Natural High

fullsizeoutput_1933

After I posted last night, my friend Ann from NOLA said she was in the process of quitting sugar, too. My former boss commented that he and his wife are doing Whole 30 right now. In that one, you only eat whole foods which means ALL the good stuff – booze, sugar, grains, dairy and legumes – is out the door. I salute them on that challenge. That’s a whole new level of discipline. One of my coworkers at Whirlpool did it in January. The other day I asked him if he kept any of the habits. “I still eat,” he said.

I’m so lucky that my friend Ann here and my sister are both trying to make positive changes in their eating habits and lifestyles, so we are all supporting each other in the journey. Last night, Ann and I chose a restaurant that would make it easy to make good choices and then took a long walk. Today was a gorgeous sunny day, so I texted her again and asked her if she wanted to join me for the sunset and another walk.

fullsizeoutput_1935

We chatted enthusiastically about our new eating plans and how much better we felt and even laughed about our day’s temptations. But I’m happy to say we both got another 24 hours under our belt and even exercised to boot. I feel so good when I’m eating right and exercising, but it’s so hard to keep on keeping on. It really is a “one day at a time” gig, and the challenge is always to keep dusting yourself off and starting over. It’s like ice skating. The first thing they taught me in my lessons was how to get back up. “If you are going to learn to ice skate, you are going to fall,” Mindy said. Falling is not a matter of if …. it’s a matter of when.

The sunset on Lake Michigan was amazing but fleeting tonight. And the cool breeze, lovely river and great company put me on a natural high. Who needs sugar when there is such sweetness in life? At least for today, not me.

fullsizeoutput_1937

Here are the sugar stats for today:

Energy: The slump after lunch disappeared today. My energy stayed pretty steady from the time I got up until now. I’m actually not even beginning to feel sleepy yet, and that’s unusual. When I’m eating sugar, I’m usually exhausted by the end of my workday. But tonight I was totally energized. I did yoga and went for a walk without any resistance.

Sleep: I slept all night last night. When I woke up, it was 10 minutes prior to my alarm set time. I felt rested and didn’t even really need a caffeine boost right away. (I had one anyway, but I could have done without it.)

fullsizeoutput_1932

Cravings: I had some bad cravings this afternoon around 2:30. I am tracking on Weight Watchers, so I decided that I was going to learn something and make a better choice this time. I took my phone so I could use the barcode scanner and went to the little convenience store downstairs. I checked items for sugar first and realized I’d have to go savory. Even somewhat healthy-looking snacks had sugar. I found a bag of jalapeno tortilla chips that didn’t have sugar. They were baked, so they were low points when I scanned them. I ate them, and they were actually delicious. I felt like a rock star. I navigated that with ease.

Mood: I was grumpy when I got to work this morning. I was irritated by every little thing, and I finally realized it. I’m sure it was the lack of sugar. It always makes me more irritable. I had some green tea and that seemed to help my mood.

Brain Fogginess: No difference from yesterday. I was pretty clear-headed.

Joint Pain: I did yoga tonight, and while my muscles were tight, I did not have any pain in my joints.

fullsizeoutput_1936

 

 

Body, Heal Thyself

quitting-sugar-720x387

Okay, I’ve decided I’m committing to 30 days without sugar. I was telling my friend Ann tonight that I really need to develop this attitude about sugar that has a more positive slant. It’s not that I want to give up sugar. No one wants to give up sugar. It’s delicious, and when I eat a bunch I feel like I’ve taken a wonderful drug. Who wants to give that up?

What I really want to do is to take care of my body. I spent so many years eating loads of sugar in response to negative emotions and being bored that I have done a number on my system. It was not unusual after my second divorce to go an entire day eating nothing but chocolate. One of those big bags of Dove chocolates was a single serving on too many occasions. Somehow my body coped with it, but eventually I developed hypoglycemia. Now even a little sugar sets me off on a blood sugar roller coaster. My eating habits have damaged me.

iamruby-website-loveyourbody

So, I want to approach this as an amends to my body. It got me a long way despite my abuse. I would love to commit to a 6 month hiatus to give my body a chance to heal and rest, but I don’t know that I can commit to that. I’ll do it for 30 days. If I’m feeling good enough and want to continue, I’ll do it. Who knows, I might develop some new habits that I enjoy more than eating sugar and certainly more than dealing with the aftermath.

I am now on Day 3 without sugar, and I’m feeling pretty good. I didn’t have any cravings today after two days of really strong ones. I’m eating a lot of fruit to keep my sweet tooth at bay. I know that fruit has natural sugar, but it also has lots of healthy nutrients, too. If I feel like I later need to cut that out, I will. But for now, it seems to have no negative effect. I slept really hard the last two nights, and I’m sure I’ll sleep good tonight too. And, without sugar ramping up my adrenalin, I don’t have an issue with coffee. So, that’s a perk! (Pun intended.)

IQS-Benefits-of-Quitting-page-001

April 4 will be my Day 30. I’ll use this as a journal, so if you don’t want to read about my quitting sugar you may as well take a Midlife Moments vacation. If you’d like to join me, please do so. I know … I know. But it might be good for you! As for today, I’m feeling good. I’m going to measure my progress by detailing the following:

  • Sleep – I’m sleeping harder and waking up less. I’m still a little groggy when I wake up, but I wake up early. And I have great, crazy dreams!
  • Energy – Not very energetic today. I got up at 4:30 to workout. I did workout, but it was pretty painful. I was so sleepy after lunch that I had to stand up in a meeting. But I had plenty of energy after work to meet a friend and go for a walk. It’s 9:18, and I’m getting sleepy but am not super tired.
  • Joint Pain – I’m achy today. I worked out my legs this morning, and they ache.
  • Mood – I laughed a lot today. I mean I really laughed a lot.
  • Brain Fogginess – I was foggy this morning, but I was engaged at work and able to think through things until I got sleepy after lunch. It was hard to rebound even though I drank some matcha.
  • Cravings – I was hungry but was not necessarily craving sweets. I ate a good deal of fruit for snacks.

Goodnight y’all. I’m so happy to go to bed so I can sleep and then drink coffee in the morning!

Channeling My Inner Icelander: Longings

fullsizeoutput_17f5

I spent another day yesterday riding the sugar roller coaster. “Just stop eating it,” you say. “It’s bad for me,” I say. “It’s poison,” say the books that proclaim sugar as the downfall of our health as a country. “It’s an addiction,” say the psychologists and substance abuse counselors. “It keeps you company when you are lonely,” says the addict on my shoulder. “It hugs you when you are scared,” says the devil. “And it’s just so, so sweet,” says my addicted, pleasure-seeking brain. Sugar’s energy sucks the life out of me. Its initial calming effect leads to an unrelenting anxiety. No matter what, I always end up laying awake at night in the middle of a blood sugar crash cursing myself for my dependence.

Today, I vow, will be different. For some people, I assume sugar is not what it is to me. But, for many, I can see that they struggle with the need to eat it for stress relief and comfort. I can see it because it literally shows up on us in anxiety, inflammation and weight gain. As stress levels rise during this time, you can literally see people “puffing up”. I feel helpless in my own spiral. But I know that it is not hopeless. I have been here before.

Girl sitting on the rock by the peaceful sea at sunset.

Yesterday I read an article in the Atlantic about the stunning success Iceland has had in breaking the cycle of drug and alcohol abuse in its teenage population. When the country became alarmed at the addictive spiral of its youth, the country decided to get to the root of the problem instead of trying to manage symptoms. You can read the article here, but the goal was to teach teenagers to handle stress in proactive ways by working with their bodies’ natural body chemistry. As humans, our body chemistry helps us relieve stress if we “lean in” instead of “numbing out”. Some of get stress relief by increasing our energy and soaking in our endorphins. Others need to slow down to quell anxiety. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Meditation works as well as dancing all night long. It just depends on who you are.

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-6-37-29-am

I actually know what works for me. It’s a combination of meditation, exercise, eating right, real connection with others and reading spiritual material. So, when I got up this morning I made my tea without sweeteners and cracked open Ronald Rolheiser’s book Holy Longing. In the introduction, he talks about this longing that we have inside us as humans that is never really satisfied. This desire drives us. It drives us to seek God. It drives us into an anxious state when we are unoccupied. It drives us into all kinds of addictions and modes of escape. We are always in a state of unrequited desire. We have moments of peace. We never have a lifetime of it.

Twelve step groups say addictions of all kinds are an attempt to fill a God-sized hole with something else. We just keep trying and trying to find comfort but it never works. We need more and more to keep that elusive peaceful feeling. We all have different “solutions” to our anxiety. While I pound sugar to get that “high” I like so much, another engages in angry arguments to help them feel smarter than others. A credit card buys all of the things that comfort others. A momentary comfort is experienced in the numbness of substance-abuse. The credit card bills come due, our relationships unravel from the arguing and substance abuse, and my blood sugar crashes from the sugar. We are always left with the remorse and the emotional fallout. Peace – from those things – is elusive.

Writing helps me reframe my thoughts, and I think I’ll approach today differently. With the awareness that I’m feeling a God-sized hole right now for a variety of reasons, I’ll fill it with time with Him and engage in my spiritual practices. I’ll abstain from sugar and let the withdrawal take me. I’ll find a way to connect with others tonight and express my true feelings. I’ll eat something healthy for breakfast and do a yoga nidra… BEFORE reading the news. For today, I’ll pretend I’m an Icelander and deal with the root of the problem.

 

12 Weeks: Reflections on a Spring-Like Evening

 

img_1834

I got biceps!

I just completed my 12 week Virtual Boot Camp. My personal trainer Jessica knows the power of reflection. Just because exercise is physical in nature doesn’t mean that it only impacts our physical bodies. In order to commit to a program of exercise, we have to make daily changes in our lives. And when we make changes in our lives, we can’t help but learn about ourselves. Our tendency is to do whatever we want in the moment. But, when we commit to anything that changes our behavior and follow through on that commitment, we have to face a variety of issues that sabotage us. Jess knows this, and she asked us to reflect on the 12 weeks that we just completed.

fullsizeoutput_17f7

I started that program because I was floundering. It was right before Thanksgiving. I was still in the middle of adapting to the move, winter was settling in, and I was depressed over the outcome of the election. My desire to exercise was there, but the enjoyment of it was not. My energy level was down, and I was eating crap because I didn’t feel like shopping. I was stuck in a day-to-day survival mode. Planning ahead seemed like an arduous task.

fullsizeoutput_17eb

 

I reached out to Jessica because I knew I had to do something, and she suggested this. It was within my budget, and it was 12 weeks long – long enough to get me through the holidays. And the program consisted of three 30-minute strength workouts a week. I could even do them at home. I felt that was totally doable, and when I mentioned it on Facebook, two of my friends decided they needed something, too. We formed a Facebook group, and we were off.

Honestly, I had to drag myself through the exercise for most of the 12 weeks. I started seeing results about halfway through and that got me really motivated. I think I didn’t really believe that I would see dramatic results in 90 minutes a week. But, when I started seeing my abs get some definition, and my biceps bulging, I got a little more motivated. My main motivation was to get in a good habit of strength-training regularly and to do something that I didn’t hate doing. After all, now that the 12 weeks are over, my exercise commitment is not over. This is a lifelong, ever-evolving thing.

fullsizeoutput_17f5

Tonight was an absolutely beautiful evening in St. Joe. It was in the mid-50s, and there was very little wind. I grabbed Ashok, and we went downtown to walk. Throngs of people were out running, walking their dogs and enjoying the surprisingly spring-like weather. The lake was calm, and there were remnants of ice bergs floating near the shore. A kayaker paddled near the mouth of the river, and ducks floated quietly nearby. How quickly things can change in a few days … how drastically things can change in 12 weeks.

12 weeks ago I was 5 pounds heavier. 12 weeks ago I was floundering. 12 weeks ago the Christmas lights on the bluff had not even been strung…. our new organization was still but a dream … winter was just beginning with a massive pile of lake effect snow. The snow that was melting today was freezing into an unbreakable solid shore.

fullsizeoutput_17f9

When I decide that I want to do something, I have to face the pain of following through with that in the moment. A commitment doesn’t just happen. It takes screaming through an exercise that hurts. It takes starting over the next day after I don’t do what I needed to do. It takes support and encouragement. It takes reminding myself constantly of WHY I’m trying to do this. And it takes faith that even though I don’t see results in the moment, it will show results in the end. 12 weeks will come and go regardless. But if I want something different at the end, I have to do something different every day.

fullsizeoutput_17ef

 

12 weeks is a quarter of a year. Even though I muscled through a lot of the boot camp, the last 4-5 weeks felt different. I got more motivated about eating right. I started feeling better. I started feeling a desire to start running. I committed to a regular yoga practice, and I started preparing my meals ahead of time. I believe that when we make positive changes, our bodies change. Our cells turn over rapidly, and I am literally not the same person that I was 12 weeks ago. My energy is different, and when you change your energy, you change your life.

Now, I just have to decide what I want my life to look like … feel likebe like ….at the end of the next 12 weeks. That will inform my agenda for tomorrow.

img_2142

Change is Good

 

img_2064-1

I’m still making it Facebook-free! I think it’s been a week.. or more maybe. I don’t know how long it’s been, and I don’t care. I just know that I don’t miss it at all. I’m finding ways to stay in touch with most of my friends by now in other ways, and that feels really good. Yes, I sort of miss knowing what all is going on in everybody’s lives, but, I don’t miss knowing what’s going on in everybody’s head. Besides, maybe there is something to be said in reaching out to someone instead of lazily stalking their life with no real connection.

img_2065-1

I started using Instagram. I have to admit it doesn’t have the addictive quality of Facebook, but it does offer cute cat videos. I’m calling it the softer, gentler social media outlet. This weekend my friend Cy and I were playing with some of the features. He’s a friend from Louisiana, and he’s sick of the BS on Facebook, too. When I told him about Instagram, he was a little hesitant but thought he might try it. Next thing I know, he’s posting update videos from Livingston of his daily goings-on. He’s becoming an Instagram super user!

img_2063-1

There is a new feature on Instagram called My Story. Apparently, the idea was stolen from the popular Snapchat, but since I never have gotten into Snapchat, I don’t have any judgments. You can upload pictures to My Story, adorn them with text, add the temperature and location and decorate with funny accessories. As the day goes on, My Story grows, and your followers can view it like a slideshow. After 24 hours, it disappears! I had fun on my adventure this weekend chronicling all my stops with videos and pictures. I had a few followers sharing in the fun. They say a picture paints a thousand words, so Instagram is an efficient way to get a point across.

I’m also meeting different people on Instagram. Some of my friends are on Facebook and Instagram, but many of the ones on Instagram are not on Facebook, so I haven’t been “socializing” much with them in years. It’s nice to see my friend Amy’s kids growing up and catch up with a couple of my runner friends in Memphis. It’s just a bit of a different experience, and I don’t find myself obsessed about being on there. I actually have time to read and cook and exercise.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-9-17-27-pm

I subscribed to the New York Times, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. When I was on the News app on my phone, all I got was stories on politics and tragic happenings. Now that I have the Times I try to go in and read some of the features, scour the book reviews, devour the articles about history and occasionally read about politics. The writing is so good. Articles are well researched and actually have a real story behind them. I feel so much better about the world. Yes, there’s drama going on at the White House, but the rest of the world seems to be moving along quite normally.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-9-18-29-pm

My Virtual Boot Camp is almost over, so I’m trying to decide what I want to do next for fitness. I really do miss the heart-thumping cardio from running, so I’m considering getting in shape to run again. I did my first 30-minute run/walk tonight. Injuries have plagued me the last few years every time I got started, but I’m hoping if I take it slow enough I’ll get back into it. I’d like to keep the distance at 5k or 10K at the very most because I want to continue my yoga and strength-training, too. I think marathons are in my rear view mirror. I’d rather be hiking!

img_3497

Will I ever get back to this again? I miss my runs.

I’m continuing to follow Weight Watchers’ maintenance plan, and the accountability has helped me stay on track and actually lose a few pounds the last few weeks. Tonight I made some delicious butternut squash soup, and finished it off with smoked trout from Lake Michigan and some homemade bread with goat cheese. It was delicious! I feel so much better when I’m eating right. I’ve been tempted a couple of times this week to indulge in the crap that is out at work, but I’ve stayed on track due to the “rails” I have in place. I even ate pretty healthy over the weekend while I was out of town. I’m sort of proud of myself.

I head to Chicago this weekend to stay with my friend Nancy. I’m looking forward to being in the city. We might go ice skating, walk around downtown and will probably just hang out and laugh a lot. Meanwhile, I have to get through Thursday and Friday at work. It’s only Hump Day, y’all! Friday’s coming…

8dcbd08fba45be4f118d6c3b3dbe8ff9

 

Sunday Night Check-In: Chillin’

It was a long week last week. Everyday started at 6:30 AM ended around 7:30 PM with a meeting. Luckily, there were slow times in between where I could run home and walk my dog, but I had some very long days even for somebody who usually gets up early. I’m waking up now at 4:15 AM in order to squeeze some yoga in, cook breakfast, take care of the animals and get out the door on time. I appreciated being able to sleep in this weekend even though “sleeping in” is about 6 for me.

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-7-15-55-pm

I started a 31 day yoga practice with a YouTube yoga teacher named Adriene. The practices are about 25-35 minutes, and she varies them from day to day. Her practices are moderate in pace, and she has a great knowledge of meditation and pranayama, too. So, when I saw she started a “Revolution 31-Day Practice” January 1 I decided to give it a try. I’m a little late starting but it doesn’t matter. The sessions are recorded. But I think they will be a better wake-up call for me than hitting a cup of coffee or tea first thing. I did Day 1 today, and I felt so much better after doing it.

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-7-13-19-pm

I’m also in a Virtual Boot Camp. It’s led by my friend and coach Jessica, and it’s a sane but effective strength-training and cardio series. We do three “circuit” trainings per  week which last 30 minutes each. I usually have no issues squeezing them in, but last week’s time suck really knocked me off the program. I only got one circuit done. I’m committing to doing tomorrow’s circuit no matter what, so I just cooked up a bunch of veggies and fruit for tomorrow’s dinner. I can just saute’ a fish filet, and I’ll be eating.

 

Yesterday I met up with another Michigan blogger here in St. Joe. Stacy has been following my blog since I moved up here, and we’ve been chatting off and on about meeting each other. We finally did it yesterday, and it was really fun to talk with another blogger and writer. During our conversation, I found out her boss was one of my best friends! She told me about ice fishing which is a big hobby of hers, and she shared many stories about snowmobiling in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Apparently, the groomed trails up there are very popular, and she said people snowmobile at about 80-100 mph. I’d love to go up there and experience that. But she prefers the slower pace of ice fishing. She explained to me that the huts that I see on the lake are more for parties. Most people just go out on the ice, cut a hole and fish. She brings a Coleman lantern to warm up her fingers when they get cold, and she gave me a tip to wear a mitten over my gloves to keep my hands warm.

I also met up with my friend Karen yesterday and then went ice skating at the local rink. I’m getting better. I’m able to glide a little, but I did fall twice in rapid succession last night. I lived to tell about it, and when I left the rink at the end of the evening, this woman stopped to tell me how good I was. I laughed because I thought she was being sarcastic, but she said she was serious. I don’t know that I’m good, but I am not as scared as I once was, and I am feeling like I’m actually skating now. My friends John and Marge run the concession stand, so I get to visit with them while I’m there. It’s great fun and exercise for only $5 a pop.

I had great intentions to go to the gym this morning, but my garage door opener didn’t work. My car was stuck inside the garage, and I don’t have a door on it. I had to call my neighbor, and her boyfriend came over and helped me. We finally managed to pull the cord to release the door without breaking a window, but it was very cold standing out there trying to do that. It’s an old garage door opener, so I don’t think I can program a new remote for it. I think I’m going to have to get a new one or just do without.

The rest of the day I just cleaned the house, deep-conditioned my hair and got food ready for the week ahead. I took Ashok for a walk at about 5, and it was so beautiful out. The sun was shining, and Lake Michigan was frozen over almost to the end of the pier. Silver Beach was deserted except for a few people taking photographs. I wish that a photograph could show you what it looks like, but there’s just no way to capture the icy magnificence unless you are immersed in it.

Ashok is getting used to her new booties!

I’m seriously considering getting in shape to run again. I don’t know that I want to do long-distance running anymore, but I’d like to be able to run a few miles to get my heart rate up a little higher than when I’m walking. I have something going on with my piriformis right now, so I’m really on the fence of whether I should try to run or not. But it’s just hard to get motivated to go to the gym, and I feel like I need something that’s also good for my soul. Running really fits the bill, and it can be done in 30 minutes. We’ll see where I land on that.

I hope you are noodling some healthy behaviors right now. I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, but I am a big fan of fresh starts. I’ve learned over the years that exercise of any kind gets boring to me after awhile, and I’m always having to change it up. It’s so important for my well-being.

Have a great week, y’all. Get out and move. Your body will thank you.

 

Food, Sugar and Bouncing Back

dont-get-stressed-get-dessert-uploaded-to-flickr-public-files-by-ichabodhides

It has been a crazy 4 months for me. In fact, it goes back even further than that. Almost all of this year has been one stressful event after another. I’m ready for some normalcy. (And I know I shouldn’t ask for that… knock on wood.) I had settled into a very healthy routine in Louisiana with fairly regular exercise and healthy eating with an occasional splurge at Magpie. The fact that I had year-long access to local produce was a huge benefit. But the stress of the last few months has tested my fortitude, and I’m making my way to get back on track.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that in the last few years I’ve struggled with the weird effects that coffee, flour and sugar now seem to have on my body. Any of the three seem to ramp up my anxiety to a level where I can’t sleep at night. I get caught in this vicious cycle of craving and crashing and basically feeling like crap. And, of course, all I craved during this time has been the trifecta of ill health for me. And I indulged. To top it off, my exercise became much more intermittent although I did continue to walk and run/walk on occasion. Ashok makes sure of that. But even my yoga practice has suffered. I haven’t struck a pose in quite awhile.

IMG_7482

My sister started inspiring me about the time I got here to Michigan. She’s started exercising regularly for its health benefits and has really taken to a regular routine of getting up at 4:30 in the morning to “get ‘er done”. Keep in mind that my sister is not a morning person like me. This was something that she decided was in her best interest, and she has willed herself to get up and get going. And she’s having such great results and is so excited about her journey that she inspired me. That’s what’s funny about life. She says I inspired her to get healthier and then she starts inspiring me. It’s why we have each other!

tumblr_nfb0akimd11sh4z0co1_500

I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, and, in fact, at one time I was a Weight Watchers leader. I joined the online program and have been tracking my food and exercise since August. I say that as a broad overview because I have not been consistent, and it has been a struggle. I gained about 8 pounds during my move and the preceding layoff in the spring. While that’s not a bunch, it’s not easy to get off. My clothes were starting to feel too tight, and I’m not willing to invest in a new wardrobe. So I kept with it. I’d fall off the wagon a few days and get back on for an hour or a day or even a few days. My sister was doing it… I had to keep trying!!

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-7-10-30-am

I’m happy to report that I’m within my normal range of weight although I’m looking to take off a few more pounds to allow room for layers this winter. But mostly I’m happy to report that I’ve been reenergized around my battle with sugar. Everytime – without fail – that I fell off the wagon it was because of sugar. And the more sugar I ate, the harder it was to get back on track. And the more days I ate sugar, the more anxiety I had and the worse I felt, slept and thought. It was a great reminder of where I need to be with that white stuff.

A coworker yesterday looked at my beets, sweet potato and tofu lunch and said, “You always eat so healthy.” Well, not really. It may seem that way, but it is a lifelong pursuit that has leveled out to be a fairly healthy diet with a lot of side trips into junk food land. I told my young coworker that I was at the age where there is no more putting it off until later. Food really affects me now, and I want to be healthy and feel good most of the time. I just have to keep remembering that when I fall off the wagon in the future. I know I will. It’s a journey not an event.

amazingdontgive

Meanwhile my commitment is to track all of my food for the month of November – regardless of whether or not I’m happy with what I eat. Maybe I’ll learn a few other things by doing so. The other thing I want to focus on is minimizing my daily sugar intake. I’m allowing myself a little honey. And I may have sugar from time-to-time, but I think my new rule will be that I can only have a sugary dessert with a meal and only once a week at most. I have to break the habit. I’m liking the way I feel, and I’d like to keep it that way. There are plenty of yummy foods out there that are not sweet.

Y’all have a great weekend. 

friday

 

 

Sunday Night Check-In: Never Stop Learning

 

quote

This weekend was relaxing. It was also kind of depressing. I don’t know that I’ve felt down in awhile, but I felt pretty down yesterday. I’ve learned that a down spell is temporary, and it’s also likely following a big push like I’ve had since July. I can push through the mountain of things that have to be done and put my needs on hold, but I pay the price eventually.

Yesterday I felt lonely. I missed my old friends in Louisiana that I could call up and meet at Magpie for a quick espresso and one of their divine scones. I missed heading to my parents for a first visit on Graveyard Island after they returned from New Mexico. I missed my friend JoAnn telling me to come over for her husband’s gumbo. And I missed my new friends here that I haven’t even met yet. For a few hours, I just wished I hadn’t done this.

My friend Tracee introduced me to the Snow app which was some silly fun….

Thanks to technology, I could reach out and ask my friends all over the place for a little spark to get me going. They showed up, made me laugh and posted fun pics of the things we had done together. I still felt lonely, but my step was a little lighter. And there was a spark that reminded me that at one time in Louisiana I felt the same way that I did today. This, too, shall pass. I know that for a fact.

Last week I had lunch with my friend Marv who is a partner at Lark’s BBQ. Lark’s was originally a car wash that served BBQ. Now, they are a successful restaurant that washes cars by appointment. My car has not been washed since I got laid off in April. And I have not been able to bring myself to do it. So I asked Marv to give me an estimate to get it detailed. He wanted to see it, and I reluctantly took him outside to show him. I was so embarrassed at the condition of my car. So, yesterday I decided I would get out and at least remove the first layer of dirt. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop, and I cleaned my car until it sparkled. I still need to get the seats shampooed, but it looks darn good if I must say so myself.

img_0905

This morning I made some Cincinnati-style chili and then bagged up several servings for homemade frozen dinners. And I did a little writing for a friend. I finished washing my clothes for the week, and then I met my friend Nancy for a little shopping. We had a nice short visit, and then I had to head to Kalamazoo for my first ice skating lesson.

fullsizeoutput_1299

Mindy, my ice skating coach, has been skating since she was 5 years old. There were three women in my adult beginner class, and Mindy got us started by teaching us how to fall. “If you are learning to skate, you will fall,” she said. “You need to learn how to get back up.” I asked her how bad it would hurt to fall. She looked at me a little funny, and she said it depends on how you fall. But, she said you get used to it. I wasn’t super-encouraged by her words, but I was encouraged that I learned to get up off the ice the first time I tried. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

I am NOT in this video… 

The lesson was 30 minutes, and then we had “free skate” to practice our skills for 30 minutes with about about 100 kids darting about like little torpedoes. We walked across the ice skating rink about 4 times in order to get used to the ice, and then she taught us to turn around in a circle and skate backwards. Skating backwards was definitely the most difficult. I fell a couple of times during the “free skate” time, but it actually didn’t hurt either time. The first time it happened, it scared me to death. But I was relieved that it finally happened. The anticipation was worse than the event. I lived to tell about it.

fullsizeoutput_129e

It was mostly fathers with a sprinkling of mothers with their kids at “free skate”. The kids were having a ball. One Dad came flying across the rink and stopped with a spray of ice right in front of his little girl. If I had tried that, we’d have both been in the hospital right now. I can only hope I can ever get that confident in my skating.

At any rate, it was a blast, and I kept improving the entire hour. By the time I left I could actually glide a little. I can’t wait until next week to see what we learn. Mindy was extremely encouraging, and she didn’t think it was crazy at all for a 55-year old woman to take up ice skating. “We have to keep learning new things,” she said. She even told me she’s in a group that does snow running and invited me to join them in January.

12193616_10153683409452770_7186757357938772912_n

I was thinking on the way home that it was this time last year that I took my backpacking class. I wasn’t sure I could do that, either, but I wanted to try. It ended up being a hobby that I really enjoy and it helped me meet a bunch of new friends. Hiking season would just be beginning for me in Louisiana after the long, hot summer, but it’s coming pretty close to ending here. I suppose I could get out once or twice before it gets too cold, but I don’t feel like packing a thing much less a loaded backpack. The hiking season for 2016 was interrupted by a move to Michigan. That’s just the way it is.

I hope you all have a good week. Don’t be afraid to learn something new if you’re given the opportunity. The way I see it is I don’t ever have to do it again if I don’t like it. But what if I love it? I’d never know if I didn’t try.

 

 

Great Evening for a Run

 

 

fullsizeoutput_1246

After last week’s push with training and getting my floors done, Monday seemed like a cake walk. I got done with work around 5, and I headed home to get Ashok to go for a long-awaited run. I’ve been sporadic at best the last few weeks, and I’m feeling it. She was boarded last week so I know she was anxious to get out. I could hardly wait to put on a windbreaker and my running shoes to get out the door.

We ran the mile downtown, and I decided that we would head out on the pier beside the lighthouse. When I lived here before, I went out there all the time, but I haven’t been since I moved back. We meandered through downtown, over the sidewalk on the beach and headed out toward the lake.

It was very breezy, and the whitecaps were kicking up and over the lighthouse. I’ve seen it a lot worse, but when it’s worse, you really can’t get out there. It was just a perfect evening to get a feel for the power of Lake Michigan when the wind is blowing off the water. I’d forgotten about the wind here. Louisiana had monsoon rains that blew my mind, and St. Joseph has wind that rattles my windows and makes me worry about the stability of my house.

fullsizeoutput_1242

After hanging out a bit at the end of the pier, we turned around and ran home. I cooked some cabbage soup, roasted carrots and applesauce for dinner, and I was able to actually sit down and blog tonight. I hope the rest of the week brings some normalcy, and I can get back on track with my exercise and eating right.

Good night, y’all!

fullsizeoutput_1240

Science Experiments: Kefir, Cold Brew and Sourdough

IMG_6722

My counter is beginning to look like a science classroom. I’ve been making my kefir, and the grains are growing. When I received the little cauliflower-like blossoms, I had a scant tablespoon if not less. Now, they have grown to about a tablespoon. And, they are making a good two cups of kefir daily. They are busy little grains, and Ashok and I both are enjoying our daily kefir.

Tonight I had a sweet, fresh cantaloupe, and I blended it with a about 3/4 of a cup of kefir. It was really good, and the cantaloupe sugar totally eliminated the sour taste. But I’m starting to really like the sour taste of the creamy yogurt-like liquid. I no longer sweeten it at all like I did when I first started making it. In fact, I put fruit in it one day and let it ferment for a second day. I had read that the fruit would sweeten it naturally. But I actually wasn’t that impressed. I decided to just let it be natural and slightly sour.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 8.18.12 PM

 

My friend Michael emailed me after I wrote the first blog about my kefir and said I should try making a sourdough starter while my other cultured food was percolating. I hesitated at first. I actually baked sourdough bread when I was in my late 20s and was an avid bread baker. But I’ve long since gotten out of that habit due to the fact that one person can’t really eat all of that bread without becoming a fat cow. But I researched it anyway and started salivating over homemade sourdough waffles and buttery sourdough toast. The wild yeast actually pre-digests the gluten, so sourdough bread is less of an issue for digestion for those who are gluten-sensitive. Besides, I could give away beautiful homemade bread for gifts. I don’t have to eat it all!

IMG_6724

So, now I have a bowlful of somewhat bubbly sourdough starter – a mix of water and flour. It’s so easy, but mine is not coming along as fast as the recipe says. They say it may take as long as 3 weeks to get it going good. Meanwhile, I “feed” it every 12 hours with new flour and water waiting for the starter to double in size. When it does, I’ll be ready for baking… and sharing!! So now I can not only give my friends kefir grains as they grow, I can give them sourdough starter.

 

I also have another batch of cold brew coffee “percolating”. I’ve decided that I like it stronger than the original recipe, so tonight I’m using a cup of coffee grounds for the 3-cup French Press. It was actually pretty good today using about 2 3/4 cup coffee grounds, but I thought I’d try this to see if I like it even better. All of these things that I’m doing are unpredictable, and you can’t really follow a recipe. I like it because I can “brew” or “culture” to my tastes. It’s sort of like a relationship. Whatever I bring to it – time, temperature, amount of ingredients – reacts with its natural tendencies to create something unique. It’s really interesting!

IMG_6660

My brother Terry made Ceviche Saturday night. It’s a Mexican food that’s “cooked” by marinating fish in a citrus juice. I’ve had it before, but I had a new appreciation for the technique due to my experiences current experimentation. So, I may have to add that to my overnight “no-cook” food creations. It’s all healthy, and it’s great because I don’t have to turn up the heat on anything to make it hotter in this house.

Tonight I came home and removed the grains from my kefir and poured fresh milk over the grains so I have a new batch tomorrow evening. I sipped on my refrigerated kefir from yesterday while I “fed” the not-yet-super-bubbly sourdough starter and poured water and coffee in my french press for tomorrow morning’s wakeup call. Now all I have to do is relax and go to sleep. My goodies percolate while I’m snoring. What can be easier than that??