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Spicy escapade

I love to buy most of my spices in bulk from Central Market. I don’t go to Central Market often, so when I do, it’s a treat. There’s a turmeric tonic drink I have on rotation in the early mornings for its healing and detoxification properties. I ran out of turmeric. I had a stressful January. February wasn’t looking much better. On this particular day, I took advantage of being in Central Market’s vicinity and went on a spice shopping spree. Mind you, at that moment, I was feeling overwhelmed with life, but I enjoy grocery shopping. I’m the type of person that studies the sales flyers, peruses through the isles, and reads ingredients for every single item. Two communication exchanges occurred during this shopping trip that made me really appreciate the impact people have on each other.

I walked into the bulk spice section and felt slightly amused and annoyed (they were in the way of me getting my spices), watching a swarm of people navigate the bulk spice section. It was lunch time, which explains the crowd. I walked up and let my eyes scan for turmeric. I didn’t see it and the attentive worker who was managing the section asked if I needed help. I told him what I was looking for and he followed with an unexpected question: “for healing purposes or cooking?” I had never been asked such a question and proceeded to tell him it was for healing, describing my turmeric tonic. He enthusiastically told me about a type of turmeric the store started selling a few months ago and what makes it different from the other types of turmeric. He uses it too. I was intrigued and thankful that I was learning something new. A minute later, another shopper approached me and said, “I’m glad you asked about turmeric because I’m going to get some too”. I bagged a few more spices and walked out of the bulk spice section feeling a little more perky. That was Exchange #1.

I headed towards the produce section for some salad fixings. Central Market has beautiful produce. Then, a thought hit me right in the midst of shopping: “I haven’t had watercress in a while”. I discovered a few years back that not every store sells watercress. One time, I had attempted to make my mom’s Haitian soup recipe…watercress is a key ingredient. After trying several grocery stores, I found the watercress at Central Market. Here I was again, looking for what I couldn’t find. I spotted a grocer unloading lettuce. He was an older, brown-colored man with a very serious facial expression. I asked him about the watercress. He pointed and described where. That’s when I heard his accent…likely African, but from where? I tend to pick up on accents and like to ask people where they’re from. Given his stance and my mood, I decided to spare him. I proceeded to shop. Next up was lettuce. I headed right behind him and picked up a big head of organic green leaf lettuce. I was getting excited about my salad. After placing the lettuce in a plastic bag, I was headed for something else, when the brown-colored grocer, with the African accent, approached me with a giant head of green leaf lettuce. He said, “This one is bigger”, and handed it to me with a smile. I put the other head back and practically skipped out of the produce section. That was Exchange #2.

There are a few key points I take away from this shopping trip. In terms of customer service, there are people that take pride in their work and do it well. In my opinion, customer service has become a lost art over the years. I even wanted to write a book about it at one time. It’s refreshing to see that good customer service is not dead. Another point is no matter how stressful life is, you need to take time to pay attention to and enjoy the little things. And finally, we have the power to impact others every single day with small acts of kindness. So go do that.

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Hospital chronicles

This is Day 6 of visiting my hubby, Bryan, in the hospital. In his hand is a thermos of homemade chicken tortilla soup prepared by yours truly…me. If God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, He must think awefully high of me.  Not to mention, my son has been battling some kind of illness that I’m diagnosing as a combination of asthma, allergies, and a cold. I thought I was going to have a stress-free, cozy Christmas break with my family and add in some time to myself to think about my mom. Nope.

It turns out that Bryan needs inpatient physical, occupational, and cognitive therapy and will likely be here for another 2 weeks.  I’ve accepted it because it’s not in my control. However, I’m frustrated because I have been communicating my obervations to his doctor for months now. As a social worker, I understand how the system works, so I am thankful that I can advocate on his behalf. The hospital believes he needs to be here and I can see he does too. I want him to be safe and as close to his optimal level of functioning as he can be prior to discharge.  Naturally, Bryan wants to come home.

I don’t want this experience to dampen my outlook on 2018, but I’m not going to lie, I’m in a funk.  Bryan wants to be home. I want him to be home. Our kids miss him and he misses them. I miss him in our bed. He wants to sleep in his bed. It sucks to drive out here everyday. I’m exhausted spending half my day at the hospital, then going home to attend to the kids. I feel bad that my son has been sick. I feel bad because I’m spending so much time away, but I also feel bad about how lonely it must feel for Bryan to be in a hospital over the holidays. I feel bad that my kids have spent part of their holiday in a hospital. I feel bad about Bryan’s condition. He has a long road of recovery ahead.

Despite my moaning, there have been some bright spots and moments of grace throughout this ordeal.

  1. As the paramedics transferred Bryan from the chair to the gurnee while outside our home, a lady from my old church passed by, stopped and said a prayer for Bryan.
  2. We have health insurance. 
  3. The hospital ER neurosurgeon told me that Bryan’s doctor should have listened to me. 
  4. The hospital staff have been attentive and professional. 
  5. I didn’t get a speeding ticket after being pulled over on Day 3. I told the officer why I was speeding and he gave me a warning instead of a ticket.
  6. My prayer warriors have been praying for us.
  7. My friend treated my daughter and I to some pampering with a mani/pedi.
  8. Traffic has been light due to most people being off work for the holiday break, so the commute hasn’t been so bad despite the distance.
  9. My leadership at work have been understanding.
  10. WE HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE.

I’ve gotten a lot of calls and I’m not in the mood to talk. I haven’t been in the mood to write either, but I can’t stay away from what comes natural. Writing is therapeutic. I do have faith things will get better.  My current strategy is to take things day by day.


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Health is wealth

In the last 2 weeks I had a health scare…two more tumors showed up on my mammogram and ultrasound, but the biopsies came back BENIGN. Praise God! The results confirmed my commitment to healthy eating. Now, I’ve completed my lunch prep. A big part of my weekend is spent preparing meals for my family and vegan/vegetarian meals for my work week. I’ve found a sweet spot of being mostly vegan/vegetarian during the week day, then eating meat in the evenings and weekends. I may deviate from time to time, but I don’t deviate from my daily green smoothies. 

I was tired today, as usual, but I went ahead and prepped my lunch bowls. I could easily not do this because it’s time consuming. However, I care about my health too much and enjoy eating healthy foods. I haven’t decided if I’m going to have a smoothie as an afternoon snack in addition to having one for breakfast, but I blended two pumpkin green smoothies. Yum!

Pumpkin green smoothie ingredients

Lunch prep: one down, three to go

Lunch bowls: quinoa, sweet potato, egg, sauteed peppers

This week I plan to work on this sweet tooth I developed after returning from Chicago after my mom’s funeral in July. I’ve been on a cookie habit…one or two every couple of days.  I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, but I went months without eating sweets aside from fruit. 

Roasted Garbanzo beans & spices

All in all, I make healthy food choices. Health is wealth and a large part of being healthy is eating well.  Thank God my latest tests were benign. My oncologist again told me I’m healthy and to keep doing what I’m doing. For a while I have been slacking off a little, but I haven’t veered off course.  The recent health scare reminded me of what’s important in life and reconfirmed my commitment to take care of myself.

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Glowed Up

It’s been 13 days since I’ve been on a vegan journey and it’s been amazing. I’m all GLOWED UP from the inside out and I want to tell everybody about it. I started to type that “no, I’m not going to be a vegan for the long haul”, but that’s mostly because the whiff of french fries and broiled steak still gets my mouth-watering and stomach churning.  I’m more than half way through this cleanse. When the 21 days is over, I may very well decide that I’m a convert. I’ve definitely entertained the idea of becoming a vegan. However, this has been a lot of work. It’s a commitment to better eating habits. It’s a commitment to myself. 

I’ve been on the fence about doing this particular cleanse, Fresh Start 21, Spring Edition, partly because I’ve completed 2 and started a 3rd one with Simple Green Smoothies earlier this year.  I completed Simple 7 and Thrive: 7-Day Reset. I attempted Fresh Start 21 (fall edition) back in February 2017, but at 5 days in, my dear friend took me on a weekend spa adventure. The great recipes in the Thrive cleanse opened my eyes to the vegan possibilities. I didn’t know vegan food could be so filling, delicious and creative. In addition to the cleanse guide which included a meal calendar, a shopping list and the recipes for smoothies, snack, and meals, there was a very supportive, Facebook Live group – the icing on the cake. It was so helpful to read daily posts from participants from all over the world. To know that I wasn’t alone was comforting and encouraging. It was a fun experience, which is why I was very interested in joining the most updated Fresh Start cleanse. The format is very similar to the Thrive 7-Day reset.

So why did I need a Fresh Start? I’ve been wanting to kick my sugar habit for a while now and my bout with breast cancer was good motivation. The main reasons why I wanted to do the cleanse was to develop the habit of being more deliberate about food choices, gain more energy and focus, to feel lighter, kick the sugar habit, and lose a few pounds. I’ve been open to learning new recipes and incorporating more whole foods into my diet.  Most people in my circle know that I’m all about green smoothies, but I wanted to go further. I frequently post pictures on my Facebook page of green smoothies and healthy ingredients/meals.  I even wrote a blog post about my love for green smoothies (you can read about it here). I attempted to do Fresh Start Fall Edition on my own in early February, and as I typed earlier, I got through 5 of 21 days. I had been receiving emails about the Fresh Start Spring Edition, so it was on my mind.

What led me to ultimately take the challenge was that I knew the Live Facebook group would be supportive, and let me tell me you, it’s been amazing. I’ve enjoyed communicating with fellow Rawkstars (cleansers) from around the world. The orchestrator and co-founder of the Simple Green Smoothies movement, Jen Hansard, and the recipe creator, Lindsey Johnson, communicate with us frequently by answering questions, offering tips and encouragement, and checking in to see how we’re doing. It’s been entertaining and refreshing to see how honest folks are as we complete the cleanse.

Fresh Start: Spring Cleanse

Fresh Start: Spring Cleanse

So how am I doing on the cleanse? The first week was the honeymoon phase. The recipes were great and filling. I wasn’t hungry during that week at all. It was exciting communicating with other cleansers. The prep was grueling, but I soon found out how helpful the prep actually is during the week, especially as a busy working mom. What I like about this plan is the flexibility to move snacks & meals around and rotate the ones you really like into your schedule. 

The second week (which I’m in now) has been more challenging because this is where the cleanse really kicks in. Calories and proteins are drastically reduced and grains, legumes, and bananas are omitted. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been hungry all week and not all of the recipes appeal to me. However, I’ve been sticking to it despite having a small cheat meal yesterday.  My husband and I took my daughter shopping for Easter. While out and about, we naturally got hungry. My husband suggested burgers for himself and the kids and I began to panic. What is neat about the restaurant he chose is that they have fresh vegan burgers. I ended up having a quinoa vegan burger, green style (lettuce as the bun). I know…I wasn’t supposed to have quinoa this week, but I took the plunge.  I also had 6 french fries (they were ok).  When I got home I enjoyed my cheat meal, but got right back on track and ate one of my avocado lime popsicles. My scale let me know this morning that the cleanse is doing its job, which has encouraged me to keep going.

At day 13 (of 21), some of the benefits of the Fresh Start: Spring Edition cleanse that I have personally experienced are:

  • Clearer skin (The GLOW)
  • More energy
  • More sound sleep
  • Feeling lighter
  • 4.5 pounds of weight loss

This has been a success thus far and I plan to keep going. I’m all GLOWED UP from the inside out and I’m glad that I’m doing this for myself. I saw my oncologist this week and he told me that I was healthy, looked great, and to keep doing what I’m doing. That put a smile on my face. Regardless of whether or not I decide to become a vegan, eating more whole foods and less processed foods is the way to go for me. 

I’ll soon write another post of this experience. Stay tuned!