More Wrinkles, Less Time

 

 

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Check it out- This morning I climbed on my bicycle and attended a yoga class.  Afterwards, I pedaled the long way home around Green Lake.

I realize this is the most boring start to a blog post and I have surely lost a few people already.  If you are still with me, allow me to explain why these events are so significant.

Normally, at 8:30am, I’m still in pajamas.  I’m probably attached to a machine that makes me feel like a stock animal as it noisily extracts liquid gold from my milk jugs.  Ruby is crying on the floor.  She is practicing tummy time, which really pisses her off.  NPR streams as I try to stay a(breast!) on world crises and ludicrous statements by Donald Trump.  My mug of coffee rests, growing cold before I drink half of it.  When I finally get myself together for the day and Ruby’s had a nap and nursed again, I load up the diaper bag.  I double check for spare outfits (I learned the hard way when there was an emergency shopping event for a new onesie).  Now we can leave the house!  But then… there’s a thunderous blowout requiring deep cleaning and new clothes.  Back to square one.

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Being a new mom has reconstructed my calendar.  I used to fill a day bicycling around picking up groceries, wandering the library, baking a cake and sweeping the floor then writing about it.  In present day, I am shocked at how few hours there are in a day.  The amount of time a tiny being commandeers is astounding.  I find myself torn between washing the last of the breakfast dishes and picking up Ruby as she whimpers in her crib.  A constant gnawing feeling that nothing is getting done resides in my gut.  This self inflicted weight causes my confidence to waiver, like I’m not contributing enough. Like I am not enough.

Sometimes I am frustrated and resentful.  I mourn the loss of my previous simple life. I miss pushing the pedals on my Trek, feeling the fresh air in my lungs.  I crave lacing up my shoes, popping in ear buds and dashing out for a jog (without first having to be milked).  I try to recall what having my own space was like.

I say all of these words to acknowledge my current state of being- to accept this new stage.  I would not trade anything for the immeasurable joy and love of sharing my life with my daughter.  In a blog post a few years back, I commented on “transformation” and what it means.  Today, as a mother, I’m beginning to grasp it.  Six months in and I have already learned so much about letting go.  It is a metamorphosis into a more expansive version of myself.

And it is so fucking wonderful.

(Ear muffs Ruby!)

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Matt and mini Matt on the airplane to California.

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A mini Papa!  Ruby is definitely an Alford.  We think she has my ears.

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Dads and babes. 

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Ruby and her PEPS pals chillaxin’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flip Flop

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Frustration, anger and melancholy came over me as I tried to tie my shoelaces.  One may think this is a simple task for a thirty nine year old woman, but when there is a giant basketball in the way (otherwise known as 39 weeks pregnant), it becomes much more tedious.  I lamented that I could not ride my bicycle, I couldn’t go out for beers with my friends, full wheel pose was out of the question and walking up a hill made me practically asthmatic.  I tried to explain this feeling of loss to Matt as I teared up, “This is not me!  In the summer I go backpacking, on long bike rides getting lost, and exploring different places to swim.  Now I drive and go to bed before the sun has fully set.”  I could go on and on, but basically I just wanted my body and my “normal” life back.  At some point it all dawned on me- nothing would ever be the same as it was prior to this pregnancy.  My body would not be the same.  My free time would be compromised.  All of my relationships would change, including the one with my husband.  I always said I never wanted to have kids because I was selfish.  I wanted to spend my money exploring the world.  I desired freedom to take off whenever I pleased.  I envisioned children strictly as non environmental, soul sucking, space taking, whining shackles.

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Now, here I am with a beautiful (non biased opinion) baby girl.  I cannot think of anything else I want to devote to right now besides her.  Matt says flip floppers (remember the John Kerry campaign?) are thoughtful people and should not be reprimanded for their change of heart.  I fully support this line of thinking.  As he and I stared, enamored, at our baby sleeping, Matt said to me, “Why did we wait so long?”  I explained that we had to check some things off our list and that everything is exactly as it should be.  Now we are eager to take Ruby out on bicycle adventures, exploring in the mountains and eating sushi.  I understand now the magic of your own child- the need to protect, the joy of seeing butterflies, cedar trees and rain through her eyes.  I wonder what she dreams about as her eyelids flutter in REM.  One day I will learn when she uses words instead of grunts.  This day and every day with this new precious life, I look forward to.

Luscious Light yet again redefined.

Dad's highlight of the day- tummy time.

Dad’s highlight of the day- tummy time.

Ruby's first hand knit sweater.  Thanks Aunt Sue!

Ruby’s first hand knit sweater. Thanks Aunt Sue!

This one time, there were 2.  Now there are 3!

This one time, there were two. Now there are three!

Ruby's first bush whack.  Yes, with this guy, we don't start with a groomed hike.

Ruby’s first bush whack. Yes, with this guy, we don’t start with a groomed hike.

Blanchard Mountain getaway.

Blanchard Mountain family getaway.

Let’s Eat Cake

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What does a woman do when her life has shockingly turned upside down, she is 23 weeks pregnant and she is brimming with freakish levels of hormones that toss her into emotional chaos?  Obviously, she bakes a cake.  Not just any cake.  She creates a double layer carrot cake, hearty with pineapple, raisins, toasted pecans and coconut, frosted thickly with a butter, cream cheese, lemon zest combination.  A beautiful, non-paleo, sugar laden delight for a volatile woman with an expanding alien belly like myself.

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I might say that shredding the carrots, measuring and combining all the ingredients into a cinnamon scented delicacy calmed my nerves.  I might also add that smoothing the creamy frosting over the layers was meditative and relaxing.  It could even be mentioned that I felt satisfied by accomplishing a tangible task.  The truth is though, that every evening after a protein/vegetable rich dinner, I looked forward to a slice of that sweet pleasure I had baked.  (I admit, a few mornings I may have a snuck in a few bites with my coffee.)  The cake gave me something to look forward to, something I knew would be a constant, at least for the next few days.

The evening before, I had explained to Matt between tears that my life had been going so well and that I was finally happy with my work.  I had developed a routine in which I felt l was helping, healing and satisfying people, as well as earning money.  One day I blinked and the snow globe effect turned it all upside down, leading to unstable ground.  I was forced into an uncomfortable situation, confronting people and making decisions I didn’t want to make.  My cortisol levels rose as I felt like a tight ball stress.  This was the worst thing for the little rascal growing inside me, but all I could do was start crying again.  Despite that I’ve lived a good 39 years and know everything is temporary, I still never expect the shakeup when it bursts through my door.

Clarity comes in many forms.  My family and friends have been and are incredibly supportive.  It’s amazing that a sophisticated gal of my age can still ring her dad in tears and he reassures her with calmness and reason.  It’s comforting to have friends in all walks of life, especially those who know the law, happily sharing their expertise.  I am also grateful for a husband who listens to and holds me while I snot all over his shirt and afterwards, he shares a hunk of carrot cake with me.

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Security may be a well paying job, health care, or a roof over my head.  It may also be the pure simple joy of slicing into a luscious layered creation, feeling the multiple textures on the tongue, inhaling the cinnamon scent and embracing this one particular moment.

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Insanity

Calmness in the storm.

Calmness in the storm.

“So this couple I know, they ride their bicycles for vacation, from place to place every day! They just find somewhere to stay each night!” Explains the woman next to me at the coffee shop to her friend. She tosses her perfectly colored and feathered hair with disbelief that anyone would actually do such an outlandish thing. Let alone call it vacation.

Her companion, adorned in purple Lululemon exclaims, “They must be quite disciplined and fit!”

The ladies settle in for a moment, pondering life on a bicycle and the insanity of it all. I wanted to lean in and tell them about my five months on a bicycle riding across the U.S. I want to tell them if I can do it, it can’t be that psychotic. I refrain and continue sipping my coffee.

It is always intriguing to learn what different people believe to be challenging or “crazy”. I cannot say how many people have thought I was crazy for some things I’ve done in my life, but I look at others and think I’m pretty typical. Watching back country ski videos of athletes soaring off cliffs and over trees speaks ultimate lunacy to me. Same with attending eight years of medical school after college, delivering a lecture in front of two hundred college kids and most wild of all, parenthood. The only comfort in taking the leap into parenthood is that many have done it before. I still can’t comprehend though, the financial fear, health concerns, massive life changes and so much more that one can’t imagine until in the situation.

A once submerged part of me has decided to jump off the cliff and join the madness of parenthood. Matt and I expect to walk out of the hospital with our new tiny family member on September 10, 2015. Of course, nothing ever goes as planned, but this is the goal. My sage friend Emily advised, “Pregnancy is the ultimate letting go of control.” My body has already become not my own as hormones have taken over, whacking me out. My blood is being sucked up by the flicker of life in my belly causing me to faint while shopping for a new bicycle. Talk about whacked out and awkward! This is just the beginning of the insanity.

I have become occupied with thoughts of this baby. I try to focus on positive energy of health and joy, but find myself waking in the night thinking about HOW. How will Matt and I do this? I sense his stress compounding, exhibiting itself in his knees, shoulders, elbows and anywhere else that will cradle his worry. We talk about the future daily. We ponder raising a child in our tiny five hundred square foot house with no doors to separate the screaming ones from the sleeping ones. We discuss finances and how to make it all work.

The insanity for now is in relinquishing control, accepting what comes and eating more ice cream/bread products than ever fathomed.

STOLEN

My bicycle and I in a field of kale.

My bicycle and me in a field of kale.

A little piece of me of me was taken last weekend when some dirty (insert bloody explicative here) (and another) (now a noun) stole my bicycle.  She was resting in our locked shed alongside Matt’s brand new sparkling custom adventure bicycle, which was also taken.  It’s so easy to get worked up about it when I think about the window being wide open and why did I have to sleep so soundly that night? Why didn’t we have a better locking system?  Why did they have to take my helmet too?  Whoever stole my bicycle has no idea the places she has seen.  The Sierra Mountain passes she traveled over, the Native American Reservations of Arizona, the swamps of Alabama and not to mention her many years of rambling around the Pacific Northwest.  I’m not one to become attached to objects, it’s much more than that.  My bicycle will be stripped and sold off in pieces and the dented steel frame decorated with junior ranger, Redwood Brewing and Vancouver Bike Coop stickers (in case you happen to find it) will be probably be tossed.  My Brooks leather saddle, which was melded to my bottom after a good 3000 miles on it, will now be remolded to someone else’s bottom.  Another scavenger will now use the bungee cords I gathered on highways across the U.S. that were wrapped around my back rack.  Yes it’s truly wonderful that no one was hurt in the burglary and yes it’s wonderful that Matt and I still have each other, but damn, I miss my bicycle.

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One of the best ways to rise out of depths of sadness is a luscious chocolate dessert,  obviously.  Especially when it is easy to make and has added health benefits.  My recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse is the answer- there must always be a light at the end of the tunnel.  The secret ingredient in this creamy satisfying treat is avocado, though you would never know.  Avocados have more potassium than bananas, protecting the heart, lowering blood pressure and helping nerves and muscles communicate.  The healthy fat in avocados maintain healthy hair and skin.  They also encourage the reduction of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL).  The other health benefit to my Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse is cocoa powder.  Cocoa is rich in cancer fighting antioxidants, which also maintain healthy blood pressure and regulate blood sugar levels.  To return to my main point of why this Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse should be consumed often is that cocoa powder contains serotonin and dopamine, the ultimate mood boosting agents.  A final reason to make this dessert and eat it, is that it’s almost Valentine’s Day and everyone deserves some good self love and self care.

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Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse

4 servings

2 large ripe avocados

½ cup cocoa powder

2 ½ tablespoons maple syrup

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

¼ cup coconut milk

Put all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth.  If blender gets stuck, stir mixture and add more coconut milk.  If you like it sweeter, just add more maple syrup.  Chill and serve, topping as desired- sliced bananas, whipped cream, toasted walnuts, chocolate chips, drizzle of bourbon, Maldon Sea Salt…..

“The beverage of the gods was Ambrosia; that of man is chocolate. Both increase the length of life in a prodigious manner.” - in Phantastica, Lewis Lewin

“The beverage of the gods was Ambrosia; that of man is chocolate. Both increase the length of life in a prodigious manner.” – in Phantastica, Lewis Lewin

Parting the Clouds

Seclusion.  Deprivation.  Sadness.  These are a few emotions that have settled in for me this January.  Yes, Part of it is the heavy grayness that drenches Seattle, but truthfully the weather has been abnormally nice.  I find it frightening that the crocus are already popping their heads out of the soil and that the temperature is supposed to be almost 60 degrees here on Monday in January!  What have we done???  BUT I digress.  My emotions are also based in this Paleo Reset Diet I’ve been following for the month from Chris Kresser’s book, Your Personal Paleo Code.  With all the restrictions comes a sense of isolation.  I don’t grab beers with friends.  I don’t have friends over for dinner.  How many people want to sip water, eat cauliflower rice and leave without dessert?  It just seems like incompetent entertaining.  I also don’t go out for coffee because why have drip coffee at a shop when I can make it at home?  (My suggestion for coffee shops is to start foaming full fat coconut milk for lattes.  What a delightful paleo treat that would be and is surely something cave people drank religiously.)

Perhaps all of this rawness is meant to surface now.  It is a month of pigeon pose in which I am peeling away layers of built up emotion and detoxing my body of sugar and anxiety.  This is the time for self study as well as to load up on healthy walks with friends instead of Garnacha.  It has also been a month for me to delve deeper into cooking.  I have had the time to experiment more with different ingredients.  I made my first batch of kimchi, which stunk up the house and now is stinking up the refrigerator.  I made plantain chips and plantain fritters.  I baked loaves of almond coconut flour bread, smearing slices with avocado and hot sauce.  I was recently sifting through my recipe box and came across a stew from an African cooking class I took a good 10 years ago.  I decided to make it, but of course with several alterations.  The stew turned out to be delicious and full of anti-inflammatory goodness from bone broth and turmeric.  It also paired well with plantain chips.

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Bastardized Version of Mseto

Serves 4

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 bunch kale, chopped

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon chili flakes

2 cups beef bone broth (any broth will do)

1/4 cup creamy almond butter

1 teaspoon coconut aminos or tamari

Heat a large pot over medium.  Melt coconut oil and and add onion.  Saute 10 minutes.  Add kale and salt, cooking another 10 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes with their juice, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, curry powder and chili flakes.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Mix in the broth, almond butter and coconut aminos.  Cover and turn heat to low, simmering for 30-45 minutes or vegetables softened and flavors melded.  I served it with a sprinkling of toasted almonds on top, but it’s equally good straight up.

 

I’m coming out here and now.  This isn’t easy to say as I think people have preconceived notions about me, but here it is.  I love sugar.  I adore oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cup ice cream, pumpkin date muffins….  Oh! I could go on and on, but you get the picture.  Plus, I’d better stop because it makes my cravings worse and this month, January 2015 is about cleansing.  I’ve heard that if I envision eating all of these foods, I’ll trick myself into thinking I’ve eaten them and the hankerings will dissipate.  At night I find myself dreaming about dessert buffets overflowing with carbs and sugar.  As morning dawns, I roll out of bed with an overwhelming desire to stuff my face with carrot cake and foccacia.  I don’t think the whole envisioning trick works for me.

I have been suffering from some digestive troubles for several months.  In order to heal myself, as of January 1, I’ve been following the

Paleo Reset Diet from Chris Kresser’s book, Your Personal Paleo Code.

This means all I’m consuming are meat, vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds and occasional servings of low sugar fruit.  This also means no alcohol, but that part is reasonable as I feel I drank enough in December to cover many months.  I am using the expense of my usual alcohol consumption to eat more broccoli and happy pork chops.  It is helpful that my husband also isn’t drinking for a month so I don’t have to watch him sip a Jolly Roger winter beer as I gulp fennel tea.  I do have to endure him next to me, nibbling on Theo’s Nut Brittle Chocolate Bars as we watch Game of Thrones.  I attempt not to breathe in the tempting sweet, roasty scents and swig some more tea.

The Reset Diet isn’t about suffering though.  It’s about new possibilities with foods I’ve always eaten.  I’ve been forced to become more experimental with my cooking, enjoying the challenge of escaping the typical menu rut.  The best news is that I can still enjoy a cup of black coffee, which is a game changer in the world of healing diets.  Sweet potatoes have been a savior for me on this diet too-my luscious light if you will.  I eat them most days, roasted in coconut oil with a dash of cinnamon.  Their sweetness teases me into thinking I’m eating dessert (sort of).

Sweet potatoes in all shades- white, purple, orange, are not only delicious, they also offer B Vitamins, fiber, potassium to name a few.  I used a white sweet potato to thicken and add some character to a soup I created.  The original version had too much potato and even for a sugar craver like myself, the soup was overly sweet.  Following is my rainy evening paleo recipe for Cauliflower Rosemary Soup with a hint of sweet potato.  I used home-made chicken bone broth, which is extremely curative for the intestines and an anti-inflammatory for joints.  Substitute any broth and dip in, being grateful for all that we have to eat.

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Cauliflower Rosemary Soup

Serves 4

1 tablespoon bacon fat (or preferred cooking oil)

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 a medium onion)

1 cup chopped white sweet potato (about 1/2 a medium potato)

1 chopped medium cauliflower (about 5 cups florets)

1 teaspoon sea salt

Several grinds fresh pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

3 cups chicken bone broth

In a large pot or dutch oven, melt bacon fat over medium heat.  Add onion.  Sauté 10 minutes until softened.  Add sweet potatoes and cook 5 more minutes.  Stir in cauliflower, salt, pepper, rosemary.  Turn heat down to low, cover and cook 10 minutes.  Pour in broth and coconut milk, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of the pan.  Cover and simmer 45 minutes or until vegetables are soft.  In a blender, puree soup in batches until smooth.  Reheat soup as needed and serve.  I like mine with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a few extra grinds of fresh pepper.

*Soup freezes well

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