February has not been kind, and I am glad to see the end of it.
There was a death in the family (a cousin not much older than me), a trip to Missouri for the funeral where I saw a big chunk of family for the first time in more than a decade, a very emotional visit with my grandmother who has Alzheimer’s, a truly tragic accident involving another family member (he is okay, someone else is not), an at-times comically over-committed schedule at work (the kind where if you don’t laugh you will cry), and an ancient cat who is destroying our sleep patterns with her cries for food at 5AM even though we have proven with $$$ medical tests that her insides are totally normal.
For about a month I have had a stabbing, pinching pain right in the center of my left shoulder blade. I had another 11-day long period (albeit a very light one) in January, after which I went 39 days before my next period – my usual is about 23 days – which raised our hopes of a pregnancy that wasn’t. I’ve been exhausted and bloated and headachy and very, very crabby. I have cried a lot, and sometimes I don’t even know why.
So, screw you, February.
Earlier this week at the office, a colleague and I were on-boarding a freelancer. I was trying to keep it real and tell her the ins and outs of this particular client, and my colleague kept saying, “it’s not THAT bad.” It was in that moment that I realized how Glass Half Empty I have become. I see annoying things everywhere! (Like Claire trying, again, to wear clothes that are too small for her to school. RAWR!) This just will not do, Pig.
In the spirit of finding the good things to focus on, here’s what didn’t suck in February:
My best friend in San Francisco interviewed for a job at my company, was offered and accepted said job, and will be moving to Minneapolis next month. There is a chance she and her main squeeze will even be living in a house about six doors down from ours. Someone asked me earlier this week how excited I am, and the answer is REALLY EXCITED. Despite making a couple of lovely friends in the last 16 months, I’ve still been pretty lonely. I am trying to temper my excitement until her plans are settled, because I certainly know how stressful it is to pick up and move out here, but once she’s settled there are so many things I want to share with her and vintage we have to shop. I still can’t even believe it’s happening. I mean, it’s CRAZY. How likely is it that something like this would ever work out?
Joel and Claire and I escaped Minneapolis to visit Joel’s parents in Florida for a long weekend. Anyone who lives in a place as cold as this will tell you that a mid-winter trip somewhere warm is required to preserve your sanity. Last year, we didn’t get out until our trip to Japan, and it was too late. The winter doldrums had already set in. This year we got out at the exact right time, as the temps were plunging back below zero just as we were leaving. Win!
I will say, though, that I was a pretty crappy parent for the entire trip. I was so rung out from my trip home that I spent as much time as possible sitting in the sun reading a book and not talking to anyone. I rebuffed all of Claire’s pleas for me to get in the swimming pool. I begged off playing paddle ball and Battleship. I loitered away from the kitchen at meal times so Joel would take care of feeding her. I got up every morning except one to go on a long walk in the sunshine, once with Joel’s dad and twice with Joel (who was kind enough to humor me when I asked him to give up running to hold my hand and walk).
At times I felt like a terrible, unfeeling stepmonster. Claire experienced a lot of “only child” pains on this trip – no other kids to play with, very few toys/games, adults who were pre-occupied with other things, and iPad time that was still being monitored to some degree – and my being sort of inaccessible definitely didn’t help things. But I was feeling so fragile and weepy that I had to, just HAD TO, take advantage of the down time and grandparents to let myself get over it.
I am confident enough to declare my plantar fasciitis is well and truly gone (for now at least). For the last three months I’ve been hitting the treadmill hard at least four days a week, and often five. I walk briskly for 30-45 minutes on an incline and then run exactly one mile, increasing the speed a little every couple of days. I could probably run for quite a bit longer at a slower speed, but I absolutely will not risk that pesky foot injury coming back. It was torture to not be able to run or even walk significant distances for more than six months. Six months! Plantar fasciitis is no joke, people. If you suspect you have it, STOP RUNNING IMMEDIATELY or risk long-term injury. Let my mistake be your gain. If all goes well I’ll be back to running 5Ks this summer.
With all the emotional blah blah blah, I haven’t felt awesome, physically, but things are looking up. On top of being tired and bloaty, my tummy spent a lot of time each day being very angry with me, sometimes loud enough for others to hear. Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been more careful about my food choices, more fruits and veg, fewer meats and sweets. But Joel started waffling on his gluten-free-ness – don’t get me started on that, because it will send me on a rage spiral – and so I declared I would no longer go out of my way to be GF at home if he was going to eat whatever he wanted outside of it. I started making lots of bread in the bread machine, made a lot of scones and homemade baked donuts for breakfast, and baked a lot of snacks. I was eating everything in moderation and exercising like crazy, but my weight was super slow to come down and I still felt crappy. A friend recommended Prescribe Nutrition to me and I jumped on board. I love having a plan to follow. LOVE. PN is one of those programs that cuts out things like processed sugar, gluten, dairy and most commercial, non-organic meats. They gradually cut more things out over three weeks, so that by the end it’s pretty stark – no grains, no beans, no dairy, no gluten, no soy, no peanuts or peanut butter, no sweeteners of any kind (including honey, stevia, etc), no chocolate, among other things.
I decided pretty early on that I was only going to do the first protocol, which still allows for grains like quinoa/brown rice and also beans. With the exception of one pre-packaged grapefruit cup with a bunch of sugar and a couple of bourbon old-fashioneds – alcohol is also verboten – I’ve been following the plan very closely. I’ve definitely craved cake and pizza and a rare steak, but for the most part I don’t feel overly restricted at all.
In two weeks my skin looks great and my stomach has quieted down considerably. My insides are working much better, if you know what I’m saying. I think the full-on return to gluten wasn’t a wise thing, and even though no one has a serious gluten allergy we’re definitely going to go back to GF as much as possible. The real change here has been the sugar thing. There are all those studies about how sugar lights up your brain just like cocaine, and after being off it for two weeks I believe it. I had serious headaches for a couple of days at the start of the program, and when I ate that grapefruit with 11g of sugar it made my brain start to hum. It was like I could literally hear it jacking me up. Despite the fact that I’m eating normal portions and don’t feel hungry, I’ve also lost three pounds, which is the total I lost in two months before. Most importantly, I just FEEL BETTER, so will definitely be carrying some of these habits past the program.
March is going to bring some more hectic days at work, but it’s also going to bring my friend from San Francisco! It’s potentially going to bring some big school decisions for us about Claire (more on that as things evolve), but it’s also going to bring warmer weather. Whatever occurs, I am resolved to try to find the brighter side more often! A sunny disposition has to be better than my usual crabbypants, right?