Eat this, drink that

(Ironically, I originally posted this on my former blog site exactly a year ago today; and yet, somehow I’m doing this again, and feeling the same way about it again!)

Dear Detox….I may be breaking up with you.

Yep, I fell prey to myself and decided on a 30-day detox/cleanse for the new year in the month of January. The same detox/cleanse I did for 30 days last year, and made it through the last 2 weeks by dreaming of my menu on day 1 post-detox. The menu changed multiple times in my fantasies, but generally, always rivaled the culinary tastes of your average 12-year old, with the addition of alcohol. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Spaghetti. Ice cream. Yep, your basic childhood day in modern America.

What is this fascist detox regime, you may ask? Well, it’s all very simple, and it all promotes “healthy” living eating “real” and “natural” foods (but, keep in mind, only SOME real and natural foods! :) ) It seeks to eliminate things that we generally know are not healthy for us (such as alcohol and sugar), but also detoxifies the system from foods with high allergen properties, such as gluten and dairy. So what are the do’s and dont’s?

No sugar. No alcohol. No dairy. No gluten. No soy. No vinegar (other than apple cider vinegar). No coffee/soda. No annoying persons or small children that you may wish to gut like a fish because you are walking around in a 30-day PMS mode. Generally only low-glycemic fruits, such as green apples and berries. Decreased red meat intake. 2 protein shakes a day (made with vegan, pea-protein powder). Vitamins. Drink like a fish (water and herbal teas, of course!) Exercise the body (and the brain, trying to figure out how to make a large onion/olive/tomato pizza with extra cheese fit into this plan). Make sure you sleep plenty (because of the depression that sets in when you realize what you can and can’t eat). Feel remarkably better as all of these things that you probably aren’t allergic or even sensitive to leave your body :) Repeat as desired (or if you are just stupid, like myself).

Now, I know to some people, this whole meal plan may sound like a day in the life. Yeah, bravo to you and here’s a big razzberry to boot. It ain’t no day in MY life! I confess; I love yogurt. I love cheese. Enough to accept a ring if one were to propose. And dangit, I LIKE my gluten! Gluten allegedly is a bad guy, that causes normal, non-celiac people (I do have sympathy for celiac persons who have no choice but eat this way) to bloat and have difficulties with digestion. But really, isn’t it just in the point of view? Being a silver-lining kind of gal, I choose to believe that gluten is my friend, who kindly challenges my body to work itself heartily!

Let’s have a word about protein shakes. They are great, great meal substitutes for me, who has a tendency to not take in enough protein, because I have an easier time drinking nutrition than eating (despite my Rubenesque  physique, I really don’t eat such a great deal!) The products I use, they are easily digestible protein, which I appreciate. However, I also add to the shake….fiber powder, to fill me up more…pre and pro-biotics….and this ungodly green powder stuff that is supposed to be all of the miraculous, mysterious superfoods in the world concentrated into grass-smelling unnaturally green….STUFF. It allegedly has no taste. Well….I can say that I’m 25 and weigh 115 pounds at 5’8″, and I would be “alleging” that….yep, basically anything “allegedly” is not necessarily true. It has a taste. It tastes like bunny ass, or what I would assume those little greenish brown poops that bunnies make would taste like. So you throw it into your protein shake, thinking whatever other flavors you add will cover it up. But they don’t. And it turns the shake green. Vividly green. It doesn’t matter if I use the vanilla protein powder, or the chocolate; my shake ends up green. Now, I have a theory here; humans are not meant to drink green. Eat it, fine, I love my salads, I love my broccoli, I am learning to have some better appreciation for spinach and kale. But, green is meant to be chewed, not drunk. Unless it comes over ice or blended with salt on the rim of the glass, we are not meant to drink green. Just my theory, but I bet if I proposed it as a research project, I could find funding somewhere.

So I talk to people who have also done this detox, multiple times, and I think I’m an aberrency. These people talk about how great it makes them feel, that within the first week they can feel so much cleaner, they can feel the impact on their body, they sleep better, they have more energy. Yadda yadda. Let’s see; I started week 1 with a cold. I’m partly through week 2; still have the cold. No improved sleep. No great energy. I am not running around like Superman, Ironman, WonderWoman, etc, saving the world, winning Nobel prizes, and knitting new countries in my spare time. I’m working my usual 48-60 hours a week, keeping my house clean, taking care of my pets, paying my bills, trying to keep up with family, indulging in the NFL playoffs, and sleeping about the same as usual. Basically, life continues as usual. No superpowers here. Other than the possible ability to fart a bunny from time to time.

I mentioned this detox at work last night. When people 20 years younger than you look shocked by your intent to torment yourself in such a way, it gives one pause to think. When said people look actually physically pained by the details of the detox, and the length of time of it, one thinks a bit more. This is the young, hip and healthy generation saying WTF??? (Of course, it is also the wussified generation of America in some respects, so perhaps this is not an accurate polling).

So, dear detox, despite my dislike and disdain for you at this time, nope, I’m NOT breaking up with you. I intermittently do this to myself because as a younger person, I did not tend to challenge myself personally enough; I found my comfort zone, stuck with it and lived in it. So now, as I get older and become more into challenging myself in many ways, I take this as an opportunity to prove to myself once again that I can do anything I set my mind to. So here I am, a third of the way through, and going strong.

But if you see me and I look hungry, you may want to stay out of my way ;)

Why be a nurse?

I was in a job interview earlier this week, and the person who was interviewing me (a fellow nurse, with many years in the field as well as in education) was telling me that she remembered her very first patient….her very first “code blue”….her very first patient death. Some things stay with you, even if they are from 40+ years ago.

Every nurse, everyone in health care, has patients that touch their hearts and memories, for some reason. Patients who influence us, in our thought processes, in our quality of care, in our attention and desires to do things differently for them. They may have survived or not, but they have left an indelible mark on our souls, our heads, our hearts, as well as on our dedication to the profession.

Sometimes, it is a losing battle. Sometimes we know it, sometimes we don’t. But the best we can do is, the best we can do. And whether someone survives or not is out of our realm a lot of the time. Awareness of that fact, and acceptance of it, is essential to our jobs and to our sanity.

So why be a nurse? When you lose half of your patients, despite your best efforts, and yet, there is never a shortage of people, patients, those with poor lifestyle choices, those with bad luck, those with bad karma, those who are old, who are young, who are shockingly like YOU? Because even when the actual outcome is out of our hands, the treatment of these people is well within them. And when I am taking care of a patient, I know that they are getting the BEST care possible for that 12 hours. If I didn’t feel that way, I wouldn’t still be doing this.

“If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.”

Old Emily Dickinson had it right…..that’s what this job is all about

“Nurse’s day” and “Hospital week”

Originally posted on May 8, 2014
National “nurse’s day” is May 6th. (“Hospital week”, which celebrates and thanks all who work within the hospital setting, is coming up next week; May is apparently a month to honor moms and other caretakers!)

Most of the time, hospital’s celebrate these special days with treats for the staff (generally high fat, high sugar treats! Because who doesn’t want an ice cream sundae at 1am?? *I* sure do!!), possibly little gifts, like mugs or water tumblers; a hospital I’ve worked with has done nice pampering gifts, like 10 minute massages and mini-facials or hand scrubs (yep, ice cream is out, I’ll take luxury!)

But honestly, the beauty of this profession is that we are celebrated, treated, and thanked every day. Oh, not always will all patients appear grateful for when you are waking them at midnight for a shot, or at 4am for lab work! But the saying goes that a job done well is it’s best reward; and this job, when done well, gives us bonus kudos every single day we work. It’s in little things sometimes; sometimes a smile, sometimes a patient who has been in great pain finally relaxing; sometimes in reading the “numbers” and seeing mathematically that a patient is showing their signs of improving.

Good nurses do this work with their hearts open and giving; you can’t do this job without opening your heart to your patients, their loved ones, and your fellow co-workers. At times a nurse may appear to be less emotionally impacted by a given situation; trust me, they are feeling every bit of it. We learn how to guard our emotions in the heat of the moment, to be the most effective at actually doing our job; but we hurt with people, we cry with people, and we feel joy with people. It’s just that some of those emotions are more helpful to the patient when shown directly to them, and those which would negatively impact the patient will be carefully hidden until we get home.

I received a hug last week from a lovely, sweet lady who lost her father recently. I was one of the nurses taking care of him, and then essentially her and her family, during the whole situation. This beautiful person who is still so hurting from her loss hugged me and thanked me for all I did for her and her family, and said she is trying to be able to give thanks to everyone who was involved in her father’s care. Nurse-mode me (and of course, what I would do anyway) hugged her back tightly, said “you’re welcome”, and asked how she and her family are doing, and telling her to please take good and gentle care of herself. And then I got in my car and cried a little on the way home for this sweet lady’s loss.

The hug, and the cry, are “thank you’s”. Nurse’s day came early to me.

All things happen for a reason

Originally posted on May 2, 2014
I was with my nieces the other day, and one of them looks up, points to the sky and excitedly says “Airplane!!” (They’re not quite 2 1/2). She was so remarkably excited, and let me tell ya, she can hear and spot airplanes that are totally stealth to the adult eye and ear! I was thinking about that, wondering why her excitement struck me so much….and I think it’s amazing how jaded we become as adults, and how much harder we are to impress. When was the last time a grownup heard an airplane, looked up and was excited?? We lose the innocent wonder, amazement and excitement as we get older, and I am sure that will happen with these little sweeties as well, sad to say.

But I think the most remarkable thing to me was that I was there with her to witness her excitement. After all, it was a day I normally would have been working, with my former job’s work schedule. But there I was, on a crazy windy spring day, with those beautiful little girls whom I love so much, and my mom whom I love so much, at the playground, pushing the swings and seeking planes in the sky. I’ve been given a remarkable number of gifts recently; freedom, new beginnings, revitalized and renewed friendships, new friendships, self-examination, and one of the most remarkable things, TIME. Time to examine myself and find what is remarkable about me, what is adequate about me, and what about me I am not happy with and want to change. Time to examine my life, and discover what is working and wonderful in it, what I need to work at further, and what to let go of. Time to examine my relationships, and discover who is powerful and positive to me, and who is someone that, for them and myself, it is best we part ways. Time to renew my commitment to my education and career. And time to witness the astounding, daily growth of these two remarkable little human beings whom I adore and am so blessed to be a part of their lives! Additionally, I have had time to spend with my family, to complete making my home renewed and comfortable, and to invest in myself and my future.

There have been periods of indecision, and periods of worry and concern over “what if?” But, to worry of the uncertainties is simply a waste of this precious time! When an uncertainty becomes a certainty, it will certainly present plenty of concern and worry to you at that time; why borrow potential stress from the future that may or may not ever even exist? What is the saying? That right now is a gift, and that is why it’s called the present? Open that present, enjoy it to the max, indulge and luxuriate in it!! For who knows when it will be gone?

I will of course at a point be back to working 45-50 hours a week routinely, and probably be adding school back into that mix, because that is MY breed of insanity! However, I take all that has happened in recent months as lessons learned; lessons of how to make the most of the precious gift of time and the present, and how to be thankful, joyful, and appreciative of all of the amazement and wonder that comes with it! Sometimes, the silver lining is so incredibly wide and thick, that the negative event is completely overshadowed….and really, that ain’t a bad thing!

Life lessons from basic training

Originally posted on April 14, 2014
As my birthday is coming up later this month, I get onto these kicks of nostalgia; of who I am, of where I’ve been, of where I’m heading….ya know, the whole “what I have done with my life so far, and what else will I be doing with it” idea. While unpacking some books from my recent remodeling efforts, I ran across my Air Force basic training “yearbook” (go fighting B090!) and realized that, while my time in the military had it’s ups and downs (as everything in life does), my time in basic training was absolutely an important and incredible experience for me. There is a lot of learning and growing up that can occur in a 6-8 week period of time when you are away from home, being in one of the most disciplined environments that you will ever be a part of. I’ve often thought that all high school graduates could benefit from at least going through basic training (if not going into the actual military).

So what did I learn in basic training? Here we go:

1). How to iron. Ok, so that may be a bit inaccurate….I’m sure I knew how to iron before that (although I’m sure as a teenager, I ascribed to purchasing clothing that required no ironing at all, or wearing clothing that maybe required ironing but just didn’t do it!) But this was hard-core ironing…kind of like the cross fit of ironing. You can fold your T-shirt in a 3″ square, and by golly, you’d better do it! (and then press an iron on it, flatten it out, and then wear 3 T-shirts at a time to avoid having to iron more than 2 at a time; you iron the 2, keep them in the drawer, and wear the rest or keep them in your laundry bag!) Ditto for folding your socks in exact thirds, and your underwear into militaristic origami.

2) How to be aware that the rules given in #1 mean nothing, but still follow them. So much these days, people don’t want to follow rules that they don’t agree with. Ya know what? You don’t agree with it, fine. You’re ONE person. You either disagree with it and follow it anyway, or you disagree with it, don’t follow it, and suffer the consequences. It’s pretty black and white in basic training; pull a 341 enough times (discipline form) and you learn what consequences are. Boundaries and rules that WILL be enforced is great training for the “real world”!

3) How to show respect for authority even if you don’t respect the person who IS that authority. Oh wow, is this a big one?! Yeah, authority and rule by degradation is not my idea of a good way of leadership (which is why I have left some jobs in the past….) However, that’s the way it is in basic training. And you just learn to deal with it, or else you’re pulling a bunch more 341′s! So yes, you do have no choice but to show respect for authority; you may or may not truly feel it, but you can be a good little soldier and show respect and even deference. Only you and your hairdresser will know the truth! 🙂

4) How to make a nice, tight bed. It’s really and truly that whole quarter-bouncing thing….you make your bed nice and tight, then slide in from the top while the bed is tightly made at night-time. In the morning, you reverse the process of sliding out the top (you already have your body trained to not move at night while sleeping!), then get on the floor under your cot and pull the sheet and blanket tight through the metal of the box spring (and make sure you have someone else sweep the dust bunnies off your back, just as you do for them).

5) How to walk. EVERYWHERE! And which leg really is your left leg.

6) How to share. Phone conversations were limited to 10 minutes a person; sure you could go overtime, but by doing that, you’d be screwing someone else out of their phone call. And that’s something you don’t want karmically coming back to you!

7) The importance of “snail mail”. There is NOTHING like mail call, either when you’re in basic training or active duty. Sure, today we have emails, texts, cell phone calls that can even be made from foreign countries (I remember paying close to $100 for an 18 minute phone call home from Korea in 1989). But there is something really special about getting a letter or card from someone, and knowing that to that person, for a period of time, YOU were in their heart and mind. I try still to send snail mail on a pretty regular basis, just because of the feeling it gave and gives me.

8) The importance of family. As a teenager, I was rather typical, and ready to be out and on my own. Once I was, and it was in basic training, it really reinforced to me exactly how much I adore and love and need my family; and how much I value them and how special and wonderful they are to me. All of these years later, I feel the same way, and I know in that respect, I am lucky.

9) Discipline. There were no “Oh, I don’t want to work so I’m calling in sick today” sick days in basic training! (or in the military in general, actually). You feel sick, you go to the infirmary, and THEY say whether you can work or not! You want to get the grades? Do the work, because there are no “make up assignments” or “extra credit”. And if you want that promotion, you do the leg work, you study, you improve yourself, and you EARN it!

10) And finally, being a decent person and doing your job well is it’s own reward. Reading through my basic training yearbook, I made friends with the majority of my squadron, despite being rather shy and introverted at the time. And I was a good friend, a good listener, a good helper. I volunteered for extra duty so that other people could get their needs met, and it came back to me over and over again. Today, the worker and the ethic I have with my job and my life was formed by my parents, and basic training. And for that, I’m forever grateful!

From hoarder to home-free!

Originally posted on April 6, 2014
Let’s face it; dirty laundry exists. There’s some that needs dry cleaning; there’s some that can take the regular cycle; there’s some that requires the gentle cycle. Should it be “out there” for just anyone to see or know? I guess that’s up to the individual. Some laundry items are dirtier than others; some are more intimate than others. While the grass-stained baseball jersey drying on the line may be a badge of honor, of a game well-played, the dainty “unmentionables” may be better being hung in the privacy of the bathroom!

Of course, the human equivalent of dirty laundry is the “dirty little secret”…the skeleton in the closet, so to speak. And let’s face it, just like the dirtie undies, everyone has their boney friend. It may be some addiction, some less than savory character trait, some socially-frowned-upon mindset, some contrary political ideas, some history of negative behavior (past or present), yadda yadda. I am assuming that in order to love ourselves, we must love our bones as well (those within us and those within the closet). By owning it, by acknowledging it, by coming to terms with it, we can acknowledge our whole person, and move into the person we are meant to be and life we are meant to live.

Among my skeletons (because like enjoying a rich dessert, isn’t it better to savor these 206 bones deliciously, one at a time? I think Hannibal Lecter would agree 😉 ) is the fact that at one time, I was a hoarder. Clever, isn’t it, that the phrase “at one time” makes it sound like it was so far in the remote past….yeah, no. Up until about, oh, February of 2014. Yep, an addiction quite recently licked (and proudly so).

What creates the hoarder? I honestly have no clue. Just because one is an addict doesn’t make one an expert on addictive behavior; just because I’ve had a certain compulsion doesn’t mean I can explain it’s impetus. I think, similarly with other negative traits, the root cause of the behavior is as individual as the person who has it. I think part of it for me was, I felt more value by doing for others, and taking care of others, than I did of myself or taking care of myself. Whatevah. I’m not a shrink!

Anyway, trust me, there are health impacts with this. Not only the obvious physical health impact (anyone seen “Hoarders” on television? Yeah, try climbing through bags and boxes and piles of stuff and NOT crash and burn at times! Let alone the impact of dust and stuff!), but emotionally also. The more clutter around you, the more you get used to it; thus, you “need” it, and feel even more socially awkward outside of your cave. Yet, you are also incredibly isolated, socially, because who can you invite into your cave? Yeah, no one! (trust me). As someone who is naturally less social than most, I thought it impacted me less than it really did; but as I have decluttered recently, I realized how much I had also isolated from my family and great friends who I truly do love and am close with.

So, decluttering is truly a life-changing experience. It is emotionally overwhelming, physically taxing, and financially stressful! Once you are in the dumping mode, ya get rid of a bunch of “stuff” (aka, crap!) that you think you needed at some point in time, that you think you were attached to. Guess what? You “need” a lot less material stuff in your life than you think! But if you get too much into the dumping mode (like I did), you do sometimes end up getting rid of stuff that you really did kind of need! It’s been a period of multiple alterations, and adjustments, and cleaning and purging and remodeling and dumping old stuff and acquisitioning new/repurposed furniture and stuff. Recognizing what didn’t need to be held on to and remembering why some things are meaningful and have sentimental value. I’ve been back in my home for a few weeks now (after spending time at my sister’s home while the remodeling/construction zone of my condo was under way), and I’m still not used to how it is….it feels like being in a hotel or something, so fresh and clean, and putting things back away, putting pictures back on the walls, going back through collections of books and music, movies and collectibles, remembering who gave me what, and where I was when I purchased this or that….it’s like the proverbial “life flashing before your eyes”, where you are recalling a lot of past memories, both good and bad. As with other changes in life recently, I’m choosing to keep the good, ditch the bad….and if it had a bad connotation in the past, there’s no rule that it can’t change to a good one now!

Still some finishing touches to do in my wonderful and comfortable home. But already, life and the approach to it has changed. I’ve gone from a point where no one had been in my home in years, and the curtains were permanently closed to the world, to a home that my family, my nieces, some friends have already been into, and the blinds remain open all day so that anyone outside can see that there is NOTHING to hide in here! This skeleton is not only out of the closet; it’s chillin’ out in the yard catching a tan!! (And MONDO thanks to my incredible family and my good friends who have supported this entire endeavor with strength, love, humor, understanding, and a great swift kick in the butt when needed!! I adore you!!)

Cliches of survival, aka suck it up, buttercup!

Originally posted on March 28, 2014
Into every life, some rain must fall. God never gives us more than we can handle. The hard times help us better appreciate the good times. It’s not how many times you fall, it’s how many times you get back up. Yadda yadda. All of these cant sayings, these old cliches, are meant to inspire us during hard times, to keep us going during the rough seas. But let’s face it; they’re all really just nice ways of saying “Suck it up, Princess!”

They are, of course, generally true. I say generally because honestly, I do believe that sometimes God gives people more than they can handle (psychotic breaks and suicides may bear out that reasoning). But yes, into every life (as in to every climate) some rain must fall. Some people have drought for years, others have a constant deluge that makes them feel they are the breathing equivalent of Portland. And yes, I do believe in the comparison theory that, if you have no bad in your life, how do you really adequately understand and appreciate the good? While sitting here watching my kittens play, my ferret sleep, and knowing that I will be visiting with my nieces this afternoon…..while sitting on a comfortable bed, with a roof over my head, having just eaten breakfast, in my beautiful remodeled home….I know indeed that I can appreciate the good.

However, yes, into my life, some rain has fallen. I am a typical human in that way, right? (and unlike people like high level politicians, overpaid Bieber-esque tools, or Pistorius-ish creepazoids, I have the luxury of totally effing up in relative privacy!) The year of 2014 so far has been a bit of a deluge, in the psychic/emotional way, and I’m mighty grateful for the umbrella, water shoes, and having a dad who could, in an emergency, build an ark. There are occasionally things that happen that do shake you, in the essence of knowing who you are, what you are, and where you stand in the crazy world around you. There are times when up is down, black is white, and all the gray in the world doesn’t make sense. There are at times personal attacks that deserve no attention, that deserve no consideration, and are not worthy of lowering yourself to that level of disgusting behavior; but boy oh boy, don’t you just WANT to lower yourself, just for a short period of time?? Don’t you just want to give back the same level of obnoxiousness from time to time? True, who we are in the true character of ourselves is how we choose to deal with such situations, and if we do lower ourselves to the playing field of a lesser person, then we are indeed allowing ourselves to indeed be a lesser person; but WOW, ain’t it tempting sometimes??!!

Anyway. Some people…actually, probably most people, just aren’t worth that. There is so little that is certain in this world, and there is so little that we have control over in our lives; who we indeed are, and how we indeed act are two things that are ultimately in our own control. To allow another person to pull our strings like a puppet, and to make us act in a manner that is beneath us, is allowing that other person to have control. It is allowing that other person to dictate the standards of our character and behavior. And I’m sorry, but NO ONE is worth that. If what I have, if what I truly possess and always will, is my character and integrity, then I’ll be damned if anyone else will ever have control over that.

So, letting go and moving on is the best option (so many times). Seeing the rainbow come out after the rain. Watering the flowers in our worlds, instead of the weeds. I am SO incredibly blessed, with my life and who and what is in it. I am so incredibly blessed with the family I have (the best family anywhere, bar none; of course, I’m sure many people feel that way of their own family, and feel they are right, and to them, they are, just like I know I am right as well!) I am so incredibly blessed with the beautiful TRUE friends I have, who are kind, loving, supportive, understanding, and oh so fun and bright. I am so incredibly blessed with my job and my ability to do it, the most rewarding and amazing work in the world, even with it’s frustrations and stresses at times. I am incredibly blessed with all that is around me, all of the flowers in my life (and like rain, into each life some manure must fall! How else do those flowers grow so beautifully?), and the relative lack of weeds. A little Round-Up, a little pulling, and there are no weeds at all. Let them go and move on.

Much love and thanks to all of the positives in my life. Sucking it up here!