Sofa King Awkward

Take my social life. Please. Because I’m not doing a very good job with it.

I’ve kept myself pretty isolated for a while. Most of my face to face interactions are with my son. Sure, I twitter and I have friends that I text with, but I rarely get out and meet people and talk to them in person. I decided maybe it was time to change that this year, and now I remember why I was isolating myself; because I’m a total fucking train wreck.

I am an introvert, but that shouldn’t mean I don’t know how to interact with people. I mean, I know how, but afterwards I spend so much time second guessing the things I say and do. I feel like I tell people things I shouldn’t be saying and they’ll think I’m insane, which, honestly, I kind of am. Not dangerous insane, just off my rocker insane. Add to that the fact that socializing often involves alcohol and then I really really really hate myself the next day. Even if its just text messages or twitter, I feel like I come off like a complete needy jackass.

Then add in the fact that I have a very empathetic personality (INFJ in the house). I see people struggling, upset, not feeling well, and I just want to help. I want to fix it all and make it better. Even with people (and animals) I don’t know. I tell people I want to help, I give unsolicited advice, I ask people to let me know what I can do, but then I think, “well that was pushy of me. Why did I do that? Now this person will not want to talk to me anymore.” I mean well, I really do, but I think I come off all wrong in trying to express it.

So when I do these things, when I feel like I overshared, or I pushed too hard with the caring, and then I don’t hear from someone for a while, it just emphasizes that feeling of not being good enough that I’m already struggling with. That feeling that I’m not worthy of anyones time or attention. And I get that people are busy, and most of them have other people in their lives and jobs, but I still doubt myself to the point that my brain goes on this loop of things I feel I did wrong, and how I’ve alienated everyone, and I end up with massive anxiety. I don’t tell people that I’m feeling or thinking these things because I don’t want them to think I blame them for the messed up things my brain tells me.

I give compliments and then immediately wonder if they’re out of line. Then I wonder if I should let the person know I meant what I said in the nicest way, but I know I should just back the fuck off. But backing off is hard when you’re already feeling pretty lonely and bad enough about yourself and can’t stand the idea of someone hating you because you were trying to be nice. How much does that idea suck? Oh, and don’t even get me started on my bizarre sense of humor, because that’s another entire dissertation.

It’s a really vicious cycle that I throw myself into. I think I need to move somewhere far away from everyone, or at least get a certificate saying I’m an official train wreck that I can show to people when I meet them so they don’t have to wonder “what the fuck is her deal?”

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Oh, hey, no big surprise here

I haven’t updated this in ages. Again. I’ve been too busy having a mid-life crisis.

It’s not just the getting older part, but it’s also a major identity crisis as well which is bleeding over into everything else, including blogging (which, no real surprise, I wrote about last year). I know I want to rename the damn thing, but that is proving to be more difficult to do than I thought it would be. WordPress doesn’t make changing your domain exactly straight forward, so I’m debating whether I should buy a domain somewhere else and link it or whatever you call it.

Right, getting off track.

I’m having an identity crisis, have been for a while. It’s not that surprising when you look at how my life has unfolded over the past 24 years. I spent the first five years of Zachs’ life being a stay at home mom, basically (posthumas thanks to my parents for the help with that. I would not trade those years for anything). When he started school, I went back to college. I thought I had a straight path planned out but I let myself get derailed, probably because I wasn’t super enthusiastic about dental hygiene. Then I left my bachelors program because my mom wasn’t really well enough to care of Zach while I worked during the day and went to school at night. Worked a series of jobs I had little enthusiasm for. Sure, I’m capable of being an office zombie/assistant, but the last job was SO bad, it just kind of murdered my spirit. Then my mom got sick. Broke up with my fiancé. Then my grandmother died. Then my dad got sick. Then my mom got worse. Then my dad got sick again. Then my mom died. Then my dad was a miserable SOB who couldn’t be left alone until he got sick again and died. I think I’ve told that story, though.

So here I am, with no real job, no real skills, no useful degree, and no real idea what I want to do (other than get the hell out of Florida, and travel). I’m still trying to get everything settled with my parents estates (can at least say that is in motion, though). Add to that the realization that I’m getting older, my son is grown up, and I don’t have many friends to spend time with. I’m still very single and not showing any prospects of that changing, plus the crippling feeling that I don’t really have anything to offer anyone even if I did meet someone (a feeling which someone was “kind” enough to confirm for me recently, is true). In order to try to keep my head above water, I’ve been on what I like to call a “booze and bad decisions binge.” I go through these every once in a while, usually when my life is thrown into some sort of chaos, especially if that chaos leaves me with choices I have to make. So I just drink until I’ve had enough to make a bad decision, do something stupid, and then I’m left thinking, “oh god what the fuck did I just do??” followed by “well, at least I made a damn decision!” Sure, sometimes I have fun, and I often surprise myself, but it’s not always in a good way.

My mind is a very confusing place to be, and considering how much time I spend there isolating myself from other people because I don’t feel good enough or like I deserve friendship/love/companionship/all that stuff, I suspect I will be certifiable maybe by the end of the year? I’ll set up a P.O. box or something so people can send me comfy pajamas for when they lock me up with the other crazies.

Watsky x Anxiety

“You’re officially welcome to grab your crotches, synchronize your watches and pour us a couple scotches.”

Back in August I hit a pretty rough patch. I was feeling really down, extremely antisocial. Basically I was in full blown “life is awful and I hate it and its never going to get better because I don’t know what to do with my life and what’s really the point anyway because I’m going to die alone oh my god make it stop” mode.

Hello, my superhero name is Heather the Extraordinary Eternal Pessimist.

I was basically just hanging around the house feeling miserable, eating lots of cookies and not much else, and spending a lot of time trolling around YouTube to try to keep my mind entertained and distracted. I came across a video from Elliott Morgan reacting to Watsky’s new album X Infinity. I’d heard of Watsky before because of his pale kid raps fast video that went super viral several years ago, but I’d never listened to his music because rap and hip hop aren’t my usual go to styles. But Elliott’s assertions about the music peaked my curiosity, so over to iTunes I hopped for a preview, which then led to me purchasing the album.

Then I got Cardboard Castles. Then I got All You Can Do. Then I got Watsky, because god damn, this kid is a fucking lyrical genius if I’ve ever heard one. Plus the music is varied and fun, not at all sounding like the usual rap/hip hop suspects. Then I found out he’d written a book of essays called How to Ruin Everything so I got that and tore right through it. His stuff was enough to keep me occupied and distracted from my miserable reality, which at the time, I really needed.

Now that I had most of his music, and read his book, the next logical step would be to go to his upcoming concert, right? I mentioned something about it to my son who made the comment of “I don’t think that’s your scene” which, well, I couldn’t really deny. I felt dissuaded. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the only way out of my current rut was to do something out of the ordinary. Something I wouldn’t normally do, so the day before the show I hopped online thinking “scene be damned, I’m going to this concert, even if I have to go by myself which is going to probably lead to a great deal of anxiety because I don’t do downtown Orlando with other people much less by myself holy crap I just bought this ticket so now I have to go oh my god.” (my anxious brain likes run on sentences, and a good twitter storm). Day of the show I had a good twitter panic, but got support from some really awesome people who basically told me to go to the damn show and have fun.

So on September 11, I went to a rap concert that was full of mostly college aged kids, and do you know what? I had a fantastic time. I had a few overpriced beers, jumped around and waved my hands in the air.

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Kinda wish I’d taken better pictures but I didn’t want to spend the entire show watching through my tiny glowing screen

After the show I ran into one of my sons coworkers who had been at the show (you would think that would be awkward, right?) and hung around and waited to meet the Watsky man himself (because I apparently I am a 15-year-old fangirl on the inside, and I really wanted to tell him I enjoyed his book, OK?). While I was waiting I realized that a couple of people I know internet-wise had been at the show as well so I wasn’t the only “older” person there (score). Talked to a couple of kids (I say kids but they were in their early 20’s) about music, movies, comics, Pokemon and sports while I waited. There were a lot of people hanging around, and I felt a little dumb waiting, but I’m glad I did.

The next day my throat hurt and my calves were achy, but I’d say it was all worth it. I’d do it again, as long as my social anxiety lets me.

Fun with hurricanes; a cautionary tale

I’ve lived in Florida for 20 years. Before that I spent nearly every summer here with my grandparents. I also was born here and lived here from age three to seven, so I really should know that Florida is a magnet for hurricanes.

Should being the operative word.

When I moved here in 1996, Florida was in a bit of a “dry period” hurricane-wise. I think the most recent large storm had been Andrew in 1992 (don’t quote me on that, though). Every time June would roll around, my dad would insist on being prepared, stocking up on canned crap food, water, batteries, and reminding me to never let my car get below half a tank of gas. I played along because I knew it was his way of showing me he cared, but inwardly I was rolling my eyes and thinking, “pfft. We’re not going to get a hurricane this year. Florida never gets hurricanes anymore.”

For the most part, I was right. We had a few brushes, like Hurricane Floyd in 1999. I had a feeling it was going to end up missing the state, and it did (the guy I was dating at the time, who was not a Florida native, laughed at people being afraid of something named “Floyd”). I actually had a pretty good knack for knowing whether or not a hurricane was a threat, a sixth sense of sorts that I inherited from my grandfather. I was never wrong.

Then 2004 rolled around. It was Friday, August 13th. I’d just lost my job the day before, had been out getting drunk with friends that night, so I was a little surprised when I woke up Friday morning and realized that Zach’s school had been cancelled and my dad was rushing around bringing in patio furniture and potted plants because Hurricane Charley was on his way, due to arrive that evening. Apparently not only had my luck run out, but the luck central Florida had dodging hurricanes ran out, too (this also seems to be about the same time my hurricane prediction “gift” disappeared).

Charley, while not big in stature, was strong in wind and rain, and he was pretty damn fast. Thinking back, it feels like the worst of it only lasted about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Once it was through though, we realized just how bad it was. The power was out, and there were trees down all over the place. We couldn’t drive down the street in either direction because it was blocked by large toppled trees. The house didn’t sustain any damage, but the neighborhood lost a lot. Our power was out for eight days while crews worked to replace poles, lines, and repair transformers. While it was a huge inconvenience, I know it could have been a lot worse.

Then Charleys’ friends Frances and Jeanne decided to blow through as well. Neither were as strong as Charley and didn’t cause any major problems or extended power outages, but three hurricanes in the span of two months? It felt like we’d had our fair share.

Things got quiet after that hurricane season, which led to a serious case of what I call the “lackadasies” when you become completely lackadaisical about something you should take seriously. I started ignoring hurricane preparedness. Didn’t make sure the battery powered lanterns were in working order, didn’t have an adequate water supply on hand, etc. It was bound to catch up with me, which it did last week with Matthew.

I knew it was out there, I knew it was possibly coming this way, but I didn’t get nervous until Wednesday when it seemed pretty definite that it was going to hit, and I started seeing pictures on the news of store shelves being emptied of necessities. Meteorologists were predicting this to be worse than Charley. Commence panic and scrambling. We were able to get some water, junk food, batteries, tiny flashlights, and ice. The patio furniture was put away in plenty of time, but man, that was a miserable few days. I already have issues with anxiety, and the constant news coverage of how bad it was going to be, coupled with not being prepared had me in a constant state of static. If you follow me on twitter, you probably saw all that anxiety come out in a huge number of tweets.

We got lucky, again, when Matthew moved a bit to the east, saving our area from the hurricane force winds we were expecting. We did get a decent bit of wind though which lasted for close to a day. The power went out for a day and a half (if it had been longer, I’d have lost it given the state I was already in), the roof, which is already in not great shape, lost a crap ton of shingles, and I busted my toe stomping on a block of ice in a cooler (go me), but other than that, we were very fortunate. We didn’t even get that much rain from it while places four miles away were near flooding.

Safe to say that next June, I’m going to be checking off my list of hurricane preparedness items. I figure if I’m prepared, the less likely we are to get hit with anything bad. I think of it like that old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Also, as soon as I can move out of this state, you better believe I’m going to.

So that Whole30 I did?

I wrote a blog a bit over a month ago about my experience with Whole30. Since I wrote it, I’ve debated taking it down, but I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to tell you about the fallout I’ve experienced since doing the program. Things have changed since my Whole30, and not all in good ways.

Am I a dietician or nutritionist with the knowledge or degree to back things up? I am not. Am I going to drop a bunch of links telling you why this diet is flawed? I am not (with the exception of this one herethis one right hereand maybe this one, where, if you look around, you’ll see the Slim Fast diet ranked higher on the list ).You’ve got google and a sense of curiosity, you can do that yourself. Instead I am going to give you my real life, post Whole30 thoughts and feelings.

I cannot, in good conscience, recommend Whole30. I mean, yes, it’s your body and if you want to do it, I can’t stop you. I know there’s a lot of great Whole30 success stories out there, and they make it tempting to try the plan. That’s how I got hooked into it. I didn’t feel well, knew I needed to change something, and all of the grandiose claims (red flag #1) about weight loss and improved health really spoke to me and got me pumped. That is exactly what a fad diet is supposed to do. It’s supposed to hit you at a visceral level, it’s supposed to make you feel like it’s the “One True Answer to All of Your Problems.”

Fad diets are NOT the answer. Ever. I have YEARS of experience in this area. The only explanation I can give for why I fell for it is a complete sense of desperation.

When I was reading the books that outline Whole30 and all the reasons why it’s so good, there was an inkling in my mind that said, “eh, something about this doesn’t seem right.” (red flag #2) I ignored that. Now, the more time passes post Whole30, and the more non-Whole30-subsidized reading I do, I really wish I had listened to that voice.

The grandiose claims for instance. There’s TONS of them, ranging from weight loss to apparent cessation of medical conditions. I’m not saying these people are lying about their experiences. If they did have tons of success, I’m happy for them. I do think those claims are leaving out a lot of important information (red flag #3), though, like what were they eating before Whole30? Did they only do the diet for 30 days, or did they do it longer? Seriously, if someone who eats a diet that’s primarily processed foods starts eating whole, clean food OF COURSE they’re going to see positive results. Switching from a fast food diet to food you prepare at home and have control over is going to provide anybody with better nutrition. I think its fair to say that’s a common sense conclusion (which you are free to disagree with).

In the books, particularly It Starts with Food, they have a lot of resources listed to back their claims. I haven’t read all of them since they are not all easily accessible (i.e. available on a website for my lazy ass to read)  but ones I’ve looked at feel very cherry picked. They come from entities who are already pro-paleo or anti-grain. You can always find both sides of an argument, and yes, you do want to use the research that backs up what you’re saying. I’m not saying they did a bad thing doing that, if anything it should have been me who did more vetting. However, using bully language (red flag #4) to make people believe your way is the Right Way, and that your one-sided claims are The Only Truth ? That doesn’t sit right with me.

I didn’t mention in my last blog, but they offer daily email support. Yes, it cost like $15, but I wanted the extra support and elusive resources those emails were supposed to give me. At the end of the daily email you click a button that either says “yes, I stayed on plan. Go me” or “No, I fucked up, so now I have to start over.” (not exactly what they said, but that’s how my brain remembers them) The emails were, in some ways, kind of alarming. They were full of broken links (red flag #5) so I didn’t get all of the resources and benefits I expected. There were also several instances where they person they linked to had decided paleo was not so great after all (red flag #6). The newest articles were at least two years old (red flag #7. SERIOUSLY, WOMAN HOW DID YOU IGNORE ALL OF THESE RED FLAGS???).

Just after the half way point, one of the emails addressed how to decide if you should start over if you slipped up. “Did you drink some wine or eat grains? Then abso-fucking-lutely you should start over. That’s what we tell you from the start. But if you ate salad dressing and then found out there was agave nectar in it? Eh, don’t worry. A little sugar isn’t that big of a deal, really.”

Wait, what?

I’m supposed to be “slaying my sugar dragon” and you’re now saying that a slip up on sugar isn’t that big of a deal (red flag #8)? I clicked my “go me, I win” button and closed my email thinking ,”did they actually just fucking throw out their own hard and fast must be follow rules and expect me to feel good about that?”

The last ten days of emails were the worst. They were the most pro-paleo of the bunch. The subject of reintroducing foods was addressed, along with the question of “how do I know if I should continue my Whole30?” They say its never “Whole365” but 45, 60, 90? Thats not necessarily a bad idea, but Whole30 is still really awesome and life changing.  But then, in these last days of emails, that they FINALLY admit (red flag #9) that no, 30 days is not going to undo years of bad eating. They recommend continuing if you’re either not feeling the awesome effects (red flag #10), are seriously high on said awesome effects (red flag #11), or if you haven’t “slain your sugar dragon.” Oh, you mean the sugar dragon I might have fed with that “heh, a little sugar ain’t bad” sweeter I might have slipped up and eaten? That before that one email I would have led me to dejectedly start the program over feeling like a failure (red flag #12)? Yeah. That’s the one. Its safe to say, I was seriously pissed.

My results weren’t earth shattering, which I outlined in my last blog. Did I learn some things? Sure I did. I think the most important thing I learned is that obsessing over food and trying to stick to a really strict plan is not a healthy option, ESPECIALLY when it comes to your mental health. One of the reasons I didn’t blog right after I finished the program was because I felt so miserable, mislead, and turned around by the whole thing (not to mention feeling like a big ol’ failure in general) that I was kind of depressed. But since I’d put so much work into the diet, and did learn from it, I tried to wrap it up in a semi-optimistic bow for anyone else who might have done it and felt lousy at the end. Cause I’m helpful like that, you know?

Have I continue on a good eating path since then? Well, considering I just ate peanut M&M’s for breakfast, had McDonalds at midnight a couple days ago, and some days only eat a handful of almonds in the morning and then nothing until dinner because I’m too fucking annoyed and tired to want to mess with preparing anything, its safe to say I haven’t. If anything, I’ve felt too bummed and burned out to care. Yes, there is an obesity epidemic that has been fueled by the wide availability and ease of crappy food. I know what foods to eat most of the time, and which ones to eat in moderation (actually, maybe I should write a diet book). I’m just not doing it because I have no wind in my sails at the moment. Yet another fad diet failed me, and while that’s not a surprise, I’m really angry with myself for falling for it.

I know I don’t get a lot of traffic here, but if you, too, stumble across this after feeling duped by Whole30 and want to commiserate? I welcome you. Also, if you are pro-Whole30 and want to leave me a comment defending the diet, go ahead. However, if your comment is full of unnecessary vitriol that doesn’t lead to reasonable discussion, I probably will ignore it.

Now I should probably go eat some real food. Preferably something with gluten . . .

Gettin’ GISHy with it

The past two years durning the first week of August, I’ve participated in a little thing called GISHWHES. Straight forward, it’s the “greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever seen.” Its basically a week spent working with a team to complete a bunch of tasks that are either completely random creative silliness, or in some way charity/kindness oriented.

Last year I decided to try it on a whim. I joined alone since I’m the only person I know that was insane enough to think it was a good idea. I was assigned to a team of 15, all first timers, and almost all strangers to one another. The list was over 200 items (which, yes, is crazy, but you’re not expected to complete the entire thing), but between the rag-tag bunch of 15 strangers, we managed to complete over 50 items. It was tough at times because not everyone was communicating with the group, and I honestly found the whole thing incredibly stressful, because there are rules and guidelines, y’all, and not everyone was following them. I like things to be organized and done on time, and this was mania. It’s obviously not the end of the world if you don’t get all of your scavenger hunt items done, but still, I’m already high strung as is. I tried my best to keep the group organized and on task, but that’s impossible when people don’t check to see what’s going on.

Anyway . . .

Stress aside, I did have fun in the end. I met some really great people that I’ve been able to stay in touch with. The idea was floated amongst some of us to do it again this year so long as we could find people to create a whole team, or as close to whole team as possible. When registration started this year, Jill (who is also insanely organized–shout out, girly) started a team. Colleen and Whitney from last years team joined as well. By the time registration ended, we’d managed to find eleven other people to join us (are they out of their minds too? probably). I won’t lie, it felt really good going in with a full team where everyone knew someone.

This years list was not quite as long as last years (I think the final number of items was in the 170’s) but was equally intimidating. Some things we couldn’t do because they required people to be in a specific location at a specific time, or they required contacts at NASA, an engineering degree, things like that (because, of course). There was still plenty to go around with acts of kindness and creativity. Cara made an adorable padna (with is panda made out of feminine hygiene products, obviously) we all took pictures to “represent” our location, we all became robots on various social platforms, I joined a mass of people sending a delightful tweet to Mike Pence about how tobacco does indeed kill people. We all tweeted about how to determine if someone has had a stroke.  Jill and Alison had a two story wine pouring dinner party, Colleen and Kelly organized a 30-legged race. Whitney bought ice cream for a stranger, because it’s a nice thing to do. Kailey went jogging in shoes made from pineapples, Kassi got to lay a much needed regret to rest. We all helped promote a gishwhes-wide fundraiser for refugee families in need of homes which has, to date, raised over $214,000.

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I wrote this, and recreated a moment from my childhood (and I didn’t even have to buy clothes to recreate the outfit. Is that scary? Or is it more scary that my hair is basically the same now as it was when I was eight?) And that, I’m happy to say, is just a sampling of the 60 items we managed to complete.

There were hiccups along the way, like GISHWHES server bots trying to steal our incredibly valuable teammates, Facebook documents being a hot mess, and, of course, life got in the way in some cases. There was also an unfortunate incident with cornhusks, which will forever remain a tragedy in our collective team hearts. No, I can’t go into details, the pain is still all to fresh.

At the end, I was over-tired, had consumed WAY too much sugar, and was generally ENTIRELY more wound up than usual (anyone that follows me on twitter can attest to that, because I was ALLL  over the place durning that week). I knew I needed my introvert time to recover, but I was still really sad to see it end. I felt like that week help me reconnect to a lost side of myself, the one that knows how to be creative, a Heather who is not so scared of trying things for fear of looking silly or not doing them perfectly.

I’m really glad I decided to do it again. Also, to my team, I hope I didn’t mother hen y’all to death. That’s just me, trying to help (and my need to feel like things are tidy and organized). You were all fantastic, and if any of you want to do it again, I think I may be down for it. [insert smiley face]

 

An Ode to Miss Jean Louise

This post was for GISHWHES 2016, so, if it seems weird? GISHWHES.

Every year during the first week of August, Miss Jean Louise is heralded for her tremendous encouragement and authoritarian control over those participating in GISHWHES. She is renowned as a purveyor of unique and amusing art, the likes of which the world has never seen, fostering creativity through mediums that include, but are not limited to, food fashion, performance art, seat-of-your-pants poetry, and flash mob water balloon fights. However, there is one aspect of Miss Jean Louise’s considerable array of talents that is not properly appreciated or publicly celebrated. That role?  Advisor (aka babysitter) to Misha Collins.

Over the years, there’s no questioning the fact that Misha’s antics have brought joy and laughter to many. His enthusiasm bubbles over into often ostentatious public displays. tumblr_m3t1rpsvIL1qfch0zHis fans see this, and they love it. They laugh and laugh and laugh, flooding tumblr with images and memes of silly, silly Misha, yet they do not acknowledge the role Miss Jean Louise is quietly playing in the background.

Misha NEEDS a babysitter, as he’s basically a middle-aged toddler. Someone has got to protect him from himself, and Miss Jean Louise is heading up that difficult and challenging task. It may appear, when you see pictures such as the one I’ve shared, that Miss Jean Louise is not in control, but I can assure you that she is. The Misha Brand™ we all know and love is carefully curated and shared with the public through Miss Jean Louises’ caring, competent eyes. She is the glue that holds it all together.  She knows the world needs this silly man-child to heft their love upon, someone who encourages and inspires us to leave our comfortable little shells. When we do that, we make the world a little bit stranger, a little bit brighter, and for this, we must thank Miss Jean Louise.

Nobody is infallible, though, and Misha does sometimes escape the diligent watch of his guardian. Evidence of this can be seen on Facebook live streams of Misha tromping through treacherous woodlands, or using his phone to send a sneak peek to his followers from backstage at San Diego ComicCon, where there are signs that clearly say “Hey, you, don’t use your phone!” She obviously can’t be awake 24-7 and still be refreshed enough to keep control over her charge. Misha recently took advantage of her very human need for sleep when he made some crazy proclamations regarding item #141 on the GISHWHES 2016 list. Still, Miss Jean Louise managed to gain the upper hand, making Misha provide a public apology to his GISHWHES constituents. There is no doubt that in the Mishaverse, Miss Jean Louise reigns supreme.

You may not see her standing in front of the camera making her presence known, but Miss Jean Louise is always there holding Mishas’ hand. Her invisible fingerprints are on everything he does. She is the cool head organizing all of the crazy capers you so enjoy. For that, I kindly ask that whenever you see an image of Misha that makes you smile, hear of an act of kindness he has somehow facilitated, or see a GISHer doing their GISHy thing, send up a silent thanks to the incomparable Miss Jean Louise. It is the very least we can do.

 

 

 

Dog days making me bitch

I know its summer and that the heat is getting to me when I find myself on Pinterest looking at Halloween stuff. Lots of nice pumpkin carving ideas! I’ve complained about summer and how much I dislike it before, and will continue to do so, because it really just throws me off. Some people get depressed in the winter, I get depressed in the summer.

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these lazy bitches

This month started out with highs around 100 degrees, and heat indexes exceeding that, and it just stayed that way for a couple of weeks. We didn’t get many of those merciful rain showers that cool things down at the end of the day either. We’ve had the kind of weather that makes the weather folks on tv tell you to stay inside if you can. So I’ve been doing that, pretty much. Summer makes me more lazy than usual, and considering how lazy I already am, this is not good.

But with the laziness has come this mental restlessness. Maybe its because I’m craving a change in weather, but I also want a change of scenery. I’m tired of just about everything around me. I’m tired of my clothes, my hair, I’m tired of the color on the walls, no food sounds good, I don’t even like the words I’m writing (evidenced by the fact that I started this blog post at the beginning of the month). Everything just stagnates in the summer. Sure, there’s Pokemon to catch, but that requires leaving the house, and who wants to do that? This place has air conditioning and fans and doesn’t feel so damn dank like the outdoors.

Yes, I’m bitching. I’m just tired. I’m not sleeping well. I’m back to sleeping four or five hours a night and trying to get a nap in at some point in the late morning. There have been days, though, where that nap doesn’t happen. This pattern repeats over and over until I drop for 12 hours one night, only to go back to too little sleep the next night. Lather, rinse, repeat. Getting some exercise would probably help. You know things are desperate when I actually miss my gym membership. Sure I could go for walks but see aforementioned thoughts on weather, or I could do stuff at home like yoga or whatever, but did I mention I’m freaking exhausted, and tired of looking at everything? The spiral never-ending, it seems.

I’m going to stop one never-ending spiral right now though, and end this post. Then I’m going to hit publish. Then I’m going to stretch out like those lazy cats and take a nap.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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]