Thursday, April 24, 2014

Glorious Rainbow Elephants-It's True!

Today is my sister's birthday and 12 days ago I finally got around to making her present...

It was a special request item. She sent me the black and white tribal elephant drawing and wanted me to "make it rainbow." Well, that's what I did!

I ended up taking some artistic license and didn't translate her sketch exactly, but I really like the way this project turned out. Leave it to my sis to get me to do something out of my comfort zone!

While I nearly quit and tried something different, I decided the rough-edged look worked well with the tribal influence of the design and stuck it out. Eventually the piece came together and I ended up really liking it. The process was a bit tedious and challenging but I always enjoy getting immersed in an art project. Even better when I know exactly what I'm going to do with it when I'm done!

I will often make gifts for people and while I thoroughly enjoy this and usually believe homemade gifts are better than throw-away junk I very often will panic and think, "Is this enough? Is it good enough? Is it worth (cost) enough to be a good gift?" It's frustrating and sad but not that uncommon a worry. I have to reassure myself that my heart is in the right place and that the amount of money spent doesn't necessarily communicate care or generate worth.

Also (not pictured) the hubbo picked out a nice frame for the piece, which I think adds some oompf. I still feel a bit sad and self-conscious, but I can't control what others' think of my gifts. My heart is in the right place, so be it!

Making this project all the more delightful were the bright and fresh smelling tulips at my table. The perfect colors I might add! I put the elephant next to them for a glamour shot... I guess the tulips influenced me and I put their colors at the top ;)

In reality, I couldn't remember the colors of the rainbow and looked up the pattern. I even learned a handy acronym, Roy G. Biv: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. I'm sure many folks learned that as youngsters but I guess I missed it. My blue and indigo are one, but oh well. I dig it.

Looking forward to seeing the birthday girl this weekend for a birthday get together. Should be a fun time.

In other news, we have some budding wildflowers in the balcony boxes but I'm concerned about my calla lily. While I tried to keep it dry this winter, I think leaving it in its pot was a bad life choice. Very mushy. Well, there is always next year!

Me and plants. The ongoing learning curve saga.

Nosedive & Recovery

Yesterday was messy and it was mostly because of the day before and an acute episode of baby fever.

I think it arose from the postnatal I had that day, the baby cuteness, and an amazing baby chair that blew my mind. Put me right into baby brain! Once I had the blush of baby inspiration (Ooh! I want to have a baby!) my find flew away on dreams but was quickly checked by reality and my rational brain's concerns.

When I put myself down, I put myself down hard. Things quickly escalated from "Now's not the right time" to "You're a mess. You're not good enough to have a baby. You have to change a lot before you can even consider this." The negativity kept rolling until I felt so ashamed and guilty I was compelled to scratch myself with some scissors.

There was a lot of unpleasantness but the biggest disappointment was how badly the following day went for me. I wasn't eating. I wasn't doing anything. Total zombie. As my psych prof once said, "marinating." Thankfully the hubby had it in him to right the ship when he got home. Forcing me to eat, getting me to exercise and talk helped get me out of the hole.

The doubts are still stalking my mind. I considered going back on hormonal birth control despite really not wanting to just to rein in the baby fever. It is so overwhelming. My mind basically boiled everything down to me not having my $h!t together. If I had a job, if I were a healthy weight, if my mental health were more stable (it's like a 3-legged stool, each leg is vital) then I would have the right to want a baby... or so my brain says. In my mind I don't have a right to want something. How sick is that?

I know I'm a perfectionist and the extreme standards in my mind are a recipe for self-hate and grief. The sad part is so much around me reinforces these standards and emphasizes just how lacking I am. Media, bank account, even my supportive hubby. I'm not healthy enough, I'm not productive enough, I'm not earning enough money, and because of all that I'm obviously not disciplined enough! It goes on and on....

Even though it's not enough, I feel the need to pronounce some things about me that are worth something. It's like yanking a stump out of the ground trying to figure out some positive things to say about myself, but I will try:

I don't mind looking like a fool or being childish. Making faces, funny sounds, playing with Play-Doh on the kitchen floor-I'm all over it.

I'm empathetic.

I have a good heart.

I am a decent cook.

I am a good laundress.

I love reading, aloud or otherwise, kooky voices optional.

I care.

I'm observant.

I'm a hard worker.

I've accepted that spilling, spraying, splashing, slopping, or staining on my clothes is a part of life.

Well. That's something, I suppose. And I will continue taking things day by day, hoping that someday I will believe that I am enough.

In other news, I'm making ham bone soup from Easter leftovers today (the apartment smells pretty delightful, I must say). Iroh and Fio have been wonderfully supportive co-sleepers the last few days when I've had a hard time getting out of bed. Millie has been vocal and friendly, but still a biter. Shocker. The hubbo has tomorrow off!

OH! Also had a really trippy dream last night where I was out and about with my MIL and I had a "baby." The baby was a rat the size of a newborn human! We were at a bus or railroad station and went to the bathroom where I attempted to change the "baby's" diaper. Lemme tell you, changing a cat-sized rat-baby's diaper is no easy feat...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Busy, Busy

Hubby gone fishin' Friday.

Birth Saturday.

Hosted Easter Sunday.

Recovery Monday.

Postnatal Tuesday.

Still letting my brain settle!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fasten Thy Seat Belt!

Tuesday got a little bumpy 'round here.

The day began rather mundane. Woke up around 10:00 AM, managed to feed myself, do a workout, and acknowledge the fact that I was lonely and sick of being cooped up in the apartment, acutely feeling that I needed to get out of the house. Fast forward a few hours and the hubby arrives home from work while I'm working on a mini-project. For whatever reason, I fracture.

He was on board with getting out of the house despite the fact that he immediately launched into preparing the roast for dinner. I was jolted off-balance by the mixed messages, already stressed from my cabin fever, and feeling guilty for not working (or as my mind was phrasing it "having a valid excuse to be stressed out and needing to traipse about town") and suddenly felt my peripheral vision narrow.

It's a symptom of my anxiety when my peripheral vision feels dimmed and narrowed, I feel like I am suddenly removed from my surroundings and unable to interact with people or objects around me. It's like I'm frozen in a huge block of ice that puts impenetrable distance between me and the world. The hubster recognized this (especially after I crouched on the floor in an odd spot in a somewhat "hiding in plain view" position) and spoke softly, asking questions and trying to get me to maintain some eye contact.

Between his presence and my breathing/mindfulness I was able to acknowledge that I was having a minor episode, that the feeling would pass, and subsequently focus on getting out of the house and not letting my anxiety hijack the afternoon. We went to a little shopping area called "Town Center" and had some ice cream (you know he's babying me when he agrees to go to Cold Stone) before meandering around Pier 1 and the University Bookstore. It was a good escape, though I would've liked to wander for a longer period.

We came home to a delightful roast that had cooked perfectly in our absence and concluded the day with some computer games, reading, and TV. Takin' it easy ;) It was a bumpy day but in the end I coped and didn't let it ruin the entire evening or the next few days-progress!

In more recent news, I upped the ante and tried the next level on the workout video the doc recommended. Sweat was drippin'! I'm hoping to complete 7 days of each workout level before the road trip next month. It's rushing things but I know that I will appreciate it once I'm in road trip mode and not able to exercise or eat as healthfully. I'm planning to pack some nuts, fruits, veggies, and peanut butter & bread to help avoid eating too much fast food but I know that the trip will take a toll on my health, the question is just how much of a toll.

While I've made good progress with my mental and physical health I am concerned about spending over a week away. Out of my usual routine, away from my resources, and away from the hubster. I'm trying to look at it as a learning opportunity and a unique challenge but I feel afraid. I can't help think that my reserves are not stockpiled high enough to meet this challenge and stay healthy! Who knows, maybe it will be energizing or educating in a way I cannot predict?

Regardless, it's happening in less than a month and we'll just have to see!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Bright Weekend

 It has been a bright weekend outside and the hubster brought the brightness inside with some tulips!

My back has been aching for several days now and the hubster surprised me Friday with tulips and beer as a cheering up surprise.

Despite the backache I have been exercising daily and minding my Health Journal. I haven't made all my dietary goals each and every day but overall I'm eating more healthfully and feeling better (minus the backache). My mood has been positive overall and my sleep is getting back on track.

It's been interesting feeling my body respond to the diet changes and exercise. Certainly improvements abound but I also have some mental shadow-creatures lurking about threatening my success. It's caused some tension between the hubbo and I as I've struggled to get a grip on my emotions and accidentally blamed him for my issues!

I think it all boils down to my self-worth problems. Working on my wellness and brought up "is it worth it?" and "who are you to want better for yourself?" It's complicated but the inner chatter is all too familiar and the sad pit in my stomach tells me these thoughts are bad news.

Not only am I changing physical and dietary habits, I must address my mental habits or risk jeopardizing the whole health project.

Thankfully the hubster is a faithful deputy. He very often asks me, "Is this a self-worth issue?" and doesn't take my crankiness or spitefulness at face value. He has a high tolerance for bitter, but even he gets fed up with me on occasion.

This anger fascinates and terrifies me. Deep down a pool of anger has stored up within me. A mass of tiny black drops that I've kept inside, not knowing how to express my anger or not feeling valid enough to do so, instead of releasing the rage each dark feeling condenses inside me like a toxic dew. All those drops have gathered into one dark pond and been left to stew deep down in my gut.

I feel wronged. I feel abandoned. I feel hurt. I feel betrayed by myself and others.

Deep down there is a part of me that knows I'm worthy. Despite being backed into a dark corner for most of my life, that stubborn little glow puts up a fight. She hasn't disappeared and instead she fights back, rages against the messages that I'm worthless and sends angry feelings through me like adrenaline to a fleeing gazelle. The anger causes problems, but I think it's a survival tool.

I wouldn't feel angry unless I felt I had been wronged. I wouldn't feel wronged unless part of me does feel legitimate; valid enough to have and hold an opinion and stand up for herself. It's in there, I just have to embody it.

So, I'm on a healthier diet and exercising but I'm also embarking upon an anger adventure. I want to suss out the anger within me and move beyond.

Let's see what I discover!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

ND Appointment & A Plan

Yesterday was my ND appointment to review my lab results and discuss a few preconception health concerns. I was nervous, afraid it would be negative but it ended up being a great appointment.

My lab results were mostly good. I was worried about my glucose but she was really happy with my levels. The only "issue" was my Vitamin D level and now I'm taking 10,000 IU/day for a month to try and boost it up. It was also good to find that I am NOT anemic and my thyroid meds are doing well-with a small caveat.

My thyroid levels were all within "normal" ranges but one of units wasn't quite as high as my ND would like. Instead of fiddling with my dose she suggested simply increasing co-factors, trying to help boost my body's ability to manufacture the chemicals. Sounds good to me!

The preconception aspect of the appointment revolved mostly around improving my current health through nutrition, exercise, and weight loss. Taking a prenatal vitamin, fish oil supplements, and avoiding alcohol/caffeine as well. Funny how simple things aren't necessarily easy! Trying to eat nutritiously is a big habit change for me (living with "Chocolate" as a main food group causes some issues) but I know it will pay health dividends.

My current BMI is 35 and the goal is to reach 25 AKA losing around 60 lbs. That would still be technically "overweight" but much, much closer to "healthy" and within good range to lower my risk factors.

It's a big leap. Think, size 20/22 to size 10/12. Nothing new there, I well aware that my weight has been out of control for years now, but taking on the challenge brings home the big difference in numbers! It helps to remember that I was once down to that weight. My body can do it, I know it can, and I was comfortable and happy and healthier, it just takes work and patience.

So, today is the first day of pursuing my new health goals. This includes exercise and nutrition goals (more fiber and more protein and 7 fruits & veggies a day) and so far it's already a challenge! It's hard to make myself eat when I'd rather sip water and go on with my day, but those nutrients won't inject themselves into my blood stream!

Little by little!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Not Sleeping.... Typing

Today was odd.

Odd that for the 4th consecutive day my FAM temperature is the exact same. Odd that I was wide awake at 5:30 AM until nearly 7:00 AM. Odd that I stayed in bed with the dog, wide awake, until I fell asleep after quieting my 7:37 AM alarm and stayed in bed until 11:00 AM.

Once I got out of bed my day took off. Pilled the cat, fed the cats, fed the dog, ate brekkie, drank water, walked the dog, crafted extensively, cleaned up thoroughly, made dinner, went for a walk with hubster and dog, watched a movie, got IcyHot on my eye, endured backache, chatted about preconception appointments with the hubster, cried, and now I'm awake, typing with a heating pad pressed to my back and perusing the internet for articles on obesity and pregnancy.

A full day.

Tomorrow I go to the ND for a follow-up about my lab test (thyroid, metabolic, CBC, vitamin D screenings) and also some preconception questions. The main concern is my weight and maintaining proper nutrition, especially iron and folic acid levels. Does that mean we're going to start "trying" soon? No. I'm just a worrier and a planner. Maybe it's better to call it a pre-preconception appointment!

In other news, spring is sweeping into our corner of the country. Sticky pine projectiles litter the sidewalks and cling tenaciously to Fio's fuzzy ankles. Warm breezes and sunshine are sneaking into the forecast while heavy rain spells persist. The weather is invigorating and I've been feeling more active and encouraged. I hope this year the spring season will boost my healthy living efforts as has happened in the past, yet I have missed the last few years.

The pets are doing pretty well. Millie had a slobbery fit after her flea treatment was applied. Iroh was not concerned at all. Shocker. Fio got a bath and is delightfully fluffy, although the sappy pine bombs have curtailed his cleanliness.

Been feeling productive in the kitchen of late. I made some yummy stuffed peppers, baked banana bran muffins, and tomorrow am making my favorite soup, beef 'n barley. Later on I'm making a good ole fashioned pot pie-yum! So much better than frozen pot pie. I pity anyone who has never had homemade pot pie! One of our favorites.

While I've been able to reduce my coffee intake, chocolate intake has spiked lately... Two walks per day may be quite necessary!

Monday, April 7, 2014

April. April Already!

Dawning on me that it is April. Next month is road trip and a graduation party. Then June is a Vegas trip and July is a big BBQ and Warrior Dash 5k. I'm feeling some pressure and with the pressure comes self-judgement.

Whew. Deep breaths. Freaking out isn't going to get me anywhere except stuck in bed til 10:00 AM!

Instead, I need to be kind. I need to know that I am fine just as I am. I want to jog more, start doing yoga again, and feel better but I know that it won't happen if I harp on myself. Negativity doesn't breed positive results. I've played that game in the past! I can bully myself into making some changes, maybe lose some weight and exercise but it falls apart when I realize that I don't like myself any more than I did before.

So, instead, I will be kind to myself. I will remind myself that I am good, worthwhile, and loved. Keeping in mind that healthy diet and exercise is not a punishment but a blessing, a kindness extended by me to me to improve my life-because I am worth it.

No pressure. Just acceptance, love, and hope. In that theme, I won't set any goals. I'll simply BE and explore what I am capable of, what I can achieve, and what new, healthier food I can experience.

Hopefully, I can fit into some shorts before I start sweltering in the Vegas heat and hopefully I can strengthen my back muscles before a cross-continental car trip, but if not, I'm still okay.

Deep breaths. Let's see what this Hannah can do!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cheers To Now

Enjoying a lovely beer this evening after a rather emotional day... The wheat beer has a lovely little vintage camera on the label which I find reassuring and relevant as I used some mindfulness as a coping technique today.

Appreciating the moments of the day instead of worrying about the future was a big help today even if it didn't stave off the heavy sighing and teary feelings behind my eyes!

Why the need for coping techniques? 

Baby fever has struck again. 

Not quite as intense as last month but this is the second time around ovulation that I've gone nutzoid with baby fever and I'm beginning to wonder if this will be a monthly tradition. The last two times the hubbo and I have been intimate it's ended in tears (mine, obviously) and the latest episode even involved some full-fledged sobbing!

Thankfully I had a few weeks to think about my priorities and some of the goals Hubby and I have so when this episode of irrational baby craziness struck I was able to remember those goals and reassure myself that the feelings will pass. 

I kept busy with a blood draw, trip to the grocery store, car wash, and puzzles while the hubster was at work. Making spaghetti was a welcome chore as were a few errands around town. While I kept my tears at bay I couldn't escape a day full of sighs and wearing some sadness on my face. The hubby noticed and offer to listen if I wanted to talk but I didn't feel like rehashing an old conversation. 

Tube sock of shame

In other news, our home has a renewed chocolate stash and we've developed a meal plan for the next week or so. The pets are due for a flea treatment (yay) and Fio seems to be healing well after a week and change of close observation and treatments for his neck injury. Stupid dog was scratching himself through!

Yesterday was a change of pace as my mom came up to visit. We went to the first day of the tulip festival in Mt. Vernon (a few tulips but mostly daffodils and unblooming tulips) and enjoyed a dinner out at Jimmy Mac's in Everett. Mom and I went for a walk with Fio after dinner and had a chance to chat a little and enjoyed each others company. 

April Fools from Google, I got 'hoffed!

I'm anxious about the road trip to the east coast I committed to recently (for my brother's graduation) but am hoping that I can improve my mental stability and resilience by then! Same goes for the Vegas trip in June. It's a bit of a financial challenge but family bonding doesn't always come cheap.

The hubster is feeling the burn of my solo plans and we are hoping to plan a couple's vacay for the winter to compensate! It would also help our domestic relations if I were working and contributing to the "Hannah's Family Adventure Fund" but I'm still very nervous about working and haven't been actively looking or applying. 

Til more gainful employment develops my doula gig this month and annual ornament work will have to do. Right now I'm still taking things one day at a time.

So, cheers to now!