The Research

After I got out of the hospital this last time (a second round of multiple hernias and intestinal obstructions plus diverticulitis), I took quite a while to recover enough for everything to return to normal. I quit eating meat because that seemed to be stressful for my digestive system and I was struggling with a loss of appetite.  I wanted to (and needed to) lose weight, but I knew that not eating wasn’t a good option.

I found that I didn’t miss meat all that much…except for maybe bacon.

I didn’t set out to become a vegetarian.  I definitely didn’t plan on becoming a vegan.  I didn’t even know what the term “whole food, plant based diet” meant.

It just sort of started and didn’t stop.

Then one night when hubby was working late and I couldn’t find anything good to watch on Netflix, I happened upon the documentary section and started browsing…

I don’t remember which one I watched first, but here’s a list of what I’ve watched so far:

  • Forks over Knives
  • What the Health
  • Sustainable
  • In Defense of Food
  • Plant Pure Nation
  • Food Choices
  • Food, Inc.
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 1 & 2
  • Fed Up
  • Super Size Me
  • Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue

Most of these were watched while walking on the treadmill.  I found them to be very motivational!

Some of them seemed a wee bit crazy at first.  A very radical step away from cultural norms.  A lot of that seems more normal now that I’ve embraced this journey.  Some of them are still too crazy for me.

I’m also currently reading (and using recipes from):

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I’ve noticed some benefits other than health related ones so far…

Dishes are much easier when you aren’t cooking with animal based products and extra oils!  They pretty much just rinse clean.

The chickens and rabbit are very happy and well fed and the compost pile is filling up nicely.

And the amount of trash we are producing is significantly less.  We are recycling more efficiently and there is little that actually goes to waste.

Grocery shopping was harder the first couple of times we went after starting this.  Label reading took on a whole new meaning and many previously favorite items were reluctantly placed back on the shelf.  Then it became a sort of treasure hunt as we would read labels in the store and joyfully shout out, “We can eat this!” or “I found something!”.

Even though we thought we were pretty savvy shoppers, I was totally caught off guard at the amount of sugar (in various forms) that can be found in almost everything!  And how many ingredients does it really take to make bread, cereal or salad dressing?

Now the majority of our shopping is done in the produce section.  We shop for a rainbow of colors and I know words like phytochemicals and lycopene.

Our spice collection is growing beyond salt, pepper and garlic.  We still don’t like curry, but we’ll try it again at some point because our taste buds are slowly reawakening to natural flavors.  Smoothies with just fruit now taste too sweet to me and are reserved for dessert status.  Our added salt intake is greatly reduced.

I miss butter…on toast and potatoes and well, everything.  But, I don’t miss it as much as I did three weeks ago.  I’m sure my arteries don’t miss it at all.

This is challenging.

And interesting.

I think my mind is starting to wake up a bit as I pursue more knowledge about my food, my body and my health.

Good food for the body and the mind.

Steps in the right direction on this journey…

The Next Step

It’s been more than a month since I’ve posted here.  I’ve written (or tried to write) a few times, but the words sounded negative, without optimism, and frankly, more than a little whiny.

Why did things keep going wrong?  How unfair that the harder I tried to simplify and improve our quality of life, the worse things seemed to get…

  • a car accident that totaled our paid for truck…the only functional car that we owned
  • another emergency surgery adding thousands of dollars to our debt, not to mention the cost of the stress for our family and the damage to my health
  • the auto insurance for the person who caused the accident determining that our vehicle was worth less than two thousand dollars
  • the same company deciding that my husband’s health expenses could total $300.00, but no more
  • my husband still in physical therapy for the pain in his neck and back
  • my husband developing hypertension – possibly as a result of the stress
  • my daughter who is not yet thirty getting blood pressure readings that are way too high

and the list could go on…

See what I mean about feeling like a miserable, whiny person whose life was out of control?

I’ve not been in a good place.  This next sentence is hard to type, but here goes…

I’ve been so depressed and without hope that suicide has seemed like a real and viable option on more than one occasion.  I share that only because I know I’m not the only one out there who visits that “place” occasionally.

I don’t remember where I initially came across the phrase “treating the symptoms instead of the cause”, but I did happen upon it somewhere…probably in researching health and weight loss because I am determined not to have surgery again.

And that phrase triggered some pretty deep thoughts, reflection and insights.

Yes, I can be a victim and take medications for my blood pressure.  And I can blame my health issues (past, present, and future) on my genetics.

Or, I can take responsibility for my choices and choose the type of journey that I want to make.

I can make choices and have some control over my life.

This same thinking applies just as well to the condition of my home.

I can treat the symptoms of a cluttered, untidy home that does bring me peace and comfort…I can clear this counter or tidy up that pile.

Or, I can exert my energy on resolving the cause of the problems in my home.

I feel that my journey has renewed life.

Changes are already being implemented.

Some are scary and against standard societal norms.

I’m working on being ok with that.

The stuff I’ve done so far has been good.

Now, I’m going to the next level.

I’m excited, I’m scared, I’m optimistic, I’m apprehensive…

And I anticipate that I’ll be back tomorrow to post again…

All Shall Be Well

All in all, this has been a successful week.  It’s necessary to look back on it as a whole though.  Picking it apart makes it possible to focus on what didn’t work…and more things worked out than not.

I have followed through with my plan to eat a more healthy diet overall this week.  Lots of veggies and fruits and whole grains.  More plant based protein and less meat.  Cutting out sugar and anything overly processed.  My neighbor did make us a deliciously awesome, totally homemade, absolutely decadent cake this week.  I may have had more than one piece.  She is the best cook ever and does everything from scratch.  And the cake had fruit in it and maybe some carrots, and nuts…so it wasn’t a total oops.

This is lunch.

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Ummm.  I have to say the picture on the box looks better than the food in the bowl and it smells a little funky, but it tastes ok.  It’s not a Sonic cheeseburger or a chopped bbq baked potato from Smokey-Mo’s, but I am learning to like it.  There are some good flavors in there.  Old habits are hard to break.  And I was drinking a big glass of ice water with it, but I set it down somewhere and now I can’t find it.  Sigh.

The decluttering effort is back underway.  This all went to the thrift store yesterday.

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Most of it is from my youngest daughter’s room.  She is growing up and parted with quite a few of the formerly cherished toys from the back of her closet.  I had more problems with it than she did.  When I asked her if she was sure about such a drastic purge she replied, “Mom, some little girl is going to have so much fun when she finds this stuff at the thrift store.”  True words and ones that I will replay in my head as I tackle my stuff.

Speedy, the dog is recovering from his back injury.  It only cost $200 (sarcasm intended here) and he is almost back to his old (slightly annoying) self.  He is not yet following my every footstep, but he does manage to whine when I move out of his line of vision.  He has a lesion on his spine and is basically “a ticking time bomb” according to the vet.  Bassets are prone to back problems so we will just make sure his remaining time is good and take each day as it comes.

The rental car is being returned today although we haven’t actually gotten a check from the insurance company.  I’m not sure what they think we are supposed to drive while we wait for dispensation, but I guess it’s not their problem…in their opinion.  We do have my sister’s car to use, but one car for 3 drivers who all have different schedules is not fun.  We can make it work, but it’s still extremely frustrating.

I am still making paper and having a lot of fun doing it.  It’s become my “go to” thing when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life.  This is just part of what I’ve created so far.

 

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Some ideas for using it in projects are percolating, but real life is taking a lot of time and there hasn’t been much left over for artistic pursuits.

I haven’t heard from my son in over two weeks.  Last time I talked to him he was still in the hospital.  He said the medical discharge from basic training could take up to a month. I’m assuming that he is doing okay.  It’s hard not to know what’s going on.

I keep telling myself to be patient.

Things will work out.

The healthier diet and regular exercise will improve my health and the way I feel in noticeable ways.

The house will become even less cluttered and easier to manage (and maybe I’ll find my missing glass of water).

The vehicle situation will work out even though it seems hopeless right now.

There will once again be time for art and creativity.

And all the other realities that are crowding in and making things challenging will be dealt with and resolved…

some to my satisfaction and some in ways that I will learn to deal with.

Patience brings peace

and peace births happiness

and happiness brings joy…

and none of it comes easy, but it is doable.

Life is good and all shall be well.

 

 

But wait, there’s more…

When I wrote last Monday, I was coming to terms with life.  I was looking on the bright side.  I was maintaining a positive attitude.

Everything is going to be fine.  Tough times come and they go.  Life is still good.

By Tuesday, I was even making a gratitude list.  I managed about 20 things on that list without getting too trite.  Good health for my family and reliable(ish) transportation that didn’t require a monthly car payment in our extended budget were on that list.

Have I give away too much information?

Can you guess what the rest of the story might be about?

Tuesday night my husband jumped in his truck and my youngest and I jumped in our car (that really belongs to my sister, but she lets us use) and headed off to clean the offices that provide a bit of extra income.

We got the job done and bid adieu to my husband as he set off for work.  Youngest daughter and I headed home.  Five minutes later, I got a phone call as I was sitting at an intersection waiting for the light to change.

It was my husband.  Turns out that as he was sitting at the intersection of Hero’s Way and Highway 183A waiting for his light to turn from red to green there was a horrible accident.  And he was part of it.

A car coming up to the light on the opposite side of the intersection failed to stop at the red light.  She was going pretty fast.  The truck moving through the intersection at 65 plus mph swerved to miss her.  Hit her anyway, went airborne taking out all the signs at the intersection and bouncing off of the hood of my husband’s truck slamming it against the curb and traveling on.

My husband said all he saw when he looked out the window was a truck flying through the air and then his head hitting the inside frame of the window.

Did I mention that my husband has had a previous broken neck and that his neck is fused solid?

He’s okay except for some neck pain.  We’ve visited the doctor and physical therapy is in the works.

Four or five feet further back and the impact of that truck would have been fully on the passenger cab of our truck.

My husband was lucky and blessed and so are we.  That’s the bright side.

The down side.  There is no doubt that our truck is totaled.   The front passenger side tire is somewhere in the middle of where the engine used to be.  It’s a really big paper weight.

The driver that caused the accident had the least amount of insurance to meet the requirements of Texas law.  Her car is probably totaled from what I saw.  The other (much newer) truck is totaled also.  The truck’s passengers were transported by ambulance.  I doubt that there will be any payouts by the time it comes to our turn.

Luckily, we have underinsured driver insurance.  That will help.  The blue book on our truck isn’t much, but it meant the world to us in terms of financial life.

What next?  It’s up to the lawyers at this point.

And the doctors if my husband’s neck injury turns out to be something more serious.

Time will tell.

Nothing serious went wrong on Wednesday and Thursday.

Let’s all breath a sigh of relief.

Oh, wait…the week isn’t over.

Remember Speedy the basset hound?  The nine year old that (for some crazy reason) I adopted because he was surrendered to the pound because his family didn’t want him anymore?  The one that had surgery for the anal tumor.  The one that is incontinent because of said surgery. The really annoying one that follows me everywhere (and I mean everywhere).  The one that needs so much attention that if I won’t pet him, he will simply stand by my chair and rub his own head against my foot.  Yes, that dog.

This morning he woke up and is having trouble walking and whimpering.  It’s probably a spinal problem.  That’s common among older bassets.  He’s on pain meds for now and will go in to the vet on Monday for x-rays.  Then I get to make that decision.  You know the one I’m talking about.  The how much can we afford to spend decision.  The one where you get to place a value on a life…

Other things are sorting themselves out well enough.  Not ideally, but they involve the situations that caused me to invoke the Serenity prayer on Monday.  All I can do is aim for peace and make the best of whatever happens.

…because it is my circus and they are my monkeys.

And all shall be well.

 

 

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Our lives have been hit with a series of unfortunate events in the last couple of day and I’ve been really tempted to respond by curling up in my recliner and watching stupid TV while eating junk food.

But what would that solve?

I’d feel miserable and angry with myself and the problems would still be there.

So, I’m just feeling miserable and wanting a cupcake really, really badly.

That’s part of life, right?  Not a good part, but definitely part of the experience.  It’s not all good…and we don’t have control and we can’t fix everything and sometimes there are no answers.

Mostly it’s just time.  Waiting for decisions, resolutions, answers, change…whatever has to happen for unfortunate events to move from the present into history.

We can’t magically fix some stuff.  We just have to endure it, live through it, survive it…

We don’t have control…and for that reason, The Serenity Prayer has been running through my head today:

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.  Amen

Growing up with a recovering alcoholic and attending weekly A.A. meetings does have one small advantage…

I don’t have serenity, but I do have some control.  I can choose how to react to the situation.

I’m going to eat one cupcake, but not all of them.

I’m going to make lots and lots of handmade paper because it is the ultimate busywork and it accomplishes something.

And I’m going to pray…although most days lately I’m not sure that I believe that it helps. But it just might.

I don’t expect a perfect life, but I am kind of tired of unfortunate events  I know that I shouldn’t complain.  Relatively speaking, things could be much worse and are for so many.

I am grateful for the blessings in my life.

I know that everything will work itself in time.

But right now, I could sure use a little bit of that serenity that I’m praying for…

Peace.

Today’s Plan

Today’s plan:

Be appreciative of the gloomy, rainy day that will be a pleasant memory once the summer’s dry heat wave hits like a blast furnace.

Enjoy a lunch date with two of my daughters and a side trip to Target with some spendable dollars in my pocket earned from my weekend labors at Sherwood Forest Faire.

A play date with my new toy…a papermaking kit ordered off of Amazon.  It was a huge success in my younger grades art class yesterday and I can’t wait to “waste” several hours today experimenting with it!

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And a bit of puttering around the house dusting and straightening and rearranging and filling this box with give-aways for the thrift store.  Nothing strenuous.  Just some soul-fulfilling domestic work.

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A slow day, but full of simple pleasure.

Back Roads

Hello.

Once again, so much time has passed.  The thought of trying to chronicle the events of the past days is overwhelming and so, I don’t believe I’ll try.

I shall start writing and we will let the important stuff reveal itself…in it’s own time.

I do know for certain that the past days have been shadowed by a rather high level of continuous anxiety.  That is most certainly not helpful.  I have been consciously trying to deal with it by travelling along back roads and unbeaten paths metaphorically speaking. I’ve avoided social media, the news and anything else that could be potentially unsettling as much as possible.

I’ve tried to shed unneeded baggage for this portion of my travels…a full car load of superfluous belongings to the thrift store and another box almost full in the hallway. We’ve streamlined our school plans and made them more efficient and applicable to our lifestyle and my daughter’s learning style.  The housekeeping chores are limited to what has to be done and not what “should” be done.

Basically,  I’m trying to live more realistically and become comfortable with what works for us rather than what I believe the world expects.

This is a work in progress.  Trying to figure out what our new normal will be.  All of this is good stuff.  Steps towards the life I’ve claimed to want for so long…accelerated with a sense of urgency due to circumstances beyond my control.

It seems that losing control…or the illusion of control can have it’s good points.  The silver lining, so to speak.

And what has brought all of this anxiety and goal evaluation on?

Some of it you know about…

The incurable, progressive “whatever” that I have.  Not multiple sclerosis, which is good news, but something.  My doctor’s appointment is on the 18th.  I wait until then and try not to worry or anticipate, but to be patient.

Until then, I’m working my extra job at Sherwood Forest Faire and enjoying the company of some really fantastic individuals who bring me joy and lots of “food for thought”. Definitely good traveling companions for this life’s journey.  Still, it’s fairly obvious that this very physical job is more difficult for me this year than last.  That makes me sad and worry about what the future holds.

The bills for the medical procedures and appointments are coming in.  Our insurance is good, but doesn’t cover everything.  As I enter the amounts into “undebt it”, the program I’m using to track our progress in getting out of debt, I’m watching months added onto the timeline.  Still, we are doing okay financially.  The monthly bills are being paid.

There is something else going on that I can’t share as it is not really my story to tell.  In time, that will be written about.  Until then, I carry a lot of pride and fear for the individual concerned.  Even good decisions can cause stress.

I’m trying to concentrate on the journey and the beauty and joy that are certainly a part of it. Trying to travel at a slower pace so as enjoy the trip more and not miss anything. There are more frequent pauses along the way.  A fancy way of saying that I’m taking lots of naps.

I’m trying to be better about taking care of myself so that I can better care for those that I love.

I’m trying to travel slower and lighter and more intentional.  The same as in days past, but with a greater sense of need and urgency.  This is a conundrum of sorts. Urgency and need do not translate well into less stress and simplicity.

Life.

I’m trying to figure it all out.

Aren’t we all?

Journey well, my friends.

Prayers and blessings…

New Normal

So much time has passed and so much has been happening in that time.

It just became easier not to write rather than try to sort out what could be shared and what couldn’t in such a public forum.

Much of it needed to be shared privately with just a few until answers were found and then it turned out that answers were not going to be found in a timely manner.

Some of it was not my news to share first and involved planning in process for someone else.

Mostly it was just all too emotionally wrought and dealing with it privately just seemed the right thing to do.

Now, we are weeks down the road and things are starting to sort themselves out…not all in a positive manner, but that’s life isn’t it?

The best way to live is to understand that life is about accommodating the “new normal”…in whatever form it presents itself.

First off, several weeks ago, I finally went to see my primary care physician about my altered vision when it became apparent that visual therapy wasn’t working.  She immediately ordered an MRI of the brain.

The MRI showed abnormal findings. Simply, and in short, the nerves in my brain show damage to the “insulation”.    It is peeling off. The damage is significantly advanced for my chronological age.  Next, we began the cycle that anyone with a significant medical problem quickly becomes familiar with…

Waiting, doctor visit, waiting, testing, waiting, results, doctor visit…..

At this point we know that I do not have Multiple Sclerosis.  That is good news.  I have something similar.  Not so good news. As the doctor pointed out, anything other than a tumor is great news.  The rest is manageable.

The doctor fit me in for an emergency appointment to rule out MS.  Now, I wait for a regular appointment in a little over two weeks to figure out anything else.  I can live with that.  Somewhat impatiently, but I can do it.  I can’t see as well as I like, but life is not significantly impaired.  It is my “new normal” and all things considered, not the worst possible scenario.

There is other news, but the needs of the day are calling.  I have an Art class to teach shortly and supplies to gather…then off to Sherwood Forest Faire to work.

My hope and prayer for anyone out there dealing with a “new normal” is that they find peace in the journey.

Life is good

 

 

Lost

I sit in the doctor’s office and tell her about my issues with my vision and make excuses for why I haven’t come in sooner to explore the possible medical issues like I was supposed to.

She says, “You are here now.”

I sit in the doctor’s office and list the stressful events of the past six months and then try to apologize for why I haven’t handled things better.

She says, “You are obviously under a great deal of stress. Let’s work on fixing that.”

I sit in the doctor’s office and cry because I feel lost and wonder where I went wrong and when I lost control of everything.

She asks, “When were you in control?”

Now, I’ve done lab work, have new prescriptions and an order for a MRI of my brain.

That will all be helpful and will give us some new information and possibly provide some answers, and maybe even fix some things that need fixing.

I sit at this computer and hesitate to write because it doesn’t seem that I have anything worth saying anymore and I can’t imagine that any worthwhile words will come.

It seems that I have reached a point somewhat near the bottom where it is  dark and hope seems difficult to see from where I sit.

I am lost.

Tick Tock.

Although this line of prose appears directly below the words “I am lost”, a considerable amount of time has passed before this line was typed.

A copious whirlwind of thoughts are churning in my brain, but it is not so easy to sort out cohesive and coherent ones to share.

It’s kind of messy up there in my head right now.

It seems that I should write even though I don’t know that I have anything to say.

Having started this blog, I feel that I should stick with it.

Worrying about the reception of my words seems to be a dangerous path to venture down.

My writing has taken on a life of its own and reaches a diverse audience that I could not have anticipated, and in fact, do not even attempt to understand.

I have to believe that writing today is the thing to do.

If I am lost today, then maybe someone else is also.

I know that our stories are important.

Our voices connect us and keep us from feeling alone.

When we are lost, the words of others can help us find our way again.

And despite the somewhat wandering and depressed tone of this post today…

in the words often shared by an important person in my life,

“Be not afraid”.

I have been in the dark before.

I have been lost before.

Life has ups and downs.

Mountains and valleys.

The important thing is to keep walking.

You can’t stay in one place.

That is not living.

 

 

For now, I can quit making lists of what needs to be done.

That is not helpful.

It is not time to catch up on all that is undone.

That is the past.

It is time to seek that which is ahead of me.

To search for the things in the light…

Love and laughter and forgiveness and hope.