Monday, April 14, 2014

Back Up, and On the Horse

So, in a bit of a funk last week, I went in for my adjustment with the chiropractor, and, surprise, surprise, she mentioned my belly.

I'm pretty sure I let out an audible sigh.  She asked if I noticed if my belly felt more "full" after my last adjustment, since she's been working on it.  I said, come to think of it, yes, I feel pretty bloated!  Then I continued to say, "I know my belly is weak... "  And her response is exactly why I love her.  She stopped me, looked right in my eyes, and said,

"No, it's strong!  You have a ton of energy here.  All the work you've been doing for yourself is helping, and my job is just to help that strong energy flow better to all the other areas of your body."

I could feel the tears welling up.  Then she went on,

"The energy I feel in your belly feels like a baby, to me."  (She does a lot of adjustments for pregnant women.)

Mind you, she wasn't feeling my uterus.  It wasn't about that.  She knew what she was saying, and I knew what she was saying.  It clicked.  The energy is there, it's alive and well, it's strong... and I need to nurture it.

I'm pretty sure a tear or two escaped onto my cheek.

Suddenly, my entire outlook changed.  If there *were* a baby inside of me, wouldn't I nurture my body, helping the baby's body to grow and flourish?  And yet, with no one else but ME inside this body (my "self"), I have been so quick to dismiss the nurturing necessary for my own growth, in more ways than one.  I am so quick to think negatively towards my body, placing unrealistic expectations upon it, without backing those expectations up with the support it needs.  What my body needs, like a baby, is patience, love, and nurturing.

And so where I was once headed towards another dark time of lost hope, lost identity, lost connection of body and mind, I have decided to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again :)

(PS.  I heart Fred and Ginger.  Especially this movie - Swing Time.  Everyone remembers Ginger's dress from Top Hat with the feathers, but the dress she wears later in this movie is what inspired my wedding gown.  OK, I may as well share that link, too - I LOVE this dance number!)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sense of Self

Lately, I've been experiencing a bit of an existential... crisis is the wrong word, it's more of a reflection, really.

It began when my "Dream Team" of healthcare providers, the Massage therapist, the Naturopath, and the Chiropractor, all made comments, independently of each other, regarding my gut, my center, my solar plexus chakra, or whatever you'd like to call my belly.  I've known for a long time that my body and mind are intrinsically connected, and that when I feel physically unwell, my mind suffers as a result, and when I am worried (or, ahem, have CHRONIC stress), my body suffers.  So it was no surprise to me to hear them all say that my belly is "weak."

But, what it means is a little more daunting.

My belly, the most vulnerable part of the body, the part a dog attacks on another dog when they intend to kill, the part that is quite literally at the center of the rest of the body, both a source of energy, but also a receiver or energy for and from the entire body- is weak.  This center is associated with the core - a sense of self, in its most vulnerable and aware state.   A proclamation to the rest of your body (and mind), and a foundation to build upon from the inside out.

And mine?  Is weak.

Self esteem, individuality, self-worth, self confidence, personal authority, I am

When I asked the massage therapist what I could do to help this weak center, she replied, "You are doing all of the 'self-care' a person could be doing... but I just wonder... maybe the 'care' is there, but the 'self' is not.  Perhaps you need to get back in touch with who you are, what you enjoy doing, find yourself, again."

Later that week, the chiropractor showed me how my spine was so extremely curvy that my center suffered as a result, and that she suspected I was the type of person who "leaned" and "bent" for others my whole life.

I had always considered myself to have a strong sense of self, a strong sense of right and wrong, and a strong sense of awareness.  But hearing this, letting it sink in, and then embarking upon my existential "reflection," I had to admit that I had lost myself over these past 8 years or so.  I spent a lot of time grasping for self-definition over the next few days, and it hit me all at once, like a hundred empty uteri:

I am a (childless) mother.

It's no wonder I have a difficult time recognizing my self, what with the parenthetical identity, and all.  But it didn't take long, after my discovery, to realize that I knew this all along.  I wasn't wrong about my sense of self, my sense of right and wrong, my sense of awareness - I have known that I was meant to be "A Good Mother" since the time I was in grade school, and I have known it all throughout my marriage, too.  And, I have been just that.  It was the strength that I lacked.  The strength to actually admit to myself, and to others, that I identified myself as a mother.  I mean, really, that would have to be some IMMENSE strength to be able to say, out loud... to people... with ears,... "I am a mother!"  I do imagine the follow-up question would be along the lines of, "How many children do you have?" for which the reply would require not only massive strength, but massive testicles,  "Oh... none!"

Seriously?  Nahggonnahappen.

And so, instead, I have convinced others through the years that my SELF is someone else, a woman without children, content to be so, and while I'm at it, how can I help YOU to become what I secretly already identify myself as?
And somewhere along the way, I not only convinced everyone else... I convinced myself, too.  And, I lost my self.

I'm not quite sure where I go from here.  I'm not sure how to regain that strength of self, or how to nurture this oft-neglected identity.  I do know that a good mother is born from a good wife, and have been truly committed to making my marriage healthy and fruitful.  But I also know that I often feel resentful to be working so hard, 7 days per week, when I'd much rather be filling the role of Nurturer for our family - I do enjoy my job, but I would love to work because I want to, and not because I feel that I need to, and furthermore, because I have "no excuse" not to.  My self has been stuffed away and hidden all of these years because I have assumed so many responsibilities that have not nurtured it.  I need to regain a healthy balance.

But I'm not sure how.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Nativity Stones

I received a beautiful gift recently.  In fact, I have been receiving beautiful gifts from the most unexpected sources at the most unexpected times for years, now.  This blog has been a blessing in so many ways, and this is just one more example.

The recent gift was this gorgeous cross necklace, with an authentic stone from the birthplace of Christ inside of it!!  How amazing is that?!

I was beyond moved to receive this gift in the mail, directly from The Nativity Stones store, with well-wishes and prayers.  To have a piece of something that was present at the birth of Christ, so close to your heart... the thought overwhelms me.  And perhaps it will continue to bring blessings to my life :)

If you'd like one of your own, here is a special coupon for Easter:
30% Off + Free shipping coupon : EASTER2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

GAPS, Day something or other,... and Why I'm Doing GAPS

So here we are, a good 2 weeks into the GAPS Intro Diet, and aside from a few early depressive episodes, some midway-through PMS pimples, and some late upper abdominal discomfort, it has been going pretty well, methinks!

Before I share what my current Meal Plan O' The Day looks like, I will back up and elaborate on what lead me to GAPS to begin with.

First, there was Paleo, otherwise known as the Primal Diet, the Caveman Diet, or, by those who would take issue with what other people eat while simultaneously knowing very little about the foods they themselves eat, the "Aren't You Worried about Your Cholesterol??!!" Diet.  Paleo just made perfect sense to me.  Of COURSE we should be eating meat and fish who live and eat the way God intended, not being force-fed grains and standing in tiny stalls all day, or fish being "farmed" instead of wild-caught in their true environment.  Of COURSE we should be loading up our plates with the freshest variety of all of the greens available to us.  Of COURSE we should utilize as much of all of our foods as possible, leaving no waste.  To me, this was a no-brainer.  And once I read Dr Mary Enig's Know Your Fats, (which was like a brutal crash-course AP Chemistry, by the by), it not only made logical sense, but physiological, too.

I wasn't as strict on Paleo for the past year and 1/2 as I was in the first 6 months.  I did "cheat," on other foods that were REAL Foods (also excellent books), mostly raw milk and raw milk products, and sprouted grain sourdough culture bread from the farmer's market, and the occasional Udi's muffin or bagel - but in general, I was adhering pretty closely to the Paleo diet.

It was only after 6 months of Paleo when I saw a D.O. who specialized in nutritional deficiencies, when I discovered through my first Spectracell testing that I was deficient in just about EVERYTHING my diet was rich in!  B12 vitamin, B6 vitamin, choline, for crying out loud - - with as many pastured eggs, meat, and offals I was consuming (yes, offals, and not just the internal ones!) - how could this possibly be??!!  I was stumped.

And that's when, after trying some crap-supplements (pun not intended, but certainly fitting), I went on to find THE supplement, and wrote this post.

So, yes, my poop was regular and I felt great about it.  But... you know me.  Or, maybe you don't.  If you don't, you should know... I'm never satisfied with a "quick fix," particularly if I don't know how or why it's working, and why what it's 'fixed' needed fixing to begin with.  So, I kept exploring.

I found a TON of information and researched to death.  Like, I've watched that video and taken notes about 5 times.  I now own stock in Seeking Health (best supplements, truly, I've ever taken).

In the meantime, I also met 2013.  A year of crap that I was not personally eliminating.  A year of depression and adrenal crisis.  Someday, I'll share more.  I know you can hardly wait.

Which lead me to a Naturopathic Physician, a Massage Therapist, and a Chiropractor.  My dream team.  Another Spectracell test now showed, now after having been on what I believed to be an AWESOME mix of supplements, deficiencies in chromium, iron, and still mildly low in B Vitamins.  Huh??!!  I was, of course, quick to blame everything on genetics.  I ran out and got the 23 and Me Testing to discover there were even more issues in methylation, particular as it related to serotonin and dopamine (hello, depression).  I also kept researching causes of the body's inability to properly digest foods and get the nutrients from them... and found...

SIBO:  Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Now I was onto something!!  This was most definitely my issue.  I even invested in the breath test just to be sure (when I realized, wait, I don't need to bother with the test, because I'm going to be treating it the same way, regardless... with GAPS!)

I had already read some of the information floating around on GAPS and knew it sounded like a good idea.  For some people.  But I was already on a healthy diet, healthy supplement plan... so I didn't need it.  So I thought.

The latest deficiencies are being addressed, now, but most importantly, what I'm trying to do by working through the GAPS Intro and possibly staying on Full GAPS for about 6 months or so (to transition back to Paleo eventually) is to heal my minor gut issues, in order to better digest my healthful diet and no longer need a ton of supplements.

In the meantime, I'm going to be taking my Naturopath's advice:

Stress.  Stress stress stress.  And more of it.

I like how she says I *may* argue the chicken or the egg ;)  Um, I've been trying to PROVE the chicken for 2 years, now!!  But clearly, the egg of my chronic stress is a major culprit, here, that I can no longer deny.  Most days, I'm not quite sure how I'm standing, let alone working and cooking and everything else us childless folk do with our time.  But, the egg has cracked, and I need to suck it up and deal.

I'm feeling good on GAPS, but most importantly, I'm feeling good with my decision to do GAPS.  I am back on almost all of my supplements, now, and getting more energy by the day.

Now, for an envy-inducing, tantalizing look at my typical meals in Stage 3.  
{WARNING:  For those of you who are not yet blessed with food you need not chew, you may want to skip the following pics!}:

Ginger "tea" with honey, in my sea kelp detox bath.

A bunch of cra-..., er, stuff I threw into a pot together and boiled with chicken broth

Mama's first rendered tallow, saurkraut, and fermented fish

GAPS pancakes (I know, I feel bad even showing this picture, it's just not right to brag), and some kind of broth/soup with mashed up avocado

Snickerdoodle cupcakes for DH's 35th birthday.  Of which I had NONE, not even a lick of the homemade vanilla frosting that kept getting all over my fingers.  I am *that* disciplined.

Guacamole (seriously, even with only sea salt and cilantro, this was heaven)

Meet the master of gelatinous bone broth, ladies and gentlemen.  I don't think you're ready for this gelly.