Sunday, August 26, 2007

South Beach diet good for headaches?

I get chronic headaches: frequent migraines (several each month) and almost daily headaches. I drink plenty of water for the most part, don't smoke any longer, don't use drugs, and rarely drink. And still I get headaches. The migraines are genetic in my case - all the women in my family get them.

Since I've been on the South Beach diet I have not had one headache. I'm incredibly happy with this. I have adapted to my headaches; I've suffered from them for years, so I've just grown accustomed to having them. Now that I'm not having them daily, I'm amazed at how differently I feel. Combined with a very healthy diet and even more water than before (which means far less coffee and no soda at all) and regular exercise, I feel physically terrific. My mood, general outlook, and depression have all improved greatly.

We're also spending less money and generating less garbage; we throw away almost no food now, because we're eating it all. And, in another five or ten pounds, I have fourteen pairs of pants and ten skirts and dresses that I'll be able to wear without greasing down my thighs first.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

On the pain of loss

Today marks the seventh anniversary of Colin's suicide. I've been anxious to read the new Harry Potter novel, and I keep thinking of the phrase "death-day". I love the phrase for some reason.

Happy death-day, Colin.

I wrote this the night I married Jeff. I'd like to share it here:

Jeffery is breathing evenly beside me, my indicator that any questions will go unanswered. The sound of the beach around me, usually a distraction, is tonight a soothing reminder of the continuity of the elements. It pulls me out of bed and to the picture window in our hotel overlooking the water. In all my days I have yet to have one so busy. Many emotions I've felt today, and many promises I have made.

As I contemplate what among my experiences I wish to commit to paper in this moment, the presence of my family crashes in on my awareness. The very fact of my grandmother's appearance at my wedding should be counted as a miracle of sorts. My grandmother, who has never approved me or my existence; she who has attended not only my wedding but my second wedding.

I am not quite over that fact when my mind takes a sudden detour ... I am married. Again. My thoughts are in such a jumble -- I have so many things for which to be thankful, not the least of which is that I am good enough for a man who will not someday take his own life.

I feel like crying, and I suddenly feel an overpowering connection to that elusive dead man. The man who first showed me how to love, and be loved; the man who taught me to love with all my heart and soul and hold nothing back. The man who taught me how to live in each moment as if it were my last. The man who showed me so many joys in life. I so badly want to turn and say to him "can you believe how far I've come?". Because, in a way, he would be the only person who knows me well enough to understand how truly far I have come. It occurs to me now, as it has many times in the past, that I've only grown as much as I have because he is dead.

I have difficulty with the magnitude of this thought, so I cast my eyes out the sea that he so loved, and I reach out with that little bit of my soul that still knows his, and I thank him for loving me.

And I thank him for leaving me.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dieting ... is different

I've started the South Beach diet. I've been playing around with this diet for a few months now; I incorporate various aspects of this diet from the books I read but I haven't followed it as it's meant to be followed. The diet consists of three phases:

Phase one is approximately two weeks of "retraining" one's body to process food properly. That means cutting back on carbohydrates, eliminating sugars (from all sources, so even yummy fruit juice), cutting back on starches, eliminating fats, and so on. This period is somewhat like a detoxifying, in that we limit a lot of the excesses we don't really need. It's not meant to last very long, and that means about two weeks, depending on the target weight.

Phase two lasts until we've reached our target weight. During this phase, we can reintegrate certain things we've eliminated from our diet on a case by case basis. For me, it will be pasta. When I'm ready to add pasta back into my diet, I'll do so slowly. I'll monitor my weight to make sure I'm not gaining it all back, and if that looks good then I can add something else that I've eliminated. The idea is to do this somewhat slowly while maintaining weight loss. If weight gain occurs, then once again eliminate those food items from the diet.

Phase three
is the 'maintenance' phase, and theoretically when we reach this phase, we'll be eating this way for the rest of our lives. By this time, we're simply maintaining our weight (hopefully, we've reached our target by this phase) with occasional treats. Something I like about the diet is that it's designed by a doctor, and wasn't created as a way to 'look sexy' or obtain a stick figure. Arthur Agatston developed it simply as a way to maintain heart health. I avoided the diet because of its name - it made me think of skinny bitches running around Miami Beach in their butt-floss not-bikinis and their big fake boobs. I'm glad I finally decided to look into it further, because I think it will make a very positive difference in my life (thanks Cymbelyn).

I've talked Jeffery into giving it a go, and today is our third full day on the diet. We both feel a little different, not really better. We've experienced a number of effects that surprised us both: heaviness in the limbs, weakness, lack of energy, lethargy.

I've gone through many periods in my life when I ate better than at other times, and always an improvement in food choices and quality left me feeling better not worse. The only thing I think might be causing these symptoms is the lack of carbs.

For dinner tonight we had oven-roasted veggies (squash, zuchinni, asparagus, onion, and orange and yellow bell peppers), sirloin steak (grilled), and an edamame/radish/cilantro salad. It was all very satisfying.

Snacks on the SB diet include cheese sticks (part-skim, low moisture), sugar free gelatin, reduced fat cheese wedges (we like Laughing Cow), peanuts, and some other nuts.

Something Dr. Agatston talks about in his book is not going hungry. I think a lot of people set themselves up for failure on a diet because they put unreasonable expectations on themselves; they can't maintain them for very long so they end up being very unsatisfied until they decide to go overboard and eat a box of donuts or a bag of chips to get the thing they feel they are missing. I cannot withhold food from myself; I can minimize portions, or cut out excess snacking, but something I just cannot do is keep myself from eating if I am hungry.

I'm not very good at this sort of journaling, but I'm going to try to keep up with my progress here.

As of Thursday, August 9th, I weighed 106 lbs. Today I weigh 104 lbs. That's definite progress.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Patience

I'm training an employee for a Reconciliation position right now. Her duties include direct contact with parts vendors, processing correcting entry transactions, reviewing open items statements, and handling urgent invoices. She uses a computer, printer, copy machine, and scanner in her job. She started as a data entry operator, so she has a good foundation for the work; she's proficient with the equipment for the most part (she has trouble grasping the concept of how she can interact with computer drives, but that's somewhat secondary). She really struggles with policy though. There's nothing particularly wrong with her - she's experiencing a stiff learning curve and I understand that she doesn't learn as fast as everyone. My problem comes with the fact that I'm just so busy all damn day, and she has an urgent question at least every hour. I'm on the phone a lot, by nature of the fact that all four of my managers and every single adjacent group I work with are in different cities (and in some cases, different time zones), so she has a tendency to lurk around my office door waiting for me to get off the phone. As such, I barely have time to deal with anything before she rushes in to ask questions. Her questions aren't so difficult to answer or explain, but I feel as though I'm being constantly interrupted.

She's not at fault for any of this, but I find myself so frustrated with her. I've hurt her feelings a couple of times, so I finally devoted some energy to figuring out what I needed to do differently to avoid snapping at her. After giving it some thought, I realized I'm so frustrated because she's not like the lady that she replaced. The last person in her position - we'll call her Former Recon Girly - was such a quick learner. She was fast, highly efficient, dedicated, and professional. She and I became close friends, which is amazing in and of itself considering my disinclination to befriend employees. She's about my mom's age and we share several hobbies. I enjoyed talking with her about casual, generic stuff, and I could go to her for help on a crochet project or a cooking tip. She and her boyfriend relocated to New York state for his job in June. We keep in touch, so I haven't lost the friend; but I really miss the employee.

So, New Recon Girly shows a lot of promise and I have faith in her abilities, but I've realized the source of my impatience with her and I just need to stop putting unreasonable expectations on her. She'll never be Former Recon Girly, and I need to give her more reason to grow than just to fill someone else's shoes.

I feel like this impatience of mine at work is exacerbated by my lack of satisfactory practice in my faith. I just need to get grounded with a renewed morning ritual and better exercise.

On another work-related note, I've started to develop a friendship with another of the ladies in my office. She supervises one of the groups I manage, and we've discovered we have a lot in common. I tend to be a little stand-off-ish about work friendships with subordinates, but I think she's mature enough that we won't have a problem.

I feel like I'm growing, what with all the new friendships I'm developing.

Balancing work and practice

Something I've been struggling with lately is balancing my professional life with my spiritual practice. I'm very quiet about my faith in most areas of my life; I don't advertise or discuss my faith with co-workers or in general public; I make an effort not to draw attention to my practice. I wear a pentagram often, but it's not three inches across. But I'm finding that my work tends to overshadow other aspects of my life. From the moment I wake up every morning until well into the evening, I'm focused on work. If not actually doing it, then brooding venting thinking about it, or somehow focused on it.

I used to do have a morning ritual that included meditation and light exercise in the mornings, but anymore I can barely drag myself out of bed and through a shower and a cup of coffee before leaving for work.

My favourite Aerolin has talked about Medicine Cards, and I find myself very drawn to the idea of using these cards as part of my practice.

Another thing I've been having difficulty with at work is patience. It is no secret to those who know me that I am extremely lacking in patience with others. I do okay if I am working on something with a specific goal in mind that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. My problem comes when I think someone should be nearing the end, and they aren't there yet.

I'm training an employee for a Reconciliation position right now. Her duties include direct contact with parts vendors, processing correcting entry transactions, reviewing open items statements, and handling urgent invoices. She uses a computer, printer, copy machine, and scanner in her job. She started as a data entry operator, so she has a good foundation for the work; she's proficient with the equipment for the most part (she has trouble grasping the concept of how she can interact with computer drives, but that's somewhat secondary). She really struggles with policy though. There's nothing particularly wrong with her - she's experiencing a stiff learning curve and I understand that she doesn't learn as fast as everyone. My problem comes with the fact that I'm just so busy all damn day, and she has an urgent question at least every hour. I'm on the phone a lot, by nature of the fact that all four of my managers and every single adjacent group I work with are in different cities (and in some cases, different time zones), so she has a tendency to lurk around my office door waiting for me to get off the phone. As such, I barely have time to deal with anything before she rushes in to ask questions. Her questions aren't so difficult to answer or explain, but I feel as though I'm being constantly interrupted.

She's not at fault for any of this, but I find myself so frustrated with her. I've hurt her feelings a couple of times, so I finally devoted some energy to figuring out what I needed to do differently to avoid snapping at her. After giving it some thought, I realized I'm so frustrated because she's not like the lady that she replaced. The last person in her position - we'll call her Former Recon Girly - was such a quick learner. She was fast, highly efficient, dedicated, and professional. She and I became close friends, which is amazing in and of itself considering my disinclination to befriend employees. She's about my mom's age and we share several hobbies. I enjoyed talking with her about casual, generic stuff, and I could go to her for help on a crochet project or a cooking tip. She and her boyfriend relocated to New York state for his job in June. We keep in touch, so I haven't lost the friend; but I really miss the employee.

So, New Recon Girly shows a lot of promise and I have faith in her abilities, but I've realized the source of my impatience with her and I just need to stop putting unreasonable expectations on her. She'll never be Former Recon Girly, and I need to give her more reason to grow than just to fill someone else's shoes.

I feel like this impatience of mine at work is exacerbated by my lack of satisfactory practice in my faith. I just need to get grounded with a renewed morning ritual and better exercise.

On another work-related note, I've started to develop a friendship with another of the ladies in my office. She supervises one of the groups I manage, and we've discovered we have a lot in common. I tend to be a little stand-off-ish about work friendships with subordinates, but I think she's mature enough that we won't have a problem.

I feel like I'm growing, what with all the new friendships I'm developing.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Another workshop

I attended another dream analysis workshop with Gabi. I’ve learned so much about the way my mind works and how different events are still affecting me. What I find of particular interest is the symbolism that dreams take on – the people, places, and things in dreams aren’t really what they seem to be on the surface. I knew that dreams often present messages in subtext, but the extent that our minds go to represent other things is truly astounding.

Something we’ve been working on is understanding the setting and timeline of our dreams. She’s taught us how to examine the things in our dreams and label them. For example, the dream Gabi interpreted for me last night took place in an abandoned warehouse. She asked me what an “abandoned warehouse” is. My immediate, unthinking response was that it’s a place you can go to be yourself, because nobody is expected to be there. For me, an abandoned warehouse symbolized, in that dream, a place where there were no expectations of me, where I could just be myself and do the things I wanted to do.

I never would have come up with this on my own. I’ve always interpreted by own dreams, and those of my friends, but so much of it has been intuitive leaps based in part on what I know of the individual dreaming. She pulled all sorts of things out of my dream that she has no way of knowing because she doesn’t know me or my life.

I feel elated that I can finally start picking apart some of the issues that I have thought I’d dealt with years ago that still keep creeping up on me.

The workshop with Gabi is like a therapy session. My mom and I have been going together, and it’s been very nice to spend the time with her doing something we both have lot of interest in.

My mom's dreams are pretty telling too. I think we're both getting a lot of therapy out of this.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Lammas

Lammas, like many holidays, was difficult for me. I don't have a garden, so I have nothing to harvest. I'm a terrible cook, so I don't often do it. I'm often left feeling left out, in my own practice.

My husband and I walked up to a field that has wild flowers growing; in lieu of harvesting herbs from a garden, I snipped some flowers and gathered a pine-cone or two. I arranged this "harvest" in a deep green ceramic bowl that became the centre-piece of my kitchen table.

For dinner, I made a salad of radiatore pasta with shelled edamame and baked chicken, tossed with vinaigrette dressing. Jeff graciously agreed to forgo our usual preferred method of eating, which is usually on the couch with TV trays in front of BSG on DVD, and ate at the table with me.

All in all it was very nice, but I still felt somewhat removed.

I wish I had a garden.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Plastic People

Lately I've been dreaming of plastic people. Last night's dream was about me, and two friends - I don't know who these friends were, or what their significance is, but we were all sort of entwined in some mystery that never really developed beyond just a sense of urgency.

To start out, one of my friends, a female, was living with her parents and for some reason forbidden from seeing either of us. The other friend, a boy, was her boyfriend of sorts. He would sneak into her bedroom window and stay in her room. I get a sense that he was protecting her from something, but that was never explained or made clear. I would wait outside her house while he would stay with her at night. When he would leave her room, he and I would leave together and go back to my house.

Our female friend then started to sneak out of the house. Her mother didn't like me, but for some reason we were both on the same side, mad at the girl for leaving in the middle of the night. We would work together to try to find her, then her mother would shove me out of the house.

Me and the boy stopped spending time at her house at night, and eventually left her alone. During my whole dream, this girl never spoke. She seemed disconnected from us even though we were so constantly worried about her. The last time we went to visit her, after we left we went to my house where I lived with three women. They were older women, and I get the sense they were my guardians. I don't know how old I was in the dream, but I think I was not an adult. These women were partying constantly and I don't know how I ended up in their care, but they didn't pay much attention to me. I took the boy to my room, where I seduced him against his will.

The next morning, one of the women I lived with was found dead. Then she shifted identities, the way people do sometimes in dreams; she became the friend we were watching over. Me and the boy took her body to this odd industrial area that had an incinerator. He took her clothes off her and drew a long, black line on her back with a Sharpie marker and folded her up and put her in a box. At this point, I realize she's plastic. She looks like one of those old Barbie dolls, before their limbs were bendy. Back when they were hard plastic and solid, their arms were always bent at a slight angle and you couldn't do much with them. Their arms were either down at their sides, straight out from their bodies, or above their heads. He had a hard time getting her arms to fit in the box, so he was struggling with her. He finally got her situated, but her head was turned around backwards and she just lay in the box blinking at us like she was confused. Then he put her on the conveyor belt and we watched her until she scooted into the fire.

My fans