urban remedy to the rescue

I was saved from hunger pains last night as I left work by Urban Remedy, an all-natural organic brand of convenience foods. I almost always get hungry when I’m finishing a shift and walking out of work, and I used to remedy this with something from the cafeteria. Sometimes a grilled cheese, usually a healthier option like baked chicken or stuffed peppers and a side of vegetables. My workplace actually offers very healthy fare. Even so, the oils they use to cook it are probably canola/vegetable oil (and thus, GMO) and the vegetables aren’t organic, let alone the meat. So that was not an option. I thought I’d probably just have to starve all the way home (my commute is sometimes over an hour long), but I thought I’d peek in there and see if just by any chance there would be something organic, anything at all. And there it was, the Urban Remedy kiosk! Pad thai, burrito bowl, lots of salads, drinks, and snacks… every single one of them certified USDA organic, GMO free, and not a single unrecognizable or unnatural ingredient to be seen. I went with the burrito bowl (fresh salad and half an avocado, sprouted brown rice, black beans, pico de gallo, and a delicious vegan “nacho cheese” made of cashews that I could eat like soup!). The price tag, well, was $11. I thought about all the money I have saved, though, not buying my morning coffee there ($2.50) or my evening meal there (usually upwards of $10). This was the same price as the food and red bull I was buying there before! And way way way better for me.

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Today the cleaners came (yes, we are precious like that and have house cleaners, which is something I never, ever thought I’d be able to say), and one of them asked me if I’ve lost weight! I’m thrilled to be looking noticeably different to someone who sees me for maybe 5 minutes twice per month. Although I haven’t lost a single pound more since the first 10 days, neither have I gained, nor has my heartburn returned. I think the 2nd week weight plateau is definitely a thing, and I’m pushing on. It’s not all about weight… my body feels a bit rearranged. Clothing fits better, my face seems thinner. I have done some weight training as part of my fitness blender, too, so my arms and legs are feeling stronger. I’m definitely more flexible!

My headaches, though, they continue. I was put on topamax as a migraine prophylactic, and that coincided with my first week of eating clean. I wasn’t sure if it was the detox/candida die off, or the new med, making me so drowsy, so I stopped the med. I think it was the former, not the latter, so I’m starting the med again. I’m still very tired at bedtime, and in the morning (this is probably just who I’m gonna be for life), but I’ve noticed much more alertness and wakefulness during the day!

Except when I drank a smoothie the other day… my daughter begged me for a smoothie, so she got her fruit smoothie at Jamba Juice, and I had my first indulgence since starting this food thing. A peanut butter moo’d smoothie, my old favorite. Well, there was enough sugar in that thing that I couldn’t even finish it. About 30 minutes after I stopped drinking it, I felt drunk, my eyelids heavy, drowsy as fuck. I had to lie down and close my eyes for an hour! Talk about a sugar crash. Going from almost no sugar (except for what’s in fruit/honey) to that smoothie was waaaay too much for my system. And I think that may be a good thing!

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I’m back!

It’s been a while, blogging world! For years I was a foster parent blogger, a baby loss blogger, an adoptive mom blogger, a mom blogging about parenting a child with attachment disorder and hyperactivity (she’s doing amazing, by the way). I last left you with a happy post about meeting my destiny in the city by the sea. In that time we’ve settled down into life, and I’ve returned to my passion for healthy eating, respectful parenting, exploring and adventuring with kids, and being a critical care nurse in yet another top ten hospital. Can you believe in a matter of years my life changed so completely, and yet here I am still pursuing these same passions, this time as a happily married mom of two and hopefully more down the road!

Let’s just jump right in: I’m on day 21 of the most radical eating change I’ve ever undertaken. I’m avoiding all foods that contain artificial, GMO, or chemical ingredients. And I haven’t cheated once! I’m also drinking teaspoon of apple cider vinegar each morning, not eating after 8pm, and have even cut out even organic added sugar in most things, including my morning coffee! I experienced the Candida die-off from hell the first ten or so days, and honestly I was wondering how eating such a healthy diet could possibly be making me feel so sick. But here I am three weeks later with several ongoing health issues that have disappeared (heartburn, bloating, itchy skin, recurrent yeast infections) and a burning desire to share all of the fascinating (and gross) things I’ve been learning about what’s in our food!

Today Vani Hari’s new book Feeding You Lies came out, but before starting in on that, I have finished reading her first book “The Food Babe Way”, as well as Robyn O’Brien‘s book “The Unhealthy Truth”. The information in those books alone is enough to make you want to join an organic food co-op for life, and adding documentaries like “Food, Inc” will turn you off of most processed foods for life. But we do live in the USA, and we are surrounded by processed food all the time, so I’m also trying to figure out how to incorporate what I’m learning with what we eat as a family. Every time I cook dinner made with 100% naturally derived foods and one or both kids eats it, I think “Victory!” Every time I bring the pure maple syrup and homemade pancakes to the Mom’s group parties as an alternative, I feel the warm glow of satisfaction that I’ve done right by them, but they didn’t miss out on the party. Even just knowing that their macaroni and cheese does not contain yellow dye, or knowing that every vegetable they were encouraged to put into their mouth was grown without pesticides or GMO seeds, makes up for the fact that hey, sometimes they get candy, or drink chocolate milk, or eat something with a preservative in it. We don’t want to suck the joy out of all of life by being too militarized. Robyn O’Brien says over and over: Do not make the perfect the enemy of the good. For a perfectionist like me, those are words to truly take home and use as a mantra!

More thoughts I’ve been having recently:

-Today I learned about how tomatoes, and some other fruits, are ripened by using gases during transport. Yuck. I really want to start going to the local farmer’s market more often. Support local anyway, right?

-I feel I’m in a rut with the kids’ lunch boxes. Carrots, cucumbers, and celery for vegetables. Berries, apple or pear, oranges for fruit. Maybe it’s ok to eat the same thing most times? I like to feel a little more creative in this area, though. I’m making a mental note to scroll through the pinterest “lunch box” ideas I have pinned again.

-Eating well has not been a mental challenge for me. But exercising totally has. I had a long stretch of doing fitness blender every day, and now I’ve gotten off track again. My weight loss has plateaued and I know I need to get back on it. 20 minutes of my life on my days off really should not be too much to ask! But god, do I drag my feet with it.

-My clothes are fitting better for the first time in a year and a half. The sleeves aren’t as tight, nor are the buttons. Even my jackets/coats are not feeling as tight. Hurray!

-Now that the detox/Candida die-off has passed, it’s time to see if I can get back on the prophy drug I was given for my migraines. I wasn’t sure if the fatigue I was feeling was related to that, but now I’m thinking not.

my happy ending

It’s been one month here in the city by the sea. Where was I before I came here? My memories feel dimly lit. A haze of pain, disappointment, restlessness, and melancholy clings to them. A fog drifts through and covers them. What is there to look back at?

Happiness feels so much less inspiring when it comes to writing. And so very much more private. Pain is universal, pain is something I could shout out to the world, and all of your echoes back to me eased the ache. But happiness? It’s just so intensely mine. I couldn’t possibly fling it out here so recklessly.

And so, it seems I’ve found my path, and it wasn’t anything like what I thought it would be. It’s more perfect than that. Life as a blogging single mom traveler enticed me because it meant I’d be out there, away, anywhere but where I was. But now? I like where I am. I am home. My life branches out before me, full of all the promises that used to ring empty. Every where I turn to look feels bright and hopeful. It’s dazzling, how quickly that all changed. And all I did was jump… jump right out of the old and into the new. My faith has paid off.

Thank you to all of the bloggers over the years that kept me sane. Thank you for your likes and comments. Thank you for the posts on your own blogs that gave me a sense of community. Thank you for this space, a place of expression and venting and healing.

May your journeys all be blessed.

California, what are you doing to me?

Yesterday we went to the beach. I walked to the edge of this continent and felt a sense of coming home. The incoming waves glided slowly toward me and kissed my feet before receding back with the tide. I felt the full intensity of the sun shining right through me. M and I ran across the sand, through the shallow pools, laughing and squealing, ageless. Hours passed and we felt not a single minute. The ocean breakers in the distance rose and fell and crashed, like the inhale and exhale of breath.

The other day I was driving back from East Bay, and somehow got routed down a rural road. We wove through the emerald hills, while the sun sank down and tinted them gold. I pulled over three or four times just to take photos, just to let my eyes absorb it all. Is this the same country I’ve always lived in? Has it always been so beautiful? Why do I love these hills in a way that only someone born there should?

Not to cheapen the poetry with finances, but my paychecks are now rolling in every week. I can afford to pay my bills. I can afford childcare. I can afford to send M to a Montessori through 8th grade. I can even save some money. A huge weight has lifted off of me… oh my god, I can be a single mom here and be ok. They pay nurses here what I feel like I actually deserve to earn most nights. 

I was not ok in Michigan. I was alone, I was broke and going into debt, I was worried about child care, about putting M in a school that wasn’t the best for her just because it was free. Nothing was coming together. Worse, it was all falling apart. I felt trapped, stuck, like being in a relationship you’ve long concluded was unhealthy, but were never able to repair no matter how you tried. And yet I’d known nothing else, so I thought surely it was better than any alternative. But I was wrong about that. Now that it feels like I’m standing in the clear light of day, I can see that I was so dangerously on the edge of sinking into complacency and old, fruitless patterns of thought and emotion. Thank you thank you to the universe, god, my inner self, all of it, for pushing through the fear and making the leap. It wasn’t easy to shed so much old skin, but I have not one single regret now. I have no desire to look back, because my forward seems so amazing.

I have a chance to begin again. I can be who I truly am, who I know I must be. Now I can breathe. I’m finally breathing. The ocean called to me and I came: now I know it’s all going to be ok. Whatever the future brings, I will never forget this chance I’ve been given, this freedom and weightlessness.

Lucky. Blessed. Gratitude. That’s all I feel right now.

made it to the other side

I’m finally comfortable at work, and can start relaxing and breathing through life again. In fact, dare I say it, I’m even having fun here on my fourth night without a preceptor. There are some cool people here, and it’s business as usual as far as nursing goes. I’m chatting with people, starting to eat again, and have gotten some nice compliments on my nursing care. THANK GOD.

Today was the first day that I had a sort of routine with M, too. I increased her frequency and length of school day, so that I can sleep until 2 or 3 while she’s there. Then pick her up, do something with her, clean the house, feed her dinner, get ready for work. By then she is tired and ready to just lie down with grandma. Up until now, I’ve slept and woken with anxiety and panic. Today… no! It also helps that I’ll be off of work for several days after this, too. I feel freer.

So I’m doing it, guys! I managed to be a nurse somewhere else… it was crazy hard (mentally), but four shifts in I’m feeling totally fine about it. Free from anxiety, I can now be super excited about my future, and my life here.

waves of anxiety

I’m on a roller coaster. At times I’m fine, thinking that everything was fine at the new job and I’m going to get through every night just fine, take it one night at a time. I got this. Then there are some hours where my body is in agony, panicky, unable to eat, my stomach churning. Luckily, I hadn’t really had panic or anxiety like this in years, and I didn’t expect to have it like this again, if I had I never would have come. I still feel like I’m in the right place, but I’m begging the universe to let this anxiety calm down in the coming weeks. It’s exhausting and I’m already so exhausted. I know that night shift is the worst possible thing for my panic attacks (it was so bad for me when I did nights in 2010). When I’m tired, I’m prone to anxiety. I also know that evening (right before I work) is my trigger time, and not drinking enough water. I’m trying to force myself to eat and drink as much as my stomach will allow me, and remind myself that I’m overtired.

I keep telling myself that it’s ok for me to be anxious right now. Every single thing in my life changed in a week’s time. It was all like a vacation until they put some patients’ lives in my hands, and I was in a social situation with strangers for hours on end. It’s totally normal to feel panicky in the beginning weeks. But god, it’s such an awful feeling. The symptoms themselves trigger more panic in a positive feedback loop. The tightness in my stomach, it causes my heart to race and my body to shake, and then the tears come. I’m out of practice for keeping it at bay and I’m trying to dig back to five years ago and all the ways I coaxed myself out of a life of anxiety.

There are some other travelers on their first contract who are feeling the same way. That makes me feel a little better. There is even one from my same hospital back home. We are both missing our home hospital fiercely, well at least the comfort and proficiency we had achieved there. If my old hospital suddenly popped up here, I’d run into it with tears of joy streaming down my face. I miss feeling competent, like I’m really good at something. Good enough to train others, good enough to make a huge difference in the care of patients. Right now at work I’m just struggling to keep up. My only homesickness is for the comfort I had at work, which is totally gone now.

Well tonight I’ll be on my own for the first time. Charge nurse and unit, please be kind.