February 1, 2013
So I stayed up all night working on this photo project, which is crazy, but I couldn’t sleep anyway. As you may (or may not) know, one of my passions in life is photography. The physical demands of it are often very difficult due to my RA (carrying heavy equipment, standing on my feet for hours), but I still have the drive and desire to keep doing it, for some reason. Anyway, there is a cool thing going on through the local public television station here, TPT (Twin Cities Public Television), called Capture Minnesota. And today is the deadline to enter photos of Minnesota for the Capture Minnesota II photo book. I’ve been digging around in my computer all night trying to find some of the best photos I’ve taken of Minnesota over the last couple years. I think I found some good ones, so if you feel moved to do so, please vote for them. I’d really appreciate it!
January 22, 2013
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” - The Declaration of Independence, 1776
So I am a day late posting this, but better late than never, right? I didn’t tune in to ALL of the inauguration coverage that was happening yesterday (and before yesterday), but I did catch some of it and listened to President Obama’s speech, which I liked. I’m glad that he mentioned health care reform in it, because of course that is something I am passionate about and support. Publicly debating politics or getting preachy about political issues isn’t really my thing, but I will stand up for what I believe in and I don’t expect others to agree with me. I voted for Obama again this election, as I did four years ago and I’m incredibly happy that he won. I suppose I would consider myself a Moderate Liberal – more fiscally conservative but socially liberal. I’m not for outrageous wasteful government spending (who is, really?), but I also believe in many of the social programs that exist to help people. And of course health care is a huge issue for me and one that has affected my own life, very personally, in so many ways. Speaking of that – I’ve been having some major health and arthritis-related things going on over the last month, which I will update about after this post. I promise!
Health care should not be a luxury or privilege for few, but it should be seen as a basic human right, and this I believe with my whole heart and mind. I don’t blindly think President Obama or the Democrats are perfect by any means, but I do sincerely hope that the President and people across all parties will realize the importance of improving our corrupt, archaic, and broken health care system and will do something about it. There are too many people suffering just in our own country because they can’t get decent, affordable medical care when or if they need it. This is wrong and must change.
Anyway, here are some quotes from President Obama’s speech yesterday that stuck with me:
“For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.
We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss or a sudden illness or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative. They strengthen us.
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began, for our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.
That is our generation’s task, to make these works, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American.”
To read the entire transcript of President Obama’s speech, go here:
October 14, 2012
Fall is here! It’s my favorite time of year yet I feel like I haven’t really been enjoying it that much. Why not? A sudden “episode” of anxiety has seemingly come out of nowhere and hit me like a truck running over my head at 80 mph. Well, okay I guess that analogy isn’t that great because if a truck really ran over my head I would be dead right now and I’m obviously alive. But this anxiety has been really debilitating and I haven’t been living life as I should because of it. I suppose realizing that my dreaded birthday is coming up is what triggered the anxiety attack. I started thinking about my age and where I am in life and what I’ve done and more about what I haven’t done (marriage, kids, grad school, career, my art, moving abroad again, etc). And that’s been really worrying and upsetting me. I know I’ve been beating myself up, unfairly, and way too harshly. But despite my efforts to be rational and chilled-out about things, the same obsessive worries and fears and regrets keep going round in circles in my head. But I think that once I start to really make progress and improvements in at least one area of my life, these feelings will get better and go away. God, I hope so. Regret is such a miserable, self-loathsome, sickening feeling. I’ve struggled enough with it already over the years and I thought I had finally let go of some things until this latest crippling bout of it. I know regret is extremely counter-productive because you can’t go back and change things. Looking back, dwelling, getting sentimental and nostalgic to the point of extreme sadness – this has always been a problem of mine since I was a kid, really. How do you stop thinking this way? If anybody has any good tips, please feel free to share them. I’m so tired of it.
Anyway, in other good news, I just started a new photography blog – http://aclundberg.blogspot.com. I’m really happy with how it’s looking so far. Hopefully as I add more posts it will start to look more professional and will help me land some jobs or something. But despite using it as a job tool, I’ve just been having a lot of fun working on it.
September 11, 2012
It’s getting to be mid-September already and the weather has been cooler and less humid. However today it was a bizarrely balmy 95 degrees. What? Crazy Minnesota weather, I guess. Fall is my favorite time of year anyway, but I love it even more because the drop in temperature and humidity makes my body and aching joints feel so much better – especially my stubborn right ankle. Since returning from my trip to Europe a month ago, I admit I’ve been having trouble staying energized and motivated to get my life together and to get back on track with health stuff (diet, exercise, weight loss, doctor appointments, ankle). However, I did go on a long bike ride around Palmer Lake a couple days ago – twice around the trail! So that’s about eight miles total. My hardcore bicycling friends would probably find that distance rather wimpy, but it was the first time I ever did that, so I was pretty happy and proud. But, um, I haven’t been on my bike since then. Er. TOMORROW! I just can’t ride my bike or do any kind of exercise in 90 degree heat, and I think that’s understandable.
August 13, 2012
Hello from Minneapolis! I am actually somewhat glad to be back, surprisingly. Usually when I come back from trips abroad I’m depressed for quite a while afterwards. Since arriving back home from Dublin late Friday night, I’ve felt pretty energized and motivated and in a decent mood. I miss my friends a lot, of course, but I’m feeling positive about finally making some important decisions about my future, regarding my career, moving, creative projects, etc. While the trip was really fun, it was also physically demanding and exhausting, so I’m glad to be home to finally get some rest and to attend to my joints which seem to be exploding with inflammation. This afternoon I left a message for my rheumatologist’s nurse about wanting to discuss with my doctor other treatment options and needing help with what to do next about this stubborn right foot and ankle. Hopefully she will return my call tomorrow and we can get the ball rolling. Strangely, the weather here right now is cooler and less humid than in Dublin and Berlin, so that’s making me feel better.
Also in health news – sadly, I think I have gained back some of the weight I lost just before I left on my trip. Even though I was walking a lot, my careless mass consumption of Croatian/Bosnian/German/Irish beer and delicious bread and pastries probably didn’t help the situation. So now it’s back to tracking calories, self-sacrifice, and near-starvation. I’ll find out what the damage is when I weigh-in Friday. Can’t wait. I did go on a little bike ride today though and that felt good. I’ll have to work my way up to two rides a day again and I’d also like to start swimming on a regular basis, if I can muster the energy to drag myself to the pool (I blame laziness and inconvenience for current procrastination). But seriously, during the entire trip I kept thinking about how much I really do want to be healthier physically and to continue losing weight. It will be a challenge to get back on track after nearly a month, but I think I can do it.
So, that’s the update for now. I took a million photos and I’ll post a link once I get them uploaded if anybody wants to see them.
As always, thanks for reading!
July 31, 2012
Guten Tag! Hello from Berlin, Germany. I arrived late Saturday night from Dubrovnik, Croatia. Sorry I haven‘t posted until now but I‘ve been running around with friends in Croatia and Bosnia for the last week and finding fast, convenient Internet access challenging. There have been many challenges on this trip, not surprisingly, but I‘m glad that I decided to do the trip and meet up with friends over here. Croatia and Bosnia were beautiful and incredibly interesting places despite the oppressive heat of Croatia. Swimming in the Adriatic Sea felt surreal, surrounded by gorgeous, towering mountains. We tried to hit the beach quite a bit which was cool and swimming in the sea helped ease the pain and throbbing of my continually swollen right foot and ankle. The intense heat and humidity of Croatia (Bosnia was better, thankfully) definitely was not good for my RA – my foot and ankle ballooned to a disturbingly large size by the end of each day. But I just tried to deal with it the best I could, like I am doing right now in Berlin. Luckily the weather is much cooler here so I feel better overall physically. Traveling is exhausting though – I always forget that until I‘m back doing it again, dragging heavy luggage and bags, walking miles, rushing through airports. Then I think, Why am I doing this to myself? Because I love to travel. I think? No, seriously, I do love traveling to new places, and especially to different countries. But traveling while living with a painful chronic illness is very difficult. And it takes patience and empathy and understanding from those around you, your traveling buddies and friends, and from yourself. I have to keep reminding myself that it‘s okay to go slow and to take my time and to listen to how my body feels. Getting upset because you can‘t make it to all of the sights isn’t worth it. It also isn‘t worth it to feel guilty or anxious that you might be holding others back or slowing them down because of your own physical limitations. However, that is easier said than done. I admit I‘ve been struggling with that since the start of the trip. I hate feeling like a burden or that my RA is annoying other people. They are friends, so they should be understanding of course. But even friends can‘t really understand what it‘s like to just get through a normal day while being in considerable pain, never mind running around to different countries and cities.
Anyway! I am having a great time and it‘s been fun seeing old friends again, whom I haven‘t seen since 2007 (wow -it’s also kind of freaking me out thinking about how much time has passed). Visiting Croatia and Bosnia (Mostar, Sarajevo) are my favorite parts of the trip so far and I definitely want to go back there. It‘s been cool seeing old ‘haunts‘ in Dublin and Berlin too, despite feelings of disorientation and bittersweet nostalgia I‘ve been experiencing. I‘m mostly just trying to have fun with friends and to do my own thing a bit (taking photos) which will hopefully give me some much-needed motivation to get my own life in order when I get back home.
Well, I think it‘s time to end the rambling here. The sun is shining in Kreuzberg now (the area in Berlin where I‘m staying) and I should get out of the house and go for a bike ride or hit some museums. Time flies when you‘re drinking giant mugs of beer and embarrassing yourself speaking broken German.
P.S. Good news – I am still losing weight, despite basically having to throw my pre-trip “diet” out the window. I‘m guessing I‘ve lost at least a total of 10 lbs by now. I‘m excited to weigh-in once I get back home!
July 7, 2012
I can’t believe it’s July already; so many things have been happening – good and bad, as usual. I’ll get the bad out of the way first, I suppose. With great frustration, I’m back on prednisone again because my right foot (toes, ball of my foot) has been flaring up pretty bad for the last 2-3 weeks. It’s definitely swollen and my toes hurt and are tender to the touch. My right ankle has also been worse, so basically I just want to chop off my entire right foot starting at the ankle. For the past month I’ve been working so hard on improving my diet and tracking calories in order to lose weight, and being back on prednisone is making this even more of an uphill battle. I’m simultaneously really angry and depressed about it. And about the fact that I don’t seem to have lost one single pound yet, despite drastic calorie cutting and an increase in my bike riding. I don’t know what to do except keep on with it and try to have patience. I did make an appointment to see an endocrinologist at the University of Minnesota Medical Center’s Weight Management Clinic. I have to wait FOREVER to get in to see the doctor though. But once I get in for my appointment I really hope someone can help me. Doing all of this work with no results is really disheartening. I think my metabolism is dead.
May 31, 2012
Well! I just got a good surprise! I discovered that my guest blog post for Creaky Joints was published last week. I didn’t even know! It’s really cool to see it published and I’m grateful they gave me a chance to post something for their site. Hopefully I can do more of it sometime in the future.
Here’s the link if you want to check it out!
May 28, 2012
Happy Memorial Day! Or, Happy Memorial Day weekend! I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend. Mine has been kind of a blur when I stop to think about it. What did I do anyway? Yesterday I went with my parents to visit my grandparents who are buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, as well as my aunt at Lakewood Cemetery and my other grandparents at Crystal Lake Cemetery in Minneapolis. I don’t go to cemeteries that often but whenever I do, I’m always glad I went. I love how peaceful they are and how they give you a chance to stop and really remember those you love and the part they played in your life. It’s sad, but comforting as well, I think.
We don’t get out to Fort Snelling that often because it’s kind of out of the way, but I was really glad we went. I still miss all of my grandparents very much; I think I actually miss them more as time passes. I especially miss Nana and Papa, who we visited at Fort Snelling yesterday. My grandma, “Nana,” suffered terribly from rheumatoid arthritis herself until her death. She was such a strong woman though, in so many ways. She always wanted to do things and go places and keep learning in life despite being in so much pain and increasingly disabled from the RA. She also always encouraged me and the rest of her grandchildren to live the same way and to not take life for granted. “Get your education!” she always said. Even though she used to drive me crazy sometimes (she was an opinionated Italian from New Jersey), I admire her immensely. She was her own independent person and most importantly, she was a loving, caring woman who selflessly gave so much to those she loved. All of the work I do to support funding for arthritis research, arthritis advocacy, and arthritis awareness I do not only for myself and the friends I know who also have the disease, but I do it for my grandma. I grew up watching her suffer so much from RA, yet she didn’t let it drag her down. She deserved to have a pain-free life, as do so many others living with the disease today.
April 30, 2012
Apologies for taking a while to post again, but I’m dealing with an RA flare-up now – my right thumb and forefinger joints are painful and swollen from yard work I did last week. I know I shouldn’t have been raking and pulling weeds, etc., but I was working for a friend who agreed to pay me to clean up his yard. As I am currently unemployed, well, I needed the money. But in retrospect I wouldn’t have done it if I had known my hand was going to flare up. I have a rheumatologist appointment tomorrow and I’m hoping he can give me a cortisone injection to make this go away. I’ve been taking 20 mg of prednisone for weeks and I’m pretty desperate to get off of it.
Anyway, onto the Summit news! I can’t stress enough how glad I am that I decided to attend The Arthritis Foundation’s Advocacy Summit in D.C. The event was incredibly organized and professional which I found impressive. It was also exciting and empowering just to be with people who were all passionate about improving the lives of those who suffer from arthritis. I met so many nice, interesting people who either have arthritis themselves or have children who have the disease. I loved talking with many of them and hearing their own stories. The Summit also ignited much more of an interest and passion in me to continue doing advocacy work. Actually, I think I would really like to move to D.C. if possible. I fell in love with the city almost immediately and could seriously see myself living there. I don’t know how difficult it would be to relocate, but I decided I’m going to try.