Still eating a plant-based whole food diet. My energy level is amazing. I feel easy in my body. I’m never hungry. I don’t miss butter on my potatoes. And I lost a pound. For a few years now I’ve struggled with some messy digestion issues every morning. That’s gone. Arthritis is gone. My craving for chocolate is gone. I could care less about potato chips. I’m sleeping like a baby.
All of these changes in one short week have been sort of shocking. In a good way. It feels good to feel like myself again. One thing that happens to people as they age is our bodies get less and less effective in fighting off the ill effects of a poor diet. With me, it started in my 40s with my gall bladder. The symptom of gall bladder disease is acid reflux. The body takes in too much fat for the liver to process and the gall bladder takes the excess. Until it gets really tired and can’t do its job anymore.
I knew this when I had the emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder. That’s where my curve started, the curve downward toward death. Death happens to everyone. But for some people, and I was in that group, it’s a gradual downward decline. It mostly happens at a cellular level, so we don’t see it happening. We might get warning symptoms, but medication usually clears up the symptoms. Medication does not stop the downward curve.
For me, excess weight was a symptom of poor diet and high blood sugar. It was a warning that diabetes was coming on. There were other signs, too, that I was on the downward curve. That persistent trouble in the bathroom. The fact that the heels of my feet hurt all the time. My joints ached. I had weird random muscle pain in different parts of my body. Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night in pain for no apparent reason. The pain would actually wake me up. I suddenly developed allergies at 62.
As I steeped myself in the literature of Dr. McDougall and other experts on PBWF diets, one guy in particular got my attention. He talked about the curve downward to death. And then he said PBWF diets “straighten the curve.” In other words, you’re still going to die, but it won’t be a slow sad decline. You’ll be absolutely fit, fine and full of energy until you drop dead. Or maybe die in your sleep.
I like that death better than the other one. And I like the way this life feels now better than before I started it.
Posted on August 7, 2017
This morning I woke up pain-free, perky and full of energy for the first time in a very long time. So many of you have written to me about being on the edge of diabetes. Thank you for all your encouragement and suggestions. I’m taking it all to heart. Your caring gives me confidence to continue.
(Reminder…my Facebook Messenger is not running properly, so email, text, or phone. Or leave a comment here or on my FB page. You can send me a tweet if that’s your thing. I’ve gotten positive messages from all these platforms and I can’t tell you how much it helps.)
Since I got the latest sugar report from my doctor and it finally hit me that if my sugar numbers did not go down at next appointment in September, she might be recommending medication. I don’t want to take diabetes meds. Diabetes is one of those cascading diseases that start with pills, then pricking your finger three times a day, then injecting insulin into your body twice a day, then taking more meds for diabetic nerve pain, then blindness, amputation, kidney failure and more.
There is a way to stop this cascade before it goes over the cliff into medication. I’m lucky enough to have a doctor who asked me about my diet and made a recommendation that I try the Mediterranean diet. Of course I left her office and went right to the bookstore to buy a cookbook. It’s a good one as it explains the what and why of this way of eating. There’s an illustration of the Mediterranean food pyramid (the photo this week). You can see it’s way different than the one our government recommends.
It looked to me like “almost vegetarian” and I knew I could do that. I’d been a vegetarian for several years before being seduced by a sly filet mignon. After a brief binge with one of those “eat all the meat and cheese you want” diets, I was sick of all that meat. Meat is no longer my favorite food. I admit I love a juicy burger and who can resist bacon? But I don’t love those things more than my health. The Mediterranean suggests fish a couple of times a week, and though I never have and still don’t love fish, my husband does, so I figured he’d be happy with this diet.
The other thing my doctor thinks is going on with my body is lactose intolerance. She asked me to refrain from dairy for two months. I love cheese, but I love my health more, so I gave it up and finally remembered not to use butter. Butter is just automatic with me, in cooking and as a topping. Not that I eat a lot of toast or baked potatoes. I’m still terrified of carbs because I saw how fast the weight can come off if I avoid them as much as possible.
Or I should say I WAS terrified of carbs. Not so much anymore. Once I got good and used to the Mediterranean diet, I got the message from Sara. She’d read my blog post last week and wanted to recommend The Starch Solution, a book on why eating carbs is not only a good idea, it’s the healthiest way you can eat. I ordered it right away because I was curious. And because she said the magic words: I could eat potatoes again.
I called her over the weekend and she shared her story about how this diet changed her life. Sara’s pretty healthy to begin with (she’s been vegetarian since she was 14), but she’d had a couple of minor setbacks and wanted to reboot. She did some research and found The Starch Solution. We caught up with each other’s lives, then she started explaining about this high carb diet. It sounded a lot like the Mediterreanian diet without the top tiers of the pyramid. In other words, pretty doable.
Over the weekend I watched several YouTube videos, especially the “High Carb Hannah” channel. Then I watched a couple of docs. One was on YouTube “The Marshall Plan” (about a whole town in Texas, in cattle country! that went to a plant-based diet) and “Forks over Knives” on Netflix. This one is about how people can heal themselves of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes by switching to a plant-based high carb diet. Because fruits and vegetables have a lot of carbs. Whole grains have a lot of carbs. And as it turns out that is NOT a bad thing.
The key is to eat only whole foods, only plant-based. Finally I realized “oh, this is vegan.” I never thought I’d have the stamina to go vegan. It seemed so hard-core. But since my doctor took me off dairy, vegan isn’t such a stretch. Meat (for me, because I’ve done it before and because I am desperate) is easy to give up.
With a plant-based vegan diet you give up refined and processed foods, all meat, all dairy, even fish. None of that bothers me like a needle full of insulin does. So, Saturday night at dinner I ate less salmon than I’d planned and more potatoes. Then Sunday, with my limited knowledge (I still haven’t got the book! Hope it comes today!) I ate vegan. I went shopping for a vegan meals, checking labels for whole grains and no added dairy or sugar. So yesterday I ate vegan.
Last night, I slept so well. (I have been waking a lot at night with aches and pains in different places in my body for no reason I can figure out. I’ve even had to get up and take Motrin because my leg or my hip aches so much.) None of that happened last night. And, added bonus, today I woke up for the first time in a really long time feeling perky and happy. I’ve been waking up lethargic and apathetic for longer than I can remember due to migraine meds I may not need much longer…
Yes, this diet is said to cure migraines and many other maladies, including cancer and dementia. I know it’s hard to believe, but there’s good science behind the claim. Most of these diseases come from plaque in our bodies. I don’t know a doctor who would disagree with that. Eating a plant-based diet eliminates the plaque and can even repair damaged cells, reversing the ills age (and all those years of junk food!) relentlessly piles on.
I wrote this blog post before I had any coffee. Usually I need at least two cups before I can do more than lift the cup to my lips. And I’m really energized and happy, which is an amazing way to feel after being in a low-key depressed state for so long. I can’t help but think that in a mere 24 hours, eating vegan is making enough of a visible, remarkable change that it will be very easy to stick to.
So is this going to be a lasting change or just another experiment in my endless quest for good health and happiness? I’ll post again after I’ve done it for awhile.
Finishing out my series on the self-help book Stick With It today. I have a couple of confessions to make about it, too. First, none of the information seemed truly new to me, but that may be because I am a self-help junkie and always have one on the go. To sum up, I’ll just use the “science” acronym the author employs.
S. “stepladders” — breaking big goals into small steps makes sticking to them easier.
C. “community” — sharing the goal with others inspires you to keep on the path.
I. “important” — if the goal is truly important, you’ll more likely stick to it.
E. “easy” — the easier it is to follow the new habit, the more you’ll use it.
N. “neurohacks” — switch out the usual “thought precedes action” by taking action first.
C. “captivating” — to change behavior, make the change utterly compelling.
E. “engrained” — repeating the new action will make it into a lasting habit.
While the ideas here are not new, my doctor made it clear I must change some of my behaviors, as my blood sugar numbers are worse than ever, and even if I quit sweet treats today, I might still become a diabetic. I’m so close to being diabetic that a mere one tenth of a point would bring me to that official diagnosis.
I bought Stick To It after I read over the paperwork my doctor gave me at my last visit. Then I did more research on my own. It’s no secret I enjoy a cocktail or two now and then. My Instagram is loaded with photos of pretty drinks I’ve concocted and glasses of chardonnay captured in certain light.
According to my doctor, I can still enjoy a glass of wine. One glass. Once a week. With a meal. My habit has been to drink a bit more than that, so I did further research. I was worried about the one drink limit. I tend to have a couple of glasses. And I enjoy them very much. So I wondered: am I more than just a social drinker? Do I need some type of intervention program?
So I read another book and took a quiz and found that I am not in danger of becoming an alcoholic. This was a real concern to me, as there are people in my family with the disease. Luckily, it is not my disease. Which means I should be able to change my routine to just one glass of wine. How to make that captivating? I’ll need something else to post to my Instagram account, too.
I’ve known people with diabetes. Some of them have died from it. It has affected them in terrifying ways. A friend recently had a kidney transplant. Another didn’t get one and died after years of painful dialysis. Another had her foot amputated. And those are just people I’ve known quite well. Eyesight can be ruined, too.
So what are the top two things people can do to stop diabetes? #1 is lose weight. #2 is exercise. Cutting sweet or sugary foods is also a must. My doc asked me to try the Mediterranean diet. I’ve been trying. But now sticking to my goals of weight loss, exercise, and eating properly aren’t just about fitting into skinny jeans. Sticking to the habits that will make these behaviors permanent is really about quality of life. Or life itself.
Sitting here writing about changing my life with advice from a self-help book when I feel as if that’s an impossible task. It’s almost as if someone snatched away the me I used to be, and frankly, all I want to do is get her back. Where did the Cindy who loved yoga and writing go? When did my resolve to eat healthfully disappear? I’m reading STICK WITH IT as a last-ditch effort. The book bases its premise on an acronym SCIENCE and does claim that all the advice is science-based. Since last report I’ve read two more chapters and actually made some progress. Did some backsliding, too.
I’ve already written about stepladders and community in previous posts. This past week I felt I needed a super dose of help so I tackled “Important” and “Easy.” I can sum up those two chapters swiftly. “Important” is all about priorities. If you think the change you want to make is important, you’ll try harder to make it and keep it. Sean Young, the author, sites a study about the three most important things in many people’s lives.
Money, health, and relationships are the top three. Turns out, as long as you’re not destitute, money isn’t important to health or happiness. People with money can still get death sentence diseases or be clinically depressed. People with lots of money are often miserable in their relationships.
It’s easy to think “if I just had X amount of dollars, all would be well.” I’ve thought that myself many times. One of the changes I’d like to make is in my health. “If I hired a chef, I’d be able to eat better with less effort. I’d also be able to hire a private yoga teacher.” All true but I can see that money wouldn’t take away temptation as far as cake goes and if I didn’t feel like working out, a coach wouldn’t motivate me to do it. I’d just cancel. Health has to be important enough to me to change my eating and exercise habits for the better.
My other goal is to finish my book. I actually did complete a writing project that was on my to-do list. To get my books on audio, I had to fill out five spec sheets, choosing a section of each story to be narrated. After weeks of procrastinating, I got it done this past week. So that’s what I mean…this self-help method is working to a point. But all the money in the world can’t conjure that spark of hot desire that compels me to tell a story and get it in great shape for my editor’s eyes. But, since it’s important to me, partly because of the writing communities I’ve been a part of for so long, I am determined to get it done this summer.
So much for “important.” Next is “Easy” and I do know that “easy” helped me start a yoga practice again. I simply loaded Gaia onto my computer and with a couple of clicks and a move from chair to floor, I’m ready to go. No special equipment or clothing needed. No trip in the car to the yoga studio. “Easy” works for me as far as exercise goes.
Eating the right food is a bit more complicated. Fast food is easy. The stocking, preparing and cooking of whole nutritious food takes way more energy. Stepladders (that first helpful hint in SCIENCE) breaks down difficult or complex tasks, which does make them easier. I’m still working with my goal of eating right. And I’m trying not to bask too long in the glory of finishing the tasks for the audio books.
I have a set of steps for completing the book project, too. Meanwhile I’m still reading. I’ve done S, C, I, and E. I can’t wait to see what the heck N is all about. Neurohacks. Hmmm. Something with the brain, I suspect. SCIE/NCE. Maybe I can get this book finished by next weeks so I’ll have all the tools necessary to implement my goals.
The second way to stay on track in “Stick to It” is having a community that supports your efforts and goals. Weight Watchers is a strong established community for me. My primary goal is to eat better and lose weight. I consistently eat better and lose weight when I am “on program.” When I’ve paid the money for the membership, I am on program. So my goal of eating healthy and losing weight is working well right now and a big reason for that is community. I know all the Weight Watcher tricks. I also know they don’t work for me unless I use community. Something about attending meetings and stepping on that scale works for me better than going it alone.
My other goal of practicing yoga also has a community, but it’s a bit different. I like Gaia very much, although there are no physical meetings. No scale to step on, nobody to talk to at meetings, no stories to share. At least I have not found a message board or anything like that yet. Still, in looking around for a community forum, I rediscovered Byron Katie, who has a video up on Gaia. While I watched the video about what Katie calls “The Work” I took a lot of notes, because even though I’ve read all her books, I wanted a refresher.
In that way, I did find what I was seeking. Katie reminded me that sticking to new habits cannot happen if I keep telling myself things like “I can’t do yoga and write on the same day.” And “writing takes all my energy.” And “I only have so much energy and I need to choose mental energy or physical energy.” Those were just a few of the self-defeating thoughts I was thinking before Katie reminded me about letting go of the negatives and turning them around. What the mind believes, the body obeys. So I’ll be letting those negative thoughts go. I don’t need or want them anymore.
I also realized since my last post that I have a third goal. I want to get back to a consistent writing schedule for the final polish of the novel and I want to finish the spec sheets for my audio books. Community is tricky for writers. Most of us need a lot of alone time to get our work done. I don’t write in coffee shops, but some writers do. They often find community there. For me, solitude and quiet work best when I’m immersed in a writing project.
I do belong to a couple of writing groups and I feel fortunate to have these communities. I never write more diligently than when my critique group is about to meet. Aside from the week before our monthly meeting, that diligence toward writing has been missing lately, for a variety of reasons. Thinking back to what works for me, I write consistently with NaNoWriMo, because during National Novel Writing Month we have clear goals and there’s a place to upload your daily word count.
The NaNoWriMo community has added a ton of stuff to their menu through the years. They may have a daily check-in for writers with a word count uploader that goes beyond November. That would work for me. Just a place to go every day to say how much I wrote. The other thing I can do until I find such a community is to use Katie’s process to get honest with myself about why I’m not writing. Because obviously there is a huge disconnect between what I say I want (to write every day, to finish polishing my novel, to get those spec sheets finished and sent in) and what I’m actually doing about it.
I’m still in process with the whole idea of sticking to goals until they become habits by using the SCIENCE method, but at least I have some steps for the goal of writing every day. First, see if NaNo has something to offer similar to the November motivator. Next, check in with myself using Katie’s program. It’s pretty simple and quite effective. Katie is a life-changer and I’ve been long overdue for a refresher course in The Work.
Next up: Updates on my progress with goals and how I’m incorporating “I” for “important” the next step in the SCIENCE process. My guess it has something to do with prioritizing.
Rewrote the end of the manuscript I’ve been working on for a few years now. The first and last chapters always need the most revision. But I think this time I’ve got it. The photo is of the finally finished product. I say finished by that’s just the story I’ve told. Now I need to edit, add chapter headings, and construct a timeline. These are things I’d rather not do, but do them I must. Only then, when I feel the narrative is as tight and the writing as polished as I want it to be, can I send it to my editor.
I have a lot of experience sticking to my writing projects. In other areas of life, I’m not so great. I’ve gained and lost weight for 25 years, never able to stay for long on the slim end of the scale. I’ve also started and abandoned every kind of exercise program you can imagine from running to weight training to every kind of dance class under the sun to yoga. I like yoga best, but even that hasn’t stuck as firmly as I wish.
Which is why when I was at the bookstore the other day, a book called “Stick To It” caught my eye. I’d just had a bad report on my blood sugar from my doctor (I can never stick to the plan not to eat cake, either) and she suggested I go on the Mediterranean diet. While at the bookstore, I picked up a cookbook, too. The Mediterranean food pyramid looks a bit different than the one from the USDA.
Because I’ve been on so many diets, I worry that this is yet another one I won’t be able to stick to. Thus, the new self-help book might finally give me ways to stick to a diet and exercise routine that work for life. Here’s hoping. The subtitle to the book by Sean Young is “A Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life–For Good.” Young has a process he calls SCIENCE. It’s an acronym for stepladder, community, important, easy, neurohacks, captivating, and engrained.
Over the weekend I finished a couple of chapters. The stepladder concept is simple and makes sense (unlike some of the other words that seem silly, like “captivating” or strange like “neurohacks”). Stepladders are just breaking goals down into manageable steps. Before that, people need to discern what goals are really dreams. Dreams come after you’ve done the work with the steps toward a goal. That makes sense. One step at a time.
I outlined some steps toward my goals of exercising more and eating right. I even rejoined Weight Watchers (the “C” in SCIENCE is) so there’s my community for diet. I bought the cookbook. And each day I’ve used at least one recipe from the cookbook. So, I’m eating Mediterranean. I also joined an online group called Gaia (gaia.com) that has a terrific 20 minute yoga flow. I’ve managed to do that once. I plan to do it again today, but not sure if I will have the time since I need to pack for a much anticipated trip to Seattle to meet my new granddaughter, Julia June, just a few weeks old. We leave early tomorrow morning.
Not bringing the book with me, but I will be grocery shopping for easy Mediterranean fare like hummus and pita and grape leaves. I kind of know how to do this from my years as a vegetarian. I always get lots of exercise in Seattle. Owen likes the playground down the street, Murphy likes a walk, Al loves riding a bike around the neighborhood the kids live in, everybody in that house loves being active, so I know I will be more active than usual too, but in a fun way. I’m sure I’ll be doing my regular sun salutations, and Gaia has a mobile app, so I may even try that. Maybe.
I plan to write a series of posts on “Sticking With It” upon my return from Seattle I’ll track my progress here. The main goal for this week is to reconnect in real time with my Seattle family. Namaste.
A few weeks ago, Yoko Ono was officially granted co-writing credit for the most popular song of the 20th Century. In taped interviews before he died, John Lennon said he should have credited her when the song was published, because he used her concept and song lyrics, mostly from Ono’s already published book Grapefruit. Lennon said he didn’t give Ono credit at the time because he was too selfish and insecure. It takes a big man to admit belittling a woman.
Lennon went on to say that if a man had helped create the song, he would not have had a problem giving credit where it was due. So, whether it was because Ono was his wife or because she was a woman, or both, Lennon at first overlooked Ono’s contribution. Ono stayed silent about it, but when she learned that the songwriting gods were officially changing the credit for “Imagine” to include her, she was very happy. Being recognized for what she helped create is a vindication Ono never sought, never imagined. ❤
In another arena on this American Independence holiday weekend, cable newswoman Mika Brzezinski has not fared so well. President Donald Trump insulted her on Twitter, invoking blood, as he loves to do when belittling strong women who dare to step onto his playing field. Exactly one minute after Brzezinski reported the factual news that Time magazine had asked Donald Trump to take down four fake cover photos falsely glorifying himself that were displayed at his golf courses, Trump gleefully mocked Brzezinski, saying she tried to speak to him at a party but he said “no” and that “she was bleeding badly from a face lift.”
She was reporting factual news; he was lying and playing the gender card. She wasn’t bleeding, not even a little bit, as press photos from the party clearly show.
This was Thursday. Guess what dominated the news Friday? Not reports that 34 million people will lose their health care under the new plan Trump endorses. Not a story about what finally seems a solid collusion link between a Trump campaign associate and the Russians: a Trump surrogate asked Russians for hacked Clinton emails. Trump likely knew these press reports were about to go public. Political news anchor Rachel Maddow posits that this is why Brzezinski got the Twitter tirade.
I’m not the only woman who wonders why our president seems to hate women. Is he just another insecure male chauvinist, like John Lennon admitted he once had been? Is he the social media bully his wife says she plans to fight in her role as FLOTUS? Mrs. Trump seems like a nice woman. When asked about her husband’s proclivity to viciously attack, she said when he’s insulted, he hits back ten times worse. She wasn’t defending him. She was stating a fact. And it made me wonder if Mrs. Trump knows this from firsthand experience.
In women’s fight for equality in this country that loves to say “everyone is created equal” Yoko Ono took a big step forward. It’s too bad our president pushed us back down. Unlike John Lennon, Trump has yet to grow up and give women the respect that is their due.
I’ve signed the contracts for my five TWRP titles to become audio books. My publisher has also signed the contracts, making us partners with Amazon in this audio book adventure. There’s a little more for me to do. I need to fill out a Spec Sheet–details like do I prefer a male or female to voice my book and choosing a short passage from each book for the narrator to read as a demo. The demo(s) will then be sent to me so I can get a feel of whether the recording artist is a good fit. After I agree to the narrator, that’s it on my end until the book is recorded. Amazon handles all of those details.
The excerpts I send are important; they should convey not only the tone of the book, but also give an idea of genre and plot. Audible has a staff of recording artists and the artists choose which books they’ll narrate based on these snippets. TWRP has many authors, and lots of us want to do this deal. So the narrators will have plenty of choices. The Spec Sheets are a little like an audition for me and my work. It’s important I get them right and not rush. I do tend to rush paperwork that relates to my books; I always feel if I’m not writing fiction (or the blog) it’s more business than pleasure. And I’ve never been a fan of the business end of writing.
My TWRP books, except Blue Heaven, which is under exclusive contract to Kindle books, are available widely on the internet. They’re all on Smashwords and Nook and every other e-reader retail outlet. But the audios will only be available on Amazon. This is because TWRP and Amazon have done a deal together that makes it very lovely for TWRP authors. TWRP is a small boutique publisher and they are almost entirely about e-books. Yes, they have print editions, but they do these mainly as a courtesy to their authors, and have no print distribution. TWRP authors hand-sell their print editions at conferences, book festivals, and brick and mortar bookstores.
About the money, I pay nothing for this new perk. I receive royalties that are in line with what I’m paid for e-books. Another question some authors ask is “Can I narrate my own books?” and the answer is maybe, if you have a home recording studio. In my view, this work is best left to the professionals. The last thing I will do before my books become available in audio is to listen to each of the entire books, I’m thinking of it as an ear edit, and it’s my job to note any mistakes so that the book will be perfect for paying customers.
Eventually my publisher would like to pursue audio books for other venues but that’s down the line a bit. I understand from all the recent discussion on our author chat board that recording audio books is a very pricey deal. If an indie author wants to do this, it would cost them anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Which is why the Amazon contract is a sweet deal.
I love my publisher. I really do. They are lovely people and they’ve just partnered with Amazon to bring their authors out in audio. I’m not a fan of audio books, but apparently there’s a huge market. We don’t HAVE to get our books onto audio, but why wouldn’t you? It costs the writer nothing, it’s no work for the writer, the writer collects royalties. All we need to do is sign a contract for each book we want to go audio. It’s for 7 years, but I wasn’t planning on taking those books anywhere else. Seemed like a clear win to me.
Then I remembered the other contracts I signed. There was a clause I wish had not been there. I didn’t remember agreeing to it. My eyes must have gazed over the words about my being required to write a “consummation scene.” Or maybe I didn’t exactly know what it entailed–maybe I just thought, okay, sex scene. Check. So I wrote my first book and sent it in and my editor wrote back to say “you know, you need to write the consummation scene.”
Me: “How is that different from the scene I wrote the first time they had sex?”
Editor: “You don’t describe the moment of consummation.”
Me: “Like, graphically?”
Editor: “You can be euphemistic. But readers need to see it.”
Me: “That was in my contract?”
I checked. It was. Listen, I’m no prude. I have nothing against sex scenes, although I usually skip them. Because nobody knows how to write a good one. Or it’s rare. So why not just shut the bedroom door and leave it at that? But I’d signed the contract so I researched how to write a good sex scene. I learned that romance authors call these scenes “love scenes” ~ there’s got to be a romantic build up to the scene. The characters must be in love. Consummation is about emotional surrender. Sex is about allowing your character to be vulnerable, to trust, to hope, to need. And you don’t want it all to sound like stereo instructions, but neither do you want the metaphors to obscure the reality of the physical thing happening.
That sounds difficult. And it is. That’s why almost nobody does it well. So how will the consummation scenes I wrote (one for each book) play on audio? I don’t know. A contract extension is a simple document. However, it assumes all language of the original contract. So what I do know is that the bedroom door will be wide open.
Life continues to surprise me in happy ways since I’ve returned from my solo winter in Florida. One of the things that I particularly notice that makes my life easier is my approach to dinner. Before Florida, once a week I spent an hour going through my collection of cookbooks, making out a weekly menu of meals. At the same time, I wrote down any items I needed for each dinner on a page-long shopping list.
This made me feel like a good wife, even though half the time, Al would not be home in time for dinner. He might unexpectedly work late. Or the gym had been very crowded. Perhaps Hall Road was a parking lot due to construction work. Even if Al was home, he’d rarely come to the table when the meal was ready. He was “just finishing” something on the computer or in the garage. Often, I’d be done with my meal before he even sat down. It irritated me. After all, I put work into making a nice dinner. Why was it so difficult for him to sit down to eat with me?
All that changed in Florida. I didn’t consult cookbooks, I didn’t formulate a weekly menu, and sometimes I didn’t even have a list. I just went into the grocery store and bought what was fresh and appealed to me in the moment. I ate when I was hungry and sometimes had Cherrios for dinner. Or I’d add lots of fresh fruit to yogurt and sprinkle nuts on top. I’d have salad with chopped chicken and tomatoes. My tastes, when they’re just about me, are pretty simple.
When I came home to Michigan, I kept meaning to pick up where I’d left off with the menu planning and the overflowing grocery cart, but it didn’t happen. These days I jot quick lists for 2-3 dinners and continue to eat the Florida way when I feel like it. I make the two or three meals a week, but if Al is late or I’m not hungry, cooked food goes into the fridge. Now that he has learned to serve himself while I was in Florida, he’s more than happy to put a plate together and pop it in the microwave. This is embarrassing but, before Florida, I used to make a plate and heat it up for him when he came home late. I’d even bring it to the table and set it before him. It was part of that wacky good wife thing.
Since I’m not eating those dinners every night, there are more leftovers and no need for the chore of daily cooking. Because he had to shop and cook on his own while I was away, not to mention clean house and do laundry, Al has no problem eating my leftovers. What has stayed with me from Florida aside from a more relaxed attitude toward menus and shopping is that my idea of what it means to be a good wife has undergone some serious revision. And that makes me pretty happy.