Adjustments: Physical

It’s so strange to realize that habits you’ve cultivated need to be broken. It’s also disconcerting, especially if you’re a person who thrives on habits and routines. I am one of those people. This is an epiphany I’ve recently had. In an effort to get myself together (which, believe me, is a NEVER ending process), I’ve been attempting to get on my health in order. I have many reasons for doing this. Two of the top ones being that my parents health and my family history. You name it, it’s in there. My sister and I have always joked that we’re doomed health wise. If it won’t be cancer, it’ll be Diabetes, or Dementia, or we’ll go blind, have diverticulitis or crippling arthritis. We’re going to get something but we’ve still, sort of, tried to keep a check on ourselves (she more than me, so props to you, Sister!)

I’ve been fascinated with health and homeopathic remedies for as long as I can remember.  I bought a book as a young teen that explained how a vegetarian diet could do wonders. I specifically remember there being a list of food and their benefits listed in the back of the book. I was vegetarian for about 2 years. (Well, pescatarian. OK, I was mostly vegetarian.) We even pulled it out to help my dad. I don’t know where that book is now. I should find it. So, I’ve always tried to be healthy and make smart choices. I usually don’t but it’s not for lack of knowledge. It’s just usually convenience and my stress level that , ultimately, was the deciding factor for things that impact my health. I try but usually fail. Recently, since I’m not in school, my interest in health and homeopathic remedies has been renewed. I’m also more concerned after recent life events have made health seem even more important. Another thing that adds to my revisiting this topic is the fact that a milestone birthday is encroaching…so, yeah.

I’m a snacker. I don’t mean that I eat small meals. I mean that I have proclivity to want to eat nothing but snack foods. I love, LOVE, potato chips. Oh, gosh, they are my weakness. Chips and dip? Stop. It’s my favorite thing. I also really love crackers and cheese. Basically, anything crunchy, I’m fine with. However, that’s not the best choice. Sadly, a healthy body (and mind) does not cheese, crackers, chips, and queso make. You can’t, or shouldn’t, live on crackers, chips, cheese, dip, and fruit snacks. After realizing this, and after reflecting on the last couple of years, I knew a change had to be made. I am a 29 (insert crying emoji here, and come see me crying at my desk) year old woman who knows what meals should look like, has knowledge on what my nutritional profile should be. I can give that advice to other people and I have. I’ve given that advice freely. Yet, I cannot put this knowledge into practice for myself.

This, y’all, is a problem. After some deep reflection, I been questioning how I’m even alive. I’m pretty sure that for the last 3 years, I’ve lived off of the previously mentioned snacks,  dry cereal, Raising Canes, Wendy’s 4 for 4 and the occasional Taco Bell quesadilla. I probably have some sort of vitamin deficiency. I should go to the doctor and have test run.  It’s a wonder I had the physical and mental ability to finish my degree and do the things I was doing. How?!

The realization of what my diet consisted of and knowing that I do know better, (I’ve taken multiple nutrition classes, read so many studies, books, blogs, all the things. I was in charge of designing a menu for a school for goodness sake. I know about these things!) I knew something had to change. I had to start making a habit of eating actual meals that consisted of actual food.  Which means cooking but I’m fine with that. I enjoy cooking. It also means planning! I love planning but was never good with it when it came to food. Like I said, not being in school is really changing the game. I can look at recipes and do more than just admire them. I actually make them. I plan out what I will cook when. I even plan snacks ahead of time! It’s amazing. Things are changing.

However, it wasn’t just school that made making informed choices difficult. If you’ve seen any of my other post, you know that things have happened in the last few years. Those events affected everything. My ‘diet’ was heavily impacted by those events.  Making ‘right’ nutritional choices didn’t matter. I was worried about too many other things. So, when you’re so tired because you don’t sleep, you know you need something but you don’t care what it is. When you’re working 11 hours a day and don’t leave your work place, you will eat the stale Goldfish, and you’ll eat them in abundance. When you’re depressed and you haven’t eaten in almost 24 hours but you know you should, going through a drive thru is so much easier. When your anxiety is high and you’re on the verge of a panic attack, comfort food is much more appealing because you’re convinced the comfort food will soothe better. This was my thought process.

So, here I am, learning to make better choices and function like a ‘normal’ person (for the record, there is no such thing as normal, we’re all quirky, which is how it should be). It’s been an effort, but I think, so far so good. I’ve made marked improvements in just a few months. Especially, in my thinking of food. There’s thought put into what and when I will eat. I now have breakfast everyday. I’ve never been a breakfast person because I get up early. Always an early riser, never a breakfast eater, just coffee. Now, I have a smoothie every morning! I also, usually, go home and make something for lunch and supper. I still like my snacks but they’ve decreased significantly. I didn’t even buy chips last time I got groceries! (I did get crackers , though, because one thing at a time) Now, I know this isn’t perfect or even the formula that’s suggested (again, I do know about these things. It’s one thing to know, another to put it into practice.) The point is, I’m trying. I really am trying. Not just in this area of life but across multiple areas. It was time.

I’m making adjustments because they have to be made. I see the pattern I’m in and the one I’ve been in for years and I’m finally ready to break it. I’m ready to improve it. Not for vanity but because it matters. It has impact on my life! It’s also a process. It’s a process to get a healthier place. Again, not just physically healthy but healthy all over. I’ll write more about those adjustments later. I’m in process. I mean, who isn’t! Right? I just feel compelled to share about mine, for some reason.

April’s 5 Things

April is only about halfway over but I wanted to round-up 5 things that I’m loving right now. Maybe you’ll find something you can love, too!

Lush Blousey Shampoo. Y’all this stuff is made out of bananas. BANANAS!! It’s the first thing on the ingredients list. After adding purple to my hair, I needed something that would help keep my hair moisturized and color looking good. This shampoo is gentle but very cleanings. It smells incredible and it gives my hair some volume and shine. This is a Lush product that has been added to the list of “Products I must always have on hand!”. I LOVE it. Just to drive it home: Bananas. blousey

Beard and Lady Hair Oil.  I might have mentioned this glorious elixir before, I don’t know. If I have, oh well. I’m going to talk about it again. This is another “Product I must have on hand!” I use it probably 3 times a week. It’s made with Amla Oil which may need to be added to the list of wonders of the world. It feels great on my hair and helps make it soft. It helps me preserve my purple strands (or blonde or brown or black or whatever I’ve decided I want to do with this mop upon my head). I’ve been using it for at least a year and I’m obsessed. Again, another product that smells heavenly and does wonders for my hair. Bonus: It comes in a beautiful bottle with a wax sealed cork top. Beautiful and functional. (Also, I may or may not have three of these bottles in my bathroom right now because I can’t bear to throw them away!) hair_oil_1024x1024

Frankincense Oil.  So, um, yeah. I don’t know much about essential oils. I have some but I don’t really know what to do with them. I’ve made a couple of concoctions with coconut oil for various things. I’ve used them to make “Homemade Febreeze” and various other Pinterest products (because where else am I going to figure out how to use them?). This oil though is one I’ve started using daily. I’ve read several articles where it’s good for the skin and can help to provide some relaxation. In all honesty, I find it amazing that people swear by these things. There are people who have a very high view of essential oils. I am not one of them but I do believe they have benefits. Anyway, I’ve been adding just a drop or two to my moisturizer at night and I feel like it’s helping. It may not be, but I feel like some of my scars (due to pretty bad acne as an early teen) are getting better and my skin is getting smoother (I also credit my moisturizer, which is, surprise!, a Lush product. Lush Cosmetics, call me…on Twitter.) I also recently went through a stint where sleep was very elusive. I tried Lavender Oil and a few others but none had the effect Frankincense did. It just rub a little on the bottom of my feet and fell asleep pretty quickly. Weird. Nature is weird.

My Morning Smoothie. I have never really been much of a breakfast person. I have always been an early riser but didn’t want to eat until noon. So by noon, I was SO hungry, that I made poor choices because I needed food. Sometimes, I would want something at 10ish but my thought would be why eat now when lunch is in a couple of hours. I’m not going to say where this smoothie recipe came from because I don’t want anyone to judge me. However, I will say that I think it’s changed my life. I’ve been consistently drinking this smoothie for almost 5 weeks every weekday (not on the weekends because those are cereal mornings. Holla!) and it’s doing something, y’all. It keeps me full until lunch and since I’m not ‘starving’ when it’s time for my break, I’m eating good things. I did make an adjustment to the recipe, though. The original calls for protein powder but I don’t feel like I need that so I’ve added a Chia and Flax seed mixture to substitute. Here’s the ingredients:  almond milk, frozen blueberries, peanut butter, spinach. Again, the original recipe used protein powder, but I use the seed mixture instead. I don’t measure the ingredients but we all know how to make smoothies. Right? Trust me. It’s so good!

Couturie Forest (in New Orleans City Park).  I have a confession. I’ve lived in New Orleans for coming up on 6 years (WHAT?!) and didn’t think it was capable of having something like this. Since I’ve been here, my spot has been Lake Pontchartrain. Mostly because I love water but that’s Top 5 for another month. The Couturie Forest is a magical place located in City Park. There are trails that go along a lake, beautiful trees, lovely greenery, and unique bird houses. It provides the “get in the woods” experience this country girl at heart still occasionally needs. There’s also picnic tables and natural benches out there! It’s incredible. There’s also several geocache points within the forest (and in the park!). It’s an escape from the concrete and congestion. It’s also quickly becoming a place I like to hang out. I’ve taken a few Saturdays and have walked the trails. It also happens to feature one of the highest points in the city! It’s only 43 or so feet above sea level but around here, that’s elevation!

These are the things I’m loving this month! I hope to maybe make this a regular thing because it’s fun sharing the things I’m into. Also, you’ll get to see how varied my interest actually are. I like a lot of random stuff, I promise. Feel free to share your current top 5 with me! We can learn from each other! Yay!

 

Outlier

That is the term I’ve been looking for. Outlier (noun) “a person or thing detached from the main body or system.” I feel like an outlier of myself, of my family, of my friends. Why? Because I’m still dealing. I’m still sorting things out. I want to be done sorting it out but I can’t seem to get there. It feels like I’m on a treadmill. I just keep moving but I’m not going anywhere or making any progress.

I especially relate to the term by feeling like I am outside and cutoff from myself. Is that possible? It can’t be healthy. I can’t be good to feel detached from yourself. I do though. I feel like there’s a gap internally. I feel like I’ve been invaded or hacked. Something is still way off. In the past I’ve described it as empty feeling or lonely but I am an outlier. I am detached and separated. It’s not fun. It’s confusing and devastating. The outlier me is not anything I like. It’s like a clone of myself or something. The other me, the current me, does things that I absolutely hate. Flakey, drawn in, lazy, angry, sad, confused. I can’t get the fog out of my head. I can’t find the me that I want to identify with. Maybe the person I used to be has been snuffed out.

Maybe it’s just a part of life. Becoming detached is something you have to go through. It’s like erosion. It’s sad that it takes something away. It can cause problems so we try to find ways to stop it but it happens anyway. However, we accept it and we look at what’s been created and think “Well, maybe it isn’t so terrible. This process has actually made something kind of OK.” So, maybe eventually, the feeling of detachment will disappear and it will instead feel like everything is right.

That seems so dramatic and over the top. It feels I’m making it up, like I’m creating a character. Unfortunately, I’m not. This is a real feeling. It’s the most accurate description of how I’ve felt for a long time. I’ve used other words. Segmented. Detached. Isolated. Lonely. Depressed. Low. In truth, it’s probably something that needs to be evaluated by a professional. I try to fight it. I’ve almost convinced myself that  I’ll just wake up one day and I’ll feel whole and better and back to myself. I’ll find that attachment. However, detachment and erosion don’t work that way. The only way to gain back the connection is to build one. It won’t come back naturally. I’m no longer sure it’s worth trying to build a structure so that I can maybe feel a little more normal.  This is how the character has developed. There’s been a shift. So, detached and crumbling I look back and try to conjure up the person I was used to being. Grasping at tethers that snap off at the slightest pull. I am the outlier and there’s no way to reattach.

via Daily Prompt: Outlier

Home?

“There’s no place like home.” That’s the famous saying. I believed it for a long time. However, over the last year ( and some change) my thoughts on their being no place like home has changed. Why? Well, heartbreak. Heartbreak changed what home means and where it is. Surrender has also changed the meaning of home for me. I thought I knew where and what home was but now I’m not so sure.

I knew going home for the first time after having my heartbroken so deeply would be different. It couldn’t help but be different. The first trip home with no agenda or events happened at Christmas last year (2016). I’ll be honest, I dreaded it. For the second time in my life, I would have rather gone anywhere else but home. Emotionally, I was ready to blow all of my money and jump on a plane to somewhere far away. I didn’t, though. I went to my Mama’s house (it used to be my parent’s house but now there’s only one parent so the language changes.) and spent Christmas there. It was good and it was bad. Maybe bad isn’t the right term. It was actually kind of frustrating. It was frustrating because this trip was the first time I realized that it is absolutely not the same place.

It could be because there’s still a lot of healing that needs to be done in that place. It could be that after the heartbreak happened, my love for this place that I once never wanted to leave was extinguished. I love the people there immensely. I love them too much, probably. I just don’t love that place anymore. From far away, it seems inviting and like a great place to escape to and in reality for everyone else, it is! It’s just not for me anymore.

I had those feelings confirmed after going home for 3 days just over a week ago. I tried to get myself amped up for the trip. I was excited to see my mom and my family but nothing else about the place did anything for me. I knew what it was going to be like. Quiet, slow, and Mayberry like. Well, Redneck Mayberry like, let’s be real. (I’m not trying to hurt feelings, but y’all know it’s true.) I also experienced something I can’t explain. I think it was (is) anger. Deep seated anger that I didn’t know was there. I thought I had worked through the anger of my dad dying but evidently not. For some reason, I’m angry at a place. I’m angry for home being the place where my world and my heart was smashed to a trillion pieces. Now, I realize it makes no sense to be angry at a place but I really believe I am. I’m angry at there not being a sliver of it feeling the way it used to. The sadness is still there.

I don’t remember much after my dad passed away but I do remember the sadness. The heaviness of that sadness and I know I still feel it. I feel it deeply there.  This feeling makes the place I once loved and wondered at feel desolate and unreal. It’s not home. I don’t know that it can ever be home again. It’s where a lot of love is, that’s for sure. It’s a place where I am welcomed and asked when I will return (Probably never, just for the record.). There’s a lot of good things there but those good things aren’t for me. The place that was home for 23 years is now a strange place. It’s a place it hurts to go. It’s a place I no longer know how to interact with. It’s not home. It’s family but ti’s not home.

So, where is home? I don’t know. It’s not where I’m currently living. I know that much. It’s somewhere. It has to be. Everyone has a home, don’t they? We all have somewhere that  makes our hearts feel warm and settled. My heart feels unsettled and slightly chilly. I mentioned surrender earlier. I surrendered to the idea that this place where I am is not my home. I also surrendered to the idea that the place I grew up is no longer home. It’s not easy or pretty but it’s honest. If I can’t be honest, then what’s the point?

I’ll find home. It’s out there. I know it’s out there because there’s no place like it.

 

 

Free

I spend too much time caught up in my thoughts. I also spend too much time caught up on the “What Ifs” and “What’s Next”. I realized this a long time ago and I’ve tried many times to not be that way. There’s a few reasons why it’s most likely not ideal to spend so much time thinking about the future or things that will, most likely, never happen. One of the big ones is that it takes away from the now. There are great things happening right now and I usually miss them. I catch the greatness of moments later and then wish I could have been more focused on what was happening rather than the aftermath of the moment.

So, a couple of days ago, I decided to stop. I am here and I’m living this life and it’s the way it is right now. It’s pretty good and I’m happy and grateful. I get myself down or overwhelmed thinking about the future. (It may have possibly been the reason why I wasn’t sleeping, see previous post) I want to enjoy the now. I want to take in the sweetness of good moments and the hurt of sad moments. I also want to fully experience mun dance things with new eyes.

I’ve also decided to stop being so afraid. I have a lot of fear and most of the time, it’s rooted in anxiety. Fear can get me down, quickly. I hate having that feeling of anxiety and fear rise up inside. It’s hot and makes me feel sick. While anxiety is something I’ve been fighting my whole life, fear is something new. It’s deep and real. Often it doesn’t make sense. I just get afraid. I hate that so I’m going to stop. In healthy ways, trust me. Usually, just being like “screw it, I’m going to do this thing I had planned on doing” helps the fear subside. What kind fun can be had in fear? None. So, I’m working on not being so afraid. This one will be a process for sure.

I want to be free! Truly free. I mean, I am free so why has it taken me so long to decide to really live like it? I, honestly, don’t know. The switch just flipped and light bulb appeared, fully lit. It was just time, I guess. It was time to be free, for real. I will go on adventures and take trips. I will work to get outside of my comfort zone because it’s going to be OK. This life is good and I am thankful so I’m going to start acting like it! I am free and there’s a lot more too that than just being willing to focus on the now and the small. However, I think that’s for another time.

No Sleep

This happens occasionally. I go through a month or two of getting very little to no sleep at night. I dread it. Usually, I can pinpoint the source and get things worked out but this time my sleeplessness remains a mystery. Maybe this is too personal to share. I don’t care. It’s life and I think it’s worth talking about. I’m not sleeping and I hate not sleeping because sleep is a gift from God. (Seriously, He said to find rest and so I like finding rest ) Sleep is also beneficial. It’s sort of something that your body needs. (You can google that, usually I’m all about research and dropping some knowledge but I’m not sleeping so I’m too tired…ha!)

I lived a life where sleep was very treasured. It was called grad school. I’ve stayed up feverishly working on projects and papers until the wee hours of the morning, multiple days in a row, until I was “drunk tired”. That’s the level of tired where nothing feels real. Your head swims and nothing makes much sense. [Looking back, I wonder how the little ones I was responsible for as a teacher made it out alive. They did, they call got changed and fed and loved on. I also realize I would probably have more friends if I hadn’t lived in this state for so long.] However, I’m not there anymore. I’m done with school and I’m just trying to live my life. I’m no longer in a high pressure job (I love my job and I give it my all. It has it’s stress but it’s a different vein of stress.) I no longer serve in multiple positions in multiple places. I have one job. One! I take care of myself (I could do better, I’m working on it.) My bills get paid and I have groceries in my kitchen,so there’s that. I have friends that love and care for me. I have family that love and care for me. I have hobbies (I should have more productive hobbies, but I have them). Everything is pretty OK.

I’m not sleeping. It’s been a little over a year since I’ve  had this much trouble sleeping. So, even though I should research things like why sleep is beneficial or do something productive like read a biography or some other sort of educational material, I let my mind wander. Oddly enough, this doesn’t help me sleep, it just makes matters worse. It rouses my anxiety (which is already piqued because no sleep) and makes my mind go into extreme over drive. Suddenly, I’m not smart enough for the job I have. I’m not educated enough to do the things I really want to do. I’m not a good enough friend, worse yet, I’m a selfish friend. I’m too self involved. I’m not doing enough for the environment or to help the orphans and widows. My hopes and dreams are useless. I’m lazy.

As you can see, it puts me in a great place(eye roll). So there I am, not sleeping and on the verge of a breakdown for no reason. All of this because I can’t pinpoint the thing that makes sleep unattainable. Then I continue to think. I think not only about all those things I just mentioned but I think about other things, too. Once my little mind gets going, it’s a very difficult thing to stop. The state of things all around my community, my city, my country, and the world leave me thinking about a lot of things. I’ve never been one to make statements about much of anything, other than my love for something (I get excited about things sometimes and it seem like I love something more than I love the important things. Trust me, that has yet to happen but I’ve got people watching out for me). I think a big part of my lack of sleep is my focus. My focus is off. I think I’ve written about this before but I’m prone to wonder and sadly, I do.

There are so many things that take our focus off the MOST important things. We, instead, choose to make a stand on things that seem to matter so much, right now. We scream and cry to make things better when we’re looking in the wrong place to get that accomplished. We stand for issues, which  in reality, were settled long ago. We’ve been looking in the wrong direction. As long as we’re doing that there won’t be any sleep.

I’ve got to refocus and look in the right place. A lot of us do. If you’re having trouble sleeping like me, (or maybe it’s something else your having trouble with) consider where you’re looking  and what takes up most of your vision now. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate and fight, even with heavy eyes, to look in the right direction.

 

Doubt

via Daily Prompt: Doubt

 

What don’t I doubt? That list is pretty small. I’ve always (seriously, always) been a doubter of myself. I am the one whose not good enough, smart enough, kind enough, creative enough, pretty enough, I could go on for days. I doubt myself. Always. I doubt my relationships. For some reason, in my twisted little mind, my relationship are always on the brink of destruction and when they do fizzle out, I am the one who snuffed it out. I doubt everything about my life. It’s the anxiety, I think, another constant companion of mine.

However, there is one thing I don’t doubt. One thing in my life that I’ve never had one single feeling of “nope” about. That is my faith. Though doubt pops its head up in this area of life as well, the doubt has been focused on me and not on The One who has made me His. I, by no stretch of the imagination, am a shining example of a what faith looks like. I falter and fail. I’m not as disciplined as I should be and I don’t do as much missionary work as I should, I don’t do enough telling. That doesn’t make my faith less real. I have never once doubted that God is real and that He is the one on who I should rely on. I believe in Him completely and know that He has a plan. While I doubt my exact place in that plan (it’s often the question of “Um, Lord, you’re going to use me *me* this way? Hm…I can’t…and with that I usher in the river of self-doubt), there has never been a point when I’ve doubted Him.

I know that the idea of God stirs people up. It causes arguments to start and in that people usually get their feelings hurt and emotions run wild. I’m not here for that. I’m here to simply say that I know there are a lot of people who have doubts about God and faith and about the idea of something bigger than us being in charge of all of it. It’s valid. I do believe it though. This is one thing I have no doubt about. I know that when I was 11, I was made new. I am not perfect (see the self-doubt examples above) but I continue to make my way down the path put before me. Though I doubt myself, I cannot doubt Him. He’s proven himself too many times to let me.