One Month | One Year

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything here. I feel like the month of October didn’t slip away from me – it ran at full force.

So, a quick recap?

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The leaves started to change colors here around the start of the month. I can’t believe that I forgot the vibrancy of autumn. I know that I’m in a new place, but you think I would remember, wouldn’t you?

There’s something exciting about the idea that the world is about to close up and be blanketed in perfect sheets of white snow. There’s also something horrible about the idea that I’m now driving to work in the dark and soon will be driving home in the dark too. #notinlove

I’ve been using this calendar to meal plan and it’s freaking saving my life (this is also the calendar that I use for my general monthly calendar). I’ve never meal planned a whole month at a time before and I am totally in love. It’s legit the greatest. I promise there’s a post coming about how and why I meal plan my month like that.

I also made this cute, inexpensive jewelry/hat/coat hanger for my favorite 9 year old’s birthday. I had some scrap wood that I painted pink with craft paint, drilled 10 holes in it, bought these drawer pulls and painted her name on it! I believe I took enough pictures to do a step-by-steps if folks are interested.

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I also made myself this little printable and have been using it to clear out my brain and keep track of my life. It’s helping a ton. I was thinking that I would share a blank version of it, but I’m not sure the best way to go about that? Any tips?

I had my three favorite kiddos over for a shrinky dink party the other day and that was basically the greatest thing ever. I’d never done them before and seriously – I had as much fun as they did!

It was the first time I had seen them in a long time. I’ve been buried in work, other work and school. It felt so good to turn my brain off for the night and just be present with them. Grad School Pro Tip: schedule time doing simple things with people who make you feel good. Seriously. Schedule it. Schedule it and don’t let things get in the way of the plan. You need that shit.

I’ve made some exciting changes in my house recently, but the most exciting (to me) is this amazing pantry change. It’s going to be a process to get it together, I would imagine. So, keep your eyes peeled for something soon!

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My rockstar mom took me to the ER at 4am

And, truthfully, a good portion of my life has been going towards health – maintaining balance and changing things that hurt. It’s been a year, today, since I had my gallbladder out. Much of my desire to keep this little blog going has had to do with trying to make sense of my life now that I’m down an organ.

It’s been a weird and complicated year. I’m grateful to be able to say that I understand my body differently than I ever have before. And I’m grateful to share that things are getting easier – I have a much better sense of what hurts and what doesn’t, and what’s going to be painful in the long-run.

I’ve decided I’d like to keep as many organs as possible, so I’m hoping to be able to talk through what that means for my life right now soon.

All things in due time, folks. I’ll be back to posting more regularly soon.

A. Rose (1)

Exercise Confession

I feel uncertain about writing about my body, and certainly have a lot of thoughts about why that is.

I’ve never been skinny.

I’m 5’2″ and tend to fall into the “full figure” category (which is the smaller end of “plus size,” apparently. *shrug*).

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I’m sure some of my reluctance is because figuring out all these terms that exist for women’s bodies is basically a full-time job. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot, because I actually love my body, my shape, how I move.

When I had my gallbladder out, I had to closely examine my relationship with my body and taking care of it. Not talking about it hasn’t helped me.

When I was younger,  I was a cheerleader, played volleyball, ran all the time. I grew up playing outside and riding bikes. I like to be active; I like to move and go. But I’ve always worked at a desk and prefer to read a book when I’m done with the work day.

That’s really what happens: by the end of my day, I think about going to the gym or going outside for a run, but instead I’m so worn out that I don’t stick with it.

But I know that I’m not a healthy weight. And that is of the utmost importance to me. I could care less what the number is: I care completely about how my heart beats and how easy it is to breathe.

So I’m going back to what I know: yoga and walking/running. I’ve been doing this yoga routine for years, off and on. And I downloaded the Couch to 5K app because I’ve liked the pacing of it in the past.

I don’t have a weight goal. I don’t care what size my skirts are. I only care that I feel like me again. I think I’d like to talk about that regularly here.

Is this a scary conversation for anyone else? What do you do to get over the fear of talking about it?

Nine Months Later

I’ve been reading blogs since 2011, and started thinking about writing one in 2012. But what actually pushed me to commit, was reading Amy’s vulnerable, honest and hopeful post about her journey with Lyme Disease.

Even though she wrote it a few years ago, I only read it about nine months ago, when I learned that I was going to have my gallbladder out.

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This isn’t the same as having a chronic illness. This was a simple surgery with few incisions that lead to some changes in my body that I’m still trying to figure out. But the candor and truth that Amy spoke with made me realize how many people are probably facing a surgery like mine, or a new diet like mine.

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There’s a lot I didn’t understand about how my body works when I decided to have the surgery. Do you know what your gallbladder does? I didn’t get it and then I read this and a lot of things started clicking together for me.

I am still working on shifting my diet to less processed and more whole foods. It’s definitely complicated to find the time and brain space to make new things, and stay focused on how what I eat connects to any digestive distress I have. Some of the complications I’m encountering have to do with having both IBS and TMJ, which both limit what I can and can’t eat.

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Nine months later, I’m still learning, still growing, still working on understanding. My belly is usually still bloated by the end of the day, and I’m trying to get a handle on that first, since it’s the most uncomfortable thing.

And then I realize that that’s the most uncomfortable thing. Nine months ago, sitting was the most uncomfortable thing. Sitting and walking and breathing deeply all hurt. And here I am, uncomfortable with this one thing mainly. That’s amazing!

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There’s not a lot out there about what happens to your body after you have your gallbladder out. Maybe people don’t struggle as long as I do. Or maybe we’re all just uncomfortable posting pictures of our bloaty, scarred up post surgery bellies (y’all – it’s seriously making me super uncomfortable but I’m trying to just be honest about my body and what happened). I think I need to talk about it, so I’m going to keep doing it. I think more of us need to talk about our bodies regularly. Maybe it will help us love them more.

What do you think?

A. Rose (1)

Learning to Can, Part 1

This post is part of a series on teaching myself how to do home canning. I decided to do this series in part because the reflection that’s part of learning is really interesting to me, and because I think it’s amazing the things we can teach ourselves when we’re dedicated to it!

Learning to Can, Part 1

For one of my classes this semester, we have to do a Self-Directed Learning Project. We got to pick any topic and we don’t have to be successful at it, which may seem strange. The idea is that by attempting to teach ourselves we’ll understand the limits of ourselves and the limits of this method of teaching.

Not being successful at something isn’t a process I enjoy. Sometimes I wish that weren’t true, but like most things with identity, you can turn it down, you can’t turn it off.

I spent a long time going back and forth between two topics: quilting and canning. Obviously, I live in the 1800’s….

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My mother is a quilter and I always admire the beautiful works of art she creates by sewing. But, with all the recent health issues I’ve had with my tummy, I thought canning would be a more beneficial way to go. This way, I can control what goes into the container, and save some money at the same time.

So, I bought this book:

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Y’all. It’s amazing. I had absolutely no idea that canning required such a wide knowledge base. I’m keeping pretty detailed notes on what this learning process is like, and am excited to share this with all of you.

I set a timeline and some goals for myself, which include an increased knowledge of the health and safety of food preservation. The more that I’m learning about this, the more I am really excited to take control of another area of my diet that laziness has allowed me to throw to the wayside.

Every day, I feel like I get a little bit closer to feeling like I have my pre-no-gallbladder life back.

A. Rose (1)

Non-Dairy Smoothie!

I wrote a little about some of my tummy struggles a little while ago, around the time I had my gallbladder removed. Since then, I’ve been on the yogurt struggle bus.

Honestly, I’ve probably been on it forever and I’m just paying more attention now.

My standard breakfast, since I was 22, has been yogurt, fruit and granola.

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Lately, I’m less interested in chewing. haha. Sometimes that happens though, yah know? I don’t really have the time to sit down and eat breakfast, not even while I’m working. So, I’ve been rocking the smoothie! It’s been pretty great, actually. but I found that the dairy in the yogurt was still really bugging me. I found a great non-dairy yogurt and thought I’d share my little, non-specific, super simple recipe with you!

Please forgive my 5:45am lighting in my window-less kitchen. 🙂

Non-Dairy Smoothie

You could totally change up the ingredients in this; and ice would make it more … granulated? icey? smoothie-y?

I start by putting the frozen mixed berries in.

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I use about… that many. It’s two shakes of the bag, usually, depending on how hungry I am. Then I add in a broken up banana and about 1/2 a cup of oatmeal.

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This oatmeal is not cooked – it’s just straight up dried oatmeal. Then I add about 1/4 cup of flax seed.

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over which I pour about a cup of the star of today’s show: Good Karma Dairy-Free Probiotic Drinkable Yogurt (the strawberry kind) and about 1/4 cup of Chocolate Almond Milk. You could probably do not chocolate, buuuuut… I’d rather have the chocolate. #letsbereal

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It looks really gross until you start blending it up:

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I love this color! And the taste is super delicious!

I usually make a little too much, so I store the extra in a mason jar for the next day, that way I don’t have to make breakfast every morning:

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That’s it! Easy-peasy lemon-squeezy!

This is, by far, my favorite breakfast. I have a 30 minute commute to work, so being able to drink my breakfast is a great time saver. And since I’ve switched to this non-dairy yogurt, I’ve had absolutely no troubles!

I’m really excited to try other combos as simple as this one. What are your favorite smoothies made out of?

A. Rose (1)

Three Months Later

It’s been a little over three months since I had my gallbladder removed.

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I keep trying to find the right words to describe the difference between now and before. I can’t find them. Or, I can’t find them well.

My abdomen feels better. My circulation (maybe?) feel better. I’m not sluggish and sad like I was. But…

I still don’t really understand what’s going to make me sick.

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Cauliflower bites

It seems like it would be easy to say “stick with fruits, veggies and lean meats.” And it is. Except onions hurt. And apples. And sometimes kiwis but not always. And honestly, sometimes I just really want to eat some goldfish crackers. Or a bagel. Or some coffee.

So I eat them. And pay for it for a few days.

Some days, I bloat enough to be two sizes larger than usual.

Some days, the idea of figuring something out to eat is too complicated so I just don’t.

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Other days, I’m floored with the idea that my body has lost two organs (gallbladder and appendix) and still functions!

What modern medical marvel! What incredible feat of human evolution and engineering! How lucky am I to have a body at all!

Other days, I realize it’s been four days since I last got sick or put on jeans that didn’t fit.

Other days, I find a way to stay centered on gratitude for what I have, rather than what I lost.

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If you’re getting ready for this to be done, or if you just had it done: it’s just like everything else in life. It’s what you make it. It’s differently complicated. It will make you re-examine your relationship with your body on a regular basis and nobody will really understand what you’ve felt or are feeling except other people who did this.

It will be fine, if you can find the good in it. If you can keep yourself from getting bogged down by all the not-fine of it. And eventually, your life will level out again and you’ll get used to the four little scars on your belly.

You may even grow to like them, because they mean feeling so much better.

What the heck does low FODMAP even mean?

Note: I have absolutely no medical training of any kind. I don’t even remember whether or not I took a Science class in college. This post contains some educational elements, but please refer to the actual cited sources and your doctor for additional information.

I really like food that’s bad for me. I think a lot of people do. It’s the American Way.

I also really love fruits and veggies and lean proteins and things made of whole grains. Most days I eat plain greek yogurt, fruit and granola for breakfast, a salad for lunch and give myself a lot of wiggle room for dinner, which usually is one thing – an egg, tatertots, peanut butter toast – or I eat with a man who eats like the stereotype of an 1800’s farmer. Neither of those are great choices – one doesn’t have sufficient nutrition and the other has too much nutrition for someone who works at a desk.

I love yoga and running and bike rides through the woods. I shop the smallest size at Torrid (so I fall into the “full figure” category) and have spent a lot of time and effort on ensuring that my heart pumps well, my blood pressure is low, my physical comes back in good shape (except the weight part).

So I occupy this strange space, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. My fridge usually looks something like this:

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There’s a lot of fruits and veggies there, and a ton of stuff that’s made with cheese, because cheese is delicious.

About two months ago, I was at a conference in the amazing city of Philadelphia.

While I was there, my tummy started to hurt very badly. I assumed it was just the combination of traveling and being slightly overworked. I held on to that assumption for two and a half weeks. Everyone kept suggesting that it was morning sickness, so I saw my OB, who thought maybe dehydration, but that I should go see my Primary (also – totes not pregnant). I made it to my PCP a few days after ending up in the ER.

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At the ER they told me I had gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach. They gave me some medicines and I started feeling somewhat better. My PCP ran some more detailed tests and that’s how I found out I have gallstones, which evidently 80% of women get! To treat the gastritis, the doctor recommended a low FODMAP diet.

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Homework Snack Time

So, what does that even mean?

Basically, I have to eat food. Not processed things that are made out of chemicals and sold as food; I need to get as close to the farm as possible. I also have to be really careful about which foods I do eat and keep a food log. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be able to start reintroducing other foods, to figure out which ones are making me feel so icky.

Why did this happen?

Well, the gastritis is largely due to a combination of stress and bad food choices. The gallstones are a result of a lifetime of bad food choices. So, I’m making some changes and tweaking things and trying again and changing them and keeping on. I also will be having my gallbladder taken out. I’m actually really excited for what I’m learning about my body, and for new ways to handle stress. I am so excited to start feeling better! And, this has been tremendously humbling.

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I like to take on everything all at once and make it look completely effortless while I do it. And, I can’t anymore. For now, I need to listen to my body and rest when it’s time to rest. I have to go slow and cut what I would normally do in a week in half because it’s not going to get done. I came to this blog through that: through knowing that I needed to do a better job of accepting what is; my body is literally rebelling against me not doing that. But that belief is a story for another day.