Where my Whole30 went wrong, and right

This is not an endorsement of Whole30. See here for updated details.

Right around the beginning of March, I got the spring cleaning bug, which is totally natural for me. Its ingrained in my psyche as the right time to deep clean the house, work on the yard, etcetera, but getting started wasn’t so easy. I hadn’t been sleeping well, my energy was sluggish, I felt like I needed to spring clean myself. Enter the Whole30.

I’d read about this “nutritional reset” a while back and thought I’d never get anyone in the house to go along with it because it’s strict. For 30 days, you eat vegetables, some fruit, protein from eggs, meat, and fish, and good fats like olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. You eliminate alcohol, dairy, grains, legumes, soy, and ANY added sugar or sweetener. I was feeling weighed down with cravings for late night fast food, cookies and candy, stuff I knew wasn’t doing me any good in the long run. I got the snacky snackies any time I walked in the kitchen. The sugar cravings were especially driving me nuts, so Whole30 seemed like a good place to get a jump start. I ran the idea past Zach, and aside from the “no cheese?” he thought it sounded ok. We tried some recipes, we enjoyed them, so it felt like it wasn’t going to be so bad. I even gave up my morning oatmeal and afternoon avocado toast to kind of prep my system for it so I didn’t get a massive carb flu. We planned to start in April after the Magic season was over and he was home more and not at games where the only food available was pretty lousy.

I read the Whole30 book, I read It Starts with Food. Their reasons for taking on their plan were fairly sound–there are a lot of “foods with no brakes” out there, as in food you only mean to eat a little of and end up going overboard with (makes sense, been there done that). EatWhole30-Instagram-300x300Some foods like grains and dairy are bad for your gut health, blood sugar, cholesterol, and hormones, and can lead to systemic inflammation (again with the gut? everyone is so obsessed with their gut, but do I have systemic inflammation? according to the book, if you are overweight, yes, yes you do). Beans are mostly carbs and not a great source of protein and while sure, they’re great for fiber, they there are plenty of other vegetables for that. Alcohol is empty calories and just isn’t good for you in general, and sugar is the devil dressed like a Reeses peanut butter cup. That’s a major simplification of their reasoning, but you get the drift. Its strict paleo, basically. Oh, and the scale. Throw it out for 30 days, stay off of it and don’t obsess over the number. Instead, pay attention to how your clothes fit and how great you feel. Focus on those non-scale victories. I could get behind that. I don’t go on the scale that often anyway because that number does haunt me. I’ve been fighting with my weight for a while now, and while I lost about 40 pounds last year, I’d kind of stagnated, and possibly had put a few back on.

So April comes along, and so does life, and officially starting the Whole30 got pushed back. And back. I take the time to collect recipes, read the life altering stories, getting psyched. We set a start date of May 11. Naturally, I got a stomach virus that day, go figure, I ended up starting a couple days late.

I started with strong intentions to follow the plan, to eat like they wanted me to eat. The plan is three meals a day (bonus meal for those who work out) and try not to snack, so you can get your appetite and hormones in order. No more late night snacks, or mid afternoon snacks.  Meals should be big enough to make you feel full, but not stuffed. I followed the meal template for the right amount of protein and fats, filling in the rest with vegetables. A couple of days in, I started doing some yoga again because movement seemed like a good idea. My mindless snacky snackies went away.  Sure, I missed dark chocolate, but I was doing ok with the food I was eating and didn’t miss my late night McDonalds fix. My sleep, however, was terrible, somehow worse. I would sleep for maybe four or five hours and wake up not able to go to back to sleep because I seemed to have this surplus of energy, so I added walking in with my morning yoga routine. Sure I would end up unable to keep my eyes open and would take a nap later that morning, but all was going well. I felt good about things.

They say most people quit around day 10 or 11 because those are the hardest days. At that point I felt great, even thought about throwing around the idea of Whole60 instead of Whole30 (but not Whole365, you aren’t supposed to do that). I was taking longer walks and doing 20-30 minutes of yoga. I was determined.

Then day 14 came. We’d been planning a week of meals to make sure we could stay compliant, and MAN was I sick of meal planning. I didn’t think I could stomach more eggs. And quinoa. I really wanted some damn quinoa (really? how is quinoa so fucking bad?). Zach and I were spending a lot of time reading labels looking for hidden sugars, which are EVERYWHERE, people. There is sugar in bacon, Italian sausage and smoked salmon! WHY IS THAT EVEN??? Why does Italian sausage need sugar? If there wasn’t sugar, there was some sort of oil that was discouraged. Pretty much most prepared foods were out, so we were doing a lot of cooking. Not a problem, because we were working together, and I was enjoying it. I was so ON PLAN, not eating too much fruit, even making olive oil mayo at home to avoid the nasty oils and sugars in commercial mayo. I even made homemade ketchup! I didn’t eat out at a restaurant once because I didn’t want to stray from this plan. This plan of miracles! This plan where I was going to feel so much healthier and leaner. This plan that said my skin would improve, my hair and nails would be stronger, my energy would skyrocket, my strength and endurance would improve (chaturanga to up dog? nailed that bitch). I would have less headaches, my sleeping would finally normalize! I didn’t want to jeopardize it, I didn’t want to eat anything that wasn’t compliant. I was a fucking rock star of compliance.

Things got better around the third week. I was falling asleep much more easily, my energy was good, my clothes felt looser, I generally felt lighter. The last few days, however, turned into a drag. I was getting headaches again, my digestion was a bit off and I wasn’t sure why. I was waking up with less zeal for the day, but I carried on.  Zach and I talked about how we would go about eating afterwards, about the positive impacts the 30 days had, the ways we felt better. Zach finished a couple days before I did (stupid stomach flu) and not only was he eating better and more regularly, and going out to get some exercise, he’d lost 16 pounds. I was thrilled for him! I woke up on my day 31, excited to measure and weigh myself to see how much of a physical change there was, because I was sure it was significant. Overall I’d lost about six inches, and three pounds.

Three. Fucking. Pounds.

It no longer mattered that I looked and felt smaller and lighter, or that I was stronger because I’d probably put on muscle. Suddenly, because of that insignificant number the scale had given me, it didn’t matter that cravings were not so much of an issue, or that I had learned to better appreciate the natural flavor of good food. I felt like a god damn failure. I looked in the mirror at my skin and couldn’t say there was much change (maybe a little, but I’d also switched moisturizers part way through). My hair wasn’t thicker or stronger, my nails weren’t stronger or longer. I don’t have any scheduled blood work so I don’t know if it improved my cholesterol or thyroid numbers. I was pissed, I was upset, I couldn’t figure out what I must have done wrong because THREE POUNDS is nothing in the scale of what I feel I need to lose. I was so ON. POINT. the whole time, where the hell did I screw up? It was really disheartening.

Does this thinking go against what the plan wanted me to achieve? Definitely. Do I feel like I unnecessarily worried over every bite that I ate for a month, yeah, I kind of do. In the end, they tell you that while it may “start with food,” health and weight loss involve a lot more. Things like getting enough good sleep, lowering your overall stress level, and not isolating yourself from the world for a damn month cooking and doing dishes because you can’t completely control what goes into food at restaurants or friends houses. That? That doesn’t work. That is not sustainable. That’s not a healthy mindset. Is the number on the scale indicative to my success? Not really, but there’s so much stress on weight, healthy BMI, and frankly what looks good in the media today, and my brain is hyper-tuned to all of it. Especially here at this middle age I find myself reaching. Especially because I lost my mom to diseases that could have been prevented/improved/avoided if she’d taken better care of herself, her weight, and what she ate.

Ugh. Damn. And Ugh. I really wanted to be a success story, you know? And here I was, a loser non-loser. So on point with everything that I almost missed the entire point.

You have to change your mind and your mental relationships before everything else clicks into place. You have to let go of the numbers to really see and feel the good changes you make. Most of all, you have to not be so damn hard on yourself!

Game. Set. Match.

I was really damn happy to have some quinoa last week, but I still filled my plate with mostly vegetables, and that dark chocolate? Its worth the indulgence because it makes me happy. Its not like I’m eating a bar a day, even, just a little bit a few days a week. I’m going to continue to eat what I like with special attention to whole foods as much as possible. I don’t think grains are evil, neither are beans. I mean, sure, there’s a difference between wonder bread and sprouted grain bread, or even fresh sourdough from the bakery. Farro, rice, quinoa, or any of the other myriad grains are probably preferable to pasta. Some hummus with fresh vegetables? Awesome. After all, the countries with the lowest instances of heart disease are those that eat lots of veggies, whole grains, and legumes, and limit their meat consumption. And they drink red wine. I’m about ready for some of that.

Moral of the (really long) story? Don’t demonize food. Don’t expect physical miracles from a certain way of eating because other people have had success because we’re all so different. You doing you is not the same as Sally doing Sally. Most importantly, while its important to pay attention what you stuff in your maw on a daily basis, and less processed food is most likely the best way, its not worth stressing over every bite, because doing that, will bite you in the ass.

BONUS!  Here’s some stuff I learned and thought about over the month. Bits of info I might pass on. Sorry if this is a bit scattered.

  • Meal planning is generally a good idea when possible, because you end up wasting less food
  • My knife skills are much better
  • My relationship with the kitchen is better in general
  • My relationship with food is improving
  • You can make a really good ranch dressing without dairy
  • I eat until full, and not beyond, and that feels good
  • Finally used that spiralizer, and let me tell you, sweet potatoes “noodles” with tomato sauce and meatballs is really tasty. Its not spaghetti and meatballs, but its good
  • I’m much more aware of what goes into the food I’m eating, and it is worth paying attention
  • Morning walkers are friendlier than evening walkers
  • When you eat that many fresh vegetables and fruit, there is plant waste, and man do I need a frigging compost bin
  • Coconut aminos do not taste like soy sauce
  • Life without pasta and cheese is not the end of the world
  • Homemade mayo is super duper easy, and fun with an immersion blender, and makes me feel like a wizard on some level (mayo is in a lot of sauce and dressing recipes that are Whole30 compliant, plus tuna, egg, or chicken salad, so I guess if you hate mayo, I don’t know what to tell you other than homemade tastes WAY different from store bought)
  • That paleo life, while great for some, is just not for me. I’m not lactose intolerant, and I have no problems with gluten or soy. Eating organic and responsibly farmed meat and fish, while great in practice, is EXPENSIVE when you try to do it for every meal. Plus, meat at every meal just doesn’t feel necessary to me. I’m not doing any major weight lifting or endurance training so I’m not overly concerned with my protein consumption, plus, eating a plant based meal makes me feel good inside and out

 

 

 

 

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Its almost May?

I’m a terrible blogger. I go to so many blogs, well, lots of cooking blogs really, and I see these people keeping up with all this new content and I think “man I wish I could do that.”

This blog has no direction, and I think that’s what slows me down. I started it as a personal blog to kind of fill the LiveJournal void, but its never really done that. Its time to accept that the LiveJournal kinds of days are gone. Now everyone wants to just tweet, or spend time on Facebook. I like twitter, that’s fine, but Facebook? I hate that place. I stay on there to “stay in touch” with some of the people from the LJ days, but its just not the same. Its mostly reposting of meaningless stuff. People aren’t posting about their days, or their thoughts so much, or if they are, I’m not seeing it because its buried in so much reposting of political crap. There’s not much real interaction there these days. I miss that.

As for a direction, I’ve tried to think of ways I could kind of “brand” this blog so I could get more views and maybe more interactions with people I have things in common with, but I’m not sure what I could do, because I basically don’t do much of anything.

  • Knitting blog? Have one. Its currently sitting waiting for me to knit something.
  • Food blog? I don’t really come up with my own recipes
  • Decorating/Housekeeping blog? Eh… I’m not very good at either, tbh.
  • Gardening blog? I used to love gardening, but without a functioning sprinkler system and a massive weed invasion, that’s not really a viable option.
  • Blogging about books? I suck at writing reviews.
  • Blogging about tv shows I like? Not enough of them, and I suck at writing reviews.
  • Fitness? Not committed enough/don’t feel like I’m knowledgeable enough.
  • Photography? I don’t do enough of it, and I’m not a good photo editor.

So where do I fit in? Personal blog, like LiveJournal, but without the interaction, which is what I miss. Maybe I need to find more personal blogs to read and interact with? Maybe I should just give up. I don’t know right now. [frustrated face emoji]

Its the end of the year as we know it

Another year, another calendar to take off the side of the fridge and replace with a new one. I guess this year wasn’t entirely terrible, I was actually feeling good and making progress for a while there, but I couldn’t seem to carry that through the entire year. Like most years, by the time the end of December rolls around, I find myself thinking that I’m SO glad this year is over because maybe the next one will be better, but then negative Nancy tells me that’s “false logic” or something because even if the number of the year changes, time is linear and not cyclic, blah blah blah.

I’ve said before that I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions  because I think they just set us up to fail. We can start new habits and work to change bad ones on any given day, but starting them with the new year just seems to put extra pressure on them. I read an article a couple of months ago that said the best way to stick to your new years resolutions is to start them in November.

Even if I don’t believe in them, there are things I would like to do, like worry less, be a bit more positive, move more, slow down when I eat, train my Neko Atsume cats to bring more gold fish. One thing I will be doing is 30 days of yoga camp starting on Saturday. I’ve known for a while that yoga was really helping me feel better and I should start doing it again, but I didn’t have the right kick in the ass to do it. Still not sure this is going to work because of my general feeling of malaise, but its worth a shot. I think a couple people I know on twitter are going to do it as well. I could definitely use a support system.

Tonight will be spent quietly, probably in bed reading the second Game of Thrones book (which are actually The Song of Fire and Ice series, NOT Game of Thrones). I won’t be going out, won’t be celebrating. It will just be another Thursday night, but I suspect that there will be things exploding around the neighborhood come midnight, which I will no doubt find annoying. So much for that being more positive business.

So ends a rambling post to end a rambling year.

 

 

Christmas and stuff

I don’t know if its just me, but December has felt extremely long. Maybe its because I got the decorating done so early, had gifts wrapped and under the tree at the beginning of the month. Maybe its because its been so damn hot so I’ve been spending most of my time inside avoiding the weather. Perhaps its because I’ve only been sleeping in 3-4 hour burst for the past couple of weeks. Not sure, but it just feels damn long.

This year I at least did some things to take advantage of the holiday season. Zach and I went to the tree lighting in Winter Park, I did some holiday time shopping that wasn’t just online. We drove out to Moss Park to see their lights. We baked cookies, and I watched way too many cheesy made for TV Christmas movies with the same predictable plot. Still, I feel like I left a lot on the “wish I’d done it” list. I should probably make a note for next year to do those things.

Our tree, 2015
Oh Christmas tree, so sparkly

Today we exchanged gifts. Zach seemed to like what I picked for him, and I got way more than I feel like I deserved. The cats went crazy for their catnip toys, and we had people join us for a delicious dinner. For all intents and purposes, this was a good day.

Maybe I just make expectations too high for myself that I end up feeling like things didn’t really go well. There are things that I did this year that I didn’t get done in previous years, and Ziggy did not climb, eat, or knock down the tree, so I guess there’s that. Still, Christmas fills me with a bit of sadness now, especially with my parents gone and Zach growing up. I feel like one of these years I’m going to blink and be all alone. I’ve been extremely emotional (and tired) all week and part of me is glad that the year is coming to an end so we all get that proverbial “clean slate.”

Merry Christmas, everyone. Time to watch Harry Potter!

 

Off to college? Some tips from me, to you

Even if you’re not going to college . . .

I love Target, I really do. They’ve made some headlines lately with the person pretending to be a Target team member on Facebook, responding in a way that I found amusing, to people who are all bent out of shape that they are removing gender specific signs in toy departments and whatnot. I’m not bothered by this change, I think kids should play with whatever they want thats age appropriate and safe. So what if your daughter wants a Hot Wheels car, or your son wants a Barbie. Let them be kids! Let them explore. I didn’t force gender specific toys on my son. He had sports related toys, tools, and a kitchen set when he was a wee little one, and he loved it all! He’s 22 now, and he writes about sports, but he is also handy in the kitchen.

Back to Target. I love Target. Its further away than Walmart for me, but I’d rather shop there because its generally a much better experience, and I think a lot of their products are better quality and more my style. For instance, I just got two lamps that are pretty much identical to lamps I could get at Pottery Barn (I want to live in their catalog) for a FRACTION of the cost! But Target back to schoolI digress–looking at the Target ad is always a Sunday highlight for me, so when I got this weeks ad an saw this? I was a bit thrown. Oh Target, dear Target, are you implying that college kids only eat junk and processed foods? This doesn’t have to be the case. While some of these foods are yummy–I grew up eating Kraft mac and cheese and still adore the neon orange weirdness to this day, and Doritos? Does anyone not like Doritos?—they should not be staples in your diet, and they don’t have to be!

Like I mentioned earlier, my college age son is an ace in the kitchen. He finds recipes he likes and he cooks from scratch, so thanks to him, and some recent changes I’ve made in my own life, here’s my letter to you.

Dear student, You’re off to college, so I assume you can read. I’m also going to assume you can follow directions, so I believe you, too, can cook from a recipe! Can’t follow directions? its time to learn! Don’t have a full kitchen at your disposal? That’s ok. However, if you have enough to cook boxed mac and cheese or a frozen pizza? You have the equipment to cook real food, too.

Why should you bother, you say? You’re young, healthy and active and never put on weight. Well that might not last forever. The one thing that you will have for the rest of your life? Your body. You need to take care of it. How do I know this? Because I’m old enough to have a college age kid, and I watched my mom slowly die from a disease that could have been controlled or possibly reversed had she given a shit about what she was eating. Its a harsh reality. Trust me. You don’t want to live it.

How do you eat healthy on a college budget? How do you cook when there’s so little time because you have to study, possibly work, and of course there’s parties. Don’t fret! I’m going to give you a few tips!

  1. When you go to the grocery, look for whole foods. What does this mean? Fruits, vegetables, whole grains. The perimeter of the grocery is usually the healthiest. There are a few exceptions, of course. Oatmeal (I’m talking steel cut or old fashioned-not the quick cooking kind) is usually in the aisle with cereal. Oatmeal is SO great to have around because you can use it to make overnight oatmeal! No cooking required! You probably have a pinterest, right? Search for recipes on there, or even on google. You’ll find plenty! The take a couple minutes to throw together, you can make several days worth at once. You can make it in bowls or mason jars, you can use whatever kind of milk you like. You can add stuff like chia seeds (protein and healthy fats!), nuts, and top it with fruit. You can eat it cold, or heat up what you want. Most days of the week, this is my go to breakfast. Some days, I make it with cocoa powder so i have a chocolaty breakfast! Also, nut and seed butters will probably be down one of these middle aisles. The ones low in sugar and added oils are excellent because they provide protein and not much work.
  2. Eat fruits and vegetables. So your parents didn’t make you eat them growing up because it was easier to let you eat what you liked and not fight you? I understand. Raising a kid is tough. My son, Zach, used to eat anything and everything when he was a toddler, but once he hit school age, he got picky and started refusing foods he once liked (gotta test boundaries somehow). We had a “you must eat one bite” rule when I was growing up, and I did the same with him. He remained resistant on many things, still is with some things, but he’s opened his mind a lot. You’re going to college to learn, right? Expand your mind? Why not expand your palate as well? You can buy pre-washed salad mix, pre-washed and cut fruits and vegetables. They’re making it easy to use them, you guys!  Fruits and vegetables are not only good for meals, but they make great snacks! Will you like everything you try? No. I, to this day, dislike lima beans, and I have an old, dear friend who hates green beans, but that doesn’t mean we shun all vegetables! Don’t forget, you can also gets good veggies and fruits in the freezer section.
  3. Herbs and spices are your friends, along with healthy oils and vinegar. Salt is fine too. If you have high blood pressure, you should watch your sodium intake, but when you’re cooking your own foods, foods that come from whole sources that don’t have added salt, its easy to control your sodium intake! Salt brings out the natural flavor in food, so don’t shut it out completely. You can use oil, vinegar, herbs and spices to make salad dressing thats much better for you than anything you buy pre-made. You can find recipes for these too. You can make your own ranch dressing without ranch seasoning packets too! Did you know Hidden Valley Ranch has MSG? That’s probably something you like to avoid in your Chinese take out, so you should probably avoid it in your salad dressings, too. Guess we know what they’ve been hiding in that valley now, don’t we?
  4. The most basic rule to follow when you’re shopping for food is to read the ingredient list. It should be relatively short and simple, and it shouldn’t be loaded with things you cannot pronounce or that you use to make things explode in the chemistry lab. If sugar, or any of its aliases, is one of the first few ingredients, look for an alternative. Not that all sugar is bad, but its one of those things you want to eat in moderation. Look for natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. I’ve read coconut palm sugar is not a bad alternative, either. Generally, the less processed, the better.
  5. Do yourself a favor and give up the soda and energy drinks NOW. Learn to drink water if you don’t already, because a dehydrated body is a tired body. Don’t want to pay for bottled water? I’m fine with that. A lot of it isn’t any better than tap water anyway. Don’t like tap water? Get a Britta (or similar) filter. You replace the cartridge about every six months, so its probably cheaper than bottled in the long run. Need caffeine? Try coffee or one of the MANY kinds of tea that are out there. I bet there’s a coffee and tea shop on or near your campus where you can try all kinds of new ways to consume caffeine! Just don’t drink soda, ok? Coke removes rust from metal. Do you really want to drink that? You may think its impossible to cut it out if you’ve been drinking it for most of your life, but its not. I had been drinking soda longer than  some of you were alive when I gave it up, and I haven’t looked back. Diet soda isn’t an alternative, either. Those artificial sweeteners are just as bad if not worse than all the sugar in regular soda. oh, and while I’m being a buzzkill, pre-bottled juice isn’t so good for you, either. Makes your blood sugar spike. You’re better off eating the whole fruit or vegetable, or getting fresh juice.
  6. There are plenty of yummy things to snack on that aren’t Doritios or potato chips. Nuts, seeds, yogurt (get plain yogurt and add your own sweetener and fruit or whatever you want). Want something sweet? Eat some fruit. Want chocolate? Go dark! Dark chocolate has polyphenols (good stuff!), and some even call it a “superfood.” One of my rules for life is to never waste time or money on lousy chocolate, so go for something 60% or higher. A small portion can be very satisfying.
  7. Look at what’s on sale and plan your meals ahead when you can. Cook meat to add to salads or sandwiches once or twice a week. If you have yummy, wholesome food around, you’re less likely to go out spending money on fast food, because you’re making your own fast food! If you’re eating in the school cafeteria, stick with the most natural foods they have.

Its pretty simple when you get right down to it. It may take your palate time to adjust if you’ve been eating a lot of processed foods, but your body will thank you in the end. College should be a place where you expand your horizons, not just learn skills or facts that will get you a job. Plus, you’ll have more energy naturally when you eat whole foods. Its also ok to grab a bag of Doritos, or eat some Kraft Mac and Cheese once in a while if it feels good. Just remember this one word–moderation. Moderation is the key to eating well. You can trust me, I have experience with this, but that’s another blog entirely.

Now go! Have fun! Always read the instructions before starting a test, don’t drink and drive, remember that its ok to say no, and when someone says no, it means no! No does not mean yes, and yes does not mean anal. If some frat guy says that to you, walk away. I don’t care how damn cute he is, just walk the fuck away. Finally, you’re paying for school, most likely, or if you’re lucky enough to have a scholarship, someone else has paid for it. Don’t waste your (or their) time and money! Go on now and grow, you beautiful monster!

With love, light, concern, and respect,

–Heather

Opinions (are like assholes) and checking your facts

**This blog contains opinions that are bound to piss someone off ! Reader beware!**

I was starting this as a Facebook post, but decided I could probably write a decent blog about these subjects.

There’s been a lot of coverage of the death (murder?) of Cecil the Lion over the past couple of days. Jimmy Kimmel said some things about it that resonated with me. I got a bit teary eyed, too.

My opinion (or asshole) is like Jimmys’. Hunting for sport is morally repugnant. If you’re going out to kill an animal because you want to hang its head on the wall, or want to make a rug out of it, or just want to post pictures and brag? You’re a sick human being. If you pay large sums of money to do so, you’re even more disturbed in my opinion. If you have that much money laying around just waiting to be spent on something, there are a hell of a lot of charities out there that would welcome it, do good with it. Concerned about how those charities are spending your money? Check out Charity Navigator or Charity Watch. They are independently run sites that provide you with a breakdown of how charities are spending your money.

Got a bit off track-back to hunting. If you have to hunt to eat, that’s the way it is. If you hang its head on the wall too? I don’t know what to say about that. I find it a bit disturbing. The glazed over eyes–which reminds me, the episode of Criminal Minds with the taxidermist? He’d taken over the business from his dad when he died, and everyone always commented on what a great job his father did with the eyes. In his grief and delusion, and desire to put out a product that was as good as his fathers, the guy started killing people and putting their eyes in the animals. Yeah, disturbing, and totally off topic again!

Everyone has different morals and values, which lead to different opinions. That’s a fact of life. Do I eat meat? Currently I do. Have I been considering going vegetarian or vegan? I have, actually. Will I? I don’t know. Most of my diet is plant based these days because that’s what makes me feel best, so it could happen. Want to call me a hypocrite because I’m still eating meat, or wear leather but criticize hunting? You’re prerogative.

Gun control is a big issue these days, too. There have been an awful lot of senseless murders with guns. I’m not a fan of guns. That said, there are three in this house–two that are antiques that belonged to my grandfather and haven’t been fired in who knows how long (I don’t even know why he owned them), and one that belongs to my roommate. Am I happy they are in the house? No. We’re all adults here, so I’m not worried about anyone getting a gun out to “play” with it and hurting themselves or someone else. However, because I dislike, and honestly fear guns, when Jon was loading and/or unloading his gun last night, I got nervous. I don’t know what he was doing or why, but I started to feel panicked just because of the sound (yes, I’ve had a bad experience with a gun in the past that most definitely fuels how I feel about guns.I’ve thought about shooting one at a range to see if it changes how I feel about them, gives me a better sense of their power and how it can be controlled, but it hasn’t happened because, frankly, I don’t want to spend the money because I’m scared of guns). Do I believe people have the right to own guns? Yeah. Sure. Do I understand why someone would want to own a gun? Not entirely. Do I think that everyone that owns a guy wants to kill people? No. Do I believe everyone that owns a guy is paranoid? Not all, just some. Do I have a clear idea of what should be done to stop the senseless crimes and not infringe on rights? Hell no. I’m going to let Jim Jefferies do the talking here, because I think he says some things that are very true. (Yes, he’s a comedian, and this is a little long but totally worth watching)

Where is all of this going, and what does it have to do with checking your facts? I see a lot of political posts on Facebook where people post something from a very left or right wing website. One of the most recent ones I’ve seen popping up is “Obama wants to wipe out the second amendment and take away our guns!” Uh, no. That’s not true. There’s are some great, non biased websites you can go to to find out if something is true or not, like politifact.com or factcheck.org. Hell, go to Snopes!  Check your facts, people! There is power in being informed!

I’m not saying these left or right wing sites are always wrong. A friend posted a graphic from The Other 98% that broke down Planned Parenthoods services. It was right on target (though the breakdown is six years old, it seems to be the most recent). Another that was not related to politics were the posts about Caitlyn Jenner getting that ESPN courage award, saying that some combat wounded veteran came in second place? There was no such thing as a runner up. Lots of people had an opinion on who should have won the award, and that’s their right! Hell, I think Rafa Nadal should have won it because he’s been gracious on and off the court through whats been a very difficult season. Or Tony Stewart should have won it because he’s an awesome person who is passionate about what he does, and he periscopes toads and raccoons. So there. (I’m probably going to get a whole lot of shit for bringing up Tony Stewart, aren’t I?)

I like the old saying “opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.” If you don’t have an opinion, you should! But opinions don’t always equal facts, and I think everyone needs to keep that in mind. I know a lot of people hate Obama, but that doesn’t mean every article that says he’s trying to take away our rights or put the southwest under martial law (don’t EVEN get me started on Jade Helm!!) is true. No. The same goes for articles that support Obama. Do I like Obama? Yes. Did I vote for him? Yes. Did I vote for him because he’s a Democrat? No, I like his spirit and ideas. Do I think he’s done everything right? No. Do I identify more with Democratic platforms than I do Republicans? Yes. Do I like or would I/did I vote for Donald Trump or Rick Scott? No. Is it because they’re Republicans? No, its because their actions and words don’t align with my beliefs and values, and frankly, I find them to be giant douchecanoes. Does that mean everyone should think they are giant douchecanoes? Yes No. If you like them, fine. Do I think everyone should like Obama because I do? No. You have a right to dislike him and his politics. Do I think politics and government are serving us in the best way? No. Do I even like talking about politics? NO! I wrote a paper in my Freshman Comp class titled “I Hate Politics,” so I’m getting off this train now.

If you want to learn more about Cecil the Lion and conservation efforts, visit The Wildlife Conservation Unit, run by Oxford University. I think reverence for these amazing creatures is important. I think we should be a little more gentle with our environment and its species, human, plant and animal. Is that opinion? Yes, yes it is.

Carry on, my wayward readers. Also, don’t forget to hunker down on Friday–full blue moon in Aquarius is a sure sign of insanity, and its GISHWHES Eve! More on that to come.

Valley of the hell dolls

The house organization/purge/clean-up continues. I’m making progress, even if it is slow progress.

I remember hearing my mom and grandmother mention “the dolls” from time to time, especially when they were talking about storage and space. There seemed to be great concern and reverence for these dolls. I don’t recall ever being shown dolls when I was a child, so there was this kind of air of mystery surrounding them. I wasn’t even sure where they were to be honest.

I imagined they must be antique dolls, rare and beautiful, so imagine my excitement when I was cleaning out a cabinet and finally came across some dolls! I literally gasped with excitement, and quickly started to place them all in a box so that I could look at them later, research them, find out what was so important about these dolls.

The doll that ended up in the top of the box isn’t that impressive. Her hair is messy, doesn’t look that special, so I’ve hesitated to go through them. Well, I’m sick of all the crap stacking up in the living room, so I started looking into the dolls, hoping that deeper into the stack I would find something special. Not so much.IMG_0147 Aside from having porcelain heads, they’re just dolls, and some of them are frankly just a bit creepy. I’ve been trying to do some research, and what I can find, these aren’t all that rare. Sure, some people are selling them on eBay for a nice price, but that doesn’t mean they are actually moving them at that price, especially with the numbers that are out there. But still, these are the elusive dolls! How exciting! They deserve respect because they were so loved.

Then today, it occurred to me–I’m not the one who loved them, bought them, or cared about them (then stuffed them away in a cabinet and never looked at them). It was the people that I loved most that loved those dolls, or coveted those dolls, or whatever. Those people are gone, and the dolls, or any money I could get from them, is not going to bring them back. Its not going to tell me where these dolls came from, the memories that they hold. These dolls can’t talk (thank goodness), and nothing that they do are going to bring back my loved ones to tell me those stories. The best thing I have of my mom, my grandmother, grandfather and dad, are the memories in my heart. That’s what’s going to keep them alive and with me, not some random dolls, or 34 freaking sake/tea cups (don’t even get me started).

I know to be happy, to make those around me happy, I want this house to be clean, uncluttered, and inviting! Its time to make the most of what I have now, and what’s ahead. I need to stop worrying about upsetting my mother or grandmother and just let stuff go. If that means donating something that could be valuable, so be it. Sure, the money would be super useful, but there’s no guarantee I’ll get much for any of it. The here and now and the people that I love and live with are what matter to me, along their happiness and sanity. I’ve never seen Frozen, but the title of that song everyone knows sure is resonating with me now.

Love and light, people. Enjoy the moment, the people you choose to surround yourself with, and enjoy the new moon tonight! New moons mean the beginning of something, so make something happen!

 

30 Days of Yoga

Many many years ago, I tried yoga. I had a VHS tape. There was a woman with a very calm voice, who wore all white, talking about Iyengar yoga. She emphasized form as we moved from posture to posture. Things like Proud Warrior, Triangle Pose, Downward Facing Dog, Legs up the Wall, and finally ending in Corpse Pose (don’t think she called it that) falling into blissful relaxation. I liked it, but I didn’t “get it.” I didn’t get that deep connection you’re supposed to feel, so I eventually got bored and moved on. Later, through other workouts, I learned about sun salutations, but yoga in general remain a bit of a mystery.

Cue May 2015. Lots of things are changing. I’m changing. I’ve been reading about living a cleaner, active lifestyle, so I decided to give yoga another shot. I searched on You Tube for 30dayscalendarvideos I could follow. I found Adriene Mishler and her channel/website Yoga with Adriene. I liked her vibe, and she had a free 30 days of yoga program, which seemed like the perfect way to get myself started. I printed up the calendar and was off to the yoga races.

I’ve remained pretty flexible in my old age, but my strength and stamina have definitely been waning. We eased in with fairly well known postures. She explained things so clearly, talking about rooting into the earth through all ten fingers and the tops of your feet to create a stable tabletop position to work from. When standing she reminds us to connect to all four corners of the feet, rooting into the earth. She said things like “find what feels good” and “no yoga robots,” encouraging organic movement with the postures if that was what feels good. She gave breathing cues, which helped immensely. She used the sanskrit and common names for poses, encouraged setting intentions. I was enjoying it so much, some days I would do two videos. Eventually I added in a bedtime routine to help calm down and stretch out at the end of the day.

My 30 days just ended yesterday, and I feel so much stronger already! Breaking out that yoga mat I’d had for years was one of the smartest things I have done in a long time, and I fully plan to continue practicing! My intentions are balance, strength, flexibility, and grace, things that I can apply to yoga and life. Yoga is making me happier and more mindful. I find myself wanting healthy food, lots of vegetables, fruit, and avocado toast. Ohhh, how I love avocado toast. I haven’t had alcohol in over two weeks and don’t miss it. I’m more active around the house, and my outlook and disposition have changed drastically. Most importantly, I finally “get” yoga. I understand the mind/body/breath/spirit connection, and the benefits that come from it.

So here’s what I think you should know:

  • Yoga is not an exercise program. Yes, its exercise, but at the heart it is a practice. You will not be able to hold some poses in the beginning, you might not even be able to get into them, but don’t get discouraged and give up! Keep working and it will come to you. If you fall down, get up and try again, making any necessary adjustments.
  • If yoga is completely new to you, take some time to learn fundamentals, like alignment, so you don’t hurt yourself.
  • Breath, or pranayama, is SO important. Take some time to learn about it. Adrienne has videos on that, too. Lion’s breath is pretty fun, especially if you have kids.
  • You don’t need yoga pants. Wear whats comfortable and won’t get in the way. I do my bedtime practice in my pajamas.
  • You do need a yoga mat. I think its worth investing in a good, sturdy, sweat proof mat, but don’t break the bank. Other props like blocks are nice, but you can find substitutes. Yoga straps are nice, but you could use a mens tie, or something like that.
  • Don’t do yoga on a full stomach. Give your food a few hours to digest, especially if you’re going to be bending over, going into downward dog, or inverting yourself in any way. This is self explanatory.
  • Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you’re in a pose and a muscle or joint is screaming at you, stop what you’re doing, adjust the pose, or take a rest.
  • Savor savasana. Seriously.

If you’re thinking about yoga, I say GO FOR IT! If you want a yoga buddy, just let me know, I’d love to have some! Namaste.

Love and light to all! (Man I am turning into such a hippie).

 

 

 

A little public service announcement

I’ve been threatening, in my head, to start blogging again. This was not the subject that I planned on leading with this, but I need to get it out there. Sit down and relax, because this may get long.

Just a friendly, yet mildly morbid reminder, dear readers: if you lose a loved one and have to plan their final rest, or you are looking to pre-arrange your own, or know someone that is, PLEASE AVOID BALDWIN FAIRCHILD AND DIGNITY MEMORIAL!! PLEASE!! I IMPLORE YOU!! DO ALL THAT YOU CAN TO AVOID THESE COMPANIES.

Making final arrangements for yourself, or a loved one, can be a stressful time. You need a funeral director/planner and cemetery that are ON. THE. BALL. to make your life easier. You’ve got a lot of decisions to make, and you need support, love, and options. When you call you need a friendly voice to answer the phone. You need people willing to work hard to provide you with what you need in a timely fashion. Trust me. I’ve done four of these so far.

I’ve dealt with Baldwin Fairchild for my grandfather, grandmother, mother, and more recently with Dignity Memorial (whom they’ve merged with) for my dad. I have had SO many headaches, as I’ve shared in the past. I do not wish this on any of you. For instance, and this may seem small, but my dad was a veteran. I was told that if I provided a copy of his discharge papers we would receive a flag in his honor. I supplied those papers at the end of November of last year. Its occurred to me, several times, that we never got that flag, which I know was something that was important to Zach. I made a phone call today, stated my case to a receptionist, and she, not the funeral director,  made a phone call and located the flag. This is a good thing.

If you followed my posts at the end of last year, you know about the difficulties and frustrations and flat out anger I was dealing with at my dad and the cemetery. After my mom passed, I set up, what I thought, were my dad’s final arrangements. I thought that I was planning for cremation, an urn, and placement in the niche with my mom. Turns out, all that I paid for was the cremation. Maybe some of the blame falls on me, I didn’t ask enough questions. I was just thinking back to my grandmothers pre-paid where everything except death certificates and an obituary were paid for, and thought I was getting the same thing. Of course, I was also still in mourning at the sudden loss of my mom, so asking all of those questions was not at the front of my mind. I am still glad, however, that my dads cremation was pre-paid, because in just over three years, the price of cremation through them more than doubled, nearly tripled.

Anyway, there turned out to be a space issue in the niche FOR TWO that they sold me in 2011, so I was given the dimensions for an urn that would fit, and was told to search for something on my own. I voiced my displeasure, so they searched and rooted around, finding an urn for his ashes (oddly the one I thought I’d chosen and paid for) and gave it to me for free.  However, we still cannot lay him to rest because they want $685 dollars to do so. To open the niche and place the urn inside. No ceremony, just placement. We did ask that his date of death be placed on the marker, since the marker is paid for and that would be done at no cost, providing us with a bit of a memorial for him. This was at the beginning of December 2014. I went to the cemetery to take flowers on Sunday (May 31) and it still has not been updated. I placed a call to, lets call her June, who has handled everything at the cemetery for me for my parents (and set up my dad’s cremation), today. She said she was surprised and would look into it.

This does not surprise me though. It took nearly four months to get the plaque placed when my mom died, but seriously. This is just adding a date. Five months, and nothing. Now, June is a very nice person, probably one of the nicer people I’ve dealt with. She’s also very forthright, which can be helpful when you’re making decisions, but also comes off as a bit brash. However, I’m beginning to question why so many problems have come up when I worked with her. I don’t know if its her, or the company, or both to be honest.

So if you can, save yourself the trouble and don’t use these companies if you can avoid them. There are other options out there. I wish I’d looked for someone else when my mom died, but since that was who I knew, that was where I went. The company has definitely gone downhill a great deal since 2008 when my grandmother died, and at that point they’d even gone further downhill from 1997, when my grandfather passed. And Dignity? They don’t deserve that name. They have been the least helpful and compassionate of all. You would think they would help families of veterans, who are sometimes entitled to compensation from the Veterans Administration, figure out the process. Instead, they just tell you to “check into it.” Its a MESSY place, and I really would have liked help because I still haven’t been able to wade through all their red tape and whatnot.

Also, please do consider pre-planning your final expenses if you are in a situation where you know what you want and can afford it, because the prices just keep getting more and more astronomical. Also, make sure you’re family and/or friends know what you want and make sure they will agree to honor that, pre-paid or not. Also, make a will. Please and thank you.

Love and light. Enjoy tonights full moon! Be bold and spontaneous!

New Years Eve

According to the clock its the last day of 2012. I wish I could say its been a great year but its had its ups and downs. One definite up was meeting Jon. He gets me out doing things at least. Oh, and my dad being cancer free was good news. I just did my usual sitting around with things to do on my mind and not doing them. Go me.

It turns out we’re going out for New Years. We’re going to Jon’s friends girlfriends place. There’s going to be another couple there too. I really hope I don’t feel too awkward but I’m sure I will. Truth be told, I was kind of liking the idea of just the two of us. I had these elaborate plans. I was going to do what I could to make it special. Hopefully we’ll still have fun though. It will be nice to get out for New Years Eve for once. This leaves Zach stranded at home, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he came up with plans tomorrow.

I hope you all have a good time, whatever it is you’re doing!