The iron have me so bazodee…literally!

Morning!

My heading is the lyrics from a song about steelpan music: the “iron” is the steelpan music and “bazodee” means overwhelmed, confused, dazed in Trinidadian. Now, the original song was about enjoying steelpan music, but my heading means that my actual iron levels are low and I am literally overwhelmed, confused and dazed.

A few weeks ago, I collapsed in the washroom. I passed out for a few minutes and when I woke up, I had twisted my ankle and bitten through my lower lip. After getting bloodwork done and going through the agonizing twenty four hours after being told I had to come in to discuss the results and when I actually met with the doctor, I was told that there was virtually no iron in my blood. Sigh.

As a vegetarian, we’re always reminded that we need to keep up our protein. I do try to include protein in every meal and those close to me know that I’m always lecturing about protein in meals. Somewhere along the line, I guess I lost sight of the iron part of things. The doctor met with me and discussed the levels and while he didn’t try to make me start eating meat again, he did ask me a few times if I would consider eating meat, “not that I want to judge your lifestyle”. Hmmmm…

I can’t actually fathom chewing on and swallowing a piece of chicken or bacon on salmon. I actually can’t. Now I know the body is resilient and if I wanted to, I probably could actually do it, but the reality is that I’m not going to. The fact remains that I have been a vegetarian since high school and can’t go back now. If I can incubate a human and take care of two of us on this diet, I can surely take care of myself, right?

So like the lactose intolerant revelation a few months ago, now there’s this bombshell. I mean, seriously? Does my body want me to eat nothing at all? Sigh. To add insult to injury, since last year, I have given up juice and pop and have stuck to drinking only water and tea: I go through a cup of orange pekoe in the morning, 750 ml a day of green tea at my desk at work and then I drink unsweetened homemade iced tea at home (that I brew myself) and on doing my iron absorption research, I’ve come to find out that properties in tea (tannins) inhibit iron absorption. Here’s the kicker: tannins only affect iron absorption in iron found in non-meat sources. So essentially, because of the all-day tea drinking, my body has not been able to absorb any iron I’ve been consuming. What the f….annoying!

So now what? Now what do I do? I fear I might have to become those meal-planning, own-food-bringing, nutritional-content-scrutinizing people. I don’t have time for all of that! Can’t I just eat three beets and call it a day? I never want to reject food or bad talk food or shun food. I like to eat!! I have been doing research and my loved ones have been providing a lot of information and advice for me to consider, so that’s good, but I still can’t be bothered! hahahaha…I’m kidding.

Over the last three days, I’ve had to make changes. I have to take my iron supplements twice a day with food, but not with dairy (since that inhibits absorption) and try to have it with Vitamin C (which helps absorption), but after one hour of having tea, which affects absorption. It’s like an algebra formula! I just want to eat!!!!

Okay, enough with the whining.

I’m not invincible and despite how free-wheeling I want to live my life, diligence and organization is necessary. The amount of attention my body needs is growing and so to be healthy, I have to make a concentrated effort. No more fainting spells and low energy because I have my life to live. I have a son to raise and a job and a boyfriend and hobbies and this blog and my family and my Fitbit to keep busy. I don’t have time to have low iron!!! Right now, I have to work hard to get the iron levels UP and then maintained! That will take some effort, but pretty soon, it’ll be automatic and my body will be happier and I will be happier. This low iron thing is not going to keep me bazodee!

So on I go, one meal at a time.

Have a good week!

Vikera

One step at a time

Good morning!

So I got an activity tracker. It’s a long story, but the gist of it is that we got one for one of my besties and I thought it was a brilliant idea, so I got one too. I know what you’re thinking, “Laziest woman in the world, why are you wasting your money?” 

I’ve never been a fan of exercise. Everybody knows that. I have spent quite a bit of time avoiding it actually. In recent years though, I’ve been trying to get my act together and be more active. So here I am in 2015 with an activity tracker masquerading as a person who gives a damn about the inches on her waistline.

Let me tell you why I like this device: it makes it all count. Because I’m prone to sloth, there are times when it’s hard to get motivated to even get the bike out from the balcony, let alone go for an actual bike ride, for example. Because my Fitbit tracks the activity from the time I get up in the morning, I’m not starting from zero by the time I have an opportunity to ‘exercise’.

The common goal for a step count is 10,000 steps a day. When I first got it, I put my goal as 5,000 because I didn’t know how many steps I did – I didn’t want to get discouraged. In the first few days, I smoked that goal. Then I went to 8,000 and soon enough I was getting close to that, so I decided to go whole hog and try to get 10,000, so I could push myself!

Here’s how my Fitbit has been working: by the time I get to work in the morning, I have 1,000 steps logged, half of them from my all-over-the-place method of getting ready in the morning. T-minus 15 minutes to walking out the door: oh, I forgot to pack my lunch (kitchen)…dammit, where’s my red shoes (my bedroom)…ack! my hair (washroom)…where’s that thingamabob (living room)? Hey, is Kidlet ready? Um, what IS he doing in his bedroom (Kidlet’s bedroom)? Vitamins (kitchen)! Hmm…did I put on deodorant (washroom)?

Basically, being disorganized is a very active lifestyle!

This continues on throughout the day at work too…walk over to the printer waiting for my printout out…oh wait, I never did hit “print” did I? walk back to my desk, hit “print”, walk back to the printer then walk back to my desk. Rinse and repeat 10 times a day = 500 more steps. My daily flask of tea? Go to the kitchen at the back of the office to put the kettle on, get sidetracked with gossip, come back to my desk, forget to put the kettle on, go back, put it on. Get back to my desk, forget the kettle was on, go back to refresh the kettle, go back to my desk. Remember the kettle, go back to the kitchen then come back to my desk with tea…another 300 steps logged.

With the Fitbit, all the unintentional exercise counts. By the very nature of how it works, it’s very forgiving. For me and how my mind is wired, it works. It doesn’t judge my lazy days. It tells me, “Hey, you didn’t do exercise on purpose today, but you still logged 3,000 steps! Good for you!” Now, having said that I’d have to be asleep or completely immobile to log 0 steps a day, so it does reward very minimum effort. For me, though, I plan to not do less than 5,000 steps a day, so that’ll keep me moving.

So what’s the point of this? The point is that I’ve become much more active since getting this tracker. It validates the things I’m doing right and pushes me to do more. Because I had to be out the door early and was busy at work and didn’t take my lunch walk, by the time I came home last night, I had only logged 2,000 steps. I got my butt out for an hour of walking around my neighbourhood. The tracker tells me I walked 4 km. (Really? Who is this person?) I came back home, exhausted, invigorated and excited. Checked on my step count: 8500? Seriously? WTF! I didn’t even meet my goal. I wasn’t even mad. I did more than I would have that’s for sure. I tried walking on the spot, but after about a few hundred steps or so, my thighs were NOT amused, so I gave it up and passed out forthwith!

Anyway, long story short, I’m slowly changing my lifestyle to a more active one. One step goal at a time. For me to do this whole thing is a reflection of how I live my life. I really just am doing the best I can. I push myself when I want, but I also cut myself slack when I need it. I don’t want a perfect life, I just want to be happy and comfortable and healthy.

*******

Steps taken while I was typing this post? 0
Steps as a result of writing this post before work and now I have 10 minutes to get out the door: 1,000 😛

Have a great week, folks!

Vikera

PS. With all this walking, I’m going to have even more AMAZING thighs by the end of the year. EEEEK!

What if I didn’t what if?

Today, I want to share about fear. Fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of not meeting expectations, fear of actually being happy, fear of a host of irrational things. Where does it come from? Why do we let it grab a hold of our dreams and not let go?

I’ve always been an overly cautious person, choosing to look at least three times before leaping. Most big and small decisions have to be met with at a series of ‘what if?” scenarios. I’m not one of those “F**K IT!” type of people. Of course, I wish I was, and I am working on it, but I often wonder what would happen if I just leapt. What would happen if I just did what I wanted to do without thinking of the what ifs?

Recently, I thought about an experience I had years ago. I had gone out with a new friend and a couple other women. We had not hung out socially before, but it was a birthday, I don’t drink and I was child-free, so I offered to be the designated driver. The music was great, the dance floor packed, I looked good, I felt good. I was having a great time! As the night wore on, though, the women I had come with found dance partners and I ended up wandering on my own. I might have looked lost or bored or something because while I was walking through the crowd, I felt a hand on my hand and a voice say, “Hey, you wanna dance?” Even in the dark, I could see what a great smile this guy had. I thought, “Hmmmmm…” I was bored, I couldn’t find my friends and I thought, “Well, I’m the driver, so really it’s up to them to find me! Ha!” so I started chatting with this young man.

The conversation was engaging. He was an engineer, originally from an African country (I forget which one) and he had a great smile. We chatted for a while and I too started smiling. All the while I was thinking, “This guy is cute, he’s engaging, he smells good.” I don’t know if it was the fact that I was basically alone in a sea of strangers or I was just enjoying the attention, but in that moment, I remember thinking, “If he tries to kiss me, I would let him.” I didn’t stop to think about the what ifs. I didn’t stop to think,

“Is he here with someone?”
“Is he single?”
“Would my friends think I was a hussy if they walked up and I was making out with this guy?”
“Is he boyfriend material?”
“Am I sweaty?”

None of that came to mind. The only thing I was thinking was wouldn’t it be nice to see what happens? I would never get to know what could have happened because my friend’s sister found me and needed me, so I ended up just exchanging numbers with him but I never saw him again.

I still think about that night as The Time I Didn’t What If. For once, I was willing to put aside all fears, irrational or otherwise, and just live in the moment and do what I wanted, do what felt good. For that one night, I was a f**k it kind of person. I just did what I wanted, not what I thought was the right thing to do. I probably should have gone looking for my friends and I probably shouldn’t have been entertaining the idea of taking that guy back to my car (EEEK!) but I didn’t stop myself. I didn’t give into the fear. Even today, telling this story, I don’t feel judgement of myself nor am I worried about your judgement of me. I don’t feel regret for thinking any of it. Isn’t that interesting?

The point of this experience is for me to remember that I am capable of just leaping and that not every decision should be dissected and overanalyzed and that sometimes you just have to do what feels good and forget about the fear and the what ifs. Actually, I should say, remember that what ifs also include:

“What if you do this thing and it’s the best thing that ever happened to you?”
“What if I get my heart broken?” What if I fall in love and stay in love?”
“What if this is the biggest mistake of my life?” What if this is the best decision I ever made?”
“What if I look horrible?” “What if no one actually cares what I look like today?”
“What if everyone is thinking about my muffin top?” “What if everyone is looking at my smile instead of what I’m wearing?”

I guess the only what if I should be asking is,

“What if I did it anyway?”

V

Plan B

Morning!

Kidlet and I went to the drugstore last week. When I pulled into the stall, I hadn’t seen the box nor did I see it when I came out of the car to go into the store. It was when I was walking back to it, I noticed the blue box on the ground.

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Do not copy without asking, please.

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Do not copy without asking, please.

For those who are not aware, Plan B is emergency contraception. Apparently if the condom broke or you have unprotected sex or you forgot to take the pill, you just pop this puppy and no diapers and university tuition for you!

I saw the box and it reeked of desperation and anxiety. I didn’t get close enough to see the actual teeth marks, but it looked like there might have been some on it. She probably swallowed it with no water either, with one foot on the ground and the other in the car then tossed out the evidence and, with shaky hands and a prayer, backed out of the parking spot and on with her life.

Plan B. Hmm…what a concept!

When you’re young, you think you will have full control over the life you want. Sure, some people at a very young age, decide what they want to be or where they want to live or who they want to share their lives with, and they bring that into fruition. It’s an amazing thing – to make your dreams materialize. For the rest of us, we have to carve out our lives day by day, not knowing what the hell is going to happen next. Our whole lives are a series of plans – in no particular alphabetic order. How many times do we think we know how something’s going to go or what’s going to happen only to be thrown completely off track? Some of us don’t get to take a magic pill to keep us on track!

If only all your bad decisions and things you regret can be washed away by a pill bought over the counter mere hours after your poor choices. Wouldn’t that be lovely? It just does not work that way. All your choices are a sum total of who you are a person and they all direct your destiny. Even if this woman was able to avoid pregnancy, her life will be changed by the “close call” at the very least. Almost getting pregnant if you don’t want to be is sobering, especially if it’s by Random Guy. Perhaps that experience, once reflected on, will lead to self- discovery…or not.

I don’t know, but sometimes the more I think I can control my life, the less I see I have actual control. Everything that happens to me these days I take in stride. I try not to get carried away and freak out because in the end, not every situation has a Plan B box that I can just rip open and swallow and get on with my life, not even bothering to dispose of the wrapping. Sometimes I get a second chance. Sometimes I don’t. That’s just the way it goes…

I’ve just embarked on a new journey fraught with uncertainty and excitement. My heart and mind tell me to have a Plan B tucked away just in case, but the reality is that now that I’ve embraced the fact that life will do its own thing and we don’t get our script until it’s too late to change it, I’m much more relaxed about stepping forward. Sure, things could happen that I probably won’t like or enjoy, but it’s all part of living.

So I go forward, with an open heart and mind, a smile on my face and only Plan A in my back pocket!

V

Inside a human’s heart

Hello friends and followers and new visitors! Today’s post is a little longer than usual, but it’s a good one, I promise you.

So yesterday, I had a real life “Humans of New York” moment at the park yesterday.

Me and my stuff had taken over a park bench and an old man, came over and apologized to me because “my hip won’t let me take another step” and asked if he could sit down. Of course, I made room for him and, you know me, I almost immediately started chatting. As we sat there, with the sun bouncing off his aviator glasses, I realized that this man was old but not cold. He wore jeans, which surprised me, a very stylish combination of a sweater, collared shirt and t-shirt and, another surprise, canvas shoes. He had a British accent, which I liked.

We talked about the weather at first, remarking at how warm it was and how lucky we are to live in Vancouver. He said he had lived in Montreal for years and does not miss the snow. Many families made up of various components passed by as we sat there – dads, moms, children, dogs, scooters, bikes, skateboards – all out, making the most of the weather. I said, “Well, it’s a nice day to come to the park, anyway.” Then he started his confession:

“I lost my wife about a year ago and we would come here all the time. When I come here now, I come to think about her. We started courting when I was 17 years old and I’ll be 85 this year. It’s been hard without her.”

As I sat there listening to this stranger’s story, my heart squeezed a little bit. I know the sound of grief when I hear it. I know what it feels to reach a point where you are forced to contemplate a life you’re not ready for but got started anyway. Like a new diet, you continue to put it off, but you it’s something you’ll eventually have to do.

He went on to tell me about how good of a dancer she was and that everyone loved to watch them dance at the jazz club. “We never even had to talk about it. She was such a good dancer, we didn’t have to even discuss what we were going to do. It came so naturally to us.” To that I mumbled thoughtfully, “It’s because you were the same person.”

Anyone who has ever grieved deeply comes to a point where they just need to talk about the person. They need to keep the loss at bay. There is a need to bring the memory back and talk casually as if the person was at home or just stepped out for a minute. For as long as they are talked about, they are still real. I got it. I understood and it’s painful and it’s devastating, but that’s how the memories never fade. Because, I knew that, I let him talk. I let him tell me about how hard it is for him now, I let him tell me about how lovely she was. I let him confess to me that he wakes up from a nap in his chair and still expects her to be across the room on the sofa. I offered him a banana to which he declined because it doesn’t agree with him and he forgets which pills to take to help him digest “what’s the name of that thing bananas are full of again?” I replied, “Potassium.” I let him tell me that he forgets what he goes to the grocery store for and that the sweater he’s wearing is one that his wife bought him. I let him unload to me. I interspersed his story with snippets from my own story.

I told him about how years after my Mum had died, I called her cell phone, hoping against hope that she might actually answer and that she really wasn’t gone. I told him that when I got divorced, I didn’t know how to be or what to do or who I was and that I had just been recovering from that when I had to redefine myself again as a motherless child. I told him that grief is not something to “get over” despite what everybody says. It’s a condition that you learn to live with and don’t make anyone make you feel like you should be cured.

So here we were, two strangers on a park bench. Everybody around us was laughing, enjoying the unexpected warm February sunshine with their loved ones and here we were visiting our lost loved ones through stories and sharing. I wanted to hug him and tell him it gets better, but I couldn’t because it doesn’t. We connected in a wordless way, despite the many words we had exchanged. Both our lives touched in those moments.

He eventually got up and said he wanted to continue his walk. I told him not to run. He laughed and said, “Those days are long gone. I couldn’t even if I wanted to.” As he walked off, I noticed that he was hunched over and he walked with a limp, looking like all those old men whose body had betrayed them in the sunset years of their lives.

I sat there for a while and let what had just happened to me sink in. Later on, he walked past and said to me, “Goodbye love. I’m on my way back.” I looked into his glasses, held his hand and said, “It was wonderful to have met you,” and he said it back to me and he slowly walked away.

Wow! Where does the time go? We’re in the last week of February already! I still remember New Year’s! Time marches along, I guess, whether you’re on board or not. I barely have a plan together for this year and we’re two thirds through the first quarter. Seriously? Sheesh!

Anyway, before I get too hard on myself for not getting my sh…self together, I have to remind myself about my new philosophy. In my defence, it’s new, so I keep forgetting about it! Whoops!

When I wasn’t working last year, I had applied for income assistance from the Government (which I didn’t end up getting, so “Boo!). In the documents they gave me, there was a tracking sheet that I would have had to submit showing how much time I had dedicated to work search on a daily basis. While I never had to submit the form, at the time, I thought it was still a good idea to use it as a motivator. Pretty soon, I was using the form every day and it helped me get through those long days when I felt like I had accomplished nothing.

While decluttering a couple weeks ago, I had come across those lists and what I noticed was that I had started making lists, not only of jobs I had applied for, but other things I had done that day. Even looking at it almost a year later, I felt accomplished. For those of you who have ever had to be off work for any length of time looking for work, it can get very discouraging and I had figured out a way of motivating myself.

This brings me to my very motivating “Done List”. This weekend, I was very busy. I had gone out both Friday and Saturday nights, coming home in the wee hours both nights. Needless to say, yesterday morning, I did not feel particularly vibrant, but there was a lot of things I wanted to do. Nevertheless, I rolled out of bed around noon and started my day. I knew that it would be extremely easy to waste the day, justifiably because of exhaustion, and watch movies all day, but I was determined to be productive. I started my “Done List”.

So this list is exactly what it sounds like: a list of things I had done for the day. I put all the things on there that I didn’t have to do, but did anyway. I put things on there that when I woke up I had no real intention of doing, but managed to do. I’m not going to lie, “Get dressed” and “Brush teeth” were on that list! Once I was up and started making the list, the rest of the day rolled along nicely with me adding items on the list. I was able to get a shocking amount of tasks done, and I’m proud of yesterday’s list.

As I lament about the time flying by, maybe I should make a little ‘Done List’ for 2015 so far, so it doesn’t seem like I’m wasting time and have accomplished precious little.

My Done List as at February 23, 2015

  • Invested in a pair of hiking boots as a first step toward being more active
  • Learned how to make delicious cornbread, which will go a long way at any potluck I have to attend
  • Learned how to braid my hair from back to front (which is a wonderful accomplishment!)
  • Sticking it out with online dating – even going on a couple dates!
  • Accepting that I may not be able to go to Trinidad this year (which is HUGE for me!)
  • Decluttering the house (with two trips to the donation centre)
  • Rearranging my bedroom after 6 years of it being the same way
  • Keeping the inside of the car relatively clean
  • Bought a tablet, so I can work online easier
  • Starting experimenting with makeup
  • Was asked to present in a creative writing forum

Okay, at first glance, this list is not earth-shattering by any means, but for me and my life, this is incredible. Even while I was thinking about the things to put on it, I amazed myself. It feels good to have done so much in such a short time.

I guess, from this point on, it’s onward and upward, and if I do nothing else for the rest of the year, I’ve done quite a bit already! When I started to write this, I felt like I didn’t have a plan for this year, meanwhile, it seems like a pretty wonderful plan is already underway!

V

Welcome 2015! Good to meet ya!

Welcome to the first post for 2015! Happy New Year! May you reach your goals this year and may the happiness found in the coming year surpass the sorrows that will find their way to you!

After my birthday post a couple of weeks ago, I took some time off to center myself. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out what the heck I want this year to be. What should this ‘reset’ bring for me? I haven’t really been happy – truly happy – for a while now. I’ve been kinda drifting through parts of my life and not rocking the boat to prevent further unhappiness and discontent. You know what I mean? It’s getting comfortable with Bad, so as to avoid Worse. I’ve grown way too comfortable with Bad. It’s time to move back to Good.

In an effort to find Good, I definitely want to get a hobby: something I can do when Kidlet is at his dad’s and something in which I find fulfillment. Photography? Salsa lessons? Knitting? I really don’t know for sure, but I have to funnel my energy and free time into something creative and constructive. It’s the only way to breathe new life into this slowly deflating routine.

Speaking of changes, this year, I didn’t do any resolutions. My only goal this year is to grow up and be a real adult. Here’s what I consider to be a real adult:

  1. Anyone can drop by and my house will be guest ready.
  2. I can whip up a meal with a moment’s notice.
  3. I always have milk, eggs and bread in the house.
  4. I bake something from scratch regularly.
  5. My house reflects my personal style.
  6. I don’t have to swear to ratify my emotions.
  7. I listen more than talk.
  8. I make eye contact more.
  9. I can talk to someone new for 10 minutes and only ask questions.
  10. Only dancing at the grocery some time and not the whole time.
  11. Saying what I mean and not try to minimize my feelings.

Okay, so this list is not what I would consider to be profound by any means. I also would not call it a list of resolutions because I am not planning to methodically manifest any or all of these. This is what I consider to be the traits of an adult as warped as it may be. Will this be me this year or the next, it’s hard to say. I guess this is what I want to be when I grow up…whenever that is.

Lastly, on the romance front. I threw out Kidlet’s high chair yesterday. Sigh. I had been holding on to it for the past 6 years since we’ve been on our own. I had hoped that I would have it to use for my next baby. I kept it all these years. I felt as long as I had it, hope was still alive. It’s like that dress or pants you hold onto from the ‘skinny years’ as you hope and wish you’d fit in it again. It’s a sign of not giving up. Yesterday, I gave up. I cleaned out my storage and let go of some things from my old married life and my old dreams. I decided to make new dreams and to live in the now and not in the future. It’s not like it was the last high chair in the world and letting go of it doesn’t directly mean that I don’t want more children or I don’t want to share our future with someone. It just means my next child will have a different high chair, that’s all. This was a big step for me. It’s a move in direction of Good. Good is where reality is. Good is where the truth is. Good is where the present is.

Well that’s all I have for the first post of the new year!

Have a great week back to work and may productivity and laziness know their roles in your day! (<–whoa, that was good. I just made that up! Nice! 🙂 )

V