Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It All Started With Two Ugly Sweaters

It did. Really.

I come from a long line of "collectors."  Stuff just sort of accumulates around us. We are like eddies in a stream- whatever is floating past circles around and settles on our shores. And we tend to be sentimental about things, and to highly value any connection a thing has to friends or family. Just to illustrate: I still own my childhood rock collection. I just got the rest of it from my dad a few years ago. He had been hanging onto it for me since I got married...twenty-three years ago. I have some really cool rocks. And shells. :)

Add to that tendency about fifteen years of slowly fading health and mental clarity, which seriously compromised my ability to sort and make decisions. I could not go through a box of things and make the myriad small decisions necessary about the contents. The thought of it exhausted me. When I would  hit that point of overwhelm, the sound in my brain was like hissing static. Show's over; nothing more happening there. Shutdown. Needless to say, in those years a lot of stuff accumulated in our home and it became increasingly cluttered and non-functional.

We didn't enjoy living in a cluttery, inconvenient home, but for years I was sort of crippled by my sentimental-collector-static-brained self. I started reading books and looking for ideas that would help me.

Back to The Sweaters. The Sweaters are very symbolic to me, as they are the first two things I was able to part with. They were the very first baby step in my "journey of a thousand miles." I did not have good feelings about them while they lived here, but I have very fond feelings about their departure. :)  These sweaters did not look good on me. I'm fairly tall, and they were not made for someone tall. They were too short in the sleeves and body. They were bulky cotton and too big. One was hot  pink; the other was off-white (a terrible color for me) with sort of geometric cave-art brightly colored animals galloping across the chest. They had been given to me by my mother-in-law (who had also given me some really beautiful dress clothes that I loved). Though I did not like them, and they looked so very bad on me, I wore them about once a year out of a sense of  (drumroll please....) guilt and obligation. Tadaa! Guilt and Obligation. The chains that bound a lot of stuff to me. "But she gaaaave them to me!"

These unflattering Guilt Sweaters were the first two things I was able to get rid of. This was probably about ten years ago. What helped me to release them was when I thought about why I owned them in the first place. They weren't gifts, but hand-me-downs. This is how I finally saw the issue clearly: "I only own these sweaters because my mother-in-law did not want them. She only had them because her friend did not want them. Her friend most likely bought them on a clearance sale, which means she only owned them because every single person who shopped in that store did not want them." I only owned them because hundreds of other people did not want them! And I was keeping them...why? Realizing that set me free. I donated them to a thrift shop. What a relief!

My entire journey with Stuff is far too long for one post, so I'm just sharing my first baby step here. It is a long, slow, baby-stepping journey toward freedom and order and peace of mind and...freedom.


I have learned how to do paragraphs!

See?!  :)

I had wanted to break up the flow of my posts but wasn't sure how.

I tried it this morning, and it worked!

I was even able to go back and put paragraphs into my earlier posts, to make them easier to read!

Feeling very spiffy and tech-savvy at the moment. ;)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Everything-Free Breakfast

I seem to do my very best at eating healthfully in the morning. I remember to take my herbal thyroid support supplement first thing. I eat a serving of fruit before breakfast. I have a nice healthy breakfast. I feel good as I start my day.

Here is my current favorite healthy breakfast:  About once a week, I cook up a big pot of brown rice, with a scoop of coconut oil in it. This way I have a healthy base that doesn't take much time on a daily basis. (The coconut oil is very brain-healthy!)  I put a scoop of my coconut brown rice in my favorite bowl, and add whole chia seeds, broken-up raw walnuts, and either raw pumpkin seeds or raw sunflower seeds. I add my milk- which is unsweetened vanilla hemp milk (only 1 gram of carb per serving!!), give it a good stir, then heat it all in the microwave.

Though we have stevia and agave sweeteners on hand, I find that the combination of mild coconut and vanilla flavors is enough for me and I don't need it sweeter. Sometimes I add another teaspoon or two of coconut oil before heating it. The coconut oil gives it a good buttery mouth-feel. I really like this breakfast, and it meets many of my dietary focus points: low-carb, low on the glycemic index, high-protein, high-fiber, nutrient-rich, allergen-free, and tasty!  

There's a documentary on youtube about the affect of coconut oil on Alzheimer's symptoms. So interesting! Even though coconut oil is spendy, if by eating it I can avoid Alzheimers, which is a horrible way to end, then I am all for it! Saturated plant fats, like coconut and palm kernel oils, are very different from saturated animal fats. We need them! Our naturopath told us that when nuts and seeds are roasted, the fats in them turn to trans-fats, so we try to use raw nuts and seeds whenever possible. Trans-fats are bad news!

We read about chia seeds in the book "Born to Run." It's a very interesting book- makes me want to go run barefoot! According to what we've read, chia seeds are sort of a Superfood- high in fiber and protein, and other things I don't remember right now. For me, the protein from the combination of nuts and seeds balances out the carbs in the rice, so it won't whack my insulin levels. If I get super nutrients in the process- so much the better!

Girl With The Curl

I am that girl! You know the one..."There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very very good, and when she was bad, she was HORRID!"  When it comes to eating right, that pretty much sums me up!  When I eat right, I am extremely careful, my diet gets very limited and extremely healthy, and I feel much better (though often frustrated and bored by the narrowness of my choices). When I "fall off the wagon,", which is more like "when I jump off the wagon gleefully, yelling 'Yahoooo!'," then I eat all sorts of things that are bad for me. Top fail foods: Lindor truffles- top of the list always. I love them!; pizza- it's really a cheese craving but translates into a pizza craving; pastries- doughnuts, danish, Little Debbies Honeybuns or Pecan Pinwheels. 

So, what can I do? Well, I observed that I consistently get pizza-chocolate cravings. I started to wonder, "Why always those two together?" I think I have the answer to that. The pizza part is really a cheese craving. Cheese is high in calcium. And chocolate is high in magnesium. The calcium-magnesium balance in the body is an important one. They work in harmony. So...if I take my calcium-magnesium supplement (I use Shaklee's Osteomatrix), then the craving for cheese and chocolate fades away. Sigh. I always have mixed feelings when I accomplish that- sad to see pizza and truffles fading from my view, but also very relieved to have that battle off my agenda. It's a hard fight, and I miss the yummy things, but I am always relieved to be back to eating right and I do feel much better physically. I've also observed that when I take those supplements, my foot cramps go away! The Cal-Mag balance must be an important building block of muscle function too. Or nerve function. Whatever it is that is awry when I get leg/foot cramps. Nice to be able to take a pill for that!

The pastry part? Well, that, I believe, is simply an addiction to sugar. I'd be thrilled to learn there is a vitamin I could take to make that go away, but I really believe it is a simple addiction, like any other addiction. When I fight the good fight and avoid sugar altogether, the craving fades. If I have even a little bit, the Need comes back full force and I go on a sugar bender. So how can I fix that? One thing I'm really learning is that the first building block I need to put into place is adequate sleep. When I'm tired, I make poor decisions, like eating sugar. So, I am really working on getting adequate rest, so that I will have a good foundation on which to build, and to give me the strength to make good food choices. My good friend Beth spoke some wise words to me the other day, about where I'll end up if I don't get rest. My tendency is to get all inspired and start exercising, and working hard on the house...while still being sleep deprived. She helped me to see that the first thing I need to do is the sleeping part, and that will enable me to do the rest of it without depleting myself.

So....the things I am prioritizing right now: sleep (at least eight hours- I got nine last night!!!), and taking my calcium-magnesium supplements, and drinking enough water. I often try to do too many things and then fail at all of them, give up and go buy chocolate. I'm hopeful that if I focus on just these three, it will enable me to do the rest without getting overwhelmed. Simplify, simplify, simplify!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Not Perfect, But Better

Since we have a no-school day today, the Friday of Memorial Weekend, we're working on the house so we'll have the weekend free for other things. With the help of Son #2, I've just been giving the kitchen a good shine, and as I cleaned the microwave, I was thinking. I have deep-seated tendencies toward perfectionism. I've fought that battle and ridden that pendulum swing for years. Long years. Decades. (So weird to be old enough that I can speak in terms of decades!!)

One of the best and most important lessons I've learned is to let things be good enough! ...to believe that Good Enough is...enough. Not "I don't care" but..."I've done enough and it is okay for me to stop now and walk away." I think I'm still working to really believe that. I've come so far, but when we start on a big bust-through-the-house kind of day, I become aware that those old echoes still survive in the closets and corners of my mind. Once I recognize them, I can tell them to shut up and leave me alone. It's not the big striving battle it once was, but still it's a deliberate and conscious choice to not fall prey to those old ways of thinking. It feels truly good to be achieving freedom from old toxic and oppressive thought patterns. By the grace of God, I am not who I used to be! And Good Enough really and truly is good enough. :)

The Beginning

Hello! Here I am! Usually, to do anything involving technology, I would be enlisting the aid of my children- who are far beyond me in computer skills, or my husband- who is the computermaster-he actually reads those two-pound computer manuals and writes programs...but if I'm going to step into something new I just think I should do it with confidence in myself and with courage-believing that I can figure this out for myself. So here I am, with my husband already off to work, and the kids still sleeping on this no-school day, making it work on my own! 

Dusting the Corners of my Mind seemed like a very appropriate title for this blogsite, as I envision it containing whatever I am pondering on any given day. My recent/current journey and probable topics for future thought: In the past two years I have lost fifty pounds (that journey, and the long-term reality of trying to maintain a healthier and more fit lifestyle), learned I have multiple food intolerances (nothing agonizing or dramatic but  they made me ill), learned to cook/live within that world (low-carb, and what we call Everything-Free: no eggs, dairy, soy, wheat, sugar, garlic, etc), have two children who have left home but come home to live and work in the summer, and two children still at home- in middle school now but one moving on to high school in the fall, have started clearing out the massive clutter that built up during my (fifteen?) years of fading health, have learned some important and exciting spiritual lessons, read many books, tried many new recipes, and continue to learn a lot about life, marriage, parenting, being a true friend, health, fitness, life, joy, and...life.