This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
That's why surrounding yourself with beauty is so important. How beautiful is the room you are in right now? Do you feel uplifted? Inspired? Peaceful? Are you making it a priority to surround yourself with abundant natural light, colors that relax and inspire you, and objects that are useful, beautiful, and comforting?
I didn't realize how critical this was until I moved from a home I loved in Cincinnati: a home that was flooded with sunlight thanks to its southern exposure, plethora of windows, and high ceilings, to a home in Toledo that was deeply shaded by beautiful trees but had dark stained window and wall trim, low ceilings, fewer windows, and a western exposure. I frequently felt depressed in that home. I felt restless. After the discovery of my brain tumor I felt like the low ceilings pressed down on me and the dark woodwork sucked out all the light. If that house hadn't had a sunroom I wonder if I would have had the mental strength to bounce back after brain surgery.
I began a quest to improve that house. You can imagine how thrilled Steve was with the endless list of home improvement projects, but even he had to admit that as the days and weeks went by and I painstakingly painted every inch of that dark woodwork a fresh white, removed any heavy window coverings and improved the lighting to lighten and brighten each room that the house began to feel happier. It wasn't just my perception, though perception is very important, it was a feeling shared by friends and neighbors who visited too. In fact when we went to sell that house every realtor who came through remarked upon how unusual it was to find such a light, bright house in such a heavily wooded neighborhood.
Friday, February 26, 2010
I didn't need an old sitcom to tell me what I already knew from spending a little time in my gym's locker room. There's a lot of Bad Naked going on there. It seems the over 70 bunch is most inclined to stroll around naked in the locker room. There are a few sightings burned in my brain that I would like to share:
Okay, legitimate question: how did I happen to see another woman in the shower? Well, while searching for an empty shower I usually go by the old standbys: sight and sound. If the shower looks empty and I don't hear any water running I think, okay, this shower is empty. Not so with this particular woman. For reasons unknown to me the outer changing room curtain was left open. No items were in the outer area. No water was running. So when I entered the outer area, humming a little tune for courage ('cause you know I hate showering at the gym) and then yanked open the inner curtain I was shocked to see one of the over 70 crowd plastered up against the shower stall wall (actually letting her skin touch that wall!) and gaping back at me. "Oh! Excuse me!" I stammered as I fled the area, the image of a lot of loose skin and veins spread eagled up against the wall burned in my brain. Bad Naked, I was thinking. Looking horrified definitely makes for Bad Naked.
Like the good-little-gym-rule-follower-that-I-am I always change my shoes before entering the gym proper. This means sitting down on the little benches provided in the locker room. This means that anyone standing up has the potential for a lot of Bad Naked right at eye level. One day whilst I innocently was lacing up my shoes unbeknownst to me a woman, about my age, had walked from the showers, completely naked, and had decided to put on lotion. Right next to me. Bent over. I glanced up from my shoes when I sensed someone close by only to be greeted with a rectum about 4 inches from my face. I shot off that bench and out of the locker room like I was being shot out of a cannon. Bad Naked! What the heck? What kind of twisted person do you have to be to bend over like that? Bad, Bad, Naked!
Sighting 3: Bad Naked with a Towel
This was another 40 something woman, in good shape, but still Bad Naked. On the day in question this woman walked back from the shower with one towel around her body and one towel around her head, turban style. Completely reasonable, right? Unfortunately she didn't get dressed before deciding to vigorously towel dry her hair. She's standing, again right next to me (in her defense it is a small locker room), when she wips the towel off her head, flips her head down, and begins to vigorously dry her hair with the towel. Too bad the towel around her body wasn't secured better because it immediately falls down leaving me with an up-close view of vigorous-hunched-over-naked-shaking. It's Bad Naked folks, no matter how toned you are, it's Bad Naked.
There's no judging here. Bad Naked is Bad Naked. When I sneezed yesterday just as I was about to get into the shower, I knew even without the bathroom mirror telling me so: it was Bad Naked.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Big mistake. HUGE mistake.
As soon as I started to move I began to pass gas continuously. I was helpless to stop it! I had to get my legs down, but with every move I made every ounce of air in my body was being expelled out of my butt. In sheer humiliation I began to silently laugh. My shoulders were shaking, my face was flaming, tears were streaming down my face and as I laughed my stomach muscles were contracting and with each contraction, another burst. It went on and on until finally my legs were on the ground.
I didn't know what to say and I was too ashamed to look at my instructor. Inside I'm begging her to just laugh, yell, leave, do anything, but no, the silence just dragged on. Do I dare laugh? Is that rude? Do I apologize? What is the etiquette for passing gas for 2 minutes? I wasn't even sure if I could speak, let alone what I would say!
After a few moments of silence (during which I am convinced my instructor was fighting for control like she had never fought before) she resumed the class as if nothing had happened. We didn't do anymore legs-over-the-head poses (no surprise there) and when it was over she thanked me for coming as usual. I, of course, couldn't meet her eyes. A few days later I received notice that the class had been cancelled due to lack of attendance. Lack of attendance my Aunt Fanny! I think we all know why that class isn't offered anymore at the YMCA/JCC.
I just wonder if that poor woman quit being an instructor for good. Traumatizing it must have been. For both of us. A few months later I moved almost 1000 miles away. Coincidence?
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I quickly sifted through the items in the box (okay boxes, I did have 2), decided I still didn't want any of them, had Steve carry them to the front porch and this morning POOF! they're gone.
They will recycle all my clutter. I don't have the clutter. It took no effort on my part (especially since Steve was the one who carried the boxes!). It's being Green at its best.
Monday, February 22, 2010
The common cold has come to visit and my immune system has let it in. I don't blame my immune system for failing. I have been exposed a lot lately to so many different sick people that my living room began to resemble a doctor's office waiting room. Every child that came to play was hacking and sneezing. Every adult was pale, sweating, and blowing their nose. Steve has been sick continuously since Christmas. My daughter has spent more time at home lately than she has in school. My immune system valiantly fought it all until this past weekend when a combination of too many germs, too little handwashing, too much sugar (ah yes, the sugar addiction haunts me still), and too little exercise all combined to create the perfect storm. I have consumed so many liquids since Saturday evening that I feel like I'm floating. I don't want to even look at another smoothie. The thought of salt water makes me gag. I've run so much saline through my nose that my eyes are floating. Still I suffer. Soon I will take another steamy shower with Olba's eucalyptus oil sprinkled liberally around the tub. I walk around the house with eau du Vick's and a box of tissues. And a water bottle. Or cup of tea. I have apologized profusely to my immune system for the sugar intake (I knew it was a mistake to make caramel corn and chocolate pretzel sticks for the kids last week...), taken Evening Primrose supplements to try to metabolize all that sugar, and now I wait.
See it's never my immune system failing me. It's always me failing my immune system. Our bodies are meant to work so perfectly that if we don't gunk them up they can fight off almost anything with little or no impact on our daily lives. The caramel popcorn and chocolate dipped pretzels? Well, they qualify as gunk. The lack of exercise? Well, that lymph fluid has to get around my body somehow and the only way it does is if I move.
So I'll just keep blowing my nose, thanking my body for producing all that mucus to trap bacteria. And drinking fluids to keep hydrated and keep my lymph fluid from getting too sticky. And walking around the house or even outside if the sun continues to shine to move that fluid around.
I really am in awe of my body's amazing response to a viral threat. I just wish it wasn't so messy and painful.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Mom: "Son, go brush your teeth, then go get a job!"
Son: "Okay Mom, but once I brush my teeth I'll have no motivation and will lack the mental faculties to handle basic decision making."
I promote drinking water.
But is there fluoride in your drinking water? In your toothpaste? In your canned soup? In every product that has 'water' listed as an ingredient? If I was asked to estimate my vitamin C intake I could do a pretty good job. If asked to estimate my sugar intake I could come within a gram or two of my daily consumption. If asked to estimate my fluoride intake I wouldn't have any idea. Was the water in my shampoo fluoridated? Was the water used to wash my 'washed and ready to eat' salad fluoridated? How can I quantify my exposure to a toxin that is put directly into the drinking water in most places in the United States, added to my toothpaste, and has been approved as a pesticide in organic farming!
here (type fluoride in the search bar).
So here are my suggestions: I try to limit my exposure to fluoride on a couple of levels. First I am lucky because my part of Massachusetts does not have fluoride in the water. I have a fluoridated toothpaste and a toothpaste without fluoride and I alternate between the two. I like the Tom's of Maine mint toothpaste without fluoride and the Burt's Bees toothpaste with fluoride. In both cases you get good taste without high fructose corn syrup and/or silica which is in a lot of other toothpastes. I take Calcium and Magnesium supplements to counter the effects of fluoride in my body. I don't use fluoride rinses or allow the dentist to give them to my daughter. I buy vitamins that do not contain a fluoride supplement (many do, you have to read the ingredients).
There are filters you can buy that filter the fluoride out of drinking water. There are letters you can write to city officials petitioning to get the fluoride out of your city's drinking water. There are panic attacks you can have wondering what all this fluoride is doing to your body. You could mix up your own batch of baking soda and salt with a little peppermint extract thrown in for flavor. I think the most important thing is to be aware of what fluoride is and how it may be affecting you. Baby steps, always baby steps.
And if you're ever in Massachusetts, stop by! I'll give you a glass of filtered, refreshing, unfluoridated water. I'll even throw in an organic lemon so you can lose a few pounds...but that's another post...
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I tell you all this to emphasize the importance of a fantastic hair washing experience. Though I frequently practice Speed Bathing, I do make sure that once or twice a week I really take time to pamper myself and that means warm water, yummy smelling shampoo, and fluffy towels. I do love me a good lather, and that used to mean sodium lauryl sulfate which irritates the skin, reduces the skin's immune system capabilities, and can enhance tumor growth. Do any of those things sound good? Then I found Nature's Gate Organics.
here for $4.91.
I don't use this shampoo all the time. When I shower at the gym I carry plain ol' Pantene 2-in-1 shampoo+conditioner in my bag. If I run out of organic shampoo I keep an emergency bottle of Pantene in the linen closet, just in case. (Pantene doesn't have any health benefits to my knowledge, I just like it.)
I try to reduce my exposure to chemicals and acknowledge that I will still have some exposure, sometimes a lot. Sometimes I use Pantene, Secret deodorant, and eat Doritos all on the same day.
Just not every day.
My challenge to you: perhaps you could occasionally use an organic shampoo or conditioner. Maybe you could try using a baking soda paste as a remedy to product buildup instead of a harsh clarifying shampoo. If you don't want to switch your shampoo then try turning down the temperature of your water. The cooler the water temperature the more 'closed' the hair shaft and the pores in your scalp, the more protected you are from chemicals. Bonus: your hair will be shinier and you reduce your carbon footprint.
Oh, eat some Omega-3s and green leafy veggies too. And have a great hair day.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I do all my online bill paying through my bank's website. I've been doing this for about 10 years, though I will admit that when we moved to Massachusetts and had to switch banks and get a new email address it was a little daunting to set up all the bill paying details again. Still, it was worth it because it really does make my life so easy.
A lot of companies with whom I do business have graciously offered to simply suck the money they need right out of my checking account with no effort from me at all. This method is great for all your super-organized-and-have-a-lot-of-money-in-your-checking-account people, but it would never work for me. I need to see in one place all the money that is going to be paid out versus the current balance. I like to move pay dates around sometimes to match up with Steve's every-other-week pay cycle. I like to move whatever money is "left over" to savings as soon as possible. Inevitably I would forget about that one little car payment and have no money in the account when they went to make the online transfer. It's good to know your personality type when choosing a bill-paying method. Especially if you've decided to live "paycheck to paycheck."
Did you know that most banks will even write a check and mail it for you at no charge? I don't know how or why they do it, I am just glad they do. Clearly bankers either 1. always have stamps on hand or 2. don't mind mailing stuff.
I like not having to find an envelope, line up the mailing address in the little window, find a stamp, get my bills out in time for delivery, remember my federal holidays when no mail is delivered, and wait for a check to clear. I like the simplicity of clicking my mouse a few times and BAM, the bill is paid.
No environmental impacts from mail trucks, envelopes, checks, or stamps. And good credit because your bills are always on time. What could be simpler?
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Take a deep breath. Let all that oxygen fill your lungs and enrich your blood. Cancer cannot live in an oxygenated environment, so get as much oxygen into your body as possible. Take a walk outside. Breathe deeply and turn your face toward the sun. Soak in some vitamin D for about 20 minutes because a vitamin D deficiency raises your risk for heart disease.
Tell someone you love them. Connect with friends or family. Join a club. Be active in your community. Studies show that isolated people have a higher rate of heart attacks than those who are connected.
Read a good book (or blog!) the relaxed state you enter while reading lowers your blood pressure. Watch a funny movie because laughing is a fantastic abdominal workout and causes you to breathe harder, thus taking in more oxygen. Take a nap, just 20 minutes can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress. Have great sex...do you really need a reason to have great sex???
Your heart will thank you.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
My problem is with the campaign.
Pepsi, how dare you spend money on this campaign while saving money by using inferior, unhealthy,and carcinogenic sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup as the main ingredient in your product? You want to Refresh the Planet? Start with your own product. You want to make a sweetened cola? Fantastic, make it with organic cane sugar. Bottle it in recyclable glass bottles, not cans made with aluminum that 1. leach toxic aluminum into our soil when they are not recycled, and 2. are made from bauxite which is not mined responsibly and is devastating lives in India and the rainforests in Brazil.
How does contributing to obesity, heavy metal poisoning, and environmental destruction Refresh our world? But the slogan is catchy, it gets celebrities behind it, people feel good buying Pepsi and sales go up. So it's all good, right?
No. Pepsi, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I started looking around my house to see how balanced we were. I was shocked to discover that no picture of me existed in the house! There were plenty of pictures of my daughter, many of them with my husband too, but none of me. I knew I was responsible for this absence because I am the one who makes 99% of the decorating decisions and 100% of the photo placement decisions. I also knew how it happened: over the years as my taste in frames changed and we moved and our daughter was born and pictures were put up and taken down and frames reused and I'm usually the one who takes the pictures which means I'm not in a lot of them so the next thing you know: I've disappeared from the displayed photos.
I immediately went through a box of photos, picked out 3 that I was in and re-did the photo display. There! Problem solved. But then when we moved to our current house and I was putting out the family pictures I noticed something else. There was not a single picture of Steve and me together. We've been married for almost 19 years and yet there was no photographic evidence that we had ever been in the same room together! I remedied that situation as well.
Look around your house. Are you represented? Is it a priority for there to be beautifully framed pictures of you as well as the spouse, children, even pets? If not, why not? For your inspiration, here are some of the photos that now reside in my house:
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I have been training for 11 years. Ever since my darling infant baby girl first began going into apoplectic shock the second I stepped foot into the shower, I took up the art of Speed Bathing. And I'm finding that it's a hard habit to break.
What began as a sanity-saving-get-in-and-get-out-before-that-child-bursts-a-blood-vessel necessity has morphed into a reckless-do-I-really-need-to-shave-those-legs-today race that is fueled primarily by procrastination with a healthy dose of poor planning thrown in for good measure.
I don't tend to leisurely enjoy my toilette.
I intend to. I really do. I have purchased fluffy towels, yummy-smelling-soaps, a PVC-free shower curtain liner, decadent shampoos, and expensive razors. I have my Burt's Bees Royal Jelly Body Lotion strategically positioned on the counter so after my shower I can take a moment and moisturize. I have my razor blade suction-cupped to the shower stall where it won't get wet. I even bought the girlie shaving cream. I go into the shower with all good intentions to pamper, primp, exfoliate, shave, and condition. That is, I go into the shower with those intentions oh, about once a week. The problem is that the rest of the week I go into the shower with T minus 31 minutes until I have to: 1. pick up my daughter from school or 2. be at an appointment that why I didn't just schedule it 15 minutes later I don't know, but that's poor planning for you or 3. Steve is about to burst a blood vessel because instead of showering (like he thought I was doing) I was reading blogs and/or searching for Google Images, so now I have to get showered, blown dry, and dressed before he finishes eating toast.
Here is how it usually happens: I get home from the gym. I intend to immediately shower so my back doesn't break out from contact with my sweaty sports bra. I turn on the water. The phone rings. I have to look to see who is calling because it could be my daughter's school and therefore an emergency. It's Debbie. Or Chellie. I decide to talk for a minute while the water heats up. (These are very interesting women and if you talked to them you wouldn't be able to talk for a minute either, so no judging please). I realize bathroom is filled with steam. I feel guilty and turn water off. I decide to unload/reload dishwasher while chatting, thus being productive. I fold laundry. I make beds. I hang up coats. I straighten cushions and throw pillows. Conversation ends. I really need to shower but look, there is my computer! I'll just quickly check to see if I have any comments on my blog then I'll take my shower. Hey, someone commented! I'll write back so they know I appreciate them. Oh look, one of the blogs I follow has a new entry. I read. I follow links. I find funny youtube video. I email funny youtube video to friends and family. I remember I haven't sent any e-cards lately. I begin perusing e-cards. I send some out. Wait, don't I have a new bill in my email? I read emails. I pay bills. I glance at clock on computer: 2:15!!! I have to pick up my daughter at 2:45!!! I race upstairs, turn on water while pulling off now-stiff-with-dried-sweat sports bra. I jump in shower with water still cold. I shampoo quickly. No time to rinse and repeat!! I mash some conditioner around and soap up. Yes I really need to shave my legs but I don't have time!!! I dry off. Yes I really need to moisturize my alligator skin but I don't have time!!! I blast my hair with a blow dryer while brushing my teeth. I slap mineral make-up on with one hand while pulling out clean clothes with the other. I throw on clothes, grab keys, phone, and coat and run out the door with 2 minutes to spare.
Gold medal caliber I tell you, Gold medal...
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
For me it's cleaning the bathrooms. It's my dirty little secret (ha ha ha) how much I hate cleaning bathrooms. I'm sure it's a holdover from my childhood when I responsible for cleaning the "kids" bath every Saturday before I could watch cartoons. Plagued by 2 brothers with bad aim, a sister with a penchant for bubble baths, hard water, and a very picky mother, I would procrastinate, cry, and try to bargain to get out of that chore. It didn't work. Every Saturday, armed with Comet and Lysol, I cleaned the bathroom.
I have tried everything to make the chore more enjoyable: I have a steamer that blasts steam, sprays steam, or mists steam. I like it, but it's noisy and has to be refilled a lot. I tried using all natural cleaners thinking that perhaps my smug "well aren't I just a Nobel-prize-winning-friend-of-Al-Gore-planet-saving-little-housewife?" attitude would make the chore more bearable. It didn't. I tried using the harshest-but-allegedly-fastest-working-chemicals on the market thinking if all I had to do was spray some toxins around and walk away that perhaps it would be worth sacrificing a little ozone. I don't know how well the ozone faired, but they didn't really work without scrubbing despite what the bottle says. I tried just swiping around with a Clorox wipe a couple of times a week thinking that if I didn't really clean then maybe I wouldn't feel like I was cleaning. After a few weeks of sticky sinks, toilet handles, and faucets I decided that the germs were just sticking to the Clorox residue and besides the guilt from creating all that waste was getting to me, so I stopped.
After living on my own for over 20 years I have finally found the two items necessary to make bathroom cleaning bearable: rubber gloves and my apron with the big center pocket.
It turns out that I'm not adverse to the cleaning part, it's touching what needs to be cleaned that grossed me out. I can clean anything if I just don't have to touch it with my bare hands. Also having spare rags, baking soda, vinegar, and borax (yes, I really am that 'out there') stuffed in my big center pocket means that I have all my supplies readily at hand. And I don't get burned from the steam as much. And my hands are no longer scary-dry and cracked.
Am I alone in this bathroom-touching-aversion? What do you do to make it bearable?
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8-9 ice cubes
1. Combine all ingredients except ice cubes in blender.
2. Blend for about 1-2 minutes, adding ice cubes one at a time.
I know, that’s a lot of sugar, right? Yeah, no wonder it’s so good
Update: A reader emailed me a suggestion to use powdered sugar to make the drink a bit creamier. I’ve been using 1/4 cup regular sugar and 1/4 powdered sugar and it’s fantastic!
6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup soy milk
1 cup water
1 TBSP organic pure cane sugar
2 TBSP vanilla whey protein
1 TBSP psyllium husk
2 TBSP orange-flavored Omega-3 supplement
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8-9 ice cubes
1. Combine all ingredients except ice cubes in blender.
2. Blend for about 1-2 minutes, adding ice cubes one at a time.
I am pretty sure I don't even need the orange juice concentrate. I am thinking I will try it again this afternoon or tomorrow with fresh squeezed orange juice and perhaps add more whey protein or perhaps some kefir for probiotics and bulk.
My daughter loved the drink and I loved giving her something packed with vitamins, protein, Omega-3, and fiber that didn't contain 1/2 cup of sugar (although keep in mind that any kind of fruit juice concentrate is concentrated sugar!) I love smoothies but unfortunately my daughter doesn't like most of them, so this was a good find for me.
Do you have any recipe makeovers that you like? I'd love to read about them.