Wednesday, November 05, 2014

NaBloPoMo #5 Listening

Some days it is really hard to know what to say and what not to say. I had a patient today who had a lot to say. She had a need to talk, to get things out, and that certainly is one thing that people do in the therapist's office. Sometimes I feel a need to direƧt that flow, or respond in some way, sometimes people sem to be needing that. Other times they seem to just need to hear themselves say things, to verbally process something, work it through, digest it out loud until it makes more sense than it did simply chading itself around inside their own heads. And sometimes it is important to do this with someone elao rather than alone, and in that case often my job is simply to be there and listen as a witness to the process .And sometimes, they just need to vent, and in that case, my job is just to sit and listen as well.

It was venting time today for my person. She didn't really need to process, and I don't think she needed a witness, or anyone to help her direct the flow, or make sense of things. I think she just had some things she wanted to say that maybe she really dodn't have anyplace to say. A lot of the thingss he things she had to say were really hard for me to hear, hard for me to simply sit quietly and listen to. Her beliefs are not mine, in fact her thoughts about life and the world and just about everything in it are about as far from mine as one could get. She told me about her political beliefs, her thoughts on immigration, her thuoghts on a friend's niece who converted to Islam She shared at some length her own Christian beliefs (fundamental, literal, creationist). I sat quietly, just listening. It was not what I wanted to do. But this is my role in this place. There were things I wanted to say, and in other situations, other roles might have said, but here the point was to let it be and let her talk.

Because in the end, after she was done with her venting she got to talking about her feelings,  her sadness about too many losses, her fears about too much change (and some of those differences I had to wonder) And the only thing I really could say was "It sounds like this has been a hard few weeks, I am glad you could talk about it here."

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

NaBloPoMo #4 Food and Mood

This may be short as it's been a long day and I'm typing on a tablet simply because I am too tired to make the trip upstairs to get the laptop.

I was painfully aware of the food-mood connection tonight as I drove home at least an hour into a blood sugar low that left me cranky and foggy. This has been something I have been giving some thought to since I have been in this process, wondering not just for myself but for my patients, too, how what I/they eat (or don't) contributes to ongoing struggles with anxiety and depression. I know from some of our conversations that many of them do not eat well. sometimes this is because of habit or preference, sometimes because of a lack of good information about nutrition, and sometimesit is about economic circumstance.  It really does cost more to eat all this grass fed, organic stuff. But lately I have been asking a few different questions. Like  "do you ever notice a connection between your anxiety attacks and how long it's been since you have last eaten?" Or asking my really anxious folks about how much caffiene they really do consume, or if they see any connections between sugar and how they feel. It seems kind of simple now that I think about it, but it wasn't really on my radar before.

Monday, November 03, 2014

NaBloPoMo #3 Making Friends

"Our bodies are not our enemies, and we are not fighting a battle. Instead, we are investing our love and attention into the care and support of a beautiful creation—our selves." That was some wisdom this morning from Madisyn Taylor on the Daily Om. 

I spent a lot of my life not really living in my body. I clothed it, fed it and tended it after a fashion, but I don't think anyone was really home, and to a great extent I pretty much ignored my physical self for much of my adult life. This was, at least in part, how a chubby little girl became a seriously overweight woman who, until well into midlife had never seriously made an attempt at weight loss, or honestly even given it much thought.

It's also why when I finally did start "the decade of the diet" I think things went a little off the rails, and I was willing to do some pretty wonky things in the name of weight loss, that "battle" with myself, including being willing to "just not eat" if that was what it took. That is easier with a little help from chemistry to suppress your appetite, so I added that to my arsenal in the war against myself.

And I have won some of the skirmishes. From a high weight of near 300# I have been all the way down to 150, once, briefly. But it was not sustainable, and I bounced up again (though not all the way), and back down to a "happy place" in between-that I maintained for a while-this time through lots and lots and lots of exercise. And then I ran out of time for that, and up.....again to a weight that is more than I want to be and where I had been stuck and feeling really like I was in a constant war with myself, again willing to do whatever it took to "rid" myself of that weight-including restricting calories at a ridiculous level-and proud of it. 

So these, my nutritionist tells me, are the things that must be healed. These are the reasons that all the good things I see happening with my new way of eating have not included significant weight loss as yet. my body is a calorie hoarder, afraid to let them go as she doesn't trust that I will keep feeding her, nourishing her. She is making good use of what I am providing these days, building healthier skin and nails and, I'm sure cells that I cannot see. So I am trying to trust that this other healing will take me where I want to go in other ways as well. That we will eventually be friends and allies in the process, my body and I. That my body will believe that the nurturing calories will keep coming and she can release the stores as they will no longer be needed.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

NaBloPoMo #2 The Food and I Today

So having decided to write something about the "food relationship" the question is, where to start? The history? The context? The current situation? Any one could be a good jumping off place, and any one could give me pages and pages of things to say. I think for today I'm going to stay in the here and now and talk about why I'm thinking so much about my this whole thing right now in the first place.

In July of this year I started a 12-week program to learn about a new and healthier way of eating. Over the last year or so I'd been feeling kind of crummy on lots of levels. I was noticing more and more aches and pains, my energy was low, I wasn't sleeping well, and worst of all I was anxious pretty much all the time about pretty much everything, and nothing. It was just a low, grumbling, free-floating sort of thing, a kind of "doom is immanent" sense that infected just about every corner of my life. On a good day it hovered at a about a two, and it could get kicked into high gear, ramping to a seven or eight by just about anything - having to drive in bad weather, feeling I had done something upsetting to someone, worry about a job issue, random thoughts about things done and undone. And yes, it was definitely affecting my spiritual life as well as everything else.

Because of all this "meh" I had become pretty insular, isolating myself and narrowing life down to the "have-tos" pretty much. Work, errands, the occasional outing with Rick or a friend, the Sunday routine of church and breakfast at our usual spot, and otherwise you could find me on the couch with a book or a screen just passing time.

Sounds pretty dull, right? It was! And it got to a point that it even bored me. So bit by bit over the summer I started looking at ways I might start creeping back toward some kind of activity again, and I started at a place that felt pretty safe, with some yoga. I went back to some classes at the studio I liked, taking mostly restorative and yin classes, and then signing up for some individual consultations with a teacher I like to talk about her take on my situation from an Ayurvedic perspective. She was really helpful and gave me hope that there might be some answers in changes in diet if I was patient and persistent.

Right about that time I "happened" on the announcement that a local nutrition program was opening a branch in the very same yoga studio where I was going to class.  They were starting a 12 week program focusing on nutrition to level out blood sugar and heal metabolism for weight loss by eating real healthy food, and it started in a couple weeks, so I signed up.

So here's what's been going on. Since July 28th:
I have had no soda, diet or otherwise. I have eaten  almost no processed food (on purpose anyway). I have had very little sugar, no white flour, and since August no gluten to speak of. I am trying to limit oils to olive, coconut, or if others, to cold or expeller pressed if I have a choice, I AM eating grass fed beef, free range chicken, eggs, organic butter, lard, cream, lots and lots of vegetables and occasional whole grains in limited servings. I eat three meals and two to three snacks (the idea is to eat every three to four hours to keep a level blood sugar), I am never hungry, have had very few cravings and really don't miss the stuff I used to eat and thought I could not live without. I have been to a Mexican restaurant and watched people drink margaritas and eat nachos without a qualm, I've been to parties and not even been tempted by the cake and cookies (my former nemesis). One ounce of dark chocolate is a permitted treat so that is a go-to if there is a need for something that feels "treat-y." I have fallen off the program a total of three times in three months, once with an overindulgence in ice cream (which in itself is not off limits as a once in a while treat as long as it's the "good stuff" made only with cream, eggs, sugar and no chemicals and eaten in a very moderate serving) and twice with wine (which, well, has few redeeming qualities on a program whose goal is to regulate your blood sugar!) Otherwise my main struggle has been to eat enough protein (4 oz per meal and 2 per snack).

As a result of all of this, these are the things that have happened since July:
My aches and pains are reduced by a LOT!
I have way more energy than I used to.
My hair is growing and it's thicker and shinier than it has been in years.
My skin looks better.
Cuts heal faster.
I am not cold all the time and I even generate heat (for those who know me this is nothing short of a miracle!)
I am sleeping again. Almost every night for a good six or seven hours without even waking up! And then going right back for a couple more. When I wake up I am ready to get up and go.
The anxiety is almost negligible. And when it crops up I can use coping skills to deal with it.
My husband tells me that in general I am a much nicer person to be around. (That is BIG!)
I have lost two pounds and two inches. Yep that's all. In three months And yes this was a weight loss program. Am I disappointed in that part? Oh yeah, most definitely. I wanted the usual results one gets when "dieting," you know 1-2 pounds a week! Well, my nutritionist tells me to be patient, it will come, that I have a lot of "healing" to do. That was kind of a shocker to me. Healing? Yep, healing from the mean and nasty way I had been treating my body in the name of losing weight for the last several years.  I think I'll save that chapter for another day.

Right now, I need to make sure I have everything packed up for my week's lunches, have the fruit thawing for my smoothie snacks and generally have myself organized. That's been the biggest change in this whole thing-I have to THINK about food a lot, but not in the same way that I used to think about food when I was obsessing about having some. It's a mind shift that at first I wasn't sure I liked. I had to shift into thinking about all of this as a way of  nurturing myself, taking care of me at least as well as I took care of everyone else. And that, too, is probably a whole other blog post for another day. This is enough for today.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

NaBloPoMo 2014 #1 Another Story: Prologue

This little blog tells so many stories of the last seven years of my life. The demise and fall of my relationship with XDO, the glorious tale of meeting, dating and falling in love with Rick, all of the wonderful, mundane, silly and glorious stuff that went on back in the day when I wore all the hats and tore around like the energizer bunny keeping all those balls in the air; the stories of L, our finding one another, and sadly my, in the end, losing him to systems that were too much for both of us to fight. The whole little saga of life in my little prairie church, and all the moves, changes and transitions life has brought since then. Although, sadly, the storytelling since then has gotten a lot sparser, as least as far as the blog is concerned, and unfortunately, writing in general, and maybe it's time to change that again.

A lot of the stories in my life are about relationships of one sort or another. It has occurred to me recently that one I haven't blogged about much is my relationship with food, and that is certainly not because there is nothing to say about it. There is certainly history, drama, rises and falls, success and failure, and LOTS of emotion! And it's something that I have been paying a lot more attention to over the last three months. Since July I have taking some intentional steps, with help to revamp my nutritional life in a pretty big way, and seeing some pretty interesting changes as a results (more about that to come). So that, at least in part, is something I am going to  write about in November. I want to do this because I know that writing, especially public writing, is a good way to hold myself accountable to my commitments, and I also want to tell this story, so like many of the other important chapters in my life, this one will be recorded here, too.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Food Nostalgia

While driving back from getting my oil changed this morning, I was listening to a local MPR show  on the topic of "food nostalgia." The host was asking her guests and listeners what foods from the past brought back memories for them. Some remembered terrific and tasty dishes made by (usually) mom or grandma, while others recalled some things that were really not all that great but still had warm and wonderful connections simply because they were made and presented with love, or because they were attached to significant events. Driving along, I flashed on a food nostalgia memory of my own - Frosting Hotdogs.

When I was little, once a week my mom would take me to dance class after school, and while we were gone, my dad would get our evening meal, then known as "supper" ready, to have when we got back. On this particular night, he was going to fry up some hot dogs, using lard, as we did back in the day before we all lived in fear of the fat. The lard we used came from the butcher and was simply kept in a dish in the refrigerator with one of those little plastic hats on it that look like shower caps. We stored our leftovers in the same fashion, and that day beneath a hat, in addition to the lard, there was also some vanilla frosting left from something or another, and dad, moving fast to get those dogs on the table for the hungry dancer, grabbed the frosting dish and fried the hotdogs up in that instead of the lard.

Once we got over the surprise we realized we liked them, in fact, they were really good! They were crisp and sweet, kind of like a glazed ham, and definitely an upgrade over your plain hotdog. I'm sure they were not very high on the health scale with the extra sugar and all, but then we are talking hot dogs fried in lard here! So the frosted hotdogs went into our family cooking roster as a now and again treat. When there would be a need for frosting, sometimes mom would make a little extra on purpose so we could have them. I've made them a few times as an adult, but they are not as good somehow.

When it comes to what feeds us, whether in nostalgia or the here and now, maybe it has more to do with the who, when, and where as much as the what of it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Instructive Din of My Quiet Mind

What is it about lying on a yoga mat and being told to "quiet your mind" that makes mine do anything but?!? I have been going to a lovely restorative yoga class on Sunday afternoons that really consists of nothing much more than assembling oneself in a supported pose and just hanging out for about fifteen minutes doing, at least theoretically, nothing but allowing the ground and the props to hold and support the body while the mind becomes more and more quiet. Mmmm-hmmmm. Let's see, on today's menu we had everything from earworm fragments of several different songs - a little Queen, a couple hymns and a few bars of Kenny G that drifted up from an MPR story I heard about him the other day, I think - the usual distraction of the "what I have to do after class" and the thing that seems to drift in mostly these days when my mind has nothing better to do, my "big questions" about the alignment of my life, work, vocation and all that jazz.

I avoided yoga for a good stretch of time. Avoiding all that quiet space for all that head noise that tells me how much I am not paying attention to how much I need to pay attention. But it's due and overdue. Just like the writing and the singing....all leading back to something (someone?) I'm missing.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lost in Transition?

I kind of knew in the back of my head that it had "been a while" since I blogged. Um...yeah, like a year and change apparently. That's a lot longer than I thought,  so when the postings about NaBloPoMo started popping up on FaceBook it seemed like a good little push in the right direction, and reaffirmed the idea I had lately that this might be something (along with some other somethings) that I really should be considering putting back into my repertoire of daily life.

I find myself wanting to argue with Blogger about that last posting date....September of LAST year? Really? No, it can't be THAT long....can it? Thirteen months and some days since I have recorded more than a post or a tweet about my daily comings and goings? Well, there have been a few journal entries here and there I think, a couple of long-ish e-mails of the more reflective type to friends, and one lonely sermon, but that's it. I wonder where they are going, all those thoughts that used to commit themselves to words on the screen?

Maybe they are hanging out in the same place with the music. I just realized the other day that I don't sing much anymore. Another thing that  I once would have told you was a pretty essential part of my identity that just kind of faded away.....

So, you ask, what DO you do with yourself these days? Well, there's work-four long days and a commute-tired at the end with not much left of me, my sweetie and I have dinner (together on a good day when our schedules collide), try for some good adult conversation, a little screen time and it's off to bed. Fridays I have off, sometimes I play but often that is the day of the appointments and errands- car to the oil change, dog to the vet sort of things. Weekends are catch-up time, we shop and cook for the week, and I do try to squeeze in a yoga class before the week takes off again.

I know that in there there is time, probably lots of it if I look, that I could be spending better than I am. I used to be much, much busier when I wore all those hats and was the energizer bunny. I worked full-time, plus pastored and preached  and served on COM and diocesan committees and the local ministerial association and walked a mile a day with my friend and her dog, wrote on my blog, went to yoga twice a week, and seemed to have time for it all.

It's been over three years now since we moved back to "the big city" and while in some ways it has been good for us, it has also been hard, and I don"t think I am still really settled. Certainly not in the way I was settled into my little life on the prairie. This still comes as kind of a shock to me, as I (somewhat naively I now suspect) expected that I would find things much easier to come "home" to than I did on so many levels. Of course there were things I could not know. And perhaps there were things I should have known and did not. But at any rate, what I expected and what came to be are not at all the same and there are days when I find myself wondering "what if?" But as my very wise husband reminds me "we live with what is not with what if...." and so my challenge now is to make life here and now. And I think maybe some of that is to re-connect with those parts of me that have somehow gone missing. Like things that get misplaced in a move, left in boxes in the back of closets, "until there is time" I need to unearth them, gently dust them off and get them back in plain sight to remind me of what feeds me and brings me mostly deeply to who I am.