Friday, January 26, 2018

Just do it.




I have entered my final semester of college, for my current degree, Health Informatics with a healthy bit of data analysis thrown in for frustrating measure. I'm older, so I had to re-learn how I learn, how to study and how to stay focused on and retain information that I'm not particularly into, or passionate about. Can we TALK about how acronym heavy this field is??? Gah. In a world where we're bombarded with information at lightning speed, where we have measurably shorter attention spans and less ability to retain information due to tools like computers and google, the challenge to be disciplined enough to not only complete assignments, but to exceed basic standards is considerable. I find that our current climate doesn't encourage exceptional achievement, but employers demand it. It's an odd dichotomy.

Today, I have two tests to complete, two chapters of coding to do, and the usual study for my certification exam at the end of my education. I'm an adult on her own, so there's laundry, meal prep (so that I stay on track with my nutritional goals) housekeeping and a vehicle to clean up, as well as various and sundry errands out of the house to accomplish. I dithered for an hour about going to the gym while doing housework. Ultimately, I put on my workout clothes and trudged to the gym, where I ended up getting a really concentrated but amazing workout, back and biceps are weeping right now! I assessed and had to admit that even though I was busy, there was NO reason to skip the gym, I was just busy and had to figure out how to fit it all in. I stopped attempting to make excuses and just did it. Even though I wasn't in the mood. Even though it was inconvenient with regard to workflow, I did it anyway. I do this over and over, every day. I don't always want to study, but I do it anyway. I don't always want to meet my obligations, but I meet them anyway. I simply start the action and then follow through with it. I turn off the tv, or shut the laptop or put down the book, get my butt up and into action, and I do it every single day. That's all it is really, the ability to put one foot in front of the other and to begin the action, and let the momentum carry it through until the end. Go to the gym, pick up the weight, do the repetitions and then move on to the next exercise. consistently, with a purpose and goal in mind. The goal is important, it creates the momentum. Figure out what you're working towards and the impetus will be there.

Daily repetition of habits that are required to build a life that leads to the future that fits the blueprint, the story you tell yourself about yourself and about the life you desire, you require, to feel fulfilled. The blueprint, the story, it's different for each of us. But following that blueprint is essential to arriving daily at the place that fuels us. Anything less is the wrong direction. Nike got it right. Just do it, and do it every single day.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

It takes a village, but we are ALL family.




Recently, I got a wild hair to rewatch one of my old favorites, Criminal Minds, on Netflix. Sylvia, my furbuddy I recently adopted from the shelter thinks it's all a snoozefest, and purrs softly on my chest while I work my way thru the seasons. Today, I decided to hit an ep while I ate breakfast, I've got a few easy days left before school, my last semester, starts next week, and I've been luxuriating in a few days of freedom. There's a scene in which one of the main male characters is talking with his recently deceased wife's sister (the Aunt in this story!!) His wife was murdered and the FBI boss has offered to let him retire to take care of his son. Let me repeat, this man is facing having to give up his career that he's deeply invested in so that he might care for his child. The Aunt gives him a surprised look and then a talking to, stating that she is more than happy to be a part of the care network for her nephew. His expression pained, he states "I can't ask you to do that, even tho I appreciate it very much."

And I found myself feeling all kinds of ways about that. We never used to even QUESTION the place of our extended family, or even trusted mothers from the 'hood to step in and assist with keeping the urchins fed and safe. It wasn't an issue. Ever. It was part and parcel of being family or a neighborhood or a community. It DID take a village, and we darned well knew it. And we simply did it. Children are precious and the future and we knew they required all of us to make it work and get them to adulthood with safety and the kind of examples that stood them in good stead in their own adult lifetime.

When did we get to this place where each household is an island, on it's own and you'd better hope you don't fall on hard times or need anything because it might just be too darned bad, even if family live nearby? And if a woman with children is struggling even tho she's busting her ass, she might lose her kids rather than having a community to help her? We no longer bond as groups or family to help like we used to. Now, true, here in the country, in places where family tends to stick together more, there is a lot more interaction with regard to childcare, but in America overall, this is becoming a rarity. All over, families must have double incomes just to feed the mouths and keep the lights on, and this is even true with parents with degrees and full time jobs! We now live in a time where two educated individuals might struggle to afford the basics with decent jobs. Average Americans are constantly two paychecks from disaster. So to not have any support system is devastating, and the stress it places on parents and the marriage, well I can't even imagine.

When my brother and his wife call me to ask for help with their kids, and they are a blended family with a total of 8 urchins between them (!!) I don't blink. OF COURSE I'LL HELP!!! That's what family does. Those children, even the ones who are not of my bloodline, are MY family and even if the helping impacts my schedule some, if it's at all possible, I'm there. And if the neighborhood kids are in the house as well... I'ma feed and watch over them too. Because I am part of a community and that's the way it SHOULD be! My brother lives in a neighborhood that is a bit of an anomaly, with parents who look out for all the kids that way it used to be back in the day. But I've lived in places where the people living right next door to one another barely spoke to each other, let alone had a relationship. The isolation, the division, the lack of interest in the human beings around us, the apathy- we live in a world of self centered focus, online anonymity and low empathy for other humans that is slowly bringing about societal behaviors that aren't helping us as a species. The division between rich and poor is a yawning chasm. And it seems odd, considering that there are more of us on the planet than ever. Perhaps that's actually the driver for the isolation and division, that, along with technology. I don't know. What I do know, however, is that the children of my brother, his family, they are MY family. They are a part of me. They matter to me. I would no more ignore the need to look after them than I would to do so for myself. The world and humanity is a web, and what we do to the web, we do to ourselves. I choose, daily, to tend to the web, myself, my family and to my community. Because it MATTERS.







Monday, January 1, 2018

Mementos


I decided to redo all my dressers and closet in my spare room and found a folder that the notorious Aunt Lynn, my running buddy, gave me. Inside were letters from the Miss Universe Pageant to my mother, who was a contestant back in the late 50’s, and letters from her parents to her during that time
in Miami. There was a letter from my father to Aunt Lynn and Uncle Harry written when he was in Viet Nam, stationed in Saigon. I found myself drawn into it, the tone and even the handwriting that of a very different man, one that I was too young to know at the time. He spoke of my brother Jeffrey and me, I must’ve been about one and a half years old, Jeff was a year younger. He said I’d be over four years old before he saw me again and he wondered how I’d be. He said Jeff was already as big as I was and three times as mean, but deep down inside he was really sweet like his daddy! Ha ha. Well, he got the mean part right, anyway! Jeff was an ornery tyke, even if he was my best friend throughout my whole childhood, and remains one of my closest friends to this day. 

My father wrote about working twelve-hour shifts, how they told them that the war was going in their favor (oh, not quite…) and how at night he sat and listened to mortar fire all around him. I find myself picturing my young father, just in his twenties, a young wife and two infant children at home, and I’m reminded of my brother Brian, who lived through the exact same scenario years later as he did two deployments in the Middle East. I remember clearly how during those deployments, I sat inthe evenings and thought about him, wondered what he was doing right then (probably sleeping if he was lucky) and praying fervently that he stay safe and out of harm's way. My father and I would talk of him, and his eyes would go far away, and we’d talk about his own time at war. He struggled with desperate fear for Brian, but also pride that he followed in the family tradition of military service, as all of us siblings did. 



 I am sitting surrounded by photos and memories of the lives of those who came before me, those who are part of my days and decisions now and the web of love that binds us together. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Parents, brothers… I am cradled in the comfort of knowing that I have a solid foundation under my feet and even as I mourn the loss of my parents anew with these mementos, I am awash in the knowledge that I come from something special in this day and age. I come from security. Strength. I come from the kind of people who stand tall, work hard, achieve their goals, fight for what they believe in and write letters that speak with tender voices unafraid to love openly. I am so proud of the legacy from which I come, the people who touched my life, the family who shaped me. I only hope I give as much to the family that follow me, and that maybe someday long after I’m gone, one of them will sit smiling as they read my words.



Friday, December 1, 2017

I have an aching need. My mission statement.



Tom Bilyeu. Impact Theory. This guy, his wife, his team... They are amazing, and today while catching up on some vid viewing (it's Friday, and my favorite way to start  Friday is to sip rocket fuel lattes and get pumped with great inspiration)  he articulated what I have understood at a visceral level.

I have an aching need to succeed.


But at what?


It took me a loooooong time to figure it out. A few years ago, what I thought was the worst day of my life turned out to be the first step on the path to finding my absolute true raison d'être . I was forced to let go of sheltering protection, of the confines of security and be exposed, scared and without a fricking clue as to how I was gonna move forward. It was awful at first. I didn't allow myself to freeze up. I took action, I made plans, I just did something, anything, to propel myself in a forward motion. At first, it didn't even matter what it was that I was doing, just that I did SOMETHING. Move. March. Forward. And slowly, things became clearer. Slowly, with the help of friends and family, I figured things out. I allowed myself time to just sit with things. I allowed myself to try new super scary ideas, I reached for things I'd never allowed myself to do before, to study subjects I used to think were too difficult for me. I knew, KNEW I was a scientist, just cloaked in an artist's shell. A chimera, if you will!!! I trusted my own intelligence and I started asking the right questions. I refused to seek comfort or settle for things because they were easy. I refused to quit or give up when things were uncomfortable or stressed me out. When things chafed, I developed grit. But, I had the presence of mind to reject things that were not meant for me. I let go of things I'd invested in to move in different directions that felt instinctively more correct, something I wouldn't have had the courage to do before.  I have an aching need and it now consumes me. I will make an impact on this world. I will leave a legacy. It matters to me more than comfort, more than security, more than money, more than sleep. Well, as much as sleep... after all, sleep matters a lot! 


I made my own body my experiment, n=me. It's awakened some amazing ideas. It's made me expansive. I have cultivated someone completely new out of the wreckage of my old self. Kintsukuroi of the deepest order. I have discovered the awesome power of self-will. I have discovered that I am mighty. That EVERYONE is mighty. I will be part of the wave of people who will give something of value to this world and I will not settle for less. I believe, with all of my heart, that the strength and depth of human potential is nearly limitless and capable of producing amazing wonderful things. I will do this through health, nutrition and wellness. I WILL be part of the new wave of understanding of this, of the absolute objective and intention to make health care personal, PREVENTATIVE, not reactive, and a true improvement in the human condition overall. Yes. That is an insanely high goal, and I am absolutely serious. I have an aching need to be part of a reformation in how we view health and nutrition in this world. There is a wave of change coming, and I want to be part of how it moves, the direction it takes. So get ready, because I'm just getting started.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.





To dream of a plants represents a slowly progressing development in your life. Ideas, plans, or hard work that will take time to realize the full potential of. Something you are patiently waiting for. To dream of watering plants speaks of self-improvement or personal growth that will take time to manifest, to improve an area or areas of one's life. 

People who are experiencing slow or long term healing often dream of plants, planting, growing and or watering them.

Last night, I dreamt that I was in a room that kept shifting in it's nature. One moment it was the outdoors, then a large home, then a cafe', then some other kind of space. The space was filled with plants. They were in all kinds of containers, some of them hanging high out of reach, some of them lining the shelves over a bar in a restaurant exaggeratedly high up on a tall wall, some of them placed around the ground between chairs and tables. These were not delicate stemmed greenery either, some of them were Norfolk Pines, large, vibrant, hearty plants. Some had flowers, big, glorious blooms. Not riotous and chaotic, this was all organized and clean looking, but bold, big shiny leaves or thick trunks, and all the plants conveyed a feeling of strong, healthy organic "aliveness." It was like having a living presence inside the space, these plants were not gentle, were not unobtrusive, but were vividly IN the space.

And they needed to be watered, and I was compelled to do it. Many were well out of reach for me to easily water. I had to find a hose and some kind of device to reach up to the highest hanging plants, and as I was going about this work, people were interrupting me, some of them attempting to dissuade me from completing my task, asking me to stop and provide some action for them. I often had to sidestep people in order to get the job done, but get it done I did. I found a way to water every single one of those plants before my body allowed me to wake smoothly and naturally at 6:oo a.m. this morning.

A few years ago, something clicked in my brain and I knew...I just knew that it was time to start the next part of my life, and that if I reached deep, the method and the path was there. I've had to sidestep and do some serious shuffling, but I've watered my dreams, many that started out high out of reach. I now have a lot more plants on the ground and well within reach than I did before. But everyday, I stand under the highest plants with that turbo charged nozzle and I don't stop until I hear the sound of water on the leaves!
I know that eventually, that plant will sit on the ground at my feet, and I'll move to the next one and do that same thing for it. Water the highest plants, as well as the easiest ones, and never stop reaching for the goal that seems painfully, exhaustingly out of range. If someone is in the way of that that action, step around and then in front of them, and don't let obstacles or lazy thinking determine your margins. Take a breath, sack up and get to watering.

Don't stop when it's hard, don't stop when it hurts, don't stop until you're done.



Monday, November 20, 2017

Strength doesn't come from physical capacity, it comes from indomitable will




Another holiday season is approaching, Thanksgiving is on us already and that means a lot of different things to me. Last week was a "full of feelz" week, the one year anniversary of my father's passing, and I won't lie, there have been more than a few tears.  Most days I still can't believe he's gone. I was blessed with the gift of wonderful parents, both of whom loved us openly and generously, giving to us fully of their time and support. We knew, from our earliest days, that we were the center of their world. They were a unit in raising us, but at the same time, they empowered us to be strong and self-sufficient. My father did me the great service of raising me to be a person, not a girl. He had no concept of the princess mentality, and I changed tires, restored cars, poured concrete, built houses and cooked and cleaned along with my brothers. My father was an amazing cook and he loved family holidays, fussed over the stove and wanted it all perfect. It amused me to no end in my early teens to see this muscled he man following a recipe and carefully folding whipped egg whites into batter to make a pillowy perfect cake, topped with raspberry and velvety whipped cream. I will have a bittersweet season knowing that he won't be there with us.

I've gone from pleased with my health and fitness journey to feeling like it's not going well, up and down 10 times a day for the last week or so. My clothes fit looser and looser, exercise pants that were almost too snug now bag on my legs and at the hips, and my body is reshaping itself weekly. I'm down firmly in "one"derland, under 190 for the first time in forever, and losing at minimum 1.5 or so lbs per week. I workout well and am gaining muscle and am becoming rock hard under my skin, especially where there isn't fat padding it anymore. Under my breasts (which have shrunk to a manageable 38DD now) I have the pectoral muscles any guy would dream of! I can feel them jutting up in a perfect pectoral shaped band of muscle, angled up at the sides, the flattened top surface. Too bad they're covered by boobs!!! 
But, the change in seasons and the cold have triggered my rheumatoid arthritis, and my hands have become clumsy and painful on a consistent basis, I'm dropping things constantly and it's frustrating. My elbows, so damaged by Lyme and riddled with bone spurs, prevent me from doing much in the way of presses, and it hampers my ability to transform into the She Hulk. It's a bit of a bitter pill to have to admit defeat on the weight amount I'd like to use and be forced to grab the puny dumbbells just to complete an exercise. But, grab them I do, I check my form and sloooowly move through the motions, counting on time under tension and holding contraction to do the work that my joints refuse to allow. And, it works, and I grow slowly stronger. Slowly slimmer. Sadly, I'd like to grow, well, period. But for now, I settle for slimmer and stronger, even if that means legs that look like stems rather than trunks. I scroll through my Instagram account and sigh at the photos of all the uber muscular ladies who's physique I'd happily imitate. One part of my mind says it can never happen in my condition, and I quickly kick that bitch in the shins and lift my chin and declare that I'ma beast and all that needs to happen is time and effort and I too can get ooh's and aaah's when I wear tight sleeves in public. Then my bat wing tricep muscles taunt me and I scowl with fury. Not being able to straighten my elbows out makes hitting those things darned near impossible. But not ALL the way impossible, and that's my cue to just. Try. HARDER! Boom, baby.

So while I'm able to soothe myself on the eventual conquest of an imperfect body, I'm a bit stunned to see the changes in my face. I've been fat for 20 years, and with that fat came a round, smooth, almost freakishly youthful appearance that belied my age. I liked that I looked a full 12 years or so younger than my age. That is now history, and while the weight loss has enhanced everything below the shoulders, that has not been the case above the neck! Yikes. I now look my age. I find I'm not a fan of that. Sigh. There are sags and jowls and crepiness where fat no longer resides. I will have to find ways to deal with it, I suppose. It is a trade I am willing to live with, and hey, Juvaderm, right? I have NO problem with small cosmetic fixes. So, that may be in my future. Because for a singularly unremarkable looking woman, I am a completely vain peacock! I am plain in the extreme, but a legend in my own mind!! Ha ha ha. Well, I suppose most natural redheads are vain, and I was born with a head of fire and a soul to match it.

So, the years march on, and the changes keep coming. And like every human before me who has slowly aged yet survived, I will find my own way to navigate it and with some small grace will emerge into my golden years as a vicious willful little scrap of muscle and gristle with a spirit made of steel. Life is comprised of stages, and I believe the trick to moving from one to the next gracefully is to just sack up and keep going, gathering what you've learned and not letting any crap provide any sort of roadblock. Kick that shit out of the way and keep moving onward!! Don't ever stop moving forward, turkey neck and all.


Monday, November 13, 2017

I don't count calories= I've lost 35 lbs.




One of my favorite things is scraping the grease and yummy bits from a pan of slow oven roasted bacon rashers into the bacon grease container and thinking: hello BDNF!!

I don't count calories. I haven't for 5 months, yet I've lost over 3 clothing sizes. I eat a lot of fat from animal or whole food sources. Some days, it comprises a full 60% of my calories. I pay little attention to anything on food labels except carbs and sugars and fiber. I don't look at calories, or fat percentage. Not even sodium. I don't have to.  How on earth can this be?

Simple. 90% of what I eat is food I would still be eating if I suddenly popped back in time 500 years.
I eat a lot of vegetables. A large majority of my meals are at least 50% fiber filled veg, mainly green in color, or cruciferous. And I load 'em up with good healthy real fats and flavor filled herbs. I love fat, and it loves me!! But it doesn't stick around long, I burn it up daily, and it takes its friends with it when it goes. I've lost a LOT of body fat. I'm now told that my neck, arms, shoulders, legs are thin. Now, that's a word I NEVER thought would be used to describe anything but my hair!! I do not eat canola/soy/corn oils. Almost no sesame oil. I DO eat lots of olive and avocado oil, plenty of coconut oil. Macadamia nut oil also. I will frequently eat quality butter from grass fed cows, either Kerrygold or from local farms, I use the aforementioned bacon grease, high quality lard from animal fats although on a lesser basis than the vegetable oils... the more organic and higher quality, the better. I will pay for the privilege of good health, since it IS a privilege in this day and age, it would seem, and I will sacrifice things to obtain it, whether that be time from preparing my own food day after day or monetary activities to be able to purchase quality ingredients.  Because that's what fills my larder. Ingredients. In fact, a co-worker asked me with genuine curiosity this weekend after I carefully prepared a meal of whole food I brought from home and sat to enjoy it if I "got tired of cooking all my own meals myself." I answered "NO." There was no lie there. We are allowed to eat the food in the group home where I am employed and yet I choose to incur the expense of bringing my own because my food standards far exceed the level of free, processed, artificial, disease producing food available to me at work. The end result of my time investment is a value without price: my health and wellness. I cannot stress this enough-your body/health/wellness is made in the kitchen. Period. Done and dusted. Your physique is refined in the gym, and sleep and family/community connection/sense of purpose does the rest. It REALLY IS that simple. And all of it is under your control.  Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Because I eat whole foods, I naturally eat less, am full longer, am fueled by fat in a body adept at burning fat, adept at digging into it's own fat stores because dietary provided glucose is mostly a memory for it at this point. I can go long periods without food or hunger because my body knows it's not starving due to well over 10,000 calories of body fat just sitting there winking at my brain saying "come and get me, big boy!!" And my brain? Well, my ass is shrinking, but my brain is not! Take that Alzheimer's genes. I don't think so!

 If you're counting on "the establishment" to properly regulate the industries that feed and nourish our bodies, you're being rather naive. There is no money for the pharma or "fix it" industries in a healthy, thinking, pro-active population. It's every Adonis and Goddess for themselves, so TTFUBC and dig in and figure out how to take care of you in spite of how antithetical the actions are within the standard American lifestyle. I swim against the current every day and it's worth every stroke.

I follow a primarily ketogenic diet, with the occasional more primal paleo (no legumes and I hate sweet potatoes) or carb re-feed day, to keep hormones in check and promote metabolic flexibility, and it's been a magical reset of health for me. I treat it like a fun game. I've made my own body my biggest scientific experiment and it's been one of the most engaging times of my life, to be able to research, play and note cause and effect with regard to how I'm rebuilding myself.  I've discovered the bio-hacking community and love being part of a tribe of energetic, inquisitive minds who want to make an impact on the world in some truly amazing ways. 

Should you also eat like me? I don't know, should you? Try it and see. Play with it. Adjust. Try strict keto, or slow carb, or primal paleo for a few months and assess. Then switch it up, add some carbs and up the protein, did you lose weight, do you feel better? I did, so now I don't do hyper strict keto, but a more thyroid friendly version. Reach out and join one of the myriad communities that will happily help you reach for your optimal functioning self. Hell, reach out to me, we can kick ass together. I love having awesome people pushing me, challenging me to up my game on the reg. Bring it and I'll see your effort and raise you double!
Play with intermittent fasting. Or not. Just DO SOMETHING. Do better. Stop saying "I need to do something" and actually DO IT!!!! Sack up and start today. Start now. Stop making excuses and don't stop working to be better.  Every.  Single. Day.