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Tigers & Strawberries... A New Perspective

Saturday, May 25, 2013

(still struggling... nothing happens with ease right now... not food choices, not moving forward, not holding my own, not maintaining a level mood, not pushing through the tired... not any one thing feels natural, or right. Everything is another skirmish in the same old war... additionally I feel more 'girl' than I do grown-up, responsible, capable, comfortable-in-my-skin woman)

(snarling at everything that moves more often than not)

(yet mostly maintaining my highest priorities)

(occasionally allowing myself to be loved, and mostly appreciating those who love me unconditionally, though - oddly enough, there don't seem to be many of those, myself included)

(yet surprisingly able to express, moment by moment, that in which I find I find JOY and which endear me to myself and my life as I choose it to be)

Pema Chodron, in her book, 'The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness' says:

"There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death.

Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life."


...And yet, this is EXACTLY what I often forget to do... to stay in the present - the precious moment. Something special happens when I manange stop running and simply experience that strawberry - which is the gift I am being offered in the moment.

All the running I engage in to gain more control... to do better... to avoid the pitfalls... to be my most responsible... to meet expectations... to outrun the problems or the consequences of my own actions/inaction... to be my best... does nothing but leave me tired.

So, I'm trying a different approach these days... I'm assuming the 'tiger' is simply me and my expectations/reactiveness to my life as it unfolds fields of strawberries around me... and I'm doing my best to celebrate and enjoy the strawberries without apology...

According to my SparkFeed it's 90 days or so since I was overtaken by a bladder infection, and 79 days since I began the first of two rounds of antibiotics.

I wish I could say that the infection was worse than the result of having to succumb to antibiotics... and perhaps it really was (I was, after all, peeing blood clots), or would have been if left unchecked (I honestly wish I had had the courage to test this theory)... but from where I'm sitting now, it really is a toss up.

The antibiotics healed the infection, but they also put me back at square one with regard to gut health and a general sense of well-being (even though prior to, during, and curently I remain on high doses of probiotics). Though for almost two years after starting an Ancestral diet I had not had to deal with these issues, since taking the antibiotics I have (once again... the weird refrain to my otherwise lovely life) been struggling with:
• IBS attacks (haven't had any in over 15 years)
• irrational mood swings
• poor quality sleep
• headaches
• on-going bloatedness
• irrational 'hunger'
• joint PAIN (oh how my hands and hips ACHE)
• puffy fingers, ankles and toes
• low grade depression
• all-pervasive exhaustion
• difficulty concentrating
• itchiness
...all things that were becoming a distant memory.

In a very bizzare way, I am grateful that I've had this experience. It very clearly confirms that anything and everything I can do to preserve my gut health is paramount to my overall wellness... thus an Ancestral diet remains critical to my well-being.

Before the infection I was feeling so good for so long that I was starting to forget how I felt before ancestral eating became my focus. I was starting to question my new-found convictions and wonder if it was 'all in my head'. Right now there is no doubt in my mind... none of this is in my 'head'... it's ALL in my gut. As goes my gut health, so does my well-being overall.

For me, the difference between honest to goodness wellness, and STRUGGLE on every level, was exactly 5 pills. Even as my infection came under control, I knew I was losing ground otherwise... and I can't imagine where I'd be if I weren't already eating Ancestrally.

[EDIT]...For anyone else wondering what it means to eat 'Ancestrally', I'm referring to a 'Paleo', 'Primal', 'Caveman' nutritional plan... most essentially, grain, legume, sugar, vegetable oil free, with an emphasis on protein and healthy saturated fat.

For a more in-depth understanding of Ancestral nutrition, and a closer look at my experience read:

• Paleo... Do you really know what you're talking about?

• Comparison Chart for different 'takes' on Ancestral Nutrition

• Body Fat Set Point: Why It’s So Hard To Lose Weight – And Keep It Off

• CALORIES... Do you REALLY know what you're talking about?

• *COMPREHENSIVE* Ancestral Eating Resource

The most dramatic awareness for me in all of this is my newest understanding of hunger.

While I've continued to religiously eat within an Ancestral model (on which, prior to now, I have never been 'hungry' for over 18 months), suddenly (post antibiotics) I never *felt* satisfied. It didn't matter what I ate, or how much, I still felt 'hungry'. As I knew this could not be the case, I started sitting with the 'hunger' I was feeling and tried to understand it.

I came to realize that I wasn't really 'hungry' at all (in fact, I was often overly full... my digestion became very sluggish and my transition time slowed alarmingly). I just didn't feel satisfied by the exercise of eating, or by the taste of food no matter how delicious or fresh or rich... or even by the 'full' feeling in my belly... I continuously wanted something 'more'.

This has become a very powerful awareness... distinct and very specific. I went from feeling sated, satisfied and not all 'hungry' after/between meals, to feeling a driving and agitating 'need' to constantly be putting something - anything - into my mouth (and I felt vaguely angry). I even started wanting things like Coke Classic... I haven't had a soda of any kind in almost two years with no difficulty at all, to suddenly finding myself fantasizing about drinking one.... often in the middle of the night no less (here's where cleaning all food that doesn't fit into your chosen plan out of your house becomes your good, good friend).

Rather than reaching for the poison (THANK GOD!), I realized that I was likely suffering from renewed nutrient malabsorption (if you are lacking necessary nutrients, your body WILL drive to eat, and your brain will direct it to the most vivid association...often sugar related), and I stepped up my consumption of greens (green smoothies) and coconut oil. This has taken the edge off, and I feel things coming back into balance... but it's slow. I've also upped my digestive enzymes, so I don't feel bloated after every meal. I'm starting to sleep better, and my headaches and inflammation are slowly resolving... if I have a stressful day (and since we're still rebuilding, and my DH had to be away for a week for work, every day is a variety of levels of STRESS... heck just getting out of bed is once again stressful), I still pay a big price (spring yard clean up over-taxed me even though I so enjoyed the work), but my adrenals are starting to kick back in, and my cortisol levels seem to be more normal overall, I just have no organ reserves.

I haven't re-gained any weight!

...though I can't manage to lose any either... yet I know it's not the time to worry about that. Losing weight puts additional stress on the adrenals, and right now I need to be kind to my body, not kick-a$$ (and I so wish I could explain to some people that it isn't always about one's attitude).

Despite knowing what I know, I'm currently REALLY struggling with feeling sad and frustrated. I would SO like to see more visible effects of the sincere effort I put into this (and I would like people to BELIEVE I put in a sincere effort).

Just before the antibiotics my waist was almost down to 33 inches (from 42"... 33 being the magic number that is the defining line for risk in women... for men it's 40"). Right now, on any given day my waist measurement fluctuates between 36 and 33 inches, sometimes within hours. Thank God my stomach (at 39" from 51") and hip measurements (at 46" from 53") stay stable, or I'd begin to despair completely. I was so looking forward to a whole new summer wardrobe this year. Instead I'm bagging around in last year's... slightly big, but not so big I need to get anything new. SIGH... and Hooray, LOL (most days the hooray is bigger than the sigh)!

Despite my current struggles, I have still *permanently* eliminated 60 pounds and 28+++ inches... because if I can maintain NOW, under these circumstances, I can maintain forever!

I've discovered within myself a core of self-discipline... a new? previously under-used? 'muscle'... that I'm learning to flex with some effectiveness... one I doubted was in my repertoire when I began this journey five years ago.

I may be accomplishing my goals VERY slowly, but when it really matters and when it reflects my own passions and sensibilities, I AM a FINISHER... no matter how long it takes!

I now believe in myself, and my convictions! I used to worry so much about being seen as a'flake'. I never really trusted the paths which called my name... no longer... and I know my path to be a gift.

Overall, I'm still climbing this hill before me (a hill covered in strawberries), but I can see the summit, and in my mind I can feel the downward slope on the other side beneath my plodding Vibram-clad feet (I actually need to buy a new pair... the first time in at least 7 years that I've managed to wear out a pair of 'active' shoes - in a year, LOL).

Right now I consistently have a couple of truly great hours in a day... I even have an odd day a week where I feel 'well' again. The rest of my time finds me trying to keep my head above water (today I'm avoiding my nephew's graduation in favour of rest and reflection... I'm just too tired to sit, smile and look engaged)... doing what I can (I went on a field trip with my daughter's class yesterday... it involved three hours of walking and I had so much fun and felt great)... and praying that anything left undone doesn't 'catch fire' before I can get to it... and (as you can see) delighting in strawberries.

My DEAR Sparklings... May today and every day bring to you a ridiculous abundance of whatever you need. May you find peace within and all around you. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith and desire... a desire which even itself issues from God. May all your concerns, struggles, anxieties and fears fall like ashes as you rise on eagle's wings, SOARING above all that would hinder you along this tremendous adventure of being and becoming all you are created to be. May you answer your call and use those gifts that you have received to pass on the love that has been given to you. May the presence of God settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love beyond your wildest imagination. May you be overwhelmed by the grace of God as it simply "overtakes" you moment by moment... rather than being overwhelmed by the cares of life!

{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}

...Because there are always STRAWBERRIES for the picking!



'BEFORE' Pictures (May 31, 2009 - September, 2011) & Continuing PROGRESS (February 2012)! Next pictures SEPTEMBER 2013!

(I'm now keeping these right under my nose... in addition to being part of every blog I post, they are printed off and taped to my bedroom mirror... and I update whenever I feel the need - likely early July, 2013... to either see for myself what feel like significant changes, or to encourage myself to keep the faith when I feel no change at all despite my efforts)

Measurements, Musings & Motivation to MOVE!

(UPDATED/rewritten: JUNE, 2012)

I've Reached My Goal Weight!!!!!!!

NOTE: My weight tracker is NOT a truthful representation of my weight. Instead, I am using it as a tool to help me visualize my goal as though it's already been achieved!
(Tom Venuto)

UNTIL. (My 'Just Do It' blog)

DONE Girl Love...

(the footsteps into which I place my own feet)

Leaving NORMAL... In Pursuit of Happiness

Why I'm STILL here... my SparkJourney Saga


Words CAN Be Enough... page 3

Breakfast is Served! (RECIPES)

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love your posts - part autobiography, part fantasy, always an interesting story, always something to think about.
    You rock! emoticon
    1728 days ago
    1729 days ago
  • BERRY4
    Hmmm... that tiger stuff sounds like the stuff of either perimenopause or stages of menopause. (a NON-medical opinion)

    Here's a doc that DOES follow Paleo AND shows possible pathways through the forest of HORMONES. -- Have you considered the possibility of the imbalances both life & stress & EVERYTHING can have on the BALANCE required for hormonal SANITY?

    Dr. Sara Gottfried has written "The Hormone Cure." -- From ch. 10 she writes, "Your brain determines hormone levels throughout the body, and reciprocally, hormone levels direct brain activity through feedback loops--and the dance between the two determines your ability to feel optimal vim and vigor." And sometimes it requires a TRIAGE approach!




    Again, I'm sure the answer is NOT simple or you would already be dancing down that path. But here's to you and doing what you need to do to both care for yourself & loved ones and find your way back to the BALANCE you have known in the past.

    1729 days ago
    1730 days ago
    Your strength and attitude astounds me, hang in there hun emoticon emoticon
    1730 days ago
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    1730 days ago
    It is inspiring how through all the difficulties you are still going strong! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!
    1730 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    It never occurred to me that pulling back from Paleo might have led to the near-suicidal depression I had for far too long. Hmm...

    I hope you get feeling better very soon!
    1730 days ago
    Ramona, I am so glad to read that you are hanging in there, despite all the odds coming at you. Strawberries fields forever.
    1730 days ago
    SO SO well written and so true. I have found that I am doing better now since I went tot he naturopath and she put me gluten, dairy and sugar free. But interesting I forgot to take an inflamatrix supp. the other night and boy was the first night in while that I was in such pain, wasn't able to sleep etc. If it was just that one missed dose then WOW but perhaps in a week I will try again. Granted it has only been dry here maybe 3 days since may 10. Rain omg. so been pretty good cosidering so much damp.
    HUGS and hope your depression lifts and you start to feel better. I am dreading my knee replacement that is coming in aprx a year not just cos of pain and recovery time but cos of the pain meds I know i will need even taking them sparingly.
    oh well that too will be a lesson in perseverence and strength, not one I want to learn lol
    HUGs and glad you came to visit loved the blog as per usual!
    1730 days ago
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