2018 Aspirations: November

(December 3rd) Here is a summary of November.  I am sure I should go back and edit but I am not going to.  I am too tired and Christmas is coming and there is so much to do.  How do you even have time to read this blog?  Aren’t you busy, busy, busy too?  Anyway, without further ado…

November 9th:  So remember my spontaneous trip to Mesa to buy a typewriter?  That was triggered by a severe bout of insomnia.  After several short sleep nights I was feeling pretty miserable and I found myself awake at 1:00a feeling a frantic need for sleep. Not very helpful and I started crying.  I felt like I was at the end of my rope.  I did get back to sleep eventually but in the morning I decided I needed to do something different.  Something a little crazy and something just for me.  So I went to Mesa and bought a typewriter.  And what do you know, I felt better and I slept great that night.

November 14th:  I am so happy with this cool weather.  I am sleeping better again but still feel tired.  And I am weepy at random times about odd things.  The clutter in the house is driving me a bit nuts and the lack of energy is killing me.  I badly want to give the house the good cleaning it needs but just don’t have the oomph needed.  Instead I try and do small tasks here and there.  Today I cleared out and rearranged the glass/mug cupboard.  A small thing that took 10 minutes but brings me a lot of joy seeing how I open that cupboard multiple times a day!

November 19th:  Insomnia is back.  I can’t get to sleep and hot flashes wake me up early.  Also getting leg/foot cramps again.  I was caught off guard with how bad I feel.  Seems the key to my goals of “Be Happier” and “Be Healthier” is sleep.  And right now there is not much I can do to improve that.

November 21st:  Well my period started without much fanfare and then got crazy heavy for 24 hours.  So heavy it kind of scared me.  Luckily I spent most of the day at home doing food prep for Thanksgiving and some ibuprofen relieved my backache and cramps.  Happy to go to bed early though.

November 27th:  I can’t believe it is almost the end of the month.  I survived my period and now am oscillating between euphoria and exhaustion.  Yikes!  

I realized I haven’t mention my “frozen shoulder” in awhile.  I am still doing my home physical therapy and I am not having any pain.  I still don’t have the full range of motion back but it is increasing.  I am hoping I only need to do the exercises another month or two. (Ha!  I can hope all I want but truly I have no idea how much longer it will take.)

November 29th:  It is almost the end of the month!  How did that happen? Since things are going to get crazy busy I thought maybe I should just finish the log today.  I am feeling uber tired but not quite sure why.  I am sleeping okay, not great, but good enough.  But I have a backache and my breasts are ballooning which makes no sense as I just had my period!  Part of me thinks it would be great to get another period soon and then probably be done for the year.  All this uncertainty about how I am going to feel and what I am going to be coping with on any given day is maddening.

On a postive note despite just eating and not thinking about it my weight is holding steady between 144 and 145.  What does this signify for the future? No idea, if you know, can you tell me?

So how to sum up November?  I haven’t gone completely off the deep end but I suspect I am close!

2018 Aspirations: October

As I write these posts each month I find that my current situation colors what I remember about the previous month.  I try and jot down a few notes about topics I want to address but my feelings tend to be lost to the nether regions of time.  So for this month I am going to try and write the post as the month goes on.

October 10th:  After such a poetic opening paragraph I now find myself drawing a blank! The weather has cooled down and we even got some rare October rain.  I can feel myself fighting to be happy, I want to be happy but my insomnia has returned and being tired all the time is a drag.

Physically my breasts are killing me by the end of the day.  I bought some bra extenders which help a little.  I have had a little spotting here and there and lots of weepy feelings over odd things.

All I want to do is cocoon at home with books and movies and pumpkin treats but the first week of October was filled with errands and simple chores that my heart wasn’t in. I struggled through and was happy to climb into bed with my book each night. I just started “Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams”  by Susan Branch.  I kind of hate her because she is living the life I want!

I did get my mammogram done and then promptly forgot all about it.  I was surprised to get the results today, just the normal very dense tissue and lots of cysts report. Since I get a mammogram every year they have lots of comparison images so I feel good about the interpretation of the lumps.  (My mother died of breast cancer at the age of 33 so I am extra vigilant but at this stage I think my odds are the same as everyone else’s for getting breast cancer.)

I have been thinking about getting my hair dyed.  I have some “silver”, not too much but enough that I wonder if I would look younger without it.  And then today the woman who cleans my bathrooms gave me the best compliment (totally out of the blue!), she said I look younger every time she sees me!  We discussed the gray situation and I am still dithering but wow her comment really gave a nice boost to my ego.

October 17th:  The tedium and minutia of day to day life is killing me.  I barely have the energy to keep up with the basics like laundry and cooking.  My apathy is scaring me.  Why am I convinced it is so wrong to just sit for a spell and wait for this phase to pass?

Physically I feel like I am getting my period, bloated breasts, the need to eat junk when I am not the least bit hungry, weepiness, backache and low cramps. And let’s not forget a return of insomnia and leg/foot cramps.  But not a speck of bleeding.  I tell myself this is a good sign but what do I know?

October 26th:  Still feel like my body is trying to have a period, mostly with the backache  and fatigue these days.  I have had a little bit of spotting but no real period.  Emotionally I have been up and down. I wake up and do my yoga and shower and find myself thinking I feel pretty good and looking forward to the day. By 3:00p I am starting to drag, by 6:00p I am longing for bed and at 8:00p I crawl into bed with my book feeling quite apathetic.  I have been extra busy these days, just one of those stretches filled with long to-do lists and many outside activities.  I try and get a little extra sleep but it just isn’t happening.

I have the illogical feeling that if I can muddle through to the end of the year that January will find me feeling much better physically and mentally.  I know this isn’t logical.   I wonder if it is just what I need to tell myself to get through this two and a half month long marathon holiday fest?

November 3rd:  Well I got my period and now I feel much better.  Just a normal period which was a relief (I was afraid it was going to be one of those that last 3 weeks).  My skin is oily these days with a few tiny bumps on my chin, not really seen but I can feel them.  Acne at my age and with all these crazy feelings makes total sense.  Why not add as much as possible to the pot of misery?

I did a really good job with exercising, yoga and meditation this month and despite all my hormonal craziness I feel like I survived with a modicum of grace.

I figured out that night sweats were causing my insomnia.  I was just getting warm, not really hot (maybe due to the cooler weather?) but it was enough to wake me up.

On the eating front I was pretty surprised to find that I held steady at 145lbs despite eating whatever I wanted.  (Until I stepped on the scale this morning but since it is now November we won’t go there, damn Halloween!)   I really do want to go low to moderately- low carb and I am thinking about the best way to do this in a way that can be permanent.  There needs to be some flexibility but also some firm rules.  (Does that make sense?)  I am going to read “Better Than Before” by Gretchen Ruben and I am also looking at ways to use my bullet journal to keep me on track.  The Goal is to have a plan/system in place for January 7th.  Fingers crossed.

So how would I sum up October?  I learned time isn’t my problem, energy is as regards getting things done and my mood.  This includes eating healthy which takes more energy than grabbing junk.  After my two weeks of bliss in August I also feel pretty confident that once I get into actual menopause life will be better.  Fingers still crossed.

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2018 Aspirations: September

I tried to write this post last week but it just wasn’t happening.  I had an unusually busy week and felt rather depressed.  Truth?  September was a sucky month, especially after how great I felt the second half of August.  I got a normal period in September and found myself back on the hormonal roller coaster.  It was devastating because I really thought I was entering the 12 month countdown to menopause.  Why did I think this?  Apparently I just really, really wanted it to be so.

With the advent of cooler temperatures I am regaining some perspective.  Getting into menopause is quite the marathon.

Be Healthier

Allergies started back up which  totally did not help anything.  My insomnia returned for a spell making life just that much harder.  For most of September I felt tired and foggy.

I have given up the low carb strategy for now.  I really think low carb is the long term answer for me and plan on getting back on the wagon either in January or once the hormones subside.  It has been the one eating strategy that really killed the mindless cravings and had me eating less.

Swimming ended for the season, my last swim was the 30th, much later than in the past. I have to say swimming really felt good this year and I am looking forward to an early start next year.  But I was more than ready to adopt an “autumn lifestyle” and return to walking, mostly on the treadmill as I waited for cooler temps.  I have found a mix that works well for my treadmill walks: 20 minutes reading, 20 minutes playing a game of Scrabble against the computer and 20 minutes of doing a virtual walk through autumn scenery.

I am ignoring the scale for now.  Not sure how this is going to work but I am eating pretty much whatever I want.  I got tired of all the stress and guilt.  I know why I want pumpkin everything: to give myself the delusion of autumn.  This is the hardest time of year for me, I am seriously craving cool weather and sweaters and long pants and pretty leaves.  Well I can’t have those for a few more months but I can have pumpkin chili and pumpkin muffins and color pictures with autumn leaves.  So far all my clothes still fit so I will stick with making autumn happen the only ways I can.

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Be Happier

I switched from bowling on Thursday nights to Tuesday mornings and it is working out really well.  Two person teams so the bowling goes quickly and then I run to the commissary and shop for just one week at a time.  When I get home I usually feel rather wiped out and I take a break and watch “The Halloween Baking Championship”.

I finished my writing class and am now working on my story outline.  I really learned a lot and will sign up for a second class in January  which I am already looking forward to.

Meditation.  I must admit I think it is making a difference.  I am more aware of what I am thinking and feeling and getting better at stopping and asking why I am thinking/feeling something.  And that helps.  My new mantra is “if that is the worst thing that happens to me today my life is pretty good”.  Really helps to keep things in perspective (yes I am talking about you after school car line chaos).

Sometimes I feel like I have made so little progress this year but then I think about the many aha moments I have experienced and see all the data I am collecting.  I am looking forward to sitting down and writing my findings out for myself.

The biggest thing I have found is hope.  I know once I actually get into menopause I will feel so much better physically and that will spill over into feeling better mentally.  The scariest thing is learning that I could have to continue living with this misery for several more years.  Yes, years more of sleeplessness, uncontrollable eating, weeping at everything, ballooning breasts, brain fog and apathy.  And now I wonder if I should look into hormonal therapy.  I keep telling myself just see what happens next month and I have a few good weeks like in August and think, phew I made it but then the next month comes and I feel like crap again.

It is a tough decision and one that I know only I can make.  I am at the point where I feel like I need to see the doctor and get more information and mull that over for awhile, secretly hoping all the time that I will just go into menopause and be relieved from making the decision.  My biggest worry with hormone therapy is that any relief I find from current symptoms will be offset by different side effects.  But I won’t know until I try.  What is a grown woman to do?  That is the question.

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Autumn leaves from a past camping trip, this picture makes me happy!

2018 Aspirations: August

Be Healthier

  1. I went low carb and lost five pounds the first week.  This is an eating habit I believe I can do long term.  I am going with 30g of net carbs while still trying to lose a few more pounds but after that I am thinking 50g net carb with the occasional meal off. Oddly enough the thing I miss most is fruit but I am not missing all the junk food.  For me I think I need to avoid carbs in general and not just sugar to beat the cravings.
  2. I am doing a great job of trying to meditate everyday, even if just for 10 minutes.  As for actually meditating successfully….hopefully in time.  I have been exploring Insight Timer and find it helps.  I have one timer set up that I do in the afternoons and have been trying different guided meditations in the morning or at bedtime.
  3. Feet to the fire.  Weight 141.8 lbs.  I swam 23 days in August and did yoga 23 days.  Not bad.
  4. On the menopausal front another crazy month.  No period but ferocious hot flashes continued the first half of the month before tapering in both intensity and frequency.  Then I started sleeping through the night and actually felt pretty good the rest of the month.  I certainly  had more energy and felt way less foggy.  Gives me hope for the future.

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Interesting clouds.

Be Happier

  1. I am so glad I signed up for an on-line writing class.  I am thrilled to be learning again!
  2. I changed from bowling Thursday nights to Tuesday mornings.  I think this schedule will suit me much better.
  3. I have finally found the rhythm to my days I have been searching for.  I no longer feel compelled to stick to a strict routine but plan one day at a time.  I am finding everything still gets done and many chores seem easier.  I am listening to my physical and mental needs and life is good.

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Autumn is nearing, I can feel it!

2018 Aspirations: July

I didn’t do an update post for June, nothing much happened that month.  We were on vacation the first 10 days and then there was the adjustment to school being out.  I did read “10% Happier” by Dan Harris and began to think about how I could use meditation to battle my sugar craving hormones.  July has been more productive.

Be Healthier

  1. I did a 10 day sugar detox which has helped me stop snacking.
  2. I am getting much better about eating all my CSA vegetables.  Chocolate beet cake counts, right? (Of course it was before the sugar detox!)
  3. I survived a 19 day period and a lot of hot flashes.  Combined with triple digit heat and humidity and insane hormonal swings (I cry at everything: The Cubs hit into a double play, tears.  Someone bakes a beautiful cake on the Great British Baking show, tears. It is nuts!) survival was something of a miracle.
  4. I am doing a good job of meditating and deep breathing every day.
  5. My frozen shoulder is being difficult.  I am still doing my PT almost everyday but I can tell when the hormones are surging because my range of motion decreases and I have more pain.

Be Happier

  1. We went camping for a week in the rainy mountains and I loved the cooler air.
  2. I deactivated my Facebook account.  It was a real time suck and didn’t make me feel particularly happy.
  3. I realized I want to spend less time on the computer, took a blogging break and decided to revamp my blog. (Still a work in progress)
  4. Signed up for an 8 week on-line writing course that starts fortuitously the day after school resumes for my son. I hope this makes me happier, right now the thought of it is making me anxious.  What if I fail?
  5. Embraced the fact that I like listening to the Cubs on the radio more than watching them on tv.  I do coloring and needlepoint or fix dinner while listening to the games on-line.
  6. I bought a new car but kept my beloved Saab.  We stumbled on a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek Limited with only 6k miles.  Buying it was kind of a no brainer. Icy Metallic Silver is the color, a perfect name in the desert heat.
  7. A bouquet of zinnia’s from the farmer’s market.  Such a wonderful variety of colors!  Sorry I didn’t take a picture.

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I haven’t taken many pictures of her yet, it has been way too hot!  Here she is on her first road trip to Willcox.

There you have it, July in a nutshell. I like to think I am a little healthier and a little happier.  Yeah me!

2018 Aspirations Summary: April

April was rather crazy.  I felt like I was failing at everything and then I realized what I am actually doing is learning. Finding out what doesn’t work for my eating habits can be just as helpful and valuable as finding out what does work.

Be Healthier

This month I am going to focus on what I am doing well at or at least better. I started visiting the farmer’s market on Sunday mornings and buying lovely fruits and vegetables. And eating them! They also have wild caught fish from Alaska that is hand processed, frozen and sent down to Tucson, very yummy.  Excited about my CSA starting in May.  We still get our Butcher Box every other month and that helps cut down on trips to the grocery store too. And I did really well with eating at local restaurants.

Focused eating is something I think is very important and that I am still struggling with.  I can’t seem to break the reading while eating habit.  I am trying to start with small changes and work my way up.  Focusing on at least a few bites and periodically tuning in through out the meal.   Hopefully in time I will reach my goal of eating with total attention.  I truly believe how I eat will make a big difference in what I eat.  I did finish reading “Food Rules” and am still flipping through it a few times a week mulling over all the advice.

I have been doing a great job of eating only when I am hungry. I feel best when I eat a hearty breakfast mid to late morning and then a late lunch and no dinner.  I sleep better and feel better in general.  It can be a tough schedule though with the family but I am finding ways to make it work.

Feet to the fire:  Weight on April 2 – 144lbs.  Weight on May 2 – 145.4.  I am not stressing because I can feel the water weight bloating thing going on. I figure if I can keep close to 145 then once I am done with the MHC phase of life I will only have to lose five pounds to be comfortable with my weight. I did yoga 17 days which I am happy with since I went on two trips this month. I am also doing PT for my shoulder at home once a day.  Still keeping up with the food log.  Still eating too many sweets. Sigh.

Random photo from my trip to Mt. Lemmon during the teacher walkout.  More dry than wet stream, sad.

Be Happier

It was a bad month for MHC (Menopausal Hormonal Craziness).  I had three periods during the month.  Yes, three. separate. periods. It was ugly.  Emotionally I was a wreck. I kept telling myself this must mean the start of full blown menopause is near and then I would laugh/cry and remember thinking that same thing this time last year.  So now I warily wait to see what happens next with my body.

On the positive side I did get away for a weekend.  I went by myself to Laughlin, NV for a bowling tournament and rather enjoyed myself.  It was a nice change of pace and scenery.

On the nagging task front I have started a new 10 minutes a day project: organizing my digital photos.  I was inspired by this post and then I watched a few youtube videos for more tips.  It is actually easier and going quicker than I thought.

 

Food Rules #83  Break the rules once in awhile.  “Obsessing over food rules is bad for your happiness and probably for your health too.  Our experience over the past few decades suggests that dieting and and worrying about nutrition have made us no healthier or slimmer; cultivating a relaxed attitude toward food is important.”   -Michael Pollan

I feel like I know what I need to do to be healthy and I just need to act on it, at least as much as the MHC allows.  I know I can do it because there are days when I am in complete control and have no desire for junk food or feel the need to eat when I am not hungry.  When the hormones take over all I can do is minimize the damage and move on.  This phase of life will not last forever. Right?  Right? Please someone tell me I am right!  🙂

 

The Week in Review 4/18/2018

Labor of love: Sometimes I like to color pictures to put in my son’s lunch and was trying to think of something fun to color now that we are getting near the end of the school year (only 25 lunches left to make, yeah!).  Duh, he is into all things Minecraft so I printed out a few pictures I found on-line.  Above is the picture of a “creeper”.  I believe he is bad but my son said I did a good job adding the squares and making it look “real”.

Something making me unhappy: Menopausal hormonal craziness aka MHC. I think it should be an official disease with an acronym.  My body has gone haywire and getting anything accomplished seems monumental, even writing this blog.  I have a strong desire to do absolutely nothing.

My favorite time of day:  The gloaming which means twilight or dusk.  I first learned the word gloaming from a Joyce Carol Oates short story.  I like to watch the color change on the mountains to the north from my swing or from my office window facing south (not having a good westerly view of any sort).  I do miss those long lingering twilights up north in July. Sigh.

 Taken a few minutes after sunset.

Something that made me happy:  (Well, as happy as one can get with MHC.) We cleaned up the backyard and rearranged the furniture and potted plants.  We do this every year in the hope of finding some magical combination that makes the area more appealing.  This year I feel a flicker of hope we may have hit the nail on the head.  I ate breakfast out there Monday morning and lunch on Tuesday and it all felt rather continental.

Paint Chip Poetry:  As part of my self imposed MHC therapy I chose 3 blue chips for sadness, one red chip for craziness and one yellow chip as a ray of hope.  (Paint chip words are in italics.)

The blues surround my heart

reflected by the lapis lazuli of an afternoon sky

And yet

As I drink lemonade in the shade of the old barn

I feel my blues drifting up

to become part of the indigo glow of the evening sky.

 

And how was your week?

Apparently I am a Turnip

As the phlebotomist stuck a needle in me for the third time I found myself wondering who said the famous adage: “You can’t get blood from a turnip”.  (I could not find a definitive answer but maybe it’s from the bible.) And the third time was not the charm for the blood draw and thus ended a very long doctor visit.

And how did the visit start? With me being asked to sign a form stating that since this was an “annual checkup  or wellness visit” the following may not be covered:  referrals, new prescriptions, changes to current prescriptions, blah blah blah.  Um, what exactly was covered then?  Does this mean you can only get an annual check up if you are healthy?  The receptionist was stumped when I asked the question.  Apparently everyone just signs the form and hands it back, I was the first to actually read it.  I pointed out the word may and let her off the hook.  I have to trust the billing department knows all the right codes to put in.

Happily I love my doctor.  She really listens and we went through my whole list of concerns.  We talked some about menopause.  What I thought were typical crazy menopausal periods may be something more.  We discussed the joint pain in my hands and while I was thinking carpal tunnel she is leaning towards rheumatoid arthritis. So on Friday I am getting my mammogram, x-rays of my hands and a pelvic ultrasound.  And I have to go back and try to get my blood drawn again to check for hormone levels that would indicate impending menopause.  This time making sure I am well hydrated.

But guess what?  I don’t need a colonoscopy!  I do need to uh, mail some poop off and while that seems rather ew it is way better than getting knocked out and having something inserted where the sun doesn’t shine.

Now the long wait until Friday and hopefully some answers….to be continued.

(Random Yosemite photo above, chosen for it’s soothing nature!)

 

Muddling through Menopause

I have been feeling anti-computer these days.  Not sure why but in reflection I don’t think that is a bad thing.

My dream life right now? Solitude in a mountain cabin. I would take long walks along a stream or around a lake. I would sit on the porch with a mug of tea and listen to the rain. I would end the day in front of the fireplace with a warm bowl of soup and some homemade bread with butter. For a project I would take a picture of the same thing once a  day, at different times and in all sorts of weather. Maybe a tree or a spot on the lake or a flowering shrub. Whatever took my fancy.

The last six weeks have been tough physically and mentally. I have had no energy and no focus. Allergy season is at it’s peak. I have been sleeping poorly.  I had a twenty-one day period. I appear to be on the same rollercoaster as the weather! Last week we had our first 100° day, actually two of them and I took my first swim of the season. It was quite lovely until a gusty wind began and a few drops of rain fell.  Then the pool was a mess of pollen and debris.  The beginning of this week we were in the 70’s with some rain so I am back on the treadmill.  Hopefully the solar cover will keep enough heat in the pool so when the temperature boomerangs back to the upper 90’s at the end of the week we’ll be able to start swimming in earnest.

I took this picture this morning, how cool is it to have a bird of prey on your pool cover? I am thinking maybe a Hawk?

I have retreated into what I think of as survival mode. I have ditched the habit tracker and the routine. I am taking each day as it comes. You would think I would be a big slug right now but a surprising thing happened. I started doing random tasks. I have cleaned out one whole drawer of the file cabinet. I tackled the memory box project that was one of my cleaning goals for the year.  (One and two are done with a good start on six.) My son and I spent 10 minutes each night after dinner picking up his room. I am so happy to be able to walk in there again without twisting an ankle!

The missed sunset.

Sunday night we took a family walk over to Sabino Canyon hoping to get up high enough to see the sunset. Turned out it was too cloudy and we left a few minutes too late to get a really good view but it was a very pleasant walk anyway and nice to do something out of our ordinary routine.  Ditching my habit tracker and to do list has been good.

Rain to the East during our walk.

Yesterday I took a four mile hike, something I promised myself I would do at least once when the school year started. The hike merits it’s own post so stay tuned.

Today I am feeling better. I have slept well the last two nights. The hot flashes and night sweats are on vacation. I don’t know if it is hormones or the cooler weather but I will take it.  My allergies are not as bad.  I like to think the wind blew the pollen to New Mexico and the rain washed what was left out of the air.

I find I am actually looking forward to today. I will wash my car and paint my toenails lilac while watching one of the many movies I have on my DVR. And popcorn, I deserve popcorn!

I hope you have a wonderful day too!

 

Ah, Phooey Day

Phooey: a word used to express disgust or disdain 

I suppose you could just say the word Phooey about something today but I am going a step farther. I am doing a phooey on wearing a bra today. Because I can. A less lazy person would go buy a bigger bra or two for those menopausal days when one’s breasts balloon up but I am secretly afraid a larger bra would just encourage more painful swelling.

Wearing a bra somedays has become torturous for me.  Today I say “Phooey on bras!” Lest you think I am being all risqué or sleazy the reality is I am wearing a loose fitting opaque t-shirt (and stretchy, comfy shorts) with no plans to leave the house after I walk the dog. So I am the only one impacted by my bralessness. And the impact on myself is a good thing.  A splendiferous thing if you will.  Comfortable. Sort of like staying in your pj’s all day without the guilt.

Embrace your phooey today!

Random flower photo because it is my blog and I can randomly add a flower photo if I want to.