Friday, July 16, 2010

I will freely admit . . .

This post comes about after reading two articles:  "I am a Radical Homemaker failure" and "Just Not Made that Way" (by one of my favorite writers on the topic of sustainable living).

Recently, my days have been filled with taking the kids here and there to keep them busy.  It seems that if we stay at home, Z1 only wants to watch shows or play games on the computer (which are one and the same to me, quite honestly).  I've been barely keeping up with my homemaking, keeping the house clean by skin of my teeth and cooking multiple meals at one time.  It's kind of a crazy pace I've been keeping but it's summer and the warm weather only lasts so long.

So a few days ago, I realized that my emergency preparation/self-sufficiency efforts have gone to the wayside quite a bit.  I'm still making yogurt, yes, but not bread.  I've been taking some shortcuts just because I'm so busy.  I'm not pleased about this and I'm sure that once winter comes around again, I will probably pick up the pace.  But I can't shake a feeling of being overwhelmed by all the goals I would like to achieve like having a vigorous and productive garden--enough to try my hand at canning.  Heck, I haven't even made it to ONE farmer's market yet mainly because there are none close by and they are all out of the way or on days where it's difficult for me to get to them.  This is making me sad to some extent but I have to just put things in perspective.  I *know* that when it's cold, I'll be home more to do more but this is the time that I need to be working hard.  I mean, I know I am working hard but not at self-sufficiency things and that worries me.

I know that as the times become more difficult, out of necessity, most likely everyone will buckle down and do the things they need to do to sustain themselves.  I think that we may be able to develop a community of sorts based up sustaining ourselves.  Or at least I hope.  I know that for me, I sometimes need a little pressure to get myself moving--and I can't think of a better motivator to do certain things like gardening (for real) and canning, than the possibility that we wouldn't be able to eat without them.  But who wants to really get good at these thing when it's a matter or life and death?  I hope I can motivate myself right now when making mistakes does not mean a sure death.  Any ideas?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Good Shoe

Shoes, shoes, shoes . . . 
For most of my life, if I had to stand or walk for extended amounts of time (like an hour or more), I would have some seriously debilitating ankle pain.  I always thought I had weak ankles and that it was something I really didn't have any control over.  

I sustained an injury to my left foot while working out a few months ago.  It was painful for a while and the pain was accompanied by edema.  I went to see the podiatrist when it was painful and while he couldn't do anything for the pain and swelling, I learned that I have flat feet.  Eventually the pain subsided (but I still have edema in that foot that gets worse when it's hot which was kind of a wake up call for me). 

I always thought my feet were normal and it came as quite a surprise that they were not.  All those  years of pain, I realized, were due to my flat feet and not wearing the proper shoes.  While I didn't know that I had flat feet, I did know that shoes like Birkenstocks (with lots of arch support) were even more comfortable than sneakers for me.  In Birkesnstocks, I could walk all day--literally--and my ankles wouldn't hurt at all.  Learning that I had flat feet helped me understand why.   

The podiatrist fitted me for orthotics--basically an insole that would go into all my shoes.  The only issue was that in order to wear the insole, the shoe had to be big enough and/or the right shape to accommodate the insole.  I  hemmed and hawed about it because I didn't want to get rid of some of my shoes but at that point, I'd had enough with the pain.  So I got rid of a lot of shoes that can't accomodate the insoles.  I also discovered clog style shoes like Dansko and Sanita brand.  I find these shoes to be extremely comfortable even without the insole.  They are (usually) pricey though so my shoe rotation is through four shoes this summer: 

In June, I was on a quest to find very warm, comfortable winter boots.  I did very well, by the way, at the outlet.  I got these and those.  I made sure to get them large enough to accommodate my insoles.  My short Timberland boots that I've had for about 2 years now, are really roomy and with the insole, they are like a dream for going on hikes and other outdoorsy type activities.   

My athletic shoe situation is still hit and miss.  I have learned never to buy sneakers online.  When I get through with these sneakers that I have now, I will definitely hit a running specialty store to figure out the right shoe for my foot.  Currently, I'm managing by working out with my insoles in my sneaker.  But it is so hot these days  . . . putting that insole in triples the amount my feet sweat and how hot my feet feel.  It's annoying but it is far better than ankle pain.  Far better. 

I mean, it's been a lot of dealing with shoes lately and I'm kind of getting tired of it but it feels so wonderful to not have to deal with ankle and foot pain.  I need one more shoe:  something to wear around the house that's comfortable since I am standing most of the time.  I've never had a real pair of Crocs (only knock-offs) but I think they could work.  Earlier I Googled flip-flops with arch support and found a few hits.  But I think like my sneakers, I'm going to have to go try them on to be sure they are what I need.  Because I have the insole that was specifically molded to my foot, I know exactly what I'm looking for. 

I've had to give up my vanity a little bit.  I don't go and get $10 flip-flops or other cutesy shoes.  Just looking at them causes me pain, now that I know what causes me pain (i.e. a low arch as opposed to weak ankles).  And I can't say the shoes I'm wearing now are the most fashionable around.  I can hardly believe that I am choosing comfort as my priority.  Comfort over cuteness.  But these days, the only thing cute to me is comfort. 

I'm also amazed by how the foot works and that a low arch would translate into such intense ankle pain.  I'm wondering why I have flat feet in the first place and hope that since I keep my kids barefoot or in soft-soled shoes whenever possible, they will have normal feet.   

One upside to all this is that now I really have a limited number of shoes to pick from which means that it drastically reduces clutter.  There are still some (essentially useless and pain-inducing) shoes that I can't let go of.  But as they sit there, neglected, I'm sure their uselessness will become more and more pronounced which will motivate me to chuck them.

I will never again underestimate the importance of A Good Shoe.

Photo Credit

Mock Tuna Salad--a Quick, Easy and Filling Lunch

I think most vegetarians at some point get around to making a mock tuna salad.  There are lots of recipes floating around on the web.  I'm not really a fan of eating chickpeas whole (unless they've are part of a very flavorful stew and have taken on some of the spices) so I avoid recipes where the chickpeas are not pureed. My favorite recipe by far is this one.    I add one extra tablespoon of relish, a rounded teaspoon each of black pepper and sea salt to the basic recipe.  Each serving is 6 Weight Watchers points but it wasn't keeping me full until the next meal.  By the time it was time for dinner, I was really, really hungry.  So to try to combat this I started to add 
  • half a large red pepper, chopped
  • half a large green pepper, chopped
  • two stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup of chopped onions
  • two small carrots, chopped
Paired with a whole wheat mini-pita, this recipe is quite filling and feels like I am eating a real meal instead of a snack.   As an added bonus, this recipe is very quick to make in the food processor (aside from chopping the vegetables).  I used to make my own vegan mayonnaise but . . . I just need a little bit of a shortcut these days. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Personal Milestones in Yoga

When I was brand new to yoga, I was surprised that there were  more advanced poses that I could easily get into like half lotus pose (as opposed to simple cross-legged pose or sukhasana) or upward plank pose. I realized that people come to yoga at a wide array of starting points.  Me personally, I couldn't touch my toes in standing forward bend.  I couldn't touch my head to the floor in child's pose.  Certain poses like crane pose, chaturanga dandasana, and side plank pose were like a big joke . . . I couldn't even begin to get into those poses. 
While I still find these last three challenging, now that I've been practicing over a year, I am so pleased that I can get into the poses and stay there long enough to explore my breath and explore what's going on in my body.  I can stay there long enough to make adjustments and experience the benefits of these poses.  

But what has me straight tickled pink these days is that finally, I can get into upward wheel pose.  It seems like up until a month ago, I absolutely had to modify this pose.  I simply did not have the strength to get into the position and if I did get into it with help, I couldn't stay there for very long at all.  I had been modifying with bridge pose which is still a very lovely pose that my body likes and which I will still keep on doing depending on what my body says.

It's nice to mark the milestones in yoga.  Even nicer to note how many more there will be. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Book Review: Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

I'm really into books like these at the moment: memoirs and autobiographies.   I'm drawn to stories that tell of peoples' very individual journeys and the lessons learned and the understandings gained.  Funnily enough, I felt "Traveling Mercies" was an apt title:  it's something my parents would often say when someone was headed off on a long journey. On the recommendation of a good friend, I picked up Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott.  This is the second book that I have read by this author--the first was Operating Instructions: a Journal of My Son's First Year of Life, which, as a brand new mother myself, I really appreciated.   

Traveling Mercies was a good read.  It was not full or intrigue or any eye-opening insights but it was what it said it was:  some of Ms. Lamott's thoughts on faith, take it or leave it.  Funny that I should pick up and enjoy the book since Lamott's faith is so totally different than mine but I think that's what  I liked about: it.  She tells of how she figured out her faith, came to terms with things that didn't always makes sense, and grew to come to a place of peace.  The end of the book was kind of anti-climactic and I would say that it took me a long time to read the book because it really was a series of thoughts strung together from different moments and events in Ms. Lamott's life--kind of like a blog in book form.  There wasn't necessarily a good flow . . . but that's how thoughts (and blogs) work sometimes. 

Now I'm reading The Color of Water by James McBride, another memoir/biography, which I bought at a thrift store for a couple of cents years ago but never got around to reading and I am really enjoying it.  It's so engaging and I'm moving quickly through it. 
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