The lost and found year – I need a makeover!

16 Oct

As I said in my last post, 2012 has been a bad year physically (although a great year in other aspects). One thing that has fallen by the wayside is my personal style. (Whatever that was before!) I have fallen back on my old standby hair cut, because of my eye surgery I haven’t been able to wear eye makeup (so why bother?!), and summer is always a bit of a fashion vacuum. Not to mention feeling out of shape and weird in my clothes. So I’ve decided I’m going to have a makeover. Since I’ve declared that the cataract is the end of my physical problems for 2012, and I’m 3 weeks out from that surgery now and things are returning to normal, why not?

I sent my husband and daughter a picture of a haircut that’s a good bit shorter, more layered, with long bangs (thanks to a couple of cowlicks, that’s the only kind I can have). They agreed at an alarming rate that it would look good – which made me wonder how bad my long layers and usual ponytails/buns really are! Part of me would really like to go all the way to pixie, but for 2 things. First, every time I’ve done it I’ve HATED it and immediately started growing it back, mostly because it’s actually a lot harder to take care of than longer hair and you have to do something to it every day. (Okay, some of you do something to your hair every day, I know. I don’t. That’s what ponytail holders are for!) And second, I’ve made my family and my hair stylist promise to do an intervention should I mention cutting my hair short, so I wouldn’t get away with it anyway.

This is what I’m going for (although I don’t anticipate it being in my eye all the time!). Shoulder length, with long, side-swiped bangs. I am panicking a bit at the problems I”ll face in my convertible, exercising, and on the boat, since it won’t all go in a ponytail… But it’s not a makeover if you just do the same thing, right? And she looks pretty perky about it…

There’s a better view. The actress’s face shape is similar to mine, her hair color and texture are similar to mine… Theoretically, this is a slam dunk, right? (Just nod… This is a question along the lines of “does this make my butt look big.”)

I also can start wearing makeup again. I’m down to one drop of 2 meds just once a day, so I no longer would be washing the makeup into my not-quite-healed eye. I’ve thrown away all my old makeup to make sure I don’t bring any bacteria into the situation. If I can get my act together in the mornings, I could actually look… well… pulled together. And since it’s fall, that’s a whole lot easier than a month or two ago! (Is it just me, or is summer in the South cause for completely giving up on fashion?)

So next time you see me (after Thursday), watch out! I’ll probably look just like this gal. Okay, that’s a stretch. But hopefully I won’t look like a tired soccer mom. Which, since I hate soccer, is a sad thing. Just think, every day in November, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo looking like a pulled together fashionista. Probably.

Returning to health and fitness – here I go

8 Oct

If you’ve been reading this blog (as sporadic as I’ve been at posting!) you know that 2012 was a seriously crappy year for me healthwise. Here’s the breakdown:

  • January  –  started 2 months of physical therapy for plantar fasciitis. At this point I could wear sneakers. The longest I could wear anything else is 2 hrs.
  • February  –  diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia. Leading up to this was 2 years of chronic sinus infections and bronchitis, and crippling exhaustion.
  • March  –  increasing migraines. I went from 3 a year to 2-3 a month at first. By July I was having 20 a month.
  • April  –  finally have some energy, and iron levels good.
  • May  –  great trip to Uganda, but one of the worst migraines of my life.
  • June  – migraines increasing. Otherwise doing ok.
  • July  –  tested positive on a blood test for celiac disease. Can’t do a biopsy until August.  Also in July, I saw a neurologist and got meds for the migraines. Hallelujah.
  • August  –  have the endoscopic biopsy for celiac. 10 day wait to find out I don’t have it. Same day, I find out I have a “monster” cataract.
  • September  –  have cataract surgery. I can’t read for a week, they think I might have a retinal tear (I don’t) and it takes awhile for my eye to adjust.

Now, in light of this list, you might think it’s stupid for me to assume that this cataract saga is my last 2012 health issue. And you might be right, but I’m an optimist. I’m also just tired of the whole thing, so I’m going with the “I’m done with all that crap” approach to my life at this point. Fall is here. I can wear boots. I’ve been enjoying my gas stove for the first time today. Call me crazy, but I’m moving forward.

So what I discovered today is that this year has left me woefully out of shape. I knew it. I felt it. I’ve felt uncomfortable in my skin for some time, not because I’m “fat” but because I knew I was losing muscle and gaining fat, even while staying about the same size. I’m now cleared for exercise (2 weeks post op and things are going pretty well, thankfully!), so today was the day. Today, I started my “get back in shape” quest. And boy, was it depressing.

Not that long ago (2 1/2 years) I did Insanity. It sucked, but I did it. I’ve always been strong. Today I did the “Intro” workout on a Bob Harper workout DVD and learned a new fact: I’m really not very strong anymore. I’ve done the 1 hour workout on this DVD before, a couple of years ago. The whole one hour. It was hard, and I didn’t do every rep, but I did it. Today, the 20 min workout using 5lb weights was hard. No lie. I couldn’t do all the reps. 90%, but not all. And my heart was beating hard, and I was sweating. Not good.

Obviously, looking at the stupid list of ailments from the year of 2012, none of them were anything I could have prevented. (I eat an iron rich diet, I just don’t absorb it well – my kids have the same problem, we learned.) I haven’t sat around eating bon bons all the time. My calorie count was down from usual because I knew I was being sedentary, both because of the ailments and because I’ve spent this year writing. So I’m not mad at myself like I would be if I just “let myself go.”  That is not to say that I’m happy!

I’ve got a long row to hoe here. It’s going to suck, because, unlike the only other time in my adult life I was really out of shape (post baby, bed rest, etc), I’m not 31. I’m 47. I’m perimenopausal. My hormones are screwed up, my metabolism is in flux, and the things that always worked before aren’t going to work the same now as they used to. I’m in “mid life” now, and whether or not I feel it emotionally/mentally, it’s a reality in my body. I don’t want to look like the Crossfit competitors on Pinterest, I just want to feel well. I want to be strong enough to go to Uganda and get through long days of working and stress and not die. I want to enjoy my family and not have any physical complaints (wow, would that be awesome! Probably for everyone… It’s been a year of complaints, I guess.)

So this isn’t about “I’m going to be a fitness model in 90 days.” It’s not about jumping into P90X or Insanity or any other intense program. I’m going to work my way back to fitness with DVDs and walking, probably some gym time as it gets cold (I don’t like the gym much, I like “real” stuff). I’m tracking calories for a little while until I get my metabolism jump started (my daughter found a great app called MyFitnessPal, and I’m using that). I’m not obsessing (although if I can’t walk down the stairs in the morning, I may have a moment of magic words). I’m just trying to put the “year of ailments” behind me and embrace the other theme of 2012 – the year of God’s faithfulness.

Because ultimately, that’s what it’s been. Through all that crap (I tried to think of another word, but honestly, the others were worse!), I’ve written 4 novels and a screenplay, published 2 with another a week or so away, and will be doing NaNoWriMo next month. I’ve edited 4 books. I’ve had a hugely successful trip to Uganda. I’ve had great family memories. God has carried me through all these problems with, really, only about 3 short freak-outs. I think that’s pretty good! He is faithful. Always. And that will be my memory of 2012… God is faithful, always.

What will be the legacy of your 2012?


“It all falls apart at 40”

21 Sep

I went to TJ Maxx a couple of days ago and overheard two women talking. The younger one was looking at a form fitting dress, and the older said she should get it. The younger woman said, “Well, I’ve had plantar fasciitis and can’t run — I’m trying to get clothes that hide my body, not show it off.”

The older woman said, “Yeah, it all falls apart at 40.”

This is a pretty common mantra, even these days with the “40 is the new 30” math. Things just seem to happen to our bodies that we can’t control, even when we’re doing the things we can control like eating healthy and exercising. Honestly, it’s pretty crappy as universal truths go.

My grandmother will be 99 in two and a half months. I have almost never heard her complain about her body, ever. I grew up in the same town as my grandparents, traveled with them extensively throughout my childhood and teens, and she’s stayed at my house in recent years for a month at a time. suffice it to say, I’ve spent a lot of time with this lady. And I can probably count on my hands the number of times I’ve heard her complain about her physical condition, even when she was going through radiation for salivary gland cancer, after a car accident (she wasn’t driving) where her back kept spasming, when she broke her shoulder years ago.

I asked her a year or two ago how menopause was for her, and she was genuinely confused for a minute. She didn’t remember, she said. Didn’t remember? I can only assume that’s because it wasn’t the terrible, awful, no good, very bad thing it is made out to be these days. I can’t see her drinking barley green shakes or taking whatever Chinese herb is the latest cure, nor using hormone replacement therapy, at any rate. She probably barely brought it up to her doctor!

My grandmother has had remarkable health and longevity, but she still has high blood pressure, has had a blood clot, has been widowed, has lost most of her friends, has had cancer and broken bones and all sorts of regular human ailments. What she hasn’t had is our modern culture’s obsession with her body. She has always dressed to the nines – if she’s in jeans and flats and a casual shirt and we decide to go to lunch, she has to change. She wore high heels until she was 90. She wears makeup, and goes to the beauty parlor once a week to have her hair done. She loves jewelry. But she is now, and has always been in my memory, content with herself.

What I mean by that is, she’s known how to age gracefully. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be as healthy as we can be, and take care of ourselves, and try to present our “best face.” (And yes, I’m guilty of going grocery shopping in my workout clothes, too!) But I, and so many of my peers, are really caught up in looking like we did when we were 20. One glance at Pinterest and you can find 40-somethings pinning women with 10% body fat, six-pack abs, harsh workouts, fad diets, and all the rest. I find myself feeling uncomfortable in my body as much or more as I feel good in it. Am I fat? No.

So what is our problem? Why can’t we be content to just be the best – and normal – forty-something we can be? Mostly, I blame the media. I know, I know, it’s fashionable to blame the media for everything. That doesn’t mean it’s not true.  Madonna. Demi Moore. Heather Locklear. Brooke Shields. Christie Brinkley. Elle McPherson. Cindy Crawford. They’re our age, and look decades younger. Why? Mostly, it’s their job. (Yes, good genes play a part!) They are paid to look good. Their lives really revolve around their physical appearance and what jobs that can get them. And if that were my job, I’d have to have trainers and chefs and nutritionists and plastic surgeons on speed dial, too.


The problem for the rest of us is that we don’t live like that. We live out our regular, albeit extraordinary, lives without a cavalcade of makeup artists and stylists and trainers, in clothes we can afford, with hair going gray and bodies that are, quite frankly, almost half a century old. My body’s given me decades of great service, so why am I always complaining about/to it? Why don’t I appreciate the fact that I am (mostly) healthy, I’m strong, I can do pretty much anything I set my mind to (even if I get a lot more tired doing it)? Why am I obsessed with the fat around my waist?

Just look around you! We have a schizophrenic society. People are either obese or obsessed with being thin. There are fewer and fewer in between, fewer and fewer who, like my grandmother, do their best to be healthy but fully accept that 47 is not actually the new 27, and 67 isn’t the new 47… And that’s ok. We lose something when we are so focused on our bodies. We lose something when we are so discontent that sitting in the car leads to an internal debate about whether our pants fit right. We lose something when all we see is what is wrong with our bodies instead of all the things that are miraculously right.

Elle McPherson

What we need to be is strong enough and healthy enough to live the life we’ve been given. If you’re not that strong and healthy, then by all means, undertake a program to get you there. Not get you in size 6 jeans – get you to the place where you can live. Where you can be all that you were brought into this world to be, and do all that you were brought into this world to do. If you were brought here to be a supermodel, more power to you. I believe people are called to be models and athletes and actors, and the condition of your body will be of much more import to your walk than mine. But if you are called to touch other people in ways that only you can do, and if you are called to travel for the Kingdom (near or far), and if you are called to love… Then be healthy enough, and strong enough to do that. Focus on that. The size of the pants you’re wearing when you give someone the gift of life really won’t matter.

Live, love, laugh… And keep on keepin’ on…

9 Sep

This has been one of the strangest years of my life, and for those of you who know me, that’s saying a lot! On the one hand it has been truly amazing – we had one of our best Uganda trips ever; I’ve published a book; have a book in process; another slated for October; have written 3 almost) novels and a screenplay, winning 3 NaNo events. The kids are doing great, my husband’s first book was just published (and it’s awesome, if I do say so myself – and not because I edited it!), and things are really shaping up after years of thinking about “the next thing.” So honestly, it’s been a great year.

On the other hand, so far this year, I’ve done 2 mos of physical therapy for plantar fasciitis; found out I was anemic;  went from 2 migraines a year to 19 in one month between Feb and July (and found out that was caused by the iron supplements!); had a positive blood test for celiac disease, an endoscopic biopsy, and was thankfully told I don’t have it; and then developed a “monster” cataract in my left eye, for which I’ll have surgery in 2 weeks. Again, for those of you who know me, the amazing thing about this list is that I didn’t do anything to cause any of those things! No rock climbing, dropping things on my foot, throwing out my back. Just good, old fashioned, “gotchas.”

Obviously, the first paragraph far outweighs the second, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t had times of feeling overwhelmed and depressed with the constant barrage of physical ailments. There have been times when my heart cry has been, “Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him.” Because what I know beyond knowing, and what has been shown to be true my entire life, is that God is good. All the time. God is faithful. All the time. God’s strength is sufficient. All the time.

And the question can never be, “Why me?”  The question, especially if you look at what is going on in the world, must be, “Why NOT me?” Why should I be spared, when so many people are going through so much worse? Why should I be spared suffering when I live one of the most blessed lives on the planet? To be honest, sometimes that’s not the way my brain works, although my heart knows it to be true. But truth is truth, and doesn’t require my belief to remain truth. I find that very comforting!

2012 has been very, very good, and pretty bad. Not horrid. Not awful. But, at times… Well, at times it’s sucked. But in the grand scheme of things? God 1, Mayans 0.

The over-40 woman’s kryponite

14 Aug

Hot flashes? Nope. Spreading waistline? Nope. Inability to remember why you left a room? Not even close. What is it?

The magnifying mirror.

This is a double edged sword. We now need reading glasses, which means we need a magnifying mirror to pluck our eyebrows. But flip that mirror over to the magnifying side, and YIKES!

Ever wonder why do many over-40 women’s eyebrows look like this?

Because it’s better than looking in that magnifying mirror. Especially if it’s a LIGHTED magnifying mirror.

So cut us some slack. We can’t see ourselves without our glasses anyway.

I may have a new career…

11 Aug

Making peanut butter. I just made the most amazing homemade chocolate peanut butter. Seriously. It’s… wow. I tweaked a recipe I found (a good bit – the recipe was blah, included coffee — unnecessary — and not nearly enough chocolate), but I wouldn’t say it’s perfected, so I’m not sharing it with you. Just enticing you with this amazing deliciousness…

chocolate peanut butter

I can’t express to you how delicious this is! Sweet, salty, chocolatey, peanut buttery…

A couple of weeks of limbo

10 Aug

I found out yesterday that I had a positive blood test for celiac disease. It was definitely God’s timing, because the kids and I had all had blood work done 2 weeks ago, and never heard back. I finally called yesterday to see what had happened. But if I’d found out soon after, there are a lot of things that would have been difficult to do, so I’m glad. I’m also glad that the kids’ tests were fine. At any rate, I have a biopsy scheduled on the 27th which will either confirm or rule out celiac (CD). If it’s inconclusive, I’ll have to do a genetic test. woohoo.

So at the moment, I’m doing my OCD thing, and immersing myself in research about CD. I had a hard day yesterday as I got started. Strangely (unless you know our family, I guess) the first thing that really hit me hard was that Advil liqui gels and Advil Migraine (and Advil PM, but we don’t use that) all have gluten in them in the US. (Not in Canada.) This is a pretty big deal, but I do have an acquaintence in Canada who will probably send me some, so I guess it’s ok. Second was beer. I don’t drink a LOT of beer, but since I had to give up drinking wine, I drink beer. And I love beer. Most gluten free beer is microbrewed and not widely available, except one by Anhauser Busch. So that sucks.

Then I got into how little gluten it takes to cause a problem – 1/47th of a piece of bread. I am not having stomach issues, so I’m better off than most, but still, it will damage the intestines. So you have to be crazy diligent about everything. Soy sauce? Most has gluten. Candy bars? A lot have gluten. Ice cream? Some has gluten. Even someone using a spoon to scoop out something with gluten and then your food is bad. Even a crouton crumb on your salad is bad. French fries fried in the same vat of oil as breaded foods is bad. I am not an anal-retentive person. I am not one to grill everyone about how they cook my food! I read labels, and don’t eat a ton of processed food, but apparently life becomes somewhat of a minefield when one has CD.

And this is not how I live. I LIVE. I trust God. I live in the freedom He’s given me. Looking at my M&Ms to see if I can eat them (yes). Snickers? No. It’s crazy! I don’t have time for this! Nor does it suit my personality AT ALL.

I am going through “food grief.” If the biopsy is fine, it’ll be Christmas in August, but if it’s not, at least I’ll be prepared. I’m giving it to God, first and foremost – He’s not surprised, even if I am. He doesn’t give us more than we can handle, so I can handle this if I have to. Secondly, probably immaturely, I’m going to be eating pizza and spaghetti and enjoying my Stella for the next two weeks. Probably doing some baking, too, since gluten free baking is both a pain, and less than satisfying. Key lime pie with graham cracker crust? Oh yeah, it’s going to happen before August 27, let me tell you!

Are you living gluten free? A lot of people are. I’ve been reading that they estimate 1 in 100 people have CD, and more have gluten intolerance/sensitivity. Of course, many people have gone gluten free for no medical reason, too, since it seems to be kind of “in.” For whatever reason, if you’ve done it, do you have any tips? I’ve read some good ones on other sites about traveling, especially in airports (kind of discouraging, although airport food is always kind of discouraging!). If I don’t have CD, it’ll still help others, and if I do, I’ll need all the help I can get!