In The Middle

Life, Family, Yoga, Stuff


Who Am I?


I never really gave them much thought until it came the time to change mine.  Again.

My last name used to be Kukal.  There is NOT a single person in the world named Kirsten Kukal.  Not that I could find anyways.  I got divorced (again) in 2014 and changed my name back to Gardner.  I thought this would be the simplest thing to do.  After all, my daughters’ last name is Gardner.  You know.  So when the school calls, etc. we totally have the same name kind of hook up.

As I began to build my new personal website for yoga I realized I had to change everything.  Again.  Not just my last name.  But my e-mail address.  My bank account.  My car registration.  My car insurance.  My workplace 401-K/paycheck.  All of my credit cards.  My Yoga Alliance registration.  You name it.  It had to be changed.  I realized as I was typing in search engine ideas on my new web site that there are more than a few yoginis with the name Kirsten Gardner.  Bummer.  Kirsten Kukal was SO easy to find.  I was the only one out there and it was a good thing.  So one would guess.

I was born Kirsten Pearson.  My mom got divorced and my stepdad adopted us, so my surname changed to Hampton.  Shortly after high school I got married to the love of my life.  My name would then become Houston.  The universe took that situation away and my surname once again became Hampton.  Five years later I remarried and my last name was Gardner.  The universe took that situation away and I kept my name.  I remarried a third time (I know you can quit reading here if you want) and then my surname became Kukal.  Kukal.  What kind of a name is that?  A Czech name.  An uncommon name.  One that would definitely separate me from all of the other Kirsten’s in the world.  Believe me.  When I got married I actually thought nothing of the name.  It was different and basically nobody could say it correctly.  Kind of like my first name, I got used to it.

So now, my name is back to Kirsten Gardner.  Lots of people have it.  Which I find odd.  When I was young back in the day, there weren’t that many people (that I ran across) named Kirsten.  Today.  There are more than a few.  A lot of them happen to be yoginis.  So I’m trying to figure out how to set my website apart from the rest.  Would it be sacrilegious to tag a Kukal in the site?  I’m thinking not.  After all that was my name and folks have been trying to locate me.

There have been a few times I actually thought I should change my name to a symbol, kind of like Prince did several years back.  Don’t think I’ll go there though.  Tempting none the less.  Will I ever change my name again?  I don’t know.  But if I do, I know exactly what it will be.  And it will be that last, and final time.

P.S.  My first name came from a movie my mom saw when she was pregnant.  Days of Wine & Roses.  The lady in the film was an alcoholic.  Good thing that didn’t transfer over, I think I’m from a long line of heavy drinkers.  My mom almost named me Wendy.  But since I was born on Halloween, they thought everyone would call me “Wendy the Witch.”  I like the name Kirsten, and I’ve never felt like I needed a last time to go along with it.  That is all.


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Blessed By A Bat

The new place has a pet door. The old place didn’t. I have two dogs and I had three cats. One of the cats decided to leave here after one week. I am still sad about that but there’s nothing I can do about it. At the old place we had no fence around our yard, so the dogs had to go out on a leash. Sadie the cocker spaniel is a very leashable-walkable kind of dog. Eleanor the some kind of bird dog/chihuahua is not. She’s very zig zagable and jumpable though!
You can totally imagine the time they had when they first arrived here. They almost didn’t know what to do. But once they figured out they could go in and out at their leisure we had it made. After a few days here one of the animals brought me a dead rabbit. A dead rabbit into the kitchen. It didn’t have a head. Nice. I’ve been graced with 2 drowned mice during the rains we had and a whole bunch of baby birds. One night about 4 a.m., my cats had a full grown robin in the laundry room. No more. I was done. The animals were to be locked out here in the back office/porch with their dog door and their kill. That lasted about 4 whole hours. The dogs whined and barked the entire time!   It’s been over a week now and they have not brought any animals in the house. I’m guessing because there’s nothing else out there to kill.
Early yesterday morning, my parents took off with their camper back to FL. They left around 6 a.m. I went into the laundry room and noticed a BAT high above my cabinets close to the ceiling. Great. What do I do now? I had to go to work. I got the litter box and all the animal food out of there and shut the door. I figured the bat would still be there when I got home. And it was.
I have two huge windows in my laundry space, so I took the screen off of one window, raised the blinds and opened it from the top. I got a great seat on the deck with a glass of wine at dusk and waited for the exit. It was cool to watch her spread her wings. I guess she was getting warmed up for the flight. She made a few practice flights, but never hit the opening. Great. What do I do now? It was too dark for me to view her anymore, so I gave it up and went inside. I considered sleeping with that window open but you know, I’m on the north side. It would’ve totally been fine and I think I would’ve done it if I had to! But around 12:30 a.m. (bat hour) I peeked in the utility area. I cracked the door, I flicked on the light. No bat, that I could see anyways. Still afraid she might be there, I shut the window and locked it. Then I shut the utility room door as well.
I slept and checked the space again in the morning. No bat. But I have lots of clutter in there due to the move and the garage sale that I just had. I shut the space up just to keep the animals out of the bat space in case she was still around. After work today I felt positive that the bat was gone. I am doing laundry as I write this and lots of it. That little critter but a damper on my clothes cleaning party last night for sure.
How she got in I’ll never know. I’m having someone check the attic for bats just to be sure there’s not an entire colony up there.
I feel blessed by the bat. They’re cool animals and often arrive in times of transition. I feel that’s just why this one came to visit. Have a safe flight my friend.



Whoa. Has it really been this long since I blogged? I guess it has been. I think when you’re unhappy or too focused on something, that you actually quit doing the things you love. Enough said. That’s what happened to me. I slowed way down on yoga. I quit blogging entirely. I focused on where I wanted to be and what I needed to do. I said it out loud to people that I knew. The universe finally dropped it in my lap. Sort of. Not without my help of course. It has been exhausting.

I think I have a ten year attention span for things. Things like jobs. Things like relationships. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m done trying to figure it out. All I know is that where I was – was where I didn’t need to spend the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t a bad, dark, evil place. I just knew in my heart I needed and wanted something different. And I got it. Finally!

You may remember I cleaned a movie theater for an entire year or more. It sucked but it got me the money I needed to be where I am right now. I’ve had a dream of owning my OWN place for a very, very long time now. And I’m happy to say that – that time is pretty much now. For as I write this, I pen from my computer on my OWN sun porch in the house that I bought with my own blood, sweat and tears. Nothing has felt more complete. Huge stress on the nothing, that’s for sure.

I’ve been on a house search for years now. A secret house search that my husband was unaware of. I know. I’m terrible. I knew what kind of place I wanted to live in. I knew how I wanted to live. The place I landed at with him just wasn’t cutting it. In more ways than one. So. I saved some cash. I got a full time job that doesn’t pay super great, but it pays enough. I don’t need nor do I want a lot anymore. I like simplicity. Food. Shelter. Gas. You get my drift.

A few years ago I found a house. I loved it. My parents had this great realty lady. She showed me the home. I told her my yoga income and all the sources from which it came. Not a happy thing. So. I kept looking at homes. I kept searching for a full time job. I got the job. And in March of this year, I got the house. It had been listed for two whole days. I’d been getting extremely antsy. I wanted to move. I wanted a bungalow that wasn’t too old. One that wasn’t too big. One that didn’t need too much work. I wanted a garage. A fireplace with windows on either side and a pretty, but small kind of yard. Too much too ask? Pretty much. I started looking at houses openly once I told my husband of my intentions. So with my daughter in tow, we looked. We looked in great hoods, we looked in bad hoods. I was about to give up. And then I told her this. I told her we will find a place just for us, in a place that we never considered living. It will have everything we need and everything we want. She rolled her eyes and pretty much told me we would be moving to the ghetto.
I laughed and seriously thought she might be correct. I thought about getting a gun and the permit that would be necessary to carry it in one of those purses we sell at my work. I hate guns.

We found a house. It was on the NORTH side. OMG I know. How would I deal with the flack? How could I leave my lovely, clicky neighborhood of Phelps Grove Park? Easily. That’s how. It just felt fantastic from the get go. The house had everything I wanted with the exception of a fireplace with windows on both sides. But it does have a gas fireplace which I have learned to use and totally love!

It was spur of the moment. We were out looking at several ranch style homes in the center of town in the school district that we needed. I said I’d like to view this one so I can forget about it because it’s on the north side…lol. Off we went. It was perfect. Then the realtor said, “What a shame, it’s such a pristine property, I can’t let you live over here with your daughter all alone.” OK. The street’s a bit janky. There are about 5 homes on this street that are vacant. But you know what? It’s freaking quiet as hell. Long story short she finally said, “Let’s walk.” So we did. First house we hit was a dude wearing a bathrobe. He was smoking on his front porch at 2 p.m. Child molester? Probably. Turns out he was a bartender at Parlor 88 where she’d had a party a few weeks ago and he remembered her. He had just got out of bed. OK. Good sign. Let’s walk some more. So we did. We met several folks, most elderly and most had lived here for like 45 years. Rock on. We sat on the couch in the house, we checked the crime reports. Pretty much about the same as the hood I was leaving. My thoughts were, we’re buying the house. And so we did.

We’ve lived here for almost one month now and I don’t think I’ll ever get unpacked. I have a shop out back that measures 18×30 so that pretty much takes care of all the clutter. I have a carport and an attic. I have a fenced in yard and dog door for my animals. I have a garden shed with skylights and a beautifully landscaped but small enough to take care of kind of yard. I have hardwoods and carpet and an awesome bathroom and kitchen as well as a big front porch. Built in 1954 when ranches were a big deal, but it looks like an older bungalow. The place was completely remodeled in 2009. How lucky are we?

I think when we say things out loud they are more apt to come to us. No lie. I did a lot to help this along the way, but I also put it out there into the universe. I waited. I worked. I saved. The people that lived here before me had a lot of crystals, rocks and books on Reiki. I told Lauren that I thought that these were “our people” and oddly enough she agreed. She’s 16 and she’s probably smarter than I give her credit for.

So. If you’re not afraid to travel through the ghetto to the “north side” stop by and clink some glasses on my back deck, front porch or kitchen. Life is amazing when you just let it unfold. Cheers.

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The Fox & The Ground Hog

We do not live in the country.  Heck we don’t even live on the outskirts of town.  We are located on a busy street and yes, we have a creek out back and lots of trees but the wild life over here is crazy sometimes.  We share our yard with families of ground hogs every year.  This is the first year they’ve burrowed under our shed.  That totally drives our dog crazy.   

I’ve seen foxes now and then, but this year we have an entire family.  I’ve seen one big one and two smaller ones.  They do make a terrible sound and if you’ve ever heard one then you know what I mean.  Foxes actually sound like a wounded woman yelling for help.  It’s bone chilling.  But I don’t think they’re going anyplace and I think they’ve made friends with the ground hogs.  Check it.

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Earth Day, Yoga Day

For the last several years, I have been responsible for bringing one of my favorite yoga instructors to town.  I do the promoting, and all the arrangements.  This year we closed our studio and one of the guys that taught with us opened his own place.  He has a beautiful studio but it’s just not the same of course.  Meaning it’s not downtown in the heartbeat of the city.  But none the less it’s awesome. 

Since this was his studio, I let him take care of all of the event stuff.  That also meant that he would receive the split of cash and I was very much OK with that.  All I had to do was write a check and show up this year.  I didn’t have to check people in, I didn’t have to meet the caterer when she brought lunch.  I didn’t have to make sure folks were feeling OK – too hot or too cold?  Who cares?  I was taking the class.  And a great class it was.  What a way to celebrate Earth Day with Thomas.  Nothing like 6 hours of yoga to make you feel vibrant and ready for spring.  Thanks  Thomas – see you again in November.

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Thai Food & Classic Tunes

This is the time of year that my husband has to work a lot of hours.  I don’t mind so much because I totally guard my time alone.  Always have.  I’ve heard people say that’s unhealthy, but I beg to differ. I think it depends on the individual.  And for me?  I think it’s totally healthy.  If I don’t have that space I get really pissy.

My daughter has a great friend who lives at our place on the weekends.  Sometimes she lives with us during the week as well.  I don’t mind.  I only have one daughter and my son is in college so he’s not around anymore.  When the girls are together I really don’t know that they’re here.  They hang out and play the PS3, they watch Netflix and geek on Facebook.  It’s all good.

Last night it was just us 3 chicks for quite awhile so I rummaged the cabinets to see what I could fix.  The rain has been totally insane for the last 24 hours or so and to top that off, it feels like freaking winter out.  Ridiculous!  In other words I did not want to go out.  Luckily we had most everything we needed to whip up a decent Thai spread.  Rice noodles, chicken, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, peanut and teriyaki sauce and red wine for me.  We jammed out to some Traffic, the Kinks and Van Morrison.  What a fun night!

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The party was in celebration of my FIRST FREE weekend after I quit cleaning.  I have had places to be, things to do or been sick since I quit!  And what am I doing on my free weekend?  Besides eating Thai food and drinking wine, I’m prepping the bathroom for a paint revamp.  Yep.  We are leaving the freshwather fish border and mossy green paint behind.  Going soft, pale blue with black accents.  Lauren will have a new background for all of her Facebook shots that she takes in there since the light is great. 

I’m covered in Kilz.  Later.



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Sulfa Drugs Can Suck It

I quit cleaning.  Not just the theater, but all of it. 

My theater cleaning partner got a job at the same place where I’m working now.  She has a two year old and didn’t want to work 7-days a week like I was.  As much as I loved that paycheck from cleaning every Friday, I decided to let it go as well.  Basically we both quit at the same time.  Not without lots of notice though.  We even helped train and I offered to work if they are in a bind or whatever.  I am crazy, I know it.  Go ahead say it out loud, I can handle it.

My new job is great!  I totally love it.  I really do.  But on Mondays I was so freaking tired that it wasn’t even funny.  I also felt like due to my fatigue I was making too many errors and that’s not a good thing.  So Sunday, March 17 was my last weekend at the theater.  I had to keep my other cleaning gigs (2 other buildings) a week longer. 

Quitting my cleaning jobs happened at the perfect time.  First my brother was ill.  I took off one day from the theater for that as I was so mentally exhausted.  Then next was my mother-in-law and her illness.  Somewhere around all this mess I got a UTI.  I chugged the cranberry juice and was feeling pretty damn good.  But.  I was due for my well woman check up and while I was there I had them check my urine.  To be on the safe side, they prescribed an antibiotic to me that had Sulfa in it. 

Remember I said I was hot at the funeral home?  Well, yeah I was.  That was on Thursday, April 4th.  I was due to take my last pill on Friday morning and take it I did.  I worked on Friday the 5th and by noon my chest, neck and face were bright red.  Co-workers were cracking jokes about how old I was and whatever.  I felt it was not menopause, like I would know what that feels like, but it was just intuition. 

By the evening, I had to take a cool bath to cool down.  I put Cortizone 10 all over my face because I had hives.  I took some Benadryl and went to bed.  Enter Saturday morning.  We are in the middle of planning a funeral remember.  I woke up totally on fire.  My back was beat red.  I looked like I’d been at the beach and fallen asleep or something.  Don’t I wish that would’ve been the case?  Yes!  I called my doctor’s answering service and they said a doctor would call me back in an hour.  Call he did.  He said take more Benadryl. I went to Wal-Mart and about my day looking and probably feeling the same way a boiled lobster does.

I stopped at the Wal-Mart clinic on the way out and the nurse working said that sometimes the doctors there cannot prescribe steroids.  I said forget it and drove straight to Urgent Care.  I was on fire from the inside out!  I walked in calmly and sat at the desk.  They told me to have a seat and it would be just a second.  I.  Am.  So.  Sure.  It’s Urgent Care and I knew I’d have to wait.  So off I went to the bathroom and seconds later they came into the bathroom looking for me.

The nurse took my arm and said come with us.  I got scared because an elderly lady tried to ask the nurse what doctors were working.  The nurse asked her if she was having an allergic reaction and when the woman said no, the nurse said, “Well she is!”  Off we went to the little doctor room.  They asked me if I was alone and if I needed to call anyone.  I was like yes and I guess.  They said I would have to stay until I was better.  Whoa.

Immediately an IV was administered because I was freaking dehydrated and still burning up.  My throat had also started to constrict so that was somewhat scary. What a weird feeling! Then they started another IV with a steroid and Pepcid.  Yep.  Pepcid is a badass histamine blocker.  I had no idea but it’s better than Benadryl.  After about 45 minutes I was feeling cool as a cucumber, still red, but cool.  They even dimmed the lights for me and I pretended I was having some sort of hydrating spa experience.  It was awesome.  I didn’t realize how hot I actually was until I cooled down.  Just crazy.

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There would’ve been no way I could’ve cleaned a movie theater or my own house for that matter that weekend.  The timing was perfect, I was more than glad that I had quit.  Of course so far I was off to a pretty crappy start with my first weekend off for sure. 

I walked out of there with a list of over the counter drugs to take.  Listen to this.  I had to take THREE Zyrtec every night (all at once) for 7 nights in a row.  I also had to take two Pepcids a day and not drink any wine.  That can exacerbate Mast Cell disease which I guess is what I have.  I am super sensitive to smells, have heightened awareness in the sight department at times and also on the level of hearing as well.  It can be damned annoying.

Have you ever taken THREE Zyrtec a night?  I sure hope you never have to.  I would wake up with sheet marks all over my body that would last for about two hours.  I am sure this was from the salt, the sulfa and I was totally exhausted until about lunchtime.  I didn’t miss the funeral.  I didn’t miss a day of work due to this issue.  And to top if off, yoga at MSU also started the week I had to start taking this crap.  Holy man.

I guess a lot of people have bad reactions to medications that contain Sulfa.  Now I know that I do.  And wha’ts weird is it happens for a lot of folks up to a week or so after they’ve finished taking it.  I was trying to figure out what I had gotten into.  Did I eat something different?  Did I touch a plant?  Was it the caskets at the funeral home?  Was it that great laundry detergent that I’d just started making at home?  Nope.  It was the evil Sulfa drug!

I am much better now.  I still have a few red splotches and feel warm now and then.  They said this can last awhile.  If it comes back you’ll see me at Urgent Care again like pronto.  In the meantime, I won’t be taking anything that has Sulfa in it.  Ever. Again.