Monday, January 23, 2017

I've Gone Missing in the Past

Well well well.  I had the week off of work and, well, I was "busy" relaxing and being a geneology nerd.  Seriously, I spent entire days tracking my lineage on 2 different sites.  One thing it has done, without any outside effort, is to bring me closer to both of my parents, as we have all been communicating much more frequently.  My mother has been very involved in tracking our lineage on her side, and we bounce information back and forth to help each other out.  Once I signed up for a (free!) account, it auto-populates what it can with records such as birth, death and baptism records, I was amazed at my lineage.  Now, anyone can alter the information in the Family Search charts, so more research is needed on some of the things I found, but it is certain with documents and literature, that one of my great (tenth great to be exact) is Mary Towne Estey, one of the women who was tried and hanged at the Salem Witch Trials.  There are movies about her, her sister and her mother, Johanna Blessing.  It is a branch of that lineage that leads to royalty.  Knights, Barons, Kings and Queens from several countries including England, Poland, Kiev, and Hungary.  Now, this is where I take it with a grain of salt because I did not research all of the lineage leading up to them.  It is a little nutty to think about it, there is lineage from before 900's (kings of various countries) depending on which ancestor I look at.  But then I bring myself back to a nice, grounded place with this:
My Great Grandparents

My great Grandfather passed long before I came along, so I didn't get a chance to know him, but my great grandmother lived a long life, and I was nearly ten by the time she passed.  I can't say I remember much about her, but I have felt a great deal of warmth, comfort and even girl power/pride when I look at pictures of her because she seems like a lady who did not sit quietly and just do what she was told.  I have a copy of this photo printed out on my dresser, in a very fancy lead crystal frame that I got for my own wedding but never used.  I talk to them as if they are here with me, and in a way, I feel like they are.  It is something very healing, something I never expected to make me feel the way it does.  I am really happy I'm taking this journey now, while my parents are still here, and most of my aunts and uncles are too.  I did lose an aunt to brain cancer earlier this month, it would have been one of the grandchildren of the folks in the picture, my dad's sister.  That is the second of my dad's siblings to pass from brain cancer.  Scary stuff!
On the other hand, the other most major killer in my family is heart disease.  I got my results from my Calcium Scoring test, the test that measures how clogged your arteries are.  I got the remarkable score of 0!!! No clogging, no lesions, no calcification in heart, lungs or any other structures nearby.  These results were completely unexpected as I have a history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol and have been overweight since I was 8 or so.  I actually shed a tiny tear of joy when I got the news.  As of right now, I have a pretty much clean bill of health!  I can't tell you what a gift that is!
Friday the 13th, after ending an extraordinarily busy day at work, and with enough stress coursing through me to change the number on that heart test, my son and I decided to participate in a 5K event downtown in my city.  When it started at 7pm, the temperature without windchill was somewhere around 6 degrees above.  There was a little wind, and after having freezing rain prior to the drop in temperature, the trails/streets/sidewalks were so icy!  We walked most of the way, which was my original intent, but my son, being 13, felt self-conscious when we were last, so he insisted we run to catch up to the others a few times.  Let me tell you, my knee was reminding me why I'm not supposed to run.  While I was running, I got a familiar, warm, good feeling and my brain filled with delightful thoughts of taking it up again, really trying to find a way, but if I get a trainer, and the right shoes...But I woke up the minute I stopped running and felt the swelling start to encompass my knee.  I lost about 40% of the cartilage so it is not a good idea for me to run. At any rate, we finished in about an hour, which isn't too shabby for walking, on ice, in the f-f-freezing cold!
Yes, he does already tower over me at the age of 13.  I am only 5 ft!

We did feel pretty good about ourselves afterword, and decided that Saturday could be a lazy day because we sure did earn it!  To be fair, except for the following Thursday when I went trapsing through a cemetery of knee-deep snow looking for family graves, most of the days on my vacation last week were pretty lazy.  Lets just say, some of meals consisted of chips because I was too enthralled with what I was researching to actually take time out to cook.  So getting back to work/schedule/routine today was actually not such a bad thing for me!  I lost my I-need-to-get-up-early-and-workout-because-I-need-to-fix-my-health mojo, and I am not quite sure how to get that back, but maybe once my Monthly Madness goes away I will have more energy and get back to it.  I don't like how sluggish and bloated I have felt this week with the extra salt (and sleep) I've taken in.  I am sticking to the things that had been working before, taco salad for breakfast, and chopped southwest salad for lunch with nuts and dairy for snacks.  I don't expect super impressive results but that's kind of what this plan is about, managing life without ruining my health.
My son said he'd like to do more 5K's when the weather is nicer and I think that would be a great thing for both of us.  I'd like to get to a point where walking that long doesn't kill my knees, back and hips, but it did comfort me a little to hear him complain about the same parts of his body, then I know it's not just because I am old and out of shape!
I don't have any words of wisdom tonight, just a quick catch up since I've been gone longer than I anticipated.  I will try to not let things lapse so long from now on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Winds of Change

Was there really a weekend in between my posts?  I feel like one did not happen, but that's my own fault because I have been bitten by the bug.  Oh yeah, baby, don't even click the link unless you want to lose entire days worth of time.  Ha ha.  I am clearly addicted to tracing my lineage since I have gone most of my life not really knowing much about my heritage beyond my own grandparents.  My father's parents both died young, I never met my grandmother because she died when my dad was a teen, and my grandpa passed when I was 7, and he lived up north and didn't like driving down.  I'm guessing, with colon cancer, there probably a good number of days he wasn't feeling his best.  So now, I am absorbed in having that link that has been missing.  I have been able to trace my lineage back to the mid-1700's so far and am still finding more and more information, it's almost more than I can handle. 
So, this morning, when my alarm went off at 4:20am, I was so very sleepy and I really just wanted to go back to sleep, but I decided to at least get up, with no promises (to myself) that I was actually going to do any sort of movement other than moving my finger across my iPhone screen.  The stationary bike was again, too close to my sleeping son.  It is clear that I am going to have to move it if we are to ever make use of it in the morning.  *Sigh* so I decided to see where my balancing skills are.  Psht.  I guess it is something that gets worse if you don't practice it, I was wobbling all over the place, arms flailing as I tried not to topple over.  I apparently still suck at balance.  Now, I have seen a bunch of different ideas on how many muscle groups it takes to maintain balance on one foot (they are wildly different so I won't post a specific number) it is a lot of different muscles.  Having poor balance is a sign that some of them are weak.  I thought I was doing OK, but these little tests don't lie.  So, I decided to do some of the lower-body strengthening exercises I was given during my physical therapy for my knee.  My legs and glutes were burning in no time.  I really have lost a lot of strength, but I know it won't be permanent. 
I was also finding myself lacking motivation in preparing/eating what I'd planned for breakfast, a taco salad.  I considered just having a bagel, it is quick and requires so very little effort, but I finally ended up eating eggs with buttered toast. 
My sudden shift in motivation made me dig a little deeper to see what is really going on.  One, snow happened.  Last night, still this morning, and all day long it is going to snow/freezing rain.  My anxiety was higher and I was looking to soothe.  Two, my focus has recently shifted away from my physical health, and onto my research on my ancestry.  It is like a strong wind came along and totally spun me around and now I started walking down a different path.  I can still see the other path, and am sure I'll get back on it because its the awareness of what happened that helps us get back.  The funny thing is, I didn't eat all crazy over the weekend, a little chips and salsa, but to be fair, I was so absorbed in what I was doing that I didn't really think about food.  I actually skipped a meal or two and opted for a snack.  But, my focus was definitly elsewhere.  And that is how easy it can be to lose our way, a fight with our spouse, a move, a sick parent or child, a change of season, new responsibility...Anything can make the wind blow hard enough to spin us around and change our course.  The trick is to be aware that it is or did happen.  It's not that you lack willpower, it's not that you're a horrible person or weak or unmotivated or lacking in any way.  You just took your eye off the horizon for a minute.  Sometimes, and this is just my theory at this moment, looking too close to where you are walking can make you miss the pothole a foot ahead of you.  I think I was looking at my feet over the weekend.  Yes, I feel that family connection, for the first time in my life maybe, is a big deal of mental health, feelings of connectivity, of roots, but focusing on them took the focus off me.  And for me to be healthy, I have to be a little selfish with my attention.  It does come down to self-care.  I realize now that I can focus on both, as long as there is some sort of balance. 
Still here, still making small, positive strides forward, with a little room to look behind me to see how far I've come, and be in touch with where it is I came from.  Now that's how you start a Tuesday!  Rock right on my friends!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Freaky Popping Friday

So yesterday went in the books with no workout in.  I came to terms with it in the evening, when I found a little free time and was considering getting on the bike.  I told myself that there was a reason I felt extra drained all day and it was a sign that my body needed a break.  So I used my foam roller to work out some of the kinks in my back and shoulderblades.  It is the first time I have used it in some time, and it was so odd because it felt totally different now that the "shelf" that hangs above my butt has gotten smaller/flatter.  I could actually feel the roller working on my tight areas in my lower back and it felt really good.  At one point, when I got into a really tight area of my lower back, one that has been holding my hip hostage for months, I felt a tight, hot stretching pain and immediately stopped.  You are not supposed to use it on your spine, but to me that's like asking me not to stick a Q-tip in my ear, it feels so good I can't help myself.  Luckily, I felt a huge POP and something really good released and I felt like I could move freer than I've been able to in a good long time.  About an hour later, after sitting on the bed talking with my son, I got up to do something and the opposite side of my body, from lower back to shin and everything in between, was hurting as if there was a nerve being pinched.  Not sciatica, I have dealt with that and know what it feels like, this was worse than any sciatica I've ever had.  I was worried I really messed something up with my back on that roller. 
My husband and I both slept horribly, him from stress and me from not eating a heavy enough or fatty enough meal to keep me from getting hungry in the night, but when my alarm went off at 4:20 am I still decided to get up and get something done.  That strange pain was still there.  I started dancing, hoping it would pop and feel better.  It did not.  I had to stop dancing to walk a few times because man that thing was irritating me.  Eventually, with a bunch of stretching, I felt something pop and all was right with my world again.  I am back to my normal, planned food today, taco salad for breakfast, southwest chopped salad for lunch.  I will be a little calorie-deprived today because just as I was a few nibbles into my morning snack, a little girl barfed all over my sales floor and it took the cleaning company more than an hour to come deal with it.  I can't eat when that's around me.  Shortly after it was cleaned up, my boss sent me to lunch, and I was not sure if I was hungry or nauseated, but I was able to eat and I feel fine.  Lately Fridays have had a strange, "off" feel to them for my family and I am looking forward to just being home tonight and being cozy with family.  We'll probably have tacos tonight because we have leftovers from a dinner my husband cooked for his freemason's lodge last night.  I'm a little sick of the mexican stuff, but what's one more meal? 
Now my Friday challenge is, once again, deciding what the heck to eat next week because I go to the grocery store early Saturday morning.   One thing I do know is that I miss the fresh veggies when I don't eat them.  That's a really positive development in this whole thing because I've never been a huge fan of veggies.  Maybe next week I'll make it a greek salad, with falafel and a greek yogurt/dill/cucumber sauce.  As I type that I just took a bite of the same old chopped salad I've been eating for 2wks and wished I was eating that instead. 
Still really cold here for one more day, then we'll get a bit of a reprieve.  I may take walks when the weather is nice, we've had way less snow than usual and the roads are nice and clean so I might as well take advantage of it. 
Well, I hope you all are having a fantastic Friday.  Psst: send some of that good juju over here, would ya?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Catching my Diet Brain

Anyone else's joints extra noisy lately?  Maybe it's me, I live in a place that gets cold.  Like today, seriously, -20 degrees (F) with windchill.  Brrrrr!  My brain is already annoyed by the weather, it makes perfect sense that my body should follow suit!
Last night after work, I received a long letter from my mom.  She explained her theory of what happened to her lungs, something about lint/dust in her apartment and exposure to someone's headcold.  Ummm, she's in denial bigtime, but she claims she is doing much better and hasn't had any more episodes.  I can't force her to have her lungs checked out, I'm sure she is avoiding doing it because she's afraid of what she'll be told, and how she'll be scolded for not being able to give up smoking.  Guilt makes us do things we wouldn't normally do, especially when we are the ones who personally suffer.  Not having your health checked because you're scared you've failed yourself somehow, could be a foolish and fatal mistake.  My own boss is doing a similar thing.  He is in his 50's with the typical Wisconsin beer belly, he drinks a good deal.  He confessed to me a couple nights ago, that he went to the gym (his first time) and while working out his chest started to hurt and get tight.  The next morning when he tried to get out of bed, he was so dizzy that he fell to the floor and by the time he was telling me this, about 24 hours after the treadmill incident, he said his chest was still tight.  I told him those are very common symptoms of heart problems, and two of the symptoms my dad had when he found out he had 5 blocked arteries.  I implored him to have it checked out but he said he wanted to see if it got better on its own.  By the time I was leaving I was bugging him so much about it that he said maybe he'd stop by a nurse in the building and have them take a quick blood pressure.  Sheesh!  Why do we do this out of guilt?  Just check it out.  The heart and lungs are nothing to mess around with!  We can't, however, force anyone else to admit they have a problem.  I totally understand being scared of health issues, but knowing is always better, and is often a motivation to change.  And maybe that's the bottom line, knowing we have ruined our health means we should change, and maybe some people know they are not ready to change so they would just rather be ignorant and stay in their comfort zone. 
But I digress.  I spent some time reading my mom's letter, there was a lot of good, healing stuff in their too, where she exposed her feelings of guilt over being gone a lot when we were young, and for taking such a dangerous job (Leutenant Firefighter/EMT) that put her in situations where she could have been taken from us, and she talked about family and said she is putting together a booklet about some family history and such since I have recently become very interested with our heritage.  By the time I finished reading the letter I was so over-hungry and feeling drained (physically) so instead of my normal veggie burger loaded with veggies, I had some crispy fried ravioli with tuscan herbs. 
It was pretty tastey, I made too much, but I had to use it up because it was getting freezer-burned, I did eat it all and I was aware it was more than I needed to be satiated.  Even though it was tastey and satisfying, after eating much cleaner lately, I was really aware of how creamy and heavy it was, and I felt like I needed to have something fresh so I ate 1/2 cup of frozen, organic berries and that felt better.  Maybe it's a mental thing but I think my body is liking all the extra fruits and veggies I've been getting lately. 
This morning, when my alarm went off at 4:20am, I felt feverish and stuffy and I could tell that the majority of my muscles were tired and just sore enough to not want to be used.  I slept until 5am and did my normal morning routine to get ready, take the dog out, feed him and me, then get myself ready for work then the kids.  I feel sluggish and like my brain has an extra layer of fog over it today, and I have tight/stiff kinks in my neck/shoulder and a dull headache.  While I was eating breakfast this morning I thought about missing a workout this morning and wondered if I would work one in later tonight.  I had to stop myself because I realized I was slipping into diet mentality of "all or nothing" thinking.  The stressful, guilt-ridden, I'm-either-off-or-on-my-plan mentality that ends up getting me in trouble.  I am not off-plan, I don't really have a plan.  I took a rest.  I ate a warm, flavorful dish last night and chose to stay in bed and let my body rejuvenate with rest a little more this morning.  Rest is needed in order to heal, and that is a message that goes so much deeper than the surface.  Being mindful is about more than what you put in your mouth and why, I also need to be mindful of when my body is telling me it needs a bit of a break. So I'm not going to stress out about missing one cardio session or eating a little higher fat and carb meal.  All the healthier things I have been doing for my body are adding up and won't be immediately erased by one day or even two. 
Today I may work on balance by a simple practice of standing on one foot for 30 seconds at a time.  Did you ever realize how many muscles are activated/needed to do this activity?  I never would have thought of it if it hadn't been something I was encouraged to do when I was rehabbing my knee after surgery.  The physical therapist said that balance is something that many therapists and doctors neglect to focus on, but almost everyone has problems with balance as they age.  Try it, stand on one foot for thirty seconds, bending your other knee behind you.  The first time I did it, I was surprised to see how many times I felt I needed to put the other foot down to regain my balance.  I am getting better now, though it's not something I remember to do consistently.  It's simple enough to work into my day, even if I do 3 sets that's only 3 minutes.  That's my kind of workout!  haha. 
My TLC for my body today will be some stretching, the kind I can do at work without looking silly, some neck stretches and maybe some arm stretches to get that kink out of my neck and shoulder.  Tonight I may take a hot bath to soak and soothe my muscles, or I might just go to bed early.  Some hot tea today (because brrrrr! Even inside the clinic where I work) and making a little time during lunch or in between patients, to focus on deep, happy, healing thoughts.  There is so much more to being "healthy" than just eating salads and spending time on the treadmill.  I'm glad I finally realize that, I feel wholer than I have in years! 
Happy Thursday to you!  Whether you are taking a restful day or celebrating all the things your body can do, I hope you have a great day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Today when my alarm went off at 4:20am, it startled me awake.  I rolled out of bed and on the way to the bathroom I was thinking about my obstacles for working out today and considering the idea of going back to bed.  I stayed up, though.  My obstacles were that my husband was sleeping in the bedroom so dancing in there was out of the question, it is 12 degrees below zero with the windchill, so going for a walk was out of the question, and my son was sleeping inches away from the stationary bike, so trying to weasle my way onto the bike and use it without waking him up was also out of the question.  I opted for some yoga in the living room, quiet enough to not wake my son.  He sleeps in the living room whenever he finds his room too cold or creepy.  Sigh.  So I compromised, but still got something done.  The particular session I did today is for opening the hips, a lesson I definitely could use daily.  It moves sort of fast, but there isn't anything so challenging that I can't do it so it ended up being a nice way to start the day.  I'll admit, it didn't wake me up the way cardio does, and I wasn't all sweaty and happy, but it was still working on something I want to maintain in the long run, flexibility.  So win-win.  Depending on how much homework the kids have tonight, and how tired I am after work, I may put a little time in on the bike tonight.  I make no promises!  I still have yet to add any strength training into my repetoir, and I know I need to, but right now my legs are already getting sore from the forms of cardio I'm doing.  At some point I will add strength, focusing on my core. 
So my message from last night is "idea" vs reality.  My husband had a retirement dinner for a coworker to attend, so I tended to my normal "mom" duties of taking the dog out, helping with homework and cooking dinner.  Surprisingly, I had a nice chunk of free time afterword, so I took a hot soak in the tub. I imagined pampering myself with a facial and nails and thick body butter, then watching a funny show and eating some popcorn.  I did all of the above except the last 2 things.  Oh I could have had some popcorn and watched a show, they both sound really indulgent and relaxing.  Then I began to tear apart my thinking.  For once, it was nice and quiet in the house (nothing to do with my husband being gone, just happened to be that way).  I wasn't hungry, but the thought of doing those things equated to sheer relaxation and comfort to me.  Was I bothered, deep down somewhere, that my husband wasn't home?  Not consciously.  I started to think about the last time I ate popcorn (on Sunday) and how it took me a couple hours to get through the bag because I got "salted-out" early on and kept choking on the hulls.  So, I did not eat popcorn and I did not watch a show.  I enjoyed the quiet, and the unsalty, un-hully (like my new word) mouth and relaxed.  It felt good to pamper myself and I didn't end up taking in calories I don't need and won't burn while I'm sleeping.  It was the idea of doing those things that sounded good, and I have acted without giving it a second thought in the past, but this time I decided not to act by rote.  I'm not saying I'll never eat things that are counterproductive to my health, that's not a normal fringe to live on.  Ideal, yes, but not normal.  I do think that the human body can be normal and healthy without being on some extreme fringe.  It's the Middle Path, the balance between two extremes, and I think it is where most people can find some peace.   The best part is that, I believe those who seek, and keep seeking will eventually find their way to that path.  I wish it for all seekers. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Warmth in January

Today was my first morning waking early to workout.  I actually woke several times in the night and was ribboning between light sleep and wakeful between 4am and when my alarm went off at 4:30am.  It did make getting up easier, since I wasn't in such a deep sleep.  It took me about 7 minutes between waking and actually getting dancing, so as much as I don't cherish it, I am going to try and get up at 4:20 so that I can get a full half hour of work in before I have to get the rest of my morning schedule taken care of. 
It has been an odd start to the day, just one of those when I feel slightly behind/ off and I am a little clumbsier than usual, which is bad because there was freezing drizzle last night and I am surrounded by ice.  I made it to work fine, but walking was particularly challenging today.  I'm really happy I didn't slip on the ice.  Luckily my kind of "offness" equated more to being out of sync with getting my kids ready and spilling stuff.  I'm hoping that as the morning goes on I will find that groove and things will balance out.
Do you believe in a syncronicity within the universe?  Say, like, when you keep looking at the clock at the same time of day for no reason (mine used to be 11:23) or when things keep popping up over and over, like a number or a name or something.  I have heard that, when that happens the universe is trying to make us aware of something, to sync up with us so we wake up to a message.  Here is the silliness of my life, I found a dead minnow (tiny fish) in my driveway today.  I live in the city, in a snowy place.  I dismissed it as perhaps my lazy neighbor went ice fishing and dumped his extra bait on my driveway.  We do have seagulls where I live, but I haven't seen any by my place in quite some time.  And typically, if a bird drops something, they are going to circle back around and pick it back up, especially seagulls, they are not picky at all.  I tried to look up the significance, the symbology of it, and one site said it means I have gotten past an obstacle, and another interpreted it as a lack of trust in myself.  After I dropped my kids at the bus stop, I went inside my local grocery store to get some soda to bring to work (I know, I really need to make cutting down on it a goal but not just now) and as I was cruising down the aisle toward the checkout a logo on a beer package caught my eye.  I backed up so I could affirm it is what I saw.  The name I thought I saw was "deadfish head" beer but it was actually dogfish head.  What is it with fish today? 
Actually the first interpretation would make sense to me because I finally made time and "talked" to my departed friend Lisa last night.  I said everything I wanted to say, that I was sorry I wasn't there for her when she was sick, especially when she was to the point where she was having difficulty walking, and lost so much weight and muscle mass that she didn't look like herself.  I appologized for not feeling strong enough to endure that, and I told her that I feel so sad and guilty that I wasn't there for her even when she passed.  All I felt was a beautiful, glowing, peaceful light and warmth.  I imagined her deeply dimpled smile and imagined her saying, "Aw, you don't have to worry about any of that, everything is so awesome, peaceful and warm."  And I could really see the warmth all around her, like fuzzies floating in the air on a late summer day drenched in imposibly golden sunglow.  It was an amazing moment that made me disappointed that I waited so long.  I felt closer to her than I have in a long time, and it helped me release the guilt I'd been feeling.  I went to bed feeling a peace I haven't felt in a good long time. 
I think there is one last thing I need to heal/connect with, and that is my mom.  Things have gotten considerably better, but I think it won't really get to a point I need it to until I go visit her.  I don't know how long I'll have with her now that we know her lungs are bad, letting my own feelings and emotional reactions shadow the relationship is really unfair to both of us.  She is bitter and cold because she needs someone to show her warmth for no reason at all.  Now that I am healing and much more whole, I think I can be the person to show her kindness and compassion.  Not that anyone else hasn't tried, but for me I think I need to try in order to make peace with my past. 
I really like the getting back to a nomal schedule feeling after the holidays.  I'm hopeful that my tiny adjustment in my sleep schedule won't be a challenge for me because working out in the morning does make me feel good and helps wake me up nicely.  I am hoping it will become habit like the eating cleaner has so it just feels normal and natural like every other scheduled part of my day.  It's not an overdramatic resolution or a cold-turkey kind of thing, I have eased myself into this lifestyle slowly and out of my own free desire to be a healthier person.  I was able to do that because I believe I'm worth it.  I started working from the inside, from my own personal psychological mess to my bloodwork, and the outside had no choice but to follow suit.  I am healing, which is different than "loosing weight".  I'm not really loosing anything, I am opening up and becoming healed and whole.  Weight is so insignificant in comparison. 
Happy Tuesday, happy January, happy healing.  Just, happy.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Year Opens, Oh what a Gift!

Well, well,well! That was quite a weekend! 
Friday ended up being less busy at work than I expected, but busy enough that I wasn't bored by any means.  After closing up for the night I went home to what seems to be a perpetual argument about where to eat with my family.  Earlier in the week I'd suggested a Thai place that we'd gotten a gift card for over the holidays.  Since it was sort of in celebration of my birthday, my husband said it would be my choice.  But by Friday night, when I was already starving and wanting to head out, my younger son started to complain that he didn't really love the food there.  The family debated this and that, meanwhile I was getting so hangry.  Finally by 7pm three of us were heading out to our favorite local, high-quality chinese place and we brought some home for my other son.  It was fine.  The rest of the evening was pleasantly quiet and relaxing. 
Saturday, after getting the grocery shopping done, my dad and his wife came to visit.  I put out a snack tray with cheese, crackers, praline pecans and summer sausage.  We nibbled all day.  Then his wife also brought a tray of cookies that we all nibbled on too.  To me, it was worth not eating cookies all last week in order to not feel bad about eating some on Saturday.  I did find that eating them led to cravings for me, not entirely sure if it was physical or emotional, but I was aware of it and didn't give into them; I knew if I didn't eat more sugar the cravings would go away and they did.  My dad gifted us a bottle of his homemade cherry wine and brought old family photos at my request.  I grew up with very little connection to my extended family.  Sure I knew my parents' brothers and sisters, but as far as my dad's parents/grandparents, I didn't even know their names.  So, my dad and I looked through the old photos and talked about these people who felt like strangers to me.  He explained that, when he was young himself, his family sort of became estranged because his grandfather owned a tavern and liked to drink more than the others, so they sort of branched off and did their own thing.  My dad expressed disappointment in his own father, saying he would never come to visit, making excuses that it was too far to drive as he got older.  My dad was so proud of his new house and young family and it hurt him that his dad wouldn't come visit.  So, bitterness and pride kept me from really knowing my grandpa, and then he passed when I was 7.  I snapped pictures of the photos, marvelling at how old some of them were, and realized as I listened to my dad talk about his relatives, that this simple act was healing for both of us, and it was helping bridge the gap between us as well.  What an amazing gift!
After they left, I spent a good amount of time on looking up as much information as I could find about my relatives.  I was amazed to find enough information (for free, no less) to trace my family back to Germany, even to find the name of the city where 4 of my relatives were born, my great, great, great grandparents.  There was even a picture of my great great great grandpa.
How cool is that?  It makes me feel whole in a way I have yearned for for some time now.  So that was the first healing thing of my weekend. 
In the evening, my husband and I began to sip the wine my dad brought, and it led to more drinking than I was planning on.  We had wine and champagne, and I really did want to stay up to celebrate the changing of the year and I made it.  My husband and I got into deep conversation about energy of those who've passed, and I ended up confessing things to him about my friend Lisa, how I never mourned her but I still feel guilty for not going to see her when she was sick, and how I felt like, when we worked together, there was something she needed from me, support or inspiration, not sure what it was but I felt like she needed me and it made me feel really guilty for not seeing her when she'd suggest we should get together for a lunch.  He told me the best thing I can do is to talk directly to her and release her and be able to feel her releasing me.  I was crying a lot that night and haven't taken his advice yet, but I will.  Just talking about it with him helped me feel better about it, so that was the second healing part of the weekend.
As midnight approached, I turned the TV on for exactly 2 minutes to see people happy and celebrating.  My family gathered around and celebrated as well and I let out a couple of "Woo hoo" cheers.  Despite already being more buzzed than I planned on, it was a high note, and I genuinely felt like there was a collective sigh of relief that we'd survived 2016 and are ready for a fresh start!
Sunday I woke with a huge hangover, pounding headache, turning stomach, and with less than six hours of sleep, I just genuinely felt like not doing much.  We had a lazy morning, then I told my husband that some greasy fries were always my most reliable cure for a hangover back when I used to have them frequently.  He suggested we go for a short drive to a place he'd heard had the best burgers in the area.  I was getting a little more ancestry work done and really didn't feel like going out, but figured maybe some fresh air would be good.  The place we ate was a total dive, but it was steeped in history and it was kind of fun being out.  There were a ton of people out drinking which made me shudder, but we had our greasy lunch (I had a fish sandwich, which tasted a lot like McDonald's fish sandwich) and I began feeling better.  Afterword we took a small drive since we were in a small town we were unfamiliar with, we decided to see if there was anything there to see.  There was a few old churches with interesting cemeteries, but not much else.  We ended up by Lake Michigan and caught an amazing view of the waves, some full of ice chunks, washing onto shore and freezing there. 
We don't typically go by the water in the winter, but I'm glad we did yesterday because it was breathtaking!  Even though I was nervous about someone slipping on the ice into the harsh waves below, it somehow felt cleansing to watch the waves crash on the ice while the sun gleamed at us.  For me, it reminds me of all the wonderful trips we've taken there when the weather is nice and it made me think of how it's going to start warming up in about 4 months and we can start planning our little weekend beach trips.  So there, of course, was healing experience #3 for the weekend.  I was pretty lazy the rest of Sunday night, but I did send out some family photos and information to my sister and cousin, just another connection we can share.  I started to think about how our familiies decided for us that we wouldn't be that close, something that was passed down through the generations.  While that explains some things for me, and helps me release a little more bad feelings, I think maybe it's time to reconnect and end the chain.  It's too bad my family was divided or estranged, but we don't have to pass those feelings onto the next generation.  I am so lucky to still have my parents with me.  I will make an effort to connect with them and my sister more.  As I found out, aside from my mother's side having horrific amounts of heart-related deaths, my father's side has a huge amount of cancer-related deaths, including my aunt, who is currently losing her battle with brain cancer. 
So, despite feeling extra sleepy and sluggish and wanting to just relax before going into work late this morning, I actually got on the bike and put in my half hour of work there.  I reminded myself that this is not to look pretty or boost my self esteem, this is to be healthier.  And since there are a lot of different ways I can acheive this, I chose the one that sounded the best and rocked it out.  A half hour on the bike is getting less torturous and I do like the fact that I can do other things at the same time, it makes the time pass without me being overly aware that I am working hard. 
This has been a pretty fulfilling weekend, and I can tell it just the beginning of what is going to be an amazing year!