Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Playing with fire

I have begun a testing period to try and determine a level of dairy exposure that I can live with and to see if perhaps I can develop a little more of a tolerance. The impetus for this is the likely possibility of some travel later this year to places where it would be very difficult and sad to completely avoid. (I promise to tell you all about my travel plans once they are for sure-- I don't want to jinx it!)

I intended to start with small amounts of butter, since butter has relatively less protein (which is usually what people react to when they have allergy) but to which I sadly am still allergic. While I was at the store buying very good butter yesterday I looked longingly at the yogurt and decided to try that too. I bought one single serve container of cream top plain yogurt. I have never liked plain yogurt without honey or fruit or something to make it sweeter, but let me tell you that first bite yesterday was fantastic. I haven't had yogurt in probably five years. I ate a couple bites, then waited a half hour, then a couple bites more. I think my tolerance level was at about half the container-- after I ate the whole thing I didn't have as severe of a reaction as I thought I would but my nose was running and my breathing was not good, due it seemed to a lot of mucus production in my esophagus. I woke up feeling kind of bloaty too. So test one-- 8 oz plain yogurt is too much, but not disastrous (though I imagine repeated exposures to that amount would be). After I get contamination in a restaurant I often develop a cough and I didn't get that so perhaps that's a gluten reaction.

Now I will wait a couple days and try again with small amounts of butter.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The last valentine

Above, my grandma and my step-grandpa on their wedding day.

Two weeks ago I spent some unexpected down time making a Valentine's day care package for my family in Oregon. I made candy, bought cards and a little pink bear for my cancer stricken grandmother. I mailed it off figuring it would arrive if not by Valentine's day by the following Tuesday. Unfortunately, my grandma never saw that little bear. On February 15th she succumbed to cancer-- her pain, ever constant for several years and agonizing for the last few days is at last over. I went through last week in a weird swing from a crying daze to completely fine and in denial. My brother does not have a phone right now and having to go physically track him down to tell him the news was tough. Even tougher, was when I arrived at her house on Friday after a 6 hour train ride. Something about being there and seeing her things without her there was overwhelming.

In the end, it was an incredibly cathartic weekend. I helped my mom go through grandma's closet-- I get my love of clothes from her. She always looked completely chic and put together. She also was incredibly tiny-- at 5'5, she never weighed more than 115lbs-- usually much less (in her later years she struggled to keep her weight above 90 pounds). Still, she had a strong presence and it wasn't until I held her clothes to me and tried on her rings that I fully understood how small she was. Many of her clothes, size extra-small she had modified to make the waist even smaller. She made many of her own clothes and though I myself am not at all large, most of her pants would only make it half way around me. She had a few shirts that were cut larger (she often wore things on the baggy side, perhaps to make herself appear larger) and those now belong to me, as well as a number of pieces of her jewelry-- I am now wearing her wedding ring from her second marriage on my pinky-- the only finger it fits (and it's snug).

We spent hours going through old photo albums-- at one point grandma must have just decided to put everything in albums quickly-- there were several albums that were a complete mishmash-- a picture of my mom in high school, followed by three pictures of her second husband's family, followed by pictures of me when I was a baby followed by pictures of my grandfather, who died before I was born. My dad made a slide show of pictures from her life for the funeral, from which I learned so much more about who she was when she as young-- she was a baton twirler in high school, very outdoorsy as a young mother (they took lots of backpacking trips) and always, always looked put together. She wore things that would look absolutely ridiculous on someone else but that completely worked on her. She liked large substantial necklaces, asian art and high waisted, wide leg pants with short boxy tops.

The funeral was an exercise in self-restraint-- it wouldn't have been appropriate for me to cry hysterically through it, though I kind of wanted to. It was a little more formal than we're used to, due to the unavailability of the Presbyterian church (all it's staff were on retreat all week) it was held in the Episcopal church. It was a nice service, but what had me in tears was so many of her friends and family telling me how much she had talked about me and what a wonderful lady she was. Grandma loved cats and had tons of kitty trinkets around her house. Mom and I each wore one of her cat pins to the funeral, and I think she would have loved that.

When I came home Marc asked me if I had been close with my grandma. In the last 10 years or so I have only seen her a couple times a year and so perhaps not. But when I was a little girl she lived with us and she read to me every day and took me for walks all over Eugene. We had some kind of connection that I can't quite explain that was different than with anyone else I know-- I loved her very much and I wish she had lived closer so I could have spent more time with her.

So though I will miss her, going to her funeral, seeing that my mom and uncle are going to be okay and being able to say goodbye in that way gave me a sense of closure and peace about her death that I don't think I would have had if I had stayed home. I still get teary if I think about her (like in writing this post) but I truly feel she has gone to a better place.

And today the sun is shining and I feel more at peace than I have in quite a while....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Outside my comfort zone

I've been in kind of a rut lately. I don't do very well with too much time on my hands-- I need structure and plans-- I've been spending too much unstructured time sitting around doing nothing.

Last week's attempt at going from sedentary to super active backfired the way it always does-- by Thursday I was so exhausted I couldn't move-- partly I think because 7 hours of sleep a night wasn't enough to recover. So other than a walk around Greenlake this weekend I haven't gotten much exercise since last Wednesday. Tonight I return to my beloved kickboxing and will try to combine a more moderate approach with appropriate rest. The problem is that the exercise does my brain a world of good, but my body can't keep up with the amount of exercise my brain needs. (Story of my type A life-- which actually should be the title of this blog, no?)

I also have been losing my sugar battle. The combination of too much unstructured time, fear of unemployment (I don't know where all these rising healthcare jobs are, but they aren't in dietetics in Seattle that's for sure), and sadness over my grandmother's failing health all combined into me once again, turning to my old abusive friend sugar to comfort me. This has only made me more depressed, moody and sad, creating a vicious emotional cycle and tightening pants. So it's time for sugar and I to take a break. The only way it ever works for me to get off it is to go cold turkey and make no excuses, so that's what I'm doing-- starting NOW.

I'm also pushing my own boundaries in other ways-- trying to meet new people and find new projects. Marc and I are tentatively signed up for a co-ed soccer team that starts in March. I have not played soccer since I was 6 years old, I am not a good runner and I have absolutely no coordination, but trying to be more social outside and getting some exercise, plus an activity we can do together all sound like good things. I was inspired by a really weird movie we saw a few weeks ago, where Jennifer Aniston's character's outlet was playing indoor soccer and I thought-- that sounds fun, where can I play soccer?

We are also in the early stages of planning a big trip for May after I finish my internship and I'm starting to get excited about the possibilities.

Spring is coming... thank God for that.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Refuge

(The title of this post is a little shout out to fellow newsies fans...)

Despite many resolutions at the beginning of the year I had a really hard time getting motivated to go to the gym. Sometimes I would walk and jog around my neighborhood (not terribly pedestrian friendly) or do exercise videos on demand on cable, but I wasn't really working that hard or often enough but I couldn't get inspired to go-- the gym I was going to was crazy busy after about 3:30 in the afternoon, and I really don't like getting up before 5am to work out (soooo not a morning person!)

I started looking into other options, and found that a new gym opened about four miles away so I went to go check it out. The new gym is the same company as a gym I used to work out at downtown before I started going to 24 hour fitness, and it opened in a building that used to be Marc's favorite 24 hour fitness branch until 24 hour opened another branch that cost extra to use (which is why the Lynnwood branch got so busy, because no one wanted to pay extra to use the new gym!) I always hated the Everett branch because the equipment always seemed to be broken and it was really dark (probably because they knew they were opening a new one and didn't keep it up).

Well the new gym is still kind of dark and has yucky fluorescent lighting, but it is very uncrowded which is great, has good classes and, how to describe this? It has much better energy. Excuse me for getting metaphysical for a moment but my old gym always had a very frantic, loud frenzied sort of energy that I found exhausting. The new gym feels very laid back and community oriented. Plus, I've been going to this class called "Ultimate Kickboxing" and I think I'm addicted. I don't really like aerobics because I'm not coordinated enough, but I used to do tae-bo in college. This new class involves kickboxing with the big heavy punching bags and OH MY do I love it. It's a killer work out-- the first day I nearly vomited, but it is SO FUN!! Other days I do weight circuits and run, and as soon as I post this I'm off to try the yoga class. Instead of dreading the gym I look forward to it-- I've been going two out of every three days. It also helps that my schedule right now allows me to come home, eat something and relax a little before going to the gym. I'm tired and sore a lot as I get used to this routine but I'm enjoying it and hope I can keep it up!