Monday, April 27, 2009

Springtime in the East

I'm enjoying the springtime weather out here. This is Adam, Sam and Julia in the magnolia tree in the backyard yesterday afternoon. These three are munchkins and I'm so happy I've been able to be out here visiting them. Last night after they went to bed Amy, Andrew and I sat on the front porch and sang songs while Andrew played the guitar. It was pure bliss. Just music and friends. 

Amy and I haven't done much painting but we have organized a few rooms, eaten some good food and had some groundbreaking discussions. All good times.

I'm having too much fun and now I remember why you go on vacation--to get away. I didn't realize how much I needed that. I can't wait to get home and plan the next trip. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Motivating Monday

I'm a sucker for a good success story. It's always so heartening to see someone reach for their dreams and achieve them when those dreams seem so unlikely. 

Last week Rus showed us the video of Susan Boyle on the show "Britain's Got Talent" after Sunday dinner. Her voice was amazing and I so loved her story and then she became a massive news story this past week. So, now many of you have likely seen her story, but if not, check it out. It will make you smile with joy. 

There is something so captivating about someone doing what they were born to do. It is simply a gift to watch them doing it. 

This week I'm taking finals and then I'll be out of town for several days helping a friend get ready to move. I hope to post once or twice while I'm on the road, but I'm not sure what my access to the Internet will be like so things may be quiet around here. 

Also, I never gave official stats on the chocolate vs. ice cream poll probably because I couldn't quite bring myself to admit it but even after tallying every single vote, ice cream won by ONE vote. One little vote. I was only comforted by the fact that so many of you mentioned that you what you really prefer is the combination of chocolate and ice cream together. Now, that I can begin to understand. 

So, ice cream fans enjoy your victory and sidle up to a big bowl while you watch the Susan Boyle story. One of them at least should put a smile on your face. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

School Thoughts for Thursday

Between work and school the last week, I've been busy. That and my phobia of writing school papers. I can study and take tests just fine, do the reading without a hitch, go to class, but when it comes to writing a term paper I go into slow melt-down mode. And I LIKE to write. 

All I can tell you is that this particular phobia has been with me for years and years. I took AP English my senior year of high school and I remember all year the teacher made us write and rewrite essays for that test. She hammered it into us. And yet, as I walked into the library to take the AP test on that fateful spring day the only thought that came with any clarity to my mind was "I have no idea what I'm supposed to do in this test." 

That is pretty close to the way I feel every time I write a school paper. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. My mind is usually chock full of ideas but executing those ideas takes hours and hours of labor and usually involves about 673 steps. The problem is that when I write a paper, I try to do all 673 steps at the same time. Which means I end up writing about one word per hour and my brain eventually short circuits after 6 hours and 6 words. You see the trouble it causes me? 

So, I've been working through my school paper phobia this week as class wrapped up. I also was able to sign on with a professor in the program to do some research on parenting for him. I handed in a paper on Monday, took one of my finals yesterday and have a paper, an extra credit project and another final to complete by Monday. None of that stresses me out except the paper. I realize if I'm going to make my dream of graduate school I've got to get over my phobia . . . fast. 

On the good news side, I had my other teacher say some nice things to me yesterday after my final about becoming a therapist. He was very encouraging and I left that final feeling grateful and happy and re-enthused about this entire process. It was just the uplift I needed. 

So, excuse me while I go and bury myself amid papers and projects again.  I'm trying to get through my own phobia so some day I can help you with your phobias. 

At least you can guarantee, I will be sympathetic to your pain. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter


I hope this Easter day is a quiet and peaceful one full of joy and contemplation. I know that for me this week has been a joyful renewal as I've contemplated the hope that springs eternal because of Jesus Christ.

Happy Easter to all.

An Apostle's Easter Thoughts on Christ

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shoulders and Hands and Hearts to the Wheel

Work is always a spiritual necessity even if, for some, work is not an economic necessity. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, May 1998, "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel"
This seems to be a topic consuming my mind lately as I struggle with work that needs to be done and my own shrinking from such work. There is school work and house work and family work and career work and church work and mundane work and there seems to be an endless supply of work to do wherever I look. I'm not saying that is discouraging. Really, it is actually invigorating. What is discouraging is that I still have so much to learn about how to work, what is the best work and even when to not work or when to relax.

Today this thought is encouraging because even with my challenges, I'm grateful to have the energy to want to work and to learn how to work better. Today I'm grateful that I can use my muscles and my brain and my heart and my spirit to work. And that I can come out at the end of the day better spiritually and physically and in so many other ways because I worked.

Good luck with your work today too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hidden Food Allergies

I saw this over on Oprah's site under causes of fatigue. There were thirteen causes of fatigue that were discussed and one of them really struck me because it has been true for me.

While food is supposed to give us energy, some doctors believe hidden food intolerances—or allergies—can do the opposite. According to Dr. Rudy Rivera, author of Your Hidden Food Allergies Are Making You Fat, even mild food intolerance can leave you feeling sleepy. Eat the offending food long enough, and you could find yourself feeling continually exhausted.

"Evidence indicates food intolerance as a cause of fatigue and even suggests that fatigue may be an early warning sign of food intolerance," Rivera says.

If you suspect that food may be behind all that yawning, Rivera says to start with an elimination diet, cutting out foods that cause you to feel sleepy within 10 to 30 minutes of eating them. You can also talk to your doctor about a food allergy test.

I just want to stop and say, YES!!! I am not crazy or imagining things in my head. There is a reason that my energy has multiplied. There is a reason that this is working for me. I am not imagining these results in my head. I am really not crazy.

It is so nice to not feel alone in all of this. It has worked for someone else too. It makes me very, very grateful.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Food Addiction

In conference this weekend, Elder Robert D. Hales mentioned food addiction in relation to debt. I was so interested that he would recognize food addiction in the long list of other addictions like drugs or money. Here is what he said:

Today, I speak to all whose freedom to choose has been diminished by effects of ill-advised choices of the past. I speak specifically of choices that have led to excessive debt and addictions to food, drugs, pornography and other patterns of thought and action that diminished one's sense of self-worth.

I've been thinking about food addiction and what it is and what it looks like. To me, food addiction looks like a never-ending obsession with food. Where can I get it? How can I get it? How much of it can I consume? What is the soonest possible moment I can consume it? When can I eat again?

Addiction is an ugly monster to house in your closet. It is scary and overwhelming and feels very, very complex.

In seeking to overcome debt and addictive behaviors, we should remember the addiction is a craving of the natural man and can never be satisfied. It is insatiable as an appetite. When we are addicted we seek those worldly possessions or physical pleasures that seem to entice us. But as a child of God our deepest hunger and what we should be seeking for is what the Lord alone can provide: his love, his sense of worth, his security, his confidence, his hope in the future and assurance of his love which brings us eternal joy.

In my life, I've found that food addiction is certainly insatiable. There are so many food triggers that set up a craving that is insatiable. How many times have you opened a bag of chips and not been able to put them down until the whole bag is gone? What about baking a batch of cookies? Did you eat every last one? Have you ever dreamed about a food so intensely that you had to make it and eat as soon as possible?

I don't think it is wrong to dream about food, enjoy food, celebrate food and even immerse ourselves in food and feasting at times. I do know though that addictive eating does not usually come with celebration or joy. Addictive eating for me has occurred most often in secret and most often alone. Addictive eating is caused by and sets off a powerful brew of chemical and biological warfare in your body that feels insurmountable.

I've spent so much of my life wishing to be filled and never quite reaching that place. Have you ever had a full-to-bursting stomach and yet you were still hungry? I have. It is the common predicament in our society of being undernourished but overfed. There is too much food that is simply empty of nutrition but filled with white flour, white sugar and saturated fats. Which one of the many food items you purchase each week is filled with one of those items? For me, it has been too many.

The hopeful thing that I would want to share about food addiction is that I believe it is often misunderstood. I think people who suffer from food addiction know that something very powerful is happening in their bodies but have no idea what set it off or how to shut it down.

That's how I felt at least.

I've had a lead balloon feeling in my stomach from too much food and yet I can't stop my brain from thinking about the next thing I'm going to eat.

I've also had the opposite occur when I ate a whole bunch of broccoli that had been roasted with olive oil and pine nuts. After several bites, I suddenly felt very profoundly full, a condition which was just the opposite of my overfed and undernourished state. Instead, I was fed well and nourished well.

Learning how to nourish the body, feed the soul and shut down the addiction--this has been the scariest, hardest journey in my life.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Changing Routines

I'm mostly interested in writing and talking about health lately. It is an obsession that ebbs and flows in my life and six months from now I may only want to talk about design or counseling or good books. I sometimes feel a bit apologetic writing about health here because it is inexplicably linked to weight in my brain and I set up this blog to explore all the other interests in my life like reading and art and cooking and nature. It was a reminder to myself that I'm a whole, well-rounded (oh my gosh, no pun intended) person and so much more than the obstacle that has often been a thorn in my side. 

Yet, I feel a bit stilted in my writing when I'm thinking nearly nonstop about one topic and trying to write about something else. I think this topic is going to hold court on the blog for a while. I'm also writing this as a warning to myself. I still want this to be a place that explores all of my interests. I just don't want to shut the door on letting health topics in for a visit. 

I'm still going strong on the allergy-free diet. It will be twelve weeks this Monday. We went out to a nice restaurant the other night and I succeeded in navigating all the land mines of gluten-free and dairy-free foods. I've despised being "different" for a long time and when it comes to eating differently than others, I've had a hard time. I'm sure my feelings will go up and down about this for many years. I knew ten years ago that I had some kind of food sensitivity and in my own attempt to diagnose it I spent two years off dairy, sugar and meat. I didn't want to give up my beloved carbs like bread, potatoes, pasta, and crackers but I could certainly live without those other things. My health did improve somewhat but after two years, I told my mom one day I was tired of "not being normal." I hated the disruption that my food limitations caused when I was out with friends or visiting others. I so much wanted my body to act like everyone else's "normal." 

It's only taken me the ensuing decade to figure out that my normal is not other people's normal. 

There are benefits and consequences to both. One benefit for me right now is that I feel amazing. My energy level is unprecedented for me. My stress level is much lower. I seem to have the ability to keep up with busyness of my life. That feels spectacular. 

One downside is convenience. I have to make everything from scratch. Which is great that I'm cooking more, but sometimes more difficult when I wish I could just grab a quick bite somewhere. I'm spending a lot of time cooking and I'm learning the art of doubling recipes and freezing the leftovers. Those freezer meals are especially crucial when I'm busy and tired and don't have time to cook. They keep me plugging along. 

My normal looks different than most people's normal. My kitchen cupboards and my pantry do too. I'm most comfortable right now in my own kitchen where I can use my favorite olive oil, I can always make a fruit smoothie and my stock of dark chocolate is very close by. 

Good food and good meals bind us together when we share them in love and conviviality. I think really what I'm most worried about is missing out on both of those because my food will not always look like my neighbor's. I think that is what drives me to find, make and share food that appeals not only to me but to my neighbor as well. I still have a lot to learn about that. 

Welcome to my new normal. 


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