Not optional.

Life has been a struggle lately. I know; shocker, right? It’s almost as if the world is a political dumpster fire and I’m having a midlife crisis, facing down mortality between being in an accident and also facing medical issues for myself and family. No big.

I hate to say it, but since the accident in September, I’ve been fighting depression and massive anxiety. Thankfully, I have some medication for both and a truly amazing therapist. Work has been fairly understanding and all of my doctors so far are treating my pain as valid, which sometimes still amazes me as a heavier femme-presenting person. We don’t always get heard and believed right away, so I’m grateful for everyone who has so far. I think it has a little to do with the fact that so far, all the medical professionals I’ve seen have been women, but that’s another post.

This post is about floundering, and finding my way out of it. I’ve been having a hard time figuring out what’s…next. I had a job I adored but that ended because I was in a toxic, untenable environment. I miss it so much, some times. The freedom to make my own schedule within reason, working with creative people, the opportunities to be creative myself, helping the communities I believe in and am part of. It took a few years, but I finally got to a place where I felt capable. Intelligent. Good at what I did and like I was making a difference. It didn’t pay all that well, compared to what people who were doing what I did in more corporate settings, but I adored with all my heart. I believed in the events and the most of the people. Some were people that I loved dearly, respected greatly, and to be seen as a peer, to be loved and respected in turn…it was amazing. If I could’ve turned it into a career, I would’ve. Maybe I still can.

Now, I have a job. It’s a decent job. It’s given me time to heal from all the massive upheaval of the last year and my previous job. I’ve met some wonderful people. There is a certain element of helping involved in this job that I like. The hours mean I don’t have to deal with rush hour traffic. But. It’s not a forever job for me. I am doing my best, but I’d prefer to do something that is less capitalistic and more based in helping the communities I love and adore, and being creative.

There’s a lot of stress in my life lately, since the accident. Dealing with many phone calls, emails, doctors, work, appointments. Trying to keep it all straight. And none of it was my fault. It just happened. Similarly, someone very dear to me has a terminal diagnosis. They didn’t do anything wrong. It just happened. And it makes life feel so tenuous, unfair, and uncontrollable. And it scares the hell out of me.

Also, I had decided to get divorced earlier this year. And we have to move by the end of the year. So nothing major.

On the plus side, my spouse and I have decided to live together for another year to figure some things out and to give us both breathing room from too much chaos all at once. But we still have to find a place and move. I’ve been looking, but so far, nothing yet.

During all of this, even during all the “New Year, New You” posts I’ve been making…with all the music making, and writing, and becoming a better witch, and all that good stuff…I have a confession to make. I’ve been living like a goddamn garbage animal at home. There are piles of clothes. I mean, we’ve got the requisite clutter. The one armchair laden with clothes for so long that half of it was winter clothes I never put away and now, I guess the bonus is that I don’t have to! The other half is a pile of stuff to get rid of that never made it out of the house to the consignment and goodwills and friends I wanted to spread them out to. There are piles of papers everywhere. My filing system is in shambles. I didn’t so much unpack from the various events I went to this year as explode in a seldom used corner of the bedroom. When I’ve needed something from that area, I’ve just waded in and plucked what I wanted from the pile…most of the time with minimal clusterfuckery, cursing, and tossing shit haphazardly onto other parts of the pile making it even worse.

My desk is over run with cute tchotchkes, papers, and other shit. The office table is just a never ending pile of old mail, books, little jars that I was keeping for a project I had in conjunction with an interest me and a now ex share…but no longer share together.

I haven’t been able to read much. Or write much. Thankfully, I’m still playing uke and singing. I was behind on my posting a video a month of me singing, until I played a show where I opened for a dear friend in October. There are now four songs online of me singing, which totally covers August, September, October, and November. But I’m behind in my New Year, New You. And my Cannonball Read challenge. And I started eating sugar again. After I found out that I lost a total of 30 lbs from March 2017 to September 2018.

Thing is, I’m on medication now to help with anxiety and I can’t drink while on it. So! 5″ real buttercream cakes have been my go to ways to cope and that’s a GRAND idea, right?

Right?

*headdesk*

I feel lost. I explained to a sister Amazon today that I felt kind of like a kid pitching a hissy fit and part of me feels numb. Can’t process all that’s going on.

But.

That’s changing, too. I had been reading a few months ago about the upcoming autumn and winter and how it was going to be an intense time of going within. To have a reckoning, to heal, to deal with the things I have to deal with. Sure enough, almost instantaneous as soon as the summer ended, the fall came literally crashing into me and changed everything. Now I’m not seeing people as often as I was. My poly life has been stripped down to the very basic relationship, for me, of me and my spouse and me trying to figure out the rest of what I need. I’m not able to drive as much. I have injuries that need to heal, literal piles of personal shit to sort through, and life and death that needs attending.

I haven’t been doing all that well with it. Going back to work has meant that I have a half hour after I get home to eat and decompress before I go to bed to do it all again. On my days off, I’m seeing doctors, running errands, and trying to keep my head on. I explained all this to my sister Amazon. How now is just not a good time. How I don’t know what I want out of life…beyond writing a book, recording a CD, having a poly/creative commune, and a job where I feel like I’m making a different in communities I love. Oh, and get healthier, be a better witch, keep a nice home, and own a Kia Soul.

Her response?

“Okay. So what will you do this month to move you closer to those things?” Because “every time is a terrible time. I’m not trying to be mean. It just is. ”

She went on to say that, “I’ve seen you in that space at cons. You need to bring that for yourself daily. That’s how this shit will happen.”

My problem, and what I said to her was that I have no idea how to get that mojo back.

To which she succinctly replied with, “you know how a bunch of shit is not optional at a con? You need to make that happen for yourself. It’s not ‘if I have the energy, I’ll write.’ It’s ‘if I don’t write 500 words tonight, I’mma have people screaming at me on the walkie’.”

Ooooooof.

That broke through a wall in my head, and I said as much.

And here I am. Writing. I have to sit down and reaffirm and restructure what’s important to me and come up with some clear goals and then, treat them as not optional. I am not optional. So. Tomorrow, I’m going to complete the next “New Year, New You” prompt and then I will have the next Cannonball Read review done by Monday. And I’m gonna get my ass back to posting twice a week. There are three books I’ve read that I haven’t reviewed, which means that I still need to read and review four MORE books on top of the other three I still have to review. But a little under two months is doable for that. I have to remind myself that I did the full Cannonball Read (52 books read and reviewed in one year) once.

And tomorrow night, my spouse and I are going to continue cleaning, keep looking for a place to live, and talk about finances and future stuffs.

This is a good start. More to come. Not optional.

 

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[New Year, New You] Week 17 – A Big Ritual

So…it’s been a minute since I’ve written here. On the plus side, much of it was due to the fact that August was full of activity. On the minus side, I was planning to write about two weeks ago, but then was rear-ended on the way home from the last camp of the season. August was surprisingly good. The last two weeks? Not so much.

But. I was able to do a “big” (for me) ritual as per week 17 on Deb’s New Year, New You challenge (which is taking me a year in an of itself, but whatever. My bff keeps telling me to do things in my own time and it looks like that’s what’s happening.)

I was a little trepidatious when I first read this writing prompt challenge. I don’t tend to do “big” rituals, unless it’s for a major holiday AND it’s with a circle of people. In my own solo practice, I keep it fairly simple. I look to music, the earth, the seasons, the moon, the sea, the weather, interactions with people for ways to do rituals. The biggest I get is with full moon rituals, usually, and even those are fairly quiet affairs with me, my portable altar and one or two ritual-specific extra items.

However, as Deb said in this post, “magic is about intent.” Add to that the fact that I was still recovering and healing from injuries and doing prep for a big ritual was not really possible on many levels. So I decided to take it a few steps beyond “spit, an herb, and a candle” and do a small, yet formalized ritual for the full moon that is the equivalent of a “big” ritual for me.

I was able to track down a ritual for the Aries full moon at Forever Conscious which seemed pretty perfect for everything I was dealing with. It was relatively simple, it was soothing, which I needed at that time, and was “going to help us get into a state where we can hear the softer voice of our heart and tune into our passions so we can make the changes we desire,” which I definitely need help with.

It took me a few days after the actual full moon to feel strong enough to even do a ritual, however simple it was, but I finally felt well enough right on the cusp of when the post said would be effective. I gathered my portable altar, the cucumber slices, a chalice of water, and did the ritual. The cucumber slices were remarkably soothing and overall, I felt a sense of calm and peace which I was profoundly grateful for, since I haven’t felt that way since the accident.

Doing this ritual hasn’t made my anxiety go away, but it has helped me accept that I need time to heal, on multiple levels, but especially from the accident. It reminded me that there is relief, there is support, and there is magic afoot. I greatly needed that reminder so I’m incredibly thankful that I’m on this journey of a new me this year. It’s funny how so many of the writing prompts are lining up with my life. That seems to me to be a very good clear indication that I’m on the right path, I hope.

Dealing with Impossible Tasks

Last week, leading into a huge Labor Day Sales weekend (and I’m currently in sales, so I had some trepidation going into that weekend) I came across this post about a “never-discussed symptom of depression” called The Impossible Task. This started when Twitter user Molly Backes (@mollybackes) posted some tweets talking about the fact that depression commercials never talk about this. From the article:

The Impossible Task, as outlined by Backes, cannot be defined by a specific. It varies from person to person and hour to hour. What to others seems mundane and simple appears insurmountable to many who suffer from depression.

To further explain one of Molly’s tweets:
The Impossible Task could be anything: going to the bank, refilling your prescription, making your bed, checking your email, paying a bill. From the outside, its sudden impossibility makes ZERO sense.

YES. THIS ALL DAY YES.

For me, it’s not just depression but also a symptom of my anxiety disorder. I freeze with certain things. For instance, if my anxiety is really bad, it’s not uncommon for me to get a full blown anxiety attack in the frozen food section of Shoprite, feeling like the biggest weirdo in the world because I’m staring at frozen pizza, crying, feeling like the world has crashed in on me. This can happen in any large store or venue, actually. It’s happened in Walmart, IKEA, other large grocery stores, malls, large Goodwill shops, events, concerts, festivals. Any place that has a lot of people, a lot of choices, and nowhere for me to quickly retreat to feel safe and reset my brain will freak me the fuck out. And it makes little sense to most other people. I was once left in a record store on my birthday by a former partner because I couldn’t stop an anxiety attack.  Them telling me to “stop it” (and getting angry at me when I couldn’t) didn’t work, so they left.

Thankfully I now have people in my life who understand anxiety and depression a little bit better and know that telling someone to stop is not a helpful solution. I’ve learned (and tried to teach those closest to me who want to help) what things might could help when I’m in the throes anxiety and depression. But to people who don’t understand or have never had to deal with it, it makes NO SENSE.

Another Impossible Task I used to have a lot of consistent trouble with was making phone calls. I had what I would almost consider a phobia of phone calls. It didn’t matter how simple the call was, or how much I liked or loved the person on the other end, phone calls used to terrify me. Every once in a while, I could use fewer spoons to make or take a phone call, but generally, it took MANY if not all of my spoons. And many times, I just couldn’t do it. This one has improved a lot in the past few years, and I’m grateful to the person who magically helped with it. And while it’s come back a bit, it’s no where near where it used to be.

What fucks me up most, though, is when the Impossible Task is driving. This has only happened a few times in my life and it’s been brutal. Driving is my freedom. It’s how I cope with stress, depression, and anxiety. My car is the safest place I know and to not be able to get in my car and go…fucks with my head and makes everything else feel impossible.

Last week, right before I found the article I linked above, my best friend had invited me to join them for Vietnamese dinner as their treat. I’d been battling anxiety and depression for days at that point and this was an incredibly welcome invitation…except dinner was 45 minutes away where my best friend lived. And at that moment, I could not get in my car and and make that drive. A drive I’ve done countless times. Because I love to drive. I’ve happily driven four hours to see a partner, three hours to go to events, over an hour to see friends and visit the ocean. But on this day, even though it was to see my best friend for one of my favorite types of food, I could not make that drive. It was Impossible. I contemplated trying to mentally strong arm through it, and that almost threw me into a full blown panic attack, so I sent my regrets and asked for a rain check. Thankfully, my best friend is someone I can tell directly that I couldn’t do the drive. They were wonderful and gracious and supportive.

It’s incredibly frustrating for me, though, because I can usually multitask like a mofo, I’ve worked hard to become good at emotional labor for myself and creating a safe space for others, and pride myself on being competent and reliable and able to do complicated things quickly (well…depending on the things. I’m not an astrophysicist). My last job was all about that. Someone would be asking me a question, while my radio was going off, while I was on my way to do something else. And I would get into a zone, a flow state, working with synchronicity and trusting the Universe to guide me. The things got done. The questions got answered. Granted, I also had an amazing team helping me, but I was also confident and most comfortable (it only took about three years to get there…).

When anxiety or depression hit, though, or when they both hit at the same fucking time, it fucks me up royally. Because if my productivity gets hit, then I start to feel worthless. Like….what the fuck is wrong with me that I can’t make this ONE phone call? That I can’t complete a fucking grocery shopping excursion without weeping on my frozen green beans? Or why the hell can’t I put away that laundry? Why am I feeling a seizing panic when I think of sleeping anywhere but home? Why can’t I can’t just get in my car, crank up the music, and drive it all away?

And if I can’t do these things that I always am able to do, will people still care about me? Like, what good am I if I can’t perform basic human functions? And how will I ever see people I care about if I can’t fucking get to them? Also, how will I eat if I can’t even buy groceries? I tend to be really hard on myself and then I get locked in this loop of yelling at myself “what’s wrong with you; just stop it!” and trying to remind myself that it’s just anxiety, it’s just depression, they both lie, the world isn’t ending and I’m not losing everything and everyone. And yet, all people see is a weird person staring at a frozen food case or who just bolted out of a room.

Molly Backes says that we should try to apply the gentleness and empathy that most of us with depression (and anxiety) generally have towards others to ourselves. Which is waaaaay easier said than done. Especially in the middle of a full blown anxiety attack or depressive episode. But I’m working on it. And I’ve got wonderful people around me to remind me and help me with it.

Here’s to anyone else who also has to tackle the Impossible Tasks. You are not alone.

 

[New Year, New You] Week 16: Little Magics Everywhere

Aaaaand, I’m back to a mostly weekly schedule for this challenge, which is awesome.

This week, we’re working on “little magics everywhere“.

For my life, one of the little magics I’m doing is taking back my power from people I’ve given it to in the past who demonstrate that they are no longer worthy of it. One of the ways that a friend helped me do this is by reminding me that names have power and by changing what I call a thing or a person, I can change the power involved. So I’ve been doing that with some very odd but good results.

I’ve also been manifesting like a mofo and reaching out to other magically-inclined friends to help with that, which has been incredibly successful. Some goals for the upcoming week are to figure out some offerings to my guiding spirits, trying the prosperity shot glass trick, grounding and centering every night, figuring out a regular gratitude practice, and planning for the upcoming full moon and lunar eclipse.

This post might be shorter than most, but it feels like one of the more potent ones. I finally feel like I’m actually making progress. I might be tired, and lacking in some energy or direction, but I also finally, finally feel like I’m moving forward and not just mired in the past. Like some of healing I’ve been putting massive amounts of energy into is actually starting to happen. In not just mental and spiritual ways, but in actual physical ways.

I lost 11 pounds doing the No Sugar Vow. Chronic skin irritations are healing. I’ve mostly broken my dependence on food as a comfort or replacement for love and affection. When talking with a friend this weekend, I had said that life over the course of the last few weeks has at least helped me figure out a better direction for myself and where I would ultimately like to live, at least short term if an opportunity I was recently presented with doesn’t pan out. Just the fact that I was presented with that opportunity shows me that I’m opening up more to the world and possibilities and moving more towards who I really am, want to be, and what I want to work towards.

So that’s some pretty awesome little magics everywhere, I think!

 

[New Year, New You] Week 15: Should to the Wheel, Champ!

You know, I was very excited to get to the last page of prompts for this writing challenge. It was only three pages of prompts, but getting to the last one felt like a major accomplishment. It meant I was almost done.

Can you hear my hysterical laughter from where you’re sitting?

Yeah. So. About that.

I mean, in some ways, I am almost done. I’m more done than not. When I was an event planner in a former life, I used to get very excited at the time on Saturday that fell “below the fold” of the printed schedule. I would say we were “below the fold” very happily because it was a visually measurable way to know that we were more than halfway done. We were doing it. All the prep, all the times it felt like shit just kept going wrong, all the fixes and thinking on our feet, all the behind-the-scenes scrambling that we tried to hide so that people had a wonderful time. It was all coming together and we could totally push through to the end. I miss those times dearly and I’m grateful for all they taught me.

For instance, I’m more than halfway through this challenge. After this prompt, there are only eight more prompts. I’ve done TWICE that already. Which makes me feel like I can totally do this. Granted, I didn’t do it in the same time frame as Deb originally did, but like my best friend told me, it’s okay to do it in my own time if that’s what works for me. And it is work. Recreating myself, being bathed in the fire of 2017, the ending of major relationships, a job, improving my health, taking control of my creativity, re-dedicating myself to my spirituality, healing some massive wounds I’d been carrying for decades, fostering healthier relationships, helping others, and taking care of and cleaning up my shit…it’s a lot. And for me, the best time frame for that wasn’t just six months. So be it.

I’m still here, tapping away at the keyboard. Thinking about each “week’s” prompt and lesson as it comes. But like Deb nailed it in her post for this prompt:

You’re tired. You’re bruised. You’re wondering what you’re accomplishing and why you’re putting up with me. You’re wondering if you are getting anywhere. You are. I’ve been reading each and every one of your journeys from the start. You have done so much more than you ever thought you could. You are kicking ass and taking names. I am so proud of you! All of you. Each one of you is pushing yourself past your comfort zones. It’s evident that you are working hard to get to where you want to be.

You’re a maker of things. A creator of dreams. A weaver of wills.

Don’t stop now.

I am tired. Bruised. I have many moments of wondering if I’m accomplishing anything. However, I definitely don’t question why I’m putting up with her. She’s a dear friend and has helped me more on this journey than I can possibly put into words right now. The gratitude I feel for that and this challenge is currently immeasurably. And she’s right. I sure as hell AM a maker of things. A creator of dreams. A weaver of wills. And I will not stop now. I’ve got more work to do.

To that end, here’s what I am doing:

Health:

  1. I have hauled my ass to two doctors that I’ve been putting off.
  2. I stuck with my vow and only have one more day of that and then need to re-evaluate, because I don’t want to just give it up when it’s done, but I definitely want to make adaptations.
  3. Therapy
  4. Continually fostering Amazon network connections. The love I give and get there is LIFE.

Job:

  1. I have been working on getting my resume in a better place and enlisted help with that.

Cleaning:

  1. I’ve asked for help with the cleaning hump I have to get over. And I’ve been doing little things here and there.

Creativity:

  1. I am still doing this challenge.
  2. Keeping up with the reading and writing challenge I signed up for a the beginning of the year (Cannonball Read 10)
  3. Posting 1 music video of myself per month to social media
  4. Created an art challenge – still have to complete the first two steps
  5. Took up Camp NaNoWriMo and I’m making some progress on it.

Spirituality:

  1. Been practicing every full moon.
  2. Talking more about it with people
  3. Daily tarot pull and doing more tarot readings
  4. Trying to remember and honor my divinity
  5. Listening to signs and omens from the Universe

Relationships:

  1. Not getting into any capital R Relationships until re-evaluation of my treatment plan in therapy in September.
  2. Staying aware of good relationships, bad relationships, what I can learn from both and what I really want for the future.

So I’m doing fairly well in terms of creativity and spirituality, but I want to do more in both. And I need to up my game in cleaning, health, and job. Though I will say, I’ve got some interesting prospects on the horizon in terms of job. We will see how that goes.

Now, as to what I’m going to do to keep moving forward, especially in terms of cleaning and health:

  1. Cleaning – By this time next week, I will clean one room (likely the upstairs bathroom)
  2. Health – re-evaluation of sugar in diet. Meal planning. Dancing more. Walking. Figure out a way to get my teeth taken care of.
  3. Job – Pursue current possibilities while also finishing up improvements to resume and start submitting, depending on what happens with current opportunities.

That’s where I’m at right now. Still pushing ever forward. Not giving up. Because fuck that. I’ve got shit to do.

[New Year, New You] Week 14: Spiritual Consultation

But you gotta dig your way out
From underneath the ground
Scratching at the dark
Pushing through the gloom
Oh, sticking around
Long enough to see yourself bloom

“Bloom” by Namoli Brennet

At long last! The last page of prompts! I’m a few weeks behind on this one, but as my best friend pointed out to me, I’m doing this in my own time. Each “week” is a relative measurement. I think it is well-paced, but life also has a way of interfering sometimes.

That being said, I also have to be careful to avoid falling into procrastination and calling it “life interfering.” This time around it was a little bit of both.

Y’see, this week’s prompt was all about checking in with my higher Powers That Be about my progress thus far with my goals and this whole making a new year and a new me.  As Deb wrote:

If you are starting to feel run down and dispirited, confiding in your PTB about your worries and troubles may lighten your load. Your PTB may also have advice as to how to better manage your goals. You may want their input to decide if you’re progressing as well as you could be.

How did she know I’d be feeling a bit run down and dispirited?!

Oh, right. She’s done this already. Okay, moving along. So, I actually wasn’t sure how to check in with my PTB. Or, at the very least, what would be the best way to check in right now.

See, I’m kind of eclectic and don’t have a specific structure of Gods and Goddesses that I worship. I tend to call my PTB “The Universe” but sometimes can feel specific spirits or Gods or Goddesses coming through. And I also got out of the practice of communing directly with the Universe, but I’m getting back to that. That’s part of why I started this whole challenge to begin with. To identify what’s important to me and to work towards those things. One of those things being reconnecting with my spirituality.

So. Checking in with them…I felt a little unsure about what to do and not confident in my ability to get good answers on my own. And lately, I’ve been getting more and more into tarot reading, so my first thought was to ask a friend who has offered to do a reading on me and help me with tarot to do a reading of checking in with my PTB. Life conspired against that plan, which we see sometimes.

In the meantime, I’ve been getting some messages loud and clear. Seems my PTB weren’t waiting for me to check in. They were gonna beat my door down. Here are some of the messages:

  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Move/exercise more.
  • You’ve got work to do. Take care of your shit.
  • Don’t throw your energy to people who are not reciprocating in some way.
  • Keep avoiding sugar. You’re on the right path.
  • You have power and are manifesting the things you want. Be careful, though and be REAL FUCKING specific.
  • Write more.
  • Seek out more authentic communications.
  • Be careful who you give your power to.
  • Remember laughter. Being competent. Appreciated. You are a magical human.
  • Dance more.
  • You may not have the love you expected or thought you were going to have but you are incredibly loved and cherished. It just doesn’t look like how you thought it was gonna look.
  • Make more music.
  • Keep being grateful for all the gifts. Even the things that don’t look like gifts. Like the bad pain. It’s still a gift that’s helping you. You’re learning.
  • Be gentle with yourself when you can.
  • Clean. Purge. Streamline. Don’t get so caught up in possessions.
  • Remember being topless in the courtyard, the grass under your bare toes.
  • More vegetables than that.
  • And more movement.

So that…all touches on what I’m doing and it seems I’m doing pretty well, but I clearly still have more work to do.

I also got a message loud and clear yesterday while driving that I really needed to hear. Sometimes, my PTB talk to me in a Dom(me) voice (as if you couldn’t tell from the list above), and this came though:

Little girl, this has nothing to do with you. Live your own life. You needed [this thing that you’ve put a lot of energy into] to get to a certain place. That time is over. Move on.

I had a bones reading this past weekend, and that carried with it a whole bunch of messages I needed to hear. Don’t get too wrapped up in potential. It doesn’t necessarily matter why something is happening; if it’s not working for you or actively hurting you, it needs to stop and you need to make better choices.

Basically, my PTB are telling that I’m on the right track, but I gotta step it up. Seems about right.

 

 

 

Sugar Sacrifice: Notes from the half way point

So, 21 days ago, I decided to sacrifice sugar for 40 days to show the Universe that I’m serious as fuck about making this new year a new me. Yesterday was the halfway mark…20 days without sugar.

Well, mostly.

Y’see, what happened was…

(And no, this isn’t one of those stories where I decided to abandon my course and had a cupcake. Because FUCK THAT.)

But what happened was…even though I was paleo for a while nearly a decade ago, I forgot about how SUGAR IS IN FUCKING EVERYTHING.

I wrote the post I linked to above, talking about how I was going to eliminate sugar from my diet and the process was all very…tra-la-la, I won’t have any desserts! It’ll be easy. A dear friend who both a) has done shit like this before and b) understands the gravity of making a sacrifice like this to the Universe cautioned me. It went something like this:

Day One

Me: Tra-la-la! I’m giving up sugar as my sacrifice.

Dear Friend: Okay…for how long?

Me: I dunno? 40 days? Maybe forever!

DF: Ummmmmmmmm. Back the bus up, (gender neutral) SisterQueen. 40 days is HARD. It may not seem like it now, but it is. I suggest logic and reason and thinking about this with a clear head and all these other really helpful suggestions. Like what about X, Y, and Z?

Me: Awwwww, (gender neutral) man. I don’t wanna do algebra. I just wanna go back to tra-la-la! But FINE. I suppose some parameters are a good idea. So I’ll write those out. I feel fine. I can do this. I am POWERFUL! The Universe will cheer for me as I journey ever onward towards enlightenment and self-care and being the best me I can be!

Day Three:

Me: (Actual text to DF) Jesus fuck, I forgot how much stuff has sugar in it!

Seriously. All the things. Like the frozen bag of dinner pad thai that I had in the freezer that I thought was fairly healthy and quick to make when I get home after a 12 hour work day and need food but barely have mustered a will to stand, let alone actually cook. Second ingredient? Brown sugar. I do more research and apparently, sugar is a standard in pre-packaged AND restaurant pad thai. Which….fuck me since I had pad thai in a restaurant the day BEFORE I looked this up.

The last 20 days have been kinda like that. I have NOT had anything that I KNEW without a doubt would have sugar. Y’know, desserts, candy bars, soda, cake, cookies, etc. However…I remembers that bagels have sugar as part of the base dough. So I thought an egg and cheese on a croissant would be a fine subsitute. Until I got this clawing feeling that I should check into that, too. Turns out, I was fucking Wrongy McWrongersons. Croissants typically have sugar in their base dough, too. Plus a sugar glaze that’s brushed over them. Huh! Fascinating! I’m learning so much about food and how it’s made. And also, FUCK EVERYTHING.

It doesn’t stop there. Most mass produced pasta sauces, dipping sauces, condiments, yogurts, deli meats, cured meats, and bread products like hamburger rolls, hot dog rolls, and english muffins…sugar, sugar, and more sugar.

And of course, there’s not just one type of sugar. On, no! That would be too simple. There’s also:

  • high fructose corn syrup
  • regular corn syrup
  • glucose
  • lactose
  • fructose
  • brown sugar
  • demerara sugar
  • turbinado sugar
  • coconut sugar
  • molasses
  • maple syrup
  • honey (which, thank fuck I specified that I wasn’t giving up)
  • muscovado
  • stevia

THEN there are the sugar alcohols like maltitol and sorbitol, and don’t even get me started on all the artificial sweeteners.

It is. Fucking. EVERYWHERE.

So I have put in a good faith effort, especially since DF has made it clear that the Universe doesn’t fuck around if you renege on a sacrifice to it like this. I had refused sauces on salads and dipping sauces for things. I searched for bread that didn’t have sugar in it (if you’re wondering, rye and pumpernickel are pretty good…but the fresher the better. Things with preservatives tend to also add sugar so not all pumpernickel and rye is safe. I found my pumpernickel loaf in the fresher bread section near the produce in my local Shoprite, as opposed to the pre-packaged bread aisle). I made a choice to have a Thai dish with molasses in it’s base sauce since that was a mostly natural sugar (and I didn’t rule out “naturally occurring sugar, such as is found in fruit, wine, and honey.”) It wasn’t eating a cupcake.

Though, speaking of cupcakes and things like chocolate, I went about two weeks without even missing chocolate. Until PMS hit. Then I wanted ALL THE CHOCOLATE. At first, I thought I was thoroughly and completely fucked, but then I remembered that there was a recipe for chocolate frosting shots that was paleo that I loved back in the day. I decided to give that a whirl. And if I had actually READ the directions and NOT poured the liquidy part in the recipe along with the creamy part of the coconut milk, everything would’ve been fine. Alas, I poured most of it in. And so my frothy frosting turned out to be really thick chocolate milk. I was disgusted with myself but didn’t want to deal with cleaning out the Ninja blender, so I stuck it in the freezer and thought maybe I can make ice cream the next night. And the next night, I did! As I told a friend, it wasn’t Haagan Daas, but it tasty like slightly softer than usual healthy soft serve. And it hit my chocolate craving right in the core.

I also went to Trader Joe’s and got coconut cream to try for the recipe (fun fact: not only should you NOT pour in the liquidy stuff, but when they say refrigerate the coconut milk/cream overnight…they might know what they’re talking about and might mean it. Says the person who also didn’t read that part, either, and came up with chocolate milk again on attempt two and couldn’t figure out what went wrong AGAIN. Oh, right. You didn’t READ, dumbass.

My internal monologue has been fairly unforgiving lately.

So, anyway, I stuck that in the fridge, hoping that it would thicken up even after everything was mixed together. And it did! It was lovely and delicious.

Trader Joe’s also had some other no sugar things that were wonderful: goddess salad dressing, vodka sauce, and these citrus date bites that kick a sugar craving in the ass AND are easy to chew because I’m still having some teeth problems, which is a story for another post. Shoprite has ONE yogurt type that doesn’t have any added sugar (beyond plain). They’re tiny, because they’re meant for kids, but they’re sweetened with fruit juice, which I thought was also acceptable within the parameters I established.

This whole process has been an interesting, if sometimes frustrating exercise in spending time looking into my own health and being more conscious about what I put in my body and why. I’ve been proud of my resolve when it comes to this, too.

Like when I was handed a free drink at a burlesque show (double AWESOME) and as I took a sip of it, the bartender was listing what was in it. Whiskey (delish), chocolate bitters (I had pause but had checked the bottle and it was surprisingly okay), bourbon soaked cherries (OMG YES PLS), and a dash of simple syrup. As soon as I heard that, I handed the drink back to my friend and said “I’m sorry, I can’t have any more.” And that was that. I just have to get better at asking and/or research BEFORE I have something. I got that message loud and clear from the Universe.

I’ve found I can make a sugar free mocha coffee at home by adding unsweetened cocoa powder and a dash of honey and a splash of half & half to cut the bitter. Thankfully, I can drink most tea black or with a dash of honey. And actually, except for the two attempts at chocolate frosting shots and the adapted mochas, I haven’t had any honey.

So that’s that. The first 20 full days down. Sugar is fucking everywhere, but I’m learning how better to navigate it. I haven’t been perfect…I had three or four croissant breakfast sandwiches before I got the clawing feeling to check that before I got wrecked. There was that one pad thai dinner I had in a restaurant. One Vietnamese dish might’ve had meat marinated in something with sugar in it, but I didn’t know the name of it so I couldn’t look it up.

I’m not seeing OMG results in my waistband, but the first week, I was able to sleep a little bit better. However, now that my period is here, all bets are off. My colon isn’t happy, my sleep cycle is off, and I’m exhausted. My face might look a little slimmer? Not sure. But I think I’d need a bit more time to see anything really noticeable. Here’s to another 20 days!