Food for Thought

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Ohhh, dear friends, when you have trouble getting a “newbie” green juice down, it makes you feel like you’re less than a wellness warrior. Can we define just what exactly is a “wellness warrior?”  Because in my head it means somebody that drinks 3 purely green juices a day, cleanses once a month, becomes a certified yoga instructor, and posts inversions and walks out in nature every day on Instagram.  How do people have time (let alone flexibility?) for all of this?

Having said all of that, you know that I love Kris’s new book because it is so… Kris. Crazy Sexy Juice right on!  The pages are glossy and the info is friendly and the pictures actually make you wonder why you didn’t just come out of the womb drinking this stuff. She’s been doing this for years but I secretly wonder if when she first started she had some gagging going on of her own (Yes, I actually gagged this morning).

Yesterday I tried the “Berry Protein Powder” smoothie and though it didn’t have a strong taste of anything, really, it was pretty easy to drink: bananas, blueberries, almost milk, hemp seeds, cacao powder, and spinach.  I’m really into berries these days and I have secretly been wondering where almond milk has been my whole life.

I tried the “Green Me Up” juice this morning which Kris totes as a “newbie” one, excited (as I could be at 7:45am) to brush off the juicer since it’s kind of been like the step-child to the blender lately. All of these recipes seem to call for kale, which I thoroughly dislike (another reason why I can’t be a wellness warrior, right?  How can I not like kale?  Or beets or ginger, by the way).  I substitute spinach instead (it is hysterical to my parent’s that I eat/drink spinach like it’s going out of style, since I wouldn’t touch the stuff when I was a kid).  Green apple has less sugar, guess what?  That’s my favorite kind!  Score!  Cucumber, love it.  Pineapple, one of my faves, we’re doing well… And then…2 stalks of celery.  Though I’m going on almost a year on having my juicer, I still consider myself a beginner (hence the “newbie” juice) but I later learned that it was the second stalk of celery that did me in.  Ugh—I had to transfer the juice from my mason jar to a paper cup and try to just drink a little bit at a time, like medicine (I’m not sure what the transfer had to do with anything, it just felt more manageable, somehow). I’m still sipping the bright green juice as I write this, at 10:30am… And yes I know, the more oxygen that gets into the juice, the less potent it is, but come on people, I’m doing the best that I can!  This is a tough one to swallow, I’m not going to lie.  I wish that Mary Poppins would appear with a spoonful of sugar to help me get this “medicine” down, but then again, I guess that would kind of defeat the point, now wouldn’t it?

(I never thought I would say this, but I am so looking forward to my Ezekiel english muffin later on).

It is kind of cool that I have all of the fixings in my house not to make a martini, but to make a juice or a smoothie. My pantry is stocked with hemp seeds, flax seeds, cacao powder, oatmeal, dates, goji berries, chia seeds, almond butter and unsweetened coconut flakes.  My fridge usually has spinach, lemons, apples, and cucumbers.  Though I don’t always feel like a wellness warrior, maybe just my attempt to be one is enough, for now.  Just like any human being, I suppose, I first tend to focus on what I don’t like or what I don’t do, instead of all of the great things that I am incorporating into my daily life to be the best version of myself (not just food but thoughts, exercise, gratitude, soul blasting friend sessions and giving myself permission to just “be” sometimes).  Let that be a reminder for all of us to try and focus more on how we take care of ourselves (and love ourselves) and leave the rest for the birds.  I’m pretty sure that my dear Kris would whole-heartedly agree!

Why can’t we have juices that taste like donuts? Just sayin’.

Creating Our Own Days

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I broke a glass mason jar this morning. A favorite one, too, that I brought back from Maryland when my brother and I walked to the juice store nearby his house. Bummer. “Great way to start a Monday,” was the thought that immediately popped into my head, until I quickly reframed it to: “Just because this was the start to the day doesn’t mean that today will be any less awesome.” I found myself anxious to get to work on time after cleaning up all of that broken glass, even though I knew that I’d be there at least five minutes early, and I set my intention to “better manage my anxiety.” Too negative and too vague, I decided. I tried again: “I will have a peaceful day.”

Sure there are lots of times when I want to scream into a pillow because there’s broken glass everywhere, my cats are itching to get into the room with their sweet little paws and I’m running late so can’t make my smoothie for breakfast. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a Monday? This surely could have been one of those mornings, and sometimes you’ve just got to be pissed. But today didn’t feel like one of those days; I wanted to start my week off feeling calmer, and I felt that I actually had more control over that than I had ever realized in the past. That in itself, just being able to shift my thoughts about the day (especially when anxiety hits) felt pretty awesome.

(Plus I’m coming down from such a great weekend with my camp friends spent in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Those of you who have attended overnight camp or have kids who do understand just how special these relationships are– some of these girls I’ve known since I was 10 years old!  We laughed and drank grapefruit-tinis (sooo good) and shopped and ate and dug our forks into boxes of bakery deliciousness while we sat in our pj’s and gabbed.  We shared a suite and congregated in the sitting room like we did in our chugs at CTN and brushed our teeth together, just like the old days!).

Camp Friends in NH

 

But I digress (totally worth it).  What I really wanted to talk about today is anxiety, because I’ve got loads of it.  I was recently told by a practitioner on my team that my exercise routine is great, but in order to be able to better deal with this anxiety (if I don’t want to rely on meds), I should try to exercise every.single.day. Say what?! That seems totally overwhelming to me, especially with how busy and taxing work is and how much I love to do other things (like watch Real Housewives on the couch), but I relaxed a little bit when they suggested that I just start with taking a walk during lunch just to get some Vitamin D. I left my phone in the office and did just that today. I heard the wind chimes and watched the leaves travel with the wind from lawn to lawn in all their golden autumn glory. I’m not sure what I’ll do when it gets really cold here, but for now, it really helps my afternoon in the office to feel more manageable and I feel less sluggish the rest of the day. And I do love my arc trainer at home (it’s hard to make excuses not to work out when you’re lucky enough to have your gym in your basement!).

I’m also feeling excited; I got a notification from Amazon that the new Kris Carr book that I pre-ordered months ago will be here tomorrow, yay! Not only does it have new juice recipes, but I’ve read that it has tons and tons of blending and nut milk recipes, too. I’m psyched because I’ve definitely been gravitating towards smoothies more lately. I’m thinking of doing a “Julie and Julia” type of thing where I try a new smoothie or juice from Kris’s book every day. I know that there will be some that just won’t appeal to me (I substitute spinach for kale)—I hate beets and though I like ginger in small doses in certain situations (ginger ale, pumpkin cake), I can’t stand it in a juice or a smoothie. This will end up being about creativity and determination/motivation to stick with the breakfast routines that I know will make me feel better about my health and my day.

Mornings are tough because if you’ve ever lived with me (hey roomies!) you can attest to the fact that it takes me a good hour before I can even get a coherent sentence out, let alone drink water with lemon, juice, exercise, meditate, and then get to work. Um, yeah… I’m working on all of this. In the meantime, I try to incorporate those other tasty and balanced self-care treats throughout the day (5 minute meditation and 10 minute walk during lunch today), and even into the early evening.

I can’t wait to crack open her new book and tell you guys all about it! Or, get it here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1401941524?keywords=Kris%20Carr&qid=1445282246&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1.

Cheers to green goodness, Vitamin D, and creating our own days,

Sam xoxo.

A Love Note– For You

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You all know how much I love dates: Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. “Today’s been exactly 3 years since our first lunch together!” “It was five years ago today that we brought our kitties home!” I know exactly how many mother-daughter trips my Mom and I have taken over the years, the date of my first email exchange with SHL, and how many days it’s been since I’ve had coffee (6, but who’s counting?).

I love celebrations of any kind! Any chance to put on my party hat and have a piece of (vegan, raw, wholesome, sugar-free) cake and I’m there. So it may come as no surprise that today’s post will be a celebration of sorts; a love note to all of you, AS IT IS MY 100TH POST ON THIS BLOG!! My blog may not be in the public eye/spotlight and I may not have a brand new shiny book coming out, but let me tell you: When I write as a therapeutic tool to deal with the ebbs and flows of my life, you are all there right alongside with me. I could never explain my gratitude for the fact that you have chosen to pull up a front row seat in the cheerleading section of Team Lozier.

I love to write. I love to share what I know in the hopes of making a positive impact on somebody else’s life in any little tiny way (that’s the social worker in me and the 7 year-old who told my second grade class that it doesn’t matter if you have a VCR or not, all that matters is that you have people who love you), but I also love to write because it helps me to hash out in my mind exactly how I’m feeling, why, and whether or not it’s something that I want to delve deeper into, or want to just let it be. (From the moment that I was diagnosed I just knew that I never wanted to feel alone, and this blog has provided me an outlet to connect with so many of you that may not live near me or that I may not be able to talk to or see all of the time. I don’t know how anybody can go through life let alone cancer without feeling like you’re a part of something). Although I am a huge proponent of therapy face-to-face, this is also a kind of therapy for me. As a social worker and an “over-sharer” this blog has been a dream come true: A safe platform where I don’t feel judged, where I can share what I know, what I’m learning, and what I just will never understand (that list goes on and on), with a community that is striving for what we are all striving for: A joyful, healthy life. Are we “successful?” Are we “happy?” These words are thrown around so much that when we hear them (just like when we hear the word “stress”) we barely pay attention anymore. The American Dream has changed drastically from generation to generation. Now more than ever, I believe, we are getting to choose our own dreams and not necessarily those that are thrust upon us (marriage, 2.5 kids, the white picket fence).

Forget about the words that will just roll off your shoulders and be forgotten. I want to change that. I want to help each and every one of you live the life you feel you were meant to live, whether you want to call it success or happiness or just living. Because I know what it’s like to be told that you may not have forever to live, and whether or not that is true, when you stare that in the face, you realize that we all only have today. I know what it’s like to have to reorganize your life at the age of 36 into a very different life than you had imagined.  Does the world stop because a dream has not come true?  Or do you grieve and scream and cry at the how and they why and then imagine other dreams that are beautiful and will come true?  By setting (small) intentions, being more mindful, and actually letting ourselves dig into the well to the depths of despair (believe it or not), I believe that we can find more nuggets of passion, soul and love in each and every day. Life is hard. Life sucks sometimes. People are angry, stressed, critical, tired. Does life have to be so hard sometimes, I wonder, or do we cultivate the difficulty by feeding into the negativity? There is just so much that we can’t control.  What can we control?  If we don’t “foam at the mouth” (advice given to me personally by Kris Carr at the Chopra Center) when we need to, can we heal from the pain that we all feel just from being on this planet? So cry when you need to. Scream into a pillow. Tell that person how you feel when you need to. Other times, let it go. You’ll know when it’s right. Get back in touch with that gut that can help you figure out, when you need to, which path to choose.

I have been working lately on taking my ego out of arguments or disagreements, whether with my spouse or others, and although it is work in the beginning and it feels foreign (you mean I can’t just say “I know I’m right” and leave it at that?), ultimately I usually end up feeling heard more clearly than if I had just stayed in that (yes, comforting and safe) place of “right” and “wrong.” I’ve been trying to let the other person know that my intention is to come to a common ground, not dig my heels in about how they have wronged me. It’s so hard! But I’m hoping that at some point taking my ego out of everything will get easier and will just become like second nature. I’ve found over the past year that some of my daily practices of mindfulness and setting intentions and being in tune with gratitude and even letting myself get to those dark places if I need to, has actually become a bit more second-nature and not as much work anymore.

Interestingly enough, just this past week, two people separate of each other told me that I am not the same person that they met a few years ago (and not the same person from even a year ago). They meant that as a compliment, and that is certainly how I took it. As the person who is looking out into the world with all of my own personal life experiences, it can be difficult to see the changes (for better or worse) in myself, so I found it comforting and helpful to hear from these friends what they see from their point of view.

I have changed, but I still carry with me the same Sam heart that I always have. And in a lot of ways, I’m still the same insecure people-pleaser that I always have been (always worried that I’ll disappoint somebody, especially if I put my needs first). But I am proud of the work that I have done over the past year that maybe at times felt like work, but in the end, was just evolving and being willing to say I’m sorry (to both myself and others) and to accept myself with more love and compassion. It means carrying hope with me, even in the toughest of times.  I don’t get it perfectly, you’ve heard me say a million times, but it bears repeating. I.Don’t.Get.It.Perfectly. I still forget to set intentions or can’t find the time to meditate or eat dessert or stink at yoga (ahh, there is that judgmental voice) or snap at SHL for no reason. My spiritual practice doesn’t always involve daily meditation or yoga or being out in nature, as much as I would love it to. I guess I’m here to say that please do not feel like you have to read a million self-help books or be one with nature or even travel out to the Chopra Center to feel like you can have a spiritual path, if you want one. For me, it means being open to miracles—not the parting of the Red Sea or the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series (sorry Cubs fans), but seeing things differently. It means taking my ego out of things as much as possible. Being mindful, even if it is something that I cannot change in that moment (or day, week, month or year). It means setting intentions each morning which is not as cumbersome as it may seem. End your day with gratitude. And maybe the most important? HAVE FUN. There may be some days that are so crappy that you have no intentions or gratitude and you certainly can’t see things differently and hey guess what? THAT’S OK. In fact, that’s part of the journey, I think. Being real. Authentic. Who you are. Try not to let anybody else dictate that, though it can be difficult.

I have begun to think of spirituality a little bit like religion: I may not go to synagogue all of the time or a Passover Seder, but I still firmly identity as and love Judaism. You don’t have to practice meditation every day or go to temple or church every week or feel like you need to practice in a certain setting or in a certain way in order to feel like you’re entrenched in something meaningful and beautiful. Whatever it means to you, whatever feels peaceful, that is what is right.

So my friends, the 100th post on this blog is a big sappy love note to all of you. As I said to Kris Carr back in August at the Chopra Center, “thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.”

With hope, intention, gratitude, and heaps of love,

Sam xoxo.

No Sugar? No Cakewalk

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Day 2. My co-worker will not stop talking about Cake Boss. She even went so far as to show me pictures of their cakes online. Torturous.  No sugar so far, and it’s 11:33am. Thankfully I woke up this morning to the delightful smell of eggs and found SHL in the kitchen taking muffin tins out of the oven filled with eggs and veggies. (Healthy) Breakfast on the go, hooray!

Sean doesn’t need a recipe, but some do (ahem, me)… So here’s one for you. You can never go wrong with Bon Appetit!

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/quick-recipes/article/muffin-tin-eggs-breakfast.

It’s almost 1pm now. Excited for that cake. I mean, walk.

3pm. Why didn’t the outing today during lunch refresh me as much as it did yesterday? I was happy to see a bunny rabbit just chillin’ on a person’s lawn and a cat that reminded me so much of our Teddy Bear walked right over to me and rubbed up against my leg. It’s another gorgeous day here in New England. But still, when I passed by the 7/11 on the way back to the office I was drooling at the thought of an iced coffee, but what they sell in there all has so much sugar already dumped into it, so I decided to sip water at my desk instead (not quite the same)…

Researching recipes online. Oh, Julia Child’s chocolate mousse? I look at the ingredients. I don’t have any dark rum but I’m sure that I could get some. Wait, WHAT AM I DOING?! Chocolate mousse = sugar. Sigh. I’m not going totally sugar-free right now (fruit in my smoothies, raisins in my trail mix, etc.) but I can’t find any nutritional value in the chocolate mouse and if you tell me that chocolate is good for me I will just laugh (is carrot cake healthy too?!), since we both know that it is accompanied by other things that will only make me feel more sluggish.

Did I mention that I’m tired? Going for a walk tonight after work with a friend instead of the usual sit-down dinner.   I like this idea; we get to catch up and chat while checking out a new walking trail in the area. I wonder if there will be breadcrumbs made out of gum-drops for us to follow…

Dear Sugar… Get Lost

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If it wasn’t for Dr. Mark Hyman, I would be beating myself up right now (if you’re not familiar with him please please please (!) spend some time online or in a bookstore reading about his push to get us healthier). Trying to figure out why I’ve gone back to a lethargic state lately, it finally dawned on me last night that my little nibble of dessert here and my little nibble of dessert there (“Oh but it’s summer.”  “Oh but it’s our anniversary.”  “Oh but I’m tired.  “Oh but it’s a Tuesday.”  You get the picture) actually equaled much more than just “nibbles” these last couple of weeks. I’m all for treating ourselves sometimes to a good piece of chocolate birthday cake or a summertime ice cream cone or a Thanksgiving apple pie, but somehow along the way, these “treats” didn’t just become treats, they became weekly occurrences (and one that I had worked so hard to contain).  Been there, done that, right?  But I can only speak for myself and say that for somebody living with cancer, what I eat, drink and think is pretty crucial to trying to stay healthy.

I remembered from my time at the Chopra Center that Dr. Hyman explicitly explained that our cravings for sweets are actually not our fault (phew!). I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of this (it’s all over the news), but recent studies have even shown that when rats are given the choice of cocaine or sugar, they will actually work eight times harder to get the sugar. Wow, that just blew my mind…

Now I’m not talking about anything crazy here, like making “fudge” with dates and almond butter (oh wait, maybe I am). I’m just talking about MINDFULNESS… (Remember, Dr. Hyman says that there is no such thing as junk food.  There is either junk, or food)…And then… Once we’ve gotten practice of that, thinking about how we want to feel throughout the day. As much as I try to be in-the-moment, today it occurred to me that if I could just fast-forward in my mind to how I’ll feel tonight when I get into bed, this forward-thinking may actually impact my daily decisions, and in turn, I may actually make better choices. For instance, do I want that cup of coffee, or do I want to see if I’m just dehydrated first? What will help me to sleep more restfully?  Easy peesy, right?  If only.  We’re all addicted to something, it seems.

So as I become more mindful again of how sugar makes me feel (blah, for one thing) I also try to take my own advice and just…slow…down. It’s even harder to do this week because we’ve just launched a new database system at work and everybody is, how do I say this? Well, freaking out. Information is lost, the system freezes and then crashes, nobody knows how to access files, people are holding on the phone lines and business is supposed to continue as usual…

Now what would I tell you if that was your work situation and you were stressed out, having trouble finding balance again in your life? I thought long and hard about it friends, and then I tried to incorporate a little bit of that guidance into my own situation.

I wish that I had the time to exercise and meditate this morning, but honestly friends, I just so love my sleep right now.  However, I didn’t turn on the radio this morning on the way to work, or grab a coffee absent-mindedly, or even have my phone out. I drove quietly to work and set my intention for the day, which has been my intention all week: To not miss the beautiful “little” things in life because of my work stress. To be in the car, and not at work (mentally).  Because of that intention, I was able to then notice that one whole street was lined with just golden-yellow leaves, and I wondered if the brilliant red leaves had been soaked up by all of this gorgeous fall sunshine.

When lunchtime rolled around, I was tempted to go out and get an iced coffee or just stay in my office and eat lunch at my desk. Part of the difficulty with lethargy from a lack of nutrition is that it’s similar to depression; a vicious cycle. When you don’t eat well you don’t feel well, and the worse you feel, the more you want to eat the sugary and heavy stuff.

But once I got out into the sunshine, I was so glad that I had stepped away from my desk. We are having probably one of the most beautiful autumn New England fall days here, and since my windows at work don’t open and it’s basically recycled air like a plane throughout our offices (yuck!), I just couldn’t have been happier sucking up that amazing fresh air!

Everybody is always talking about the beauty of nature, but rarely do I get the chance to focus on it. So I walked, and I listened, and I paid attention to what I heard, saw, and smelled. Wind chimes! Flowers! A bird singing that I had never heard the melody to before!

I don’t care if it sounds hokey, friends. It’s almost 3pm and as I sit here writing this, I actually don’t feel like I want to fall asleep at my desk, which is my usual afternoon MO after lunch.

So far, so good folks. But it’s only Day 1 of trying to cut out (most) sugars (again) and taking walks during lunchtime. Let’s see how I do tomorrow, and in the meantime, what’s your intention for today and can you see how it can benefit your overall mood, health and happiness?

Cheers to intentions, wind chimes, turning leaves, and slowing down,

Sam xo.

Worth the Wait

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It’s been a gray couple of days here in the Northeast, although I don’t mind it so much.  The sun does it’s best to try to peek out from time to time (as I write this, actually).  Our lawn is dry and could sure use the rain (trying to see the positives of having to wear rain boots– bye-bye flip-flops!– and carry an umbrella with me everywhere I go).  It is supposed to rain from now until at least next Tuesday.

But I love New England this time of year, rain or no rain.  As much as I carry heartfelt feelings and thanks for the summertime, I don’t mind wearing a scarf and watching the ways in which the light changes through the trees on my way home from work (it looks different now every day).  This time of year always seems to bring about visits with friends and long weekends and lots more apples and placing a pumpkin out on our porch because I always dreamed of having a porch to do just that, and the last few years celebrating our anniversary, which I just love and look forward to every year.

This is a big one, folks!  October 2nd marks 5 years.  5 juicy, sweet, difficult, fearful, fearless, stumbling, speeding, cherished years.  It hasn’t always been easy.  Yup, that’s it:  No “It hasn’t always been easy… But who said that it would be easy?” or “It hasn’t always been easy but can’t complain.” Who said that it couldn’t be easy and I could complain A LOT if I wanted to.  (And some days I do).

SHL and I have been through more in the last 5 years than any couple should ever have to go through in a lifetime.  It’s made us stronger and at times, weaker (it can be really stressful sometimes to have cancer in the backseat– I try not to let it drive).  Mostly it’s solidified our devotion to each other, but cancer or no cancer we still deal with everything else that all married couples do (that was a wake-up call for me.  After I was first diagnosed I guess I thought that the day-to-day stuff would be no sweat compared to cancer.  And sometimes it is.  But sometimes, you just want the other person to take the trash out).  So:  who is going to clean out the fridge?  (I did it last time).  Who will take the cat to the vet?  (That’s your job).  Why did you spend so much money on dinner out?  Why does your family do things that way?  A thank you would be nice.  You forgot to buy toilet paper… again?  It may sound funny, but aren’t these all things that we’ve said to ourselves and to our spouses over the years?  On top of job stress and the fact that there is always something to fix around the house (in other words, $$$) and taking care of our cats which yes, is not nearly as hard as real human beings but does still require time, love and devotion, we have to deal with scans and doctor’s appointments.  We still have to cope with the trauma that ensued two years ago when I was diagnosed and told that getting pregnant was out of the question and having a family is not something most people with this disease choose to do but yet even worse (much worse), nobody could be sure how long I would have to live.  When you’ve been married for three years, that is crushing.  Beyond crushing.

But we keep going.  More than going, we thrive.  We love.  We laugh (boy, do we laugh.  High up on my gratitude list is how much we laugh together).  We have FUN.  Because whoever said that life had to be so serious all of the time??   We still fight because dishes are left in the sink but at the end of the day, I am keenly, almost impossibly, aware that not everybody would have stuck by my side.  But even more profound than that:  I have never actually once felt that SHL is “sticking by my side” and that he would rather be anywhere else.  So despite the messy socks on the floor and the fact that I need a lot of attention and the long “honey-do” list still floating around somewhere, despite anything and everything that has ever happened to us in our 7 + year relationship, I thank g-d, the universe, planet earth, Aphrodite or Cupid or whoever for bringing us together.

This weekend, we’ll go back to where we said “I do” for the first time since our wedding.  I can’t wait to relive the memory of being so careful not to spill wine on SHL during the ceremony that he could barely get in a little sip (we have that on videotape and it’s awesome), and my Dad blubbering on about something as a way to distract himself because he didn’t want to cry as he walked me down the aisle.  I can’t wait to look out onto Pleasant Bay on Cape Cod and imagine not just the chuppah and flowers and candles, but every single person who was there with us on that day to witness us becoming husband and wife.  I want to dance to Harvest Moon and drink soup from little shooters and remember the first time that he saw me in my wedding dress.

I waited what felt like a long time to find SHL, but it was surely worth the wait.  xo.