I started on a couple of my New Year’s resolutions early. We got a rowing machine after moving to the new place, and I’ve been using it to get back into shape and rebuild the lost muscle from my being largely sedentary the last few years. We’ve actually turned the sun room into a fitness center. Our exercise bike is in there along with my old martial arts training equipment, including BOB:

AKA “Body Opponent Bag” – Century Martial Arts named him, not me.

I picked BOB up on clearance at a sporting goods store years back. Time to slowly start putting him to use. Luckily I have videos to refresh my former classroom (dojo) training.

Since we finally have a big back yard, I also picked up something I’ve wanted for ages; a new longbow:

It’s a Southwest Archery “Spyder” takedown recurve bow kit. OK, everybody say it with me:

OK, kidding aside, I used archery as my ‘out’ for a PE class back during that first trip through college. California had made PE a requirement at the college level if you can believe it. It *IS* California after all. Anyway, it turned out to be very Zen and therapeutic for me. I’m not the hunting type, but target shooting is something I find relaxing. I’ll doubtless write more here once the weather clears and I can actually get some shooting in.

There was more I wanted to write about plans with the blog and getting caught up on notifications, but that’ll have to wait until next time.