Brief Rant

Just have to vent this outta the system.  I have discovered that I cannot even make the damned bed.  Well, I made the bed.  Last night.  And today?  I feel like shit and like I’ve been smacked around.  Arms and shoulders are killing me, even after the Vicodin and I just don’t feel good anywhere else.  So I really should not have made the bed.  It involved too much pushing and pulling and lifting and wrestling sheets down over the corner of the mattress.  In other words, the normal stuff you do to make a bed.  Something I’ve been doing since my mother first taught me when I was about 12 or 13.  And writing this has made the tears that were just under the surface come out, so that means if I want a day of relative peace, I need to take another clonipine (anti-anxiety med).  Which I try not to do…

I’m angry at the fibromyalgia.  I’m angry that I cannot do the normal activities of daily living, cannot take care of myself or my house without pain and having to plan it out very carefully.  I am absolutely afraid of being disabled–although my beloved keeps telling me that I’m not disabled, I have a disability.  Well, I don’t want it.  Can I donate it to the thrift store?  Sell it on Craig’s List?  I would do anything to NOT have a disability.  I am afraid of what my life will be with a disability.  I am afraid of what it already is.  If I can’t do the things I need to, if I can’t do the things I want to…where is the reason for living?  And yes, I have what is euphemistically referred to as “suicidal ideation” in the psychiatry world.  But I don’t have a plan, because I don’t plan on leaving my husband in any way, shape or form.  So I am having to reconcile the idea that life is going to be very limited with the acknowledgement that I am going to live that life for as long as I’m supposed to.

I think it sort of comes down to this disability removes choices.  I don’t care about skydiving, race car driving, learning how to play the tuba.  These were not things I ever wanted to do.  But to realize that there are going to be a lot of things I would have chosen to do that are no longer possible…pisses me off.  I am stubborn, from a long line of very stubborn people.  (One of my great(great) grandfathers, at the age of about 80, was being teased by his friends about picking up an anchor (that he had picked up when he was younger)…so he went to try and pick it up.  He couldn’t, and he got so mad, and tried so hard, he had a stroke.  And died.  THAT’s stubborn!)  Don’t tell me I can’t do something, because that’s just exactly the right way to get me to do it.  Oops, probably shouldn’t have let that secret out…

I want my choices back.  I want to stop hurting.  I want to be ME again, not this “me with a disability” that I am.  And will be.  I want to be able to make a bed, do my dishes, take care of the laundry…I want to be able to work.  Yes, I’d like to have a job.  But there’s no way I can do anything that resembles “bringing home a paycheck” with the way my body actually is.  (And we’re going for that permanent disability thing, remember?)  I don’t want to spend the rest of my life having to count pennies because truthfully, a disability check may cover the necessities (I hope) but there’s no overtime available, no bonuses…so the casual buying of fripperies is out of the question.  Not that I need fripperies, but a new computer once in a while…is going to have to be carefully planned for.

I have spent the last 10-12 years of my life living very frugally (on a paycheck that was half of what was considered a “necessary” income for the area I live in) so I know about thrift stores, buying on sale, and so on.  Apparently this was an education to prepare me for living with a disability and on a fixed income.  I didn’t ask for that diploma either.  I am so angry I want to scream–except that it would scare my husband, who is still sleeping.  So I think I’m screaming in my head…and I really hate the sound.

So I’ll stop here to keep the title truthful…a brief rant…it’s a bad day, don’t take this too seriously, it will pass because it always does.  I think we will go swimming today for sure.

Keep on swimming, keep on swimming, swimming, swimming…..


And Life Goes On…

So it’s been a little while since I’ve written specifically about my good friend, fibromyalgia.  And his sweetheart, Pain, who accompanies him everywhere.

The increase in meds has been helping.  I am certainly taking less Vicodin than I was several months ago.  There are more good days than bad, but the bad ones catch me sort of off guard, seem to hit a little harder as I have more days where I feel almost like I used to.  And I still can crash hard and fast, with little warning–which is very disheartening.

I am trying to rebuild all the muscle tone (haha, as if I ever had any!) and endurance I have lost sitting in a chair for most of this year.  Beloved and I have started going to the pool–which is fortunately RIGHT next door to our apartment.  He swims energetically and I just paddle around.  With my right shoulder as sore and tight as it is, doing much of any recognizable swim stroke is out of the question.  But at least just moving around in the water is more activity than I was doing.  It’s a start, right?

Any life outside of the house is mostly comprised of doctor visits and grocery store shopping.  We have added a new person: the lawyer who is going to assist us in applying for permanent disability with the Social Security Administration.  We could do this by ourselves, but given the complexity of the system, the pathway through denial and appeals, up to a court hearing–it just seems better to have someone who can steer us through the shoals.  She seems to feel that both of us stand a very good chance of being approved, which was good to hear.  It will of course take a while, as all bureaucratic quests require leveling up in the labyrinth.  And fighting the boss monsters.  Definitely good to have a Paladin on our side!

We’re trying to make our meals a bit more regular–and a bit more at home.  I am able to cook some times…and when I do, only that meal is assured because a second cooking is still beyond my ability to do.  But we are trying to impose the “accommodate the reality of our life” requirements onto eating–and making sure that we eat as healthfully as possible.  And to make only what we can eat within that day–or the next day at most.  No huge pots of chili, no enormous amounts of anything.  We both prefer variety too much and I’m really bad about not eating leftovers.  Not a conscious thing, just forget that we’ve got them and go on to make something else.  So we’re adapting to the European model of shopping almost daily and only having the meat and fresh foods in the house that we intend to eat within 24-48 hours.  (More or less, depending on the reality of our health on any given day.)

Not much from the granddaughter front, haven’t spoken to my daughter lately.  (According to FB, she’s been sick and chicken soup really only tastes good when you’re sick.)  My daughter-in-law, however, does update on the Froggy.  Turns out that what they thought was him saying “da da da” was actually SINGING Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony–“da da da DA! da da da DA!”.  And then he changed it up for the Imperial March from Star Wars…you know, when Darth Vader is around.  The last bit of update we got from her was that she asked him if he was ready for a nap and he blew a raspberry and grinned.  As she says, “Great.  A smart ass already.  I am doomed.”  I’m just surprised it took her this long to figure it out–since he was doing the eyebrow raise when he was here in December.

The lawyer spoke with us at great length–2 hours for the first consult!  And asked if I was seeing a psychologist or counselor.  Ya know, with everything else that’s going it, it hadn’t really occurred to us that I probably should be.  So Hubby is going to find out if the health insurance will cover me for mental health and then find out if HIS counselor’s business associate (and husband) would take me as a client.  Updates on that when and if it happens.  Should be interesting because I’m the person that when they say to think outside the box, goes, “Box?  What box?  Nobody told me there was a box!”.  I suspect that if it does work out, it will be beneficial.

I am more aware that the weather has greater impact on my general feelings than I had thought.  We get several storm fronts move through and I’m a mess, having to take extra Vicodin.  Yay, I’m a human barometer.  And Mold Detector.  Not exactly things that I can get paid money for–and even if I did, the pain they cause is not worth the income they’d generate, haha.

Still moving things around in the house, still slowly emptying boxes out and trying to get things put into some order.  Gonna take the dresser I’ve had in my closet and in use for underclothes, socks and some shirts…empty the drawers and put the clothes into the wire basket stack.  Put the dresser across the end of my desk and the bookcase that backs up against it, use the dresser for some real storage.

I am also going to go through my closet and pack up the work clothes that I will not (ever) need (again).  I’m going to have my clothes accommodate the reality of my life–caftans and soft dresses, things I can pull off and on easily; leggings and large tops, things I can layer for winter but still wear in the hot seasons.  My feet are not as consistently sausage-sized swollen, so *maybe*,  just maybe, I’ll be able to wear my beloved heels.   Instead of the damned flats which are all I’ve been wearing for about 6 months now.  Sigh.

So nothing major, in either good or bad direction, to report.  Doing the same normal things, still seeing my doctors more than my friends…at least the driving in this area is lovely, considering how many miles we put on the vehicle.  Getting slowly better, to a more liveable level but having to deal with the idea that I may never be what I was just 2 or 3 years ago–and as I look back, I realize that I was already slowing down and having to make more accommodations even then.  So I’ll never be a rock star…but I’m okay with that because even with the limitations of fibro, I am finding new things to do, new gifts to offer.  And life, as it is wont to do, goes on.



Yes I said it.  Vagina.  Should have no more impact than saying nose or eyebrow or knee.  But apparently it does have more impact in Michigan.  Please tell me that you are following the –not just war, but extermination nearly–on women in that state.  That you know how the Speaker of the House silenced a female Representative with his gavel for saying, and I quote, “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina.  But no means no.”  Really?  Are you effing kidding me?  If a man had said “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my penis.  But no means no.”, he would have been applauded.  Standing ovation.

Vagina.  I am frightened by the depth of vitriol from those who would put women locked back into the 1950’s mold: Donna Reed, Harriet Nelson–always immaculately groomed, with a sparkling clean home and a nice hot dinner waiting for the husband to return from work.  No other choice but motherhood (if the good Lord blesses you with offspring and if “He” doesn’t, well, it’s somehow your failure) and wife.  No degree but that “MRS” is worthy–or attainable.  No wonder their houses were ungodly clean and they had their hair done…there was nothing else for them to do.  What a monumental waste of intelligence!  What a slap in the face to women who are just as capable, just as ambitious for a chance to do “more” with their lives as any male.

Vagina.  Why are men so frightened by a woman who can change her own flat tire (or her own oil, for that matter) or a woman who holds a degree and the job that goes with that schooling?  What does it cost them to permit a woman to have the same opportunities?  Apparently more than they can stand.

Vagina.  As women, as females in this society, we have fought too hard and for too long to let anyone (let me say it again: ANYONE) to strip away those hard earned RIGHTS–things that should have been ours the moment the Constitution was signed.  The right to vote.  The right to our own bodies.  YES, the right TO OUR OWN BODIES–the SAME as men have.  Can you imagine the maelstrom if we limited men the same way they are trying to limit us?  We see some of this with the addenda to (anti-abortion) bills that seek to require men to have a physical evaluation and an EKG before being given Viagra–which is not about abortion or fetus’ rights AT ALL.  Men have sex for fun, more or less completely.  They can do it without birth control, with anyone they please and *say* that they are trying to create a child–but since they are not the ones who carry it, it doesn’t matter to them if a child results from their sexual activity or not.  And it doesn’t impede their sexual activity at all.  They can use condoms because it’s to protect against disease, not to prevent a pregnancy, right?  They can get their Viagra prescriptions and penile enhancements (read hydraulic support for a penis that can no longer get it up alone) without any restriction.  Fellows, I have news for you: if your John Thomas refuses to rise for the occasion, that’s your body’s way of saying you’re not in physical condition to create a child.  NO SEX FOR YOU!

Vagina.  Even those men who have religious beliefs that limit them to procreative sexual congress only…probably masturbate.  Oh dear gods, that opens up a whole new line of logical illogic.  If you can only have sex to create a child, masturbation for MEN is a crime.  (Women of course can continue to masturbate all they want because it doesn’t have anything to do with procreation.  Hooray for multiple orgasms!)  Men who masturbate are denying some egg somewhere the chance to join up and make a zygote.  And no matter how much you’d like it to be so, a zygote has ZERO chance of living outside of the protection of the womb.  Same thing with a fetus, until about 6th or 7th month–and babies born that early have a myriad of health issues.  There’s a reason that incubation time is 9 months; it takes that long for the sperm and egg mixture to reach a level where it could survive outside of the mother’s body.  Technically, that cluster of cells, from the sperm and egg colliding up through “baby”,  inside of that womb is a parasite, taking what it needs from the mother’s body in order to mature to a point where it can leave and then function on its own.  If it comes early, medicine should do what it can to ensure its continued survival, with humanitarian limits.  Don’t force a body too weak to survive to linger on, have some respect for the soul that is within that weakened or malformed shape and if it is to travel on, let it go with dignity and peace.  (This is also true of the elderly members of our society.)

Vagina.  The other questions I keep asking are these: why would any man want a brainless, useless uterus with legs to be his wife, his help-meet, his PARTNER in life? If you have to pull in a paired harness and only one of you is capable of pulling, the other is an impediment to forward motion.  Why would an intelligent man want to spend his life with someone who cannot carry on a meaningful conversation and understand his work?  Why would he want someone he has to tell what to do because she’s not able to make decisions on her own?  The concept of the gorgeous, busty stupid sex slave, who exists to serve “only you, my master” makes for great porn but not so great real life.

Vagina.  I read Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaiden’s Tale” and thought it an interesting science fiction book.  Now I think about and consider it a prediction–it seems that it’s where we headed, with women not being taught to read or write, just to recognize the icons for each type of store so that she can shop.  In the book, the government was a theocracy, which is also where we seem headed–except that we are not ALL Christians, so a great portion of the population is going to be stripped of their freedom of religion or face persecution.  And the catch to that theocracy?  Is that the MEN in charge led a double life–the public, prim and proper God-fearing, “good” life and then the other, the almost more real and true persona, the hedonistic, “sinning” and doing what they said was wrong  for everyone else life.  Not unlike those today who say one thing and do another.  When words and actions do not match, trust the actions to be true.

Vagina.  And right now, the words and actions of the Republican Party DO NOT MATCH.  They spout rhetoric about the sanctity of life (for fetuses only, apparently) and the “Christian” way of life but I firmly believe that if that carpenter from Nazareth walked into any legislative building in this nation, particularly the one in MI, there would be a repeat episode of his casting the money changers out of the temple.  There would also be a great deal of surprise when they all waved and said, “Hi Jesus, it’s me” and he said, “I do not know you. You have not followed my teachings or my examples.”

Vagina.  This obsession with legislating women’s reproductive rights also has great potential to lead to other medical dilemmas–in fact, Michigan (once again!) is leading the way to allowing people’s religion to determine what they will (or will not do) in a medical situation–and they cannot be legally held responsible if they object on religious grounds.  That means that MY (NON-Christian) body could be denied life-saving medicine or narcotic pain management…and their religious right are state-mandated and mine are not.  OOPS, against the Constitution.  The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….” and Article VI specifies that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”  In other words, your religion has NOTHING to do with your job–and if it does, find another freaking job.  Consider it a handicap and adjust accordingly.

Vagina.  This is not just about physical medicine.  We’re also talking mental health here–and I saw a post that said, “Some counseling centers hire all Christian employees–and you are sent there by the state and cannot leave.  All day long, from everyone there, you get “You are a sinner, you have sinned, you must accept Christ as your savior”–with no reprieve from this and probably not the best nor most unbiased assessment of your mental state.  They really would not like me–I identify as a Tibetan Zen Buddhist and do not believe in the need to accept anyone as “my savior” because I believe in reincarnation.  My life is just the way it is supposed to be, thank you very much.  I guess I’d never get to go home because I would not, could not accept Christianity.  Believe me, I tried–but they just could not answer my questions.  And they really don’t want you to ask questions, just do what the pastor says.  (Not all Christians are like this, and I know that–but the ones that are championing these absurd laws are so sure that they are right and that God is on their side that there is NO compromise.)

Vagina.  And that is the issue, really.  No compromise from someone who is so dead set sure they have the ONLY way to live a “good life”–which a lot of them do not follow themselves–and when you KNOW something, that’s when you stop learning.  As my beloved says, Michigan is their proving ground, their model of how the US is going to be if they get their way.  And THAT scares the shit out of me because I’m WAY too mouthy to put up with the Pharisee’s disease,  (“Look at me, God, see how good I am, I’m so much better than *that* man over there”) and will not step away from my spiritual path for anything that does not hold the truth for me.  Christianity has failed to offer me truths that allow me to live a life that is peaceful, filled with loving kindness and honoring all that is sacred.  I also absolutely do NOT believe in telling other people how to live their lives, what to believe–and what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

Vagina.  Let’s talk about what’s going on behind the curtain (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” ~Wizard of Oz)….out front, it looks like a war on women–and make no mistake, it is.  It really is.  But in the background…there’s a lot of money being moved around, people get paid off, politicians being outright bought to vote according to corporate agendas instead of voting as their constituents would want.  Did you know that Congress can actually use insider trading to make money?  Everyone else (not just “anyone else”) would go to jail for that.  The Koch brothers are paying for lots and lots of what they want–and considering how much money they are worth, it really is a case of buying whatever you desire.  Not quite sure what their end game is except to keep what they have while increasing it.  But really, how much money can one person spend without getting into the stupid level of rich, where you own a solid silver Mercedes Benz that cannot be driven (one of the sheiks in the Middle East has one) …or you have a wedding that cost millions of dollars and then get a divorce within days?  Such a waste, such an obscene waste of money that could have been spent on providing food for the hungry, clothes for the naked and housing for those who are living on the street or in slums.  Money that could have been spent supporting innovation and invention, which our country has lost.  Oh we can improve and upgrade, but there’s not a lot of really NEW ideas coming along.  A trip to the movies proves that when everything is either based on an old movie, an old TV show, or comic books.  It’s a sin to have so much money that if you spent a million dollars a day, it would still last you the rest of your life.  Remember, it’s not that money is the root of all evil, it’s the LOVE OF MONEY that is root of all evil–and those One Percenters LOVE their money.

Vagina.  “We the people” is how it was written.  NOT “We the men, oh and I guess the women as well”.  “We the people” need to get ourselves involved in what’s going on in politics.  If you do NOTHING else, you need to VOTE.   Register, keep the info updated and go to the polls when it’s time to cast your ballot–local, statewide or national!  Attend the local council meetings.  Ask questions, make them explain the legislation in plain fricking English, not in the legalese bullshit that most laws are written in–so that you can hardly tell exactly what they are about.  Twenty years ago, I visited a friend living in AZ–and her job was to read the bills that were being voted on and write a synopsis in plain English so that the representatives knew what they were voting on.  If our elected officials can’t understand it, how can we–and why aren’t the laws being written in plain English?  I can tell you why–to obfuscate all the nasty little add-ons that make what was a good, even great law into something that chips away at this right or that piece of national park or lets oil companies frack us up.

Vagina.  So there is a war on women, on women’s rights, on women’s choices for themselves.  Believe it.  Believe it and fight it on every level that you can.  Spread the word, share this with anyone you think will agree and benefit from reading it.  Refuse to be silenced.  Be a SLUT that ROCKS the Vote (Rock the Slut Vote) — be proud to be a SLUT because it’s what those men really want to get rid of.  Let’s put this into perspective: what is the difference between a whore, a slut, and a bitch?  A whore is a woman who has sex with anyone for money; a slut is a woman who has sex with anyone (but it’s her choice, know what I mean?)…and a bitch?  Is a woman who has sex with anyone EXCEPT you.   Once you stop laughing, you’ll realize that being a SLUT means that you choose who you’re going to have sexual relations with and whether you want to make a child with them.  Oh wait, that requires birth control.  But if you’ve got it, then your choices continue to be myriad–you can get a job, go to college, have a career…or have a child and any of the prior…or get married and have a child and any of the first choices…but it is ALWAYS YOUR CHOICE.  And these old white men, and the few women and younger men they’ve convinced to agree with them, want to take that away from you.

Vagina.  I have a vagina; my daughters each have a vagina and my granddaughter has a vagina; my daughter-in-law has a vagina.  And I don’t want them to be denied any choice that they want to make.  I want them to have the same freedoms, the same RIGHTS as the penis people.  And I am so adamant in that belief that I am becoming a political person–me, the most NON-political person you’d ever meet.  I will not sit down and be quiet like a good little girl.  I will not be silenced for stating the obvious truth that legislators are obscenely overly interested in my vagina and what I do with it–and that they need to get a life.  I will vote this November to ensure that my rights continue to be protected, that our country does NOT become a Christian theocracy (which is all show and no real substance, no real living like Christ and doing as he taught).  I will continue to post blogs and statuses on my various pages that will keep this war up front, out there with our breasts, reminding everyone that has a vagina that we need to become a huge vagina fellowship–to be united in our desire to keep everyone else out of our vaginas (unless WE invite them to discover the wonder that is a vagina), to WIN this war that is being waged against us.

V is for VOTE, which you need to do–register if you haven’t!
A is for Anger, that someone else wants to control your body
G is for Gathering–getting all women to realize that we must stand together and fight this
I is for Information, telling all the women you know about this, keeping yourself informed
N is for Networking, using the Internet and social media (FB and Twitter) to spread the word
A is for Achieving VICTORY at the polls this November!

VAGINA.  I have one and I’m going to keep it safe from stupid laws.  You do the same, okay?


You Are What You Eat…So What Are You?

Let’s talk about food.  In fact, let’s start with one food in particular.  Corn.  Not the sweet crisp yellow stuff that you eat in the summertime, as part of the family barbecue.  Not the creamy yellow stuff you add to lime beans to make succotash.  Not the brown kernels that you heat and make into popcorn.  Nope, we’re gonna talk about industrial corn, stuff that you can’t even eat just picked off the stem.  That should be your first clue that this is something that is not good for you.

In order to have this conversation, I’m going to ask you to watch a movie–this movie: King Corn  (No, really, I mean it.  You NEED to see this to understand the rest of this blog.  Please go watch it and then come back.  I’ll be waiting.)

(As we have this conversation, I have included a couple links to some sites for information that you should click on to get a better idea of why I am even going on about industrial corn.   Industrial corn is the term I will be using to differentiate it from truly edible corn.  Industrial corn is BIG BUSINESS and health is not anywhere on their list of concerns–they only care about the profit margins.)

Corn is all around and Americans eat a lot of it without even realizing what they are actually ingesting because industrial corn doesn’t look like corn at all.  It’s in our meat, salad dressings, candy, drinks…60% of what we eat is industrial corn.  (Remember that percentage from the hair sample testing on “King Corn”?)  What’s even more frightening is that there are more than 4,200 different uses for corn products, and more are being found each day.  BIG BUSINESS has a completely selfish reason to keep finding new uses for their industrial corn–to increase their profit margin by keeping the demand for the corn high, high, high.

It would be very hard to find things to eat that don’t have corn in them.  That sugar free, no calorie lemon drink has no lemon in it.  The sour taste is ascorbic acid–made from corn.  Xanthan gum?  What the hell is that–sounds more like some science fiction ingredient than what it is, a thickener for things like syrups or spaghetti sauce.  There are even an impressive amount of things that aren’t even food that have ingredients derived from corn!

The one particular corn product I would like to really focus on is High Fructose Corn Syrup, or HFCS.  It’s in so many things I can’t even begin to tell you what they are–although I did find a pork sausage that listed HFCS as an ingredient.  Why the hell was there HFCS (aka “sugar”) in a meat product?  My husband and I have completely cut it out of our diet at home; eating out is a bit more difficult to manage the absence, but we do try.  We have discovered that if we do eat more than just a small amount, we end up with migraines that would kill a horse.  And there’s an interesting study out that suggests eating corn syrup makes you dumb.  Not to mention the weird feeling you get in your mouth after eating or drinking something with HFCS in it.

The corn industry (read: ConAgra, Corn Products International, Corn Refiners Association and so on) will try to tell you that corn syrup (high fructose or not) is “just like sugar”, and that “your body treats it the same way”.  Ask any diabetic if that is really true.  Your body doesn’t really know how to handle HFCS and it overproduces insulin to handle it–which is a good way to become diabetic.

The part of “King Corn” that really frightened me and led me to make the changes to my diet that I have is the part where they talk about the cows.  It takes about 3-4 years to get a calf up to market weight for butchering.  If that same calf is fed corn, corn byproducts, sillage and so on, all corn based…it will get to market weight in about a year.  BUT if they don’t slaughter it within a narrow timeframe, it will develop massive ulcerations in its stomachs and die.  Yes, die…from eating corn.  Cows aren’t made to eat just corn, and certainly NOT industrial corn.  80% of the antibiotics in the US go to animals–partly because of this business model of feeding industrial corn to the “meat units”–not even treated with any dignity or considered a live being at all.  Just a number on a ledger page, part of the money you can make.

Guess what?  Chickens don’t eat corn exclusively either.  They eat bugs and greens as well if allowed to forage on their own (the term is “pastured” rather than free range; “free range” may just mean that you’ve got 100 birds in a 4 by 4 square foot area, rather than each one in a cage that allows little more than stretching the neck out to peck corn.  Don’t even start me on chicken farms, it’s disgusting and you’d give up your KFC or Popeye’s faster than lightspeed if you REALLY knew how your fried chicken lived its life.

And really, that’s what this (and following blogs on lifestyle) is about: knowing WHERE your food comes from, HOW it’s handled, and WHAT it’s fed.  That includes the plants–are they organically grown, or industrial units to be gotten to market in the shortest time possible from germination?  What kind of pesticides are used?  What kind of treatments are used to make them appear ripe (like picking tomatoes green because they can be handled rougher and then gassing them to make them turn red)?

What we eat is literally killing us–as a nation, Americans are becoming more obese (fattening up on the hamburgers made from the cows fattened up on corn?) and diet-related diseases like diabetes and gout are on the rise.  Heart disease is also increasing in men AND women.  Children are being diagnosed with high cholesterol.  Other countries don’t have these issues because they aren’t using industrial corn and industrial corn products.  Just us.  We need to educate ourselves and take control of what goes in our mouth.

I can’t tell you how to do it for yourself, but I can tell you the changes my husband and I have made.  I will also tell you that my beloved is a large man and he has lost almost 75 pounds or so over the past 2 years eating this way.  I have also lost 50 pounds myself.  Without exercising and without feeling deprived.

First and foremost, you must understand this: a diet is not something you do to lose weight.  Your diet may help you drop pounds, but the truth of the matter is, a diet is what you eat.  That simple.  Your diet is what goes in your mouth every day, the food that you consume for each and every meal (and snacks!).  To be healthy, you need to have a healthy diet.  Without going into details for specialty diets, such as those for heart patients or diabetics, let’s talk about how you can make healthier choices for your meals.

READ THE LABELS.  Let me say that again: Read the freaking labels.  Understand what you’re reading.  RDA is Recommended Daily Allowance and isn’t really accurate, but it’s a good starting point.  Carbs means sugar.  You probably want more protein than carbs–especially since most women do NOT get anywhere near the necessary amount of protein in a day’s eating.

Scientific explanation: You eat protein.  Your body goes, “oh, good, nutrition” and digests it into its nutritive parts, fueling the various systems.  Very little actually gets made into fat.  You eat carbs.  Your body goes, “Oh good, sugar.  I can store this for later” and promptly turns it into fat.  BTW, every fat cell has a blood supply, which is part of the reason losing weight can be so hard–and once you’ve got those fat cells, they are yours forever.  (Barring actual surgery to remove them.)

Read the list of ingredients, which are in order from the item that is the highest percentage in the food down to the least.  HFCS usually shows up within the top 5.  BAD.  Also, if what you’re eating has more than about 6 or 7 items, or if most of them are polysyllabic gobbledygook, then reconsider buying/eating them.

EAT FOODS IN THEIR PUREST FORM.  That means that you should try to eat things as close to their natural state as possible.  Limit the amount of processed foods you eat and you automatically cut out things like HFCS and salt.  Industrialized (processed) foods have to have something in them to make them taste good and it’s either salt or sugar (or HFCS).  Buy organic because frankly, organic foods taste like your brain thinks they do and will satisfy you quicker and in smaller amounts than the same thing in industrialized food.  It’s sort of like the roses you get from the florist–in order to get those long, long stems and the beautiful colors, something had to go and it was the aroma.  Industrialized food has to give up something to be able to be mass produced, packaged and stored, handled by machines in an assembly line fashion–and it’s usually the taste.  They try to mimic or replace it with chemical additives, but because it’s not natural, your body is not satisfied completely until you’ve overeaten, trying to get that taste.

LIMIT THE “WHITE” FOODS.  This means switch over to whole grain versions of bread, rice and pasta.  Don’t eat potatoes; have yams or sweet potatoes–or some of those gourmet purple potatoes instead.  Generally, the whiter the food, the more processing it has been through.  You’d be surprised at the weight you can lose just giving up white.  Oh and this includes sour cream, mayonnaise, cream and yogurt (which is surprisingly high in fat) or anything made with them that is predominately white or light in color.  And yes, it means ice cream.

ORGANIC FOODS ARE USUALLY HIGHER QUALITY.  They take a little more time and care and I repeat, taste like what you think they should.  They are also usually handled by humans and are not mass produced.  Higher quality means that even though they cost more, you can actually eat less and be more satisfied, both on the tongue/palate and in the stomach.  However–when buying, get organic over non-organic but buy local over imported organic.  The difference for pastured/grass fed meats is amazing.  Also get organic eggs–they are just so much better and since the chickens are catching some bugs in their grazing, the protein count is higher.

With the growing demand for organic food items, there is an corollary increase in the availability of those foods in all kinds of stores, like WalMart, Target–even Costco and BJ’s wholesale stores!–and your local grocery store.  Farmer’s markets and local butchers are still a good source, but you can have organic without living out in the boonies.

THERE ARE GOOD ORGANIC PROCESSED FOOD CHOICES.  Target carries a line of products from “Archer Farms” which are organic and very tasty.  Trader Joe’s markets have all kinds of processed or semi-processed foods available and I haven’t found any that I do not like.  We also shop at the local Asian market and while a lot of things are (obviously) imported, we read those labels and choose things that don’t have HFCS or MSG.  We both also prefer the fact that imported sweets aren’t quite as sweet as the American versions.  (A matter of personal taste, but still worth knowing.)

HALAL MEAT IS AN ACCEPTABLE SUBSTITUTE FOR GRASS FED / PASTURED MEATS.  Halal is the Muslim version of Kosher; the animals are treated humanely while they are alive (given the right things to eat) and then are killed in a peaceful way.  An animal that dies peacefully doesn’t have all the stress chemicals coursing through its body as it dies–which does affect the quality of the meat.  So if you can’t find organic, look for a Middle Eastern store that carries meat in your area.

PORTION CONTROL IS VITAL.  Measure it if you can’t eyeball a portion.  You should eat meat servings that are about the size of a deck of cards.  NOT the Jumbo Gargantuan Hamburger O’Death.  If you’re eating quality meat, that deck of cards is sufficient to satisfy your taste buds and fill your stomach–which by the way only holds about 2 cups.  Even chewed, that’s not really a lot of food at one time.  Theoretically, you should eat from 4 to 6 SMALL meals each day–and when I say small, I mean like half a sandwich, 1/2 cup of nuts, an apple…a 4 ounce serving of protein (that deck of cards thing again).  You can eat just about all the vegetables you want as long as you’re not dragging them through fat (sour cream, mayo or yogurt based dips and my personal bete noire).  Be careful about fruit because it’s still got a lot of sugar–but it’s fructose, not HFCS and your body knows what to do with it.  Buy containers to portion out your meals; use compartmentalized plates–and the largest section is for vegetables.

When you go out to a restaurant, the minute they deliver your meal, divide it in half and ask for a to go box.  Put one half into that box and set it aside.  Then you may eat the rest.  Try to find places that are doing the “farm to fork” and organic on their menu.  Again, it’s a little pricier, but well worth the knowing you are getting a truly nutritious meal.  Surprisingly, one of the fast food places has started putting grass fed beef into their hamburgers–yes, Burger King is really trying to use fresher, more local ingredients.  The “toppers” are a good way to get some decent protein, even at a fast food joint–just remove the bottom part of the bun and eat the rest to cut down on the carbs.

SATISFY YOUR CRAVING.  If you are really jonesing for one particular thing, even if it’s in the “bad” list–has HFCS or is high in fat, salt or whatever–then have it.  Have a small portion of it.  Don’t try to find something else to eat because that won’t satisfy your desires and you’ll end up eating lots more trying to assuage it rather than admit you want a slice of Pizza Hut pizza and just eating that one thing.  Try not to have cravings very often…and if you’re eating foods that are better choices, I believe you will find that you don’t want industrialized food as much.

Remember that injunction against ice cream?  If you really gots to have it, then get organic or high quality ice cream (like Hagen Daz “5 ingredient” flavors) and portion out the correct amount.  Did you know that one of those little buckets of Hagen Daz or Ben  Jerry’s is actually FOUR servings?  And frankly, some of the HD flavors are so intense and rich, you just can’t eat much of it in one go.  We actually get ours from the local dairy bar, from local cows that are grass fed.  The ice cream is soooo rich and heavy, one scoop is almost too much.  That’s a good indicator of quality–how much air is stirred into the product versus how much product you are actually getting.  And watch out for the evil HFCS and Xanthan gum.

CORN.  Only eat corn that is as close to its natural state as you can: corn on the cob, frozen or canned corn, hominy, pop corn, corn chips, corn meal…not the processed and industrialized stuff made from corn.  If you are able, get heirloom corn which has a larger protein germ than the hybridized versions of modern corn, which have a larger starchy part.

You spend time and effort picking out a car, a house, jewelry.  Those are only things.  Your health and well being have no price, no way to improve them except by the choices you make about what goes into your body and how you live your life.  Making better (different) choices for food can open up a whole new world of taste and satisfaction, maybe even start you cooking new foods and learning new cuisines, which makes for some wonderful dinner parties.  Improve your food choices and improve your health.  Be a knowledgeable and discriminating consumer and be good to yourself.  And those you cook for.


What to do With an Evil Genius Smart Toddler?

So beloved and I went to the daughter’s for Memorial Day, which also happened to be my granddaughter’s 2nd birthday.  I realize I am biased, but she is the best, smartest, most wonderful fabulous girl child a grandmother could hope for.  (Grandchildren are God’s way of rewarding you for not killing your own children.)  So for our purposes, I will refer to her as “EG” (Evil Genius), like I refer to my grandson as “Froggy”.  This is a public forum and I prefer to use aliases just because.

We left home early enough to beat the searing heat that was promised (and certainly showed up).  My daughter, Lizard, lives on the edge of a national forest in an apartment that is amazingly nicer than her last place–better neighborhood, nicer neighbors, and the apartment itself is very nice.  They are up on the 3rd floor so it was interesting for both of us to make it up there…but it does give them a nice balcony and view.  EG seemed happy to see us, which was good because we haven’t had the chance to see her as often as we’d like.

We of course took her a birthday present–she has been fascinated by a 20 sided die that granddad has.  It’s mostly clear, but has some colored sparkles inside of it.  So we got her 5 of these dice, in a slightly larger size so that she can’t put them into her mouth.  Starting her early as a “Gamer Girl”…and it IS a teaching toy, as the numbers on the die can be used to help her learn her numbers and identifying them by sight.  She liked them because they were colorful and the only warning we had to give her mother is that she might fling them and cause dings on the wall.  Oh well.

We also took tuna salad, Grandpa made, with the idea that this would be our lunch and leftovers would be used up during the rest of the week.  (Since my daughter told me that EG loves tuna salad.)  Her father had indicated that she would only eat the salad he made, so beloved felt that was a bit of a challenge.  After everyone got to taste it, the general consensus was that Grandpa’s tuna salad was, and I quote, banging!

Well, it got to be lunchtime and as we began to express our hunger, EG’s dad (CJ) says, “I want wings” and that was like magic words…we ALL wanted wings.  And oh what wings they were.  From a local place, with about 15 different sauces.  So I got an order with Old Bay and an order with lemon pepper.  Lizard got something she called “24 carat gold” which is a very nice honey mustard.  CJ got Buffalo at thermonuclear levels of hot.  Beloved got teriyaki and something called “tandoori”– which were amazing, and it’s a curry style rub.  The wings themselves were crisp but juicy–and HALAL, which is the Muslim form of Kosher.  Larger wings, just incredibly good.  We fell on them and ate like starving wolves.  NOM!

The other adults were amused that they got me to watch about 3 movies I had never seen before: How to Train Your Dragon, Stardust, and Cars.  We spent a lovely day, doing nothing stupendous other than sharing time with each other.  I got to snuggle with my granddaughter, which was golden and spend time with her mom and dad as well.  Lizard was happy that I got to see her house–and she has decorated and arranged it to be homey.  EG has her own room, which has glow in the dark stars for her to look at as she falls asleep…and butterflies and flowers for daytime.  The big bear that we gave her last year sits in a place of honor by her bed.  (He’s about 4 feet tall, so “big bear” is an accurate description.)  She is also working towards a “big girl bed” without side rails.

It was fun to listen to her speak, as her vocabulary is expanding exponentially and she actually says three syllable words–like “Amazing”!  She has an incredible attention span for a child her age and is certainly living up to the early description of evil genius smart.  I certainly consider it worth the 2 hour drive to see her and of course, I’m always glad when they come down to our house.

So Monday was the start of a good week.  My meds are starting to really be good and almost to the levels I need.  Probably have a little more tweaking here and there to really fine tune it, but…for the first time in over a year, I have the feeling of “normal”.  I mean, like I used to feel.  It’s a fragile thing, easily broken because of the loss of muscle tone and lack of endurance, but it’s a start back to feeling (dare I say it) actually good!?  Less pain, more able to do things.  Saw the chiropractor on Saturday and asked him to adjust my hands and wrists–and there was NO pain after having it there for more than a year.  I can actually do things with my hands again.  It’s an amazing thing.  I still tire easily and like I said, got to build up both muscle tone and endurance, but it’s a brighter looking future than I had 2 months ago.  Better living through chemistry!

We’re still utterly poor and trying to work out how to increase the money income…I need to go to Fredericksburg and find the VA office, to see what kind of benefits I am eligible for (after a 4 year stint in the Air Force)–quite possibly they will pay for meds, possibly doctor visits.  That would help immeasurably.  Looking into the food stamps thing.  Contacting the lawyer to start the process for application and approval of SSDI for both of us.  Or as my friend told me, “Decide what you need and then figure out how to ask for it.”

Got the console table put at the front door, parallel to the fridge, where we can drop our keys; it also holds our SodaStream unit.  Beloved is working on sliding the desks around a bit and get me off the laptop and onto a desktop.  (He’s got me playing a new game and so he’s got incentive to get me onto a computer that can do it gracefully without incredible latency.)  Hopefully we can also sort through the boxes that are still floating around and find places to store it which will open up space.  Our friend has offered seating in the form of couch, chair and ottoman once she replaces them with her own new set.  So we also have reason to get things in better order.

The rearrangement of the kitchen continues to prove the worth of that move–it is accommodating to the reality of our lives and makes working in there much easier.  We are trying to have that mindset for the rest of the house: arrange it to accommodate our reality, the reality of disability and inability to do things in the “normal” way.  We are both mentally capable of making that distinction and have the desire to see it through.  And we have friends that will help with the heaviest stuff.

So that’s about it for now.  I hope that the improvement will continue, at least to a level that allows some quality of life and ability to do things with my hands.