Psst…

[I broke the barrier…under 200 lbs. today.]

earthlove

 

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Loss

This is a sad post. You might consider taking a pass on this one.

I just discovered last night that a blogger I follow, Rhonda Elkins, has passed away.

I am deeply, deeply saddened. I had been wondering why she hadn’t posted in so long. Checking in again yesterday, I noticed a large number of comments on her last post. So began the realization that Rhonda was gone.

Her story is tragic.

She started her blog as a means to grieve the suicide of her 23 year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, in April of 2013. Kaitlyn was a brilliant, young woman in medical school. She suffered a lifetime of depression, unbeknownst to her family. While enduring the unimaginable loss of her daughter, Rhonda managed to write a book. It is a story of love and heartbreak, and shines a light on suicide, especially the isolated suffering of the gifted. Here is an excerpt from Rhonda’s blog, written just two days before she died:

One Day When I Die…….

Posted on August 26, 2014

by gatito2

Here I am once again, to seemingly come on my blog and brag about my book. But I can honestly say, that though it may seem like I’m bragging, I am not. The reason I ever write about my book or post my reviews is because it drives home the fact that what happened to my daughter has happened to so many medical students, residents, doctors and young people in any station in life. And unfortunately, there are many more depressed students out there scared to get help and we must do something about it. And by doing this hopefully more can be done about this problem. I feel good that it is getting good reviews and though it is no longer in the top 10 of its category, it is still in the top rated section in its category…

Rhonda’s voice was crystal clear. Enduring a lifelong struggle with depression herself, she shared the most heart-wrenching. personal and lonely times of grief, as well as her deep love for her surviving daughter, Stephanie and  her husband, Allyn. I am absolutely stunned to learn that Rhonda too, took her own life. Her voice is missing from the dialogue of how to understand this tragic loss of life. I just can’t believe it.

Tonight I was meditating on the first chakra, the root chakra of safety and security. The centering thought, “My life energy protects and secures me,” (chopracentermeditation.com) caused me to dissolve in a puddle of tears. Why didn’t Rhonda’s life energy protect and secure her? Why?

The pain and suffering of her beloved family is profound. I am humbled in the face of this tragedy. I can only surmise that Rhonda’s pain and suffering was so great and unrelenting that she was unable to conceive of a life with any hope. Knowing her through her writings, I just can’t reconcile her suicide with her intimate understanding of the devastation her death would cause those she loved more than life itself.

Here is a link to Rhonda’s blog, “My Bright Shining Star”:
http://welding81.wordpress.com

And here is a link to her book:
http://www.amazon.com/My-Bright-Shining-Star-Brilliance-ebook/dp/B00JBMLXTA/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

I am so sorry Rhonda is gone.
I hope she is at last able to rest in peace.

rootchakra

Namaste.

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Making Amends

It’s been about three months since I started this blog.

When I was contemplating blogging, I hadn’t intended to have a blog about health. I mostly thought it would be a good way to make sense of my day, to record my thoughts, and maybe post some of my art. But clearly, my writing has centered around health. Not surprising, as improving my health has become my priority over the last few months. All I can say is, “Thank gawd.”

When I look back on the last three years, I am startled to see the mounting symptoms of my deteriorating immune system. In June of 2011, I ventured cross-country with my son on an 7 week, 8000 mile journey cross-country in our old, 24 foot Airstream. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I never felt better. One of the highlights was a week-long Grand Canyon rafting trip. 190 glorious miles of the Colorado River and the majesty of the canyon was almost more than a heart can hold. But what I left behind will forever be counted among one of my greatest achievements. I left behind my cigarettes. I knew there would be no quick trips to the convenience store in moments of weakness. 5 days on the river. That was it. I kicked it.

And it all went downhill from there.

Fatigue, weight gain (40+ lbs), itchy skin, and more fatigue plagued me for the next three years. Each day, I couldn’t wait to get home and get under the covers. I started to worry that I was depressed. I couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm to complete household chores and maintenance projects. I dreaded social events. I just felt tired    a  l  l     o  f      t   h  e       t   i   m   e .    Then one morning I noticed that my eyebrows had thinned, fairly drastically.  The first third of both eyebrows. In fact, once I saw it, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before and wondered if it had happened overnight! This triggered a visit to my physician who promptly referred me to the dermatologist. The doc administered painful cortisone shots to my eyebrows and delivered a serious recommendation to go to an endocrinologist. He said this eyebrow loss could be a symptom of Lupus. Lupus? No way.

Six months later, I remembered the dermatologist’s advice, and decided that I really must find an endocrinologist. I may have something seriously wrong with me. The thought was frightening, but I was ready to face it. I had to figure out why I was so out of sorts.

I literally had the thought after school one afternoon, and the very next morning, at 8 a.m. an endocrinologist appeared! My class and I were making our way to the library to see a science presentation. I had no idea what it was going to be about. Imagine how struck I was when I discovered our guest speaker was an endocrinologist. I couldn’t believe it! I felt the universe was speaking directly to me.

Thus began the my education about the state of my health. When I got the diagnosis of Hashimotos, I had no idea what it meant. I did a little bit a research, concluded it was a common diagnosis, and actually never gave it much more thought. The diagnosis actually came by mail, as my endocrinologist was in the process of moving offices, and she had gone ahead and ordered the blood work, etc. based on a patient questionnaire and medical history that she mailed me. I didn’t actually meet her in the office until this past summer!

Then I visited a naturopath who practices functional medicine. It’s expensive, especially the supplements I’m taking. But as far as I’m concerned it’s worth every penny.  I am finally feeling like myself. And as I get healthier and stronger, I am seeing more clearly the dense fog I’ve been in for so long. I’ve never had a good relationship with food. I’m trying now, to make amends.

So, I have this blog. It turns out I have a lot to say about my health. I suppose I’ll just keep writing like this until I run out of things to say.

It might be a while. After all, I’m turning 50 next year. I’ve got a lot of ‘mending to do.

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This and That

koolkid

I’m feeling  G  O  O  D ! ! !
No school yesterday, so I started catching up on myriad neglected chores and projects~this blog being one of them. Went to the farm and wandered around, picking out items that looked good to me and appealed to my taste buds. By the time I left I had a plan to make my first “pot-‘o-hot.”  Tomatillos, bacon (uncured/no nitrates), red and yellow cherry tomatoes, cilantro, navy beans, onion and garlic, all simmering together into one pot of deliciousness…Mmm.mmm.good.
It was a cozy, grey day. My kind of day.

Been out camping the past two weekends, this last weekend for reunion at my old summer camp. Hung out with some old friends, singing around the campfire. Found a ‘time capsule’ (really just a paper) my friend and I had written back in 1985 in the rafters of one of the cabins. I only remembered it because I had photographed my friend placing it there, and recalled the picture. Wish we had written more. Nonetheless it was thrilling finding it. Apparently the roof is slated to be ripped off and replaced in a couple of weeks. Our capsule would have been lost forever if we hadn’t retrieved it when we did! Great fun.

Finally saw Fed Up. It was good, but not as good as I had hoped. The best part was watching it with my son who seemed pretty moved by it.  The comparison between tobacco execs spouting lies twenty years ago and food industry execs doing the same today about sugar was pretty poignant. Sugar assaults us daily. It’s only with steadfast determination that any person in this day and age can stay away from it.

Got a call today from my endocrinologist’s office. My doctor wants me to double my dose of thyroid medication. I’m all for it. Have started to run out of some of my supplements. This will be my first reorder. It seems significant to me to be going for a second round. Like it means I’m really doing this, this health thing. I’ve been observing my conversations of late. The enthusiasm spouting from my mouth about cutting out sugar, and coffee, and gluten, eating whole foods, and taking vitamins. Holy moly, I hardly recognize myself.  I’m a child of the 70s!!!  I grew up on tv dinners and wonder bread! I was a smoker until three years ago! I’m a sicko!!!  Slap me, wouldja?!

And pass me another glass of that Kool-aid.

My First Hot Yoga Experience

first time doing yoga

I forgot something pretty important.
I forgot that I don’t do so well in heat. Never have. I fainted in a shower once cooling off from a sauna. Hot tubs make me feel faint as well. But oblivious to this well-known fact about myself. I bee-bopped my way into the studio, sporting my new mat and my new towel and my new headband and water bottle, totally unaware of the hot hell I was about to enter. No amount of reading about the heat and the sweat could have prepared me. I went a little early, since I was signing up for the first time. That went pretty quickly so I proceeded into the Hot Zone. I mention this because as a result, I ended up in the heat an extra 10 minutes.

Oh. my. Gawd.

First of all, yoga is not made for apple-shaped gals like me. I’d at least get my forehead and my knee in the same neighborhood if it weren’t for my belly. I marveled at the poses and contortions of the participants. I can’t imagine ever being able to really do these moves. I mean, really. My first sip of water resulted in the instructor telling me something about not drinking during something or another, I didn’t understand her. Dutifully, I put the water down, and waited for the water permission to come…and it never did, and I nearly passed out. When I saw others taking water, I just took their lead. To make matters worse, my new water bottle, unfortunately, does not deliver water into my mouth as fast and desperately, as I felt I needed it. Sort of a soft, airy kind of suck. No good. I was also the only overweight person there. But no one made me feel uncomfortable.

The instructor told me at the beginning that my only goal should be to stay in the room the whole time. If she hadn’t said that, I think I would have left halfway through.  My face was purple, my heart pounding and of course the sweat was pouring out of me. About half way through I was basically laying on my mat the whole time, staying in the room. Truth be told I felt faint at least half the time. But laying on the mat helped me gain composure and I endured, trying poses the best I could.

At the end, I scrambled out of the room asap and plopped myself in the lobby. The cold air instantly made me feel better. My instructor praised me and told me I did really well.  I don’t think so. The teacher said that new people make the mistake of letting too much time pass between visits, that it’s like starting from scratch.

So I guess I’ll try again tomorrow.

 

 

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Hot Yoga?

fat yoga

Have you ever done Hot Yoga?
I haven’t. I’m thinking about giving it a try. For $29 I can go unlimited times in a month.  After that an unlimited month is a whopping $180.

Today I have this dull ache in my lower back and in the back of my thighs. It started last night. Feels a bit the way I feel when I have a fever. Wondering if this is detoxing from coffee and wheat.  Thing is, I don’t feel deprived yet with taking gluten out. We’ve been pretty good this summer avoiding processed foods and had very little bread. Same with the sugar. I bought some black tea and had it with a packet of Stevia. Really like it. I think I’ll be able to transition from coffee to this fairly well.  I’m just not sure what this ache is all about. Definitely not exercise related.

So, I’m feeling like a good body stretch would make me feel better. A colleague of mine did it over the summer and loved it. Also said she thought of me several times thinking I’d love it. I’m a bit intimidated though. I don’t look anything like those pretty little yoga girls. I’m mortified at the thought of exposing my flabby arms. Showing up in my oversized Rangers t-shirt might be blasphemy! Perhaps this is a misconception of mine. The website seems to underscore how okay it is if you’re not flexible or a beginner. I want to ignore my concern about not fitting in. Hell, I’m not much of a fitter-in’er anyway.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt the calling of yoga. It’s always been something I thought I should try. That and meditation. I’ve done some Deepak Chopra meditations this last year, and really liked them. They’re probably like kindergarten meditations in the scheme of things, but a good start for me. Last spring my son and I would even listen to them driving to school in the morning!

Looking forward to getting my copy of Wheat Belly. Might even be in the mailbox now.
I think I’ll go check.

(Remembering my Dad on his birthday today.)

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Buh-bye, Wheat!

images

And coffee, too!

Did you know I’m a coffee snob?  Only the darkest roast, black, cup o’ java for me.
Three or four a day, actually.
Yet here I sit,
bravely,
day 1
with no coffee
AND
day 1 being gluten-free.

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

                                                                                                                                                               Wahhhhhwhahhhhwhahhhh!!!

This is when the fun begins. I’ve just had my second visit with the naturopath~been scrutinized, analyzed, vitalized, and traumatized. Had me a big drink of Kool-Aid, and 24 hours later, diarrhea, headache, fatigue. You get the picture.  Although I only have a mild resistance to gluten on one test, my thyroid and other measures of who-knows-what, are screaming for me to cut out the wheat.

So, while I anxiously await my copy of the Wheat Belly, by Dr. William Davis, and my $200+ of supplements to be delivered, I am actually getting a smidge excited about such deprivation.

This is how desperately I want to feel better.

 

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Mind, Body and Soul

I’ve been thinking about this burden of weight I’ve carried all of my life.  What has been the function of it? Why does it matter?

Early on food was comfort for me.  An only child, with a single working mom and a grandma raising me, I was a pretty lonely kid. Food was my companion. My weight became a hot issue between my mother and me and I resorted to hiding food from her. I was teased through junior high school, but still managed, through all of my school years to be involved in activities.  I had the lead in our school play, frequently sang and played guitar on stage, and was a class officer in high school. I suppose weight protected me from all of those boys, though I longed more than anything to have a boyfriend, to be a part of this mysterious, heart-pounding world that would sweep me off my feet.

I was the girl with the “pretty face.” I convinced myself that any boy for me would have to look past my weight and know my heart. If he couldn’t see it, he wasn’t worth it. Then, in my mid-twenties, I came face to face with that dilemma.  Except I was the one who about to do the rejecting.  And oddly enough, it was a cat who was the object of my rejection. All these years later, the lesson still rings in my heart.

I had been on a teaching assignment about eight hours away from home.  While there I happened to find a dairy farm run by a family with same last name as me. They became my home away from home for a few weeks.  Anyway, where there are cows, there are kitties and I soon found myself attached to them. I decided that I would take one home with me.  The day before my departure, I called Farmer Joe and said that I thought two would probably be just as easy to take care of as one, and would he please pick out another kitten for me to take home? Upon my arrival to pick up my new kittens and bid my farewell, Joe had collected the kittens in the front seat of his pick up. There was ‘Blackie,’ the one who first stole my heart, and to my surprise, two other kittens, brother and sister, cuddled up on the seat. Joe said they were both good kitties, and left it to me to pick which one I would take. One instantly snuggled up under my chin and made himself at home. So sweet…But the other one, she was perhaps the most beautiful cat I had ever seen. She was stunning. I knew she would be coming home with me. And as I put down the snuggler, I stopped in my tracks. I was behaving just like those boys who never glanced my way! Whoa! Had I not noticed in that moment, the choice I was making, I would have left behind the best cat I ever knew. I took home all three.

Before I settled in to my traditional teaching job, the one I currently have, I led a bohemian sort of existence while teaching in less traditional ways. I’ve taught in England, had an assignment in the Middle East, and in several unique arenas in the U.S. Traveling alone in these places I learned more about loneliness, and came to understand that I alone was in charge of my happiness.

Despite all the travel, I eventually found my knight in shining armor right here at home. He saw past the weight, past my “pretty face,” and knew upon meeting me for the first time, that I was the girl he would marry (I still find this hard to believe). My man is much more evolved than me, and probably more in tune with realms beyond the mundane. Twenty-one years later, we’re still together–through thick and thin (pun intended). I’m a lucky girl indeed.

So, back to the function of carrying around all this weight (thanks for sticking with me to this point). In many ways my weight has sheltered me throughout my life. It has certainly been the thing I could hold up as the cause for this or that not working out the way I wanted it to–a barrier to my growth and self-actualization.  My weight barrier has evolved over time.  At first it blocked my loneliness. Then it became a barrier to having the kind of social life I wanted.  It was the ‘reason’ I didn’t have a boyfriend, and eventually, a husband.

What I’m leading up to here, is that I think I’m ready to rid myself of the barrier. I don’t need it. I am fully capable of keeping out unwanted energy.  Likewise, I believe I’m ready to claim my choices,  to go for it (still defining ‘it’). If I don’t succeed, I can handle it, wrap my heart around it. I don’t think I need my weight to be my reason ‘why.’ If I clear away the weight, I can be closer to the source.  The source of me and you.

My body isn’t in alignment with my soul, and it’s time to do something about it.

That, is why it matters.

 

 

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Patience

Haven’t lost a pound in two weeks.
I’m bummed. It means that I likely need to be on a ‘diet’ instead of the weight dropping off of me by virtue of eating healthy. Since sugar/flour/processed food put the weight on, I’d hoped it would be as simple as eliminating those foods to get the weight off.  I’m not giving up, but I’m beginning to think about how I just may need to count calories…or carbs. Because as we know, calories in, calories out. I think I’ll give it through September before I change anything.  My hub feels confident that I just need to be patient.  I’m not on a quick weight-loss plan.

But this is not the way of my life-long weight-loss experience. By now I’m usually getting my second (dieting) wind–feeling energized and like there’s no stopping me! But these days, it seems like I’m doing nothing at all about my weight.  And I have to say, I’m not so sure I’m feeling that much better, either.

Have you noticed I haven’t mentioned exercise? I haven’t been exercising enough. I need to figure something out. Now that I’m back to school, going to the gym is not convenient.  Getting committed to a walking regime right here at home is what I need to do. I’ve just got to get over this back-to-school hump.  I’m just exhausted.

 

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This and That and a Message from the Universe

The pace of my life is picking up.
Today was my first day back to school.
I aim to become more balanced, more positive in attitude, mindful, and less judgmental this school year. This, of course is in addition to my health goals. I was challenged twice today:  I passed on the potato chips and cookies offered at my meeting, and I nearly didn’t succeed in the judgmental department.  Well, I guess you could say I definitely did not succeed in that department, but I recognized it when I felt it, and by the end of the day, released my negative feelings. I’m feeling pretty good now, especially since I am updating my blog.

We got home from vacation late Sunday and I weighed myself Monday morning to face the music. I gained a pound. Wish I hadn’t but I’m not surprised.  There were a few indulgences over the week, but for the most part I’m pretty happy with my eating. I definitely had some of the best fish of my life, and did some hiking. I’m a bit concerned about keeping up with exercising now that I’m back to work. This summer I’ve been going to place relatively far from home to work out as it is where my son has been training this summer. It’s probably just a matter of me lacing up and hitting the pavement outside my front door.  And of course, I do have a treadmill here at home, but I really don’t like it so much. Regardless, I need to come up with something.

Had an interesting experience yesterday at Whole Foods. My son and I have had a routine this summer on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We set out for his training and my workout, then head to Whole Foods afterwards to get fresh food for the next two days, and eat lunch there from the salad bar. As I was checking out yesterday, the cashier said to me, “You’re a good person.”  I was a bit surprised, as I thought of her as being one of the more cranky check out ladies (see how judgmental I am?!?).  “How do you know?” I asked. “Because I’ve been watching you all summer having lunch with your son.”  She continued, “And I’m psychic.  I also know you’re a hard worker.” At this point I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  The psychic stuff is a bit too hocus-pocus for me, but her words were speaking directly to my heart. Then she said, “But you are very emotional, so I am going to stop, but I want you to know that the happiness you seek will come. You will be surprised.” At that point (while I’m bagging and filling up my cart), I am literally fighting back the tears. We talked a bit more … about astrology, about God (yes, all of this while checking out) and I thanked her for kindness and for the twinkle in her eye.  I resisted the urge jump over the conveyor belt to hug her. Before I left, I told her how this was basically my last day of summer (she corrected me to say, “No it isn’t, you have many summers ahead of you”), and that I was feeling particularly sorry for myself on this day, and that her words meant a lot.

On the one hand, I feel pretty pathetic that the kind words of this stranger meant so much (too much?) to me.  But on the other hand, I am amazed at the ways in which the universe provides for me exactly what I need, when I need it. This ‘manifesting’ is something that seems to be happening more and more in my life.  Perhaps not, though.  Perhaps it always has, but I haven’t been quiet enough to notice. Either way, I sent a silent gratitude prayer to the universe for the little gift delivered to me by the compassionate soul behind the cash register at Whole Foods.

What about you?  What are you manifesting?

 

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