If We Were Having Coffee // Good News and Troubling Warnings

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I’m in a strange mood today. I should be tired. I didn’t sleep well last night and I’m not feeling all that great, but somehow I’m full of motivation and positivity. I’m using my time well, alternating between writing while watching old episodes of ER and cleaning during the commercials. The more I write and the more I clean, the better I feel, and the more I feel like I can do. It feels good to feel good.

It hot out today so we’re keeping indoors and, as usual, I have plenty of cold brew and ice to keep us cool. So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. Let’s talk about last week.

“I just want to drink coffee from the safety of the porch; watching the rain fall in bounds across the soft green grass. I want you beside me, and we don’t have to say a word. I want to spend the morning just staring into the earth drinking itself under a clouded sky, and finally know my place in it all.”

— Schuyler Peck, We Don’t Have to Say A Word

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that last week I had my yearly check in with my GI to discuss how well controlled my ulcerative colitis is and what the next steps are.

There was mostly good news but some troubling warnings too. The good news is it looks like I am doing well enough that we can stay the course. I’ve been dealing with some joint pain and fatigue but I’ve been able to work, go out to dinner and have drinks with friends, go hiking, write, and feel happy and hopeful more days than I don’t. I’ve got a life back again soon, for now, there will be no new medications. We’ll just make small adjustments to the dosage and frequency of the infusions as needed. And! If I continue to do well I can wean off the horse pills I have to take every morning too!

I did a slew of lab tests and for the most part results are coming in within standard ranges, but my iron levels are low and I’m being put on iron supplements as well as calcium and vitamin d. I actually do eat a lot of iron-rich foods already so I’m guessing it’s all the damage that has been done to my colon. I can’t absorb anything efficiently and I’m prone to anemia now. Not only that, but I was told to begin getting regular skin checks. I’m more likely to get skin cancer now too.

Since the visit, I haven’t been feeling all that well. I never do after doctor’s visits though. I think I worry about them a lot and that triggers my gut and my immune response and nearly every time I end up back in a flare. I’m thinking of taking up meditating again to try to head it off.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that it probably isn’t all the doctor’s appointment making me anxious and sick. My family is going through some hard times right now. I can’t say much about it. It’s not my story to tell, you know? I will say that we’re feeling very fractured and I’m unsure where I stand in all of this. I’m unsure what to do as trying to fix it might only exacerbate the issue but being too hands-off may give the impression that I don’t care and create bitterness.

It’s a delicate balance and much of it will come down to accepting that when we set out to make choices in our lives that are best for us, we risk upsetting others and in the end we may have to accept that whether or not that anger is deserved or not we cannot force people to talk to us, to work things out, to see it our way, or to forgive. It sucks and I am hurt that so many are being hurt and that things may not ever be like they were, but I’m hopeful and willing to help in any way I can.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I was saddened to hear of John McCain’s passing last night, but I’ve been reluctant to join others on social media in posting about it.

My feelings about him—as a politician and a war hero—are complicated. He was a Republican, a conservative, a warmonger and no friend to the LGBTQ community, women, immigrants, or people of color. He was part of a system that dehumanized the already downtrodden and even in death I cannot unknow that.

Still, there were times I felt that I could respect his principles. No, I would not label him “good” or “compassionate” but his presence at least seemed to mitigate the horrors happening in Washington, and will be missed. He seemed to have some kind of moral code and he seemed to stick to it. He was not an opportunist at the very least and I do think there was good that ran through him.

My heart goes out to his family. I know there must have been pain and heartache in his last days on Earth and I know that he has left a hole in their lives. I hope they will find peace.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that work wise the week was relatively stress-free. I got a lot accomplished in the office and the kids were well-behaved on the bus. I’m working a lot of hours and normally that would put me in an irritable state but I’m happy to earn the extra money right now.

I did get to check out the new building my training team and I will be moving into this fall. I was anxious about the move but after seeing all the space well have, the kitchen space, the bathrooms, and the real live office we get with a door and everything! I think it’s going to be great, not just because we get to have our own quiet space away from the rest of the staff but because our team will get to be all in one place and we’ll no longer have to compromise or cut back on our work because we have to share space and resources.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I am so far behind on my reading goal for the year that I have given up all hope of meeting it. After a lot of fighting myself, feeling guilty, giving up, and trying again and again, I’ve decided to let go of my yearly goal and focus on daily reading goals instead. I start with 30 minutes of reading a day, and I shoot for another 30 minutes (or however long I can get) before bed. This week I met that goal every single day and I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

When I am trying to read 30+ books before the end of the year I power through every one I pick up. I’m not able to really take in what I am reading or consider the art of the writing beyond the plot. When I’m just worried about those 30 minutes I take what I read during that time very seriously. I study it. I underline interesting phrases and I take notes in the margins. I form opinions. I have a conversation with the author.

For that past month or so I’ve been reading On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche. This is my second attempt. It’s a short book but it’s packed quite efficiently with a lot of information. When I was trying to power through it I couldn’t understand it and I felt bad about how long it was taking me. This time I’m taking it slow and this time I not only understand it a whole lot better, but I am fascinated! I don’t agree with everything Nietzsche has to say, but he writes it well that’s for damn sure.

I look forward to writing a review when I’m done!

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that my stomach is growling at me and I can hear the washing machine beeping. I’ve got a lot to do today, around the house and just for me. It’s time I got up and moving about, I might even get out for a walk today when it cools down of course.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you learned something, made progress, and managed your stress levels in healthy ways. I hope you found time for you this weekend. I hope you saw the sun and the people you love.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Andrew Welch on Unsplash

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233 // Help Them Help You

Today was infusion day, again. This was the fourth infusion I’ve had of Inflectra for my ulcerative colitis and the good news is it went well. Another milestone reached, another step toward what might be remission, or what might be failure. Day by day, or more accurately, bi-monthly by bi-monthly, infusion by infusion, that is how I am taking things.

I also had an appointment to see my GI doctor and I was thoroughly lectured about how often I contact her, which apparently isn’t nearly enough. I wasn’t helping her to help me. I told her I just felt bad bothering her. I know she has a lot of patients. I know she’s busy and I figure I’m probably fine or that whatever is happening will pass. I’m always wrong.

She said that it’s true, she is very busy, and it was for precisely that reason that I needed to bother her more. She explained she may have 5,000 emails to get through and that if my labs came back good, she may tell me everything was great and move on because she is trying to get to everyone. She said it was up to me to stop her and tell her right away if I was feeling cruddy. It was up to me to say there was more to the story than the numbers.

That really hit me.

When someone is busy, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to know things, or that they want you to suffer in silence. They want you to help them do their jobs well and be better people by speaking up. They may need to be reminded to stop focusing on the details and the numbers and look at the whole picture, the human picture.

They don’t just need your help to help you, they want your help. Help them help you!

***

I’m trying something new here. In addition to my regular posts, I’m adding these short, daily-ish journal entries inspired by Thord D. Hedengren.

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Human, and Understanding

They’ve left me facing wall
To the left a landscape painting,
Under hard glass
reflects harsh lighting
There are no windows here

Doctors have lost their hearts
All surfaces are sterilized
No life forms allowed
No healing can happen here
The signs out front are wrong

Insides machines beep the time, and
Tubes drip cold fluid into my arms
But humiliation and fear
are what have frozen me
I have to get out!

Suddenly, the curtain pulls back
In this sterile maze
Life reaches out to life
A nurse, human, and understanding,
Has brought me warm blanket

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + some of my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Written in response to Daily Post Prompt: Blanket

Featured image via Steve Greer

10 Thoughts on Being Six Months Smoke-free

Today, dear readers, marks six months since I embarked on my most successful attempt to quit smoking since I started just about 15 years ago. I’m proud of myself and the people close to me are too but I won’t pretend it has been an easy or pleasant experience. It was very hard and I learned a lot about myself in the process. Here are my feelings on being smoke-free so far:

Every was right, cigarettes smell horrible. I never noticed very much before. I mean I knew I smelled bad right after I smoked but I didn’t think I did all day. When I first quit, when my sense of smell began to return to normal, the smell of cigarettes triggered cravings. Slowly the smell began to revolt me. I get why people do everything they can to keep smokers far away and out of smelling range.

There can be a social life outside of “The Smoking Area”. It might sound weird but my biggest road block to quitting was my fear of being alone. The smoking area of any workplace is where all the fun happens. It’s where people let loose and say all the things they can’t inside in front of the boring nonsmokers. It was hard giving that up but I actually enjoy the quiet time away from the loud mouths now.

I have so much more free time! When I quit I knew I needed to find something to do with all the time I used to fill up with cigarettes. Boredom is a chance for the addiction to wear you down so you have to avoid it at all costs. I started learning Spanish and putting more time into writing. More to be proud of :)

I can buy so many things now! I can now justify almost any purchase to myself and my girlfriend by simply saying “Well, I did quit smoking, so not only do I deserve this but I can probably afford it too.” I try to be careful so I don’t end up substituting a shopping addiction for the smoking but it is nice to have things to show for my money now.

My anxiety over the adverse health effects of smoking is at an all-time high. When I did smoke I didn’t worry about cancer much. My mind always pushed my worries away. My addiction made me think it wasn’t going to happen to me. Since I’ve cut my dependence on nicotine I realize I will probably pay a price for 15 years of smoking eventually and it scares the shit out of me.

Human emotions are not easy to work through. Before, when I got angry, sad, frustrated, lonely, or felt any unpleasant emotion, I could just have a cigarette (or two) and everything would be better. Now I have to actually deal with my feelings and find a way to work through them. I have to say of al the struggles I have gotten through since I quit this is what I am most proud of. I can face my feelings now without nicotine.

Nicotine affects you physically, and quitting can have unexpected results. My body was used to a regular dose of nicotine and other chemicals almost every day for most of my adult life. When I cut that supply my body felt it. I was very tired for the first week or two. I developed a cough and a runny nose. The returning circulation left my hands and feet feeling tingly and numb for days. Most of that has passed by now and I feel much better now than I used to.

Anyone can quit. I am fighting the urge to become one of those ex-smokers who lectures people who have chosen not to quit at this time. I hear smokers saying “I just can’t quit right now.” or “I have tried before and it’s too hard.” I get it. I probably tried at least six or nine times before this one. The only thing that was different this time was I knew all the reasons I thought I couldn’t do it was adjust my addiction lying to me.  Evey step of the way I told myself I could do this and I did. That was it.

I don’t regret quitting at all. I did for a long stretch of the past six months, though, I’m not going to lie. I missed it a lot. I didn’t like all the changes I had to make. I didn’t like feeling grouchy and uncomfortable. I didn’t like not have my friend and security blanket. I didn’t like not having a way to escape things that were making me uncomfortable. Now though, now I know it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I have a long way to go still. I am still tempted every so often. If I become too emotionally distressed or if I am outside enjoying some nice weather, the thought that a cigarette would be really good occurs to me. In those moments, I remember the feeling a good cigarette gave me. Instant relaxation. I am able to push the craving away easily but I think it will be a long while before those thoughts stop coming to me at all.

I did this and you can too.

Monday Motivation // Please, Remember to Eat

Good morning and happy Monday to you all. The work week begins again and it’s time for us to rise and begin again with it. It has been awhile since I have written one of these but honestly, since I had been sick I haven’t felt very motivated. I am finally feeling like myself again and it occurred to me that for the past few weeks all I could think about was getting healthy again. A big part of that was being aware of what I was putting into my body and how often. Because I got sick, and because I quit smoking,  I have built a habit of remembering to

A big part of that was being aware of what I was putting into my body and how often. Because I got sick, and because I quit smoking, I have been better about remembering to eat every meal and being mindful of what I am eating. I do this because food is very important to our day-to-day lives. Food provides the energy we need to accomplish our goals and it makes us feel good so we can enjoy the day.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

// Hippocrates

There were many mornings when my breakfast consisted of a few cups of coffee and a cigarette to go with each one. I ate lunch about 50% and only because my girlfriend made sure to pack me some leftovers from the night before. Luckily she made healthy dinners and if nothing else I was getting one of my meals right. I never drank water, strictly coffee and sweet tea only, and I took in a lot of sugar and salt.

My eating habits were pretty bad but over the years, I’ve made small changes and things have gotten a lot better. I’m not here to tell you I know everything about nutrition and fitness. I don’t know much beyond eat lots of things that look they came from the earth (fresh fruits and veggies), drink less soda and sugary drinks and more water, and, most importantly, I know I just need to eat!

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”

// Virginia Woolf

If I had to recommend a place to start on the road to healthier eating it would be to start by remembering to eat at all. Too many of us are skipping one, sometimes two meals a day. Too many of us are just too busy to stop and think about food at all. We learn to ignore the stomach growling and hunger pains. We tell ourselves we’ll eat later. When later comes we say we don’t know what to get, so we get nothing. We go back to work, feeling tired, unmotivated, and blah.

How can we expect to accomplish our goals when our minds and bodies have nothing to convert to energy? How can we make things happen when we are feeling sluggish and light-headed from low blood sugar and lack of vitamins and minerals? We can’t do anything without first giving ourselves the building blocks we need to stay healthy, to heal, and to run at optimum energy and efficiency.

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”

// Mark Twain

This week I’m not asking you to become the perfect example of healthy living. I am nowhere near that myself. I’m not even sure I want to be. All I am asking you to do this week is to just start by remembering to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Remember to ask yourself, “When was the last time I ate something?”. Remember to take notice of how you are feeling and ask yourself, “Do I feel tired, irritable, or weak/light-headed?”. If you do, would eating something help?

I truly believe that when it comes to food, anything is better than nothing, and skipping a meal is the worst thing you can do for yourself.

(If you are already eating at regular intervals throughout the day try asking yourself, “Is there something healthier that would satisfy me?”, “Is there something I could make myself?”, or “Can I add something fresh  to this?”.)

Nothing can get done if you do not have what you need to get it done. Eat because you body needs nourishment, and because you need your body. Eat because everything you want to accomplish depends on your health and energy. Eat because food should a part of our lives we enjoy, not something we skip or rush through. Eat because it feels good and because you love yourself too much to deprive yourself of all the good eating does.

Eat because you have a life to live and you want it to be a long and healthy one.

Just eat.

“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”

// Zen proverb

Monday Motivation – Had a Rough Start but I’m Still Trying

It’s Monday again and while I’m trying my best to get my ass in gear and get motivated I’m having a terribly tough time.

This week I’m going to try to prepare for my days in advance. Getting ready for work today did not go as planned and I ran late which put me in a bad mood. I don’t want to continue that tend for the next four mornings so before bed every night I need to pick out my clothes, get my food for the next day ready, and get everything I need to get through the day, such and books, keys, and charger cords, in my bag so I’m not searching for them in the morning.

This week I also have to find more time for myself so I can read, write, and draw. I’ve let this blog go a bit and I have a lot of projects sitting on the back burner that need to be worked on before I lose interest. I’m losing track of my writing ideas and my drawing skills need work. My brain needs replenishing and my creative muscles need a work out. My day job will just have to give a little.

This week I have to take care of my home. I’m horrible at chores and my house had become a cluttered mess. I can’t function in that much chaos. So every afternoon when I get home I need to spend 20 or 30 minutes organizing and cleaning, then I can work on my projects.

And finally this week I am going to start watching what I eat more. My diet isn’t the most unhealthy but it could use some improvement. More natural foods rather than processed crap and more water and unsweetened matcha, finely ground green tea leaves. Less sugar is the main goal which I hope will help with the sluggishness and food cravings.

So those are the goals this week, preparation, organization, creativity, and healthiness. It’s a lot but think I can handle it! What are your goals this week?

The Week’s End – A Round-up of Interesting Stuffs

Steal This Episode – copyblogger

As a writer, you should be swiping ideas nonstop. Stealing ideas nonstop.

I am always on the look out for new podcasts and this one looks pretty interesting. It’s called Rough Draft and it “delivers the essential writing advice you need to succeed online, in about four minutes a day, four days a week”. This episode in particular looks interesting because as a writer I am all about stealing ideas, the right way of course, and anything that admits openly and honestly that this is what any creative art is about is something I want to hear!

The Science Of Superiority: Why The Firstborn Child Is The Smartest One – Elite Daily

Firstborn children are literally smarter, better, faster and stronger than you.

As a first-born myself this makes me very happy :)

Blueberry Lavender Chia Seed Pudding {Gluten-Free & Vegan} – Free People Blog

Not only are chia seed puddings a breeze to whip up, but they taste wonderful, are super satisfying, and they’re loaded with healthy and nourishing goodness.

I recently watched a documentary on obesity that scared the crap out out of me. I am a skinny girl but I have been gaining weight lately and I learned that being skinny does not equal healthy, not even “healthier”. So I am looking for new recipes that use fresh, nutrient rich, ingredients. I haven’t made this one yet but it does sound tasty so I thought I’d share.

Fed Up – Netflix

An examination of America’s obesity epidemic and the food industry’s role in aggravating it.

This is that documentary I mentioned that scared the crap out of me! I admit I had no idea how much sugar I was ingesting a day, or how it affected my body, or how the food industry was working to keep me ignorant. This has changed the way I think about what I eat. I realize now that a lot of things I thought were healthy choices were not.

You have to watch this documentary!

Cheryl Strayed on how to write like a motherfucker – Brain Pickings

 So write, Elissa Bassist. Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.