My daughters went on a seven-week road trip, leaving Memorial Day and returning this week. My younger daughter, who lives with me, turned 18 while on their trip. They celebrated her day in New York City by seeing Wicked on Broadway. It was, in my daughter’s word, Epic! What a wonderful time for them! Adventures… Sister Times… Weddings… Graduations… 21 states, as far north as Maine, as far south as Orlando, Florida… The Wizarding World of Harry Potter… EPIC!
While my daughters were enjoying their adventures, I took advantage of the opportunity to experience living alone for the first time in my life. It’s true: I’m 48 years old, and I’ve never lived alone. I got married at 20, and I moved from my parents’ home into my husband’s apartment. When I separated from my husband 20 years later, I moved back in with my parents. I lived there until I rented a room in a friend’s house 2 years ago for a year. Last summer, Julia and I bought a new house together. See? I’ve always lived with someone. So for the last week of June, I took a stay-cation from work and just did what I wanted. I had some laziness, courtesy of Netflix, but I accomplished a lot of what I set out to do.
Several things in the last year have filled my life with a bit more than I have handled well. Some of my success in life is due to my tenacity, my sense of responsibility to accomplish (at whatever cost) what I commit to, and my ability to focus. Sometimes I take those talents to an extreme, and they become stubbornness, people-pleasing, and perfectionism. There’s not always time to deal with stress as it comes, so I just store it all in my upper back until I do have the time. In the last year, I chose not to deal with an unhealthy relationship or to address some nagging negative health issues (“I know it’s been eight months, but I know this tummy ache and these headaches will go away on their own! And, good grief, isn’t everyone tired most of their waking hours??”) I’ve been keeping up with my job and all its new responsibilities, but I get behind on some of the less “squeaky-wheel” tasks… until the finance controller turns up the volume of the squeaking. And he gets so grumpy and closed minded when I tell him, regarding the accounting, “that was then, this is now… it’s time to move on!!” Financially, I’m doing fine, but I have a huge brain block regarding creating a budget that I will follow. And I’ve been wanting to get serious about my writing for a long time–this blog has been a testimony to how well I’ve done pursuing that dream (hopefully, my current pace and enthusiasm are a new trend).
I made a list of tasks I intended to accomplish, keeping in mind that a vacation should not end in a state of greater exhaustion than it began with. The intentions I followed through with: First and foremost, I guarded from time diligently. I rearranged my living room; culled through and organized my clothes closet (necessary, as I’ve lost about 30 pounds so far in 2011); culled through and organized my pantry; defrosted, cleaned, and organized my freezer (necessary, as my annual seafood order arrived my first day back at work); figured out my ideal sleep schedule (turns out I work better later at night, so I need to wake up later in the morning); figured out my ideal eating needs and schedule; and dealt with some of my deeper health issues (the rest of this post is dealing with the last two items).
I started seeing a chiropractor at the beginning of June. My medical doctor wanted to treat my chronic neck and upper-back pain (and accompanying finger numbness) by shooting steroids into my spinal column (he said cortisone shot, but we know what he meant). It’s not that I am opposed to modern medicine. On the contrary, I’m grateful for it. But I didn’t have a good feeling about that solution. A friend told me about her chiropractor, Dr. Molly Kallenbach, DC, http://doctormolly.com/ at Thrive Chiropractic. Before going in for an anesthesiologist-administered, spinal column-invading steroid shot, I made an appointment to see Dr. Molly. From my first appointment, I felt relief from the pain in my upper back. Such a good choice! Right away, she wanted to address my overall health. She put me on a detoxification diet to try to give some of my organs a break. The foods-to-avoid list was more extensive than I’d anticipated: dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, tomato, corn, alcohol, caffeine, beef, processed meats, peanuts, and peanut butter. I knew I didn’t tolerate dairy well, and I’d begun to suspect that maybe soy was not going to be a good dairy alternative. I was just happy to see that I could eat fruit. So for two weeks, I ate a lot of salads, fruit, and non-gluten whole grains. Fortunately, I really like salads, and the ingredients are beautifully plentiful and affordable this time of year (I’m hoping, now that I’m writing more regularly, that I’ll start inserting pictures into my posts again). My regular meals were: quinoa or brown rice with fruit and rice milk for breakfast; salads, with a variety of colorful and tasty vegetables and sprinkled with chia and hemp seeds and sliced almonds, for lunch and dinner. When I had questions (and I had a lot), I’d ask my dear friend, Julie–see http://glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com/ for a plethora of healthy-eating wisdom; it’s a delightful journey of literary wit and gastronomic adventures.
Between my semi-weekly visits to Dr. Molly’s house of healing (she doesn’t call it that, but she should) and my new health habits, I’ve felt better than I have in years–no tummy aches or headaches, and I require way less sleep and feel alert throughout my days.
My first introduction of a new food was inadvertent. Who knew canned tuna uses soy? Maybe it’s a preservative or something, I don’t know, but I certainly would not have chosen to introduce anything new during my work day! It was such a tiny amount, but the ensuing tummy ache and headache sent my to the tuna-fish can to read the ingredients. Since I was leaving a few days later for South Carolina and Johnny’s graduation from Army Basic Training, Dr. Molly and I decided I should go back on the detox for my week of travel. It was surprisingly easy to stay on the diet most of the time. I went to a grocery store the day I arrived and bought salad stuff and snacks. There were a few meals we ate on base (food court of the PX), but there was one place that sold salads. The family went to a BBQ place one day–everything was fried, breaded, swimming in BBQ sauce (tomato), loaded with cheese, or (usually) some combination. It looked and smelled delicious, but the way I was feeling every day was strong motivation to “be good.” I was not disappointed to have to resort to a protein shake for that meal.
I have been very slowly trying new things. The foods it seems I can have: eggs, gluten, very limited amounts of coffee (one cup a day, a few days a week, instead of my three or four cups a day every day of the week), and alcohol. This weekend, I plan to bake a loaf of whole wheat bread–I hope that turns out well for me. Unfortunately, a few days ago, I confirmed that soy is poison to me. Without thinking, I ate a protein bar (which was made of soy, and dairy, and soy, and corn, and soy, and dairy, and soy). The next day was rough, the day after that was even worse. Thursday, I was tired, had a headache, and had more pain in my neck than I’d had since I started seeing Dr. Molly. Yesterday, I was in pain to the point of tears, so tired I was muddleheaded and had to leave work early, and (hardest of all for me, I think) an emotional wreck. I spent more time crying than not yesterday. In retrospect, I’m guessing the meltdown was a vortex of several things hitting at once combined with having poisoned my body (causing pain, over-tiredness, and stress).
As I said, my motivation to eat well is strong, and confirmed daily. My daughter likes eating healthfully, as well, and it’s nice to have someone to cook with. Eating out is a challenge, unless it’s to http://www.jasonsdeli.com/ or http://www.soupersalad.com/ or some other place with a self-serve salad bar. Shopping takes a lot longer now because I have to read every label. It seems everything has soy of some form in it, most insidious–soy lecithin (ok, I know it’s not technically insidious, but it sure feels like it!). Well, as my friend Julie (http://glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com/) says, “Honey, that’s why you only eat foods without labels!” Certainly would be easier.
Today, I’m still a little muddly, but I’m feeling a lot better: less pain (probably use an icepack on my neck after I post this), not as emotionally distraught, but still pretty tired. Dr. Molly said it would be three or four days of getting over the assault on my body, but I was hoping it wouldn’t take that long. Seems she knows what she’s talking about… again!