Sunday, September 17, 2017

Five Things Make a Blog Post

Wow - it's been 6 months since I posted here? Welp, here's a list post :)

1. I am tickled about giving myself a cute, sparkly manicure.

About a month ago, I went to brunch and a nail salon with my belly-dance buddies. I got a gorgeous purple gel manicure, which has lasted beautifully. Other than my nails growing out, the polish looked great! The grow-out, not so much. I filled in the grow out with blue polish, covered it all in silver glitter, and used Seche Vite top coat. Not only does it look good (assuming you're into glitter, which I totally am), the Seche Vite dried all the polish in record time. I love it just for that! I plan to report back on how well the touch-up mani lasts.

2. I have all my lunches for next week cooked and ready to go - I can't remember the last time that's happened. No picture for this, because box lunches, while wonderful, are not photogenic.

3. My current La Croix flavored sparkling water obsession has nearly supplanted my Dr. Pepper obsession. It's certainly kept me hydrated while I've been totally uninterested in drinking water.

4. My sodium intake has stayed within goal most of the time. I continue to loathe keeping strict track of everything I eat, although the low sodium practice is getting easier otherwise. While Spark People does have the best nutrition tracker, I'm taking a break from using it. The site is very weight-loss focused, which is re-awakening every food and eating issue I have ever had.

5. I've been reading Body Respect by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor. Is it, as the kids say these days, giving me life. This book is helping me re-evaluate my eating plan to something at least less hateful, and maybe even something enjoyable :)

Bonus Gratitude List:
1. Apricot La Croix!
2. sparkly fingernails
3. roommates who do the grocery shopping and cook dinners
4. todoist - when I actually use it, it's a huge help to keeping on top of things
5. that medications exist to keep my cardiovascular system from killing me
6. having a washing machine in my house. It's a common thing, but such a wonderful convenience!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Story A Day May 2017, story 1

I am participating in the Story a Day May writing challenge :)

Today's rough draft is inspired by today's writing prompt

Sunday, 11am
Funerals always make me feel my age.

I leaned on my cane coming home from the funeral. My darling daughter got took me home and got me settled before going on to her own home. First I thanked my lucky stars to have family that cared more about me than the cost of my upkeep, then I started to open my mail. Most of it was junk, of course. Out of habit, I put aside anything brightly colored that Birdie might want for her collages. It was her funeral today. I left the papers aside. I couldn't bring myself to toss them - not yet. There was just one more envelope to open. I checked the return address three times, I was so shocked - it was from Birdie! Did she mail something right before she died?

I have never opened an envelope so slowly in my entire life. You would have thought I was afraid a monster might fall out of it. Or a ghost.

It was one of birdie's collaged postcards. I was sure she hadn't shown it to me the last time I saw her. I thought about calling my daughter - maybe I was seeing things? I certainly wasn't going to call the so-called "nursing" staff, even if I was seeing things. But, I also wasn't going to drag my daughter back across town because I'd gone soft in the head. If it was my imagination, at least I was still creative enough to invent a really gorgeous postcard. Well, the postcard from the dead wasn't going to read itself.
Reading glasses cleaned on settled on my nose, I turned the card. After an eternal moment, I opened my eyes and read. "I'm not dead. Meet me Tuesday night at 8 behind the dungeon."

"If you're really alive," I told the postcard, "I am going to kill you."

Tuesday, 8PM, behind the community Physical Therapy room.

I can't believe I'm actually standing here, waiting for a dead woman to come explain herself. Or waiting to find out that I really have gone off my rocker. Or waiting here to scare the bejeezus out of someone else sneaking around. You'd be surprised at how well old people can sneak. It's a survival skill around here. I must have been at least as nervous as I was angry - as soon as I heard steps, I changed my grip on my cane, ready to smack someone.

Birdie said, "I knew you didn't really need that cane."

"I won't, if you explain yourself Right. Now."

Birdie's wrinkled face split into a grin. "Don't beat me up now that I'm finally free!"

My jaw dropped. I lowered my cane. Holy shit. The old bitch really was alive. I babbled as we embraced, so glad to have my friend still, and so angry to have had to mourn her. Relief won, so I didn't strangle her.

"Okay," I said, holding her hands, "What the hell?"

"I'm free! My rotten kids can stop bitching about how much I'm draining their inheritance, the nannies here can stop treating me like a crazy person, and I can do whatever I like."

I blinked. Her kids really were terrible. I'd stay with her when they visited, partly for moral support and partly so she wasn't the only one to hear the terrible things they said. Lately they'd been hinting that Birdie was in mental decline, and needed to make of them her power of attorney. It was just a ploy to get at her money, of course, but try telling the staff here that. No one is going to believe an old lady.

She must have seen comprehension finally dawn on me. "Yup. I'm out. I've cashed out all of my investments, put it all in accounts under my maiden name. I'm going to have a very good time on my children's inheritance."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Sodium Survey 20170319

Only a quick update today; I've been sick. The worst is past, thankfully, and I'm taking it easy while I recuperate.

I met my goal very well all last week, and totally blew it today. I didn't realize until after I'd put them in the oven that the pork-chops had been injected with salt water - raising the sodium content significantly. If you read your meat labels carefully, you'll find that almost all of your poultry is treated the same way, and some of your other meats as well. It's not a problem for most folks, but super annoying for me. I'll be more assiduous in reading labels going forward.

Monday, March 13, 2017

What is my fashion style?

Reading and responding to this excellent blog post got me thinking about my own personal style, and how I want to dress to bellydance. With that in the back of my mind, I read this article, which kicked the beauty-standard underpinning right out from under my fashion thinking.

Metaphorically, I'm on my butt watching the grains of my fashion and dance style fall around me while (a lot of) the cultural chaff blows away. To torture the metaphor further, it will take a while to mill and knead and bake all this into clothes/costumes that feed my soul; I'm sure it will be delicious :)

As a start, here's a list of things I love wearing:
long, flowing, twirly skirts
sleeveless or 3/4 sleeves
natural fibers
minimal elastic in the waistband
V- and scoop-necks, including low with supportive bras
bare-foot sandals
minimal to no shoes
Pretty and/or dramatic scarves
hair ornaments
high/low tops and skirts/dresses
well made

Whatever I end up doing with this, I'm sure it'll be fun :)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday Sodium Survey, weeks 8, 9, and 10

Days tracked: 2/19/17 to 3/11/17*
Daily goal: less than 2000 mg sodium per day
Days goal met: ALL!

A while back I posted the first full-week Sunday Sodium Survey. Eating low sodium is clearly good for my health. Aside from the long term benefits for me**, my blood pressure is lower than it's ever been, and I'm not retaining water. I am so much not retaining water that I haven't needed to take my diuretic recently. I will do my level best to maintain this low sodium intake for the rest of my life.

I am getting resigned to eating low sodium. It would be a filthy lie to say that I don't miss the salt; I miss it all the time. It's possible that most folks would feel differently after 8 weeks eating low sodium. It wouldn't be the first time that I'm atypical :) But it may well be proof that Irony is an important part of the structure of the universe - all of my go-to comfort foods are salty/savory. Most of what I like to cook is improved with a good sprinkle of salt. Hell - when I'm eating enough fruits and vegetables, I don't much care for eating other sweets. However, I am a forward-thinking hedonist. I will live longer and live better eating low sodium, so I will keep doing it. I will also work on hating it less, and maybe even enjoying it :)

Going forward I'll keep posting the Sunday Sodium Survey, but instead of counting weeks I'll just use the date. The weekly check in has been remarkably helpful, but counting the weeks is becoming a chore, so away it goes :)

Have a great week, however you choose to eat!

*oops - fell out of the posting habit for a couple weeks. I'm back now :)

**While I need to keep my sodium intake down, not everyone does. My body is particularly sensitive to salt. Even if you are salt sensitive, reducing your salt intake isn't a moral imperative - you do you and we'll celebrate being our own selves :)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sunday Sodium Survey, Week 7

Days tracked: 2/12/17 to 2/18/17
Daily goal: less than 2000 mg sodium per day
Days goal met: ALL!

I don't have a whole lot to share about eating low sodium; definitely nothing new. I'm doing really well at it, despite it being a huge pain. It's very much easier when there's low sodium meals prepared ahead of time. I'm still very frustrated about it, and I still miss the salt fiercely.

To counter balance the un-fun, here's some snapshots of things that make me happy :)

I started with this crocheted flower pattern, added a pin and hairclip back, and beads for the flower center.

It came out rather well.

This crocheted shamrock will also end up as a hair clip.

With the cord leftover from the shamrock, I made a short bit of this lovely garland as another random hair decoration.

My big craft finish recently is this hat.  It's inspired by The Pussyhat Project patterns. I knit it in the round, because I find that relaxing.

I'm seeing some themes to these photos. I've taken other pictures, but padding my cpap headgear just doesn't look as cute as these projects :)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Sodium Survey, Week Six

Days tracked: 2/5/17 to 2/11/17
Daily goal: less than 2000 mg sodium per day
Days goal met: 6 out of 7

After 6 weeks of eating low sodium, I can definitely say that I still hate it. This stinks on ice. I can also say I'm doing amazingly well with this, especially given how much of a challenge this is.

For my whole life, I've been easy to feed. I wasn't picky as a child. I'm usually the easiest person to please when a group is eating out or choosing pizza toppings. I like being easy to feed. Now I'm the most challenging person to feed, and I resent it.

Let me emphasize - everyone around me has been wonderfully supportive. My frustration is entirely with myself.

On the more positive side, when I can prepare food ahead it's easier to eat. Even when I don't, I'm getting better at thinking of things to cook. I'm not thrilled with my options, but I'm getting used to them - more resigned than anything else, but that's still a kind of progress.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Sunday Sodium Survey, Week Five

Days tracked: 1/29/17 to 2/4/17
Daily goal: less than 2000 mg sodium per day
Days goal met: All of them!

Just a quick check in, a bit late. This weekend was rough emotionally - nothing terrible, just an unfortunate confluence of monthly hormones and unhelpful brain chemistry. I did a whole lot of therapeutic knitting :)

How was your weekend?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Sodium Survey, Week Four

Days tracked: 1/22/17 to 1/27/17
Daily goal: less than 2000 mg sodium per day
Days goal met: Very nearly all

One day last week I went over 2000 mg Na by 10 mg. I very nearly reported that I met the goal every day, but if I'm going to fudge by a little it'll be easier to fudge by a lot. For me, the hard limit works best.

Avoiding hunger is key. I still resent having to eat low sodium. As long as I don't get too hungry I don't have to struggle as hard against salty food cravings. I have these cravings, of course, they're just easier to keep on the back burner.

Big news from this last week - I went to my bellydance class again! I hadn't been to Tribaret in ages. I can't dance the whole class yet, but I danced as much as I could, and it was wonderful :)

In even bigger news, I got to see a friend I hadn't seen in years! She's heading to TX for a while, but at least it will be less than 4 years before I see her again :)

Finally, the little news this week is that I have done a little bit of writing :) I don't have anything sharable, just some bits and pieces. I may share once I have a complete story done.

Have a great week, folks!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday Sodium Survey, Week Three

Days tracked: 1/15/17 to 1/21/17
Daily goal: less than 2000 mg sodium per day
Days goal met: Every. Single. One.

This week has been every so slightly easier than the previous two. I would still be lying if I said that it was easy, but I am getting used to things. Preparing food ahead of time is a huge help. I still crave salty foods; thankfully the cravings are less urgent than they had been. Keeping low- and no-sodium snack foods handy helps me avoid getting too hungry. It also helps that I genuinely enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Unsalted butter and a collections of spices have kept my food fun and interesting.

The big excitement this week is on the home front; specifically the cat department.

My roommates have a cat, Prince - short for Prince Tunapaws, Lord of the Apartment. He's been with my roommates for years. Until recently he would either ignore me, or run from me like I was going to take him to the vet. One morning this week, though, he and I were the only ones downstairs. He didn't scramble away as soon as I came into the room. In fact, I got to pet and scritch him for quite a while. He purred! He even let me pet him a bit later that same day, in front of other people. That is high praise coming from Prince :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

(Belated) Sunday Sodium Survey, Week Two

Days tracked: 1/8/17 to 1/14/17
Daily goal: less than 2000 mg sodium per day
Days goal met: 6 of the 7

Wednesday I went over goal by 220mg. If I were grading myself, I would give partial credit for Wednesday since it wasn't a whole lot over my goal, and it would have been sooooooo easy to go over by a lot more.

Last time I pointed out the common wisdom that after 6 - 8 weeks of eating low sodium you won't miss the salt anymore. I am now 1/3 to 1/4 into that time frame. The health benefits of keeping my salt intake down are still very apparent, including my dropping blood pressure. At the same time, I do not at all feel 1/3 or even 1/4 less of a craving for how I ate before I started this low sodium journey. I hate this change at least 90% as much as I did when I started. I am getting a bit used to it, and finding some new options. I am not even close to being at peace with it.

My roommates have been wonderfully supportive. They listen, have good suggestions, help me keep things in perspective, and are generally lovely people. Even the dog tries to help - although her suggestion to give her all the food isn't especially useful, having a doggie to pet is always a good thing.

I do have fun things going on. I'm loving the new knitting needles I've started using. I bought two new dresses that are wonderful :) Time, energy, and technology willing, I'll post some pictures of both :)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Sunday Sodium Survey, Week One

Days tracked: 1/1/17 to 1/7/17*
Daily goal: less than 2000 mg sodium per day
Days goal met: ALL OF THEM

Lots of sources say that if you stick to a low sodium diet, after 6 - 8 weeks you won't miss the salt any more.  I am ... skeptical. However, since the low sodium thing is here to stay, we'll see if it happens for me.  After one week of keeping my sodium intake under 2k mg per day, I miss it ALL THE TIME.  The invective I direct at my sodium tracker would melt adamantium, I am so frustrated.  

At the same time, I am proud of myself for sticking to it.  I'm focusing on enjoying the foods I do eat, and making sure I have low-sodium options on hand.  I often ask myself if a food choice is worth the sodium in it.  For instance, I like cheese on my pasta.  Half a cup of the shredded cheese we have is about 300mg of sodium, which is totally worth it for me, especially if the rest of my meals stay on the lower sodium side.  Really, I can have a little of just about anything.  Some things just aren't worth having only a little, so choose something else.   I read labels, look things up on the USDA Nutrition Database, and calculate salt content of whatever it is from that information.  

I use a simple spreadsheet on Google drive to track my sodium intake; a column of what I've eaten, the sodium content next to each item, and a running total for the day.  It's easy to update on whatever device I happen to have at hand.  I originally planned to just track foods that have sodium in them, but I find it satisfying to list no-sodium foods as well.  Not out of a desire for a complete log - I track the 0mg foods as a kind of "f&ck you" to the whole low sodium situation.  It may only make sense to me, but I'll take whatever small satisfactions I can get :) 

*Yes, last week's Sunday Sodium Survey also included 1/1/17. Looking at the calendar for this post I realized my error. In my mind, a week starts on Sunday.**

**I know some folks consider Monday the first day of the week; they are welcome to it. The week starting on Sunday, like the two spaces after a typed period, or sorting paperclips by size, will always be correct to me, regardless of rational arguments to the contrary.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sunday Sodium Survey, 0

Days tracked: 12/28/16 to 1/1/17
Daily goal: less than 2000 mg sodium per day
Days goal met: 12/30, 12/31, and 1/1/17
Grade: A++

You may notice that I met my goal on only 3 out of the 5 days; a 60% success rate. However, eating low sodium is REALLY HARD, so I'm grading on a massive curve. If my food frustration could be converted to electricity, this week would power the nation for a month. I only included the grade to comment on the grading curve; it probably won't be in any other Sunday Sodium Surveys.

I do not think everyone needs to cut their sodium intake, nor track it as closely as I am. Most people don't even need to worry about it. Without going into the medical details (that will be its own blog post), I will absolutely be healthier in the short and the long term by keeping my sodium intake down. In just a few days, my ankles are noticeably less swollen than they've been in ages. I feel better in general, although that could be the lovely placebo effect of taking any positive action.

Did I mention that eating low sodium is really hard? Because it's really, really hard. My poor roommates have been hearing about that a LOT lately. That is why I've started this blog series. Since I'm going to suffer, this tiny corner of the internet can suffer with me.

Well, no, I don't actually want others to suffer. If I find the magic wand that removes sodium without changing food's flavor, I will totally share it. To end on a positive, here's a list, in no particular order, of things for which I'm grateful:
~the USDA food composition database
~supportive friends, family, and roommates
~cute hair toys
~having access to good, consistent medical care
~downloadable ebooks and audiobooks from the public library

Question of the Day: For what are you grateful?