Thursday, November 12, 2015

Taking Stock: November

Hello there! At the last minute this week I ended up working overnight with tiny newborn twins! Not a bad way to spend a couple of nights. I loved watching them calm each other down when they were able to snuggle together.

My last minute work threw a wrench in some of my plans, so I'm feeling a little behind on some of my projects for the week. It happens. I'm hoping to spend tonight in the kitchen cooking up some gluten-free meals for the next few days and prepping some greens. I also expect not to stay up too late tonight because my sleep needs a reset after working overnights. While I was able to close my eyes now and then with the twins, mostly I was up snuggling.

Here are a few other things I've been up to lately:
Making:  Almost finished the scarves for the girlies, and I'm about to start my very first sweater!
Cooking: Lots of vegetables, she says hopefully.
Drinking: Coffee. I'm so predictable.
Wanting: A personal chef.
Looking: At the few remaining leaves holding on for dear life.
Wishing: That I could remember more what it's like to be seven.
Enjoying: No longer having cable.
Waiting: For the snow.
Liking: The feeling of hibernation brought on by the darker evenings.
Wondering: How I'll feel at the end of my first month.
Loving: The music that has been filling our house lately.
Pondering: What life will be like upon my return to midwifery school.
Considering: Painting the girls' room pink.
Buying: Little gifts of Hanukah, less than a month away.
Watching: Gilmore Girls, for the first time. How did I never watch this before?
Hoping: For the discovery of a morning routine with the girls.
Marvelling: My goofy children.
Cringing: At too much time spent of Facebook.
Needing: A bit of a social media break. 
Smelling: Roasting vegetables in my oven.
Wearing: Scarves.
Following: The Celtics, because Matty gives me no other choice.
Noticing: That Alyce's needs are changing now that she's almost eight. This is all so new to me.
Knowing: That we will figure it out.
Thinking: That I wished I'd gone to the gym today.
Admiring: Rainy, grey days.
Sorting: Through the kitchen and adding some gluten-free baking ingredients.
Bookmarking: Soup recipes, like a madwoman.
Coveting: A vitamix blender.
Disliking: Depression.
Giggling: As much as I possibly can.
Feeling: All over the place.
Snacking: Chips and fresh salsa.
Hearing: My snoring cat.

Do you want to take stock? I got the idea from Pip.

Be well!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Another month, another plan

Hello friends. If you've been following on since the summer, you know that I've been trying to make some really big health changes. The short version of the story is that I have fibromyalgia and depression, and the consequence for me is feeling as though I inhabit the physical body of an unhealthy 98 year old, instead of the healthy and vibrant 38 year old that I so badly want to be. Emotionally, I too often full like a slug.

The good news is that I'm unwilling to continue this way.

I want to live a long, long life. I want to be a great-grandmother one day. I also want to take on a very demanding career as a midwife,  for which I'm training now. I have chosen to believe that I can do all of these things, so here I am, willing to make the necessary changes in my life in order to allow for these dreams to come true. I have the motivation and passion to blow my own mind and succeed.

I spent an hour with my naturopathic doctor last week dreaming up a plan. Having consulted with my family doctor earlier in the week, who kindly informed me that I am currently at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and could I please start eating better and lose some weight, I was finally ready to accept that I needed a new plan. I explained to my naturopath, who has watched me struggle now for two years, that I was feeling seriously overwhelmed by the enormity of all these changes I wanted to make, and she told me that I can do anything for a month.

Just one month.

And you know? I think she is right. I'm strong and committed and eager to feel good, so I can do this. Healthober didn't work out as planned, and that's okay. I learned a lot about myself that month and it's time to try something else.

I now have a plan. No gluten. No smoking. Exercise four times a week. Eat a ton of greens. Take my supplements (chosen for my fibromyalgia).

This one month is intended to bring about a victory. While we learn so many important things from our failures, we still also need to win sometimes. When we devised this plan we decided upon the things that had a chance to make me feel better in four weeks. This isn't to say that I'll drop my plan upon completion, or that my next steps might not look different, but I wanted my plan to be guided by reasonable, doable changes that will bring about some successes.

This plan for eating and exercise is intended to address both my physical and mental health. Gluten sensitivities have long been linked to mood problems and we all know that exercise makes us feel better. Eating real food, moving my body, and not smoking is going to have a positive impact on my life.

I am driven by a belief that I can feel better and I'll sing it from the rooftops until I do. 

Is there something you want to change, something you can do for one month? We can do this together. Share your goals and let's declare our commitments together!

Be well!

Monday, November 9, 2015

It's Monday!

Hello lovelies! It's Monday again, already, just like that. I read a book with the girls this weekend about a girl who loved who loved Mondays because they were shiny and sparkly. While she loved all of the days of the week for different reasons, I especially love her take on Mondays. It's like she knows me.

I've still been feeling a bit blue this week, but nevertheless the week was full of some important moments. I had roughly one billion health-related appointments that took up most of my time, but they were important for many reasons and will all help me move forward with my health goals in different ways. Around our house we were busy talking about/playing/watching basketball, as Alyce decided to try out for the basketball team at her school. She had never played before but she tried out with all her might. She didn't even seem to mind when she didn't make the team. I'm so proud of her courage. 

Some things that have cheered me up lately include, though are not limited to: my mother's cooking, the beautiful weather, time with Matty, coffee dates with good friends. This week looks promising, with the exception of the dentist appointment I have today. I have plans to spend time with friends, time set aside for cooking, my mum's birthday to celebrate. The girls' birthday party season begins this upcoming weekend (their social calendar boggles me) and so we will prepare with many homemade cards.  

My list of the week:

  • Bake a chocolate birthday cake for my mum and a gluten-free alternative for me. (I'm thinking peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.) The girls are home from school this Friday so I expect that I'll have some help.

  • Cook lots and lots of greens! More on that soon.

  •  Clean out the girls' room while they're at school, with the goal of donating some of the toys they don't use anymore. This will probably not go over well.

  • My mood over the past few weeks has kept me from posting here with any regularity. It's my goal this week to post every day during the week. It's a big project, but I'd really like to try.

  • Moving my body in the following ways: three days at the gym and impromptu dance parties in the kitchen.

Alright, let's get to it. This week isn't going to start itself. What's on your list?

Be well!

P.S. Are we friends on Instagram

Monday, November 2, 2015

It's Monday!

Happy Monday, lovelies! Did you have the greatest Halloween? We did, most definitely. Alyce and Shira were a vampire and skeleton, respectively, and I think they were just the right amount of scary. We went trick-or-treating in the neighbourhood and it was so good to see familiar faces everywhere we turned. We've lived in this community for three years now and it's really starting to feel like home. Such a nice feeling. Oh, and we forgot to carve our pumpkin, but you can't win them all.

Another week. I'm feeling better, trying hard to be gentle with myself on the one hand, while (gently) pushing myself to move ahead with things that help me to feel like myself. I sat down this morning and wrote my intentions for the week and they include going to they gym five days this week. (In related news: I went to the gym this morning, suited up for my water aerobics class with the seniors, only to find out that my class was cancelled. Sigh. It wasn't a total waste, though, because I took myself out for coffee instead.) 

My reintroduction to exercise has been a bumpy one over the last few weeks--it feels amazing to move my body again, and even to sweat (even though I hate sweating), but my sore feet yell at me throughout my workout, no matter what I do, and I end up icing my feet most nights after working out earlier in the day. I should probably see someone about my feet but I'm so exhausted by the thought of seeing ANOTHER care provider about ANOTHER pain problem. Story of my life these days. End rant.

Last week I wrote about missing school, but I'm also beginning to notice that time is speeding by at an alarming rate. Did anyone notice that it's November already? Good grief.

So here is my list for the week:

  • Check-in with my family doctor and my naturopath about my moods and some strategies for dietary changes.

  • Get my hair cut!

  • Visit with a good friend, who will be helping me to get started on knitting my first sweater. I'll be making this one for Shira in purple.

  • Bake some banana bread. I've been making this one for years, though I substitute the vegetable oil with coconut oil and I add chocolate chips. Obviously. This time I'll be using gluten-free flour instead of the whole wheat.

My week feels full, but in a good way. What about you? What's on your list this week?

Be well!

P.S. Another Monday post.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Some things to do when you're in a slump

So, I'm 38 now. I had the nicest birthday filled with tiny celebrations over the course of four days. I am eternally grateful for all the goodness I have in my life. And all the delicious cake. And tiny little gifts from Shira. 

I'm having the quietest couple of weeks, in part because I've been sick with a bad cough, but also because I'm feeling like I need a lot of alone time lately. No wait, let me be honest. I need a lot of alone time right now because I'm struggling with my depression. It happens. It's not the "I can't get out of bed" depression, but more like the "I'm walking from room to room wondering how to get started so I just sit down on the couch and knit" kind.  

You guys, I miss being in school. I just want to forget about getting healthy and strong and instead go out and learn to be a midwife. Blah, blah, blah, I know this break is good for me, but I'm really struggling. This liminal space is filled with so much discomfort. While I know that taking this year off from school was a good decision, it's not been an easy one. I'm working a little bit each day, but most of my time I am left to my own devices to make my days my own. I have all this time to fill with Getting Healthy! but I often end up feeling overwhelmed by it all, and then I find myself daydreaming about reproductive physiology or starting IVs.

In these moments I need too work hard to push myself out of my slump. (This isn't to say that depression is just a slump. It's a mental illness. But for me, when I'm doing other things to support my illness, like taking the medications that work best for me, I know that there are other things I can do every day that can help make a difference.) Here's a list of things that work for me.

Some things to do when you're feeling slumpy


We've all heard it before, but seriously, go for a walk. Or to a yoga class, or run like crazy on the treadmill. I am the worst at not following this advice, but I'm working on it. I've got the gym membership now and I'm exercising on the most regular basis I have in years. I let myself stay home today and snuggle on the couch when I know I should have pushed myself to get out and exercise. Tomorrow I will push.


Call your best friend. Let someone make you laugh. Do not dodge their phone calls when they reach out to you because you're feeling blue. Push yourself to answer the phone. If you're feeling even more daring, make a coffee date to laugh together in person. Last week I did just that with a dear friend and it did amazing things for my mood. And we ate scones and jam, which was an added bonus.

Eat your vegetables

Just say no to the leftover birthday ice cream in your freezer, says the woman with personal experience. Decide to make yourself at least one nourishing, healthy meal and consider it a victory.


Clean your house. Or maybe that's just me. And I don't mean do the dishes (though that might not be a bad idea while you're at it). I mean clean out your bedroom. Change the pictures on your wall. Rearrange your living room. Tiny fresh starts can do wonders for your soul.


Dye your hair. Get your nose pierced (it's on my list). When I'm feeling slumpy I'll sometimes put on red lipstick just to fake it and it helps.

Sit with it for a day

Give in for a day and binge on Netflix. Invite all four cats into your bed to snuggle while you cry over another episode of Grey's Anatomy. Knit a scarf. Read a book. Do absolutely nothing. Indulge in a day of being gentle with yourself.

If you're in a slump, I hope you're feeling better soon. It happens. We can do this.

Be well.

P.S. Another post on depression.

Monday, October 26, 2015

38 things on my birthday

Hello lovelies! Today is my 38th birthday. I have been showered in celebrations all weekend (filled with cake, cupcakes, good wine, and good family and friends), and now I'm enjoying a quiet day home to myself. You all know how much I love birthdays and goals, so today I wanted to share some birthday goals. This is a list of things I'd like to accomplish this year, some big, some small, all important to me.

Do you ever do this on your birthday? What's on your list?

38 things 

1. Finally finish watching Six Feet Under.
2.Go to yoga class once a week.
3. Host a fabulous dinner party with some of my favourite people.
4. Go away for a weekend with Matty.
5. Eat way more greens.
6. Take the girlies to hear live music.
7. Ride a bike.
8. Ice skating!
9. Write more thank-you notes.
10. Not adopt anymore cats.
11. Not smoke. Ahem.
12. Go for more walks in the ravine near our house.
13. Drink more tea.
14. Knit a sweater.
15. Learn how to make a gluten-free pie crust.
16. Keep up with my book club.
17. Floss.
18. Watch more movies.
19. Take the girlies camping.
20. Say thank you more. 
21. Catch more babies.
22. Declutter the house.
23. Play more board games.
24. Eat more brunch.
25. Keep rocking water aerobics with the seniors of Toronto.
26. Attend a festival.
27. Visit with old friends.
28. Read fiction.
29. Nap when I need it.
30. Get my nose pierced.
31. Walk somewhere everyday.
32. Get some really warm mittens and enjoy the winter.
33. Teach the girlies to cook.
34. Write letters.
35. Get regular massages.
36. Have more date nights with Matty.
37. Love hard.
38. Reach my goals.

Be well!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Healthtober! An update

Healthober was my own tiny mission to kickstart myself into action. I'd been stalling and stalling for months with all the health changes I wanted to make. I had chosen to tackle some of my goals on a smaller scale for one month to see how I felt. It's a great idea, isn't it? Because you can do anything for a month. Right? 

Not exactly. But here is what I have learned:

Planning is key
Things didn't work out as planned. Or more to the point, I didn't plan anything at all. I came up with some very doable goals, but I didn't follow on those ideas with actionable steps. (I come across this advice in so many places, but have promptly ignored it every chance I get.) Take my goal to give up gluten, for example. I started the month with a kitchen filled with gluten-filled foods and didn't make any preparations in advance to ensure alternatives. I had assumed that I would "wing it" and, shockingly, this plan didn't work out. 

The first few days were good, with me getting by on what we had, but at the first sign of needing to rush out of the house I reached for the only convenient food on hand: gluten. The lure of convenience got me every time. I realize now that I need to spend time preparing the kitchen for how I want to eat. This means brainstorming ideas for quick gluten-free breakfast, snacks, and lunches (dinner always feels easier to me, since it feels normal for me to cook veggies and meat). I know now that I need plenty of sliced up cheese, nuts, washed fruits and veggies, and granola bars available to me before I begin. I also need to sharpen my gluten-free baking skills so that I can have muffins and breads available when I crave (which I always do because they are so delicious).

Goals need to be specific

If I'm devoted to eating less sugar, then I need to come up with a game plan for what "less sugar" actually means. Does it mean taking two days instead of one to eat a bag of wine gums? Probably not. Does it mean sweetening my oatmeal with a little maple syrup instead of heaps of brown sugar? Probably. For me to decrease my sugar intake I need to think about all the places it sneaks into my diet, some obvious (chocolate covered almonds), some hidden (processed food). I've always been terrible at maintaining boundaries, but if I'm going to successfully reduce my sugar load I need to grow a backbone.

I should probably make a plan for this (see above lesson learned).

Make your goals a priority

One of my goals was to practice being gentle with myself physically. I am happy to report that I made some progress (hooray for progress!) on that front. At the beginning of the month I was confronted with a flare-up of my fibromyalgia that through me for a bit of a loop. But I parked myself on the couch for two days, took some advil, and relaxed--in other words, I did exactly what I needed to do to get through the week and it worked. It wasn't the easiest choice at the time because I had to let go of some commitments those days, but it was important to me that I didn't let one flare-up turn into a month of pain (as I have done many times in the past).

Sometimes I'm all talk when it comes to self-care, but I really tried this month. After months of pushing through the pain and straining my sore body, I decided to make getting better a priority. Let us all try to be so gentle on ourselves.

Healthober, as ridiculous as it sounds, was a big deal for me and I'm a little sad that I didn't follow through with it as I'd imagined. But you know what? I had other successes, like FINALLY getting some much needed exercise. Also: not smoking! I've quit again, and I've decided that this is it. I'm as eager as ever!

My birthday is around the corner, which means: new goals! Coming soon.

What lessons have you learned about making changes? Are you good at planning for your goals? If you have any comments or suggestions, I'd love to see them in the comments. 

Be well.

P.S. You might also be interested in these posts!

Goals in a messy life