Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Inspirational Weekend

Holy Mama was that long weekend needed for me!  The extra stuff on my plate last week felt like I was spinning plates and they were all starting to bobble!  But Friday finally came, and I put my kids on the bus, their little bags packed for Grandma's house, dropped the dog at the doggie hotel and before I knew it, my husband and I were zipping across the state headed to Minneappolis.  We were crowded in a van for about 5 hours each way, and boy were my hips, knees and back feeling it!  Still, we were the youngest people there, so I counted my blessings that even though it wasn't my favorite thing, my joints bounced back fairly well. 
Our hotel was nice.  We met with some of our group in the lounge to have a few drinks before dinner.  It's been a hot long while since I've done that!  I'm that fish out of water that knows very little about alcohol or mixed drinks so I end up getting the boring rum and Diet Coke.  It was happy hour so they were watered down.  Since it was a big event for Shriners, the hotel was filled with Shriners from multiple states.  We were with a guy who's 74, and has been a Shriners clown for 23 years and is the comlete perfect person for it.  All weekend he was talking to everyone and making everyone laugh.  It was awesome to be around someone so comfortable in his skin; someone who just wants to make people happy.  He is also the one who has donated countless hours and supplies to the hospital, and he also repairs and donates sewing machines to people in need in Nicaragua.  In general, the Shriners are a really great group of people that come together to change people's lives. 
After drinks we headed to dinner at a brewery/restaurant.  I had a huge beer with my dinner but amazingly felt fine after.  After returning back to the hotel, my husband and I decided to have one more drink in the lounge.  I had a White Russian (yes, I am a fan of the Big Lebowski) and it might have been the first drink all night that actually tasted like it had alcohol in it! 
Saturday, we got up early and I ate my leftovers from the previous night's dinner.  Here is my public service announcement: Margarita flatbread does not taste good the second day no matter how awesome it was the night before!  It was a soggy mess.  At the hospital, we went behind the scenes to see how prosthetic limbs are made, see the physical therapy areas, and the super high-tech machines they use to get imaging, especially on Scoliosis patients.  Near the end of our visit, awards were given away to some of the children that have been helped.  One of the recipients was a 15 year old boy who has had two prosthetic legs since he was 5.  It was our local chapter who sponsored him and he wanted us to be there to thank us in person.  He has done so much to give back, he's just an absolute inspiration, and there wasn't a dry eye in the room.  Even though my husband is new to the Shriners, it really made us proud to be a part of that experience. 
We left for home straight from the hospital.  It was a long, rainy, squished ride.  Along the way we saw a horrible accident, one that looked like there couldn't have been a survivor, and I was flooded with emotions from that and the whole experience. 
It felt so good to get home and pick up my kids.  We hadn't stopped for food on the way home and the kids weren't hungry so my husband and I went to a Mexican restaurant for " one last crazy meal".  My eating was weird and I sure took in a bunch of liquid calories that were not needed, but we don't get the opportunity to unwind that often.  I didn't feel bad about any of it.  I even ate dessert (free with dinner) and a cookie over the weekend.  No regrets.  Now, I will say, especially with having yesterday off all by myself, it is hard to switch my eating around even though I am not particularly craving anything, but Ma Monthly is about to knock and wow do I want to keep eating tastey things like french fries and Uncrustables!  Being around those older people, most of whom had cholesterol and blood pressure issues, really made me think about all that tied in with age, and how much harder those things are to get under control at that age.  Add to that, arthritis which makes exercise tricky and painful... ugh.  I know I need to do better but I'm creating my own roadblock with my mind.  I am pleasure-seeking by way of the mouth.  I sure hope this passes once my hormones shift in a few days.  I know summer is going to feel like it's only a few weeks long and I feel like one of the best ways to really feel and enjoy it is to be outside more.  And what better thing to do outside than go for a walk?  It's not for weight loss, did you ever see a chart that tells you how much you would have to walk each week in order to lose weight?  Mine says I would have to walk 37 miles per week in order to lose one pound!  I would do it to help keep my blood sugars in a better place, and to boost my good cholesterol, which tends to run a little low, and to give my heart a good workout.  I know what I should/have to do, I just feel so lazy and unmotivated right now.  What's a girl to do? 
Leave a cliff-hanger on this blog for today, that's what, because my lunch break is over.  To be continued, perhaps!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Now Eye Get it!

My lower carb diet lasted exactly 4 days, and not surprisingly, I didn't notice a huge difference in how I feel.  To be fair, except for Saturdays when I go off the rails after grocery shopping, I don't really eat a carb-heavy diet so giving up the couple servings of grains didn't seem to make a whole heap of difference.  That being said, 4 days is not enough to judge much of anything by. 
I also have not noticed much difference in taking the estrogen-mimicing vitamins, but I will keep taking it just in case. 
The one thing that has helped me at least feel a little better is I started using eye drops for my eyes, first thing when I wake up and then again during the day.  Wow, do my eyes feel better, which makes me feel less tired.  I'm glad I tried it and I will continue to use the drops.  I have also been applying a warm washcloth to my eyes when I remember, and massaging my lids.  Did you know the parts of your eye that release tears and moisture can get clogged with oil and debris and that makes your eye produce less tears?  I feel like that is what's been going on the past few days.  The tricks I am doing certainly help but if it doesn't start to feel better soon I'll have it checked out.  Everything is blooming around my city and even in my front yard, I may have a little allergy issue.
This week I am pretty much eating the same things, keto muffins for breakfast, this time with pizza sauce and melted cheese, yum!  Salad for lunch, nuts and yogurt for snacks and veggie burger without bun for dinner.  I have subsituted a bagel for breakfast when needed, as sometimes the prep and clean up time make the muffins take longer than a bagel.  I am considering getting up earlier to make my mornings go smoother and have time for some cardio, but the kids only have about 3 weeks of school left, then I'll have an extra hour in my morning without having to get up earlier.  For now, the thought of getting up earlier isn't wildly appealing!  Is it ever?
This weekend my husband and I are going out of town for an overnight trip to Minneapolis to visit the Shriners hospital.  I am looking forward to it, and have made ammends with the fact that my eating will be different and unpredictable.  I'm OK with that.  We are going to have a great time and the kids get to spend time with their grandma, which they love to do, so it's a nice break for all of us.  Maybe that's another reason I'm not super picky about my diet this week, if I have a bagel here or there (or a tuna wrap and fries when celebrating my husband's birthday with his dad last night) not a big deal.  Events happen and I refuse to let food run my life to the point where that's all I'm focusing on because I'm afraid I will gain a pound or look fat because I didn't get the salad.  There is a time and place for discipline but there's also a time and place for loosening the reigns. 
So that's my current state of things.  I have a lot to try and get done before we leave on Friday morning, but it's for something fun! 
So no great inspirational message or take away here, just ready for some springtime fun, and happy to be feeling slightly better! 
Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hunger Pangs

It has only been one day since I cut back on the carbs, and the hunger pangs are more noticeable already.  This morning I woke up with my stomach growling, which is not really very normal for me.  I noticed that something about that sensation makes me a little uncomfortable, almost sad.  There is a trigger in me that wants to immediately fix it, to eat something, anything quick and handy to make the discomfort go away.  I don't like "sitting with" my hunger one bit.  For some reason, it makes me feel hollow in a melancholy way.  During the day, I never let that feeling go very long before eating something.  Yes, there is a physical discomfort but I think for me the mental discomfort is greater.  Perhaps because I grew up in a less-than- well-off household where sometimes we had to make due with "bread cereal" or not having seconds when I wanted them.  I have been consciously aware of my feelings of "not enough" for some time now.  When I would get a bag of candy to share with the kids and I would take more than I wanted so that they wouldn't eat it all up and I wouldn't have some later.  When I would cheat on a diet and instead of just having "some" of whatever I was eating, I would have to eat the whole thing because there was not enough time to be eating this way because I was going to go back to being "good".  Even with money, I was always the one to snap up overtime and extra shifts to earn a little more, even if I had some stashed away. 
I did eventually get around to eating breakfast, at the normal time to keep my schedule somewhat normalized, and it made me feel pretty good.  In general, I feel pretty good today.  My shoulder/neck/back/wrist etc is feeling less painful and more just a bruised-sore kind of hurt.  Much more tolerable.  I was yawning and sighing a lot this morning, but my dog decided to wake me up early (4:15 ugh) and it took me a bit to fall back asleep.  I can say that I really don't notice the difference that adding the estrogen-simulator vitamin makes-yet.  I am hopeful that it will eventually give me a little boost. 
My diet this week, if anyone's interested:
Breakfast: a new recipe for 1 minute keto muffins.  4 ingredients: 1 egg, 2 teaspoons of coconut flour, a pinch of baking soda and a pinch of salt.  Microwave in a greased ramekin or other dish for 1 minute.  It is spongy but can take on any flavor.  I have tried it with cream cheese and regular shredded cheese so far, I plan on trying it with peanut butter, with blueberries ( I would omit the salt and sub a little stevia), cinnamon flavored one, maybe even a coffee one.  They keep me satisfied a full 3 hours too. 
Lunch is a salad, power greens with grape tomatoes, feta and boiled eggs with a little ranch dressing.  It is very satisfying and I'm getting some good greens in. 
Dinner is a veggie burger on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes and pickles.  I gave up the grains and don't really miss them, this is a good meal. 
Snacks are Cashews, light Greek yogurt, and cheese before bed. 
There are a few more recipes I might try next week, or I might just keep things simple and keep rocking what I'm doing, but for now I feel pretty good.  I can't credit that to anything in particular so I am not going to make a big statement here, but I am going to just stick with it and see if I can find out if it's the carbs affecting me or not. 
Hope things are going smooth for anyone reading this.  Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Graceless Lesson

I am not blessed with grace.  I mean it, I am one of the clumbsiest people I know.  I trip over my own feet nearly every day, sometimes multiple times in one day.  I remember as a kid, my mom would forever tell me to pick up my feet.  At least that lesson sunk in and I'm no longer a shuffler, but I still don't walk as gracefully as one should. 
So yesterday morning I had my dog out and we live in an absolutely lovely area with hills and conservancy, and my dog was taking his usual long time to poop so I was going to guide him down one of the hills. Being 5:30 am, and springtime in Wisconsin, there was a thick layer of frost on the grass and before I knew it, I was on my butt and I felt my shoulder jam from putting my hands behind me to try and break my fall.  OUCH!  That's not going to be good!  After getting up, catching my dog and getting us back inside I cried as the pain set in.  I thought for sure I'd torn something.  I went to the walk-in just to see what they could do, hopefully get me off work for a day or a few, depending on how bad it was.  The nurse who looked at me was compassionate but unimpressed.  She said the most they could do was take an X-ray, but she was pretty confident nothing was broken.  Yep, I knew that.  She prescribed a steroid and gave me an excuse to take yesterday off work.  I went to pick up my prescription and was lured in by a big bag of peanut butter M&Ms on the clearance rack.  I refused them at first, knowing what I was doing, the same thing I always want to do when I'm hurt or sick, comfort with food.  Being under the weather is one of my biggest triggers.  I wish someone would take care of me, pamper and look out for me, but I only have myself.  And food.  So I ended up getting them and eating way too many.  In a way it was good, I ate so many that even just looking at them makes me feel ill.  I will not have any trouble resisting them now. 
I ate oddly all yesterday, those M&Ms were the first thing I'd eaten all day, and that was around 10am.  I had a bagel, a handful of BBQ chips and later, a veggie burger without the bun.  So, needless to say, I didn't start my lower carb diet yesterday.  The good news is, after my little morning/early afternoon apathy fest, I turned it around, and because my bestie is starting to make positive changes too, it made me even more fired up to make changes.
I am a big believer in taking a lesson in the behaviors that go against what I thought I wanted to do.  I knew even before I bought those M&Ms that I was feeling sad that I had to care for myself when I got hurt.  Yes, in reality I knew my husband wasn't going to come home and lose 12 hours of pay just to drive me to the walk-in and pharmacy, and I wouldn't expect him to, but being that I drive a stick shift and mentioned to him that it was all I could do not to burst out in tears from pain just getting the kids to the bus stop, I thought maybe he'd at least offer to see if I needed help.  Nope.  He was compassionate and happy I was going to get it checked out but did not offer help.  Not even on his way home.  Granted, we live a block and a half from a grocery store, and the walk-in and pharmacy are only about a mile or two from our house, but it was still painful and tricky.  So here's the thing, I didn't want to inconvenience anyone but I would have like to have been offered.  This, funny as it may seem, has very little to do with my husband and much to do with my mom.  I feel like she wasn't there for me very often.  She assumed I was strong and by not "babying" me I would only be stronger.  I like to think I'm strong, but I felt a lack of support and compassion and am sensitive to those issues because I felt like that was largely missing in my life.  This a big comfort-eating trigger for me, and I will have to establish ways to work around it or if I really feel like I need something, I will need to learn to ask for it.  That is self love, not shoving M&M's down my gullet until the point of feeling ill.  So, I am looking on yesterday as a great learning experience.  Yes, I feel like my entire right side of my body was beaten with a baseball bat, yes I still wanted to cry in pain while driving my stick shift to work, yes my husband still isn't too impressed with my feats of clumbsiness, but I learned a sticking point for me so now I can head these things off before they even have a chance to seat themselves in my mind.  There are a bunch of smaller lessons too, like people can't read my mind to know what I am hoping or expecting out of them.  And, frosty grass can be just as slippery as ice, who knew?  But in light of Geneen's message to look at the things that are going right, I think I have that in spades.  No comfort eating needed today, game on!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Weekend Gifts

My day trip to the island was fantastic!  An cloudless, impossibly blue sky amplified the blooming green of plant life all around.  The water, although barely above freezing, was such an amazing shade of teal it looked tropical.

It's still off-season, so there was not a lot of business taking place.  We were able to eat at one of our favorite restaurants on the island and we visited a lavender farm with a gift shop, to get a gift for my mother-in-law.  We also visited Stavkirke, a handmade wooden church that honors the island's Scandinavian heritage.  If only for the amazing architecture and hand work alone, it is humbling to be in that space, but it affected me in other ways too, especially since I've learned that my blood is 40% Scandinavian.
At one point, I bathed in the red glow of sunlight filtering through a stained glass window and tried to imagine immigrating to this place, this island that feels so magical to me.
It was cold and windy, but the sun was magnificent, and as luck would have it, we ended up catching an early ferry back to the mainland in time to have dinner at familiar place on the peninsula.  It was a wonderful day and I'm glad we decided to do it.  I do always get a sad feeling when we're leaving the island, but it's only about an hour drive plus a half hour ferry ride away, so we could go whenever we want.
My stomach isn't loving me today after two meals "out" and a few drinks after returning home, but today has been very good/productive/inspirational even.
I haven't been focusing much on reading about compulsive or emotional eating lately, assuming that I have a good idea of what to do, but while scrolling through Facebook this morning I saw a post from Geneen Roth with a link to the Oprah Super Soul Sunday they did together.  Since it is a slow-paced Sunday I took the time to watch the entire show, it is 40 minutes or so.  I am so very glad I watched it and I will probably watch it again and take notes.  I know, much of what she talks about is from her book, "Women Food and God" but she had updated and revised some information.  I will post the link near the end.  If you love Geneen and her message and especially if you are not familiar with her, I think anyone at any place they are in can benefit from seeing this show.  There is also a little short segment at the end where they talk about an experiment someone did to show what others are really thinking about you versus what you are thinking about yourself.  All in all, I think it was a really powerful way to start my day, and it motivates me to revisit Geneen's teachings which have helped me both to find peace with food and examine beliefs I gained early in life that are still affecting me today.  The guilty, shameful little parts of me that I would rather smother in food than try to expose it, accept it as a part of me, and find a way to love it.
I will be working on more of these lessons and re-reading her books.  Even though I feel like I have a good start to a healing path, I still feel like her lessons are helpful and uplifting.
Here is the link to the show: Geneen Roth  I hope you get a chance to watch it, and I hope it moves you, inspires you or at very least, interests or entertains you.  The more exposure I have to these topics, the more it helps me focus my attention internally, and directs the focus away from external things that I cannot change but somehow allow myself to be swept away by my emotions over anyway.
So I think I can say this was a very rewarding weekend.  I got some great rejuvenating energy both mentally and physically.  I think I'm ready for my week ahead!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Time to Feel Good

Lately I have not been living in a very balanced way, and it is making me feel really manic-depressive, one day is up and I'm fine, the next is bad and I feel like I want to just curl up in a dark room by myself and shut the world out.  I realize that I am being ruled by everything and not controlling my reaction to the things around me.  I am at the whim of the events happening around me and it's making me miserable.  I know the lesson of the Dhammapada is to steady my mind and find a place where my mind is strong and unwaivering no matter what happens around me.  That would be nirvana wouldn't it?  I'm a long way from finding my way there but at least I know what I'm doing isn't working.  I have yet to claim my inner Goddess but she's in there waiting patiently.
Today I am up, because it's Friday of course, but also because yesterday was manageable and I finally voiced to my boss that I am burnt out on my job and that it's making me lose my passion for doing this as a career.  He was concerned and told me I need to take a vacation.  I wanted to laugh at him because lately I seem to be continually told no for 95% of the time I request off.  At any rate, it felt good to get that out in the open. 
I'm also in a good place because my family and I are going on a day-trip to one of our favorite local spots, an island off the tip of Wisconsin.  There is something about that place that is just magical and refreshingly low-key, not in a tropical island way, but in an isolated, going back to simpler times kind of way.  It will be a great time and I have a feeling it will be very rejuvenating and uplifting.
I also took a little time yesterday to scout out some new recipes and found a few I am going to try next week.  If any of them are good I will share them.  I am making 1 minute keto muffins and feta bombs next week and maybe the following week I'll try two more that I found for sweet potato veggie burgers with avocado and some low-carb baked, cheesy crackers which I would probably combine with slices of cheese or hummus for a snack, and I also found a recipe for some Mexican Quinoa one-pot dish which looks yummy on it's own or maybe as filling for stuffed peppers. 
Just looking at recipes got me in a better mood and looking forward to putting some more focus on my body and how I feel.  I have been keeping up with the hip/glute strengthening this week because it makes a huge difference in how my hips feel.  It's as if I took a strong pain killer, my hip pain is almost non-existent when I do these few exercises, and they are easy enough, I have been doing them in bed at night, while watching a show or while researching geneology or whatever.  I have been thinking more about how aweful it would be if every step was painful always.  I see people walking all hunched over or limping bad to take the pressure off certain parts or sides of their body, I really don't want that for myself.  Hip/glute strengthening is a bit of a cure for me for now, so that has been going really well. 
Water is going good too.  I have been cutting off the caffeine earlier in the day and switching to water.  My brain always fights it but once I start sipping it, I'm hooked.  Maybe a good way to start weening myself off is to cut back a little earlier each week or couple weeks until I eventually have my last caffeine at an acceptable time in the morning and then stop.  Baby steps.  I still have a mental feeling of urgent need for caffeine because I do feel exhausted most of the time.  I am starting to put together a list of fixes to try:
     Eye drops, because I do sleep with a fan and my eyes have been feeling really dry when I wake up.
     Hormone helpers like Estroven.  I have given them a chance in the past, but I didn't really notice a difference.  To be fair though, I can't remember if I was doing anything else to try and feel better or just popping those.  And I have a hard time being consistent with anything that requires me to take them in the evening, which some of them are twice-a-day dosing.  I will be more compliant to see if it makes any difference. 
     Decreasing my carbs.  I have been letting things go pretty liberally lately, and while I don't binge on sugars like I once did, they are slowly working themselves back into my diet here and there.  I also eat grains pretty liberally now.  Bagel for breakfast, another with my veggie burger at dinner, bread for lunch or dinner sometimes.  It's not over the top but I just want to see if it makes me feel better to cut out some of that for a bit.  I know everyone's body responds to an uses carbs differently.  Maybe in my attempt to not restrict myself I am having some negative side effects.  I would not stay ketogenic long-term, but if it makes me feel good to be lower carb I may cycle my carbs, having higher and lower days throughout the week.
     Increase my intake of unsaturated fats.  I don't really intake fats other than the bad ones in dairy.  I think I could have more energy if I made it a point to increase my fats.  It would help my good cholesterol get to a better place too, and helps curb cravings and makes you feel satiated longer. 
     Morning exercise.  I am mainly thinking about getting out for walks because nature is very therapeutic but I rarely ever use it and I think it would make me appreciate the season more.

That's probably enough things to try!  I will start with carb-cutting on Monday, going back to phase I of South Beach, the ketogenic stage.  For me, I think about food a lot less on that stage, but I have to be mentally ready for it.  I think I am.   If not, it will simply be a learning experience!  It's spring, I am ready to feel good physically and mentally, sometimes nature just needs a little help from a Goddess like me!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Word to the Wise

Today as I was browsing Facebook while eating breakfast, I came across this post from Geneen Roth.  I was just going to skim it because I saw a clip of the Oprah interview and I honestly was a little annoyed by what seemed like some odd tension from Oprah in the clip, maybe that's just her style, but to me it seemed like she was sort of brushing off Geneen which seems really ungracious of her as a host.  Anyway, I read what Geneen wrote about eating and addiction and it was something I really needed to see right now because I've been in a bit of a funk.  Maybe I have been eating lower carb, eating more fats less sugars, maybe getting some protein and veggies in there once in a while, but I haven't been eating foods that make me feel vibrant and bright and light.  I will definately be chewing on this today. I think the post speaks for itself and hopefully gets the gears turning.  It sure woke me up.  Here's the post, I will leave it without further commentary.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Coke, Mom Issues and (UGH)the Dentist

The water drinking is going much better!  Maybe I just needed to tell myself there was no pressure.  Maybe it was the building of a computer desk on my own over the weekend.  Whatever the case, I have been drinking a lot more, but it's too soon to tell if it's having any major affect.  I still have massive bags under my eyes. 
I am happy to say that, today I am finally stepping out from the cloud that's been hanging over my head for the past few days or so.  Last Friday at work ended badly and I left feeling like I would gladly give up some of my free time over the weekend searching what other jobs are out there.  I have been overwhelmed and burnt out since the new year began, and usually I can vent with my boss and feel he appreciates me, but lately his tone has also been changing.  I had a really good sales month but it came at the cost of my mental peace and to be made out to seem like it's nothing spectacular (compared to other years' sales) made me feel really aweful.  My boss is spread thin and worn out too, we all are.  My problem is that, lately, I haven't been able to leave the bad feelings about work behind, and it ends up compounding the already-over-booked, stressed out home stuff I've got going on.  I also have been feeling like my relationship with my mom is still strained and I am going to have to process through the fact that I may never be able reach a place of calmness and connectiveness with her as I had thought.  I thought geneology was our common ground but she recently told me she's lost interest.  I worry that she knows she is sick and she is trying to push everyone away by being negative, judgemental and abrasive.  This is my mother.  She can be awesome and easy to get a long with, talkative to a point that I want to find an excuse to leave the room, and mostly, unfortunately, very negative and judgemental.  I learned how to placate her early in life, in order to avoid conflict because her tongue is sharp and she doesn't easily let go of a grudge.  No wonder I'm a mess!  A letter I received over the weekend only made me ruminate on how much I wished she could find a morsel of happiness, joy and let that fill her; or get therapy, which she sees as an unneccessary weakness for babies. 
Then there's the dentist.  What a nightmare this has been with them.  One tiny little tooth in the back is causing so much trouble I want to scream!  First the dentist opened it and cleaned it and confirmed it needs a root canal.  She referred me to an endodontist because it's in a really crowded area.  Next, yesterday she went back in.  My assumption was that we were going to try the crown she made an impression of on my first visit, to see if there was enough tooth left to fit it.  She did more digging, drilling, and poking around in the tooth and told me there is not enough tooth left for a good fit, so I have to go have crown lengthening done.  This lovely procedure reshapes bone and tissue to make sure there is enough tooth exposed to fit the crown.  Then a follow up with that specialist.  Then back to try the crown.  It will be 6 visits for one tooth.  I still have more work that needs to be done on other teeth, 3 fillings and another, thanfully less complicated, root canal.  The part that stresses me out the most is that I keep having to reschedule appointments because getting time off work is proving to be nearly impossible.  It's frustrating me more than it should.  I really just want to be done with this dental work, but now it seems as if it is going to drag on most of the year.  UGH!
I am realizing that I kind of have a love-hate relationship with food.  I mean it, I am so not inspired by food, even the kind I "shouldn't have".  I really want something to come wake up my palate.  Yesterday, after getting dental work done and getting to work late, I was in such an mental/physical slump that all I could think of was self-comfort.  I ended up, at one point, doing a quick glance at "healthy recipes" to see if anything piqued my interest.  There are a lot (and I mean a LOT) of chicken recipes and they all look pretty good.  I don't like meat much, and I especially don't like it reheated so that whole thing is out of the question, but the bright colorful pictures with all the pretty vegetables and colorful dinnerwear was really refreshing.  It made me feel better somehow, to see someone who put effort into pleasing the senses.  So I am thinking of experimenting with different seasonings that I am not familiar with, getting new colorful dishes for home and for work, and just experimenting with new stuff.  It'll help get me out the food funk I've been in for a few months now.  I realize I cannot rely so heavily on dairy in the long run.  Then, around 3:30 pm it dawned on me that I'd barely had any caffeine.  It is not the optimal time to have some, but I allowed myself one can of Coke Zero vanilla.  I felt so much better!  I didn't intentionally have less caffeine but because my mouth was numb I just didn't drink much other than some room temperature water.  I also had a headache before I drank it, which I attributed to the dentist (the anesthetic raises blood pressure slightly) that magically went away after drinking the soda.  Lately I have been wondering if some of my energy issues aren't also coming from not taking in enough calories.  I consistently miss my afternoon snack and lately I have been skipping my bedtime snack too, which is not smart because I feel like I don't sleep as well.  I also have noticed that my hips and knees have been hurting a lot lately.  Last night I decided to do a little bit of hip and glute strengthening exercises I learned for my physical therapy after the knee surgery.  With just one rep I noticed an immediate and huge difference!  I felt like everything was lining up and tracking better, and this morning when I got out of bed I had a huge amount less irritation (feels like something needs to pop or that it's out of place slightly) so I was really happy about that.  I was having a hard time considering exercise of any kind knowing my hips were feeling that bad.  Now that I've seen how dramatic of a result that gave me I am planning on doing it more frequently. 
So maybe the thing I say with most certainty is that I have been letting my self-care and body awareness slide and I have been feeling the negative side effects of doing that.  I have been out of touch with my body, worried about why I am so drained and 'shoulding' all over myself.  Time to pay more attention and make some changes that will make me feel better.  I think I am going to cut back on carbs again to see how big of an impact it makes on how I feel.  It takes some mental prep but I think with the help of some new recipes I will be ready at the start of next week.  Not a refire, not a new start, just an experiment.  I really don't want to become diabetic, I'm not eating a crazy amount of sugar like I used to when I was on comfort-seeking, auto-pilot mode, but my blood sugars were on the high end of normal last year.  No matter how much self-love I claim to have, if I make myself diabetic from poor choices I will forever beat myself up over that. 
So that's where my mind is right now, thinking about launching into a lower-carb thing, doing more lower body strengthening and sitting back down with my 'mom issues' in my brain so I can conquer the past demons with today's reality of what our relationship is (so much NOT a telephone or greeting card commercial) and making sure I know who I am without (or despite) her negative opinions of me.   Baby steps always.  I have said it many times, I am a perpetual work-in-progress, such is life.  Life gives us goals and we push to see what we're made of.  I think I'm made of some pretty tough stuff, I just lose my faith sometimes.  Time to give myself a hug and move on. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Not Drowning Yet

So my little water challenge is not getting off to as smooth a start as I'd hoped.  I am realizing that one huge part of my day, during work, I have very little control over what happens.  It can be (and has been) so busy that I find myself on the salesfloor for a few hours at a time, meaning I am not drinking anything much less getting nearer my goal of getting more water in me.  I was getting down on myself for not progressing then I realized that goals are great, but when there is an obstacle making it less realistic, it sets me up to fail.  So, maybe to start, I have to be less specific with my goal.  I will try to drink more water or even just non-carbonated drinks (because I love me some Life Water and Bai's Molokai Coconut drinks) and just get more of that in me when time allows.  I have been drinking more water but probably not a gallon.  I don't know.  The having to measure and weight stuff just makes me feel like I have one more burden on my plate, and right now I can't take much more weight on my back, mentally. 
I feel like I sound like a broken record.  I feel like a broken record, I still have the deep mental grooves from years of dieting.  I bounce off the walls of "I am going to crack down and be a disciplined, healthy eater and I'm going to work out every day" and "Trying to be something I'm not is only going to backfire."  What do I want more than anything right now?  To have more energy; to feel more alert and happy.  My job burns me out, and I take on a lot of stuff at home.  I just feel like I never fully relax and rejuvenate myself.  I feel like I need a week on the beach, just doing nothing but napping under an umbrella and listening to the waves roll in and out, then dinner is fresh fish with some sort of mango salsa and a drink with coconut rum in a coconut-shaped cup with a colorful umbrella sticking out.  Of course, in my little fantasy I already have a satisfactory shape and I am oiled up in coconut-scented sunscreen because I have a nice color naturally (still fantasy here).  Ah, that little mental vacation felt nice!  I like coconut.  Maybe it's time to find some nice coconut-scented lotion to help me feel like I'm on vactation.   Little tricks can go a long way. 
I will say this; I have noticed in the past that sometimes I have to put a little effort in first ( before I actually feel like doing so) before I start to feel good.  I may have to start doing more than hip-opening yoga in order to feel more awake.  For now, waking up at 5am leaves me just enough time to get done what I absolutely need to, no extra time for exercise, but in 6 weeks when the kids are out of school, getting up at 5 will give me plenty of time to get in a little something.  I'm sure it would go a long way toward livening me up a little, and would help me manage my stress better too. 
Saying I should get exercise and doing it feel like they are miles apart.  I have literally NO desire to move my body any more than it actually has to.  I still clock an average of 10,000 steps daily on my Fitbit, just going about my day, it's a little less on the weekends.  I have a lot more aches and pains than I used to, but I know that could improve too if I put effort into it.  I need to find a way to bridge the gap between the "should" and the "did".  I only have about 8 months left before my annual physical exam.  I want to have good bloodwork this time, but do I care enough to make a change? 
To be continued I guess.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Little Steps Still Make a Ripple on the Water

I have been doing a lot of thinking about my weight and my health lately.  With spring upon us, thinking about making big changes is, for me, inevitable.  It's hard not to get swept up in the thoughts of cracking down and making good/big changes and seeing results and being happy.  In my mind all of that is wrapped up together.  It's a mental thing, something I've bought-into for a long time; that being good on a diet will make me happy.  And I must admit, there is a certain feeling of self-mastery that comes along to sticking with a restrictive plan.  My brain says, " I am being good, I am doing things that are going to make me thinner and I will like the way I look and that will make me happier." etc, etc, etc.  We've all thought and heard it a million times.  But life doesn't move in such a linear fashion, it is scattered and unpredictable, and assumptions are often discovered to be less reliable after the fact. 
One thing I do know, though, is that one small little change can have an impact on a multitude of others.  Big changes usually don't last long, at least, not for me, not where diet is concerned, especially when it is restrictive.  So instead of a huge dramatic change, like measuring and weighing every morsel or cutting out certain things entirely, I thought about the idea of implementing one small change at a time.  This is not a new concept, but it is hard for my brain to cope with because small changes mean slow/small progress in my mind.  So to say there is a mental roadblock is unfortunately true, but when I think of it as an experiment it helps me to hurdle over the roadblock. 
Lately I have been waking up and noticing how puffy it is under my eyes.  Yes, I googled it, because that's what I do.  There are a multitude of reasons why someone's eyes could be puffy, but one that sort of stuck out to me is water retention.  Of course it happens to all of us, but I have been noticing a lot more dry skin lately, which to me means that I have not been drinking enough water.  I used to drink about 2 gallons a day and now I'm lucky if I get half a gallon.  I still drink a lot of soda during the day.  So, without saying I am going to restrict soda, something I have been unsuccessful in doing anyway, I am going to make my one small change to drink more water.  It might be for a week, or a month or however long it takes to get back in the habit of drinking more water.  That small change alone will likely lead to me drinking less soda just by the nature of me only having so much room in my stomach for fluids.  I am going to aim at a gallon of water a day, which shouldn't be too tough if I am focusing on my goal.  I should be able to measure the effects by my skin, and I am interested to see if it will help the eye puffiness too. 
For now, that is the only goal I will be working on.  When I feel like I've got that change working well, I will add another challenge.  Things I have been thinking of are stretching every day for at least 15 minutes, of course cardio, eventually limiting my soda intake, reducing sodium, eating all the recommended servings of fruits and veg, and strength training to name a few.  There are dozens that have crossed my mind so I'll spare you the long list.  Some have to do with a harmonious household and some are health related and some are for mental health.  I don't want to try more than one at a time, though it's hard to get past that feeling of all-or-nothing, I just think it would make me lose focus on one or both.
So, I will consider today day 1 of this goal, because there's no time like the present!  And because I'm thirsty, damn it! 
So what are you waiting for?  What's your goal this month?  Why not start today!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Daisies Along the Way

TGIF, am I right?!  I don't know why this week has felt incredibly long and hard to get through, I haven't had anything particularly challenging going on.  In fact, it has been a relatively smooth week.  I have been battling an overly-tired, almost burnt-out feeling though and even have the canker sore to prove it.  For me, those two go hand-in-hand unfortunately.  Could be ovulation I suppose. 
This has me questioning my habits again.  Am I eating too many carbs, not enough superfoods, not moving enough, too much caffeine?  Probably yes to all of them.  And not enough water for sure.  I went from trying to get off soda to drinking more of it than I was before I tried to quit.  I wonder if I am fatiguing my adrenals.  All these thoughts make me want to make a drastic change, challenge myself with silly things like water as my only beverage for a whole month, or juicing-fasting or back to ketogenic or give up cheese.  That last one is the most absurd one yet.  If you knew me and my obssession with cheese you would understand! 
Here's the thing though.  I finally hit a place that I never thought I would get to.  I noticed it when I was about to get dressed after a shower one day.  I looked in the mirror as I was deciding what to wear and I looked at my body and I didn't feel hatred or disgust, it was just simply my body.  In fact, I like the changes I am seeing in my arms and shoulders/collarbone etc.  I know my stomach is bigger than it needs to be, but in that moment, I realized that I am content with my body.  How big of a statement is that?!  I don't react emotionally to see myself as I really am.  I eat fairly healthy most of the time, I'm not killing myself, and I am not gaining tons of extra weight.  I am pretty much at peace with it right now.  So maybe drastic changes in diet and restriction would mess that up.  I'm not sure I'm willing to gamble with that just yet. 
That doesn't mean that I can't change a few things.  For one, I have been noticing that, if I am going to let things go off the rails it is at dinner and on the weekends.  I consistently skip my afternoon snack, either because I'm too busy at work to get away, or because I simply don't feel hungry until about an hour before leaving work, and knowing I am going to eat when I get home, I delay eating.  By the time I get home from work I am famished and start eating whatever is readily available.  Chips or cheese are typical targets.  Then I also eat dinner.  That's a lot more calories than I need all at once, but my body isn't getting what it needs when it needs it so my brain freaks out on me.  I am going to make a better effort to eat a planned afternoon snack at a scheduled time, to help stabalize my blood sugars and avoid this behavior/issue. 
The eating willy-nilly on the weekends?  Most on Saturdays, which is typically my grocery day.  When it shows up in the house, my kids and I have to sample everything.  I do notice myself wanting to take some things because I know my kids will gobble it all up and there won't be "enough" for me.  That is a theme of mine that has caused me to consume way more calories than I've needed in this lifetime.  Growing up in lower-middle class meant my sister and I rarely ever got our "own" of anything, we always had to share.  I always felt like I didn't get as much/enough especially of the rare sweet treats, but also dinner and such.  It's one of those things I am aware of being a mental issue that needs more work.  I am trying to find a way to put an end to it without harsh restriction which only makes me want to binge and obssess over food. My trick this week is to do the shopping on Friday night instead.  Something about the weekend-Saturday in particular- has an air of no inhibitions. 
So my focus is on trying some new little tricks without upsetting the apple cart.  I guess that's what I've been doing in general.  I am refraining from massive changes that require me to be super-disciplined and restrictive.  I have learned over time, that that kind of stuff is just not who I am and trying to force myself to be someone I'm not only makes me feel horrible when it doesn't pan out.  For now I am the tortoise who will win this race, slow and steady, adjusting when needed, enjoying the daisies at the side of the road along the way.  I don't know about you, but to me that sounds just lovely! 
Happy Friday and have a great Easter weekend for those who celebrate!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Healing from Within

Whoa man!  I have had some crazy experiences over the weekend!  It was so powerful I was too close to it to blog, but my mind was going a million miles an hour. 
Saturday I had to bring my dog to the vet for his annual shots and bloodwork.  It was my first time bringing him for the blood draw, and my first time doing it since he's not a puppy anymore, and he's gotten a lot more protective.  He is the epitome of a Nervous Ned of a Reactive Rover.  He was yelling, growling, biting, and he jerked as they were trying to take blood so he was bleeding everywhere.  It was draining and emotional for me, and I think it is going to have to be my husband's job from now on!  LOL.  He did the best his little 13 pound self could do and I spent a big part of the day feeling bad for him and appologizing that it was such a crazy day. 
The weather was gorgeous on Saturday, so I did spend a little time outside on my patio, watching the birds in the trees and thinking.  I geeked out on geneology stuff too, which felt nice.  Overall, despite having a saucy checker at the grocery store in the morning, and be traumatized taking my dog to the vet, Saturday was pretty mellow and nice. 
Yesterday my husband and I went to a little church we discovered about a half hour drive away from us.  It is a 138-year old church and it is spiritualist (psychic science is the new age term I believe).  I am not a churchy person.  I grew up without it, we didn't go to church and my parents did not force religion on me or even practice on their own that I'm aware of.  This church caters to people like me, who want to improve myself through meditation, who've had personal spiritual experiences, and who want to know my spirit guides and get answers from them.  I got all that and more yesterday.  Deep meditative healing techniques that left me buzzing and a little shaky.  I meditated and got visions and answers and when she told me to name my biggest fear and my biggest stress and my greatest emotional pain and give it to the archangel I did feel like a metaphoric burden was lifted.  She said to give away all the burdens and stress and pain that you've taken on for someone else too.  And we were instructed to give away all of the feelings of what she termed "Poverty identification" or poverty thinking, feelings that I am not enough, that I'm not good enough.  The meditation and self healing lasted more than an hour, with very positive messages and surrounding ourselves with white light, and culminating in visiting our "temple" in our mind to meet our spirit guide and ask for a message.  I got a few messages during the day, that are relevant and timely, and they require more reflection.  I was crying pretty early on, when she was talking about giving away feelings of unworthiness and brokenness, and feelings that I am not enough.  By the end, I was uplifted, which, regardless of your faith or beliefe, should be what church is about, right?  In the end of the service we talked about mediumship, and the ability to receive and interpret messages from the universe.  She has the gift and she chose a few people in the congregation (all 10-12 of us) to deliver messages to.  She chose my husband first and said that he has powers of healing and teaching, but he needs to remeber humility.  She also said that our autistic sons chose him because of his powers, and to remind him to always have humility.  It was really pretty relevant.  She also gave messages to others who'd lost loved ones, and yes, she was able to discern some unexpected things.  I admit, I was a little disappointed to not be chosen for a reading, but I know if I continue going I will be chosen.  Honestly, I was so emotional after the service that I probably would've cried through it even if she gave me a message. 
I have also added tarot reading (just for myself) to my repetoir of tools I am using to get messages.  It has been helpful.  For instance, just yesterday I pulled a card warning me to choose my battles wisely because sometimes even winning comes at a cost; this same card also has undertones of being aware of selfish behaviors and how it affects others negatively. 
I had my deepest meditation yet this morning, more messages and a warning that I am still trying to decipher but I think it means to watch that things don't get out of balace, making me lose my stability.  I have a tendency to latch on to something and let other stuff fall away a little.  I think this message was to remind me that no one thing can or should be everything.  I have to learn that lesson.  I need to stop trying to fix everyone's problems, which is different than being supportive.  Trying to be everything to everyone is throwing off my own internal balance and peace.
So, as profound as this all felt, I wish I wrote it better, but that's it in a nutshell.  I am finally meditating, and with that little bit of guidance, I have been wildly successful and am having very meaningful experiences with it! 
Aside from that, it's a typical Monday!  haha.  I feel so calm and good today.  I really hope this is the result of my ability to meditate, and I hope it continues!  I think it will be healing in a multitude of ways, not the least of which is, to my health and returning to a healthy weight. Afterall, if I am able to calm and heal my mind and the hurful past, what else will I have to comfort-eat for?
Hope you all had a great weekend!  Happy Monday.

Friday, April 7, 2017

I'm Going to have Sexy Teeth Someday

Yesterday was the first of my two needed root canals.  Let's just say I wasn't exactly looking forward to it, especially since I had to have this one done by a specialist, in an office I've never been to and I wasn't sure what to expect.  I have never had a root canal done, but my husband's recent experience terrified me, he could feel a lot of pain when they started, they had to numb him 2 more times afterword.  Luckily, mine was actually a piece of cake in comparison.  The doctor was nice and kept asking if I was OK of if I could feel anything, and explained each step of the process what to expect (a noise, a vibration, hot or cold).  I was comfortably numb.
I was worried beforehand about what might happen if they took my blood pressure, and I was also stressed out that I had such aweful post-nasal drip from the end of this head cold, I was worried I would feel the constant need to cough or clear my throat.  I know it's probably not the best to go to a dental appoinment when you have a cold, but it truly was winding down at that point, and fortunately, I didn't have an issue with drainage while I was there.  It couldn't have gone smoother!  He was surprised that my regular dentist didn't have me on an antibiotic for the infection in the tooth.  Just another reason to not like my dentist.  Anyway, at least yesterday went smoothly, and that puts me one step closer to being done with all of this!  I can hardly wait. 
As I was finishing getting my prescription for the antibiotic filled, I got a call from my husband saying our son was being suspended for threatening behavior (with thumb tacks, if you can believe it) and I needed to go pick him up.  I still felt strange from having a whole quarter of my mouth and lips/face numb, but I got him.  I didn't yell because I think it's ridiculous.  I just discussed how I know he knows he didn't handle himself appropriately and I let it go.  I don't think it is something he'll encounter on a regular basis, it was situational, so it's not something to punish him for. 
My husband and other son came home and we spent some time just relaxing and talking, doing homework, then we went to an event at the masonic lodge that my husband belongs to.  It was a chinese dinner to honor one of the members, and in memory of some others.  It was pretty fun.  At the end, they served a piece of cake.  I indulged.  The frosting was buttercream, and it was hard to get through my whole piece, it's so rich, but I didn't want to be disrespectful so I ate the whole thing.  Ugh.  I was praying my gut didn't give me problems.  I did OK.  It was the first day all week that I didn't do any yoga/stretching due to a lack of time or focus.  It's OK, my good stuff was more time to hang out with my family, and getting one step further on having a healthy mouth.
Today there is a special sort of funk in the air, like the exact opposite of the Midas touch is happening.  So many struggles and challenges, at home and at work.  I know I can and will overcome it but boy I can tell my mind wants to just avoid all of it by eating.  I haven't given in, I don't have anything other than on-plan food at my disposal anyway, but the thought of unproductive foods is lingering.  I did tell my son, after having to drag him, crying and struggling,  to the bus stop this morning, that maybe we can order pizza tonight and just put the week behind us.  I know things will be fine, a bad day is just a bad day, but man it sure stinks things up when it happens like that. 
I don't have anthing profound to report; I forgot to read my passage from Dhammapada today and boy I sure wish I would have because it seems to help me bridge some emotional gaps. 
Half way through Friday, I think I can make it!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Greatest American Hero

Anyone else remember the feeling of being bowled over and opened up by stuff as a kid?  I do.  Something as cool as a school assembly could blow my mind (I won't even get started about the time I learned where meat comes from) and I would embrace it passionately.  In fact, there is still a school assembly I remember from way back in elementary school, I was probably in about 4th or 5th grade (yes, that was a very long time ago).  The guy came out on stage dressed like The Greatest American Hero (remember that show? Now I'm really dating myself!) with the theme song and everything.  I was a big fan of the show at the time, so that caught my attention.  His message was "Don't sweat the small stuff" and throughout his speech, he talked about problems and overcoming them and how we ought to let the small stuff go.  Then at the very end he said he had a very important secret to tell us.  He worked us until we were on the edge of our seats, leaning in with anticipation and he said, "It's all small stuff!"  I was wowed.  My whole little self clung to those words with passion, I even drew pictures and carefully lettered the words as if they were a motto. 
In middle and high school, it was poetry and snippets from books or songs that moved me, and I tried to force myself to live by what inspired me.  "Carpe Diem" Yes, from Dead Poet's Society not from actually reading the poetry myself, and I just wanted to live more, but I really didn't know what that meant.  Me being a naturally introverted person, I feel like living more means thinking more, not necessarily sky diving or going on safari, or, more common for my generation, going to raves and huffing.  I did go out dancing all the time(dry clubs), that was my way of living more and I loved it.
Then there was my married, adult life, because there was a big depressing lack of inspiration for me between high school and then.  I married a man who is very fit, healthy and disciplined and I wanted so much to be that, but it's really not in my DNA.  I started looking at fitness magazines for inspiration and this is what inspired me most:
I liked her physique because she is toned and fit but doesn't look like she has used steroids to get there.  There was even a time when I successfully stuck to a diet and training plan solely on the self-inspired mantra, "Live like Maggie, look like Maggie."  I literally pretended I was already fit and that being fit and healthy was just how I lived.  It worked for a few months, but like usual, life reminded me of who I am and when I took the blinders off I had to realize that comparing my 5-ft, stocky body to the lean and long body of this genetically-gifted gal was only setting myself up to feel bad about my own body.  I had to come to terms with the fact that no matter how much I "lived like Maggie" I was never going to have abs like that or legs that long and lean.  It was hard, after that, to be inspired by the gals I saw in fitness magazines, and I found women who'd lost a significant amount of weight to be more inspiring because it was something I could acheive. 
Today, as I read my Dhammapada passage I thought about how my brain takes in these messages of inspiration.  The basic concept of the passage today was that an ill-prepared thatched roof allows rain to seep in, as an untrained mind allows desires in, but a well prepared thatched roof does not allow the rain in, just as a well-trained mind does not allow desires in.  I paused to consider its meaning to me and my own journey.  I let the rain through my roof a lot, maybe not because I have no training, but maybe the roof has a small deficiency and I am too tired or lazy to go fix it.  So the rain comes.  And on sunny days I try to patch it up and it stops the rain for a while until a new weak spot comes and the rain flows through again.  So, maybe in my case, I need to make it a little tougher for the rain to get through; ask myself more questions before caving and eating something, especially when I'm not particularly hungry, make myself put my phone down and do something that actually make me feel good instead of just numb, take the time to focus on the me that is inside all the people and things I wish I were.  And this goes well with yesterday's lesson about what is vital and what is trivial, because failing to separate the two leads to the feeling that everything is vital, and everything must be done, and the "shoulds" of life end up making us feel like we "aren't".  It all becomes "big stuff" and overwhelms us until all we want to do is be numb and checkout for a little bit. 
So maybe I am on the right track with focusing on doing things that make me feel good. That is vital, in my opinion.  How can I make good choices when I don't feel good?  How can I call it living if the only time I am focused and in the moment is at work, and lots of times that only stresses me out? 
Last night, after getting through responsibilities after work (homework was extra greuling with my son) I had a little free time while my husband was in the shower.  My first instinct is to go on my phone.  I opened up Ancestry.com and began to page through records in the familiar quest that usually leads down a deep rabbit hole of records for other relatives.  I'm so addicted.  Then, I stopped after only a minute of browsing.  I closed the webpage and loaded up my hip-opening yoga video.  It's funny how I simultaneously felt guilty for taking the time to do this 20-minute session, because my dog was begging me to play, laying his stuffed giraffe on my hand when I would go down into a pose.  No one else was giving him attention and I felt bad, but I kept going anyway, promising to play when I was done.  He laid patiently next to me, trying to sneak a face lick from time to time, and when I was done, I felt all the tight places buzzing with fresh blood supply and I was so happy I decided to do it.  I even slept better.  So, I think I am going to try and make an effort to do 5 things every day that genuinely make me feel good.  Not saying I won't still spend hours on geneology, but I will also make an effort to do more things that feel good and make me happy.  What's more important than that?  The rest, as they say, is all small stuff.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Vital or Trivial?

After yesterday's boost in positivity, I felt pretty good all day.  Even after getting home and having to do homework with my son (ah, spring break was a nice vacation from the nightly homework), still, I felt good mentally.  I did notice myself wanting to BBMHB (binge behind my husband's back) but once I got out in the kitchen, nothing really sounded good.  I mean, we have some half-eaten bags of chips and such, but none of it felt indulgent enough to my not-super-hungry brain.   So, I waited until it was nearly bedtime and had my usual snack of cheese before snoozetime.  The only thing I can think of that would have had me in that state is the thought about cleaning things up with my diet.  I didn't eat crazy yesterday, but I was thinking about how I should be eating less carbs than I have been lately, and questioning all the dairy I've been eating.  I don't want to complicate things because then I end up just giving up, because honestly, the having to be so focused on the stuff all the time is part of what makes me obssess. 
Today is going fine with food, I had my bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, and organic, raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds for a snack, and for lunch I've gone back to cottage cheese with chives and a cucumber.  Since I rarely have a snack between lunch and dinner I haven't gone through the trouble to bring anything with me to work, but I have a few of the lower sugar Luna bars with me all the time in case I become famished to the point of wuthering away!  Dinner this week is a nice salad with raspberries, blueberries, slivered almonds and cottage cheese on top.  It is so good, and makes it feel like summer. 
My reading of the Dhammapada continues.  I feel like the message for yesterday and today is really though-provoking:
      "The deluded, imagining trivial things to be vital to life, follow their vain fancies and never attain the highest knowledge.
     But the wise, knowing what is trivial and what is vital, set their thoughts on the supreme goal and attain the highest knowledge."

Of course, there is a calmness in Buddhist lessons, making me stop to think about the useless things I surround myself with.  Things, material items, food/calories I don't need, I even talk too much and use words more words than are needed sometimes, I spew too much emotion when in a few minutes or hours, things will change and I discover that the emotional discharge wasn't needed.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not ready to get rid of all my possessions, shave my head, don a robe and go begging for my daily meal.  I do think there is a point in the message, but balance is always needed too. 
Maybe that was a key to my recent success with being on-track, I was easily aware of when an extra indulgent treat was vital, or when it was just my brain being a brat.  Then I just stopped paying attention to it and let the brat take over.  I wasn't being the wise one from the lines above, I was the deluded.  Granted, it was only a few days worth of chaos, not entire weeks or months, but it is really easy to let myself get sucked into the rut of eating without thinking.  And once I'm there, it's hard to get out. 
So, that is my lesson to focus on today.  Maybe for today, I will keep this short and simple and save the rest of the words for quiet meditation later.  My guess is that they aren't important enough to remember that long anyway so I'll let them evaporate into the universe.  Feels good to be back in the state of thinking about what I'm doing.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Not Done Yet

So much has happened since my last post, it's the kind of week that makes me wonder if I dreamt it or if it was real. 
My kids had spring break last week, and I feel really fortunate that they are an age where they are fairly comfortable staying home alone.  That doesn't mean I don't worry about them fighting.  At 12 and 13 they still do that enough that it stresses me out from time to time.  Luckily, those times are becoming fewer as they age and focus on their individual interests. 
I was able to get Wednesday and Thursday off due to a light schedule at work.  When I was offered it in January I figured it would just be nice to have a couple days off with the kids, to sleep in and be restful or to go off wherever the wind took us.  Boy that sounds nice!  But life has a funny way of saying, "Nope."  haha. 
In January or so, I found out my favorite band of more than 20 years (Green Day) was coming to my town at the end of March.  I googled the venue and not realizing I was on a third-party seller's page, I almost choked when I saw the price of tickets, $250-$1,600 a piece.  I told my husband I was too old to pay that kind of money, especially on a week night.  lol.  As the concert got nearer, though, I went to the actual arena webpage and looked at prices, and found them to be much more reasonable.  I chewed on it for a week or so, knowing that it would be a lAAAAAAte night getting home, then trying to function at work the next morning.  Then, I finally just decided to bite the bullet and get the damn tickets.  They have never played in my city and I haven't seen them play in about 16 years!  And I just plain love them.  My one saving grace was, since my kids were on spring break that week, I had the option to sleep in a little longer than normal. 
So, all of Wednesday, I spent cleaning.  When I say all of Wednesday I mean, from about 8am until 6pm.  Not that my house is a stye, but I really deep-cleaned things that haven't been done since we moved into this place in December.  Plus, my kids room?  I won't even go there.  I was exhausted by the time I finished, yet I didn't sleep very well, which was frustrating.  Ma Monthly was probably to blame there.  I was up early'ish for a dentist appointment on Thursday.  I am really annoyed with this dental office.  They did not tell me how many cavities I have or how much work, so here I am going in for appointment after appointment.  I just want it to be done.  Plus, their stupid wrist-blood pressure monitor keeps reading ridiculously high for me.  Like 30 points higher on top and bottom, which makes them think I am lying when I tell them my blood pressure is always normal.  I even offered to bring in my medical records to prove it.  They said if it continues to be that high, I might have to get a consent from my doctor to be treated.  I have already pretty much made up my mind that when my work is done with them, I will find a new provider for dental.  At least, after this appointment, I didn't feel as strange, I could still talk and eat OK.  I spent most of the afternoon doing geneology stuff and, yes, comfort eating.  By late afternoon, I started feeling a scratchy throat coming on.  Oh, Crap!  The concert was mere hours away and I was starting to feel aweful.  By the time my father-in-law came to hang out with the boys, I was wishing I could crawl in bed and sleep for a couple days, but I put on my big girl pants and headed out to a quick dinner before the show.  I could write for days about how awesome the concert was, it was one of those times when you cannot fully grasp the awesomeness of it until several days and much reflection have made a comfortable gap.  It was a sold out show, I was screaming my lungs out and singing along, 7,000 some people all singing together for about 2 and a half hours.  There were pyrotechnics and cannons and people allowed to get on stage to sing or play guitar, and one 12 year old boy played guitar and got to keep it.  And the very last song, the last minute, they shot off confetti.  It made me feel like I'd won the Super Bowl or something.  By the end, my ears and throat were toast, I was sweaty and worn out but somehow so very alive.  It was exhillerating!  I'm so glad I went.
I slept aweful and ended up only getting about 3 hours of sleep, and woke with a very raw,sore, bruised throat and stuffy, runny nose.  I made it through Friday though, and the weekend was much more restful, intentionally.  I did a lot more geneology stuff and a lot of thinking.  I have been eating horribly.  I've noticed this feeling, like my "me-ness" is detached from the outside vessel that is my body, as if I am in a fat-suit filled with air.  I am using the energy I have to maneuver and trying to refuel with high-octane junk.  I am living as if what I eat doesn't matter, or at least only matters sometimes, and other times I have found myself looking for food when I'm just not even hungry, and scold myself for looking.  I bought and ate way too many sweets over the weekend, and as I was walking around collecting it all I realized I wasn't really in the mood for sweets, all the thick, syrupy gook that coats the back of my throat, the bloated uncomfortable feeling, the mental drain.  So why did I eat so many cranberry walnut cookies?  I even had ice cream on Friday, hoping it would soothe my raw throat.  I had chicken noodle soup and instant potatoes with gravy too this weekend, because "boo hoo, I'm sick." 
Then, just because it was beautiful and I was thinking about her, I wrote a letter to my dear departed great grandmother.  Sure, it's really just for me, but it makes me feel like I'm actually talking to her.  I told her about my frustrations and fears at the dentist.  What if my blood pressure is suddenly alarmingly high for some reason?  Brushing aside as horrible procedures and bad equipment is one thing (my feet aren't on the floor and my arm is not supported and they use a automatic wrist cuff) but what if I am really less healthy than I've been assuming I am?  When did I stop caring?  How did I let food become a beast hiding in the corner again?  And, how the heck do I get back to caring and eating better without triggering compulsive thoughts/eating? 
All questions I will have to work through for sure.  I know one thing, I sure do miss having a normal feeling gut, having real hunger pangs and energy.  My body is begging me to turn it around. 
My effort to do a thing that makes me feel better today was a yoga session, one that focuses on opening up the hips.  In the video it states that the pelvis is the area where anxiety, stress and sadness are held, and that opening up the hips helps release some of that.  I don't know about that stuff, but it sure made me feel fantastic, physically.  I think I will seek out more videos to hit other areas and concentrate on doing them more.  That simple, 20 minute act of self-kindness broke up my restlessness, made me feel more energetic, move easier and even lifted my mood considerably.  It helps that my cold is lessening to a much more tolerable place already and the weather is nicer. 
When I first began this blog, and was really focused and on track I had a mantra I used when I wanted to dig deep and get one last rep in or when I needed a little mental fire to get me out of bed for a 4:30am workout when it's 20 degrees below zero; "I've got more in me."  Maybe it's time to dust that little helper out and try it back on.  Whatever the case, I'm ready to distance myself from how I felt over the weekend, that definitely wasn't self-love.  Sigh.  Still don't have all the answers, but I'm still going to keep trying to find them. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Babble and Dhammapada

The rain does something to me.  It opens me in grand ways, makes me feel really alive, creative, refreshed.  It rained all weekend and I have to admit I loved it.  In contrast to the grey sky, everything looks so vibrant, even in the post-snow haze of variant shades of brown grass and mud, it was so refreshing to have a gentle rain with some warmer temps.  I reminded myself several times, that if the temperatures had been a little lower, we would have burried in snow.
My energy was low this weekend, with Ma Monthly coming on strong, so I decided to listen to my body and just take it easy.  I feel guilty when my husband wants to go do stuff and I don't, but I just didn't have much gas in my tank.  I felt like writing but spent a good deal of time on my phone, mostly looking at Facebook, joining in multiple threads on an optician group I belong to, and commenting about some local stuff too.  Nothing earth-shattering at all.  Sometimes that is what I need. 
I did cook tacos for the family, and it was OK.  I think I had too many taco salads this spring, I am still not a huge fan of the beef substitue I have been using.  While I figured I could just make that my dinner this week, I have a feeling I will end up using refried beans as my protein source.  The thought of eating more of the beef sub is not appealing to me right now. It is a texture thing, it tastes fine. 
Oh, did I have some active dreams over the weekend, too.  I'm the type of person who believes there is a purpose or meaning to most things if we look deep enough, so I have been stewing on them.  My husband gets really deep messages in his dreams, but he has a proven system of analyzing the symbolism from dreams, so he is quite successful.  I asked him a few questions about how to get started developing my own system.  He is not one to freely guide someone, he would rather have you find out things on your own.  It frustrates me because I am the type of person who, at the very least, likes guidance.  I can waste a whole bunch of time reading books I don't agree with or that don't speak to me, but I would give up way before that.  So he gave me one little piece of advice, to deepen my study of Buddhism and see how that feels as a system.  So I am going to do that.  I am reading a small piece of The Dhammapada each day, and using that to focus on as a thought or concept for my day.  The smaller pieces are easier for me to focus on and remember, to get the meaning from. 
Today was the first day, and the first little piece of wisdom is this:
     "Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think.  Suffering follows an evil thought as the wheels of a cart follw the oxen that draw it."

I had experience with this on Friday.  A customer of mine is losing her vision to Macular Degneration.  She and her husband are understandably upset, but they have a very caustic way of expressing it.  They have yelled and sworn at me, and assumed that I have made the glasses wrong and that I "Don't know what the Hell you are doing."  When they'd come in a couple weeks ago, having had a history with them that goes back from before I started working here 6 years ago, I tried to be polite, but when they began to get accusatory and degrading, I had had enough and I did not let them talk to me that way.  I started talking back to them, telling them the way she kept twisting and moving them around she was the one causing them to get out of adjustment, and when he told me I don't know what I'm doing I said, "Oh, and you do?" 
The husband was complaining that her glasses were not adjusted properly and that's why she can't see.  He knows she's losing her sight and it has nothing to do with the glasses, but he made a big scene and threatened to sue if we didn't give his money back.  I aThey returned this past Friday to have the doctor double-check the prescription.  She affirmed that the prescription was not only unchanged in the chair, but also that the glasses were made correctly.  This must have frustrated them further.  They complained and complained about me to the doctor and her nurses, and the doctor would only say, "That doesn't sound like our Amy."  So after they left her office they decided that, while she felt her glasses were improperly adjusted, they do not want me touching them, and they only want to work with the manager.  So, while I was fully preparing myself to just suck it up on Friday and handle it the best I could (by being silent and ignoring their drama) I ended up not having to deal with them at all, and may never have to deal with them again for that matter.  I wanted to be really happy about it.  It was Friday and I didn't have to deal with these unreasonable people, but it chewed at me all day as I stewed in the previous shouting match.  Their condescending attack on my skill level took me to a childish place.  I chewed on their emotions and spit them back at them without any consideration of them as human beings.  She is losing her vision.  They are very upset about this and want someone to blame.  I, they thought, was an easy target.  I did not give them satisfaction, nor did the doctor or her staff.  Yes, it is ultimately their burden to bear.  Handling it the way I did didn't make me feel better.  Even though most people who meet me find me pleasant and warm and easy to work with, it's still really hard for me to accept when people don't feel this way about me.  I am well-qualified, licensed, nationally certified and have 16 years experience behind me in this field, but that doesn't make me handle situations like that with grace.  And, everyone who has mentioned them has not had nice things to say about them, so I know it's not just me, they are just the type who need to complain, they are miserable so they want everyone around them to be too.  But, if that's all the farther we examine things/people we never get anywhere do we?  Why are they like that?  Has life handed them shit-pie?  Have they had horrible parents or no parents?  Are they sick and know they don't have much time left and feel bitter about it?  Maybe it's not for me to find out.  I'm OK with that.  I'm not saying I want to work with them and get to know them and run through a field of daisies with them, I just noted it on Friday, that not having to work with them didn't mean I didn't stew over the whole situation anyway, and it didn't make me feel better. 
Maybe the message is as simple as the passage above.  I created my suffering by looking at their situation from my own perspective and allowing myself to become so emotionally attached to it that I acted unprofessionally and incompassionately.  I'm not sure where the invisible boundary is between being a compassionate person and standing up for myself, but I know I am the type of person to put my gloves up a lot quicker than people I respect, who handle things with more grace.  So there is one instance that proves to me that I need to continue growing. 
As far as my plan to do things that make me feel better, I did a LOT of stretching over the weekend, it had been way too long and I was really stiff.  It took so much more time to work out some of the really tight places like my hips and lower back, but it felt really good!  I also did a light upper body strength session with a resistance band.  It was a perfect place to start because my muscles felt warm from getting the blood in them but not murdered, weak and shakey.  I only used the resistance band because since our move, I can't figure out where I put the dumbbells we have.  lol.  It felt good to do something, and I did it in a tank top so I could see my arm muscles.  I have always wanted to have a nicer upper body so watching my arm/shoulder muscles working usually inspires me.  I think it will be enough to have me sore tomorrow, but it's a good kind of sore.  Maybe tomorrow I'll work my lower body.  Also, there are other things that make me feel good that don't have to do with exercise, like painting my nails, facials, baths, writing, reading a good book, meditation, interacting with my kids or dog or husband...the list is endless really, but almost all of them involve getting my face out of my phone, which can be entertaining but is also a huge time waster and also makes me detract from my world instead of engaging in it. Plus, as a bonus, I realized over the weekend that I really enjoy being outside.  Don't you think their is a much richer sensory experience outdoors?  Then again, ask me once the bugs and bees return.  haha. 
So it's Monday and I am feeling OK.  Ready to see what this week brings. For me, a rock concert and dental work and I guess I get to make the rest up as I go! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Proclaimation of 'Nothing Else'

My husband and I have this thing we do at night before bed.  Not every night but at least a few times a month, we'll watch The Office on DVD.  We have the whole series and have watched it many times over, but for some reason, we just never get sick of it.  One night, while we were deciding which season to watch I told him to just pick the disc that was already in the player, sure that we'd enjoy any of the episodes on it, "Path of least existence" I mistakenly added.  And we both laughed at my Freudian slip. 
Indeed, I do tend to seek out the path of least existence.  I don't like conflict.  I don't like exerting physical effort.  I don't like pain to any degree.  Maybe I'm just a powerderpuff.  Maybe my coping skills for that sort of thing just never got developed.  When I do exert myself I feel fine, good even, especially mentally, and truth be told, even physically to some extent. 
The kicker is this: Not doing anything physical makes me ache too, just in a different way.  I feel stiff, my muscles complain at the mere onset of doing something physical.  I feel weak and old.  I think that probably feels worse than muscles being sore after a good strength training session, but it's been so long I can't remember!  Sheesh!  I feel like the Tinman before he got his oil. 
So, while I realize I'm the only one who can change it, there is a delicate balance and a mental fencewalk that must be resolved.  Not getting set back into "diet" mentality but trying to make healthier choices because it'll make me feel better...my brain is hard-wired for one or the other, on or off, good or bad; caring all the way or not at all. 
I think I have made great progress with the food demons and I feel like I have a fairly normal relationship with food these days.  Sometimes I completely forget what it felt like to be so food-focused all day every day, and that is a HUGE statement right there.  I can have sweets and goodies around me and actually forget they are there!  Coming from where I was, that would have been a huge stretch of imagination to think that could ever happen, but here I am.  I have every opportunity to eat all of that but I don't even think about that kind of food that often.  And when I do, like twice a month when my hormones are whacked out, I simply have what I want and move on.  One moment or one day or one meal doesn't lead to more.  In fact, if I have a sweet treat or overindulge in fatty/salty stuff, I usually end up feeling bad physically so that the next thing I eat tends to be the complete opposite.  My body knows what it needs, I just wasn't listening before; I was feeding my emotions not my body. 
I think the tricky part is in the ideals and how I need some kind of boundaries but not so structured or stringent that I will judge my actions as innately good or bad.  That's what got me in trouble in the first place.  Example of my idealistic thoughts, I am eating pretty good, but if I wanted to really be "good" I should be eating kale and broccoli.  I'm not eating those things so I am not the best little eater I could be.  I am not good.  I am bad.  This type of thinking has gotten me nowhere.  Over-complicating things does not work for me.  Neither does eating things that I don't like just because they are healthy and good for me.  I can do it for like, 2 days tops.  So if I begin to do better things for my body/health, I have to make sure they come with an internal reward, not just a pat on the back because I did something someone else would approve of.  Exercise should not come with bragging rights, but I feel proud when I do it, like I did "the right thing"so people won't judge so harshly for being fat because "I'm working on it." 
Maybe I'm too hung up on the mental stuff.  Maybe I should just shut up and do it and move on.  I know I would feel better, not that I feel superawfulterrible but I could feel better.  I have a lot of excuses that I allow to get in the way of that.  I am, perpetually, seeking the path of least existence and it's not really all the rage.  Taking care of myself, in multiple different realms, needs to be more of a priority than it has been recently.  I can't be good to anyone else if I am always drained or trying to numb myself or stressed to the point of not caring. 
So there is a proclaimation if nothing else.  I am good at both the proclaimation and the 'nothing else' part, but maybe, just maybe, if I keep my focus on my needs for a bit, I can take one step outside of that path of least existence.  My only plan is to start, nothing more defined than that, nothing structured or given a value of goodness or badness.  I will make an effort to feel better than I do right now.  Maybe that's all anyone needs to do.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Message to Open my Eyes

It turns out yesterday's crabbiness was nothing compared to the amount of stress I had at work.  Not like horrible things happened, but it was again so busy that most of the afternoon I had 2-3 people waiting to be helped constantly.  Before I could finish with one person, two more would crop up.  I got so overwhelmed at one point that my brain seemed as if it short-circuited and people speaking their phone numbers to me wouldn't process to write down the number as they were saying it, and I gave a wrong quote that could have cost me a big sale.  Luckily, everyone was friendly and patient, seeing that I was working alone.  I began thinking about an after-work drink shortly after my lunch break! 
Once I left work, I had to pick up a prescription at Target so I decided to see what kind of alcohol they have.  It is strange to walk through Target with a 6 pack, but that's what I did.  I found some Crispin Pear cider.  It is only 4.5% alcohol and they actually had a nutrition lable, so I decided 14 sugars was not bad considering some of the alternatives.  I had two with my dinner, they are really mellow and tastey, didn't make me have cottonmouth or anything.  It helped me chill out for sure. 
Later, when my husband and I were relaxing in the bedroom, him burried in a book and me still chasing down ancestors, I looked at the framed picture of my great grandparents on my dresser and told him, "I don't know if I'm getting much from them."  I haven't had any more spiritualistic experiences that I know of and the more I learn about my great grandma, she was kind of a pill.  He told me (he is very much more versed in all things spiritualistic than I) that simply talking to them is not enough, that there has to be a way for me to receive messages other than hoping for a sign in my dreams.  He asked if I wanted him to do a tarot reading for me and I agreed, heeding what he said, that it wouldn't tell me who is trying to reach me, but the general message they are wanting me to understand.  I didn't know what to expect really, but my husband is really good at making sense of things that look totally foreign to me.  He has heavily studied multiple religious and occult systems and knows much of the symbology.  He used his own spread with 3 cards to represent my ancestors and three to represent me.  My ancestors' cards showed failure, dischord or stagnence in relationships and ultimately, a problem or unrest with the mind.  He explained, this is what they endured.  They faced failures either financially or emotionally or in their health.  This put a strain on their relationships and led to their minds being unhealthy.  Thinking about multiple layers of my family, even down to my own parents, this seemed fitting.  Many of my ancestors, particularly the immigrant ones, struggled, working hard on farms, having so many children and losing them, many themselves passing from cancer or heart problems. I began to tear up a little and explained that this could be any one of my ancestors. 
He went on to explain that the cards that were to represent me do not necessarily represent me as I am now, but my potential, and what they want for me.  My cards were a completion or completeness, wealth, and finally, the card I've gotten in every reading he's done for me, the Chariot.  His interpretation is that they want me to find completeness, and that will be acheived by the wealth.  Wealth not necessarily in riches, but in a cycle ending which would open the doorway to new beginnings, and those new begninnings are the wealth that would bring me completeness.  He pointed out that the Chariot card is especially meaningful in this reading because it shows a powerful woman and it seems as if she is pushing straight foward, moving on.  I was in tears by the end.  what a timely and meaningful message.  My ancestors don't want me to try and validate them or help them, they want me to let go of the things that are standing in the way of me feeling good, happy and healthy. 
I thought back to the stress and irritability and even judgements I have passed recently and how they aren't serving me, and they definitely are not helping me "be strong and move on".  In some ways I have gotten past little bumps in the road, the little things like not obsessing over food, but in many ways my head is still unhealthy, and I haven't devoted nearly enough time to trying to change that.  The last time I had my nails done (February) the man who was doing my nails gave me a hand and forearm massage and I could tell he was struggling and he kept saying, "Relax. Let the tension go." I thought I was relaxed but he said it a few more times, continually massaging my hands, then said, "You have trouble relaxing, don't you?" I bashfully said, "I guess I do, I didn't notice that until right now."  I have been more aware of it, the stress that sits on my shoulders, in my jaw, as if I have my boxing gloves on and my hands up to my face at all times.  I need practice relaxing.  I need practice letting others do some stuff instead of feeling like I must do everything or I'm a failure. I need practice at compassion instead of judgement, and in nuturing the relationships of the people closest to me instead of resisting it.  I don't think I'm cold but I am definitely tense and sometimes gaurded.  I just need to spend more time focusing on the things that have the potential to make me relaxed and happy more. 
So that was my sort of heavy day and night.  I slept like a baby.  Today is much better.  Every day has the potential to be better.  I want to make my ancestors' wishes a reality; its as if they are giving me permission, begging me to let go of past hurts, let go of the burden of other's painful experiences, and move on to a place that will make me happy and whole.  Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out where you are falling short.  I'm grateful for the input. 
And hey, maybe next time I get my nails done I will surprise them and fall asleep in my chair.