Seeking My Best Self

trying to make sense of my life – and lose some weight

Dream Curling

Some people have a dream that consumes them, one that brings life-long contentment upon its fulfillment. Me, I’m a serial dreamer. As soon as one is achieved, a new one takes its place. I’ve never had the satisfaction of *arriving* – for me, it’s always about the journey and the joys (and frustrations) therein.

A year ago, we moved to Portland. Correction: we moved to Milwaukie. Which is NOT Portland. (How can a city that abuts Portland manage to be so conservative and hicksville? To the fourteen people in town who have a liberal leaning – I’m not talking about you. I love you.)

tali 16wk

Taliesin this morning
sixteen weeks

But we lived close enough to Stumptown to enjoy its vibrance and weirdness. Close enough for it to whisper in our sleep at night…”you need a dog…” (Portland is dog-town USA, if you didn’t know. And not everyone there feeds their dog a vegan diet.)

Portland is not one big gritty lump of city – it’s a amalgamation of neighborhoods, each with its own wine bar, pubs, dress boutique, and chachki shops. A place where everybody knows your name.

Except that, even after a year, no one knew mine. I never found my stomping grounds. Never developed a ‘Norm!’ relationship with a pub – though I tried, I really did. The only place where we were greeted with neighborly warmth was St. John’s, located at the OTHER end of Portland, too far to travel for a nightly brewski and shout-out.

We explored the area around my studio – both locations: first the inner SE Buckman neighborhood, and then the west side in John’s Landing. We talked about moving to one of those locations. Maybe there we would find our peeps?

But my dreams carve their own paths, and they rarely coincide with my imaginings. It’s like curling. Some of us are throwers and some are sweepers. Throwers heave their dreams like stones onto the ice and run along behind to see where they come to rest. Sweepers run in front, carefully grooming the path to help the stone land right where they intend.

Truth is, we need to do a bit of both. If we don’t throw, but merely sweep, the dream is as immobile as a rock. But if we throw without brooming, our dreams can veer wildly off-course, crashing and tumbling, coming to an abrupt halt far short of any goal. Me, I like to toss as hard as I can, and do just a bit of sweeping.

It means I need to maintain a fluidity of heart, mind and soul as the dreams slide and move in ways I don’t anticipate. I prefer it that way. I’m the girl who never peeks in advance at her Christmas presents, because I like the surprise.

So, this week, we moved. Not to a Portland neighborhood – in fact, we moved over an hour in the opposite direction. We’re living on an 8-acre farm outside of Salem. WHAT????!!!! you may think. Yeah, me too. How did I wind up here?

Well, the little town nearby, Monmouth, is a college town, and its developed a really groovy little downtown. A wine bar. Pubs. Coffee shops. Dress shops.

And I walked into the BiMart, which I haven’t visited for at least five years, and the checker said, “You’ve changed your hair since I last saw you.”


I guess I’m home. For now.

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Be Boring, Part One

green and red healthy foodThere are so many healthy food options! If you’re like me, it can be overwhelming to coordinate three meals plus three snacks (or so) every day. Pretty soon, it’s too much work, and we give up.

A while back, I read a bit of advice that really helped:

“Eat the same breakfast and lunch every day. Choose the same snacks. Vary only your dinner.”

On the surface, that seems like a recipe (pun intended) for failure. If we get bored with our food, we’re unlikely to stick with a diet, right?

Turns out, that’s not the case. We humans are creatures of habit – including what we eat. And in our busy lives, what we really want is NOT HAVE TO THINK about it! That’s why diet plans that provide all the food – often at exorbitant prices – are so popular.

But we can don’t have to turn control of our diet over to a corporation. We can do it for ourselves by making it easy!

Here’s how:

Step One. Find your ‘golden foods’ – those things that delight you AND are good for you. Make a list. What do you like to eat? Are you an oatmeal and fruit fan? Eat it. Every morning. It’s good for you.

Step Two. Pay attention to your nutritional needs (and weight-loss goals) and choose foods accordingly. Oatmeal is a good breakfast. It’s not a good breakfast, snack AND lunch item. Nutritionally, you need variety. Add protein, vegetable, more fruit, another complex carbo, and a little fat into the mix.

How about half a nut butter sandwich (doesn’t HAVE to be peanut butter)? Or tuna mixed with yogurt and apple (and a little horseradish mustard for zing)? Look for variety. Find yummy, healthy, EASY foods – then stick to them.

Step Three. Write it out. Post it on your fridge, your computer, wherever you’ll see it at a glance. Add your *new* staples to the shopping list. Make sure these foods are always available in your kitchen.

Voila! Done.

Now you have a diet routine. And routine is GOOD!

In my next post, I’ll finish up this discussion and share my current food regimen.

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The Need to Nurture

_DSC3269Does a woman ever get over the need to nurture?

I got lonely when Bryan was gone last month. I found myself perusing humane society pages, wondering if perhaps a doggy could provide the solace I sought. I whined about it a little to my friends, emailing them pics of adorable canine faces.

Then Bryan got home, Nicholas and Hanna returned, Gabriel flew in for a visit. Loneliness problem solved!

But apparently I’d planted a seed in the universe. Two days ago, a young woman poured out her plight to me in a phone call. On impulse, she’d obtained an eight-week-old poodle mix from a rescue shelter. She bought it a kennel. Food. Wipes. Toys. Took it home along with the good news that she’d been accepted to college and was starting in a few weeks.

She didn’t detail the conversation, but I imagine the response was something like this:

Mama: “Oh, honey, we’re so proud of you! Well done. Now rehome that puppy immediately. If not sooner.”

So Taliesin (Tahl-ee-EH-sin), Tali for short, came to live with us. Look at that face. How could I resist? He’s bright, mellow, and appropriately playful. Tiny. He’ll weigh only 8 – 12 lbs. full grown. Did I mention, smart? He already understands that going outside means its time to go potty. And then run around like a madman. 🙂

Oh, and he sleeps through the night in a crate beside our bed. He loves his crate. He’s relaxing in it now (at my elbow) because I can’t watch him and type at the same time. Potty training requires CONSTANT VIGILANCE. Or crating when I’m busy. As long as he’s close, he’s a happy guy!

He’s good for my mental health. He completes the life we’ve started here in Portland. NOW it feels like home. I’m praying the landlords understand. I let them know immediately, and I await their verdict. I think it will be positive. They allowed the upstairs neighbors to keep two kitties a few months ago, and we’ve wordlessly put up with the cats jumping and playing and cat box pawing above our heads every night. Good karma has to count for something, right?

If not, well, there are always other homes. But a puppy like Tali doesn’t come around very often.


Oh, You’re Over Fifty? You Don’t Need ANY Food

no foodDo you know how LITTLE food I am supposed to eat? No wonder I’m not losing any weight.

Yesterday, I downloaded the Lose It! app for my tablet, which keeps track of calories, exercise, etc. Then I started entering everything I ate. Correction: I entered everything I WANTED to eat. When I saw the horrifying total, I deleted items like crazy to keep under my daily allotment.

As I looked at the pittance alloted to me, I couldn’t help wondering if the program was just trying to eliminate women who were no longer actively contributing to the propogation of the species. “Oh, you’re over fifty? You don’t need ANY food. Quit wasting resources. Oh, all right. Here. Eat a few fruits and nuts. Quit whining. You’re lucky I give you anything at all.”

The good news is, exercise will help. An hour of bike riding uses about 200 calories (at the pace I’m able to manage.) That will boost my calorie count above 1000 calories a day. (I’ve entered a 2-lb a week weight loss goal.) It’s not going to be easy – or fun – but I think I can manage it for a while.

The program assures me I’ll be at my target weight by September 5. Two months. I can do this for two months.



Fermented Drinks and Spoiled Relationships


Courtesy of Everyday Paleo.

I promised I’d share recipes for kombucha and probiotic lemonade. They are both really easy!

I get great satisfaction from making my own healthy foods.  Hey, I get great satisfaction from making my own unhealthy foods. Truth is, I’ve had a love affair with my kitchen since age seventeen, when I moved into a tiny studio apartment in downtown Portland (on the third floor of a building, no elevator, with a shared bathroom down the hall.)

For the first time, I was free to explore the culinary arts. Growing up, my mother barely allowed me in the kitchen, except to clean. I certainly wasn’t allowed to cook. She was obsessed with the fear that I would ‘make a mess’. In fact, that was pretty much her focus for my entire childhood – that something (including me) might be dirty or disheveled.

Five years ago, I suddenly realized that my mom has obsessive-compulsive disorder. I mentioned it to my sister-in-law, who rolled her eyes and said, “Well, duh.” It wasn’t ‘duh’ to me. Until that ah-ha moment, it felt normal – just Mom being negative and unreasonable. My relationship with her has improved markedly since. I don’t take her actions and comments to heart. It’s not me, it’s her. And she can’t help it.

In fact, it’s helped my relationships with everyone. It’s not just my mom who can’t help it. We all can’t help it.  I find it much easier to be patient with people’s quirks, including my own.

I’m also more bold about withdrawing from those whose traits I find damaging. My no-go is people who back-stab, bully, yell and swear at others. No matter what wonderful qualities a friend or family member might also possess, hostile behavior is a relationship deal-killer. Bottom line: while I may love that person, I also love myself.

So I draw my boundaries. Explain them. Give multiple chances. If the objectionable behaviors continue, I withdraw. I understand that they can’t help themselves. I hope they understand that I can’t help myself, either. There are some things I just can’t tolerate. Call me quirky.

While bubbling, fermenting relationships might be bad, fermented drinks are good. (Smoothest segue you’ve ever seen, right?) I promised you recipes. Here are links:

KombuchaHow to Make Kombucha, by Katie of Wellness Mama. Try a beer brewing supply store for the SCOBY. That’s where I found my starter. Then prepare to share yours. That mother grows BIG!  Recerntly, I started a continuous brewing system. The how-to is here: Cultures for Health

Probiotic Lemonade:  Fresh, Natural, Healthy Lemonade, by Kristen of Food Renegade. Note: Because I don’t have a cup of whey on top of my yogurt, I just add some of the runny yogurt. It seems to work fine)

PS: Psychology Today recently had a great article about identifying and dealing with those who are difficult. You can read it here: The High Art of Handling Problem People.

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Pushing Past the Plateau


I’m tired of this <gesturing at my mid-section> – how does this even HAPPEN? And why won’t it go away?

Liquid diet. Today it’s going to be a liquid diet. Yesterday, the Tarot cards said it was time for a vacation and for detoxification. Relaxation and detox it is.

Yes, I read Tarot cards. I have for three decades. I don’t talk about it much, because my credibility goes down several notches with people when they find out. Like, if I shuffle and interpret cards, my veracity with photography or mathematics or baseball or curing diaper rash is suddenly suspect.

Really? What do YOU do in the privacy of your own home? Don’t answer. I might not be able to believe your legal, medical, technical, or practical advice anymore.

Honestly,  I was skeptical about Tarot for many years, yet I found them irresistable – and uncannily accurate.

For example, years ago, a friend threw a party and asked me to bring my cards. That evening, I did a reading for a stranger, and it was the worst throw I’d ever seen. I look for the positive, even in challenging readings, because I want people to feel encouraged, not depressed. But it was next to impossible to say ANYTHING that wouldn’t be….bad. So I mumbled some generalized words, and stumbled to a halt.

Turns out, her husband was standing nearby, listening to what I had to say. He sneered, “That’s so general! It could apply to anyone. This is just a bunch of fucking bullshit.” And off he swaggered (or stumbled. It had been quite the party, and none of us were walking straight by this time. My inebriation *might* have played a role in what came next.)

Well, the gauntlet had been thrown. I grabbed it up (literary license, you understand), excused myself from his wife and followed him into the kitchen. Once we were out of sight, I grabbed him by the collar, banged his head up against the refrigerator (yes, I really did) and hissed, “So you want to know what the cards said. Here it is: they said you’re having an affair, or are about to, and the results of it might cause you to leave her. They say she’s teetering on the edge of financial and emotional ruin, and there’s not a damn thing she can do to affect the outcome, she can only sit and wait on your sorry ass. Would you have preferred I tell her all that?”

“Holy fuck,” he whispered. “It really told you all that?”

It really did. So don’t mock me about my Tarot reading – at least, not when we’ve been drinking. 

Where was I? (I like to think I’m much more interesting now that my brain has started popping and fizzing with age – in my younger years, I would have stayed on topic and you never would have known I am capable of such…force.) Oh, yes. Detoxification. Liquid diet.

I’m going to stick to a liquid diet for a day or two – see if I can’t keep my calorie count ridiculously low, and push myself past this plateau. Details on the detox next time. For now…



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