A Funny Thing Happened…

A funny thing happened yesterday during the enactment of my plan.  Not funny as in “Ha Ha”, but funny in the curious “who knew” kind of way.

I started in the dining room which is the first room that you see as you step into our house.  It is also the most used and the most difficult to keep tidy.  We eat at the table and play games there (when it’s not too cluttered with stuff).  Things tend to get dumped there when folks come in.  Groceries land there along with keys, lunch bags, and clean laundry to be folded.

Anyway, I started there.  Armed with three plastic storage boxes leftover from a previous de-clutter, I jumped in.

I packed away almost all of the blankets from the cabinet we keep them in for the winter months into a large trunk that serves as a table in the living room. I left out enough for my sister who is always cold and the occasional sleep-over guest, but I moved them to the cabinet in the dining room.

I sorted through the games that had been in that cabinet (now housing the blankets) and moved the games to the cabinet that had been home to the blankets.  I’m sure there is a better way to explain that, but let’s continue on and not worry about perfection.

As I worked through the room, I dusted and sorted and got rid of…

Here’s the funny part.

As it turns out, once I made the decision to store stuff away, I went ahead and got rid of most of it.  I didn’t feel the need to think about it.

In getting rid of things, I had more than enough room to store stuff that we don’t use very often in the cabinet with the blankets…mostly dishes that have a purpose, but not every day.

I was also able to tuck all the photos that we are working on getting into albums neatly into the cabinet so we can get to them, but they aren’t hanging out everywhere.

A box and a bag are on the way to the thrift store.

A bag ready for the trash man and a bag for recycling.

The table and counter are cleared.

Seven spiders are no longer living with us.  The arachnaphobe living with me is much happier.

And the three plastic storage boxes are still empty.

Today will be the living room and hallway desk area that serves as our office and classroom.

Peace

P.S.  The dining room table has attracted more stuff, but that’s real life.  As soon as I’m done here I’m going to go deal with it.

Progress, not perfection.

 

Hopefully Hidden

 

treats

Today’s post shall be short because I am hungry.

And there are Rice Krispies treats in the house.

My sister bought them for my kids.

I love Rice Krispies treats so much.

They can’t live here with me.

I ate one…maybe two…

I’m lying.

I ate a lot of them.

Then I gave them to my daughter to hide them from me.

Tomorrow I shall talk about my problem(s) with food.

Now I will finish making my salad and my bowl of fruit

because that is a better decision

and will make me feel better in the long term.

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Hopefully, the Rice Krispies treats are hidden well because night-time sugar cravings are the worst.

 

 

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…

New Habits

I guess I was overly optimistic about keeping up with writing here.  It seems that so much is going on that I’m having trouble keeping up with everything.

The moderate depression is continuing with some good days and some not-so-good.  I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and continuing with the new plan or rather the new lifestyle…

Oh wait – I never got around to actually writing about that…

In short, I have committed to eating a whole food, plant based diet.  That’s basically a vegan diet with another restriction – very limited added oil of any kind.

If you want to know more, I was first introduced to the idea by watching “Forks over Knives” which is currently on Netflix.  It explains it much better than I ever could.

Why am I giving this a try you might ask?

Well, let me tell you…

When I first realized that I was having trouble with my vision and thousands of dollars later became aware that medical doctors were not going to be much help, I started by reading and researching and removed chemicals from my home…cleaning products, air fresheners, etc.

Then I started looking at the ingredients in our kitchen.  We’d been eating pretty healthy off and on depending on our income and my mood.  I am definitely a stress eater.

I was focused on subtracting items from our home that might be adversely affecting our health.

And that was all good stuff…as far as it went.

I never really stopped to think about what I needed to add.  I’m fairly knowledgeable about nutrition.  But now, I’m learning a lot more.  A lot more.

I believe in the ability of our bodies to heal themselves…if given the opportunity and resources.

I have hypertension, high cholesterol and triglycerides, am obese, suffer with anxiety and depression, have vision difficulties, and have had bad blood sugar readings in the past.  I take 3 medications and my blood pressure reading are rarely in the normal range…they are still high.  I am tired all the time.  I am not very happy.

I was not a winner in the “genetic lottery” of life.  The women in my family start having strokes early and often.  Hypertension starts for everyone on both sides at 30.  I made it to my mid-thirties.  I’ve been told that this is my lot in life.  Even by a doctor once.  I’m going to die from a heart attack or stroke.  That’s just the way it is.

What if that’s not true?

What if this is one area of my life where I can exert some control?

What goes into my mouth is my decision.  That’s been an empowering experience for me.  I’m juicing spinach, kale, carrots, tomatoes, and whatever other vegetable I have on hand for breakfast along with a bowl of oatmeal or whole grain cereal.  I’m eating vegetables, fruits, whole grain rice and other grains.  I’m not counting calories.  I’ve lost about 20 pounds.

I’m hitting at least 10,000 steps on my fitbit almost every day.  At least 30 minutes is continual walking on my treadmill.

I asked my husband to watch “Forks over Knives” with me so that he would have a clue about what I was doing.

To my surprise, he volunteered to join in.  He’s not “all” in.  He indulges some when he’s not at home, but he’s eaten every recipe that I’ve tried out (including some stunning failures).

There’s more and I will be back tomorrow…even if it’s just to say hello.

I’ve finished my bedtime fruit and veggie smoothie and it’s off to bed – hopefully to sleep. Sleep has been somewhat elusive as of late.

Pleasant dreams dear readers…

@#$*& and other words that nice ladies don’t say…

I was hanging out last Monday evening thinking that life had been a bit boring…that our life had fallen into a sort of rut and that nothing eventful had been happening.

So, after working all day at another part-time job that I picked up to try and get our financial situation on an even keel, I suddenly felt a couple of sharp stabbing pains in my lower abdomen.  They quickly went away.  No big deal, right?  By 10:00, I just didn’t feel too great.  I headed off to bed.

Two hours later and I am starting to throw up.  And have cramps across my mid-abdomen.

Let’s fast forward through the next couple of hours.  (I wish I could have).  Emergency room, abdominal hernia, intestines where they aren’t supposed to be, incarcerated colon, diverticulitis and a mightily impressive white blood cell count that bordered on septic.

Five days and one surgery later, I am back home and doing okay.  I’m resting and walking and trying not to think about the medical bills that will soon come rolling in.

My mantra – All shall be well…

There’s probably more that I could write, but I hear the recliner calling my name.  I’m not really moving forward in any discernible direction right now, but I am trying to stay positive.

Let’s just say that I haven’t given up.

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.

 

 

Today

Okay, maybe recovery from a depressive episode isn’t a one and done deal…

And maybe honesty with oneself about how hard life has been is a good idea…

I think I’m really back in the light again this time.

I feel good.

I’m writing.

The past days have been about rest and art and changing bad habits into better ones.

My eyesight isn’t better and I have a stack of medical bills that have increased the debts I’ve worked so hard to reduce.  I calculate that every trip to a new specialist will add thousands of dollars in debt.  We have insurance.   It doesn’t cover everything. Since I’m not dying of a brain tumor and I don’t have multiple sclerosis, I’m taking my health into my own hands for a bit.

So, the plan is to work towards improving my overall health and continue to work towards reducing stress and changing the way that I react to the stress that is inevitable.

Step one…acknowledging that life has been challenging the past year.  Most of those challenges are here to stay.  My sister’s health will continue to be a responsibility.  We haven’t won the lottery.  The house has not improved itself.  My son will be jumping out of an airplane in a few months and then will move on to being shot at.

But, I have the summer off from teaching and that allows for rest.  And I have come to understand that ignoring the reality of the stress or pretending that it is not a big deal is not helpful.

Step two involves removing as many chemicals and additives from my environment and diet as possible.  Label reading has taken on a new priority!  Our grocery bill has increased, but I figure that I’m either going to pay for healthier food or more medical bills.  The junk food is gone and vegetables and fruit are filling the majority of my plate.

The transition has not been as hard as I anticipated.  If I were to be completely honest, it’s possible that in the past I might have considered a box of Little Debbie snack cakes to be an adequate meal.  Let’s just keep that little confession between the two of us…okay?

Step three relates directly to the house and yard.  I am continuing to declutter and assess the amount of stuff in our house.  But, more importantly, I am trying to be more realistic about how the house looks…and worry less about what other people might think.  A lot of living happens here.  It’s not a magazine photo shoot.  And I am not Suzy homemaker.

Honestly, some days I don’t know who I am…or who I want to be when I grow up.

So, I’m going to keep trying to figure that out.  And work towards being the best “me” that I can be.  I’m acknowledging that looking like Cindy Crawford is probably not realistic. I’m working on that expectation.  I working on a lot of things…

including this..

Still a long way to go.  I’ve figured out the meaning (for me).  I don’t normally comment on what a work means to me, but I might make an exception this time…once it’s done.

Today I am doing laundry.  And making more paper.  And sanding and scraping off the paint that I just added to the canvas above.  And (sigh) figuring out our finances and paying bills.

and reminding myself that life is good and that I am an okay person most of the time…

and that I will write again tomorrow even if it’s hard.

 

Progress, not Perfection

Third post I’ve started for today.

Reality and perfectionism at odds in a big way.

This has kept me from writing for so long already.

I kept it simple yesterday.

A part of me needs the connections that I find here.

I’d like to think that it matters in some small way.

I have big thoughts and dreams and ideas.

But I am a small person.

Fragile right now.

I’m trying not to confuse that with weakness.

For I am strong.

I’ve made it this far.

Full of emotions and fear and hopes

and plans

Committed to taking small steps

Progress not perfection

and art…

lots more art

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Be Still

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Encaustic on wood with handmade paper

Today is the long-awaited appointment with the neurologist.  I’m a bit anxious and a bit relieved.  I’m ready to listen, ask some questions and get some answers.  And then I will work on sorting out the details.

Last night was art studio time with my oldest daughter.  We played with wax and paint and the magic of encaustic.  I have decided that art will definitely be the theme of the week…not the creation of any great works, but time to play and imagine and create for the sake of doing…not accomplishing.

My accomplishment this week will be to practice intentional life and to find peace amidst the struggles.

I can’t control life’s happenings, but I can be better about my reaction to all that happens.

I can practice being still when my mind and body are telling me to run.

I can practice being creative when my urge is to be busy.

I can practice being quiet when I feel the need solve problems that have no solutions.

Be still.

Be creative.

Be quiet.

Seek peace.

All shall be well.