Fresh Page

Microblog_MondaysWith last chapter closed and September approaching, there is a wind of motivation billowing crisp and clean through the house. After a somber spring and an indulgent early summer, we finally found time to rip through the jungle of strangling vines and 5-foot stalks of God-knows-what crowding our rather imposing collection of flower beds. (The previous owner was a retired woman who gardened every day and converted every strip of grass bordering anything – be it house, driveway, fence, or planted tree – into a square of black loam suspiciously lacking in low-maintenance perennials. It’s more than two working people can manage.) A plan was hatched to convert the verdant but oft ramshackle and unused courtyard into a more easily maintained deck, and we worked our bodies to the point of exhaustion, digging out root systems, transplanting bushes, shoveling and spreading piles of black mulch. It’s the kind of work that makes your chest swell with that suburban homeowner’s pride when you stand back at the end of the day with a cold beer and savor the tidied landscape.

I also just finished reading Buettner’s The Blue Zones Solution after seeing a great little article about him in the Times. It resonated so powerfully with recent efforts to nurture my emotional well-being despite obvious exterior stressors because he discusses nutrition as an important but singular piece of any plan to foster long-term health, so I’ve abandoned the Whole 30 stuff (no human being needs to eat that much fat and meat) in favor of a heavily research-based approach that appeals to my common sense. This book-sparked epiphany set a few things into motion:

  • I finally bought a bicycle. After many years of throwing it into the pot of ideas for my birthday, or eying them on the Walmart website but closing the browser after dismissing it as a whim, I pulled the trigger this time. It has saddle bags and a basket, and it looks like it was sent here by time machine from the 1950s. I’m excited to take it food shopping or down to the bay for a cruise.
  • I bought an impressive supply of dried beans since this is the mainstay of the nutrition profile the book sets up. Bonus is they’re cheap and they don’t go bad. I have a two remaining weeks of summer vacation, so I’m hoping to amass a stash of freezer meals for those back-to-work manic Mondays when pizza gets ordered and exhaustion-induced sloth and gluttony ensue.
  • I picked up a copy of The Bread Bible on a chef-friend’s recommendation. I have been reading up on sourdough and a starter is in the works (fun new hobby).
  • I spent some time considering whether some gray area existed for an agnostic to be part of a faith-based community, and ultimately poked around on the websites for two Unitarian congregations in my area. I’m not sure what will come of it, but I’m committed to the inquiry and exploration. Sunday services resume in September. (Perhaps I’ll ride my bike there.)
  • I cemented my commitment to meditation by scheduling it into my daily school-year routine, and, in general, mapped out a schedule on Evernote that balances my personal priorities with work demands so that the latter doesn’t again eclipse the things that make me feel like a whole person. That is a sneaky slide, and it’s why teachers have dark under-eye circles and chin pimples by February.
  • As part of a girls night on Saturday, I saw a friend who hurt me. It’s a relationship that has sort of been on life support, which is a stinging, nagging, uncomfortable place to inhabit. Chock it up to the meditation or the book, but a switch flipped inside me, and I just decided that I don’t have the luxury to let it bother me anymore – not with her or any of the other friends, cousins, in-laws who have been acting like shits since all life exploded in April, though I’d be lying if I pretended that it started with the loss of Dakota. I just woke up one morning as if all these toxic chords had been slashed away in my sleep, so when Saturday rolled around, I was free – none of that acid roiling around in my belly or the elephant sitting on my chest. We drove along the ocean highway while all the guys were at the Van Halen concert, blasted Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson and Toots & the Maytals while singing at the tops of our lungs, stopped at a beach bar for mudslides with rum floaters in the sand, laughed. I keep thinking about that famous proverb, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
  • And the motivation is contagious. I negotiated with The Hubs until we could agree on a lunch salad and healthy breakfast he would want to eat this week, and it sits packed in containers and ready to grab in the fridge. Today he scheduled Thursday morning as his return to his boxing/martial arts training after going AWOL on his trainer back in April. He has been talking about picking up where he left off in the studio and finishing all the songs he left half-recorded plus a new one born from the events of April. I’m so relieved to see him moving on too.

I realize as I finish this long-winded post that it’s likely not very interesting for anyone outside of this brightening and breezy household, but, maybe, gentle reader, I wrote it for me, like a contract with myself. Sometimes that’s what’s needed.

22 thoughts on “Fresh Page

  1. Wow we have so much in common it’s scary. I’m also a non religious person. Shh, I’m an atheist. I just don’t like to admit it to people because it makes them uncomfortable and I don’t want to debate anyone. I have a spiritual side, it’s just so personal. A few months ago, I myself found a Unitarian church near my house. I haven’t been, but I would go. Everything I read about it jives with me. I can’t wait to read about your experiences there.
    I also did the whole 30. Thought it was gross, I liked the practice of being disaplined. Good luck with the beans and freezer meals. I do that as well. White bean chili is a favorite here 🙂
    And the crazy thing–I just also reconnected with a friend who lives a out of town, like a six hour drive. She hurt me. She was totally in the wrong (you’d agree!) but we had a long talk on the phone and it was really good. We sort of chalked it up “we’ve both been sooooo busy.” We didn’t really talk about my hurt feelings; didn’t need to.

    Ah, and like you I have some Big Things coming up at the doctors office. I look forward to us both getting our super healthy BFPs soon.

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    • Love white bean chili (esp w/ roasted tomatoes and rosemary, yum!) and black bean soup with avocado and pasta fagiole and minestrone – this diet is an easy sell for me! So glad to hear also that you’re in this club of deciding not to let the shits poison your mental health 😉 and I hope for good-news phone calls. My FET was canceled and restarted today because I managed to ovulate through the meds…

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      • Oh f*#k. I’m sorry to hear that. I’m in a mad rush to get blood tests again (year old 😡) so it looks like I’m pushed back a month as well. (As I’m traveling out of state this time around) Would have really bothered me a year ago but now I’m in the “eh, whatever happens” mode.

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  2. I loved reading this, it sounds like you are in a really good place and onto an even better place! I really need to head your thought on preparing some freezer meals so that we have some to grab on nights when we just don’t have time to cook. We love to eat fresh and cook ourselves but those busy days can be hard sometimes. And I love your thoughts on toxic people – I firmly believe that we need to surround ourselves with people who improve our lives and lift us up and not drain energy from us. It can be hard at time, but like the quote you referenced, it’s just a healthy way to live.
    Anyways, thanks for the healthy lifestyle reminders and thank you for sharing your strategies to embrace a healthier lifestyle. You are an amazing women!

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    • Re: freezer meals, I started with Spanish black beans. Easy! And sometimes just the sides help, like I stocked some mashed butternut squash so I can just bake some fish or chicken and be done on a random Tuesday 🙂

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  3. I am so thrilled for you for the new bicycle! I would love to see a picture of it. Seems like you are making many changes and good things are happening. Hope that this new beginning for many things brings a new beginning for your life as you start your FET! Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly there.

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    • Well after the false start and cancellation, I’m well on my way in FET-round-2. Lining is up to 9mm after 5 days estrace, so it’s all up to the embryos.

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  4. It is interesting, even if it is also a contract to yourself. And perhaps a motivation for the reader. I need to let go of anger that I carry around, and that bullet point resonated with me.

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    • I keep repeating that anger proverb in my head as I have been dealing with numerous relationships that are fraught with tension or conflict since The Atom Bomb. It’s helpful for remembering that forgiveness is on our self-interest.

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  5. Mel’s right, it IS interesting.

    Your post is very motivating too. Good for you on scheduling in the meditation. I’ve been doing something similar, and need to schedule it more strictly. I also have a friendship that is stuttering on and off life-support (I love that description – thank you!), and I need to figure out what I’m going to do with it. I fear that if I give it the nurturing it needs, it’ll hurt me again. But if it doesn’t, then it is worth giving it a bit of CPR just at the moment.

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    • Scheduling is the key to making it a real routine. Otherwise the grind runs roughshod over the stuff that matters to us. Wishing you well in dealing with the troubled friendship!

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  6. I love this update! I love to garden, but I feel like by mid-August I let the coneflowers flop over and the weeds stay put because the garden orb spiders are just too big. I’m scared of them, but it’s their house, so I don’t want to get rid of them. I am a big believer in native plants, and gardening by “survival of the fittest” philosophy. If it doesn’t survive more than three times, it’s gone. Anything that needs a lot of staking or pruning is not welcome in my garden. I love other people’s dahlias, but not for me. Low maintenance all the way, and it can be strikingly beautiful. I think a deck for your courtyard sounds amazing, and then you could do potted plants/flowers (which are much easier care as long as you remember to water). It sounds like a great space for that meditation you’ve scheduled in. I struggle with those friendships, too, and I am trying to just let things roll off my back yet not invite something unhelpful back into my life. Harder to execute than to plan. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your day-to-day and your contract to yourself, it sounds like a lovely way to spend these fleeting last days of summer. Especially that bike… it sounds perfect.

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    • Yes, I’m excited about the prospect of potted plants on a deck, where they will be safe from the dog. Tomatoes! I have heretofore not been able to plant edible things because of her, but the deck opens up possibilities 🙂

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  7. I’m glad you’re writing for you, but I definitely enjoyed this. It’s so good to read you sounding more healed and hopeful. There will always be that deep scar, and it will always hurt, but knowing you can live with it, move around with it.. It’s important.

    I love freezer meals. I really want to buy a deep freeze and spend one day a week cooking EVERYTHING until I have a nice big cushion of food. They’re so convenient!

    I’m an agnostic/atheist (I waver) but I’ve also consisted Unitarian church.. Can’t wait to hear what you think. I like the idea of a community of people who care, without needing to ascribe that to fear of punishment in the afterlife.

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  8. Good for you. Thanks for this line, in particular: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” It took me a second to determine that “The Hubs” was not multiple Bostons, but I did get it.

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  9. Thanks for sharing! I should really work on that friend/relationship issue, there are some I’m really struggling with and it probably hurts me more than anyone else (for all I know they might not know/care…)
    Meditation was very helpful for me after we lost the twins. Now I struggle to find the time, but for the best possible reason, so I’m not complaining.

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  10. Whatever A- youre still the most interesting person I “know” and your lovely sharing of all the self improvement you continually Strive towards keeps me motivated and reaching. So please don’t stop, we all should keep trying to be the best “us” we can despite IF shitting on our confidence and happiness. I took your lead and listened to some old Lionel Richie… It Brought my mom and I to a good laughter. Thanks!!

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  11. Pingback: La Bicyclette (And Other Projects) | The Empress and the Fool

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