Let's Talk About It


There are some topics that are taboo, off limits for conversation, so I'm told.  You know, topics like religion, politics, or illness; topics that are likely to make people uncomfortable.  When my dad was dying of cancer, people would want to know how he was doing, but did not want to hear the truth: the D word.  They wanted to hear the triumphant and hope-filled "he's winning the fight; he's kicking cancer's ass".  

Friend: "How's your dad doing?"

Me: "Not well, I think he's going to die."

Friend: "Oh don't say that, he's a fighter and miracles happen. He's winning!"

I got the sense they were doing it for me, as if I were a delicate flower that would be destroyed under the weight of truth.  Or maybe they weren't ready to confront the uncomfortable truth themselves.  But I'm someone who copes with discomfort by rolling around in it and smearing it all over my face.  I need to talk about it.  I'm someone who loves nothing more than to get into a heated discussion about religion (just ask my Catholic mother) or politics, or to talk honestly about illness and death.  Not because I can change anyone's mind or reality, but because I find value in these sometimes painful exchanges.  Every time I broach a potentially forbidden topic with someone, there is potential for growth and healing, and I think it's worth it.

So, all that being said, I'm here to share a taboo-esque experience that Jay and I recently had.  Brace yourself, it may make you uncomfortable, but it's important for me to able to talk about this in an open and public way.  This is how I can "roll around in it".

Jay (my husband and best friend) and I have been married for over ten years.  We have wanted children from the start, but have been actively trying on and off for eight years.  Turns out we're not the kind of couple to get pregnant with ease (damn those years of birth control!).  We worked with a fertility specialist and after several rounds of tests, it was determined that there was no physiological reason for our inability to conceive.  Our diagnosis was "unspecified infertility", and our "treatment" option was for me to pop a magic pill that would help to regulate my cycle.  No thanks.

Well, it wasn't a firm "no thanks" on my behalf, it was a "let me change my diet, and approach regulating my cycle (if that's even the issue) from a natural perspective".  I wanted six months to prove to myself that I could change things (whatever the thing was) and conceive naturally.  It's ridiculous to some, but it was important to me.  So I changed my diet, lost some weight, and it didn't work.  I asked for one more month.  One more.

Then we got pregnant!  We got our positive result in November and proceeded to live in the most blissful and joyous pocket of our lives.  We were in total shock, and over the moon excited.  I mean, cannot-control-our-joy kind of excited.   We were having a baby, a BABY!!!  Do you know what it's like to want something so badly for so long, while everyone around you gets it as you are denied it month after month, year after year, and then finally get it??  It's like... I don't have the words.  It was our holiday miracle.  

We planned how to tell our families at Christmas (we made them ornaments that said things like "Grandma to be 2013!)", we hung an "Expectant Parents" ornament on our Christmas tree, we bought all of the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" books, we fully embraced our role as parents to be.  The truth is, our identities changed during those weeks, and we became who we had wanted to be for years: Parents to-be! 

But then, it all came to an abrupt and devastating end on the morning of 12/12/12, when I woke up to blood rather than pregnancy symptoms.  While everyone else was posting witty comments on Facebook about what they were doing at 12:12pm on 12/12/12, I was in the Emergency Room, losing our baby.  The ER doctor told me in a very matter-of-fact way that my uterus was empty and that there was "no evidence of a viable pregnancy".  I didn't know what to make of those words, didn't know where to file them.  No evidence?  Had I made this pregnancy up?  Faked the urine and blood tests?  Did my desperation and hope create that second line on the pregnancy test?    

No.  It was real.  But it was over.  How could it be over??

We were overwhelmed with shock and grief, even though we knew the chance of miscarriage was significant.  It felt (still feels) so cruel to have had our baby (finally!) dangled in front of us only to be grabbed away, like a warm embrace in a hot tub wrapped in a blanket followed by a slap in the face.  We didn't know who to be anymore, or how to be.  The kicker though, was that my sister-in-law gave birth 24 hours later, and our family rightfully so celebrated the birth of a new child while we were grieving the loss of ours.  Such heartbreaking and bittersweet irony.  It was salt in the wounds, and we didn't have anywhere to direct our anger and hurt.  We just hurt, bad.  But boy did we drink and eat our sorrows away.  Thank you tequila and chocolate chip cookies!  You're no baby, but you sure are the next best thing.  

As the days passed and we began to tell people, we were struck by how many other people had lost pregnancies and who had suffered similar losses.  Who knew?  I felt comforted by this knowledge, but also kinda pissed off because NO ONE TALKS ABOUT MISCARRIAGE!  It's taboo, apparently.  Pfft.  I know people don't talk about it because it's personal and private business, but I also know that couples would feel a lot less isolated in their grief if people talked about and normalized the loss of their pregnancies.  It is devastating.  It's not because of something you did wrong.  It is normal (my doctor told me that 50% of conceptions result in miscarriage).  It's okay to grieve for way longer than the outside world deems appropriate.  

What we lost was not just a cluster of cells.  It (she, that's what I felt) had a heartbeat and changed who were were, if even temporarily.  She represented our future, and now I have an empty womb.  But... I also have hope for what lies ahead in 2013.  Despite our loss, I ca't help but focus on the fact that we got pregnant.  That is huge, and something we hope to replicate in the coming days/weeks/months.  

So that's how our 2012 is ending.  We are mourning, healing, and hoping.  We also place our loss in the greater context of others' losses, particularly the families who lost children in the Sandy Hook tragedy and who lost homes and/or lives during hurricane Sandy.  All in all, 2012 has been difficult for many.  There have been high points, but there have also been significant low points.  This was mine, ours.  What's been yours?  Please, talk about your losses, your anger, your taboo topics in the comments.  Let's roll around it and smear it on our faces together.  Let's talk about it.  

Happy New Year, friends.  To hope.  Cheers.  

Thumbs Up


For a Monday, today was pretty damn great.  A solid two thumbs up kind of day.  Here's why:

My proposal for an occasional 4-day work week was approved!  I can now take one extra day off per month, which frees up twelve days during the calender year that I would otherwise be behind a desk in a windowless office.  I am so stoked to have this extra time, and grateful to the powers-that-be at my organization for supporting the idea.  It's a small change, but one that will give me greater flexibility with my limited and sacred free time.  

Also, I applied for my passport today!  I thought I would have to go after work and that it would be a long nightmarish process riddled with bureaucratic BS, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I decided to scope out the scene over my lunch hour, and was prepared to have to call my supervisor from the long line, telling her that I would need to take two hours of personal time because I was stuck in some horrendous line.  But here's what actually happened: I hopped on the subway, went to the post office at 30th & Chestnut, waited in line for the application, applied, had my passport photo taken, hopped on the bus, picked up a salad at the Liberty Place food court, and walked back to my office, all within the span of 55 minutes.  I've waited longer to mail a package free of liquids, perishables and explosives.  Getting a passport was like the Jiffy Lube of all government-related experiences.  I challenge you to interface with the government, take two modes of public transit, pick up lunch and return to the office in less than an hour.   

Next, when I got back to work, I received official notification that an abstract (paper) with my name on it had been submitted to a national Social Work conference happening in January 2013!  This actually starting unfolding over the weekend.  When I was in grad school, I was a research assistant for two professors who were conducting different research studies.  Well, one of them is ready to publish the findings of his study, and is including my name as an author because of my role in the study!  He is submitting the abstract to possibly be selected for a paper presentation at this conference next winter, so today, I received official notification that 1) it was submitted for review, and 2) it has my name on it.  I am so floored by this news, and so filled with gratitude for everything from the initial experience of working on this study to the latest development of being included as an author.  I just didn't see it coming, at all. 

Then when I got home, I saw that I had a piece of mail.  Not a bill or piece of junk mail, but a card from my mom.  I quickly scanned my mind as to why she would be sending a card.  Birthday? No. Anniversary? No. Holiday? No. Just because? Maybe.  I opened it and was so surprised to see that it was a donation towards our Costa Rica trip!  The only caveat is that I have to have a drink in her honor while in Costa Rica.  Damn, I don't know how we're gonna make that happen, given our rigorous itinerary filled with ass-in-the-sand sessions followed by floating-in-pristine-waters sessions.  It was an awesome and totally unexpected surprise, and once again, left my heart so grateful.  Thanks, Mom!

Finally, the last piece of goodness for today is that I turned the last page of a book that has held my imagination captive over these past few days.  Not that I love ending a great story - I don't, I'm actually quite sad - but I do love loving a book in its entirety and feeling like I've come full circle with the characters.  I've been reading 360 Degrees Longitude: One Family's Journey Around the World, which is the true life story of a family (parents John and September, and kids Katrina [11] and Jordan [8]) who dropped out of everyday life (school, work; you know, the things that typically define us) for 52 weeks to travel the globe.  It's been an inspiring read, and has opened my eyes to the incredible experiences awaiting those who have the courage to dream, and save.  Not that I currently have dreams of funds for taking an Around-the-World trip, but reading this book has challenged my perceptions of what it can mean to raise a family in the world.  It was one of the best stories I've read in a long time, and tonight it came to an end.  Happy tears :)

So all in all, today was pretty thumbs up.  In fact, I kind of wish I had a third thumb to raise.  Actually, based on today's wish success rate, I better exercise caution and rethink that one.  I'll settle for two thumbs up - way UP!

The Good, the Bad, and the Beauty


Here's the good news: I have booked my airfare to Costa Rica to visit my friend Jen!!

Here's the bad news: I don't have the money to pay for my trip, yet.  I charged it; it's the American way, after all.  It's my patriotic duty to stimulate the economy even though I can't *technically* afford it.  But I'm not one for technicalities, anyway; they get in the way of dreams.  And as far am I'm concerned, in an epic battle of rock-paper-scissor, dreams are to technicalities what scissors are to paper.  Dreams win every time.  So, I'm taking a leap of faith and trusting that if I book it, they (dollar bills) will come. 

I figure as long as I can raise a few hundred bucks by the time I leave (June 27th), I should be golden.  I've already raised about 46% of my targeted goal, which includes airfare and spending money, so I just need to double that and I'm good.  So far I've raised money by participating in a focus group, doing online surveys (slowest and most boring form of fundraising EVER), and speaking at a local University.  <-- Isn't that a hoot?  A University actually paid me (me!) to speak on a panel.  As if I were an expert on something!  I wish more of those opportunities would fall in my lap the same way that one did.  

So anyway, I'm hoping to participate in a few more focus groups, maybe get a temporary part-time job delivering flowers or something, and solicit donations from friends, family and the best blog readers in the whole wide world.  Hope you like butter, cause I'm butterin' you up! 

I'm still waiting to hear back from the powers that be about my four day work week proposal.  I won't be totally shocked if it's shot down, but I am holding out hope that it's approved so I can create more free time in my life for beautiful moments and the pursuit of joy.  

Speaking of beautiful moments, check out this little beaut: Almost every morning as I board the train, I see an older gentleman who always seems to be searching for someone in the crowd of commuters.  While everyone else is zoned out in their books, papers and smartphones and has that smug "don't look at me, don't breathe on me, don't touch me - this is my last 20 minutes of peace before the work day begins" look on their mugs, this guy is eager for some human contact.  As it turns out, his "lady friend" boards the train a few stops after him, and they sit next to each other in silence (it's the quiet car), just enjoying each others peaceful presence before the inevitable chaos of the day sets in. 

They both get off at the same stop in the city, share a kiss on the platform, and head in different directions.  I can only imagine what their relationship is like.  Are they life partners who have separate lives?  The comfortable and almost intimate silence between them makes me think they've shared this love for a lifetime.  But, the eager way he looks for her in the morning makes me think this is new, giddy love.  Whatever it is, I adore these two and appreciate the beautiful moment they bring to my morning commute. 

That's all for now friends.  I'm off to continue my hustle in hopes of making a few bucks to finance my dreams.  Where there's a will, there's a way! 

Monday Musings


Mondays are rough, aren't they?  Especially after weekends that feel rich, full, and provide ample time to do the things you actually want to do.  So yeah, this past weekend was pretty phenom.  Nothing super amazing, it just felt like I had enough time to accomplish savor all that I wanted to, including date night, time to catch up on sleep, time with family, time to play in the dirt, and time to do all the little precious things that tend to fall through the cracks. 

So, waking up this morning and heading to the office (my office has no windows, by the way) felt less than phenom.  AND, today was the first really warm day; I think it was 89 degrees and sunny, so ya know, I had beach on the mind pretty hardcore.  So, as I was leaving to take my lunch break, I stopped in my boss's office and said, "How do you feel about a four day work week?"  Not that I want a four day work week every week (four 10-hour days would weigh on me just as much over time), but it would be a nice option every now and again to help extend the weekend and help with that whole work-life balance.  The jury is still out on whether or not my organization will allow such freedom, but I'll keep you posted.

I spent my lunch hour in a sweet little pocket park, totally zen'd out and enjoying the sounds of nature drowning out the sounds of the city, or trying to.  Birds are serious nature noise-makers, but they got nothing on bass.  Ultimately, Tupac won out (still?!), but the birds made a valiant effort, and I for one got lost in their sweet songs. 

Ironically, a bird pooped on Jay in this very park many moons ago, right after he told me that it's good luck to have a bird poop on you.  Really.  It was awesome.  We almost had our first kiss here, right after the bird pooped on him, but something held me back.  Probably the glob of bird shit on his shirt. 

So anyway, I hope the four day option pans out.  Going back to the whole "joy and making meaning" business, I think time is a key aspect of that.  Having options about how to structure my work time would mean a lot to me, especially if it means freeing up time (and activities) that have traditionally been off-limits.  So yeah, that's where I'm at these days: creating options, freeing up time, and rethinking what's off limits.  I mean, back in the day, back in the pocket park, kissing Jay was off-limits (mostly because of the bird shit), but we created another opportunity, and look where that took us :) 



Speaking of following one's passion and doing what brings joy, have a look at how my dear friend Simone is following her passion.  A few years ago, she moved from the East coast to San Francisco with nothing more than her dog and her knives.  Soon after, she started her organic catering company, Zenbelly.  Now she is taking Zenbelly to the next level, and we all have the opportunity to help her in one way or another.  

Warning: this will inspire you.  After watching, you'll either want to contribute to her cause, or you'll want to share it with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.  You've been warned.  Enjoy!

CLICK TO WATCH: Zenbelly Kitchen

Joy Findings


Over the past week, I've been talking to friends and family about how they make meaning of their experiences and about what brings them joy.  Some interesting, although not surprising themes have emerged.  Have a looksie at my initial findings:

People make meaning and reflect on their experiences through writing, prayer (spiritual expression of some type), conversations with loved ones, and creating things with their hands.

People identified the following things when asked what their "joy-spot" was: Relationships (family, friends, romantic partners), travel, children, faith (religion, spirituality), creative expression (either producing or reveling in), the outdoors, and making a solid contribution to the world.  

I have to say, I tested the 'joy-spot" theories out over this past weekend, and I can confirm what the masses have told me.  Since Thursday, I have spent some incredible quality time with friends and family, I've traveled, I've expressed my faith and spirituality, I've engaged in creative endeavors, I've spent time in nature, and I'd like to think I've made a contribution by enhancing others' joy.  And it totally worked; this weekend was nothing but a non-stop marathon of joy.  Well, traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike was less than joyous, but at least I was with my BFFs, so they made up for the reoccurring traffic nightmares.

Unfortunately, the joy marathon has left me totally exhausted, so I need to sleep on it before I make meaning or turn in into something else.  But for now, I just wanted to share the results of my casual questioning.  Y'all are onto something here.  Carry on with your joyful selves.

Oh, one last thing: You know what else brings me joy?  SLEEP.  Nighty night friends.  



'Tis the season for blooming and blossoming.  Don't mind if I do.


The Pursuit of JOY


So, in the past few days, I've realized that I'm hungry for something beyond what's currently on my plate.  I'm definitely still in the throes of trying to put words to this general feeling of unrest, so please bear with me as I try to hash it out here. 

It all started to surface last Thursday evening when I came home from work.  I had been out late on Wednesday night, so I was looking forward to coming home from work on Thursday, suiting up in my "sleep attire" (elastic waist sleep pants and a t-shirt), and getting horizontal on the couch.  I don't know what happened while I was on the train, but by the time I got home, I had no desire to get cozy and get lazy.  I felt restless, unmoored, and full of longing for something I couldn't quite put my finger on.  I could feel emotion rising from within, and knew that a good cry session wasn't too far behind, but I had no idea WHY.  

My sweet husband Jay didn't really know what to make of me, but he did know exactly how to help me.  You see, Jay and I have this secret weapon called "snuggles".  I know, fierce, right?  You know the saying, "The cure to everything is salt water: tears, sweat, or the ocean"?  Well, snuggles is our salt water.  It ALWAYS cures what ails us.  And it's not just the physical act of snuggling, it's the safe space we create while snuggling; a space where we drop all defenses, present our truest selves, and just get real about what's doin'.  Whenever we're fighting, if it escalates to a point of ridiculousness, it's not uncommon for one of us to say, "super emergency snuggle session - right now", and it always melts the tension and gets us communicating.  If there's one relationship secret I've learned over the past 15 years, it's the power of snuggles.

So, last Thursday while I was pacing around and wanting to crawl out of my skin for some unknown reason, Jay convened a snuggle session.  As soon as we laid down and he asked me what was up, it all started coming out, words, tears, everything.  See?  Salt water.  

I wish I had a transcript so I could share exactly what I said, but I basically talked about the importance of making meaning out of our lives, and questioning if I was doing all that I could to not only have meaningful experiences, but to attach meaning and process all experiences so that they ultimately have meaning.  Gosh, I just used the word "meaning" like four times in one sentence.  My bad.  

Essentially, I want to ensure that I'm creating and living the life that I envision for myself, and that is a life full of beauty, joy, passion and artistic expression.  I want to make sure that I'm not just living to accomplish certain things or attain professional ideals, but that I'm living to experience joy, beauty and passion.  I do NOT want to wake up in 20 years and realize that I've missed the point; that I've been so hyper-focused on being responsible and achieving the next age-appropriate goal that I've forgotten about the pursuit of joy.  

These thoughts and feeling are no doubt connected to the experience one of my friends is currently having.  My friend Jen recently quit her 9-5, sublet-ed her apartment, and moved to Costa Rica to teach English, but really to experience joy and to make meaning out of her life.  I SO admire Jen's decision, and feel inspired to take similar, yet different measures in my own life.  Not all of us can - or are interested in - leaving our everyday lives and moving to a new country.  But, we all can, and should check in with ourselves and make sure that the lives we're living are the ones we want.  Are we following our passions, or are we tied down by someone else's ideals?  In twenty years, when you look back, what will you regret?  Are we taking the time to really process our experiences and draw meaning from them, or are we just working for the weekend while crossing tasks off our to-do lists?  

As for me, I have always struggled with routine and the monotony that sometimes accompanies adult livin'.  I get that we all have to work to be able to afford the lifestyles we choose, and to pay back student loans.  I'm not trying to escape the reality of life (ok, you caught me, I kind of am).  I'm just saying that I need more than merely working to live.  I need joy, and beauty, and I need to be able to process all that and turn it into something meaningful that I can share with the world.  And my hope is that the joy and beauty stuff takes up a larger chunk of my time than the responsible "work" stuff.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my life and am stoked with the choices I've made thus far, I'm just trying to have an honest check-in about where I'm headed. 

I've never been someone who's professionally motivated.  Even when I went back to school in my late twenties, it wasn't for some future goal or career; it was something that brought me, ...wait for it... JOY.  I love learning and being intellectually stimulated.  But, the minute I had to start thinking about a career, well shucks, I lost interest.  But again, I get that we all need jobs, but I don't think I was put on this earth for my job.  I think there's way more important experiences to be had, and that's the realization that has bubbled up over the past few days.  

So what do I do with that?  I can't quit my job.  Do I need to look for more meaningful work?  Perhaps.  I think the real lesson for me in all of this is that I need to 1) Identify what my passions are and figure out what brings me the greatest joy, 2) Figure out how to spend the limited time that I have devoted to those things, and 3) Make sure that the life I'm living resembles the life I want to live, and eliminate - within realistic bounds - the stuff that detracts from the pursuit of joy.  Lucky for me, I know what brings me joy and how I can share it with the world; I just need to DO it.  

So, about that work thing... I need to work, but I can certainly find ways to make my work align more closely with joy.  What I'm more concerned about is maximizing my free time and using it proactively for the pursuit of joy or to make meaning out of my experiences.  In a nutshell, I want to make good choices, and not just be a victim of circumstance.  Life is short, and while I believe in destiny and fate, I also believe that we have the gift of choice, and that to some degree, our lives are what we make of them.  

So, that's where I'm at.  Ever since last Thursday, I've received an abundance of signs that I'm on to something with this whole joy/passion/limited time thing.  From facebook status updates to inscriptions in the sidewalk to professional presentations, the signs are telling me to follow my passion, to take risks, to live without regret, to travel more and to worry less about money, to follow my bliss, and to be passionate about my job. I don't know how to apply all this right now, but I got the memo, loud and clear.  For now, I'm gonna focus on writing, as writing is JOY, and is how I process life and make meaning of everything.  For me, writing is the cornerstone.  If I can devote more free time to writing, whether in this format or something more private, I will have taken a step in the write (pun intended) direction.  

In addition to writing, I want to work smarter but not harder.  Maybe I'll look into working 4 ten-hour days and having long weekends.  And maybe I'll seek out new travel opportunities, like visiting my friend Jen in Costa Rica, or visiting family in Northern California, or just getting in the car and going some place new.  Here's what I know: life is short.  I was 25 like 10 minutes ago.  I'm now 35.  I'll be 45 in like 5 minutes, so I should probably maximize my time and prioritize the pursuit of JOY and let the career chips fall where they may.  It's all about the joy, baby.  

So, thanks for reading this lengthy yet important post.  If the spirit moves you, please comment and share your own thoughts on how you make meaning of your experiences in the world, and what you want your life to look like.  I don't care if you're 18 or if you're 88 - we all have choices to make about tomorrow, and have unique experiences that inform those choices.  

I wish us all joy, a bit of restlessness, and ultimately, PEACE.  

Star and the City


Today, I became a star.  

This morning, I was a virtual nobody; free to roam the earth anonymously without having to wear wigs and ridiculous looking over-sized sunglasses.  But tonight, I am a virtual nobody whose star is rising.  That's right folks, my dreams are coming true: I have broken into the closed-circuit television industry at 55+ communities in southeastern Pennsylvania!  Today, a star was born.


So yeah, today I found myself in a for-real television studio, under the lights and feeling a bit like a deer in headlights.  It's such an unnatural environment, even though I was just "having a conversation" with someone about Medicare fraud.  Sexy!  At one point, the woman interviewing me said something like, "it's just like you're at home in your own living room".  Right, cause my living room has crazy bright lights and four television cameras pointed at me at all time, and I'm always mic'd at home.  Totally natural.  

While I don't remember much about the actual experience, I'm pretty sure it went well, all things considered.  I totally butchered my organization's mission, but it's all good cause they're gonna omit it.  I was like, "the mission of my organization is to, um, improve the... interests- no, the rights, um, and the autonomy, yeah, the autonomy, of old people- er, I mean older adults, and uh, like, advocate and stuff".  I'm exaggerating, but you get the point: it was not good. 

Other than that minor blunder, I *think* the rest went well, and that my star is on the rise.  The whole thing felt like binge drinking (not that I know what that feels like), because it felt really good during the process, but I can't remember a thing.  Fingers crossed. 

 After my stint in Delaware County Hollywood, I hopped in my Zipcar and had some time to kill before the car had to be returned, so I had a choice: return the car early and return to work, ya know, be responsible; or go for a joy ride in my Mini Cooper and celebrate my new-found fame.  You'll be happy to know that I made the right choice.  I did go back to work early, I just took the long way.  Damn Philadelphia traffic ;)  

I have to say, I do love driving in the city in the middle of the day.  Not because I love driving in the city in the middle of the day, but because my perspective is flipped; I am never the driver, I am always the pedestrian.  Being the driver is a fascinating experience.  As a ped (as I affectionately call us) I have a limited view; I see what's in my immediate environment.  But as a driver - WOW - I saw the whole scene; I saw the South Philly scene, the Schuylkill banks scene, the Graduate Hospital scene, the Rittenhouse scene, the Avenue of the Arts scene, the Jefferson scene, the Old City scene, the Pine Street Scene and most importantly, the human scene.  People are crazy beautiful in ways you'd never expect.  Who knew driving was such a voyeuristic activity?  AND, it was totally fascinating to see all this through my eyes, my new STAR eyes.  

What can I say?  Being a star changes everything.  Get your autographs now, friends.  



Jay and I took a drive up to Schwenksville today to visit our niece, Avery Grace.  Oh yeah, and to spend time with her parents ;)  Not being parents ourselves, it is such a joy to spend time with a little person who is so filled with curiosity, joy and what I like to call "ease of being".  No ego, no expectations; just pure delight in the littlest of things.  

Sure, as she outgrows the baby era and becomes a certified kid, these things will develop.  But for now, she is just the sweetest little creature who loves nothing more than to clap, dance, and finger-paint.

Today, in between bubble blowing and playing "I'm gonna get you", Avery and I were sitting on the steps reading books, and I said, "let's take a picture together", to which she replied, "mm hm".  I thought for sure she wouldn't sit still for an actual picture, and that if she did, she wouldn't actually smile.  Well, imagine my surprise when she not only sat still, but she also looked at the camera and smiled on cue.  

Later in the afternoon, she sat on my lap and enjoyed a well-earned bottle of milk.

And later still, she read a book to/with Uncle Jas.
I don't know what the rest of the weekend holds, other than laundry, but I don't think anything can top spending time with such a precious peanut.  Hope your weekend contains a bit of Grace, too.   

Days 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16: The Days of Blog Neglect


As you may have noticed, I've fallen off the "blog every day of the detox" wagon.  Oops, my bad.  In the beginning it was fun because each day came with different realizations, feelings and observations.  But as the days wore on, I really didn't have much to share other than more cooking woes and more exclamations of how good I'm feeling.  That, and I got totally hooked on a super-cheesy television drama (marathon style) that has been keeping me up way too late these past few nights and therefore making me feel not so good in the mornings.  Lesson learned, or, learning...  

I was never one of those people who needed 8 hours of sleep each night, until, that is, I started getting 9 hours per night.  Oh my goodness, it's like a whole new world.  Life just feels easier on 9 hours of sleep.  Now that I'm staying up until midnight (again) watching episode after episode of what is pretty much a prime-time soap opera, I am really feelin' the weight of low sleep on my body and mind.  Up until day 12, I was getting between 8-9 of sleep per night, and now I'm getting 6-7.  So that's a goal of mine by Monday, which will be day 19: get back to healthy sleep patterns, and detox from late-night television marathons.  

Other than the sleep issue, things in detox land are great.  Still kinda over the copious amounts of cooking and prep that are necessary for success, but in the end it's a small gripe considering the rewards of feeling good and eating foods that I know are better for my body.  The end of the detox is within sight, and I'm both excited and nervous for life on the other side.  Do I want a piece of pizza?  Yes.  Am I going to have a piece of pizza sometime in the near future?  Probably.  But as far as wheat goes, that's really all I want.  Everything else can fall by the wayside and I'll be fine.  And for sugar, I'm kinda craving an ice cream cone, but other than that, I'm good with dark chocolate, berries, and fresh whipped cream. Oh! and wine!

So that's what's doin' on day 16.  It's Friday- the day that I'm usually kinda antsy and wanting to go out- but tonight I'm looking forward to leftover spaghetti squash and more episodes of my show, which I've affectionately named "the show so bad that it's good".  Hope you have an equally exciting Friday night!  I'm officially back on the wagon, so stay tuned and walk with me as I cross the detox finish line next Wednesday.  !!!

Days Ten & Eleven: Over the Hump


Well, it's official -- I am more than halfway through the detox.  While I'm definitely looking forward to certain things, like berries, wine, and maybe a tortilla chip or two, I'm not dying to be done with this process.  It's funny because what I'm finding to be the most difficult part of this process is actually what I'm loving most about it: mindfulness.  This detox has been an exercise in self-awareness and being mindful of what I'm eating, why I'm eating it, and how it makes me feel.  It's kind of a pain is the arse to think so much about everything I eat (including shopping for it, prepping it, and cooking it), but it makes me realize how mindless my eating used to be. No bueno. 

I spent a lot of time this weekend reading The Paleo Solution, and thinking about my priorities for life after February 15 (the final day of the detox).  Based on everything I've read recently, and based on how I'm feeling, I have at least two priorities for post-detox life: cutting gluten out of my life, and getting plenty of sleep every night, not just on weekends.  Wanna know what "plenty of sleep" looks like?  It looks like me rising naturally at 7:30 on a Sunday morning, rested and ready to go.  I used to view sleep as something that interfered with life (like a kid almost, "oh man, I have to go to bed??") , and now I'm realizing that plentiful sleep enhances life, and health (Ah man, I get to go to bed!").  Sleep is my new tortilla chip.

Well, speaking of sleep, it's about that time.  I had planned on re-capping the events and meals of weekend, but frankly, I'm being seduced by the thought of sleep.  So, here's the weekend in a nutshell: read, showed apartment to potential tenant, watched 90210, went grocery shopping, read, made dinner (big salad), watched "The Help", slept, read, showed apartment to potential tenant, prepped and cooked food for the week, cleaned the house, did laundry, read, made dinner (tacos in lettuce shells), watched a few commercials during the Super Bowl, blogged, went to bed.

 All in all, a great "hump" weekend.  It's all downhill from here.  Happy hump, y'all.

Day 9: I Need a Break


It's actually Day 10 as I write this, but as the title implies, I needed a break last night.  As it turns out, Friday nights on this detox are the toughest for me.  Friday nights are all about cutting loose and celebrating the end of another work week and the beginning of the weekend.  We often go out on Friday nights, eat whatever the hell we want, and toast the end of the week with drinks.  But now, while in detox-land, Friday night is just like any other night: come home, cook, wash dishes, go to bed.  

I just couldn't do it last night.  I had to find a way to mix up the monotony and "celebrate" Friday as I usually do.  So, rather than cook like I had planned, we scrounged up enough leftovers in the fridge for two plates of dinner and then had date night on the couch watching a movie.  I can't tell you how much I needed that night off from cooking!  That was my way of cutting loose and celebrating the end of the week.  Totally wild, I know.

Other than needing a break, day nine was pretty uneventful.  The box of donuts was still on the kitchen table at work in the morning, with a measly 1/2 donut still in the box (who the hell leaves 1/2 donut in the box??).  Thankfully my fellow detoxer L went right ahead and threw that box in the trash.  Later in the day, L announced that she was down a belt notch!  This was the first real physical change that any of us had noticed, and was a nice nudge of encouragement to keep eating bacon, butter and coconut oil.  

After work, while the rest of the east coast was heading to happy hour, I headed to Barnes and Noble to buy myself a Friday treat.  As I mentioned in my first detox post, this 21 day cleanse I'm on is based on the paleo way of eating.  I'm not interested in doing the work of eliminating sugar and grains for 21 days and then eating cake, pizza and pasta on day 22.  I'm interested in learning more about the paleo lifestyle and incorporating some of these detox habits into my everyday life.  I'm not one to give up anything 100% of the time (no dairy? no thank you!), but I can certainly make a conscious effort to decrease my intake of certain foods in the name of good health.  So, after doing some preliminary research, I decided to buy a book called The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf.  I'm about 35 pages in and am already totally smitten with his science-y yet funny style of conveying information.  Can't wait to devour this book and implement some long-term changes.

The only other noteworthy part of yesterday was a dinnertime observation: my appetite has decreased.  I used to have snack-attacks like nobody's business.  Goldfish crackers in the morning, something sweet in the afternoon, tortilla chips before dinner, and so on.  And then on top of it, my meal portions were fairly sizable and I would always clear my plate.  Now, I have one snack, usually nuts or nut-flour crackers, and my three meals.  I'm finding that I can no longer clear my dinner plate if it's the same sized portion as I usually have.  Last night, I could only get through half a plate of leftover spaghetti squash before I had to call it quits.  I'm just not as hungry as I used be.  I think it has a lot to do with replacing all of those empty calories and grains with plenty of good fat, protein and veggies.  I'm satisfied, plain and simple, and it feels great.

Rather than sign off and head to bed, I'm gonna sign off and start day 10 with a round of  egg muffins.  I'll check back in at the end of day 10 and will report from the official halfway point.  No turning back now! 

Day Eight: The Donut Test


Every first Thursday of the month, at about 12:00 noon, a half-eaten box of Entemann's chocolate frosted donuts appears on the kitchen table at work.  Whenever food is left on the kitchen table, it means "help yourself", and "please eat these or they're going in the trash".  Not wanting to see food go to waste (yeah, that's it), I always grab one and quickly eat it before I change my mind.  It's never as good as I imagine it's going to be, but still, there's something to be said for the allure of, and the high of eating a chocolate donut on a random Thursday afternoon.  Right?

Well, today was my first ultimate test: me vs. the donut.  I walked by the kitchen this afternoon and saw the familiar white box with blue lettering, and instantly felt drawn to it.  I peeked into the box, found the donut with my name on it, and said, "hello, old friend", and walked away.  Even though I was salivating and shaking my head as I walked away, I also felt empowered by my choice.  I have to keep remembering that this is all by choice, and that if I truly wanted a chocolate donut, I would have a chocolate donut.    

Other than the donut episode, it was a standard issue day.  Egg muffins for breakfast, tomato, basil and mozzarella with grilled chicken for lunch, and stir-fry leftovers for dinner.  I felt tired after work and would have liked to watch a movie or send some time reading, but I had to do the "C" word - cook.  I roasted a chicken and some asparagus, and made a batch of cauli-mash, which will be my lunch for the next few days.  Pretty bangin' lunch if you ask me.

I'm definitely feeling grumpy and tired tonight, and in need of a good night's sleep.  I think the donut test wore me out, even though I won.  I also think I'm just over the work week, and ready to have some "me time".  You know what else I'm over?  Cooking.  Oh how I wish I could just order takeout and have a detox-friendly meal delivered to my doorstep.  Or a pizza.  Mmmm, pizza.  Ok, now I'm tired, grumpy, and craving pizza.  It is officially bed time.  

Nighty-night friends.  See you on day wine, I mean nine ;)

Day Seven: One Week!


I'm gonna make this quick, because I've got a celebratory bath waiting for me.  One week - woo!  It's been an interesting, challenging and insightful first week on the 21 Day Sugar Detox, and I'm better for it.  From where I stand now, it seems the hardest part is behind me (initial cravings) and now it's all about maintenance and finding creative ways to make it work.  Knock on wood, right?

I splurged again tonight after work with grain-free crackers and guacamole (so super YUM), and then we made a stir-fry with chicken and tons of veggies.  And now for dessert, a lavender vanilla bath followed by a deep sleep.

I think the biggest impact of this detox so far is my increased energy level.  I used to come home from work and crash for a few hours before I could think about cooking dinner.  I had just enough energy to get through my work day but not much else.  Now, I'm noticing that things are different; I wake up feeling rested, I'm not rushing nearly as much in the morning, my energy feels stable and consistent throughout the day, and I no longer crash after work.  It's a beautiful thing.

Ok, enough chat - time to get my soak on! 

Day Six: On the Up & Up


I think I've turned a corner.  I've leveled out, emotionally speaking, and have my cravings in (relative) check. I seem to have my patience back, didn't shed any tears today, and I feel pretty good all-around.  I think part of it is that I went back to work today and was able to get out of my own head for a bit.  It felt freeing to think about something other than tortilla chips for awhile, if even for a few fleeting hours.  Plus, it was therapeutic to commiserate with my two fellow detoxers and share in each others ups and downs thus far.   

After work, I was hungry and went to town in the kitchen- snacktown, to be exact.  And then I chowed down.  I made the most delicious salty/crunchy grain-free seed crackers and a bowl of fresh guacamole.  Swoon!  Hit the spot like nothing else.  I am SO grateful for almond flour and avocados; they are miracle workers in my life right now and are making all of my detox dreams come true.  It's the little things in life, I tell ya. 

So, that's day six in a nutshell.  Back to work and back to feeling like me.  Other observations include:

- I've been sleeping like a rock every night.
- I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start my day (this is all new to me)

- I'm learning that fat is my friend.  I feel the best after eating bacon, or an avocado, or a bacon-wrapped avocado cooked in butter.  Now we're talkin'.

- I have a desire to be in water.   Been wanting long showers and hot baths; been dreaming about being buoyant in the ocean, diving into pools and floating down lazy rivers.  I don't know what that's all about.  Is it that I'm drinking so much water that I'm becoming one big body of water myself?  Detoxing, water- it's all so cleansing.  And I want to be totally immersed.  

Well friends, I'm taking my weary and grateful self to bed.  Tomorrow - day seven - marks one week, and I to hope celebrate with bacon and a bath.  It's the little things ;)   

Day Five: BAD


Allow me to cut to the chase: Today was awful.  Absolutely, undoubtedly, one of the most frustrating days of my life.   The good news is that I'm pretty certain that it had little-to-nothing to do with the detox. Today's fiasco aside, I feel good.

My intention for today was to get a very time-sensitive outpatient procedure done (had to be today) in the morning and then go to work in the afternoon.  What wound up happening was this: I was on the phone from 7:30am to 2:30pm with my primary care physician, my insurance company, my specialist and the hospital, and it all resulted in a big fat ball of nothing.  All that talk and no appointment.

Here's a very brief recap of the highlights:

Jen > Hospital: Hi, I need to come in today
Hospital: Ok but first we need your doc to call
Jen: Ok I'll have her call

Jen > Doc: Hi Doc, I need you to call hospital and tell them I need this time-sensitive procedure.
Doc: No problem, we'll call them.
Doc via voicemail: FYI we called and faxed over the scrip, you're good to go, just need to call and schedule you appointment.
Jen: Yay!

Jen > Hospital: Hi, I need to come in today, and my doctor already called and faxed over scrip.
Hospital: Sorry, patients cannot schedule their own appointments for same-day procedures, your doc has to call back and do that.  
Jen: Really?
Hospital: Yep

Jen > Doc: Hi Doc, you need to call back and schedule my appointment
Doc: Really?
Jen: Yep
Doc: I don't think so.  When I called, they said I just had to fax the scrip and then you had to make your own appointment.
Jen: Hmmm.  I'll try again, maybe I got a misinformed rep
Doc: Yeah, try again.  I spoke directly with the folks in radiology
Jen: Ok

Jen > Hospital: Hi, I need to come in today and my doc already called and faxed in the scrip.  She was told that the next step was for me to call to set up my appointment.
Hospital: Sorry, patients cannot schedule their own appointments, your doc has to call back and do that.
Jen: But, but, but-
Hospital: Your doc has to call so and so in this office and then fax the scrip to the other office.
Jen: yeah, I'm pretty certain she's done that already.
Hospital: No, we have no record of that.
Jen: Ok well then you and I have to conference call over to her so that you can tell her directly what she needs to do.
H > J > Doc: (We finally connect to doctor's office and hospital lady hangs up)

Jen > Doc Office: I'm losing my mind
D > J: Ok, I'll take a message and will have a nurse call you back.

(INSERT LOTS OF SWEAR WORDS HERE.  Also, about three hours have gone by at this point)

Doc Office > Jen: Hi, please call Joy at the hospital at this number.  I just spoke to her and she said that you can schedule your appointment.
Jen: Praise God

Jen > Joy: Hi, I need to come in today, and I understand you just spoke to my doc's office.
Joy > Jen: I need your doctor to fax over the scrip


Jen > Joy: Um, no.  I'm certain that she's done that.  Also, I have a copy of the scrip and am happy to bring it over.
Joy > Jen: Oh ok, well then let's get you registered.  

I then proceeded to give her all sorts of information to become a registered patient, and was doing a happy dance cause I was on my way to getting my appointment!

Joy: Ok, looks like we can get you in here on Thursday.


Jen: NO, NO, NO.  The whole point of this call is so that I can come in today.  It's a time sensitive procedure.
Joy: Ohhh, well then your doc needs to send the scrip with the word "stat" on it.

(This is where I started to break down, and Joy knew it)

Joy: Please hold while I call your doc.
Jen: (holding)
Joy: Thanks for holding, your doc will add the word "stat" and will re-fax, and you should be good to go.
Jen: (happy dance)
Joy: Please hold while I check the schedule with radiology
Jen: (holding)
Joy: The radiology folks want to talk to you.  Please hold while I transfer.

Radiology: Hi, what do you need done today?
Jen: (I explained what I needed, and read the scrip to her)
Radiology: Please hold
Jen: (holding)
Radiology: I'm sorry, that's the one procedure we don't do here.

As her words echoed in my ear and the reality hit my brain, I didn't know what else to do but start sobbing.  It was now 12:30.  I had spent 5 hours trying to make an appointment for the one thing this hospital doesn't do.  Again I ask, ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME???  I had been sent to this particular hospital because that's where I'm capitated to through my insurance, yet this hospital doesn't have what I need.  Which, by the way, is a pretty standard procedure.  Nothing fancy.  

I then spent the rest of the afternoon calling my insurance company and other hospitals to try and get in same-day using the same process, but it was a futile attempt.  No one could see me.  My window of opportunity has passed and I have to wait for the next window, and hope things work out better next time.  So incredibly frustrating.  Oh well, at least I can grab a beer, I mean a water, and drink my sorrows away.  

Tomorrow will be better.  Tomorrow will be better.  Right?  

Day Four: Frustrations and a Mini-Meltdown


Today was tough, not gonna lie.  It was just one of those days where every little task overwhelmed me completely and left me feeling deflated and incredibly frustrated.  Ugh.  

I woke up and felt fine, but quickly spiraled downward as I realized how much I had to accomplish during the day.  The first piece of business was thinking about and planning every single meal and snack I'll have over the next seven days, and then making a shopping list.  Even on the best of days, making a grocery shopping list takes me at least an hour.  It's just the most arduous task that brings my ADD to a whole new level.  So, it took me almost two hours and I still didn't feel organized or accomplished afterward.  I felt scattered, overwhelmed, and on-edge.  

As I tried to get myself ready to head out to the store(s), I just couldn't get it together.  Everything I touched fell apart.  I touched the sink and the drain broke; I tried to defrost meat and I cooked it; I pulled one thing out of the closet and everything else fell out.  The house was a mess, there were dishes in the sink, laundry was piled everywhere, and I still had to prep and cook so much food for the week ahead.  I was completely overwhelmed and couldn't comfort myself in the usual ways, ya know, like with a handful of tortilla chips or a piece of chocolate.  

So, without my usual vices, I had nothing left to do but melt down and have a good cry.  I stopped trying to fight it and just surrendered to feeling out of control, overwhelmed and totally impatient.  I had to remind myself (and Jay, God bless him) that these types of emotional responses are normal when detoxing, especially during the first few days.  And with that, I blew my nose, dried my eyes, and was off to Trader Joe's.  And Whole Foods.  And Pathmark. 

Grocery shopping was a nightmare for two reasons:

1) There was food everywhere and I wanted to eat it all.  The free sample at Trader Joe's today?  Oh nothing, just BBQ effing pizza!!!  No thank you.  That's fine.  I'd rather have some sauerkraut anyway.  Ahem.

2) Every person got on my last nerve and I wanted to kill everyone. 

Luckily, I made it home without eating "bad" food and without committing murder.  Victory!  I rewarded my good behavior with a handful of almonds :/  Also in the lucky category, Jay cleaned the house while I was gone, so I walked into a much less chaotic scene than when I left.  I planned to start my laundry and chill for a while before dinner, but then I remembered that I had to prep and cook for the work week!  Ugh.  No.More.Cooking.  Apparently, there's no rest for the emotionally unstable.

I love cooking when I love to cook, but not always when I have to cook.  That's the thing about this detox - you are always in the kitchen or at the store or thinking about what you need to cook or what you need to get at the store.  It's all food all the time.  So, I headed back into the newly cleaned kitchen and proceeded to muck it up.  I made a batch of egg muffins, which will be my breakfast for the next several days.  I fried 8 strips of bacon, sauteed bell pepper, onion and spinach in a pan, whisked 12 eggs and poured it all into cupcake tins, baked for 20 minutes, and now I have portable breakfast on the go.  Egg muffins for the win.

Just when I thought I was done with cooking for the day, I looked at the clock and realized it was dinner time.  More.Cooking.OMG.  Also, I should mention that we do not have a dishwasher, so when I say "cooking", I'm also referring to washing mountains of dishes per cook session.  

For dinner we had grass-fed steaks, mashed potatoes cauliflower, and garlic green beans.  The cauli-mash was AMAZING.  Light, fluffy and buttery; I honestly think I prefer it over the real deal.  Once again, props to my friend Simone over at Zenbelly for another simple yet scrumptious recipe.  Dinner was delicious.  Like last night, it left me satisfied and blissfully content.  The grass-fed steaks (from America, not Australia!) were tasty, although a little chewy.  There's definitely a learning curve with cooking this kind of beef, and we're getting there.  

I'm happy that this day is almost over, and that I get to crawl into bed and dream about tortilla chips and tequila.  Tomorrow is a new day, and I hope to be in a better mood.  One saving grace is that I roped two of my co-workers into doing this with me, so at least we can all be miserable together.  Us miserable types, we sure do love company.  

So that's all for today, friends.  Tomorrow is Day 5, which sounds like a milestone; a real achievement.  Victory!  I think I'll reward myself with... more almonds :/  See you tomorrow. 

Day Three: Cramps & Cravings

I just ate a delicious dinner, took a hot shower, and am now sitting here on my couch in my jammers listening to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.  I haven't felt this content since, well, this morning.  All in all, today has been a great day despite some minor physical and emotional discomfort.

I woke up super early for a Saturday - 7:20am.  Yeah, I know.  I had abdominal cramping (not detox related) and just couldn't go back to bed, so I decided to cozy up with blankets and pillows on the couch and watch a movie.  I wound up watching Due Date with Robert Downy Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, which was exactly the kind of movie I was hoping for: light, funny and perfect for cramps.  

Once the movie was over, I got up and made myself a plate of fried eggs, bacon, and raw kraut.  I wasn't sure if my stomach was ready for eggs and bacon and butter, but it really hit the spot and made me feel better.  I still wanted to have a slow morning and ease into my day, so I slipped back under the blanket and got all wrapped up in a mini-marathon of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHoBH).  Now that is some good Saturday morning TV; it's like cartoons for adults. 

Several hours and one RHoBH season later, I finally peeled my self off the couch and decided to get going.  Aren't Saturdays amazing?  We had some leftover grass-fed beef from the burgers last night, so I made a few more burgers and had one over a salad.  I thought the beef tasted better today, probably because I didn't cook it so long.  Still not great, but not as gamey and chewy as last night.  

After lunch, I joined Jay in the downstairs apartment to help clean up from our month and a half-long renovation project to get it ready for a new tenant.  From the beginning, this project has been, well, not always what we we expected.  For instance, on the first weekend, we invited a few friends over to help us paint the unit.  We had picked a warm neutral called Cultured Pearl, which looked like a warm white when we slapped in on the wall.  Perfect.  

Six gallons and eight hours later, we had ourselves a pink apartment.  Not warm white, no.  This was 100% certified ballerina pink.  The worst part is that we kinda saw it happening stroke by stroke, but somehow convinced each other that it was just the harsh fluorescent light.  Well, turns out the light of day is even harsher and less forgiving.  We officially declared it PINK at 9:00am the next morning, and went to Sherwin Williams to start over.  So that's how the project began, and that's kinda how things have been going ever since.  But we're finally starting the wrap-up process; the construction is done and now the great clean-up begins.

As the day waned on, I noticed a shift in myself.  I became a touch more serious, had a bit less patience and was very much in my own head.  I didn't know it at the time, but I now realize that this was right around the time my first cravings began.  Not for chocolate nor wine, but for a tortilla chip.  Or a handful.  Or - let's be honest here - a bag.  I wanted a mouth-full of salty-crunchy snacky goodness, and I wanted it now.  I was hijacked by my craving and couldn't focus on anything but the one thing I couldn't have. 

This was the first detox symptom I had experienced, and rather than give in to the craving, I decided to shift gears and go back up to the kitchen to start making dinner.  I snacked on salty pistachios, which helped, but then Jay snacked on tortilla chips and kissed me with his salty lips and tortilla-chip breath.  I learned an important lesson in that moment: I hate Jay when he eats tortilla chips while I can't.  

Deep breaths, deep breaths.

I hated on him for about 2 minutes, but then I was distracted by and overcome with love for the aroma that was emanating from the oven.  Garlic bread!  Well actually, it was garlic ginger chicken, but it might as well of been garlic bread.  It was so damn good, and satisfied my craving as if it were bread.  I made it with snap peas and bell peppers sauteed in butter, with leftover cauliflower rice.  I'm pretty certain that this has been the first detox dinner that felt indulgent and left me deeply satisfied.  After feeling so antsy and distracted by my cravings, it felt borderline blissful to be content rather than filled to the brim with desire for something I'm choosing to forego.

After devouring my dinner, I decided to end the day with a long, hot shower.  Sometimes nothing comforts like warm water, especially in the cold of winter.  It felt nice to be alone with my thoughts, processing the day's highs and lows as I lathered up with a sweet vanilla lavender body wash.  It was all the dessert I needed.

So all in all, a great day.  I'm really feeling the cozy vibe and might end my night with another movie on the couch.  Or better yet, bed.  Mmmm, bed.  Now that's a craving I can give in to ;)  Nighty night y'all.

21 Days, One Day at a Time


It's that time of year again, friends.  Time to walk away from the tortilla chips, put down the Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale down, and shun all sweets for 21 days (crazy, right?).  That's right, it's time for a good ol' fashioned detox.  

Every year, in between January and May, I do some type of detox.  It's always the same general concept (avoidance of sugar and carbs in all of their sneaky and delicious forms), but the format varies.  This year, I've chosen to do the 21-Day Sugar Detox thanks to the recommendation of my friend Simone.  

What I love about this plan is that it's based on the Paleo way of eating, which in a nutshell is all about returning to whole foods the way they were long ago; before food was an industry, before government subsidies, before everything we ate came in a package that we bought in a box store, and before cancer and diabetes became part of our everyday realities.  Unlike other "diets" or lifestyles, paleo just seems to make sense.  There are no points to add up, no calories to count, and no scales to weigh food on (that is ridiculous, by the way).  It's all about enjoying meats, veggies, certain nuts, lots of good fat and some fruit, while avoiding grains, gluten, and sugar. Simple.

I plan on using these three weeks to purge some other bad habits (staying up too late, not drinking enough water, drinking too much heavy beer, playing Words with Friends too much, not reading enough, not writing enough, etc.) and get back the things I love most - sleeping, reading, writing.

And speaking of writing more, I'll be blogging each and every single one of these 21 days, and will be sharing the ups and downs of this journey with you, my dear reader.  Today is day two, so let me back it up and cover day one.

Day 1
They key to being successful at any detox is being prepared, which I was.  I had made meal lists and had done my grocery shopping a few days prior to day one, and I had brought food to work and stashed it in the fridge.  I definitely gave myself a gold star for a solid prep effort.  So, I woke up on day one and made myself a hearty veggie and egg scramble with a few strips of bacon.  I left for work feeling good and ready to take on whatever the day would bring.  

Well, one thing the day brought was a rather last minute outreach event that I had to attend for work, from 11:00 - 2:30.  Normally I would just grab lunch on the road, but not on day one of a detox.  I figured I'd snack on some almonds until I got back to the office.  Well, by the time I got back to the office, assembled my salad, and chatted with a few co-workers, it was 3:30, and I was ravenous!  I had let my blood sugar crash, and I paid for it the rest of the day.

While my lunch helped the feeling subside a bit, I just never fully recovered from that head-achy, depleted, grumpy feeling.  I went home, grabbed a beer, did dishes, cooked dinner (delicious green coconut salmon with bell peppers and cauliflower rice, recipe courtesy of Zenbelly), and was literally in bed before 9:30.  For a girl who normally hits the hay around midnight, this was nuts.  

So, I learned two valuable lessons on day one:

1) I ate breakfast way too early and lunch way too late.  I need to eat breakfast around 9:00 rather than 6:30.  I'm not at all hungry at 6:30, plus, it puts too much space in between breakfast and lunch creating unnecessary hunger.  

2) I cannot allow my blood sugar to crash like that again.  If I have a busy day and need to be on the road during the lunch hours, I need to pack my lunch and bring it with me.  

With those lessons learned, I moved on to day two.

Day 2

After nine hours of scrumptious sleep, I was ready to rise and shine at 6:30am.  Rather than make breakfast and eat too early, I decided to throw dinner leftovers in a Tupperware and bring 'em to work.  Perfection.  I think this how I'm gonna roll from here on out.

A few hours later, I assembled a hearty salad with mixed greens, grilleld chicken, avocado, bell peppers, onions, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.  It had plenty of protein and fat, not to mention flavor, so it was totally satisfying.  

The rest of the day rolled on fairly quickly and without incident.  I snacked on some almonds around 4:30, and wasn't hungry for dinner until after 8:00.  We had grass-fed beef burgers with all the fixins' and brussel sprouts sauteed in butter and garlic.  This was my first time cooking and eating grass-fed ground beef, and it was just ok.  I got this particular meat at Trader Joe's, and couldn't help but notice that it was from Australia!  First of all, that's a l-o-n-g way for meat to travel.  Secondly, one of the things I remember from my visit to Australia is that the meat was awful- like really, really bad.  So, I'm gonna chalk up the iffy flavor and texture to Australia (no offense Australia, I love everything else about you!) and hope for better beef next time.  

Lessons learned/observations from day two:

1) Getting plentiful sleep set the tone for the entire day.  For the first time in months, maybe even years, I was early for the train today.  I got to the station and had five - yes FIVE - minutes to kill.  Who knew mornings could be so leisurely.

2) I've been drinking a ton of water, and while my bladder is less than thrilled, the rest of me feels hydrated and happy.

3) I should probably quit getting my meat from Australia and look for a local farm.  Lesson learned.

Well, that's all I've got for now.  I'm off to bed to rest my weary head.  Stay tuned for day three!