Monday, September 30, 2013

Small City Big Traffic Changes

Tomorrow's the day many have feared for months.  "It will never work" they said.  Others add "It will slow down the system."  Most worry about their neighbors "They will never figure it out, there isn't enough information."  Despite the months of preparation, the signs and public information and the small changes that have occurred to get us ready for this date, people still are not prepared for the change.  Yet tomorrow, October 1st, 2013 the change comes.  No, I'm not talking about "Obamacare." What we have here is far more serious than that.  Tomorrow, our Small City with a Big Heart becomes a Small City with 2 Way Streets. 

This post started as a pep talk to my fellow Amsterdamians.  Around here we tend to think we can't until we do and then we still aren't sure if we can. But driving around town the other day I realized we manage to get around town safely against all odds.  If a person can zoom across Church Street from Widow Susan to Clizbe Ave  at rush hour and not share the same fate as Susan's husband, then surely a change to a two way traffic system in the center of town shouldn't be a problem.  If one of the safest intersections in the city contains 5 corners, 6 entrances and 4 stop signs and 2 gas stations then I know we Amsterdamians can follow the signs, traffic signals and road paint in the area formerly known as "downtown."  

In fact, here in Amsterdam we have a traffic patterns only locals can understand.   And the problem with that is we want more than locals on our roads.  There are driving laws and then there are what I'd like to call Amsterdam's "Driving Mores" that are passed down from our grandparents to our parents to us.  Or from our High School Gym/Drivers Ed Teacher if you are transplant.  The best example I can think of has to with the fact that here in Amsterdam, you can walk up hill to school both ways.

Traffic More #1 - When it comes to hills, all bets are off. 
Take Locust Ave and Lyon St.  This harmless 4 way intersection has a traffic light during nice weather, but once winter comes and cars need a running start up Lyon Street hill, the light turns to a 3 way red and 1 way yellow blinking light.  There is no sign that depicts this, no mass facebook message or public alert.  But everyone who lives around there just "knows." Just like they "know" Kreisel Terrace hill is closed in winter and that the seemingly pointless stop signs on Major Lane (between Northampton and Brandt on your way to the Middle School) will in fact keep you from getting T-Boned by the cars that need a running start in the best of weather to get up those hills.

Traffic More #2 - No matter how long you've lived here, you will get lost in your own town.
When I moved to Rockton, it was like a whole new world.  I searched for the Rockton Y for a while until I found out it was not a building but an intersection.  I am still not sure how to tell an out of town friend how to get through it and still stay on Clizbe, I usually just ask them to describe their surroundings when they call completely lost.  Then there is the fact that you cannot enter and leave the South Side in the same spot and still get back from where you came. At best, you'll  have to turn around at the Amsterdam Recorder, at worse, you'll end up on the Thruway.

Traffic More #3 - Things just don't make logical sense.
The Golf Course is not on Golf Course Road and you can't get to The Mall by taking The Mall.  But you can drive through the Tecler Elementary School Parking lot to get to Hagaman and St. John Street does cut through a Church Parking Lot, but that church is not called St. John's but Mt Carmel, and if its Sunday, watch out for old people.  

So yes, we understand traffic a little differently here in Amsterdam. Many of our rules are not set in stone, just passed down through stories or trial and error.  But we can survive and even thrive during this traffic change.  We know more about state traffic laws than we give ourselves credit for.  After all, how many out-of-towners would confidently turn left on red from a one way to a one way right in front of a police station? On October 1st and beyond I challenge you to leave a little earlier, be a little more patient and drive a bit more defensively.  Show those two way streets whose boss and make these changes.  And if all else fails, listen to the advice of your Gym/Driver's Ed Teachers Mr. Mee and Ms. Nev: always leave yourself an out and stay out of the no zone.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Teal Tuesday: Running Out of Teal

I am only a few months into #TealTuesday and I have come to the realization that I just don't have enough #teal.  Tuesdays roll around and I try to remember when the last time was that I wore a certain shirt or sweater.  I scour the sale racks to find more teal to add to my wardrobe and sometimes try to pass off other colors as teal....

more like aqua blue...

 I show you another picture of my hands...

or feet...

 or cake...


But back to the topic at hand.  I've found a way to solve the lack of teal clothing by accessorizing and today I want to share my new FAVORITE teal accessory.  A while back I showed you the teal bling ring I bought from Holly at Expression Rings of Hope.  I've worn it to all kinds of occasions and I never get sick of that extra sparkle (and those little reflections on the roof of my car as I drive home from work).   

Well Holly's friend Jill saw my post and reached out to me about the awesome matching JILLry she has:

I noticed Jill's beautiful necklaces before as Jill and Holly often team up with matching rings and necklaces. Jill also donations a portion of her sales to charity. A portion of the awareness necklaces always gets donated to the specific charity they represent and she has a charity of the month for all the other sales.  That is incredibly generous and a lot to keep track of!  When I told her I would put her necklace on my wishlist, she offered to send me one as a gift!

I quickly picked out the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Necklace and was so excited when it came in the mail. 

(sorry for the terrible cellphone pictures)
The necklace very delicate looking, the perfect size to add some sparkle without overtaking my neck line.  I was also happy that it was long enough for my big old neck:

And that it matches fabulously with my bling ring

Thank you Jill for the awesome gift and for all you do to add some sparkle and awareness to so many great causes!  

You can LIKE Jill on Facebook:
and order from her Etsy Site:

Disclaimer:  I was given the necklace by Jill as a gift. I am happy to write about it because I LOVE it.  All opinions are my own.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Year Ago Today: Lisa Called

During my cancer journey,  I was hesitant to let too many people know before I had all of the facts.  Since I let everyone know I was planning on Joining the Survivors Club, there have been many questions.  In this "A Year Ago Today" Series, I will attempt to answer those questions and also work out what the hell happened this last year in my own head, heart and soul.  Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Hopefully, everyone who is sick has some medical professional that they can trust implicitly.  I was luckier than most because this person was also part of the family. Just about a year before, Lisa had been at my wedding, little did she or I know that less than a year later, my file would come across her desk.  As soon as she got it, she called me.  I was at work that day and didn't have her number in my phone.  Once I heard the words, "Kelly, this is Lisa, why didn't you call me?" I rushed into our Legislative Chambers, shut the door, and the flood gates opened.  I always knew Lisa worked with women with cancer, but before all of this happened, women's cancer to me was only Breast Cancer.  Since I didn't have breast cancer, I didn't call her.  Turns out, she doesn't work with breast cancer patients but with gynecological cancer patients. She quickly broke everything down for me.  She had read the file the OB-GYN sent over.  She thought everything looked good, they would have have to take out some lymph-nodes in order to prevent any type of spreading but that could be done laparoscopically.  I told her that I didn't realize that she worked in the practice that I was referred to or that I would have.  She told me she was taking over, that she had a new young doctor she thought would be a good match for me and that we would change my appointment to a day they were both in the Albany office.  I can't remember much else of what we said, I just agreed to what she wanted to do and trusted that she had a plan.  

I called my mother immediately when I got off the phone.  We both couldn't believe that we hadn't thought of Lisa.  Since she knew Lisa as well as I did, she totally understood why I would be so relieved and put so much trust in Lisa.  We both felt amazing about this. Lisa calling eased a lot of the fears I was hiding from others and hearing her voice and her words of encouragement gave me a huge amount of hope and confidence in the next step of treatment.

A year ago today, Lisa called and said she was taking over and I turned my trust over to her completely.  That is a decision I have never regretted.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Teal Tuesday - Winner Winner!!

As you may remember, Friday September 9th was National #WearTeal Day and we had quite the turn out around the internet for this important day.  I had promised a little give away to anyone who posted a picture of themselves wearing teal.  I received pictures through my personal facebook and email, so I created an album on KQ Demars.  Pretty much everyone who sent a picture was related to me (except Karen) but I appreciate the support.  A few people at work rocked some teal as well, but they move too fast to get pictures of!  You can like me on facebook and check out the album here  

Here are the pictures : 

And here is the winner:

Michele Tolpa!  Congratulations!  You'll get your "Teal Prize Pack" as soon as you get your butt back home!

And of course, we can't forget the real reason behind the Teal Tuesday movement.  Here are the signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer again.  If you have these symptoms persistently for two weeks or more or a major change, go see your doctor!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Healthy Sunday: Power Pancakes

Sundays are good days to focus on health.  Its my day for the grocery store and food prep.  I know that if I don't get all the veggies cut up and the meals planned for the week on Sunday, I'll end up with less money in my pocket and a few more inches around my waist by the end of the week.

The Healthy Sunday I am loving these 3 ingredient power pancakes:

These are gluten free, mostly sugar free, and have protein, fruit and oats!  You've probably seen them floating around Facebook and Pinterest.  Here is my take on them.

Start with two eggs, an old banana, and a smile!

Mash them up with a fork until they are smooth.

Figure out what you want to add in.  I've been treating myself this week to a few Ghirardelli 60% Dark Chocolate Chips.  (If you haven't made cookies with this yet, DO IT, they are amazing). When I don't add the chocolate I use the really cool "Sugar, chocolate and Coffee Bean" grinder I bought at Trader Joe's and don't usually find much of a reason to use.  

Place 1/4 cup of oats and a few Chocolate Chips in the blender. Grind it up until the oats have a flour-like consistency, the chips will be nice and small so you'll get chocolate in every bite.  

Mix it in with the egg mixture until it looks like batter.  And pour onto a  greased (I use Coconut Oil Spray) heated frying pan or griddle.  

These take a little longer to cook than pancakes but they are totally worth it! I find it makes 4 small sized cakes.  

Fall Variation:

This morning I took out one egg and added some pumpkin butter I made using this recipe from Repeat Crafter Me.  

The consistency was different but the taste was so amazing I only manged to get this crappy picture half way through eating them.  

What are some other ideas for add ins?  Healthy substitutions you do?  I am always looking for new ideas!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Return to Health: Compression Socks

I've joined the club...what club you ask?  The club of runners with brightly colored knee socks.  You know you've seen them, usually bright green or pink, like the 80's meets Catholic School Uniform.  Yup, I've joined the compression sock club...and these aren't your Grandma's compression socks.

The reason why is that I was having a hard time seeing my knees.  Yes, my knees.  I'd find by the end of the day my legs were so swollen that my knee caps seemed to disappear.  My oncologist warned this could happen and I was definitely on the look out.  After breaking down into tears upon trying on shorts for the summer, I decided to do a little something about it.  I was worried about Lymphedema so I emailed a high school friend who is currently a Physical Therapist specializing in Lymhedema.

From Cancer.Net:

Lymphedema is swelling, caused by the buildup of lymph in the tissues. Lymph is the fluid that carries immune cells (mostly lymphocytes) throughout the body. It is similar to a "highway" for your immune system. Tiny, bean-shaped organs called lymph nodes make lymph and filter bacteria and other harmful substances. They can be compared to "rest stops" for your immune cells. When the lymph nodes are removed, there is a backup of lymph into the surrounding tissues. Lymphedema can be very uncomfortable and sometimes painful. It can also delay the healing of wounds and raise the risk of infection near the swelling.

During my 2nd surgery, lymph nodes in my groin and upper stomach were removed to help prevent the spread of cancer.  My friend quickly wrote back to me with a lot of information and advice.  From what she said about Lymphedema and some of my research, I came to the conclusion that I might be overreacting a bit (me...never!). Many cancer survivors suffer from painful Lymphedema that is much worse than what I am currently experiencing. It would be good to take some preventative steps against the swelling that was occurring.

The minute I put on the compression socks, I could feel the difference.  I bought them after a long day of wedding dress shopping with my sister and the relief was immediate.  I wear them to run as they are supposed to fight fatigue and speed up muscle recovery.  But I also throw them on after a long day on my feet, especially if I'm not wearing the most supportive of shoes. I got these from Dick's Sporting Goods, they only had pink but I see on the website that I am going to have to order the Teal!

I am glad to say that for the most part, the tree trunk knees are gone.  Hopefully through more fitness and exercise, I can love my legs again!    

Side Note:  I will be rocking these socks THIS SUNDAY at the 12th Annual Caring Together Ovarian Cancer 5K run / walk in Albany's Washington Park.  If you'd like to make a donation or join "Team Kelly" check it out here:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Teal Tuesday CONTEST - Wear Teal This Friday!

It's #TealTuesday and I'm not wearing teal.  Except for my normal teal bracelet and teal toes, I am currently teal-less.  How could I commit a crime against Teal Power on the very first Tuesday of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month?  Because this week, we are shaking things up a bit and wearing Teal on Friday!

That's right, Friday September 6th is National Wear Teal Day! Check back here on Friday and post you and your friends wearing Teal for National Wear Teal Day or post your photo on my facebook page

I'll choose a winner at random to win a fabulous TEAL prize!