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I Am Twice Gifted

*I originally published this post to another blog in the middle of November, 2017.

I can sing. I can write. I can act. I can dance. I can grow lots and lots of sweet potatoes.

I can even whip together a pretty good smoothie.

But none of those can compare to the incredibly glamorous, heart-stopping talents that have changed my and my family’s lives.

Time flies

The first talent is my great sense of time. I read last year that right-brain dominant people have no sense of time. This is my husband.

ME: “Do you know you were gone for two whole hours?!

HIM: “Oh. I thought it had only been about thirty minutes.”

I am what they call “whole-brain” dominant, with neither side of my brain vying for special attention, so I can actually tell how much time has passed.

It comes in handy in the middle of the night when I wake up and can’t get back to sleep. Hmm, I think it’s been about fifteen minutes since I went to the bathroom. Let me see the watch. Yep. Fourteen minutes and thirty-five seconds.

“What time is it?” J will ask when he wakes up to go to the bathroom.

I figure I’ve been awake for about half an hour, so without looking at the time I tell him. And I am accurate within five minutes.

This gift serves me well when I look at the clock in the kitchen before going outside. “I want to be back in fifteen or twenty minutes,” I’ll say to myself.

Then I’ll go outside, do whatever I’m doing, and when I return to the house, what da ya know? It’s no more than twenty minutes later.

I’m a wannabe thermometer

I don’t know what it is. I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with brain dominance. I think it has to do with having grown up in Minnesota with parents who were constantly obsessed about the outside temperature, especially in the winter.

But I can go outside, and within five minutes – often within thirty seconds – I can tell you what the temperature is within four degrees.

No, I’m serious. I can. Isn’t that awesome? Shouldn’t I be nominated for a Nobel prize or something?

Case in point: this morning I went out, and after a minute I thought to myself, “Okay, it did not hit the predicted low of forty-one. It’s more like in the upper forties, maybe fifty?”

I then looked at the thermometer, and lo and behold, it read forty-six degrees!

Imagine. You could hire me to announce the temperature at ball games or other outdoor events so that people know whether it’s getting dangerously hot or if they need to put a coat on. I could annoy people with my everlasting, “It’s not that hot. It’s just humid” comment.

Oh, wait. I already do that.

Anyway.

I have a great sense of time, as well as temperature. Gee, I could sign up to be one of those people you call to get the time and temperature!

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Gut-Wrenching Diet Tweaks

“Gut-wrenching.”

“Her stomach twisted.”

Phrases I’ve both read and written. I never understood what either felt like until the other day, when I experienced yet another not-explicitly-recorded symptom of perimenopause.

My gut-wrenching story

When I woke up around four in the morning, the middle of my belly hurt. And I couldn’t force the pain away by burping. That coupled with my having been bloated the afternoon and evening should have clued me in to the fact that it was not going to be a good digestion day.

To say the least.

I thought maybe the pain was camouflaged hunger. So I got out of bed, ate two dates, and went back to bed.

Mistake. Eating made it worse.

By the time I got up for the day, my gut was cramping like nobody’s business. If you’re a woman who’s had a baby, it was like uterine contractions up in the small intestine and confined to the front of your torso. If you’re not, well, imagine you’re trying to dry a soaking wet towel by twisting it as hard as you can.

That’s what it felt like someone was doing to my gut every five to ten seconds.

All. Day. Long.

Actually, not quite all day – although it felt like several days. The torment finally ended at around three in the afternoon. The only things I had been able to consume up until then were my morning smoothie and about a half cup of water. Because even a sip of water would, twenty minutes later, send my gut into such spasms that I thought I might end up in the emergency room.

The only reason I didn’t was that the several times that I muscle-tested, my body told me that it was just a hormonal issue, nothing life-threatening or requiring medical attention.

I have to change my diet AGAIN??!

Ironically, a day or two before I’d watched a video which didn’t have a whole lot of views, and one comment. The comment was about a raw vegan who’d had a stroke. It might help you to know that I am a vegan whose diet is about 80% raw.

Long story short, I ended up having a conversation with this person which resulted in me discovering that I’ve been feeding my family a diet that is overwhelmingly high in the omega 6 fatty acids. I knew that seeds were highly imbalanced as far as the omega 6 and omega 3 fats, but I thought that soaking them would reduce the fats enough.

And I had no idea that my favorite nut of all – and one touted as a health food, the almond – is the worst offender, with an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of almost 2,000 to 1! (You’re supposed to aim for a diet with a ratio of no more than 3 or 4 to 1, otherwise the omega 6 EFA’s can cause inflammation – which can cause any number of problems in the body, including hormone imbalances.) Even when soaked for twelve hours – soaking reducing the fat content of nuts and seeds somewhat – almonds still have an omega 6:3 ratio of around 1500:1.

Interestingly enough, during the past few weeks I’d begun to feel an internal red flag whenever I would sit down to eat my usual almonds-with-vegetables lunch. Backing up even further, sometime during the past couple of years I saw a video where a fifty-something woman said that going on a high-carb, low-fat, raw vegan diet (otherwise known as 80-10-10) made her hot flashes and hormonally-induced joint pain go away. When she cheated and went back to cooked food, the symptoms would come back. Was it the macronutrient ratio (80-10-10) that was important, or just eating raw?

It also bugged me knowing that in places where people consumed traditional foods, P.M.S. and perimenopause symptoms are practically non-existent. Someone eating as healthy as I, therefore, shouldn’t be experiencing painful – both physically and mentally – symptoms due to hormone imbalance.

Should I?

There are ratios, and there are actual measurements

As I was freaking out about the omega 6:3 ratio in nuts and seeds, thinking we needed to forgo almonds, reduce cashew consumption, and eat walnuts and pecans instead, J pointed out something. He pointed out that the ratio didn’t mean you were getting that much omega 6 in a food.

I whipped out my trusty nutrition manual, The World’s Healthiest Foods, which breaks down the nutritional data for 100 different kinds of foods – including how many grams each of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in each one.

Turns out that almonds, with their extremely skewed 6:3 ratio, have almost half the omega 6 fat than pumpkin seeds. And walnuts, though touted for the omega 3 they contain, contain more grams of omega 6 than almonds! Close to that which pumpkin seeds contain. Similar story with pecans. Pecans and walnuts are more fatty than almonds, so when you look at how many grams of omega 6 fats they have, you end up with more.

Oh.

Add that to the fact that at least seeds – maybe nuts, too – when they’re soaked to the point that they start to sprout, some of the omega 6 goes away.

BUT…

Once again, I had to learn the hard way

Up until the other day, I had poo-poo’ed Douglas Graham’s 80-10-10 diet. Some people just need more than ten percent of their diet to be fat and/or protein. But between that incessant, tortuous stomach-twisting and my revelation about how much omega-6 EFA’s I’d been consuming drove me to do more muscle-testing.

Despite the grams-vs.-ratio issue discussed above, my body told me that yes, J, B, and I have all been eating more omega 6 than is good for us. Yes, we would all be healthier if we reduced our fat intake – especially of the highest omega 6-containing nuts.

And, yes, an 80-10-10 (80% carbs in the form of mostly fruit, 10% each protein and fat) diet would keep my hormones much more in balance. No essential oils or bio-identical progesterone needed.

I’m happy to say that I’d already recently figured out that my diet was around 70% carbs. So ramping it up to 80% wasn’t the big deal I thought it might be.

Will the extra expense of a couple more servings of fruit per day be worth it? Only time will tell.

If I never have severe acid reflux, severe gut-cramping, psychotic episodes, or shortness of breath that goes on for hours again, I will become an 80-10-10 evangelist.

 

 

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The Question All Parents Dread

**I published this post on November 17, 2017, to another blog.**

B was six or seven when he began asking that question that all parents dread. Some begin worrying over it before their child is even two years old. Others decide that the day their child poses the question, they will go into hibernation until their child turns eighteen and has figured out the answer for himself.

No, it’s not, “Can I have that $800 toy?” Nor is it, “Why can’t I [fill in the latest stupid thing her friends are doing]?”

It’s not even, “Are we there yet?”

No, the Dreaded Question is this:

Where do babies come from?

Now, I don’t believe in keeping children in the dark until the day before they get married, like they did in the old days. J and I have planned to reveal all regarding the birds and the bees whenever his body starts experiencing certain changes. You know, like having to shave every morning.

But I do believe in not traumatizing children. I mean, think about explaining physical intercourse to a little person. The body parts involved.

Admit it: when it comes down to it, it sounds gross. Now pretend you’re a seven- or eight-year-old who thinks the opposite gender gives them cooties, and you can imagine the horror that such a premature education might produce.

I am happy to report that since B began asking that question, he hasn’t asked it very often. And most of the time, we have been able to blow it off with, “We’ll tell you when you’re older,” or – the phrase children love most to hear in the whole world – “You’re too young to understand.”

But last night, his nearly eleven-year-old mind decided to get more specific. “What are these things under my pen*is for?” He had been told previously that they were called “tes.ticles”, so J reminded him.

So B repeated, “What are my test.icles for?”

Like the wonderful, level-headed, modern parents we are, J and I looked at each other and grinned. Because we both knew that if we answered that question, it could lead to other questions.

Questions that would lead to potentially traumatizing answers.

This time, he would not be put off. He was up in his loft bed (thus our ability to get away with laughing behind his back) and declared that he wasn’t going to go to sleep until we answered his question.

“In the morning,” we finally promised with reluctance.

And promptly prayed that he would forget all about it by the time he woke up.

So what do you think were the first words out of his mouth when he woke up the next morning? “Good morning, Mom and Dad”? “I had a good dream last night”? “I’m starving! When’s breakfast”?

Oh, no. His first words were, “Tell me what my test.icles are for.”

J and I had discussed it after going to bed, deciding just to tell him that to make a baby you need an egg and a sperm, and that the test.icles house the sperm (he already knew about women carrying eggs). So when he was out of his bed and dressed, that’s what we told him.

“Okay. I understand now,” was his reply after the brief explanation. And he went on with his day.

But now J and I are on pins and needles. Our kid is smart; he won’t stop there. He’ll eventually connect the dots and realize that something is missing from the picture.

It’s inevitable that he will ask the next Dreaded Question, and that he will ask it much sooner than either of us will be ready to answer it:

“When can I learn to drive?”

 

* I am cloaking the actual name of the male anatomy so that in case you have Internet filter software installed on your computer, the software won’t accuse my website of being “naughty.”

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What Doesn’t K*ill Me…

On Friday, we had our first visit to Safari Joe’s H2O water park in Tulsa.

And there, I did it. I did something I said I would never do again.

Well, okay, so it wasn’t exactly the same. I said I’d never take a roller coaster ride again, meaning the usual amusement park fare where you whip around sideways and upside down at a million miles per hour while trying to hold in your last meal until the ride finishes.

I’m too old. These days, all it takes for my adrenaline to start pumping is for the pickup heading toward us at fifty miles an hour to go one inch over the middle line. My optimal level of excitement occurs when a seed I planted actually sprouts.

No, I am not exactly what you would call a thrill-seeker these days.

But at Safari Joe’s, they have what they call a water roller coaster. I wasn’t going to go on it. I told B that I wasn’t going to go on it.

But after the first time he went on it, he started badgering me to try it. Even J told me it wasn’t as fast as I thought it might be.

I think they conspired against me one of the times they were climbing the stairs to take one of the super-high water slides. Which, no, I did not ride on. Been there, done that, don’t need to do it again.

Anyway, here’s how the conversation probably went: “Let’s tell Mommy that the Raptor Rapids ride doesn’t go very fast,” B says, a sly smile crossing his face as he talks to J.

J sniggers. “Yeah.” He doesn’t want to be a bad role model for his son, so he doesn’t say what he’s thinking: Maybe if we can talk her into going, the ride will knock some of her crazy garden ideas out of her, and I can have a break for a couple of months.

And so, the conspirators told me that the ride wasn’t that fast, and I should give it a try.

I should have known better than to listen to a kid who thinks that gory video game scenes are funny. I should have known better than to listen to a husband who once came home with a bleeding nose and a tooth cap knocked off and told me that he wasn’t really hurt.

I should have turned around and walked back down the stairs when I got to the top and saw how fast the beginning of the ride was. How the people in front of me went flying helplessly away on a rushing, white current of water.

But I didn’t. I told myself that I could do it. I told J that the only reason I was willing to try was that I knew I couldn’t fall off the slide – the entire thing is enclosed, either with netting or opaque plastic tunneling.

And so, I did it. I sat down on my tube and went flying. Whirling around in circles at what felt like a hundred miles an hour.

I screamed the whole time, like a teenager at a rock concert. By the time – a blessedly short time – I got to the end, my fingers were tingling from hyperventilation.

I did it.

But I ain’t doing it again.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In this case, what didn’t ki*ll me made me a lot more skeptical regarding any ride recommendations my boys might make in the future.

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