Monthly Archives: January 2018

“10% off your Record Purchase at Swallen’s”

One of the staple Cincinnati department stores, Swallen’s opened in 1948 and finally closed for good in 1995. Each store had multiple departments and one of their most popular merchandise lines was stereo components and speakers. As such, their record department was extensive and well-stocked.

Today I’ve been listening to the record collection of a friend of mine. She is selling her albums, like so many these days, who may even have a turntable and speakers, but just don’t get around to doing what it takes to hear the vinyl playing.

And then I came across this album.

As I listened to this gorgeous music, images came into my mind of my friend shopping for this album.

She has a rare moment alone to duck into Swallen’s to pick up light bulbs or spray starch or new measuring cups since hers melted on the stove last weekend when she was momentarily distracted.

She usually just grabs what she needs in the store and leaves, but today the record department is playing music she loves and she steps into her own magical mystery tour just waiting to take her away.

She flips through albums, pausing at Hendrix, Dylan, the Stones — the soundtrack of this generation who dreams of freedom and equality. But these artists aren’t what her soul is longing for today.

She looks around with a small sigh and spies the end cap where Glenn Gould’s Well-Tempered Clavier albums are waiting. She remembers author Madeleine L’Engle and her love for Bach, remembers that L’Engle loved all types of classical music but was particularly fond of Johann Sebastian and the intricacies of his preludes and fugues, very like musical weavings.

She notices the “10% off” sticker, which appeals to her love of a good bargain. She hesitates just for a moment, then makes a decision and places the album in her shopping cart.

That evening, when the children are quiet in their beds and the sounds of the day have faded, she slits open the plastic covering and places the vinyl disc on her Philco record player.

She closes her eyes as the first notes ring into the room. The notes become more complex and the motifs repeat and overlap, weaving the sounds together in harmony. She knows this purchase was right.

As the music fills the room, she reflects that even in this world that has way too much pain and betrayal and Vietnam and patriarchy and inequality, there is also beauty. Here. Bach wrote music that is lasting and enduring and beautiful.

She switches off the lamp and lets this music take her away to her nirvana.

Going Keto in a non-Keto World

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Last night, Greg and Kepler and I saw the Cincinnati Cyclones take on the Ft. Wayne Komets. What a whirlwind of sights and sounds! Watching a hockey game in person is a way cooler experience than watching it on the television. Also louder.

Get Your High-Cal Snacks Here!

Also. Snacks at the arena are not keto-friendly, or even keto-tolerable. I walked by counters where they were serving Graeter’s ice cream (simply the best), giant soft pretzels (umm, not low carb), popcorn or super large refillable popcorn (approximately 40 carbs in a small, which is twice my daily limit), brats and metts served on buns with copious amounts of ketchup available, and much more. Six kinds of soda in industrial size cups. Beer and mixed drinks for sale over here. I’ve had all those snacks and more many times at concerts, sporting events, conferences, and movie theaters.

Water?! Of all the Nerve!

What *really* got me is they cannot/do not sell water. They looked alarmed when I asked if I could get water. After a little shocked pow-wow, they were able to give me a 12-oz cup of ice with no lid and I could fill it up at the drinking fountain. Not such a terrible thing, but the water was for Kepler, and he strongly prefers a lid and a straw. I mean, he adjusted, as did I, but the truth is, I wanted to be able to take care of my self regarding food and water, but I had to leave my water bottle in the car because you can’t take such items into the arena.

The overall impact of this “deprivation” is that I felt my energy flagging and I knew that the things that would help were in the car and in my kitchen. The pleasures of going to games as a kid with my dad and having chips and hotdogs and pepsi and doughnuts are still right there in my memories. I’m grateful for the memories and the experiences and also for the opportunity last night to evaluate the choices and be able to choose not to eat just a little popcorn or ice cream, just this once.

The Road Less Traveled

I have chosen to indulge more times than I can count on all my fingers and toes and yours as well. Last night, I chose to continue on the path that has brought some incredible benefits to me. Robert Frost said it well, “Two roads diverged in [an arena] and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

I’m 9 1/2 weeks into my keto life and I love it. People ask me if I’m going to do this forever. So far in my life, no healthier eating plan has lasted forever, but right now, the benefits of this way of eating are extremely desirable and so I’m just taking it one day at a time. Next time I go to a hockey game though, I’m going to sneak in a soft-side water bottle under my shirt. Maybe something like this:

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I’ll look at little fatter, but I’ll fit in ok. The metal detector won’t detect my secret stash and maybe I’ll make it all the way through the game!

Your Turn

I really like to respect the rules establishments have, and I also like to be as healthy as possible, so you do the math. I have found that movie theaters don’t have any problem with me bringing my water bottle in, so I’m a little more comfortable taking it past the sign on the door that says “no food and drink.”

Do you have any tips or tricks for taking healthy snacks into places that do not sell them or allow them?

 

Grieving the Desperation of Addiction

Grief has always seemed inaccessible to me. I haven’t wanted to feel the feelings of loss, desperation, helplessness, anger and shame. I’m not sure I’ve had much to grieve in my life. I’m pretty blessed. But, drug addiction in someone I love? That’s something worth grieving.

I think the chart sums up pretty well how I’ve gone about grieving. Depression, then the anger peeks out, then I decide the anger isn’t appropriate and I sink back into depression, then that pesky anger arises, and I tamp it down and find equilibrium in depression. The addiction issues arose even before my loved one actually started using drugs. And the denial was strong with me.

I grew up believing there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. I had dreams of going to the Olympics for track and field. I thought I was going to be a psychologist who would pretty much cure my patients with a wise look. I believed my life would and should be smooth. I had an illusion of being in control of everything. HA.

When I had to face the fact of NOT being omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, that. rocked. my. world. Talk about building your house on a foundation of sand. I had looked that sand over, proclaimed it solid as anything you’d ever want, and proudly built my entire edifice stone by stone, belief by belief, on that shifting, undependable base.

Apparently I didn’t get the memo that other people were not going to follow my prescribed plan for them. And by other people, I of course mean our children. Nope. They have their own dreams, their own plans, their own illusions of control. Who knew? Not I. And when my house started to crumble, I ran around shoring up this corner, applying useless repairs to that loadbearing wall, and imagining that my fixes were helping something.

But as time went on, I didn’t have enough hands to fix all the leaks and shore up all the crumbling parts. When the concept of illegal drug usage by my child came into my awareness, I simply could not comprehend what I was hearing. Surely it was a passing phase. Surely this child would be like me as a child and reject these illegal substances and activities. Surely this child would find his way in just a matter of minutes to a more wholesome, life-affirming way.

Instead, he found his way to addiction, arrest, jail, court, rehab, and lied about it all.

Along the way, I learned that me continually trying to fix this edifice I had erected was actually called “enabling.” Enabling is when you engage in behaviors that you think are going to help resolve a problem, and instead they exacerbate the problem. I think mothers are particularly susceptible to this. After all, we had this grown up addict in our wombs. We nursed them as babies. We held them and sang to them and walked slowly, seeing the world through their eyes.

Since his rehab days, two mothers I met there are grieving the permanent loss of their sons. Heroin is a horrible, horrible drug. Probably the rest of them are, too, but that heroin is the spectre of death disguised as a good time. I’ve been thrilled with every positive step our son has made toward recovery, toward sobriety, toward wholeness.

This is a child who loves his mama. He hates to see me sad. He grieves when he feels he has disappointed me. But no matter, NO MATTER, what I have ever said or done, it has not been enough to puncture the impenetrable wall of his grief and pain. Drugs have been enough, at least for short periods, but they of course have their problems as well.

To my utter bemusement, I have continued to speak affirmation, love, acceptance, and life, and he has continued to reject them for the short-term solace of an artificial high. Perhaps if I had ever been addicted, I would understand. I think I have a tiny window into the concept in how I have dealt with food at times. Someone thinks eating this food will eventually kill me? I don’t care! I want it now! Addiction is a liar and a thief and will not hesitate to take everything from you and those you love. Addiction also makes you a liar and a thief which then just perpetuates the problems. You get deeper and deeper into owing others for their attempts at mercy and grace. And while you’re getting deeper, you make choices that get you in even deeper.

We were under the impression that drug use was in the past. Denial is so easy to embrace. You want so badly to believe that the things you are seeing mean something other than that drugs are back in the picture. With our rosy glasses on, we chose to provide something to him, but this time, we said, would be the last. We wrote up a contract for repayment and behavioral expectations and consequences that would be real if he did not follow through on what he signed on for.

About a month after we all signed the agreement, at the end of December, I was presented with incontrovertible evidence that the agreement had been broken, that the lying was going on regularly, and that nothing we had said or done was enough to beat the lure of the drugs.

To his credit, he fulfilled his end of the agreement by moving out immediately. And this time, I knew that he had burned some serious bridges. I still love him and I always will. I no longer see it as my job to convince him that life without drugs is better than life with drugs. Nor am I trying to convince him of how valuable he is, how brilliant, how talented, how gifted, how beautiful, and how loved.

I’ve given up the last vestiges of imagining I have any control in the situation. So after years of the depression/anger/depression cycle, I have found some sort of acceptance. IT’S SO HARD THOUGH. I know that some addicts find their way out, and some do not. I long for him to find his way out of addiction permanently, to find a way of life that is fulfilling and brings his brilliance and his gifts to the world. And I’m at a place where I realize that HE is going to have to drive the vehicle of his own autonomy and agency on his own path.

The resources are there. He’s smart and has the capacity to be resourceful and creative. But those first steps of humbling himself, acknowledging the stumbling, coming to the end of his illusion of control, finding and celebrating the things he actually can control and then controlling them, taking responsibility, beginning to make amends for the damage he has caused to himself and others; the resources are there. He has what it takes, but he will have to be the one to discover that for himself.

The portrayal of the stages of grief here are misleading in their symmetry and equal length, but accurate in the content of each of the phases. I’m at the junction of dialogue/bargaining and acceptance and I’m experiencing empowerment, security, self-esteem and meaning more and more. I wish the same for my beautiful boy. ♥

Art Appreciation with Kepler

No school or work yesterday for us. I recently saw the Swoon exhibit with my friend and I was eager to share it with Greg and Kepler. Seizing the day, we ventured downtown to the Contemporary Arts Center.

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(Just as an aside, first of all, the sky did not look like this since it was snowing! Secondly, as I have only approached the museum from the north, on the ground, I didn’t even know how cool the exterior is until I searched for images!)

We’ve been places with Kepler. He likes to rush on to the next thing. In an art museum, that can make it a little challenging to just … let … art … flow over you. (H/T to the character of Nick from the Big Chill for that phrase.) After a little flitting about, I noticed he settled down and started responding to the emotion of the pieces.

I loved seeing his response to the different displays. He had Greg’s iphone to carry around and snap photos. I had him take a picture of me in front of this Swoon piece because he looked at it and said, “Mom.” He sensed the maternal aspect of the woman and associated it with me.

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His favorite piece of all was on the top floor in the Unmuseum. It looks like an old Airstream trailer, but is actually fabricated out of signs from Route 66. And it ROCKS! Like, literally. You can stand inside and rock it back and forth. He decided that he would like to have it in his room. So, we are thinking about how we can create something kind of similar for him.

And I’m just going to mention my ketogenic diet here again because prior to starting to eat this way, I would NOT have dreamed of going downtown to the CAC. I would have been laying around waiting for my next feed, like Fiona and her ilk. I have so much energy now. I love feeling good. It’s so precious after feeling so bad for so long. And we made some sweet, sweet memories.

The Swoon exhibit is marvelous, as is “A Shout Within a Storm” by Glenn Kaino. And if you haven’t been to the Unmuseum, (trust me), you want to go.

As Kepler’s (and my!) favorite book, Only One You, says, “Appreciate art. It is all around you.” Good advice indeed.

On Being a Lab Rat: Fat Doesn’t Necessarily Make You Fat

"Remember, it's the journey not the destination."

YOU GUYS. I have just completed a 9-week stint as a research subject in a research project being conducted by The University of Cincinnati, on the topic of Early Intervention in Cognitive Aging. The purpose of the study is to evaluate whether changes in diet may improve memory ability. I qualified because I am between the ages of 50 and 65, I had a BMI of at least 30, and I was aware of a mild decline in memory ability. These things were confirmed through an initial phone screening.

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The long and the short of it is that a ketogenic diet, at least for this research subject, *did* have a positive impact on my memory ability (based on pre- and post-test scores). As a bonus, my scores on the depression inventory improved quite a bit. And as a bonus to the bonus, I lost 21 pounds of unwanted body weight. And the best bonus of all is that I am eating in a way that is healthy for me, with tasty and nutritious food. Oops. One more bonus. I am burning fat for energy now rather than carbohydrates.

Throughout the holiday season, I had a few temptations, especially my own pumpkin cake roll on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I missed having my annual Esther Price candy for Christmas this year. But those losses or deprivations are momentary compared to the energy I have all day long, the positive outlook that has replaced the Downward Dog of Depression, and the excitement of finding and creating new recipes that keep me on track.

Truth is, it’s hard for me to trust myself when I feel good. Feeling crappy is a much more familiar feeling, and much less risky. Nowhere to go but up when I’m down, so there’s always something better out there. When I feel good, I wonder if it’s all going to come crashing down while I’m caught unawares. The journey of this eating decision may require some adjustments along the way. I would never (haha) say that I’ll never eat another donut or lime chip, but I’m very content right now eating my high fat, adequate protein, extra low carb (<20/day) diet and as the number of days I’ve been doing this grows, I gain more confidence and enjoyment of the process.

Research subjects are still being recruited. Even if you don’t qualify, ketogenic eating is available to everyone. What seems to be the biggest stumbling block for people is the transition time between being a carb-burner and becoming a fat-burner. I felt pretty tired and didn’t have much energy until the switch happened. But if you can persevere through those days, the other side is pretty rosy.

Having grown up in the time of “low-fat” everything and being told over and over again how bad saturated fat is for us, sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind myself that those dietary recommendations came with some strings and haven’t actually produced the results they were supposed to produce.

I feel gratitude for the many organic and grass-fed options that are available these days both in the stores and online. It’s been two months. How long will I do this? What challenges and opportunities will arise as I continue? What might I be able to do in terms of sharing my knowledge, experience, and yummy food with others, either as gifts or as some sort of business? I don’t know the answers, but I’m very willing to live with the questions.

Does a ketogenic diet appeal to you? Do you have hesitations or reservations about it? What questions do you have? While I wait for your answer, I’m going to go make myself some Simple Truth Uncured Hardwood Thick-Slice Smoked Bacon and a couple of Grass-Fed-Hen Eggs. Yum!