Tag Archive | grief

I Think I May be Allergic to Wine!

We survived Thanksgiving but we didn’t make it completely unscathed as the loss of my father in law was greatly felt and we all shed tears at one point or another throughout the day. But, we worked through it together as a family by remembering dad through stories and by giving to others. What  better tribute to him than that. And a giant sigh of relief when the day was finally over. We did however enjoy a delicious Paleo dinner inspired by Danielle Walker’s Celebrations cookbook – always a hit in our house!

We made plans to meet my parents in Lake Tahoe the Saturday after Thanksgiving and looked forward to the escape. And then everything fell apart leading to three awful things in as many days. Stay with me, you’ll see… The day we planned to leave, we found out my uncle had passed. We knew it would be coming but that doesn’t make it any easier. And then while in Tahoe, received a phone call our nephew had been in a serious car accident. Well there was two and I made the mistake of asking what next. Because bad things always happen in three’s. And let me tell you, that question was answered. But not right away, because I’m a slow learner. I’ll start with what number three was and then what led up to it. On Monday night, I was rushed to the hospital. Yep, I was the number three.

I had been experiencing what I thought was a bladder infection and rather than going to the doctor, decided to try and treat myself. You know, cranberry juice, Azo and lots of water, while increasing my probiotic use. It seemed like a good idea at the time… Saturday night I was miserable with the chills and shakes so bad I ALMOST said to take me to the hospital. ALMOST. But I didn’t. When I awoke Sunday, I felt a little better and downplayed everything until it started up again Sunday night. But I still was convinced it was just a bladder infection and I would “stay the course.” Monday morning came and downplaying was the name of the game and off to work I went. As the day progressed, I was in utter agony just trying to make it through the day suffering in silence, with plans to head to urgent care after work. Upon arrival at urgent care, the doctor took one look at me and said I had two choices: go to the hospital via ambulance or call my husband to drive me. I opted for the latter and the doctor phoned ahead to the ER. After peeing in a cup, giving what seemed like all of my blood and a CT scan and waiting for what seemed like forever, I was hooked up to an IV drip consisting of pain meds, fluids and a heavy duty antibiotic. Why? Turns out I had a “serious” kidney infection. And how did I end up in this mess? I downplayed and tried to self-treat like an idiot. All of this could have been avoided had I paid attention to my body. Something I always stress to others. Can’t wait to see the hospital bill for this costly error in judgement.

With Christmas approaching, I gave in to decorating the house but I’m still in no mood. I miss my daughter who lives so far away, I miss my father in law who passed in August, I’m still recovering and I just can’t get into the holiday spirit. I mean, I really have no desire for anything remotely related to holiday fun. I’m hoping my attitude changes but I’m just not feeling it this year.

And now to what may be the most tragic thing of all… I think I may be allergic to wine! I know, right? The last few times I’ve had wine, my body has not reacted well. For those who know me, you know how awful this is for me. Wine is a part of our life. Wine country is practically in our back yard and we enjoy our wine memberships, visiting our favorite tasting rooms with friends and, you know, DRINKING wine. I’m going to try just white wine for a bit to see if that helps and am hoping this is yet another blip. Fingers crossed!

I received Danielle Walker’s latest cookbook yesterday and am finding joy in reading it cover to cover, planning what I will cook. Maybe I’ll do it “Julie and Julia” style and blog while I try every recipe in her book from beginning to end. Wonder if anyone would be interested.

And so, this is my life these days. I’d like to share some wisdom or food advice today but I honestly have nothing this week. Perhaps I’ll find my groove in the middle of my new cookbook. Until then, pray there isn’t a number four!

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Grief, Setting Boundaries, and the Importance of Self Care during this Holiday Season

On November 1, the Holiday season officially kicked into gear and we are now being inundated with Christmas music, commercials, etc. November 1 was also the three month anniversary of my Father In Law’s death; an anniversary we would rather not celebrate, and we wonder when we will stop feeling like the wind is knocked out of us the first of every single month. My husband and I were talking last night about how the loss of a parent is such a profound and painful loss that leaves you feeling somewhat “off,” somewhat in a state of shock and slightly broken and lost. And the thought of that empty chair at Thanksgiving dinner, as the holiday swiftly approaches, is more than we can bear. If it were up to me, we would forego the holidays altogether this year. My husband, on the other hand, feels maybe it will be a good distraction. And so we have decided to find a good compromise to acknowledge and support the different ways in which we as a family are navigating our grief.

All of this got me to thinking about self care during grief; during all the “firsts” we will experience in this next year we wish more than anything we didn’t have to acknowledge. It got me to thinking of my friends and family also experiencing recent loss who now must navigate Holiday Hell as I am now referring to it. How do we navigate this? Especially since grief is so very different for everyone. And so I did some research because, well, that’s how I roll. Here are a few tips I found:

  1. Acknowledge that the holidays will be different and they will be tough.
  2. Decide which traditions you want to keep and which you want to change.
  3.  Create a new tradition in memory of your loved one.
  4. Decide where you want to spend the holidays – you may want to switch up the location, or it may be of comfort to keep it the same.  Either way, make a conscious decision about location.
  5. Remember that not everyone will be grieving the same way you are grieving.
  6. Remember that the way others will want to spend the holiday may not match how you want to spend the holiday.
  7. Be honest. Tell people what you DO want to do for the holidays and what you DON’T want to do.
  8. Buy a gift you would have given to your loved one and donate it to a local charity.
  9. If you are feeling really ambitious, adopt a family in memory of your loved one.  This can often be done through a church, salvation army, or good will.
  10. Make a memorial ornament, wreath, or other decoration in honor of your loved one.
  11. Skip holiday events if you are in holiday overload. And don’t feel guilty about skipping events if you are in holiday overload!
  12. Talk to kids about the holidays – it can be confusing for kids that the holidays can be both happy and sad after a death.Let them know it is okay to enjoy the holiday, and it is okay to be sad.
  13. Don’t feel guilty about not sending holiday cards!
  14. Skip (or minimize) the decorations if they are too much this year.  Don’t worry, you’ll see plenty of decorations outside your house.
  15. Don’t feel guilty if you skip or minimize the decorations!
  16. Remember that crying is okay.  The holidays are everywhere and who knows what may trigger a cry-fest(even if you are in the sock aisle at Target).
  17. Ignore people who want to tell you what you “should” do for the holiday.  Listen to yourself, trust yourself, communicate with your family, and do what works for you.
  18. Seek gratitude.
  19. Skip it.  Really.  If you just can’t face the holiday it is okay to take a break this year.  Before you get to this extreme, consider if you could just simplify your holiday.  If you do skip, still make a plan.  Decide if you will still see friends or family, go see a new movie, or make another plan.
  20. Enjoy yourself! The holidays will be tough, but there will also be love and joy.
  21. Remember, it is okay to be happy – this doesn’t diminish how much you love and miss the person who isn’t there this holiday.  Don’t feel guilty for the joy you do find this holiday season.

My favorites are “seek gratitude” and that not everyone is grieving the same. I would also add the following:

  1. Be kind to yourself.
  2. Be active. Go for walks, run, swim…whatever will soothe your soul.
  3. Rest. Really, it’s ok. And your body needs it right now. Grief is exhausting.
  4. Watch what you eat/drink. In times of sadness and stress, it’s easy to turn to food and alcohol. Don’t. This will only make you feel worse.
  5. Talk to someone.  Be honest and open with your spouse or loved ones. Talk to a trusted friend or a professional. Don’t keep your grief and feelings bottled up.
  6. It’s ok to cry in your shower, in your car, in a dark movie theater (I did this last night). But remember it’s also ok to let your loved ones see you cry.
  7. Set boundaries. Do only what you feel up to. Really, it’s ok to say no.
  8. Be kind to yourself. Yes, I know I already mentioned this one. But it’s the one we will so easily not do. Just as it is important to first put on your oxygen mask in an emergency, it is equally important to first care for and be kind to yourself so you can be present for others.

What can you do if someone you care about is walking through their own grief journey? Follow their lead and respect their boundaries. Don’t push them to do something they don’t feel up to. Be present. Let them know you are there for them. Listen. And most importantly, please don’t not acknowledge their loved one. Hearing their name, sharing memories, that is how we keep them present. To act like their loved one doesnt exist, to ignore the grief for fear you will upset them or will remind them of their loss is far more painful. Trust me. We have not forgotten.

Will these tips make everything flow smoothly? Will we make it through unscathed? Nope. Grief is raw and it sneaks up on you at the strangest of moments. But knowing that there is not a roadmap, that there is no right or wrong way to navigate this emotional Holiday Road is a good start. That however we are feeling during this time is ok and is normal certainly helps. We will make it through this next year one step at a time, as a family, with love. And at the end of the day, what more can you ask?

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Change

I haven’t blogged in quite some time because, well, life… We moved our daughter out of state, my Father-in-Law passed away, I got a new job and we recently found out we are going to be grandparents for the third time. Life has been all over the place for me, but the one consistant has been how and what I eat. That has been what had kept me strong. And healthy.

In June, my youngest daughter and I set out on a week-long drive across the country to get her settled for her new job (her husband had to temporarily stay behind for his job). We dubbed it the Thelma and Louise road trip and had an incredible time together and some crazy fun. If you are ever able to travel a distance by car alone with one of your children, do it. It was a gift in so many ways: we got to know one another as people, we had time to talk about so many things and I think we both learned to be a bit more independent. Most importantly, we didn’t kill one another.

A little over one month later, we received a phone call that altered our lives forever: “Come home, dad has been given last rights.” The next weeks are a blur of caring for him, loving him and honoring him. And now we grieve. Grief is a funny thing,  you continue moving forward and yet there’s this awful feeling that’s always just below the surface. And it doesn’t take much for it to rise to the top – a favorite song on the radio, a holiday, a moment in time where you just miss your loved one. From the outside all looks fine, but we are all fragile and broken and trying to grieve in our own way, in our own time, because grief is different for everyone. This man who said to me “There are no in-laws in this family; you are my daughter” was my dad too for over half of my life. I miss him and I am sad.

In late September, I was offered a job. A once in a lifetime opportunity I could not pass up. And so I said yes and goodbye to people I have worked with for almost nine years; some of whom have become dear friends, some more like family. It’s scary starting a new job. You leave what is comfortable and familiar and move to something that is not. Most days I feel lost but each day gets easier and I’m still glad I made the decision I did. Sometimes you just need a change. Having the courage to actually make that change? It’s everything!

About the same time I was starting my new job, our daughter – the one that I drove across the  country with – announced they were expecting their first child. So many emotions: excitement then grief and then sadness. Why the grief and sadness? The realization this baby won’t know us as well as our other two grandchildren kicked in, as well as this is the first great-grandchild Dad will never know. He would have been filled with joy to hear the news. Of course, I’m betting he already knows and looks down with such love and joy.  And there again, that grief lurks just below the surface.

Through all of this, my health has held on. I’m not saying I’ve not had some struggles with RA flares and the like but through all of this, I was able to use what I’ve been taught to manage my way through. By eating deliberately and following a Paleo diet, the flares have not been as bad or lasted as long. I listened to my body, I mean REALLY listened, and was proactive instead of reactive. I’ve noticed my RA really acts up right before I get sick. Once I put the two together, I have learned to step up the probiotics the minute my feet hurt and walking is painful and I make sure my diet is super clean while using the tools I was taught by my Integrative Medicine Dr. to boost my immune system. And it has worked, every time. And for the very first time, I feel completely in control of me.

So, it’s fall-like outside (I live in Cali so fall-like means 80 degrees while the leaves are changing color) and I decided to get my pumpkin on. Today was all about pumpkin muffins, pumpkin custard and the most unbelievable Paleo oatmeal cookies we have ever tasted.   Recipe links below:

https://againstallgrain.com/2014/11/20/pumpkin-pudding-egg-free-dairy-free/

https://www.thenaturalnurturer.com/blog/one-bowl-paleo-pumpkin-chocolate-chip-muffins?rq=Pumpkin

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And, of course, our favorite Sunday waffles (not pumpkin but SO good):  https://www.thenaturalnurturer.com/blog/oatmeal-green-smoothie-waffles

When I first started on this journey, the options were few but now you don’t have to eat bland food to be compliant.  We eat delicious Paleo food that is good for us and helps build my body up, instead of tearing it down. While life is sure to throw you many curve balls along they way, you can be in control by eating healthy.  It’s completely doable – start by switching out one or two things and then move from there.  Take this in small chunks.  How you get to this point doesn’t matter.  Much like grief, our paths are all different. But changing your lifestyle can be done, one small change at time.

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This is only a blip

It has been a while since I’ve written an update and I’m currently writing this from bed. Because I’m on Dr.-ordered bed rest. And you know what? This time I didn’t argue. It has been an incredibly difficult nine months for me, filled with a lot of loss, grief, change and stress. And I’ve not been kind to myself. And, because of that, here I am in bed trying to get my strength back. But rather than wallow in self pity for this latest blip, I’m looking at this as a positive. A reminder that we MUST take time to care for the most important ones… and that is OURSELVES!!!  It’s like when you are on a plane and the oxygen masks drop. You must first put on the oxygen mask before you are any good to anyone else. The same thing goes for life. You must always come first. And I mean that by eating right, exercising, getting the rest you body needs. So what am I doing as my body heals? You know besides naps, checking in with my family and friends and cheesy lifetime movies? I’m back to the basics – a completely clean AIP (autoimmune protocol) diet to heal my gut, I listen to my body and am resting and napping when I’m tired and have bumped my supplements back to the blip I had a few years ago. A complete and total re-set.

1 – Probiotics: I use VSL3 at the recommendation of my dr. You can only get it with a prescription (actually my doc said it can now be found at Costco) but it is the best I’ve come across. It is rather expensive but is the only one which really works for me. I put it in my smoothies each morning.

2 – Vital Proteins Collagen: I love this stuff!  I put a scoop in my coffee or smoothies, water, etc. It’s water-soluble and tasteless. I’ve been using for the last three months and LOVE it! I have eyelashes for days, my hair is healthier and I’ve seen a change in my nails and skin. I also believe this is one of the reasons my blip is just that and not what it could have been.

3 – Supplements: I take tumeric, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and ginger. I also add Soothing Calm when I’m sick. Please do not take this because I say so, check with your doc First before starting any supplement regimen. I also add astragalus root to my tea. It is great for an immune system boost. Licorice root is also good for  gut health and inflammation. And because my RA and fibromyalgia is also acting up, I’ve added ashwaganda back to the mix.

4 – I can’t say it enough, people. SINUS RINSING!!! I do this religiously. I’ll save you the gory details but this is a must!

5 – Food: Right now I’m just keeping it simple: scrambled eggs, green waffles from the natural nurturer’s website (check them out – soooo good), smoothies, bone broth. And if I want gluten free toast, I’m having that too. I also made a giant pot of my chicken noodle soup GF style. YUM!  But everything I ingest right now is purposeful. Chia seeds, collagen and probiotics in my smoothies. Turmeric in my eggs. Simple things that will heal my gut and strengthen my immune system. By mindfully eating, I am allowing my body to not have to work as hard and rest.  Because, let’s face it, I’m in chaos because I didn’t follow this as well as I should have when I had the flu in January or the respiratory infection earlier this month. So here I am.

But here’s the thing. Isn’t life full of ups and downs? It’s how you handle the downs that matter. Use them as learning experiences. I’ve learned I can’t slack on clean eating. Ever. That a piece of fudge at Christmas or an occasional beer or bagel, etc. are things I just can’t indulge in. And while that’s may sound difficult to you, let me tell you a health crisis is more so. And now I rest, reflect and heal. From the inside out.

And now I want to talk a little about “from the outside in.” You know I believe it’s important, not only what goes in your body but what goes ON your body as well. I’ve been looking for quite some time for products that are clean and safe. And I found them! Totally vegan, cruelty free, natural products made in the good ole US of A and none of the products cost over $25. What?!!! I KNOW! I will be sharing more about these products as I’m planning to join and sell. I never thought I would say such a thing but these products are something I believe in. I have been trying them for a bit and am in love. These are amazing products I can’t wait to share. Stay tuned…

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This crazy ride called life

What a crazy ride this thing called life is. Right? One minute I’m ready to throw in the towel, and the next I am being interviewed by a national magazine about my health journey and how a Paleo diet made all the difference. Yes, it has been a crazy few days for me. More on the magazine later.

So, I started the Whole30 this week and things are going well. Today is day three and I’m noticing a bit of thrush coming to the surface but I attribute that to my body detoxing itself. I am also tired. TIRED!!! I fell asleep hard and fast early last night and this morning was rough. Otherwise, I’m feeling good. No, great actually. If you recall, I also began my half marathon training on Monday as well. Because, why not. It was raining on Monday and I couldn’t get home fast enough to change and go for a run in the rain – one of my absolute favorite things to do! I think it was kind of symbolic, the rain. A fresh start.
I cooked up a storm this weekend in preparation for this week. On Sunday, I made a beautiful salmon served over a mixture of shredded brussels and cauli rice and it was delicious. I had some leftover cranberry sauce (paleo from Danielle Walker’s Celebrations cookbook) that I heated up and served over the salmon. It paired so well. On Monday, we had this amazing meal from Pretend it’s a Donut – a one pan meal that consisted of cashew chicken and roasted veggies – I served ours over more cauli rice. Yes, cauli rice is a staple in my house. This recipe was company-worthy for sure and has been requested to be added to my regular repertoire. Yes, it was THAT good! Follow her. Good stuff! Tonight I have a date at the gym to get some cross training in and another run. I’ll be cooking for one so I’m sure it’ll be something along the lines of roasted veggies with an egg on top and some avocado. Breakfasts have been super easy because of the frittatas I always make ahead – filled with veggies and protein, you can’t go wrong.

As I said, my running is going well. I’m still a little slow going, but my pace will improve as I continue on in my routine again. I know that about myself and so I’m not stressing over it. Instead, I’m focusing on how free I feel on my runs. It’s just me and my music. I love how it feels as my feet hit the pavement, how I feel as if I’m flying (in actuality a toddler could probably beat me) and totally invincible. I feel strong. And the competitive side of me loves it as I surpass a goal. You even can see me fist pump every so often as the voice in my ear from my running app lets me know I have done so.

Now back to that bit about the magazine. As I have repeatedly said, life is just crazy sometimes. Last week was one of reflection. And God beating me upside the head repeatedly until I received the message. BTW, loud and clear. Thanks! Last Friday, I couldn’t sleep and wandered downstairs to pour myself a glass of almond milk. (Does it do the same as regular milk, I wonder?) Anyway… I sat at my kitchen table looking through Instagram and noticed Danielle Walker had posted a video about an upcoming article on her in a national magazine. She said the magazine was looking to hear from and feature her followers on THEIR story and how a Paleo diet changed their life as well. What the Hell, I thought, so I typed up my story, attached a photo as was requested and hit send. And I didn’t give it another thought. I mean, she has a HUGE following and I’m sure there were stories far better than mine. Cut to this morning. I received an e-mail from the magazine asking if I was still interested in being featured and that she was on a tight deadline. Um, what?!!! Seriously?! Absofreakinglutely! Next thing I know, I’m on the phone answering questions and filling her in on my health journey. Like I said, life is a crazy ride.

I don’t know what will end up happening with the magazine. Either I will be featured, or I won’t. The thing is, that’s not the point in all of this. The point is to believe in yourself. Always. To take chances. To listen when God speaks and be open to new possibilities. To never give up on yourself. Ever. I’m usually very determined and when I set my mind to something, God help the person who tries to talk me out of it. I firmly believe my health journey happened so that I could share the importance of a paleo diet and how it CAN change the course of your health. Of how you CAN make a change in your life and stick with it. Even if you have to start over each and every day. If you have a story to tell, tell it. If you have advice to share, share it. We all have something wonderful to offer. It’s just taking to the time find that voice and the platform from which to share. I’m so glad this is mine, that you continue to be on this journey with me and, most of all, that I didn’t give up. Thanks for believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.  Together we CAN do this.

Stay tuned for more on the magazine.

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Whole 30 or Bust… my pants

In my journey to get back on track, a Whole30 is in order so I can do a complete re-set. And because I’m not like everyone else and did not start on January 1st, I will begin on Monday. I’m actually looking forward to these 30 days of getting back to basics. Whole30 is strict – no sugar, no grains, no dairy, NO ALCOHOL, etc., but doable folks. Completely doable. I mean it’s only 30 days. And there are so many resources out there and so many amazing recipes that we never feel we are being deprived. To read about Whole30, go to this link: https://whole30.com

I just made my grocery list for the upcoming week. It is filled with protein and healthy fruits and veggies. My menu for the week will consist of a cashew chicken pan meal loaded with broccoli and bell peppers, salmon over a bed of shredded Brussels and cauliflower rice, baked chicken wings served with sweet potatoes and lemon-garlic kale. I will also make a giant frittata for breakfasts for the week and cut up veggies and fruit for snacks. Another tip is to hard boil eggs to keep on hand – I use my instant pot for super fast- super peelable eggs. I also make sure I always have snacks which travel well: tuna, freeze dried fruit(make sure the ONLY ingredient is fruit) and RX and Lara Bars so I’m not tempted to eat something I shouldn’t. On Monday my local supermarket has a special on La Croix water and you can bet I’ll be stocking up! You are probably thinking – she’s mentioned breakfast, snacks and dinner; what about lunch. That’s simple. LEFTOVERS! Usually I’ll just pack up some leftovers for lunch and call it a day. Or I will make a salad of some sort and load up on veggies and protein. A smoothie is ok, too. Just make sure there isn’t any sugar added. The Natural Nurturer has some amazing smoothies and I must admit the cauliflower blueberry smoothie is the bomb!  Who knew?! https://www.thenaturalnurturer.com/blog?category=Smoothies

Now for exercise… I have been really good about working out this week. So good, especially the last two days, that I’m currently having difficulty walking up and down stairs, sitting, getting in and out of the car… ok basically just existing. And as much as it hurts, I feel this giant sense of accomplishment every time I move and wince. Or whine. My husband says I’m whining… either way, this pain I’m feeling? I feel like it’s the pain of letting go and moving forward. Of starting over. And to me, it’s fantastic! In a really weird and twisted way. And I can’t wait to go at it again tomorrow. That is if I’m able to get out of bed. And half marathon training also begins on Monday because why not do everything at once!

By now some of you will have looked up the Whole30 plan and are saying it’s too hard.  Well let me share something from the creator of the Whole30:

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How can you argue with that? So stay tuned for the next 30 days. I’ll take you on my Whole30 journey. I start on Monday. How about you start with me? We CAN do this. I promise!

 

I hear you loud and clear

Life has a funny way of beating you upside the head when you need it the most. The last six months have been incredibly difficult and I’m still working through an immense amount of grief. My boss and friend of six years was transferred and I mourn his guidance and friendship and struggle with the change, knowing in a few months things will change yet again and there will be yet another goodbye. I mourn the loss of a dear aunt whom I adored so very much. I mourn a friend and colleague whose death was a complete shock. I mourn Tom Petty as if he were a family member -yes I realize how weird that sounds. There’s this deep sadness I just can’t seem to get a handle on and started to turn inward as that seemed to be easier. Safer… And because of this shut down I’ve not been good to myself – stress eating and not exercising, not getting enough rest, not doing the things which make my soul happy.  And so I thought it was time to hang up my blogging for a while and get my shit together, rather than let you in on this journey with me. And here’s where the smack upside the head comes in. It took a good friend to look at me and say “get over yourself. Share your journey with us.” She told me to share what I’m going through and how I’m working through it or not working through it. Warts and all.

And then I had some people tell me they were sorry I was taking a break as I’ve helped them so much. That I made a difference. And I look at the stats and people are still reading my posts. THEY ARE STILL READING!!  And received two requests today for my blog to be shared.

So, I had some time alone in the car today and did some soul searching. I can continue to feel sorry for myself and push everything and everyone away or I can take that brave step and let people in. I can show you how I’m picking up the pieces. I made a vow a long time ago I was going to pay forward the kindness shown me by sharing what I learned and helping others. Today at a retreat we talked about care of souls. Perhaps this is how I’m to care for souls: mine and others.

So I’m back and will continue to share my journey – the good the bad and the ugly.  We will walk through this together.

PS – started back in the gym this week and it felt great. Give it a try. Start slow and find something you enjoy and you will stick with it.