A week of contemplation…

The time between Christmas and New Years seems almost like a holiday, even though it isn’t one. It doesn’t feel like a busy party with presents and too much food but a contemplative party heading toward the birth of new year.

20181225_202409-01We opened all our presents yesterday and I got the gift I was hoping for… a new scale that says “You are amazing”. I need that daily affirmation, I think most of us do. I also got two pairs of slippers, one unicorn and one with mermaid sequins and two hot chocolate mugs, one with a unicorn that says “be magical” and one is a white cat with legs. Plus I got an ornament for my tree, a round, pink pig with wings and a crown. I knew they were sold out at every Pier One nearby, I didn’t realize my Mom had picked up one of the last ones.

More importantly was the time spent with family. Kait, her boyfriend, and their baby came over for Christmas morning, complete with stockings and cinnamon rolls. Then we all went over to my parents’ house for more presents, conversation, and yummy meals.

But Christmas is over and now it’s time to look forward to 2019. I have my main goal, I want to get on track diet wise so I can be a decent weight for our family Dominican Republic trip. I’ve slipped up this month and regained four pounds (arguably it could have been worse).

I want to spend more time with my friends and family. I’ve been enjoying Saturday karaoke nights with my friends each week and Sunday visits with family. I need to make it a priority to see Kait regularly too. I was going quite often when the baby was born and now the pendulum’s swung the opposite direction. I’d like to see her once every week or two.

I also want to get moving consistently. I don’t have to reach 10 thousand steps every day but I do need to get physical. It’ll help both my weight and my sleep.

My contemplative self wants a peaceful year. No worrying about trolls, whether they’re on Facebook or anywhere else. They can deal with their negativity on their own. And more connecting with my online friends. A message means so much more than a like.

The hardest one will be getting back into writing. I just don’t have the concentration I used to have. I read that writing in comic sans can help with concentration and creativity so that’s worth a shot. I can change the book back to garamond later.

This week will be spent converting our apartment back to it’s usual appearance. The tree will unravel back into plain green and the village will abandon it’s spot on the kitchen table. Soon they’ll all be tucked away in rubbermaid bins and moved into our storage unit. Recycling will be sorted and placed into the outside bins and our big garbage bag of gift wrap removed from our front hall. And, all the while, I’ll be ever so conscious of the new year looming ahead with it’s promise of a fresh start.

Hello 2019. I think I’m ready for you!

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Me at my parents’ house on Christmas evening

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Living in the nineties…

I joked to Colin last month that I’m going to be eating like I’m living in the 90’s again but it’s true. I was vegetarian back then and, when I went out, often my only choice on the menu was a grilled cheese sandwich and fries, which isn’t exactly vegan friendly. The vegan option then was a salad. There were no Beyond Meat burgers, Ben and Jerry’s almond ice cream, Haagen Daz almond ice cream bars, or vegan cupcakes.

The grocery store across the street dropped the price of a  three pack of Haagen Daz chocolate peanut butter bars down to $4.99. Tell me that isn’t tempting. It’s far too tempting for me. They taste so good and I can easily down three of them over the course of an evening.

So now I’m eating more lentils, fruits, and vegetables and making sure I get out for a walk every single day. I have a once in a lifetime vacation in March and I want to make sure I can fit my summer clothes.

One thing I’ve done is started a weight loss scrapbook, not to print, just for inspiration. I make a page every couple of days and scroll through when I need encouragement.

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Four of my layouts

So far the scrapbook has been a huge help. I have a tendency to look back and picture myself screwing up. Now I can go back and see that wasn’t the case, I’d done just fine.

Winter is coming early this year and it’s cold, yucky, and wet. I won’t be able to walk my favourite Cedar Valley trail for much longer and today’s walk was simply to drop off Colin’s ADHD medication at the drug store and stop in at Value Village so Colin could see if there was something exciting there. It was a miserable walk, windy and alternating between icy rain and snow, but we did get out of the apartment. I even found two tank tops that I love…

tank tops for Dominican Republic

The one on the left has silver glitter and the one on the right shimmers in gold, burgundy, and purple. They’re both light weight and will be absolutely perfect.

Now, since I didn’t get much of a walk outside today, I’m heading downstairs to the treadmill for a half hour of just me and my music.

It’s my life and I’m going to live it to my fullest!

Life in the land of Colin…

The phone rang while I was in the washroom. I swore as I got off the toilet and ran awkwardly to my room as I pulled up my pants. It stopped ringing as my hand touched the phone. It was Colin. No one else has that bad timing. I called him back.

“Mom? I’m done school now. Can you meet me at the voting place? I have my one piece of ID.”

I voted

Me voting and looking cute as hell doing so!

And I had his voter’s card. I agreed and went to get ready. I had one foot in the air about to put my shoe on when the phone rang again. Of course it was Colin, he was just getting on the bus. So I got my shoes on and headed out the door with my ID and both voter’s cards. It was a two for one deal. I was getting out to vote and getting in more steps for my fitbit (which is currently at almost 15k steps).

I met Colin by the traffic lights and headed into the school with him, where we both got directed to different stations. I agreed my name and address were the same, listened to the voting instructions and headed off to vote. Meanwhile Colin was busy chatting up the volunteers. I’d finished voting when he finally made it to the voter’s booth. This year we had an electronic counting program, sitting on a cardboard box instead of just a cardboard box with a hole cut out on the top. It beeped. Colin looked intrigued. And then we headed out.

“Do you know what I think would help voting?” Colin asked. He didn’t wait for an answer. “Basketball.”

I couldn’t wait to hear this one.

“In order to vote you’d have to shoot a hoop,” he continued. “There’d be lower ones for people in wheelchairs, otherwise it wouldn’t be fair.”

I must have missed something. “Umm… why would you need to shoot a hoop in order to vote?”

“For exercise!” he exclaimed, looking at me like I’d lost my mind. “We have an obesity epidemic. If everyone had to shoot hoops to vote, think about how much practicing they’d get done.”

I decided not to tell him that some people actually don’t vote and that would increase if shooting hoops became mandatory. There was no point in opening that can of worms.

“If you’re that worried about obesity, you could always go for walks with me,” I pointed out.

He looked affronted, “I walk every day to the bus with this huge red basket!”

The basket doesn’t even reach his knees.

“Besides, I’ve lost 30lbs, which is really hard to do considering I have to eat junk food because we’re broke.”

“I don’t eat junk food,” I pointed out. “And I’m just as poor as you.”

“Well what do you eat?” he scoffed. “Besides lentils.”

“I eat pasta-”

“Bzzzt!” he interrupted.

“-with tomato sauce and lots of vegetables.”

“That’s not healthy.”

“I eat frozen mixed vegetables with-”

“That’s so not healthy,” he interrupted, again. “That’s like 20 or 40 or half the amount of nutrients that are in regular veggies.”

“No, they have the same amount of nutrients as fresh veggies and sometimes even more,” I responded. He looked mulish and I sighed, “Just talk to Daisy, the nutritionist, if you don’t agree with me.”

He nodded then continued, “Do you know what’s really good and nutritious? Preservatives!”

I must admit I did not see that one coming.

“They have them in so many things, even bananas.”

“Bananas don’t have preservatives,” I replied. “They’re picked green and sprayed with a gas to ripen during transit.”

We walked into our building and checked our mailbox then Colin asked, “Do you know what we need?”

I was a bit scared to answer.

“Okay what,” I replied hesitantly.

“Radio free zones. They block out everything. Microwaves, wifi, everything. That way if there’s an alien trying to communicate with us, we’ll have a chance of hearing them.”

I was under the impression that radio free zones were simply camping areas that were more quiet than the rest of the park but I didn’t feel like arguing. I pushed the elevator button instead and held the door for someone else to get on.

“And they help with allergies too, like with people who think they’re allergic to wifi or radio waves. You know, the placebo effect.”

“I thought the placebo effect was for medicine,” I replied. By this time my head was starting to hurt.

“That’s one definition. You can also make someone feel more pain by saying a needle’s going to hurt.”

“Will I find these definitions in the dictionary or did you just make them up yourself?” I asked.

“It depends on the dictionary,” he said scornfully as he followed me into my room.

I opened up Facebook and found a blog post I wanted to read. Meanwhile Colin continued on about radio waves and how if aliens were trying to reach us, we were likely blocking their signal. I didn’t bother mentioning that if their message was reaching us now, they were likely long dead. Meanwhile my head was now pounding.

“Colin? I love you but my head’s pounding and I need some quiet,” I pleaded.

“But it’s really important. There could be aliens trying to contact us right now but our microwave isn’t letting them!”

“I’m serious. Quiet.”

“Fine,” he said scornfully and flounced out of the room. I’d like to say it ended there but that was when the cats started crying for attention. So I fed them and now finally have peace, well as much peace as I can while Colin talks to his computer.

If you’ve ever wondered what life with Colin’s like, this would be it. Kind of like a talk show host doing a stream of consciousness monologue while high. I love the kid dearly but he is very hard to follow sometimes.

And it’s his 21st birthday on Tuesday! We’re going to our local mall on Saturday and meeting up with his cousins to try out the new virtual reality location. Hopefully it’s amazing and fabulous. Just like him.

A fresh start…

The winter months are the hardest ones for me and they have been since I was a teenager. Back then I didn’t know much about depression, all I knew was that winter sucked. I dreamt of having a small garden of grass (the green lawn variety) that I could simply smell and rub my hands across, something tangible to remind me of spring. And now I have my room to remind me of summer, with it’s teal walls, big windows, and lots of greenery.

I have depression and anxiety all year round but winter means colder, shorter days with less time for walking. Plus the cold is a good incentive to stay home. And then there’s the carb cravings. I’ve gained thirteen pounds this winter and I’m pretty sure I’m having a brownie baby. One studded with chocolate chips.

Right now it’s still blah, all greys and brown. It’s still chilly too and the forecast for this week is mostly rain. It’s not the first of the month or even the start of the week. It’s got nothing going for it to be a fresh start but it is, simply because I feel like starting again now.

I’m not going to track my food intake. I tend to get obsessed over what I’m eating and anxious that I’m eating too much or not enough. Instead I’m simply going to use my Fitbit to track my steps. I got my 10 thousand steps in yesterday and, depending on how hard it’s raining, will get them in again tomorrow.

I am determined to be healthier and feel healthy. This summer I’m going to be back in my favourite t-shirts. This summer is going to be amazing!

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Enduring winter…

Some days I think of Robin Williams and am sad he died so young. Other days I’m amazed that he lived so long. It’s all in my perspective at the time.

Depression and anxiety are separate illnesses but they feed off each other in a continual loop of fear and hopelessness, making even the smallest task seem insurmountable. I’ve found having a routine helps but that’s not perfect and some days find me rocking in the kitchen, too anxious to start dinner and too uncomfortable to leave.

I spent two weeks in the mental health ward of our hospital last winter. That’s something both my psychiatrist and myself want to avoid in 2018. So I’ve been trying to keep myself busy. I’ve got two groups each week and they each do a variety of activities from bowling to making bath bombs to playing games (I love Headbands) plus a social worker from the Canadian Mental Health Association comes on Fridays to check in on me and make sure I’m doing okay. That still leaves the bulk of my days empty, which is good in some ways. I often need time to wind down and relax after an activity. But the time alone doesn’t help the intrusive thoughts or being thrown into an anxiety attack over a load of dishes. I don’t even know why I’d have anxiety over something so small, yet it happens.

One friend of mine and I have decided we need to get together more often. She lives in the building behind us so it’s not exactly a hardship to meet. She’s well aware of my anxiety as she got to witness it full blown the day she and her husband took me to Costco. I’d been there before but on a weekday morning, not a Saturday afternoon. From the crowds you’d think there was a massive blow out sale going on but there was nothing, just lots of people buying until their wallets exploded from the pressure. I have to admit, the jumbo sized container of laundry soap packets was a good deal but it was nothing I’d go back for. So now we stick to karaoke at the quietest bar I’ve ever seen. Like so quiet I’m expecting a “for rent” sign on their door any day now. My friend also goes to another bar but has informed me it’s way too loud and crowded for me to handle.

My other friends have social anxiety and get anxious and cancel at the last minute. Which is generally okay because I’m taking deep breaths and trying to avoid an anxiety attack at the same time. But none of us are scary so I’m going to make more of an effort to connect with them. I’m sure we can manage getting together for tea.

Then there’s just the general suckage of winter. It was -22C this morning when I woke up. That would be a good number without the minus but it’s horrid with it. That’s not walking in the woods weather, it’s staying at home weather. But I can’t sit at home for three months either.

Colin and I have disability passes to our local recreation centre so we can walk on the track, which is boring but doable… especially with an MP3 player. And hopefully we’ll get some -2C weather to go walking outside.

And now I sit, watching as the sky turns dark so early, working up the courage to go make dinner. The window beside me is emanating cold air but otherwise my room is warm and summery, comfy enough that all five cats are napping in here. I study them, sprawled bonelessly across my bed and mat then I look back outside and settle in to wait for spring.

my room

My safe space and sanctuary from winter. I think it’s cozy and the cats certainly agree. There’s a strand of white lights on the wall but they don’t really show up here.

New Years…

I found myself at Wal-Mart on Boxing Day with my Christmas money and a complete lack of exercise clothes. Gaining fifty pounds in half a year will do that. Thanks Abilify. Finding a top turned out to be the easy part. I also needed pants in size “I ate Christmas dinner and all the baking”. What I found were pencil thin exercise pants (even in XL) and shorts shorter than my underwear. The latter would probably look amazing on someone who’s fit but on me it would look like my crotch was eating them. Which is never a look I’m aiming for. Luckily I found some comfy yoga pants at Penningtons, a Canadian chain for fat people. They have great clothes.

Fifty pounds is a scary amount of weight to gain all at once, especially when it happened so fast. Literally, one week I could wear my favourite jeans and the next I couldn’t pull them past my hips. I was out of breath yesterday on a walk I did with ease this fall. So, naturally, my resolutions this year are health centred.

Our local gym offers a discount for people on disability so I signed up to start in January. They have all the usually equipment but what I’m really happy about is their indoor track. My iridescent rhinestone headphones and I can listen to music and walk without banging my knees around on a treadmill.

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So sparkly!

I told Jeremy that I’m going on an apple diet, which is kind of true. I’ve decided that every time I’m having an absolutely irresistible craving for junk food, I’m going to eat an apple. Plus I’m centering my diet around beans, legumes, and vegetables. Hopefully this will make a difference.

Jeremy and I are on wait lists for our own separate apartments and, while that’s not happening this year, we can downsize while we’re waiting. Not only will it be cleaner but it’ll make the eventual packing that much easier.

Both of us can’t wait until we have places of our own. Me because it’ll be so much cleaner and Jeremy because he won’t have to hear me complain about cleaning up. I’m not sure how he’s going to end up once he’s on his own. He’s either going to be the sort that cleans dust before it falls on his furniture or I’m going to show up one day to hear a muffled “I’m over here” from under a pile of junk. There’ll be no in between.

One big resolution is getting out of my comfort zone. My comfortable New Year’s Eve would be sitting at home with Jeremy. We’d watch a video together and end up in our own rooms on separate computers… in quiet… only getting together for the count down. Instead, I’m going to my parents’ house for dinner and to my sister’s house for a big New Year’s Eve party. It’s going to be loud, crowded and definitely out of my comfort zone.

And, how about you? What are you doing for New Year’s Eve? Do you have any resolutions?

On food babies and brownies…

My jeans are a bit too tight. They’re uncomfortable to sit in and roll a bit at the waist. The same with my underwear and my smaller pair of shorts. My larger pair was already too big.

I weighed myself last year on this day and weighed 168 pounds. Today I weigh 194. A lot has happened this year and my weight reflects it. Severe depression and anxiety, a relationship with my best friend (after 15 years of being single) and the subsequent breakdown of said relationship, plus suicidal thoughts severe enough to be involuntarily admitted. I’m a comfort eater and my stomach reflects that. If I had a food baby, her name would be Double Chocolate Marshmallow Brownies. I have that recipe memorized.

Anxiety makes dieting tricky. It should be easy, just measure and write what I’m eating. I even have a Fitbit so I can track the food on my phone. Two minutes and my meal’s all tracked and calculated. Unfortunately I obsess over diets and the Fitbit tracker fluctuates easily between under calories, “in the zone”, and over calories.

I’d picked up an apple, it looked so good and I was hungry… plus I showed as under calories. The needle swung into over calories as soon as I selected “apple” for an evening snack. And then the panic started. I was so fat, I’d never lose weight. I was horrible at dieting… horrible at everything. How could I do this to myself? I needed to find something with less calories. Fat! Fat! Fat!

Then I looked back at the apple. It was healthy, damn it, and only 90 calories. Why was I panicking over an apple?!? And it wasn’t just the apple. I was panicking over licking a smear of peanut butter off my finger… an extra bit of broth in my soup… a couple of pieces of Jeremy’s popcorn. I can’t live like that. Suicidal and “I can’t live like that” are a deadly combination. I don’t go into that part of Fitbit any more.

What I’m doing is bumping up my fruits and vegetables, drinking lots of water, and walking. I’m dragging Jeremy along with me, although dragging is relative. Zie found a game called Ingress and decided to try it out. The best part is it involves getting out and walking to various portals all over our neighbourhood. The bad part is we have no idea what we’re doing.

“Aren’t you going to help me fight?” Jeremy said impatiently.

I looked over in surprise. We were standing beside a nearby apartment building, in front of a straggly garden. I’d been updating my Fitbit while zie jabbed at zir phone. I thought zie was looking something up.

“I didn’t know you were fighting,” I pointed out. “So, umm, what are we fighting and how do I fight?”

“We’re fighting the portal,” zie replied. “You push the fight button repeatedly.”

“So this is a weapon?” I pointed to an item on the screen. Luckily I had a lot of them.

“Yes… I think…”

Numbers rose up on the screen while my inventory went down. I threw two things that were probably weapons and something happened.

“Start hacking the portal while I fight,” Jeremy snapped. Zie was focused on zir screen, finger pounding the fight button.

The portal said it was unstable. Colours swirled around it. Then Jeremy ran out of weapons too.

“I don’t think we did anything,” zie said dejectedly.

“Do you want to try Pokemon Go?” I asked and zie nodded.

“I’ll have to trick Google Play into thinking we’re in Australia…” zie mused.

I don’t really want to know what zie’s doing to get us to appear down under, although I am proud of zir. Zie could download the game for free illegally but wants to pay for it. The downside will be trying to explain to MasterCard that, yes, we did make a purchase in Melbourne. I wonder if the agent will believe it was a day trip.

Technology is bringing Jeremy out of the apartment and giving me a walking partner. And hopefully Pokemon Go will be easier to figure out. Jeremy needs the exercise just as much as I do.

One thing I have to stop doing is making brownies. I have tried but don’t manage portion control with them. Unless you count a pan as one portion and then I’m doing amazing. Those brownies need to be a special occasion treat, not an “it’s Wednesday and I have chocolate chips in the cupboard and a free half hour”. My food baby is rapidly turning into twins.

Yesterday I walked to group therapy, went shopping with Jeremy (walking from one side of Super Walmart is a good number of steps), then went hunting for portals after dinner. This racked up a serious number of steps. Today I’m going to hit our downstairs gym and go hunting for Pokemon with Jeremy in the evening. I’ll leave tomorrow for when it gets here.

exercise