Gettin’ GISHy with it

The past two years durning the first week of August, I’ve participated in a little thing called GISHWHES. Straight forward, it’s the “greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever seen.” Its basically a week spent working with a team to complete a bunch of tasks that are either completely random creative silliness, or in some way charity/kindness oriented.

Last year I decided to try it on a whim. I joined alone since I’m the only person I know that was insane enough to think it was a good idea. I was assigned to a team of 15, all first timers, and almost all strangers to one another. The list was over 200 items (which, yes, is crazy, but you’re not expected to complete the entire thing), but between the rag-tag bunch of 15 strangers, we managed to complete over 50 items. It was tough at times because not everyone was communicating with the group, and I honestly found the whole thing incredibly stressful, because there are rules and guidelines, y’all, and not everyone was following them. I like things to be organized and done on time, and this was mania. It’s obviously not the end of the world if you don’t get all of your scavenger hunt items done, but still, I’m already high strung as is. I tried my best to keep the group organized and on task, but that’s impossible when people don’t check to see what’s going on.

Anyway . . .

Stress aside, I did have fun in the end. I met some really great people that I’ve been able to stay in touch with. The idea was floated amongst some of us to do it again this year so long as we could find people to create a whole team, or as close to whole team as possible. When registration started this year, Jill (who is also insanely organized–shout out, girly) started a team. Colleen and Whitney from last years team joined as well. By the time registration ended, we’d managed to find eleven other people to join us (are they out of their minds too? probably). I won’t lie, it felt really good going in with a full team where everyone knew someone.

This years list was not quite as long as last years (I think the final number of items was in the 170’s) but was equally intimidating. Some things we couldn’t do because they required people to be in a specific location at a specific time, or they required contacts at NASA, an engineering degree, things like that (because, of course). There was still plenty to go around with acts of kindness and creativity. Cara made an adorable padna (with is panda made out of feminine hygiene products, obviously) we all took pictures to “represent” our location, we all became robots on various social platforms, I joined a mass of people sending a delightful tweet to Mike Pence about how tobacco does indeed kill people. We all tweeted about how to determine if someone has had a stroke.  Jill and Alison had a two story wine pouring dinner party, Colleen and Kelly organized a 30-legged race. Whitney bought ice cream for a stranger, because it’s a nice thing to do. Kailey went jogging in shoes made from pineapples, Kassi got to lay a much needed regret to rest. We all helped promote a gishwhes-wide fundraiser for refugee families in need of homes which has, to date, raised over $214,000.

childhoodregress2

I wrote this, and recreated a moment from my childhood (and I didn’t even have to buy clothes to recreate the outfit. Is that scary? Or is it more scary that my hair is basically the same now as it was when I was eight?) And that, I’m happy to say, is just a sampling of the 60 items we managed to complete.

There were hiccups along the way, like GISHWHES server bots trying to steal our incredibly valuable teammates, Facebook documents being a hot mess, and, of course, life got in the way in some cases. There was also an unfortunate incident with cornhusks, which will forever remain a tragedy in our collective team hearts. No, I can’t go into details, the pain is still all to fresh.

At the end, I was over-tired, had consumed WAY too much sugar, and was generally ENTIRELY more wound up than usual (anyone that follows me on twitter can attest to that, because I was ALLL  over the place durning that week). I knew I needed my introvert time to recover, but I was still really sad to see it end. I felt like that week help me reconnect to a lost side of myself, the one that knows how to be creative, a Heather who is not so scared of trying things for fear of looking silly or not doing them perfectly.

I’m really glad I decided to do it again. Also, to my team, I hope I didn’t mother hen y’all to death. That’s just me, trying to help (and my need to feel like things are tidy and organized). You were all fantastic, and if any of you want to do it again, I think I may be down for it. [insert smiley face]

 

An Ode to Miss Jean Louise

This post was for GISHWHES 2016, so, if it seems weird? GISHWHES.

Every year during the first week of August, Miss Jean Louise is heralded for her tremendous encouragement and authoritarian control over those participating in GISHWHES. She is renowned as a purveyor of unique and amusing art, the likes of which the world has never seen, fostering creativity through mediums that include, but are not limited to, food fashion, performance art, seat-of-your-pants poetry, and flash mob water balloon fights. However, there is one aspect of Miss Jean Louise’s considerable array of talents that is not properly appreciated or publicly celebrated. That role?  Advisor (aka babysitter) to Misha Collins.

Over the years, there’s no questioning the fact that Misha’s antics have brought joy and laughter to many. His enthusiasm bubbles over into often ostentatious public displays. tumblr_m3t1rpsvIL1qfch0zHis fans see this, and they love it. They laugh and laugh and laugh, flooding tumblr with images and memes of silly, silly Misha, yet they do not acknowledge the role Miss Jean Louise is quietly playing in the background.

Misha NEEDS a babysitter, as he’s basically a middle-aged toddler. Someone has got to protect him from himself, and Miss Jean Louise is heading up that difficult and challenging task. It may appear, when you see pictures such as the one I’ve shared, that Miss Jean Louise is not in control, but I can assure you that she is. The Misha Brand™ we all know and love is carefully curated and shared with the public through Miss Jean Louises’ caring, competent eyes. She is the glue that holds it all together.  She knows the world needs this silly man-child to heft their love upon, someone who encourages and inspires us to leave our comfortable little shells. When we do that, we make the world a little bit stranger, a little bit brighter, and for this, we must thank Miss Jean Louise.

Nobody is infallible, though, and Misha does sometimes escape the diligent watch of his guardian. Evidence of this can be seen on Facebook live streams of Misha tromping through treacherous woodlands, or using his phone to send a sneak peek to his followers from backstage at San Diego ComicCon, where there are signs that clearly say “Hey, you, don’t use your phone!” She obviously can’t be awake 24-7 and still be refreshed enough to keep control over her charge. Misha recently took advantage of her very human need for sleep when he made some crazy proclamations regarding item #141 on the GISHWHES 2016 list. Still, Miss Jean Louise managed to gain the upper hand, making Misha provide a public apology to his GISHWHES constituents. There is no doubt that in the Mishaverse, Miss Jean Louise reigns supreme.

You may not see her standing in front of the camera making her presence known, but Miss Jean Louise is always there holding Mishas’ hand. Her invisible fingerprints are on everything he does. She is the cool head organizing all of the crazy capers you so enjoy. For that, I kindly ask that whenever you see an image of Misha that makes you smile, hear of an act of kindness he has somehow facilitated, or see a GISHer doing their GISHy thing, send up a silent thanks to the incomparable Miss Jean Louise. It is the very least we can do.

 

 

 

Dog days making me bitch

I know its summer and that the heat is getting to me when I find myself on Pinterest looking at Halloween stuff. Lots of nice pumpkin carving ideas! I’ve complained about summer and how much I dislike it before, and will continue to do so, because it really just throws me off. Some people get depressed in the winter, I get depressed in the summer.

IMG_0779
these lazy bitches

This month started out with highs around 100 degrees, and heat indexes exceeding that, and it just stayed that way for a couple of weeks. We didn’t get many of those merciful rain showers that cool things down at the end of the day either. We’ve had the kind of weather that makes the weather folks on tv tell you to stay inside if you can. So I’ve been doing that, pretty much. Summer makes me more lazy than usual, and considering how lazy I already am, this is not good.

But with the laziness has come this mental restlessness. Maybe its because I’m craving a change in weather, but I also want a change of scenery. I’m tired of just about everything around me. I’m tired of my clothes, my hair, I’m tired of the color on the walls, no food sounds good, I don’t even like the words I’m writing (evidenced by the fact that I started this blog post at the beginning of the month). Everything just stagnates in the summer. Sure, there’s Pokemon to catch, but that requires leaving the house, and who wants to do that? This place has air conditioning and fans and doesn’t feel so damn dank like the outdoors.

Yes, I’m bitching. I’m just tired. I’m not sleeping well. I’m back to sleeping four or five hours a night and trying to get a nap in at some point in the late morning. There have been days, though, where that nap doesn’t happen. This pattern repeats over and over until I drop for 12 hours one night, only to go back to too little sleep the next night. Lather, rinse, repeat. Getting some exercise would probably help. You know things are desperate when I actually miss my gym membership. Sure I could go for walks but see aforementioned thoughts on weather, or I could do stuff at home like yoga or whatever, but did I mention I’m freaking exhausted, and tired of looking at everything? The spiral never-ending, it seems.

I’m going to stop one never-ending spiral right now though, and end this post. Then I’m going to hit publish. Then I’m going to stretch out like those lazy cats and take a nap.

 

 

 

Where my Whole30 went wrong, and right

This is not an endorsement of Whole30. See here for updated details.

Right around the beginning of March, I got the spring cleaning bug, which is totally natural for me. Its ingrained in my psyche as the right time to deep clean the house, work on the yard, etcetera, but getting started wasn’t so easy. I hadn’t been sleeping well, my energy was sluggish, I felt like I needed to spring clean myself. Enter the Whole30.

I’d read about this “nutritional reset” a while back and thought I’d never get anyone in the house to go along with it because it’s strict. For 30 days, you eat vegetables, some fruit, protein from eggs, meat, and fish, and good fats like olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. You eliminate alcohol, dairy, grains, legumes, soy, and ANY added sugar or sweetener. I was feeling weighed down with cravings for late night fast food, cookies and candy, stuff I knew wasn’t doing me any good in the long run. I got the snacky snackies any time I walked in the kitchen. The sugar cravings were especially driving me nuts, so Whole30 seemed like a good place to get a jump start. I ran the idea past Zach, and aside from the “no cheese?” he thought it sounded ok. We tried some recipes, we enjoyed them, so it felt like it wasn’t going to be so bad. I even gave up my morning oatmeal and afternoon avocado toast to kind of prep my system for it so I didn’t get a massive carb flu. We planned to start in April after the Magic season was over and he was home more and not at games where the only food available was pretty lousy.

I read the Whole30 book, I read It Starts with Food. Their reasons for taking on their plan were fairly sound–there are a lot of “foods with no brakes” out there, as in food you only mean to eat a little of and end up going overboard with (makes sense, been there done that). EatWhole30-Instagram-300x300Some foods like grains and dairy are bad for your gut health, blood sugar, cholesterol, and hormones, and can lead to systemic inflammation (again with the gut? everyone is so obsessed with their gut, but do I have systemic inflammation? according to the book, if you are overweight, yes, yes you do). Beans are mostly carbs and not a great source of protein and while sure, they’re great for fiber, they there are plenty of other vegetables for that. Alcohol is empty calories and just isn’t good for you in general, and sugar is the devil dressed like a Reeses peanut butter cup. That’s a major simplification of their reasoning, but you get the drift. Its strict paleo, basically. Oh, and the scale. Throw it out for 30 days, stay off of it and don’t obsess over the number. Instead, pay attention to how your clothes fit and how great you feel. Focus on those non-scale victories. I could get behind that. I don’t go on the scale that often anyway because that number does haunt me. I’ve been fighting with my weight for a while now, and while I lost about 40 pounds last year, I’d kind of stagnated, and possibly had put a few back on.

So April comes along, and so does life, and officially starting the Whole30 got pushed back. And back. I take the time to collect recipes, read the life altering stories, getting psyched. We set a start date of May 11. Naturally, I got a stomach virus that day, go figure, I ended up starting a couple days late.

I started with strong intentions to follow the plan, to eat like they wanted me to eat. The plan is three meals a day (bonus meal for those who work out) and try not to snack, so you can get your appetite and hormones in order. No more late night snacks, or mid afternoon snacks.  Meals should be big enough to make you feel full, but not stuffed. I followed the meal template for the right amount of protein and fats, filling in the rest with vegetables. A couple of days in, I started doing some yoga again because movement seemed like a good idea. My mindless snacky snackies went away.  Sure, I missed dark chocolate, but I was doing ok with the food I was eating and didn’t miss my late night McDonalds fix. My sleep, however, was terrible, somehow worse. I would sleep for maybe four or five hours and wake up not able to go to back to sleep because I seemed to have this surplus of energy, so I added walking in with my morning yoga routine. Sure I would end up unable to keep my eyes open and would take a nap later that morning, but all was going well. I felt good about things.

They say most people quit around day 10 or 11 because those are the hardest days. At that point I felt great, even thought about throwing around the idea of Whole60 instead of Whole30 (but not Whole365, you aren’t supposed to do that). I was taking longer walks and doing 20-30 minutes of yoga. I was determined.

Then day 14 came. We’d been planning a week of meals to make sure we could stay compliant, and MAN was I sick of meal planning. I didn’t think I could stomach more eggs. And quinoa. I really wanted some damn quinoa (really? how is quinoa so fucking bad?). Zach and I were spending a lot of time reading labels looking for hidden sugars, which are EVERYWHERE, people. There is sugar in bacon, Italian sausage and smoked salmon! WHY IS THAT EVEN??? Why does Italian sausage need sugar? If there wasn’t sugar, there was some sort of oil that was discouraged. Pretty much most prepared foods were out, so we were doing a lot of cooking. Not a problem, because we were working together, and I was enjoying it. I was so ON PLAN, not eating too much fruit, even making olive oil mayo at home to avoid the nasty oils and sugars in commercial mayo. I even made homemade ketchup! I didn’t eat out at a restaurant once because I didn’t want to stray from this plan. This plan of miracles! This plan where I was going to feel so much healthier and leaner. This plan that said my skin would improve, my hair and nails would be stronger, my energy would skyrocket, my strength and endurance would improve (chaturanga to up dog? nailed that bitch). I would have less headaches, my sleeping would finally normalize! I didn’t want to jeopardize it, I didn’t want to eat anything that wasn’t compliant. I was a fucking rock star of compliance.

Things got better around the third week. I was falling asleep much more easily, my energy was good, my clothes felt looser, I generally felt lighter. The last few days, however, turned into a drag. I was getting headaches again, my digestion was a bit off and I wasn’t sure why. I was waking up with less zeal for the day, but I carried on.  Zach and I talked about how we would go about eating afterwards, about the positive impacts the 30 days had, the ways we felt better. Zach finished a couple days before I did (stupid stomach flu) and not only was he eating better and more regularly, and going out to get some exercise, he’d lost 16 pounds. I was thrilled for him! I woke up on my day 31, excited to measure and weigh myself to see how much of a physical change there was, because I was sure it was significant. Overall I’d lost about six inches, and three pounds.

Three. Fucking. Pounds.

It no longer mattered that I looked and felt smaller and lighter, or that I was stronger because I’d probably put on muscle. Suddenly, because of that insignificant number the scale had given me, it didn’t matter that cravings were not so much of an issue, or that I had learned to better appreciate the natural flavor of good food. I felt like a god damn failure. I looked in the mirror at my skin and couldn’t say there was much change (maybe a little, but I’d also switched moisturizers part way through). My hair wasn’t thicker or stronger, my nails weren’t stronger or longer. I don’t have any scheduled blood work so I don’t know if it improved my cholesterol or thyroid numbers. I was pissed, I was upset, I couldn’t figure out what I must have done wrong because THREE POUNDS is nothing in the scale of what I feel I need to lose. I was so ON. POINT. the whole time, where the hell did I screw up? It was really disheartening.

Does this thinking go against what the plan wanted me to achieve? Definitely. Do I feel like I unnecessarily worried over every bite that I ate for a month, yeah, I kind of do. In the end, they tell you that while it may “start with food,” health and weight loss involve a lot more. Things like getting enough good sleep, lowering your overall stress level, and not isolating yourself from the world for a damn month cooking and doing dishes because you can’t completely control what goes into food at restaurants or friends houses. That? That doesn’t work. That is not sustainable. That’s not a healthy mindset. Is the number on the scale indicative to my success? Not really, but there’s so much stress on weight, healthy BMI, and frankly what looks good in the media today, and my brain is hyper-tuned to all of it. Especially here at this middle age I find myself reaching. Especially because I lost my mom to diseases that could have been prevented/improved/avoided if she’d taken better care of herself, her weight, and what she ate.

Ugh. Damn. And Ugh. I really wanted to be a success story, you know? And here I was, a loser non-loser. So on point with everything that I almost missed the entire point.

You have to change your mind and your mental relationships before everything else clicks into place. You have to let go of the numbers to really see and feel the good changes you make. Most of all, you have to not be so damn hard on yourself!

Game. Set. Match.

I was really damn happy to have some quinoa last week, but I still filled my plate with mostly vegetables, and that dark chocolate? Its worth the indulgence because it makes me happy. Its not like I’m eating a bar a day, even, just a little bit a few days a week. I’m going to continue to eat what I like with special attention to whole foods as much as possible. I don’t think grains are evil, neither are beans. I mean, sure, there’s a difference between wonder bread and sprouted grain bread, or even fresh sourdough from the bakery. Farro, rice, quinoa, or any of the other myriad grains are probably preferable to pasta. Some hummus with fresh vegetables? Awesome. After all, the countries with the lowest instances of heart disease are those that eat lots of veggies, whole grains, and legumes, and limit their meat consumption. And they drink red wine. I’m about ready for some of that.

Moral of the (really long) story? Don’t demonize food. Don’t expect physical miracles from a certain way of eating because other people have had success because we’re all so different. You doing you is not the same as Sally doing Sally. Most importantly, while its important to pay attention what you stuff in your maw on a daily basis, and less processed food is most likely the best way, its not worth stressing over every bite, because doing that, will bite you in the ass.

BONUS!  Here’s some stuff I learned and thought about over the month. Bits of info I might pass on. Sorry if this is a bit scattered.

  • Meal planning is generally a good idea when possible, because you end up wasting less food
  • My knife skills are much better
  • My relationship with the kitchen is better in general
  • My relationship with food is improving
  • You can make a really good ranch dressing without dairy
  • I eat until full, and not beyond, and that feels good
  • Finally used that spiralizer, and let me tell you, sweet potatoes “noodles” with tomato sauce and meatballs is really tasty. Its not spaghetti and meatballs, but its good
  • I’m much more aware of what goes into the food I’m eating, and it is worth paying attention
  • Morning walkers are friendlier than evening walkers
  • When you eat that many fresh vegetables and fruit, there is plant waste, and man do I need a frigging compost bin
  • Coconut aminos do not taste like soy sauce
  • Life without pasta and cheese is not the end of the world
  • Homemade mayo is super duper easy, and fun with an immersion blender, and makes me feel like a wizard on some level (mayo is in a lot of sauce and dressing recipes that are Whole30 compliant, plus tuna, egg, or chicken salad, so I guess if you hate mayo, I don’t know what to tell you other than homemade tastes WAY different from store bought)
  • That paleo life, while great for some, is just not for me. I’m not lactose intolerant, and I have no problems with gluten or soy. Eating organic and responsibly farmed meat and fish, while great in practice, is EXPENSIVE when you try to do it for every meal. Plus, meat at every meal just doesn’t feel necessary to me. I’m not doing any major weight lifting or endurance training so I’m not overly concerned with my protein consumption, plus, eating a plant based meal makes me feel good inside and out

 

 

 

 

Its almost May?

I’m a terrible blogger. I go to so many blogs, well, lots of cooking blogs really, and I see these people keeping up with all this new content and I think “man I wish I could do that.”

This blog has no direction, and I think that’s what slows me down. I started it as a personal blog to kind of fill the LiveJournal void, but its never really done that. Its time to accept that the LiveJournal kinds of days are gone. Now everyone wants to just tweet, or spend time on Facebook. I like twitter, that’s fine, but Facebook? I hate that place. I stay on there to “stay in touch” with some of the people from the LJ days, but its just not the same. Its mostly reposting of meaningless stuff. People aren’t posting about their days, or their thoughts so much, or if they are, I’m not seeing it because its buried in so much reposting of political crap. There’s not much real interaction there these days. I miss that.

As for a direction, I’ve tried to think of ways I could kind of “brand” this blog so I could get more views and maybe more interactions with people I have things in common with, but I’m not sure what I could do, because I basically don’t do much of anything.

  • Knitting blog? Have one. Its currently sitting waiting for me to knit something.
  • Food blog? I don’t really come up with my own recipes
  • Decorating/Housekeeping blog? Eh… I’m not very good at either, tbh.
  • Gardening blog? I used to love gardening, but without a functioning sprinkler system and a massive weed invasion, that’s not really a viable option.
  • Blogging about books? I suck at writing reviews.
  • Blogging about tv shows I like? Not enough of them, and I suck at writing reviews.
  • Fitness? Not committed enough/don’t feel like I’m knowledgeable enough.
  • Photography? I don’t do enough of it, and I’m not a good photo editor.

So where do I fit in? Personal blog, like LiveJournal, but without the interaction, which is what I miss. Maybe I need to find more personal blogs to read and interact with? Maybe I should just give up. I don’t know right now. [frustrated face emoji]

Its the end of the year as we know it

Another year, another calendar to take off the side of the fridge and replace with a new one. I guess this year wasn’t entirely terrible, I was actually feeling good and making progress for a while there, but I couldn’t seem to carry that through the entire year. Like most years, by the time the end of December rolls around, I find myself thinking that I’m SO glad this year is over because maybe the next one will be better, but then negative Nancy tells me that’s “false logic” or something because even if the number of the year changes, time is linear and not cyclic, blah blah blah.

I’ve said before that I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions  because I think they just set us up to fail. We can start new habits and work to change bad ones on any given day, but starting them with the new year just seems to put extra pressure on them. I read an article a couple of months ago that said the best way to stick to your new years resolutions is to start them in November.

Even if I don’t believe in them, there are things I would like to do, like worry less, be a bit more positive, move more, slow down when I eat, train my Neko Atsume cats to bring more gold fish. One thing I will be doing is 30 days of yoga camp starting on Saturday. I’ve known for a while that yoga was really helping me feel better and I should start doing it again, but I didn’t have the right kick in the ass to do it. Still not sure this is going to work because of my general feeling of malaise, but its worth a shot. I think a couple people I know on twitter are going to do it as well. I could definitely use a support system.

Tonight will be spent quietly, probably in bed reading the second Game of Thrones book (which are actually The Song of Fire and Ice series, NOT Game of Thrones). I won’t be going out, won’t be celebrating. It will just be another Thursday night, but I suspect that there will be things exploding around the neighborhood come midnight, which I will no doubt find annoying. So much for that being more positive business.

So ends a rambling post to end a rambling year.

 

 

Christmas and stuff

I don’t know if its just me, but December has felt extremely long. Maybe its because I got the decorating done so early, had gifts wrapped and under the tree at the beginning of the month. Maybe its because its been so damn hot so I’ve been spending most of my time inside avoiding the weather. Perhaps its because I’ve only been sleeping in 3-4 hour burst for the past couple of weeks. Not sure, but it just feels damn long.

This year I at least did some things to take advantage of the holiday season. Zach and I went to the tree lighting in Winter Park, I did some holiday time shopping that wasn’t just online. We drove out to Moss Park to see their lights. We baked cookies, and I watched way too many cheesy made for TV Christmas movies with the same predictable plot. Still, I feel like I left a lot on the “wish I’d done it” list. I should probably make a note for next year to do those things.

Our tree, 2015
Oh Christmas tree, so sparkly

Today we exchanged gifts. Zach seemed to like what I picked for him, and I got way more than I feel like I deserved. The cats went crazy for their catnip toys, and we had people join us for a delicious dinner. For all intents and purposes, this was a good day.

Maybe I just make expectations too high for myself that I end up feeling like things didn’t really go well. There are things that I did this year that I didn’t get done in previous years, and Ziggy did not climb, eat, or knock down the tree, so I guess there’s that. Still, Christmas fills me with a bit of sadness now, especially with my parents gone and Zach growing up. I feel like one of these years I’m going to blink and be all alone. I’ve been extremely emotional (and tired) all week and part of me is glad that the year is coming to an end so we all get that proverbial “clean slate.”

Merry Christmas, everyone. Time to watch Harry Potter!