#metoo

Lets start this with something of a disclaimer- I am just about the worst 3rd wave feminist I know.  I can’t take credit for being the worst because I have friends who are at least as bad at it as I am, but it’s pretty bad.  We were raised with the radical notion that a woman can make any choice she wishes and every choice she makes is perfectly valid for HER.  Feminism is a uniquely individual concept- for me, being happily married for 17 years, enjoying both full time work and domestic pursuits including sending my hubby out the door with a made-by-my-hand lunch each day, including home baked cookies made with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer he bought me as a *gash* birthday gift 19 years ago (we weren’t even married yet and he bought me a Kitchen Aid. What’s not to love, right?) I love when he opens doors for me or makes some protective gesture or another when the circumstance calls for it.  He loves me and wants to keep me safe. I love him and want to keep him comfortable and happy. Together we make a great team and can take on the world and all the crap it throws at us. And nearly every day I see headlines and images that tell me I am the problem.  So fine. I am the problem. I’m pretty OK with that.

Now to the point.  I’m sure if you’re reading this you have enough of a grasp of social media to have seen the #metoo campaign that’s been going around the various platforms the last few days. It took me a sighting or two to catch up and it’s been on my mind ever since.  I understand #metoo but at the same time, I wonder if the message being received is the one we want to be heard.  Is #metoo an effective way to demonstrate the wide-spread problem of sexual harassment and assault, or is making it a hashtag and spreading it far and wide actually diminishing the significance of real, actual, sexual assault. And is this even a subject that should have qualifiers in my head like real and actual, vs perceived or somehow lesser.  Am I the problem for thinking this? Or am I a product of training where my own experience is, in my mind, downplayed because it was less than someone else’s. Have I trained myself to think I am worth less than others around me, or have I been told this by outside influences without ever really noticing the training was taking place? Wow. This head. Sometimes I think the rest of the world is lucky to not have to live in it…

Anyway, my #metoo story.  In late 1994 I was a 20 year old college student doing a study abroad in Tokyo.  Before heading off on our adventure, we had a chance to sit down with the folks who’d come back from our programs the year before, then relayed the favor to the next bunch.  One of the things that stuck with me was the warning that you’d probably get groped on a train at some point. There was even a phrase we were supposed to yell out to call attention to the groper and shame him publicly for his actions. Seemed a little odd, really, but who thinks it’s going to happen to you, so I remembered the advice but on a crowded train somewhere in Tokyo, do you think I could remember the phrase? Nope. What’s more, when standing in the overcrowded car and feeling someone’s fingers at my crotch when they were most certainly NOT invited to be there, there was no way I’d have yelled it if I could remember it because, for reasons my 43 year old brain can no longer comprehend, *I* was embarrassed! Why would I want to call attention to my shame?  I did a nice little hip check which caused my assaulter to remove his hand from my person and move away from me as much as circumstances would allow (if you’ve done rush hour on a train in Tokyo, you know the comedy of that statement.  If you haven’t, well, just understand we’re talking inches, not feet) until one or the other of us got off the train and I’m fairly certain I tried to burn that incident from my memory, telling only my best friend sometime after returning stateside and resuming normal life. And I can’t say the incident had any great impact on my life since then.  I think I hadn’t thought about it at all until a few months ago and it was out of my head as quickly as it entered until #metoo.

So now I sit here thinking about it again and diminishing the significance in 100 different ways- it was Japan. The culture was so much different than here. It was nothing to sit on a less crowded train next to or across from a businessman reading a skin mag. Women were, even in 1994, still very much subservient to men. It was only a little finger wiggle over the jeans and, while completely uninvited and unwelcome, what harm was done? I mean honestly, I have a good friend whose first sexual encounter was rape. What happened to me was no where NEAR as bad.

But was it? Is my downplaying it contributing to the problem?  I do not believe and will never advocate for a “boys will be boys” mentality so why would I think an unwelcomed touch was somehow OK-ish because it wasn’t as bad as what happened to someone else? In reality, I can’t convince myself these two things are equal.  I have no lasting scars, emotional or physical, nor can I really say I even think of it as an attack. Like I said, I rarely think of it at all, where I know my friend cannot say the same.  It is a part of everything she’s done since.  I don’t want my participation in #metoo to diminish what she’s gone through by making an un-level playing field flat.  But at the same time not speaking up, does that somehow make me worth less?  Do I think that because I was raised by a strong woman who also put others before herself and that is who I emulate or is it something society still tells us every day? Mostly I think society has its flaws but most of us are trying and we do ok-ish at it most of the time, so probably it’s just the choices I’ve made but maybe it’s time to evaluate those choices and make sure that I haven’t been telling myself a lie for all these years- that I am worth less.  Because if i’ve told myself i’m worth less, I’ve certainly told the rest of the world as well and I don’t think I like the sounds of this lesson at all.  I’m still pretty sure I’m a lousy modern feminist but maybe not so lousy as I thought?

Girl brains are tough, man.  I don’t envy anyone trying to raise a daughter in these confusing times. If I’ve had 43 years to work on figuring it out and am this confused, I can’t imagine trying to make sense of it for a teenager!  Mad props to those who do.

Of course, I don’t envy those of you trying to raise young men in their era either.  I like cats.

The Easiest Hard Thing I’ve Ever Done

Continuing yesterday’s theme, lets talk about NSNG and why I made the leap.

First and most obvious, I have lived my life under the wing of my brother. SO many of my favorite things came at his suggestion- my love of Stephen King.  My love of reading in general.  Half the music I listened to through high school and college.  My first Kindle.  My second Kindle.  So many things all came at some level on the basis of an introduction from my brother.  I hope he doesn’t read this cuz it would NOT be good for his ego…

But more importantly, as he continued to proselytize the benefits of NSNG, I realized it was just a full application of something I’d long suspected about food in general- we are damaging ourselves at the hands of so many laboratory generated foods instead of just eating that which God put before us.  I have long loved to cook and did a pretty decent job of cooking from scratch, but there was still a fair bit of processed food in my Standard American Diet (SAD) because working full time and commuting 50 miles a day means getting home late and taking short cuts to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour or tossing some toaster waffles in and calling it breakfast because, after all, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day and it’s more important to eat than the specifics of WHAT to eat right? Or maybe not.

Between my brother’s relentlessness, the puzzle pieces falling into place with “eat real food” and some more reading, everything just made sense.  We evolved eating real food,  meat when available and as much of it as possible during those times, plants to supplement the meat. Fresh and seasonal always. And any time I can eat bacon and cheese without guilt, well, I’m in.

So I read a lot. And I started reading labels on everything. Boy howdy the places manufacturers shove sugar into food. I still haven’t gotten anyone to tell me why I need sugar in my salad dressing.  Or vitamins.  Seriously. WHY???  (It turns out when we started stripping fat from our diet, food manufacturers found need to replace the fat with something in order for the food to, you know, actually taste like something, so sugar was the go to.  And when people started suspecting sugar was a problem, well, the manufacturers started calling it by dozens of other names, but in the end, it’s all still sugar and your liver doesn’t care what form it takes, it all causes a blood sugar response.

It turns out that blood sugar response was exactly the thing that I needed to control to put the last of the puzzle pieces together to form the pretty picture. What started out as “Sure I could stand to lose a few pounds” turned into so much more for me.  Two of the hallmarks of PCOS are insulin resistance and low level inflammation.  Eliminating sugars and grains from my diet has allowed me to gain control over those symptoms and reverse some of the effects.  All while feeling more satisfied with my food than ever before.

I won’t lie, breaking up with these foods was not easy. There were a few days of feeling like dog meat (probably an electrolyte imbalance, I’ve since learned. I needed more salt, magnesium and potassium to minimize this effect.  Luckily I LOVE avocados and they are a great source of the last two. And really the first cuz a little salt on ’em makes them all the tastier), and at first it was hard to pass on things that I loved (cupcakes.  Lunch out with co-workers because they wanted Noodle & Company or some such place that wasn’t particularly NSNG friendly. Cupcakes), but the weight loss at the beginning was significant enough to make it a little easier to keep mind over matter.  And I was far from perfect.  If I could get through 6 days without caving to something, the 7th was OK to have the forbidden foods. Not all day, maybe just a treat for breakfast (Ham and Swiss croissant from the local bakery or garlic bread from our favorite restaurant? YES PLEASE!) but it didn’t take long for me to notice those little cheats which seemed like the key to keeping me honest, actually came at a price- my joints swelling noticeably and very quickly (like by the time we left the restaurant) and an increase in cravings the next day or two, which made me fight like day 1 all over again.  So in time it’s gotten easier to walk away.  Losing 45lbs in 8 months time is also great incentive! And bacon.  Bacon makes all things possible, amiright?

Now?  I was recently complimented on my willpower. I actually laughed.  There is no willpower involved anymore.  I love real food.  I am not afraid to live a little and eat a little something here or there that isn’t NSNG compliant, but I don’t enjoy those things enough to over do them.  So many of the things I used to eat are no longer even remotely appealing. Couldn’t tell you the last time I “treated” myself to a soda- it is no longer a treat to me.  Frosting (my biggest weakness was cupcakes) is just plain gross.  Cake, well, I might have a nibble, but a couple of bites satisfies any craving I might have and more than that just stops tasting good.  I’m not the least bit shy about asking for a veggie substitution for fries  and burgers taste better without the bun or standard puddle of ketchup.  But lets don’t be shy with the bacon or cheese, shall we? For once I finally have control of my diet instead of my diet controlling me.  No more Hangry.  Sometimes I skip meals because I won’t eat for the sake of eating. Eating is something one does when hungry and only until full.  Snacking rarely happens but if it does, it’s usually a few nuts or some cheese and/or sausage.  I feel good in my skin for the first time in many many years and I’ve been told more than once that projects in virtually aspect of life.  So those first couple of weeks of “pain” were totally worth months of positive gains from healing myself from the inside. Turns out maybe losing weight is easy once you find your why.

What to read more? This is a pretty good read on the basics of Low Carb/High Fat eating for health.  Another day we’ll talk about the actual food.

You Never Know the Day That Will Change Your Life

 

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I think this is true of both good and bad change.  You never roll out of bed knowing today is the day I’m going to meet my spouse, find a solution to a problem that’s been plaguing you, lose someone important to you.  You just don’t know.  And a lot of times, when those huge life moments happen, you don’t even know how huge they are until days, weeks, or even months have gone by.  But when it hits you, you realize just how huge that day was.

For me, one of those days was February 12, 2017 . Not so long ago, right? But also almost a lifetime ago.  February 12 is the day I drove myself to Columbus, OH, to attend a mediation with my brother as we finally resolved a long-running (and silly, but expensive) situation.  Sounds thrilling, right? The mediation was exactly as exciting as you might think, and while the impact had some great benefits and all, that isn’t the part that changed my life.  My big brother is the one responsible there.

For a couple weeks before meeting up with him in Columbus, he’d mentioned this new “diet” he was following- No Sugar, No Grains (NSNG).  Mostly I laughed it off.  There’s no denying I’d gotten past the part where my weight wasn’t a noticeable problem, but who in their right mind gives up sugar OR grain, let alone both, right?  But then as we were walking to dinner, he was telling me more. And every time food was a subject of conversation or necessity, he’d tell me a little more.  And being the gullible little sister I am, I resisted but was secretly paying attention. And I ate a little less bread at every meal.  And then I spent 8 hours driving home in a car that was malfunctioning while stuffing my gob with Chex Mix and washing it down with Diet Coke.

But once home, I kept pondering this NSNG thing my brother was telling me about. And I slowly started to dial back my grain consumption.  And I started walking past the candy dish at work, one trip to the bathroom at a time.  And then I started to tell my husband about this idea. And as always, he was incredibly encouraging and supportive. Because the elephant in the room was that I’d gotten rather large and there was no denying how this was affecting lots of aspects of life, from my pants not fitting to flirting with high blood pressure to a whole lot of other things.

Oh, and did I mention I was diagnosed with PCOS 15 years ago? PCOS is the best worst excuse for carrying extra weight. Honestly read anything about it and you’ll get the great conundrum- PCOS commonly leads to carrying excess belly weight that would be greatly helped by losing weight but its extremely difficult to lose weight with PCOS.  So the good news bad news here is that PCOS became a great excuse to hide behind- it’s not ME eating wrong, it’s the hormones making everything difficult.

It turns out this cockamamie diet idea of my brothers completely changed my life. In 8 months I have lost a little over 45lbs, gained a ton of energy and confidence and have learned that I can control my world by making good food choices. It’s one of the most empowering ideas I’ve ever stumbled across and for the first time in my 43 years I have truly changed my relationship with food. So as much as that years long legal situation wa frustrating and annoying and just plain stupid, it also brought me to a new place in life I might never have found were it not for two days of listening to my brother go on and on about his new NSNG lifestyle.  So like I said, you just never know the day that’s going to change your life.

Mono-tasking

I do stuff. A lot of stuff. All the time.

Tonight after work I had to hit Trader Joes for a couple of things (that they were out of, of course, but it’s Trader Joes so I bought other stuff) and got stuck in some horrid traffic on the way home. And couldn’t sit still while stuck in traffic.  Kicked myself the whole time I was sitting in traffic because this is the ONE TIME I broke Priscilla’s Rule #5 (never leave home without something to knit and something to read). Well technically I didn’t break it completely, I had my Kindle, but the knitting I left on my desk on the way out of the office because what the heck, I’m just stopping at the store and driving home and I have more knitting at home so this was good and logical.  IDIOT.

But I digress…  Once I got home (very late) it became a mad scramble to do all the things. Quesadilla Casserole from Anna Vocino’s Eat Happy  was on the menu but of course I’d done no prep ahead of time so it was brown the meat, chop the peppers and onions, get those cooking, while also making a wrap for MrMe’s lunch, add the mushrooms, remember to stir, finish assembling, get the casserole in the oven, empty the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, wipe down the counters, clean the sink, BREATH… Oh YEAH… Breath.  That was the part I was missing.  But the breathing led me to an epiphany…  Spinning is just about the only time I think I ever really mono-task.  Multi-tasking I’m good at, or at least very used to, but rarely do I do just one thing.

I’m not good at one thing. My brain doesn’t seem to function well when I try to do things in a linear fashion.  My body doesn’t always want to keep up with my brain, but there we are, constantly DOING.  But when I sit at the spinning wheel, somehow I am able to block out all the noise and just spin.  Perhaps because spinning itself requires multi-tasking (treadle with the feet, draft with the hands, control the twist, feed the fiber to the wheel, pay attention to the consistency of all the things) that makes it the one thing I can do by itself.  And in that single task, there is bliss. Oh what a relief it must be to do things one at a time! But alas that is not me, except at the wheel.  Where life is almost always good.