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.

 

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

Surfacing From Stomach “Bug” Hell

IMG_20160127_170744

Weight on Monday 5/9/16: 270 (Heaviest in life)

Weight on Saturday 5/14/16: 263 (Did not intend to lose 8 lbs)

I started counting calories and getting more exercise. I rode my bicycle to work and back (also rode to the cafe during break) one day, the next day I rode my bicycle to Safeway for a few things we needed. Wednesday I took a break from exercise but still counted my calories and at that point had lost 4lbs. Who knows why so much, normally it happens in smaller increments. I don’t really care. I was just happy to see the scale drop below my heaviest weight ever down to my previous heaviest weight.

Then at 5am on Thursday morning I woke up feeling sick to my stomach and a little dizzy and needing to throw up. I did not throw up because I held that feeling DOWN – also held down whatever wanted to come up. I couldn’t go to work. I couldn’t read. Couldn’t write. Couldn’t sit up for long or lay down for long or stand up much at all.

Gastroenteritis is my idea of the deep pits of hell. The only thing worse than gastroenteritis is having influenza. I never did throw up but all day yesterday my body revolted and did the only other thing it can do in that situation. It continues today, however I feel a lot better in spite of that. I weighed myself and discovered that in two days with the stomach flu I lost an additional 4 lbs. This was not intentional, obviously.

Ted Cruz was in my dream this morning. We were learning French while trying to get some other business done. I was impatient and also angry that that whiny chauvinist creepy son of a bitch was in my dream. The teacher pointed to her necklace of bachelor buttons and told me to tell her how to make such a necklace of her own. So I faffed around with the sentence “Vous achetez …” but couldn’t find the French word for bachelor button plants and I was running out of time. There were also chickens and kittens getting in an out of blankets and cages they shouldn’t have been and a kitten spraying some bedding. As usual there were also very dark themes going on but I can’t remember what they were.

My first batch of kittens for the year is already at the adoption center this weekend. Hopefully having a great time and hopefully about to find great loving homes to live in.

I’m not sure how much longer I can sit here at my desk. I think I need to lay down for a while again. On the couch. Perhaps to watch a garden show. If I can find a good one to watch.

Later I’d like to put in some more time with my survey data compiling. I’d like to get out into the garden. Not sure if I can do any of that. This 48 hour stomach bullshit is exhausting. You do nothing and get worn out by it.

So I’m off for now. Going to get as inspired as I can via the recovery couch and perhaps inch outside to plant a few squash seeds.

 

Shifts in My Plan

untouched sunset 4This image is completely untouched by photoshop.  We’ve been having some lovely sunsets these days.

So.  Only 4 days until I go sober for at least 3 months.  It looks like I am going to be chemical-dependency- counselor-free due to my psychiatrist not feeling it’s her responsibility to make a new recommendation for one that doesn’t suck.  She actually told me to ask the sucky counselor for recommendations for other people in her office.  What idiot takes recommendations for anything from people they don’t trust, don’t like, and can’t respect?  I’m also very annoyed that she would tell me to do something that feels like confrontation when I have such major social anxieties.

I am also second guessing myself on taking the disulfarim.  However, I have the prescription so I can fill it whenever I want.  What makes me hesitate is that if I take the disulfarim I can’t make my own sodas and I think that would be a great replacement for beer.  I can make spicy ginger soda and maybe do a cranberry soda and a lemon soda.  But there’s infinitesimal amounts of alcohol produced when fermenting your own soda.

A few friends have offered to go sober with me for at least a month, some more.  So I’m feeling like I have some good support.  Not only that, many friends who aren’t going sober are rooting for me big-time.  So I’m still feeling pretty good about this and I’m looking forward to it.

Here’s my new plan:

This weekend I’m getting a few batches of soda started.  Also going to buy Angostura bitters to have in mineral water (as suggested by my friend Lucille), and a few other non-alcoholic beverages.  So come Tuesday I’ll have some good choices of things to drink.

Every evening I will check in on Facebook before settling down to read (after having brushed my teeth) and will report on my sober status.  If I’m having trouble getting to this point I will check in earlier and scream for help.  I will not be watching any/many tv shows for a while because I’m used to drinking while watching them.  (It was hard for me to read for quite a while after quitting smoking because I so closely associated smoking with reading)

I will also post more frequently here to keep my head clear.

If I feel like I can’t do this or I end up having a drink I will go fill that disulfarim prescription and start it immediately.  I can promise myself I will do that.  So I am basically giving myself one  chance to do this without it and that’s it.  I’m not saying this so that I will be accountable to anyone else – just myself.

While this post sat in draft yesterday I came up with an idea.  I’m going to post one reason a day for why I don’t want to drink that day.  For 90 days.  90 reasons I don’t want to drink.  I’ll see how things are going at that point.  If I’ve lost enough weight and feel good about my new routines I might at that point set some new parameters for drinking and try it out.

Also – for anyone wanting to give me encouragement – if I am stressing and being cranky about not being able to drink beer, don’t make suggestions about what I can do instead.  That will just make me crankier because nothing can replace the comfort and deliciousness and mellowing quality of beer.  Not at first, anyway.  A much better approach would be to help me focus on my goals and why I’m actually doing this.  Things like “You want to fit into that polka dotted shirt you have hanging in your office.” or “You want to look more like a Ukrainian schoolmistress than Alfred Hitchcock” or “You want people to stop making assumptions about you because of your weight” or “You want to fit comfortably in  seats on airplanes”  This is much more about really important goals I’m trying to reach than it is about finding replacements for beer.

Okay – only 3 more days to take-off.  I’m totally going to do this.