Day 14 of 365: Midlife Health Reboot

Sharon’s succulent skull.

Two weeks into my Midlife Health Reboot and my back has gone out, I’ve experienced some really low days, done more exercise than usual, employed some DBT skills to drink a little less, still drank way more than stated goals, have eaten too much cheese but otherwise have been eating really well and healthily.

Today I weighed myself and have gained 1 lb. I’m choosing to see this as inspiration to keep moving forward. On the plus side, my scooter jacket fits a little better than it did last summer when I bought it.

Chillin with my birds makes me happy. Beijing and I watched an episode of Scott and Bailey.

My chicks, my dog, my regular cats, and my foster kittens have collectively represented quite a lot work this past week but I love animals so much that I view it as work worth doing. Still, my senior dog spends an awful lot of time entering a room then freezing in place and staring at me as though I must have the answer to why she ended up standing there OR that obviously I haven’t fed her in weeks (2 minutes ago) and I find this constant intense staring at me unnerving. She also barks at me incessantly some mornings starting between 4:40 am and 5:15 and ending when I feed her at 6am. Or earlier if I reach the end of my patience. But I get it Chick, being old is weird and painful.

Berkeley and Emery’s diarrhea has returned and is really bad. They’ve started medication again. My chicks aren’t doing anything requiring particularly challenging work but I’ve been spending a lot of time holding them to tame them.

Philip and I have been working on their coop and run because chicks grow up in the blink of an eye.

I’ve gotten out in the garden again and it felt FANTASTIC.

Look what I found in my garden: miner’s lettuce! An enchanted wild edible from my childhood.

I didn’t plant this. Finding it when I was weeding was like running into a loved old friend or a favorite forgotten treasure. I weeded around it and am hoping it will thrive and then re-seed itself. I love tiny flowers! Super tiny flowers are so sweet, they lure you into a lilliputian world of magic. I don’t really believe in magic in the literal sense but in the sense that these tiny flowers can pull a giant down to examine and delight in their delicate forms is surely practical magic?

When I was a kid we had miner’s lettuce growing under a very old tree in the very back of our back yard, right across the path from our chicken coop (which is now an apartment) and I would take my barbies for picnics under that tree and I’d take pictures of them dressed in their smarmy late 70’s best attire and I would occasionally eat a few leaves of miner’s lettuce. I remember that tree being a walnut but I realize now as an adult very familiar with walnut trees that that can’t be true. I’ll ask my mom.  Anyway, it gave me such a rush of pleasure to find that volunteer in my garden last night. So add that to my master list of “pleasant events to do or remember doing”: FINDING MINER’S LETTUCE IN MY GARDEN.

We’re drinking some hibiscus rosehip tea with astragalus that I chilled in the fridge and next up is this fine spring brew:

Cleavers, peppermint, and calendula spring tonic tea from the bottom.

I’ll be chilling this to drink as iced tea.

Before I close this post, to keep myself accountable to myself, I will now do (for the first time in about a billion years) exercises I’m supposed to be doing to support my arthritic knee and hip… (save this space).

Okay – I did 5 exercises. That’s the first time in ages and it must become a building block to this health reboot of mine. I can’t help my circulation and heart health if I can’t move due to arthritis pain. I’m told that doing these strengthening exercises will alleviate the pain even though the cartilage in my left knee is half gone (1/2 of knee is bone on bone). It seems so hard to believe but until I actually do it for a long period of time – how will I know? And any kind of body strengthening is going to be great for my over-all health even if it doesn’t do what they promise it will do.

I’m going to log out now and clean up my kitchen and eat some cottage cheese with pineapple and watch murder documentaries and hold my chicks and drink iced chai that I made.

 

Days 4-7 of 365: Midlife Health Reboot

 

Ravioli with beets at Mother in Sacramento.

For four days in a row I got some exercise. You know, because every person on earth says that good health means daily exercise. Ever since breaking my stupid-ass hip this has become a nightmare for my body. I’m feeling bitter right now because it felt good to get moving. I love walking. I love being active. And after four days of being active (and taking ibuprofin before-hand as directed by my various docs) my back is out. My experience for the last 14 years is that I get punished over and over and over again with awful pain of one kind or another every time I exercise. My back has been especially effected since the arthritis in my left knee got bad. The surgeon who I originally consulted with said that increased back problems are common with arthritis in hips and knees because you compensate for the pain and throw yourself out of alignment.

You know what’s tedious and boring? This topic. But it’s germane to my goals.

I refuse to regret walking over Tower Bridge on my brief stay in Sacramento.

What I’m going to have to do is focus on doing strengthening exercises every day for my knees, my back, and my hip. I will take a short walk tomorrow with a friend and not push it.

I’d like to go on record as being so fucking depressed by the state of my body I feel so angry that I tripped and fell 14 years ago because the impact on my health and my life has been shockingly huge.

Watching TV now requires glasses. This is me last night trying to ignore the back pain.

Anger noted and logged. What I know is that this year is going to take a lot of work and that doesn’t mean pushing myself all the time – it means PACING myself. Just as with my mental health, it’s something you work on every day and working on it a little bit every day is how you keep the progress coming. There will be bursts of inspiration and pushing beyond limits, of course. But one key is going to be to ignore most advice from others because while meaning well – most people don’t know all the details that matter because they aren’t my doctors or me.

I still need to work on my wise mind statements. I had to miss the last day of my DBT class due to my back. I think I’ll check out some DBT apps tomorrow and see if any of them are intuitive to me.

For things that bring me pleasure I submit trying new restaurants in new places and this weekend I got my chicks! They get big so fast that I got them Saturday and already they’re developing tail feathers. I’ve missed having chickens so I’m excited to finally be getting a new flock!

This is Lima (as in: Peru). She’s a Speckled Sussex and is 5 days old today.

Having Chickens brings me a great deal of joy. I love the noises they make, I love holding them and feeling their silky feathers, I love watching them take dust baths and strut around looking for tasty scraps. I love it when they follow me around the garden and I love the fresh eggs. Hanging out with chickens was one of the happiest parts of my childhood.

I have to go ice my back again and take more Ibuprofin so I’m logging off for tonight.

Day 3 of 365: Midlife Health Reboot

Pink trees over a field of gold.

I made myself get on the scale this morning to face the sitch, whatever it is. I’m so relieved to say that my starting point is 9lbs lower than I thought. So my starting weight is 271 lbs. It’s a lot, for sure but not worth getting too upset about. That’s where I am.

So far today I’ve been pretty frantic as I prepare for getting 7 chicks tomorrow morning and then head up to Sacramento overnight with some friends. But I also pulled some weeds, helped my mother’s helper, and so far have eaten sensibly. I’m going to have a banana in a minute and then go on a walk with a neighbor friend. Either we’re going to walk around the middle school track or we’re going to head up King to a friend’s house to meet Philip for beer.

Yes, tonight I’m drinking. The last two nights I did not. It wasn’t hard at all as it sometimes is. What I ended up having to urge-surf through was wanting to make a late-night cheese sandwich. I made it through the urge and brushed my teeth. I feel really good about that decision. Wise mind asked if eating the cheese sandwich would be in the interests of our long-term goals and it said “emphatically not!” and so wise mind prevailed. I’m glad it did.

Short entry today. What I need to work on next is developing wise mind statements. I haven’t done that yet and I think it will prove very useful if I have that already prepared.

They look exactly like calendula seeds which is why I believe they’re just a small variety of calendula or in the same family.

I love seeds. I didn’t take any pics today so I’m using ones I took yesterday. I get a lot of joy from flowers and seeds. Before I head off, I’m doing some deep breathing.

XO

Day 2 of 365: Midlife Health Reboot

small succulent plant with bright purple flowers blooming against a wall
Pretty succulent plant seen on my evening walk in the neighborhood.

Today was all about doing my DBT homework which was doing pleasant activities and going through the list of pleasant activities handout and seeing how many of those things I could be adding into my life. If this doesn’t sound like therapy to you – that’s because it seems so weird to purposely put pleasant things on your daily agenda. But if you’ve ever been mired or paralyzed by anxiety and/or depression or other destabilizing emotional issues – you know that sometimes we forget to do all the little unharmful things we enjoy and stick mostly to the more harmful methods of coping. If that wasn’t true, you wouldn’t be in therapy like me and wouldn’t be interested in this shit anyway.

Better Than Bullets, image of small succulent plant blooming against a wall, bright purple flowers
Does anyone of my generation find it pleasant to think about their retirement? You mean like how I’ll be wheeling Pippa all over town in my shopping cart?

In the handout the teachers gave us there are 275 “pleasant events” listed just to give us an idea of what kind of things we might not remember to do/think about when we’re stressed. I found 84 of those things copacetic and also on the list were a bunch of things that actually cause me enormous stress. I’m absolutely aware that the point of the list is that we’re all different and this is just a jumping off point in making my own list.

It’s entirely possible that some people find going to class reunions pleasant while I would rather have a splinter shoved in my eye.

I stopped to take pictures of these wildflowers which I’ve concluded are some kind of tiny calendula.

I’m going to make my own list of 50 pleasant events that are personal to me (in no particular order). If you’re following along and wanna participate – please do! But first, a couple more pictures from today’s adventures.

This is a “pesto” made from kale, chard, and collards that turned out really nice!
Me, doing 2 of my fave things: riding my Vespa and stopping to admire some flowers.

Angelina’s 50 Pleasant Events List:

1.  Driving my Vespa through the countryside or through pretty neighborhoods

2.  Fostering kittens

3. Going out to dinner with Philip and Max

4. Going out to happy hour with my sister

5. Staying in hotels and watching cable TV

6. Hanging out with close friends

7. Cooking

8. Spotting wildflowers everywhere I go

9. Gardening

10. Seeing the local wild turkeys drift through neighborhoods and chatting with them

11. Watching serial killer documentaries

12. Walking barefoot in the garden on a hot day

13. Wading in ice cold ocean water/walking along the beach with ice cold waves washing over my feet

14. Remembering happy trips: Vespa ride to Oregon, family trip to SLC, Glasgow with Zeke and Tara

15. Driving through countryside with Philip

16. The smell of onions being sauteed wafting through neighborhoods in early evening

17. Sitting on our porch when it’s warm out and waving to neighbors, just hanging out

18. Having a nice hot cup of strong British tea with milk and sugar.

19. First cup of coffee in the morning

20. Listening to the sounds of nature whilst not being accosted by arachnids with personal space issues.

21. Taking walks through the neighborhood

22. The sounds of doves cooing in the neighborhood

23. Falling asleep to familiar television shows

24. Sharing my food and potions and projects with friends

25. Being included/invited to things even though I often don’t participate

26. Sitting at a vintage desk typing just about anything

27. Making lists of – just about anything

28. Kittens falling asleep on me

29. Talking with my kid

30. Playing with essential oils and herbs and potions

31. Foraging for food and herbs

32. Processing large quantities of food for preserving

33. Growing flowers I can cut and bring inside

34. Caring for my roses

35. Being in nature (without doing anything extreme like hiking or spelunking or getting killed by serial killers. Just hanging out on a slope on a mountain is peaceful)

36. Hanging out with chickens

37. Wading in a really fucking ice cold creek on a really hot day

38. Making things for other people

39. Cleaning house (but NOT laundry, laundry can go fuck itself)

40. Open windows on a warm but slightly breezy day

41. Being absolutely still and thinking absolutely nothing – listening to the sounds all around me (doubles as a mindfulness exercise)

42. Eating really amazing food

43.  Opera music

44. Hanging around tidepools chatting up the urchins, starfish, and barnacles

45. The hot dry herby smell of the California hills in summer

46. Helping animals, caring for animals, rescuing animals

47. The sting of nettles (no really, it’s peculiar and I rather like it)

48. Reaching personal goals I’ve set for myself

49. Writing (fiction, nonfiction, bullshit, journals)

50. Showing kindness to people whether it costs me a lot or a little or nothing

It’s time for me to go drink some tea. So here’s my check-in with my goals:

I took a short evening walk

I ate really vibrant healthy food that made me feel good inside

I worked on my DBT homework by stopping to take pictures of wildflowers on my way to the store which is something I really love (taking pictures of wildflowers/all flowers) and by spending time thinking about all the activities that bring me a sense of well being (big or tiny, it all counts).

I tried a new recipe while watching serial killer docs.

I did some deep breathing.

And I’m not drinking alcohol tonight.

 

 

 

 

Day 1 of 365: Midlife Health Reboot

Mug shot taken March 13, 2019.

This is the start line, a moment I want to bookmark for myself so that I can look back later to see how far I’ve come.  Because from here on out the only thing I’m going to be working on in my life is getting my health back – until I achieve the goals I’ve set for myself.

All last year I worked on getting my emotional and mental stability back and after a year of therapy I’m in such a better place than when I started.  I’m still in therapy and I’m going to need to stick with it a little longer to help me reach my health goals. I couldn’t even begin to address my physical health goals until I got help with my emotional and mental deterioration.

I couldn’t write this blog while it served as a tool for releasing the mental Kraken from the deep dark waters of my mental illness.

For anyone not in the know – I got diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder this time last year. This is in addition to existing PTSD, Generalized Anxiety, and Major Depression.  The diagnosis, though not expected, wasn’t actually a total surprise. Getting that specific diagnosis gave me a much better idea of what kind of therapy would best address my mental state.

My therapist has been using IFS therapy which has been profoundly helpful and I’m taking my second DBT short course  right now to help support the other therapy.  For DBT to work you have to actually practice it daily. It helps you develop better personal discipline but also requires you to actually use what discipline you already have available to build from.

Me and foster kitten Emery on March 13, 2019.

PLEASE DO NOT OFFER ME ANY DIET OR HEALTH ADVICE AT ANY TIME. UNLESS I SPECIFICALLY ASK A PERSON FOR IT, I DON’T WANT IT.

I didn’t have the courage to weigh myself today but I can, from recent weighings, guess that my weight right now is at 280+/- a couple of pounds.

I have high blood pressure.

I have high triglycerides.

I have bad arthritis in one knee and milder arthritis in my other knee and hips. This causes much pain when I try to be physically active. Sometimes just causes pain, period.

I drink too much alcohol (definitely do NOT ask for details on this – or try to advise me in any way)

THE GOALS FOR THE NEXT 12 MONTHS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

Lose between 80-100lbs in the next 12 months (need to lose 100 but understand it might take longer than a year)

Rein back my alcohol consumption to moderate levels (I know what this means for me but am not going to share that detail for self protective reasons)

Continue to increase vibrancy and variety of diet. Work on portion control and over-all calories. Cook more of the food that makes me feel truly good (mostly Mediterranean style vegetarian food)

Do exercises every day to strengthen the muscles around the knees and hips to reduce arthritic pain as per PT people have suggested.

Continue to work on emotional regulation to support these goals.

Mindfulness/DBT/selfcare practices today:

I vacuumed even though I wanted to avoid it because I knew it would make me feel better if I did.

I did an assortment of other household chores as well. I took quite a few breaks, but it felt good when I could see the difference and FEEL it too.

I made a pitcher of my own blend of hibiscus iced tea for later.

I also made a pitcher of my own blend of chai for icing and while it simmered I did an exercise of being completely present and deep breathing the wonderful spicy steam. It was both grounding and uplifting.

I put makeup on.

I kept reapplying my roll-on essential oil blend Veranda because it makes me feel calm. That’s one of the tools in my DBT box of tools.

I’m off to make a salad for dinner and watch serial killer documentaries. Maybe drink tea. Definitely not drinking any alcohol tonight.

XO

Handling Disappointment Without Self-Abuse

I’m not going to abuse myself any more. I will quash the vitriol I’ve learned to lavish myself with and replace it with a shower of freshly opened carnations warmed in the sun of my garden. I will replace it with the hunger of a bird just out of winter looking for early spring seeds. I will replace it with the love and nourishment I’ve given to the people who’ve abused me.

The words that seep insidiously into my heart every time I think I’ve failed myself or others aren’t MY words. I heard them said to me so often I believed them.  When I stopped being told how small and weak and stupid and slow I was – the part of me that believed I deserved to be punished for every infraction of character, misstep, and stumble stepped up to the task and has been making sure I keep punishing myself just as I deserve ever since.

This is the worst part of abuse. The way you carry on the work of abusers against yourself long after they’re gone or you walk away – their voices live on inside of you.  But now their voice is your voice and you can’t run away from it or scrub it out of you. The longevity and strength of self loathing and self abuse is tremendous.

You can’t undo that shit in a day. Or a month. Sometimes it takes years of painstakingly removing abusive statements you used to think of as truths with a sharp knife, one by one. Sometimes it feels endless. But the amazing thing is that putting that time in will begin to clear your head enough that you can start putting other things in it, better things, wonderful things. Do the work even when it feels like nothing’s changing and you’ll turn a corner. You’ll make a mistake one day and instead of telling yourself your a real piece of shit human, you’ll look at your mistake, figure out how to fix it, and move on.

And if you still feel bad about it you’ll remind yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes because everyone does and that you’ll learn from it and become stronger and better for it if you choose to.

You might not even notice it at first but when you do it’s like growing your flight feathers back.

I disappointed myself today but as the usual self-punishment recording began to play I knocked the needle off the groove and have instead been talking to myself with kindness and patience. I’ve been listening to a different part of myself tonight. The part that keeps the lamps lit on dark nights. The part that insists I grow more carnations because they make me ridiculously happy because I loved smelling them in my mother’s garden when I was a kid. (The garden in the house I loved so much as a kid that I still dream about it today like it’s a person.) I’m listening to the part of myself that knows I won’t be “fixed” in a day, a month, or even a few months but knows that the changes will come on slowly and steadily as long as I keep doing the work.

Tonight I’m listening to the part of myself that knows my true worth.