Wellness 4— Ups & Downs

I should have told you in the first Wellness post: This won’t be just about the good things and the upward progress I intend to make, I’ll also be including those things that are frustrating, and/or setbacks, because a wellness journey is never all positive.

The roller coaster metaphor for life is very true. I recognize the importance of the down times in order to appreciate the up times, and for the most part I enjoy the ride. Even when you’re in the down times you just know inside yourself that it won’t last and better days are coming. It’s not always a period of days or weeks though—- it’s the occasional crazy or just plain frustrating few hours that can make you wish you had stayed in bed. I could probably write a book about those days but I’m afraid whoever read it would be banging their head on their desk by the end! 

Read on for this week’s ups and downs…….

ACTIVITY. I never laughed so hard. The husband and I spent a couple hours one evening dancing to Prince Radio.  Two middle-aged, out of shape fuddy duddies busting a move and just about in tears with our laughter. Oh my. And to top it off, he was quite sore the next day. The memory of that makes me smile every time I think of it. Do you have a memory like that? Memories can be great tools. I like to use them during those down times to remind myself to smile. It’s very effective.

The raw, rainy weather predicted for the weekend hasn’t been consistent. While it didn’t rain yesterday it sure was cold and gray. I did some indoor and outdoor chores but have yet to go walking. Today the sun is playing peekaboo. I should really work on more of those dreaded tasks that I love to avoid. (Or perhaps I’ll keep avoiding them and work on my accessories line instead!)

Does going up and down the cellar steps to do laundry qualify as activity? What if the dryer gives a massive thump when you turn it on and it dies? I lugged the wet laundry upstairs and hung it on the porch. I didn’t trust the gray clouds not to rain on it so didn’t hang it on the clothesline.

FOOD.  Yes I ate some food. Nothing noteworthy so far this week, except the wonderful fish & shrimp chowder the husband made. That and some saltine crackers was very warm and filling in the tummy.

The rest of the week was the usual: lots of veggies, some fruit, lean meats. I’m right at that time of year when I still like making hearty stews and such, but I’m also looking forward to making lighter summer fare and using fresh produce from our gardens.

My guilty pleasure this week was a homemade chocolate pie in a graham crust. Made using an old fashioned recipe (cook the pudding from scratch) and decadently rich. I enjoyed each bite because I know I won’t make another for probably a year. Pies in our house are usually only a winter happening, and mostly either apple or pumpkin.

Today’s meal prepping will include venison stew meat made into a nice gravy with peas and onions. This is great over rice or mashed.

MIND/SOUL. It’s been so nice to see and hear all the wildlife upon waking this past week: turkeys gobbling, deer meandering across the field, two fat gray squirrels chasing each other, a woodpecker close by— banging on a tree. And the husband amongst it all lighting the fire to boil the maple sap. We are very blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Not only do we get to enjoy abundant wildlife, but we have gardens to grow our own vegetables, trees to tap so we can make maple syrup, wild berries to harvest, and the ocean & lakes that gives us marvelous seafood and fish. It makes a soul sing.  

On the other end of the spectrum on the work front are the occasional rude people who have high opinions of themself and behave like children. You hand them the required paperwork and they commence loudly, verbally sighing and growling like the child who doesn’t want to eat his vegetables at the dinner table. The mumbles and complaints continue the entire time they’re filling it out, and then they sit and disparage the magazines in the waiting area because they don’t know what else to do with all that righteous unhappiness they hold inside. This behaviour is invariably from those who are well educated or wealthy. I guess being smart and/or rich doesn’t make a person pleasant or happy. It’s times like these that I bring up those memories that make me smile and know that I’ll be going home at the end of the day to our haven away from the world.

To sum up the week:

  • Memories are a great tool for the wellness toolbox
  • Make your home a haven away from the world, a place you don’t need a vacation from
  • Grumpy people may take it out on you but it’s not about you at all

Savor your moments, whether it’s being with someone else, meditating by yourself, or enjoying a great meal. Recognize that the downs always precede the ups and use the tools in your toolbox to get through them.   👩🏻‍💻

Wellness 3— Not Active Enough

FOOD.  Crunchy things. How I love salty, crunchy things. I’m going to need your help with this one. Is there anything in the world that is salty and crunchy that’s actually good for you? Crunchy in a dry way, like all those wonderful processed chips and snack mix type things. Not crunchy in a moist sort of vegetable way. I’ve tried dehydrating veggies in the past, just because this seems to be the logical choice when you love veggies. But I must admit there was nothing tasty about it.  If you have any other suggestions I would love to hear them. (Please don’t suggest popcorn, nuts, or rice cakes!)

The goal of topping up on veggies was easy this week. For dinners I made sure to max the veg portions and cut down a bit on the meat to make it more balanced. We had boiled dinner for St Patricks day and there was enough leftover to have for lunches at work all week. Yes, all week. My husband cooks enough for ten people even though we are only two! That’s okay— leftovers are great for meal prepping. Simply add other items to come up with new meals.

A new dietary trial: My husband is an advocate of a daily banana. He suggested that eating one every day would help with my painful digestive issues. So at his advice I’ve sliced a half banana into my cereal each morning. Yummy and decidely filling. Another small step on the road to wellness. The verdict is still out on this as more time is needed. I’ll try it for awhile and see how I feel. Do you have a ‘banana/gut experience’ you’d like to share? –Keep it clean please–

ACTIVITY.  The cold windy weather this week certainly doesn’t make me want to be out walking after work. There is still too much snow and ice in the yard, woods, and fields to do anything at all. As you can see from the photo though, it won’t be long now. The activity portion of this wellness journey is off to a slow beginning for sure, at least in terms of getting outdoors and active. My whole being is yearning for warmth and sunshine and tired muscles. (Perhaps I should have taken the name WinterSlug or TheHibernator instead of BrassMermaid!) It’s difficult to watch the sun get higher in the sky each day and know spring is right there, but be so restricted by all that ice and snow. >sigh< Even though the temps are mild today, the wind is very boisterous. We sat on the porch for just a few minutes before we were driven back inside. Tomorrow is supposed to be much nicer and I’m looking forward to spending the day mostly outdoors.  

MIND/SOUL.  I’ve continued focusing on other things in the meantime. Like taking time to tackle nagging tasks.  The one task that I dreaded the most was setting up the label printer for my jewelry & accessories line. I’m happy to say it’s done and functioning after a bit of growling and disagreeing with the equipment. These things never go as smoothly as you’d expect. The fun part is designing and producing the jewelry and other products and getting it all ready to sell.  When I can zero in on something that I find absorbing and pleasing then the world drops away. Creating objects, writing, reading…… these are all undertakings that are thoroughly engaging and relaxing. Often, I come up from a session and need to go outside to see that world is still turning. What gets you so absorbed that you lose track of time and the world around you?

I hope your own wellness journey is progressing along at a healthy clip. Where have your sneakers taken you this year? 👩🏻‍💻

 

Wellness 2— Small Steps Toward Balance

This past week I chose a few small steps to commit to. Since I love vegetables I’m going to incorporate as many as I can into most meals. I had a good time singing along with 70’s country radio on Pandora while making a quiche full of veggies and some kielbasa. (Have you noticed that when you sing with the radio while you’re working in the kitchen then you almost unknowingly get in a few dance moves too?) I like a quiche that is mostly veggies with some meat and then glued together with the egg mixture. I don’t much care for a quiche that is mostly egg mix with a few veggies floating around in it.  You can see from the photo that the meat rose to the top during baking while all the veggies sank to the bottom where you can’t see them. Regardless, it was darn tasty. 

Kielbasa may not be the best choice of meat to use, but this is where the balance comes in for me.  The balance of healthy goodness with something not exactly healthy, but yummy, that also brings satisfaction. Because if you’re not satisfied then you crave something else and the vicious cycle of not getting what you want, then eating something else to get satisfaction, spirals out of control. This has been an issue for me in the past. I think if you eat mostly healthy you can incorporate the less healthy elements into it and be okay.  I try to make meals look appealing too. Sometimes you want a ‘wow’ type of presentation, like a platter of finger food arranged artfully and with good color— a plate of cucumber chunks hollowed out and filled with a lemon-chive neufchâtel cheese with smoked salmon on top and a sprig of herbs, with perhaps some cherry tomatoes scattered about the plate. Sometimes you want a visceral comfort presentation, like a hearty stew bubbling in a cast iron dutch oven on a cold day– it will fill you up, warm you up, and completely satiate you. Can you smell it? 

Fruit isn’t really a food I go looking for, but I like it well enough if it isn’t a melon. Since giving up coffee I’ve substituted orange juice for it. I’m trying to make this more of a habit but find that I forget it some days. Good habits take perseverance so I’ll need to keep working on this. I already drink a good amount of water throughout the day and wanted to incorporate something natural and healthy. Normally I don’t drink soda or sugary beverages (except for hot cocoa in the winter). Coffee and water has been most of my fluid intake (though I am fond of bubbly wine 😇 in moderation). 

The area where I need the most work is activity. Working a desk job takes its toll. 40 hours a week of sitting can be mentally and physically wearing.  I never thought I would say that about an office job. I mix it up by taking breaks to walk around the office and lifting the sit/stand desktop to get the blood circulating a bit, but it isn’t nearly enough to get through the workday. Some days I feel as if I’m going into a coma. In my younger decades I worked in factories and at physically active jobs and went home exhausted every day wishing for the physical relief of office work. Coming home each night sweaty, dirty, with hair full of metal dust and in need of a shower, made me wish I could dress nice for work and come out clean at the end of the day. I guess there are advantages and disadvantages to every job. 

We are always seeking to better ourselves and our situations but we need to remember that we will eventually find the things we don’t like about every situation and even about ourselves after we reach our intended goals. There is always room for improvement. I wish for a bit more activity where I could be up walking around during the workday. But truth be told I haven’t felt well for nearly a year and even a lunchtime walk downtown has been too much. Gasping for air on the return walk uphill to the office is not pleasant and shows me just how far my deconditioning has come. Sad but true. I intend to change that this spring beginning with short walks.

Today was perfect for taking a walk— mild 40’s temps, sunshine, barely a breeze. I didn’t go far but it felt good to stretch the muscles and get the heart rate & breathing up. It feels like spring has finally arrived even though it’s going to get cold again tomorrow for awhile before the real warmup. Tomorrow promises to be a busy day with errands and meal prepping for the work week (more music and bopping around the kitchen!). In order to get more walking in I’ll park further away from the entrances. Every little bit helps. 

Last but not least in my balancing act– the one thing that is imperative for me— my hour at the end each day. I might read, or watch an episode of Downton Abbey, or do some bible study, or make notes about my day, etc. I never miss my hour. This sets the example for how I want my other good habits to be: an imperative part of each day which will not be compromised. Baby steps now are my only choice on this road to wellness and that’s okay. Fatigue still plagues me to the point of being forced to lay down, but I’ll rise to the challenge. My spirit is strong and I have too much I want to accomplish to give in and give up. 👩🏻‍💻

 

Wellness 1– The Journey Begins

As I unfold from winter and reach toward spring the desire to begin a new path to wellness preys on my thoughts. Winter has taken its toll on my body, like always, and it becomes more pronounced with each year that passes. The cold and I are not on friendly terms, so I tend to be indoor oriented and sluggish all winter. I emerge much the same as a bear does, groggy but glad to be awake again. Add to that some health issues that I struggled with for most of last year and you can see why wellness thoughts have sought me out like a predator seeks prey.

Now it’s time to refocus my attention on outdoor activities, fresh air & sunshine, and building some muscles to support the flab. In order to achieve a thorough wellness of body and mind, I’ll need to balance the physical efforts with other activities that bring me peace and serenity. This is not about losing weight. Nor is it about how many steps I can take in a day, even though I do use my Fitbit as an activity motivator and a tool to check on my sleep patterns. This is about taking small steps to getting strong and improving my health. I would love for you to join me and post about your goals, your journey, and what tools you use to help you along.

The first thing I can tell you about here in post #1 is that I gave up coffee a few weeks ago. I’m very surprised that I don’t miss it. Seriously.  I thought I would be miserable without my morning coffee that I’ve been drinking each and every day for the past 30+ years. What I discovered is that I have much less stomach upset, decreased bouts of nausea, and have almost achieved zero intestinal cramping. I’m truly amazed that this beloved, yummy, warming morning beverage could have caused so much bodily upset. This one small step that I thought would be so difficult actually turned out to be effortless and quite an eye-opener. I think perhaps it was more the habit of it that I was dreading losing. It was the one thing I did faithfully every day, without deviation, to begin my day. I’ll confess that giving it up has allowed me to reclaim valuable time each day, time that was previously spent not feeling good enough to do anything, or running to the bathroom with stomach cramps. Then spending time waiting to feel better or to feel like I could go out without needing to be in close proximity to a restroom. All from coffee. Wow. What is your observation of your own coffee habits?

Wellness encompasses mind, body, and soul. As I travel along my path I’ll be writing about my adventures in all these areas. Let’s talk about your journey as well. 

  • What motivates you? 
  • What do you struggle with? 
  • How have you overcome challenges?
  • What do you do just for you that fills you with happiness? 

Join me as I document the journey. Please share your thoughts, experiences, successes, failures and most difficult challenges.  We could learn a lot from each other. I look forward to hearing from you. 👩🏻‍💻

I see you, and so does everyone else.

You are surrounded by glass windows and a glass windshield. Everyone can see you. You must know that. Apparently some folks believe they are invisible when they are behind the wheel of their car. I’ve seen drivers doing a lot of stuff as they pass by going in the opposite direction. And I’ve seen some funky things happening in cars behind me when I glance in the mirror.

Don’t misunderstand. Most of the time when I’m driving I don’t bother to look at people in other vehicles. I’m more concerned with the vehicle itself and our spatial relation as we pass on the road.  But as you and I well know, sometimes actions catch your attention.

Like the gentleman traveling behind me one day while vigorously brushing his teeth. I had to keep glancing in the mirror because he had his windows rolled up tight and I wondered where he was going to spit it. Yuk. I never did see the outcome of that. And that’s okay with me!  

Then there was the lady styling her hair with both hands. How do you steer with no hands on the wheel?

How about the man who was texting with both hands? He had his wrists resting on top of the steering wheel and that was how he kept it on the road.

I like to catch a glimpse of people who are singing and obviously enjoying themselves. That’s a bright spot in my day and lifts my spirits. I always smile to myself. And those who are laughing with a friend bring a smile as well. It’s nice to see random moments of happiness as I pass through the world. Especially in this age of tension. 

Sights I can well do without, but unfortunately see more often than anything else, are people mining for gold in their nose. I’m always astounded by the length of finger that can fit up there!

These things can be a bit distracting, but you really do need to keep an eye on the vehicles around you in case you have to do some defensive driving. Part of that is gauging how you should react to other drivers’ actions and whether they are paying attention. 

I would love to hear what you’ve seen in passing. Share your observations with me?  👩🏻‍💻

Notes From a Knitter

For years I wanted to knit socks and mittens but after growling my way through one sock or one mitten on double pointed needles I gave up. It was little more than an exercise in pain and frustration. Then I heard about knitting two socks at once on two long circular needles wrapped in circles and so I bought a book about it hoping that was the answer. Nope, that’s not happening either. It’s just too much for me. I like things simple and quick. Often I would wish that there were tiny circular needles. It never made sense to me that circular needles weren’t made smaller. I looked at every craft store I went to for the longest time and even mounted a search on the web with no success. 

Scrolling around on Pinterest one day, I discovered that there were tiny circular needles called Addi Turbo! I don’t know how long they have been available but I sure wish I had known about these great little needles years ago. No more fumbling with four misbehaved double pointed needles. No more ladders, loose stitches, needles slipping out of the work, etc. These tiny things are fantastic!

A few years ago I changed from straight needles to circular needles for all of my knitting projects. No more dropping one needle down into the couch cushions, prompting a head-in-the-sand type of hunt where I shove my entire arm down into whatever lives under there. What does live down there in the dark with the crumbs and cat hair? Will it bite me? I never expect to get my arm back! (For the record, I keep a very clean house. Crumbs and cat hair are notorious for climbing out of the vac at night and hiding under the furniture.)

There are two drawers in my sewing desk full of knitting needles and crochet hooks that I have collected over time from relatives, my grandmother, my mother, and also the ones I’ve purchased. Every time I open the drawer clouds of memories rise up to greet me. I appreciate all the work done on these old needles by family members over the decades and will pass these treasures down to my own daughter one day.  In the meantime I have this great set of circular needles (Takumi by Clover) with various size cords to attach to each. They twist on and never come apart while I’m working with them. This is a very compact and portable set so I always have the right size handy.

I love knitting socks now. It’s the perfect size project to tuck in your purse and take with you for those boring moments in waiting rooms, your lunch break at work, waiting for your car at the garage, or anywhere else you’d like the relaxation that comes with knitting a few stitches. Do you carry any small projects with you? What are you currently working on? Let’s talk patterns. 👩🏻‍💻

Simple Pleasures

After a long and mentally exhausting day at work, a coworker told me today that they were looking forward to going home to make a grilled cheese sandwich for supper. They thought that if that was the highlight of their day they must be pretty pathetic. I have an issue with that. Why does anyone have to feel that anything they do is pathetic? Pathetic to who? And who cares what anyone else thinks?

If your creature comfort is a warm yummy grilled cheese sandwich and it’s the bright spot in your day then what could possibly be wrong with that? In this age of social media we have become ridiculously concerned with appearing admirable to others. We place excessive value on being active to the point of being overextended. We place much lesser value on precious moments and small things that bring us pleasure.

Think about it.

What small things bring you pleasure and make you feel good inside?

Personally, I love a warm grilled cheese sandwich that is a tad bit black around the edges. Mmmmm. Warms my tummy and soul. I always make sure to appreciate the small things in life. Otherwise where is the joy of everyday?

  • I like to bury my face in my cats’ soft fur. Joy.
  • I like the smell of onions being sautéed in butter when my husband is cooking. Heartwarming.
  • How about the smell and feel of fresh sheets after they have hung on the clothesline all day? Fantastic.
  • How do you feel on the first warm day of spring when you roll the windows down in your car and turn up the radio? Freedom.

So why do we beat ourselves up when we indulge in simple pleasures? Where does this pressure come from? I’ll tell you what I think from my own observations. We place way too much value on what other people think. You just worry about enjoying the small pleasures in your life and never mind about anyone else. Try it for a week and see if it makes a difference for you. Let me know. 👩🏻‍💻