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. 

Men and Menopause

I once read a novel by Anne Tyler. In it a man wrote how to books and he wanted to do one to help men deal with their spouse’s menopause. Everyone thought it was a stupid idea.  I think it is a great idea!

I am in the throes of menopause (okay, okay it is actually peri-menopause but you know what I mean!) and it sucks.  And while every woman has a different combination of symptoms and cures the vast majority suffer in one way or another.  And everyone I know agrees, men do not help. They can’t begin to comprehend the frustration and helplessness women feel during this phase of life.  Really it is just like being a teenager again with a lot of weight gain in bad places added in.

So this “made up holiday” is for men to educate themselves about menopause.  Read a website or two. Google “husband doesn’t understand menopause“.  Bring home or make dinner.  Be sure to understand where in the cycle your woman is.  Is this a salad and chocolate cake kind of day?  Burgers and fries?  Grilled fish and steamed veggies?  Make sure you know because you don’t want to screw it up!

She may be ranting and raving about nothing but listen to it.  You may glean a thing or two that  you can do to help her out. Turn the a/c or heat up or down.  Try extra hard not to wake her up, ever.  (Sleep is such a big deal.)  Do some little task that needs to be done and do it her way, just this once. Or maybe just give her some space.

Once the hormones settle down and she is officially in menopause she will remember all the little things you tried to do.  And she will be grateful. Really.

School Days

I always feel out of sorts this time of year. The calendar says summer. The weather says summer. But back to school says autumn. My son goes back to school this week. Physically I am in summer and mentally I am in autumn. Drat.

I seriously thought about homeschooling this year. I hate being tied to the school schedule.  I am already dreading the bedtime and homework battles.  I wish we could go on a long camping trip in the fall.  But my son loves school, so off he goes.  And I would probably suck at homeschooling anyway. I don’t have the patience for it.

On top of that I am drowning in the trifecta of menopause, thyroid, allergy hell. This isn’t fun no matter the season.  Thyroid: I need to lose three pounds to get back into my goal window, which really means I need to lose five pounds to be firmly in my goal window. Allergies:  I have had a headache for days and some unpleasant drainage going on.  Menopause:  Seriously bummed about the school year starting.  And all three mean I can’t get enough sleep which ruins life in general.

So I am going to take a blogging break. Probably two to three weeks so I can focus on taking care of myself physically and maybe make some goals for this school year. At least that is what I hope to do. I really hope I don’t end up on the couch binge watching the Olympics. (And what is up with the male divers wearing teeny tiny bathing suits? I would be worried about a swimsuit malfunction!)

 

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Random purple flowers photo.

Four Days of One’s Own

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Redwood trees in California

An unexpected gift – spouse and small child off to visit the Grandparents. I stay home to save money, keep the pool from turning green and spare the dog the ordeal of being abandoned for the second time this summer. And to give myself a chance to think, breath, drown in quietness.

Thoughts before:

Four full days and two partial ones to do as I please. And what would please me?  Gorge on junk food and movies?  Lots of sleeping?  Spend all day floating around the pool?  Read books all day with a box of chocolates by my side?  All of the above!

Did I want to make a plan to use every blissfully all mine moment?  Or did I just want to wake up and see how the day unfolded? I decided to make a loose plan for three of the days and let one day be spontaneous.  I wouldn’t pick which day but just let it find me.

My planned days had me doing stuff on the computer and getting my 10k steps done in the morning.  Lunch would be my main meal and after cleaning up I would watch a movie.  Then putter around or read a bit before taking a swim somewhere around 5:00p.  (Still very warm out but avoiding the brutal desert sun.)   Next would be a salad for dinner and dessert.  After that reading or watching television.

The Reality: 

The first two days pretty much followed the plan.  Saturday and Sunday went unplanned.  The break as a whole was fabulous.  I seldom left the house and I drank in the peace and quiet.  I will try and summarize how things went.

Things that surprised me:

  1. How little interest I had in cooking.
  2. Finding a dead mouse in the pool one morning and a live scorpion in the dog’s food bowl one evening. (Such is life in the desert.)
  3. Taking two naps.
  4. How little time I spent in my office.  I spent much more time in my bedroom watching movies on my computer, reading, journaling and thinking.  And taking those two naps.
  5. Starting to do yoga again, rather out of the blue and completely unplanned.
  6. Learning I wake up at 6:30a on my own.
  7. I not only swam everyday, but at different times of day.
  8. How poorly I am coping with the heat these days.  It was over 100° F every day and I hated it. Especially two very windy days.  Hot breezes are not good.

What I ate:

Mostly leftovers or eggs.  I did indulge in a few chocolates (okay most of a medium sized box), ice cream for dinner one night, and one fast food meal (Chick-fil-a).  In the interest of full disclosure I also ate two donuts that I “accidently” grabbed when I stopped for milk after church.  A Boston creme and a chocolate iced cake donut and they were yummy!

Movies I watched:

  1. “Rebecca”
  2. “The Shipping News”
  3. “A Perfect Murder”
  4. “The Guns of Navarro”
  5. “Twenty-One Days”
  6. “Housewife, 49”
  7. And some Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel

Books I read:

  1. “The Union Quilters” by Jennifer Chiaverini
  2. “The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen” by Lindsay Ashford
  3. “Magical Journey” by Katrina Kenison
  4. “A Year By the Sea” by Joan Anderson

I also read a bunch of articles on the internet about coping with menopause, specifically when you have younger children.  My longing for quiet and stillness is perfectly normal at this stage of my life.  Many women feel the need to take a bit of a time out and evaluate their present and their future when they hit fifty or thereabouts.  But most women’s children at my age are out of the nest or soon will be.  I am looking at ten more years of full time mothering.  I need to find a way to balance my needs with the demands of parenting a young child.

Basically all the articles said the same thing about coping with menopause, you have to take care of yourself.  Reduce stress and you minimize the menopausal meltdowns. I was already learning that.  Life was on a more even keel since I started giving myself a bit of quiet time each morning.  Maybe I could do a bit more to take care of myself?

New priorities I made based on what I learned and dreamed about:

  1. Do yoga or meditate every day.  Even if I only meditate for five minutes.
  2. Take time to stop throughout the day and repeat my mantra. (It is sort of silly so I am not sharing it.  Unless you really want to know and then just ask.)
  3. It is okay to stop and ask what I really want to do at any particular moment, and then do it.
  4. Continue on with my good habits of 10k steps, quiet time and getting to bed early.
  5. After a bit of experimenting I have decided food is not at the base of all my ailments.  But I still want to eat healthy, simple meals avoiding as much processed junk as I have the willpower for.
  6. Be more mindful with everything I do.  Folding laundry, cooking dinner, taking a swim.  Stay in the moment as much as possible.  I am so tired of worrying about the future or reflecting on poor choices made in the past.  I need to learn to simply be here.
  7. I really wanted to be outside but not in the crazy heat.  I have promised myself a day up in the mountains once the weather breaks.  So probably not til late September but it is nice to make a promise to myself.

Some of these tasks are going to be very hard and some will get dropped before they barely get started.  But some will stick, maybe not exactly as how I imagined them but hopefully exactly as I need them.

 

 

Not Going to Canada (And perhaps TMI)

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The view from our campsite last year.  There is a firepit to the left.

 

Turns out my misery problem was a simple case of PMS that totally caught me off guard. Since the onset of “I am seriously going into menopause symptoms”, my period has become very irregular in timing and duration. This means I have no idea how I am going to feel physically or emotionally on any given day. Fun Stuff!

Part of the problem is everytime I get any sort of period I think, “this is it! my last one!”  and imagine a great summer of swimming and traveling without any surprise emotional meltdowns or um, need for feminine products.  The disheartening truth is I have months of uncertainty ahead of me.

So I am not off to Canada but I am off to Coronado Island (near San Diego, Ca) for a few days. Long walks on the beach, a visit to the USS Midway, roasting hot dogs over a fire on our own little strip of sand at our campsite.  Hard to be miserable under those circumstances. I just hope my hormones agree.