Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What We Give Up

David Baker, the poet I met with on my post about Chautauqua, said to me that one of the ways we can call ourselves writers is by asking what we give up in order to write. I had planned to do a lot of writing tonight, but I've been so enjoying this evening with U. exercising, planning our summer trips and watching a little TV together. I'm going to put in a little time now on a new piece of writing that I'm inspired to start, thanks to my new writer's group. Obviously also putting some time in here on the blog. What am I giving up? A little sleep tonight, I suppose.

It's OK. I may not be writing a ton, but I'm writing.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Ploy to Help ND Eat Healthfully

As part of my striving to have just the life I want, I've been making a real effort do dedicate special time to ND in our afternoons. One of her favorite things is to create "projects."

And one problem we have is that she just doesn't like that many foods -- once she decide she doesn't like something, she rejects it. (Sometimes she'll reject something for other reasons and say she's tried it before when he hasn't.)

So we made the following poster:
It's a modified food pyramid listing categories of foods. The pictures are just printed out from my laptop using Google images to locate them. ND is only allowed to glue on pictures of foods she actually likes. She was so excited by the concept that this would help Dad buy groceries! We're obviously not finished yet. She has some she hasn't even cut out yet.

The idea, though, is that I can offer a new food and say, "If you try this and like it, you can add it to the poster!!!"

Note too that the special treats and desserts section is a different color. We talked about how these just taste good and you shouldn't eat so much because they aren't so good for your body.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, February 18, 2011

Goals Gradually Coming To Fruition

A wonderful thing happened about a week ago. One night when I was too tired to get off the couch, instead of browsing Facebook, I went to LinkedIn and clicked around in a Writer's Cafe I once found there.

I asked a question about how I could find an online writing group, and, a few days later, was invited into one. I couldn't decide at first whether I could do it. It takes a commitment of two submissions and 4 critiques per MONTH. I was sure it was irresponsible for me to take on this extra work as I simplify my life.

But I couldn't say no. I applied, they accepted me, and I've spent this whole week spending stolen minutes reading posts and previous submissions.

This morning I got up before 5 and spent my first hour actually working on it... sent in two critiques and a poem I began in November.

It's 6 now. I have time for 10 minutes of yoga before I move on to the rest of my morning agenda.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Predictable Irony: Health Addendum

I can think of very few times when I've talked about having good health and then remained in good health. The good news is that my lapse this week was very short, --a product, I hope, of the things mentioned in my last post.

Tuesday night I began to feel fatigued (rather than tired) and and had a scratchy throat. I went to bed early, did a Wet Socks Treatment and went to bed as early as I could. I warned my assistant over email the night before, and in the morning I slept in some, did a very long restorative yoga session and came in an hour late. I was tired and slow all day, but made it through and felt fine again the next day. Still, I didn't go back on the exercise bike, and stuck to yoga instead the rest of the week, although more rigorous than the restorative.

I forgot to mention a few things in the last post:

I see a chiropractor weekly most of the time. We have a special deal worked out and I really appreciate having someone regular with whom to check in about my health.

U. and I lift weights in the evenings a few times per week when I'm feeling well.

There's more too, but now that I have time to write about it, I can't remember... (Need some of that "Get Smart" tea made by the same people as the Wellness Tea I mentioned in the last post. Yes, I do drink it, but not every day.)

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Life Wish Installment Number 3: Health

As promised in my post Winter Vacation!, here is my 3 Life Wish Installment... one in which I'm already making huge strides... health.

Anyone who has known me or followed my blog for some time knows that health is a big issue for me... or has certainly been a worry. Not so much because of my history with cancer directly... I don't consciously worry much about big things happening to me. However, when I catch a cold, I get anxious and upset and even blame myself for it happening. And in previous years it really seemed to happen quite a lot! Sometimes I felt sick every week. I've done a lot to look into it... visited doctors, taken tons of supplements, read websites about scary diseases, charted every runny nose and when during the week or month I received it etc.

Thank G-d, this is the first year in which I think I'm actually making significant progress. I am much more aware of my body, taking more active steps to help it and the result is I get through more weeks feeling better than before.

So if you'll indulge me, I'd like to share what's gotten me there.

To begin, I've had an attitude shift. In the past I think if I felt healthy I tried really hard to conquer the world and pushed my body to the limit. I still feel that tendency, but now realize I need to practice moderation in my energy levels more carefully. Instead of seeing myself as being well or unwell, I realize how delicate my body really is and how much attention it needs at all times to remain healthy. Before, too, I often thought I was getting sick near the end of the week. Now I know that that is energy depletion and that I have to stop and rest as soon as possible at that time if I want to prevent anything coming.

1. I try to sleep enough. I read a book recommended to me years ago called Sleep Thieves. This book scared the be-jeebees out of me by talking about the terrible habits we have entered into as a society, ridiculing sleep, and how many accidents and fatalities are the result. Around the time I was reading it, I was starting to worry too about my memory. I would have terrible trouble with word recall, especially by the afternoon and was losing things all the time. I thought I was getting enough sleep... between 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 hours probably, skimping extra near the end of the week when I just had to push hard to get to the weekend. After reading this book I finally learned that are bodies actually want 9 hours and should be able to get by on 8. Sounds like an indulgence, but I tried it and am kinder, more present, more relaxed, more efficient and less forgetful than before... not to mention healthier. Does this mean I get 9 hours of sleep each night? Definitely not. But I try really hard to get closer to it. For sure I try to get to bed quite early (even giving up time to talk to my husband at all!) one or two nights in the beginning of the week and really go for a marathon sleep night. More importantly, I try to be really conscious of remembering what my body needs. A lot of time I get that little burst of energy or "second wind" right around 8. I want to badly to stay up late then! But as an early riser (5 AM), I need to be mindful of what's happening and remind myself gently to wind down anyway. It helps that U. knows how important this is and reminds me.

2. I've sort of given up sugar... sort of. At Simchat Torah we stayed with some wonderful friends, but friends who really enjoy treats and I ate a LOT of sugar. I also met a person I had known via internet for awhile, but never in person and we spoke about her growth with health. One of her big steps was giving up sugar. Now I'm not deluding myself... there is sugar in all kinds of things, including fruit. But I tried to give up refined sugar where it was not necessary... no cookies, cakes, candies, pastries sitting in the teacher's room. No cereals with sugar in the label (except I haven't had the nerve to look at regular Cheerios to see if they have it). When I bake, I use alternatives, including honey. Admittedly, I'm confused about honey now based on what's in the link I posted above, but I've already read a lot about the positive properties of honey too, so I'm not going to worry about that too much.

I've known for a long time that sugar and immunity opposed each other. I can feel myself craving sugar (and salts, actually) when I'm coming down with something, and I sometimes feel (real or imagined) scratchy throatedness immediately after having something. But stopping it completely was informative. I made it through with no cheating from Simchat Torah, but blew it when I saw suganyot (donuts) on Channukah. I ate one and it didn't taste that good to me.

I've cheated other times now too, especially if extraordinary baker friends make something, but I'm way more conscious of this now and only have sugar after a long hard thought. We'll see where this goes in the future, but I think it makes a big difference.

3. Now for my regular routine... below is some more of my day.

When I get up in the morning (between 5 and 5:30) I do a nasal rinse. Neti pots work, but I'm happy with SinuFlo. Do this again at night.

Then I give myself a sesame oil massage. I first hard about sesame oil from this person I met who gave up the sugar, but we didn't talk about it much. She just talked about using it on her body to help protect herself from illness. I read online about massage, and then took it further after reading The Healer Within, a book I ran across in the library while looking, in desperation, for books about using diet to help me with immunity. He does not talk about sesame oil, but does tell how to use massage first with ears, hands and feet as well as the rest of the body. Sometimes I just spend 2-3 minutes massaging. Other times maybe 10 minutes. I know I could go longer.

Next I spend a few minutes doing things I need to like feeding my cat, getting bags ready for school etc., and then it's time to exercise. If I'm feeling great, I go on the exercise bike. I'd love to go for a half hour but usually it's more like 10-15 minutes, and stretch afterward. If I prefer, or it's not a weekday, or I'm targeting something in particular, I do yoga. I have been doing yoga for many years and so I have plenty of ways to build my own routine, but I also subscribe to, a wonderful site started by someone I know in Vancouver, B.C. I pay for it, but it's vastly worth it. A year's membership costs less than buying some classes, and there's a wealth of information that I use very regularly. If I'm really short on time, I go for short exercises that might help my chi. For example, here's a very short video from a friend of mine I met while traveling in Ireland years ago. She has since become a massage therapist and Chinese Medicine practitioner. (Hooray, Facebook for helping me find her again!)

After that, I shower, daven, wake up ND, eat, and off we run, trying to get her dropped off at her school and me to my school by 8 AM. (I'm usually a few minutes late.)

I get very very very wrapped up in my work and find myself running frequently. Throughout the day I try to be very mindful of my energy levels and my breath. I try to notice when I'm "spinning" into overdrive, and consciously breathe. I do this with my students too. I even schedule it into the day during something I call MTM (Moments That Matter). MTM is used for other important things too like recognizing birthdays or calling peers who are home sick. I could write more about that another time as it's something I've been trying to develop.

Then, at the end of the day, ND is actually my salvation. Besides being a joy, she requires attention, and that has taught me I can't reasonably multitask. I have to put my work aside when I leave the school, at least until U. is available to relieve me for a few minutes (usually between dinner and bedtime, or during bedtime if it's 'his night.') By then I know I need to relax, that that is an essential piece of my health and preparation for the next day.

Except for sugar, I haven't mentioned food here... I guess I try to eat a whole lot of greens more than anything else! See food posts for more about that.

Supplements: regular multi-vitamins, but also fish oil and coq10. When I'm feeling yucky I have on hand Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Oscillo and Oil of Oregano and Get Wellness tea. My using these is not always scientific, but I've read a lot about some of them, and little about others, and I feel better in the long run.

It could be that only one of these things is what I needed... sleep by far is number 1. By the others don't hurt and don't cost much either. That tea's a little spendy, I guess, but I drink some kind of tea all the time anyway, and that stuff tastes good!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Best Of Worlds

Icy world out there today.

It's apparently safe enough for there to be school, and yet the board of ed. in Paramus is closed, so buses won't deliver to my school. So no school for me.

However, ND's daycare open.

It just took about 40 minutes to dig our cars out of the ice. Now I need to rest inside and can work on other stuff for awhile.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Memory and Figuring It Out

On Sunday ND asked me why we don't get ice cream much.

I said that in the winter ice cream isn't a good food because our bodies wants opposites. When it's cold out, we want hot food, and vice versa.

Last night, though, U. treated her to an ice cream bar. (She was ecstatic.) She's sitting at the table with us, munching on it, and said, "Why the opposites?"

We were both confused. She clarified. "Why does our body like opposites?"

I'm stunned she was still processing this. I explained again, adding in Goldilocks and the 3 bears with too hot, too cold and just right and our body craving just right. She seemed satisfied. Maybe I'll ask her today what kinds of food our bodies like in summer.

Labels: , , , ,