Stumbling Grudgingly Into Quiet

Today I’m thankful to be learning basic meditation.

I am keenly aware of stress.  If I let it get a foothold I flare and end up back at the rheumatologist, painfully swollen and only able to function at a basic level.  The last several weeks have been eventful.  In response I manifested several clear physical signs of a flare, though for once they’ve moved slowly.  I felt like my body was warning me what would follow if I didn’t regain control.  I decided to use the grace period.  I’ve been adjusting my daily routine and learning meditation basics.  Please know I’m not proselytising for any cause.  I use this platform to express gratitude in my own somewhat cantankerous way.   These particular changes have helped me.  Live your life as you see fit.

For as long as I can remember I’ve thought “I really should learn to meditate”.  I read Maura O’Halloran’s account of her time training to be a Zen Buddhist monk in Japan.  I found it engrossing, but I’ve never really mastered the feeling of emptiness.  I have an unruly mind.  It’s an asset for my work, but it also means that I notice every itch and feel the need to rein in my thoughts from their continual wanderings.  It’s the antithesis of a meditating brain.

I’m generally wary of alternative therapies.  I am willing to try those with a documented body of evidence in their favor.  Meditation, especially for stress management in autoimmune inflammatory diseases, is one such practice.  The pivot for me was accepting that I can’t expect to start with sitting quietly for 30 minutes in one go.  I am simply not wired for it.  I can, however, manage 3 to 5 minutes before bed, gradually increasing over time.  My runaway thoughts are not a liability.  I acknowledge them and return to the quiet.  I’m in my second week.  My hands are no longer swollen and the raised red spots on my skin have disappeared.  I don’t have an ultimate goal beyond trying to stay healthy, but this works for now.  I’ve used several apps to track my progress.  It helps me to quantify what I do.

Be kind to yourself, and your body.  You get one.  Finally, a well placed heating pad rarely goes awry.  (Blatantly sentimental picture below, because well, why not?)

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When The Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Great Pizza Pie, That’s Amore

Today I’m thankful for vegan pizza.

Before thinking this sounds silly, imagine that you can’t ever again eat your favorite food.  Whatever the reason is, you can’t have any.  Ever.  I can’t eat any form of dairy.  I get very ill.  I miss pizza.  Pizza, being covered in cheese, dwells in the forbidden zone.  I sometimes imagine the savory, salty taste of dough covered in tomato sauce and cheese, and grumble, just a little.  Any toppings, except fish or mushrooms.  Even the heartburn after, knowing I’d thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I tried a few versions of making one myself, but I have no love for cooking and the result was consistently disappointing.  Consider then the actual joy I felt upon discovering my market carries multiple brands of vegan pizza.  I had choices!  Once every few weeks I’ll buy one, bring it home and bake it.  I’ll eat the whole damn thing.  They aren’t particularly large, and I’m very careful not to do so often.  The rest of my diet is disgustingly healthy.  It isn’t exactly the same as I remember, but my memory is probably idealized anyway.  It is similar enough, and tastes quite good in its own right.  I don’t have to live a pizza-free life anymore.

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So…

I’m allergic to dairy.  What happened at Christmas happened again about two weeks ago, and it was worse.  I haven’t been that sick in a very long time, even at Christmas.  I’ve been adjusting what I eat.  I haven’t even mourned the change.  I guess one way to make a large life change is to have a fever and not be able to swallow solid food for a week.  Works every time!

A Farewell To Cheese

It’s probably privileged, but today I’m thankful I have such a variety of meatless foods to enjoy.

I’ve mentioned I suffered an autoimmune issue around Christmas.  One of the things I learned as a result is that I’m allergic to some dairy products.  I’d happily consumed them to that point without any issues.  Now, I break out into hives (urticaria) and my throat swells.  I guess that life is always change.  I miss cheese very much.

I’ve been meatless for almost a year, for health and ethical reasons.  Given the new dairy issue I’m seriously considering veganism.  I’m fortunate that it’s simpler than it’s really ever been.  I’m not limited to sad “cheese” and wooden biscuits.  I’ve had a cheesecake for my birthday since I was five.  If I can’t have that anymore I damn well need to find a tasty alternative.  The search is on!

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Thumbs Are Important

Today I’m thankful for my ridiculous dog, and that my thumbs still mostly work.

The week of Christmas I suffered a fairly significant autoimmune flare.  I was barely mobile for most of the week and I’ve still got some lingering effects.  My thumbs don’t fully bend anymore.  And fatigue only seems like a sorry excuse to shirk obligations when you haven’t experienced sleeping heavily for 11 hours to wake up feeling like you’ve been on a three day binge.  It can continue for weeks.  If a person claims fatigue it may be there is an underlying issue they don’t feel like disclosing.  Perhaps give them the benefit of the doubt.

On a happier topic, my sister’s former dog is settling into my home beautifully.  She’s really starting to feel like my dog.  She is the most ridiculous dog but very sweet.  She has preferences and isn’t shy about making them known.  I purchased her a nice dog bed (most of my floors are tile, and cold) and she has chosen to remain in it, rather than eat very limited human food, several times.  For a Corgi mix known for her endless food grubbing it’s an amusing sign.  I did something right, and I’m happy she is benefiting.

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