Thursday, February 15, 2018

I'm Still Here...

It's been a while. A long while. Something you may not know about me is that when I am really struggling, I isolate. I isolate to contain my darkness, because who wants to be around that? I isolate because I don't have the energy for the pleasantries. To those in my life who have wondered where I have gone, I am still here trying to pull myself out of the darkness. There are moments that I can see the light, and I will get there. In time.
I haven't been in touch.
Because some days all of my strength is used to get myself out of bed, and the last thing I want is to answer the polite nicety of how are you. I don't have the energy to lie anymore, and I don't want to actually say how I am.
Because my body feels like it's being held hostage by the hormones I inject and ingest daily, or it's attempting to recover from the hormones before the next round. The hormones that make me want to cry uncontrollably because I just happened to turn on the tv and saw a diaper or pregnancy test commercial, or when I went to the grocery store I nearly parked in a spot until I saw the parent parking sign, which just reinforced my lack of child, and once I managed to get into the store I have to try to get in and out as quickly as possible because the longer I am in there the greater the chances of crossing paths with someone who is pregnant, or with a baby.
Because gauging a good day verses a bad day has become measuring how many times that day I thought about wishing I wasn't alive, and less then 3 is a good day, don't ask how many can be in a bad day...
Because I am still trying to work through the grief and loss of a pregnancy that ended, and never happened again...
Because I really don't want to hear that things happen for a reason, or my challenges are making me stronger, or that I have no idea what tired or busy is.
Because this roller coaster ride has been going on for two and a half years, and I no longer see the point in pulling others along for the looooong ride.
Because 'my person' who I have gone to my entire life for support, guidance, and encouragement is deceased and not only am I trying to navigate the grief around that and I need her more then ever and she's not there.
Because I am driving three hours or more to an appointment that takes fifteen minutes so I can turn around and drive home... and I may have to do it over again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next...
Because even though I want to make plans to meet up for a coffee I can't (see the previous or first 'because' to know why) and if I do there is a good chance I will have to cancel, and eventually I will have cancelled too many times.

Those 'becauses' take every ounce of energy I have. So it's just easier to disappear into the wood work, until I get through this darkness. Yes I know it won't be this way forever, and that is what keeps me going. Two and a half years of ths has taken it out of me.

At this point I am focusing on one day at a time and not thinking about the next day, week, month, or year, and that is how I am getting through. I am meditating, walking, cooking, going to therapy & acupuncture, writing (with an actual pen and paper), and spending time with my sweetie, and on occasion time with family or a friend. This is helping me keep my head above the water.

I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen and trying out a fair number of new to me recipes. These are my dad's chicken wings, and they are mouth watering delicious! They are dipped in egg and then flour and cooked in a sauce that combines soy sauce, vinegar, water, and sugar, and then cooked low and slow turning regularly. MMMMMMM I will be making these again soon.

I made this recipe for Skillet Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy, which were excellent. I served them on mashed potatoes, and steamed some sliced carrots and frozen peas.

I tried out this delicious recipe for Baked Scallops.  While they baked I roasted brussel sprouts and fennel tossed in olive oil sea salt & pepper, and toward the end of the vegges cooking I added 2 prawn skewers also drizzled with olive oil sea salt & pepper. When there was a few minutes left on the veggies I cooked packaged stuffed portabello mushroom ravioli and then tossed in olive oil & fresh basil and served it with the veggies, prawns and scallops, and drizzeled some of the scallop sauce on everything.  Best dinner EVER!

I made a new spin on my sweeties favourite breakfast for dairy free eggs benny. I usually make it with sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and smoked or candied salmon. This was a much simpler version with avocado and bacon. I am not sure which version I prefer but they are both pretty darn good!

On one of my trips down island I stopped in one of my favourite places to go for a walk.

I spend a lot of time in the car and have come across some great podcasts. I listen to a huge array of podcasts including a variety of true crime podcasts, The Secret Life of Canada, The Good Life, On Being, Night Time, Lore, Radiolab, Stuff You Missed in History Class, and Historical Figures to name a few. I like to listen to podcasts when I am in the kitchen or the numerous hours I spend in the car. It's a nice escape from the everyday life.

If you are looking for an interesting listen I suggest:
CBC Podcast Out in the Open hosted by Piya Chattopadhyay Pregnancy Loss

Or an interesting read:
How Infertility Kills Your Self-Esteem by Aela Mass

There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.
~Zora Neale Hurston

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Things have been a bit crazy lately so I haven't had much opportunity to work on a couple of posts I started a while ago. My mother's health has been very up and down and I have spent a lot of time in hospitals, sometimes due to calls at ridiculous hours of the night.  She was improving and set to head home and then came internal bleeding which took her recovery off the rails. So I have been pretty low key and sluggish the past few weeks.

I have been feeling rather frustrated with the current situation and how busy and tired I am given I had decided to take time off work to focus on my own wellness. I'm not frustrated with my mother, I know she doesn't want to be sick, I am frustrated with the situation. Watching my parent wither away slowly and painfully to a person I barely even recognize is a difficult thing.  I don't even see the vivacious woman she once was anymore and it hurts my heart. I do not turn off the sound on my phone because the two times I have turned it off I missed calls that my mom was critically ill. Every time the phone rings late at night I anticipate hearing she is gone. It as been a long journey, and my heart and soul are tired. I feel selfish for wanting to focus on my own health, when I am her person. Hopefully things level out a bit and I can get my wellness back on track.

I had some physical issues brought on by running and have started physiotherapy. It appears I have aggravated my piriformus muscle and it is quite inflamed. This sacrum pain started very early in my running, but I was in denial that the running was causing it, until it got so bad that I couldn't sit without horrific shooting pain. It only hurts when I sit, but spending long hours sitting in a car or at a hospital it got to the point I couldn't handle it anymore. I went to my doctor and the x-ray showed it was clear so it was a muscular problem. I have been going to massage therapy regularly and my massage therapist suggested I add physiotherapy so I did. I have been twice and have been given some exercises, and then some adjustments to the exercises as my piriformus once again was inflamed. I have a goal of getting back to running for January and my physiotherapist thinks that is a reasonable goal. A friend is trying to talk me into doing the Goddess Run in Victoria in June and if I am back to good health by January that should be a reasonable goal. I will keep you posted on my progress. Strangely I have found myself missing it, so I am very hopeful that will be back in my routine in the new year. My sweetie and I have been getting out for walks which is good, and most days I am meeting my goal with my step tracker, so I am still staying mobile.

Recently I listen to a very insightful podcast on Pregnancy Loss by CBC Out in the Open hosted by Piya Chattopadhyay. I encourage you to give it a listen.  I really appreciated the different perspectives and a lot of what was shred resonated with me. For a moment I felt a little less alone.

Despite the craziness I have managed to continue eating healthfully, for the most part...
This past summer I was having toast with peanut butter and banana and a boiled egg for breakfast nearly every day. Lately I have been changing it up and adding Raisin Bran cereal, and Red River cereal with maple syrup and added ground chia seeds. 

I tried out a new Pinterest recipe which is a Slow Cooker Jambalaya, I only made one adjustments to the meat, and used prawns and scallops instead of chicken, and used chorizo sausage. I had basmati rice on hand so that is what I used. I found after the suggested cooking time the rice was still a bit crunchy, so I would add a bit more broth and cook it a bit longer next time. I added the cooked prawns an scallops just before serving. This was so delicious, and we will be sure to make it again.

I purchased pumpkin filled ravioli triangles from Superstore and made a brown butter sage butternut squash sauce to go with it.  I roasted cubed butternut squash tossed in olive oil, sea salt & pepper at 425 until browned. While the butternut squash cooked, I put butter in a frying pan and once hot added fresh sage. Once the sage had browned and was crisp I took it out and cut it up and set it aside. When the butternut squash had browned I put the cubes in the Vitamix and added veggie broth until the desired creamy consistency. I also added some of the melted butter from browning the sage, chopped yellow onion, and 1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes. Once the pasta was cooked according to the package directions I drained it and put it back int he pot. I added enough sauce to cover it and the fried sage. once plated I sprinkled it with fresh grated parmesan cheese. I served the yummy pasta alongside roasted asparagus, mushrooms, and fennel tossed in olive oil, sea salt & pepper. I had lots of sauce left over so I popped it in the freezer for another dinner.

I'd love to tell you my Russian Broscht recipe is an old family recipe handed down through the generations... but it's not. My grandma's borscht recipe is more red and I am heavier on the purple ingredients. I think borscht is something people are often quite particular about (myself included). I love this recipe!

In place of the one cup tomato puree I add one can of organic tomato sauce.

I serve mine with a generous helping of cashew cream and dill. This time I had a slice of sour dough bread with cheese broiled in the oven.

The only way out is through. ~Robert Frost

Thursday, October 12, 2017

An Upcoming Project

I don't know about you, but I loooooove the fall. The beautiful autumn colours, the cooler nights that give you a good excuse to curl up with your sweetie, soft cozy fall sweaters, delicious soups & comfort food, and if your anything like the bears (and me) preparations for hibernation.  As I hibernate in my home I have some big plans for this winter...

October 11 was a day of reflection. It marked 2 years since we received the gift that changed our lives forever.  Had you told me then that I would experience such a devastating loss and continue to endeavor this arduous road to experience the gift of being a parent I would not have believed you. I would not have believed I was strong enough, determined enough, courageous enough or perseverant enough, and yet I am still here and still rising up to the challenge. It has been a challenge like no other in my life, and has shown me that I am built of strong stuff. I don't always feel that way but we have not yet reached the point where enough is enough (trust me this is a topic I have contemplated on numerous occasions).

It is a part our life we have quietly navigated with the support of a very few close friends. It has meant that most of my friendships have gone by the way side because I can't ever make plans and often have to cancel, because our life revolves around fertility treatments, and all the things that go with that, including the emotional highs and lows, that can knock me off my feet for periods of time. When I do actually get out an socialize people ask me what I am up to and I don't even speak to the biggest part of my life, which leaves me little to talk about. I have never been very good at the small talk stuff and am a person who yearns to connect with people on a deep level so I can only discuss the weather for so long. I have gotten very skilled at the art of deflection, and generally speaking it's actually quite easy because we live in a time where people rarely ever feel like they are heard or have someone to talk to. Besides I was born to be a listener so it's easy for me to fall into that role.

27 months, 13 procedures, 1 pregnancy, 1 devastating loss, more vitamins, essential oils, supplements, pills & injections then I can count, numerous acupuncture, chiropractic & massage therapy sessions. It has been a very tumultuous journey, and I have reached the point that I am going to bare my vulnerability... I am writing a book!

I have been working on an outline and pulling bits from my journals and blogs and have decided that if one person can feel like they are not alone on their fertility journey it will be worth it. I am making a conscious choice to be my most vulnerable self, and write about the journey at the most raw level I can. I know that I will be judged, but if I can't be my authentic vulnerable self then why bother doing it? I will not censor the ugly darkness and moments I no longer wanted to live, or the moments of joy, hope and strength. This story is for the person walking the fertility journey and having to make difficult decisions every step along the way, and asking themselves when is enough enough? This story will be for the person walking the fertility journey and wants to punch the person in the face who tells them it will all work out in the end. This story will be for people who want to connect with another person's most raw vulnerable self.  I also intend to speak to what has helped me get though this journey including the grief and loss, and the things that I found helpful and unhelpful along the way. So here's to my winter project! I have no idea how long this will take, it could be years, but I intend to follow it through until it feels ready to share. If nothing else I suspect the writing will be a big part of my healing.

My sweetie and I were lucky we had a little getaway to Saltspring Island at a friends place, which gave some time to disconnect from the outside world and truly relax. It was a great 4 days with lots of sleeping, reading, writing, walking in the woods, wildlife watching, sitting on the dock, and yoga. It was exactly what we needed, and I left recharged with a great sense of grounding.

There was an abundance of beautiful crabapples in the orchard.

We left Saltspring with a bag of crabapples so I decided to make one of my childhood favourites, crabapple jam.

My mom no longer has her crabapple jam recipe so as usual I turned to Pinterest.  I used this recipe for Crabapple Jelly but didn't strain it as much and made a jam. I also didn't add quite as much sugar, but it was still sweet enough for me.

Mine turned out pinker then my mother's did when I was a kid, but it was still yummy.

Since I had the canner out I figured I might as well make cranberry sauce too. This was my first time canning cranberry sauce so I thought I should try a recipe for canning. I found this Jellied Cranberry Sauce recipe on Pinterest and it was very similar to my usual recipe so I went with it. It was so good that I was eating spoonfuls of it!

Finished crabapple jam & cranberry sauce.

I quickly made a turkey dinner for my sweetie and I.  I put a breast and thigh in the slow cooker and cooked it with some chicken broth & poultry seasoning & a bit of butter under the skin. I was short for time so I cooked it on high and kept my eye on it with my meat thermometer. While teh turkey cooked I sauteed some kale in olive oil, sea salt & pepper, and then set it aside to add to my mashed potatoes.  I cut up brussel sprouts, parsnips, and carrots to bake in the oven, potatoes to boil for mashed potatoes, and sliced green beans for steaming. I took 2 cheats and used stove top stuffing, and a package of gravy. Honestly I only had a few hours, so something had to give in the name of efficiency. When the turkey was nearly at temperature I got the vegetables going & shazaam before you knew it turkey dinner was done! This was the perfect opportunity to break out that cranberry sauce:) This dinner was the perfect amount for one dinner a night of leftovers, and a few turkey sandwiches. No turkey overload.

So in the spirit of giving thanks, I am thankful for those who have helped me stay strong along this journey, most especially the love of my life who helps lift me up when I feel I have nothing left in me.

Owning our own story can be hard, but nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy- the experience that makes us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. ~Brene Brown

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Getting Grounded

I have been giving a lot of though to the topic of suffering since reading No Mud, No Lotus. I am still processing a lot of what I read, and just starting to make some sense of it all.

I feel like I have been so thick in the suffering and feeling broken down, so the only direction to go is up with growth. Like a forest after the fire I will regenerate and rise up.

Now I feel like it is the time to figure out who I am and who I want to be moving forward.  It feels like such a huge part of me has been so consumed by my grief that life has carried on and i have been going through the motions, but not really giving any thought to how to want to be living.

So  have been taking some time to get grounded, reflect, & think of the future and what I want as I move forward.

I have been thinking about when I feel the most grounded and my first go to place is the beach. I was having a rough day so I decided to just go sit down on the beach and spend some time there mindfully.

I appreciate that mother nature as given us a long summer full of sunshine which has carried into the fall.  I know those grey days with sideways rain are rght around the corner so I am soaking up every minute I can get!

Right now I am reading Brene Brown's Rising Strong. Brene Brown is one of my favourite writers. This one may take me a while to get through, but I will keep you posted if any thoughts come up that inspire me.

I happened to flip on the tv and the Rachael Ray show was on with guest Chef Curtis Stone.  He was making chicken a few different ways and it interested me so I decided to watch.  Immediately afterward I went to the website and got the recipe for Chicken Piccata. It was super easy and we both really enjoyed it. I served it with a recipe I shared on my Faceboook Page for Mushroom Rice (which was delicious!) and steamed carrots, brocolini, and cauliflower.
It's been a while since I made this recipe, which my sweetie declares is his favourite dinner ever. Saffron Chicken Tagine with Honey Raisin Couscous, which I also shared as a guest post on the Dairy Free Betty blog.

Just as delicious as I had remembered it!

I made my quick go to dinner using a spinach & ricotta stuffed ravioli tossed in olive oil and Italian seasoning, which I served with sauteed mushrooms. I seared scallops in butter cooking wine, sea salt & pepper. I steamed some green beans and asparagus and piled some fresh basil on top. Yum! Still my favourite easy default dinner.

I have something that I am working on that I am going to share, but will wait as I feel it will take an entire post rather then being an after thought. Stay tuned for my next post!

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too. ~Paulo Coelho