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.




video

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


Saturday, September 30, 2017

5km Goal Reached!

It's been a while... Somehow I have found myself with 3 blog posts in the works, none of which are complete, I am not sure how that happened??? So this post is from roughly 3 weeks ago and I will work on getting caught up. There will likely be a couple more posts in the near future...

I did it! I reached my 5km goal! I was feeling very hell yeah about it, at the same time still not enjoyig it so I have not reached full commitment to be a runner. The last 2 weeks before reaching my goal were ridiculously hard and I really wanted to give up. The final week I pulled a muscle in my thigh which resulted in 5 days without running. It was not easy for me to get back into it. I find for things to be lasting with me, it needs to be consistent. I knew I was at the final stretch so I added another week and got through it. 

I also learned running with my sweetie really isn't a good idea because he runs with much more ease then me, which results in me pushing myself a bit harder then is good for me. I curse him as he makes it looks so effortless, all the while I am sucking wind and forcing my body forward haha. After I reached my goal I focused on increasing my speed because, well, I am turtle slow. I have already knocked off a minute and a half. Here are some shots of the trail I run through and you can sure see the early signs of fall.


My sweetie and I have gotten into a pattern of leaving he house at the same time & going in opposite directions.  Last week I left a little ahead of him and we crossed paths on the sea walk on my last km. He enthusiastically gave me a high five which helped push me to keep going, because I wanted to quit just before I spotted him running in my direction. It made me reflect the final part of my run and how that is such a metaphor for our life when things get to the point I want to give up he helps me get through it. I am one lucky gal! This is some of the view from the sea walk.

My cousin and I got out kayaking for a few hours and it was great! It has been a long time since I have been in a kayak and I was way overdue. I love me some cousin time!



Recently I made pulled pork sandwiches, and with the left over pork I made pulled pork pizza.  I brushed some barbecue sauce on the crust then added some pulled pork, chopped red onion & apple, and some white cheddar.  When it came out of the oven I added a generous helping of chopped fresh cilantro.

Another gem I found on Pinterest is the Vegan French Dip Sandwiches. I make them vegetarian and add white cheddar. I served them on delicious Portofino pretzel buns. I had fallen so in love with this recipe I over used it, but was happy that after taking a short break from it we will have it back in the roster of recipes.


This Pinterest recipe for Panko Crusted Snapper has become a regular around here.  I have been using fillet of sole instead of snapper as I find it a milder fish and it has been on sale the last couple of weeks. The only alteration I make to the recipe is adding grate parmesan to the panko mixture.  This time I served it with corn on the cob, steamed green beans & carrots, and roasted baby potatoes tossed in olive oil & Italian seasoning.

On the days I don't have any obligations in the morning I enjoy a poached egg on toast after my run.  This particular day treated myself to some bacon too.

I am an avid reader and podcast listener, so I thought I would start adding what I am reading or listening to. Right now I'm reading No Mud No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering by Thich Nhat Hanh. From my perspective it is about leaning into our suffering rather then pushing it away and being open to joy, all from a place of being fully present an acknowledging that neither suffering or joy are permanent. It isn't a very long book and is a pretty easy read. I also appreciate that it has a lot of meditations in it to try out.

Non-human animals instinctively know that stopping it the best way to get healed. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Acceptance

I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on my current struggle and how this pain feels so raw. I feel like time has not eased my pain, although it has evolved it has not eased. I think this current darkness is directly linked to the fact that I have reached a place of accepting that I will not be a parent. It's like a whole new level of grief. At first I was wondering if I was stuck, but now I realize it is a different layer of my grief.

October 23, 2015, the day I found out I was pregnant. It was quite a journey to get to that point and I was ecstatic. December 3 I had my first ultrasound and we got to see our little Doodlebug, pure JOY.  December 22 was the last ultrasound, which also became the day our life began to unravel. I don't think I have truly felt happiness or a sense of joy since that day, or had an authentic smile that wasn't simply a front to how I really feel inside.

Even on the days I don't feel intensely sad, I just feel empty. A shell of the person I once was, a body carrying through with the motions of daily living, but not fully present or engaged with the world around me. Most of the time I don't want to be around people, because I feel like a ball of negative energy and who wants to spread that? The energy it takes to be around people and pretend that life has just carried on is exhausting. It's been over a year and a half and I 'should' be in a better place, at least that's how you feel you are being perceived by others, regardless of whether it's true or not.

I think about Amy every single day. Sometimes with gratitude that I got to feel what it was like to be a mother even if only for a brief moment in time. Other times I wish I had never known what that felt like because then I would not know what a gaping hole she has left. People share of their experience with loss, and often those stories include another child after the loss. But that isn't always the journey.

 
I understand that one can live a fulfilled life without children even if it is not by choice. Right now I am just trying to live so I can't even wrap my head around the fulfilled part. I don't even know what I want for my life moving forward. Actually I know what I want it just doesn't seem to be lining up with the path my life is going to take. If I am honest what I really want to do it run away as fast and far as I can, but I know that will not help. The emptiness inside me and in my arms will just follow me wherever I go. All I can do is continue to move forward, whatever that looks like.

I feel guilt and shame for feeling this way, because I have so much to be grateful for, an amazing spouse, a beautiful home, etc, etc... yet I feel no sense of gratitude. I remember feeling like one lifetime wouldn't be enough, and now I just can't wait for this life time to have run it's course. I live each day going through the motions, with nothing I am excited about or looking forward to. Adding to that my Mom is back in the hospital for the fourth time since I moved back. I can't make any plans because when I do I just end up having to cancel them. So one day at a time, one breath at a time. This simply doesn't feel like living.

I try to be gentle with myself. I need others to be gentle with me, and most of the time others don't even know I need them to be gentle with me, and if they do they don't know how to be. It's awkward, I get it. How can other's know what I need, if I don't even know?

Despite the seemingly never ending bump in the road life around me has carried on as it does.  I try to distract myself with searching for new recipes and little meaningless mindless tasks. The only time I have a clear head is when I am running.  This is the only moment I am fully present, and it's because I am so focused on what is going on with my body, and pushing through it so I can complete my run for the day.  I think this is why I have been able to stick with the running.  I am on week 9 of the Couch to 5k app, which happens to be the final week of the program.  It's not because I enjoy running, because I don't.  It's because it's the only time I am not thinking.  Here are some shots of my recent running route.  Jogging and taking pictures is tricky, but I managed to snap a couple.


Me sweaty and hot after a run, smiling because it's done:P

Another distraction has been canning peaches, 80 pounds done over 3 days.  I was planning on getting peaches when my Grams and I went on our annual road trip but due to my mother's hospitalization over most of the summer all of my plans ended up having to be cancelled.  Luckily Thrifty's had a sale 10 pounds for 10 dollars, and the peaches came from where I would have picked them up anyway, so that worked out.

On the stove I have stockpot which I use to make the syrup, and another pot with boiling water for the skinning process.

My sweetie helped with peeling the skin (which is my least favourite part), and keeping an eye on the canner, which was very helpful and made for a much quicker process.

I use my pressure canner and borrow my dad's outdoor burner. This system works great because it keeps some of the heat out of the house. When I do fish this is awesome because it also keep the fishy smell out of the house.



With a major heat wave the past few days (our heat pump packed it in over a week ago and we are waiting for a part, because the wrong part came last week so our  house is pretty hot) I stocked up on some cool treats to help beat the heat.  These salted caramel are my fav and my sweetie loves the dark chocolate ones. First world problems buying ice cream to manage the heat...


Last weekend we went to a lovely wedding and I took this vegetable orzo salad. It started off with orzo, grilled corn & zucchini, & cherry tomatoes with a balsamic vinegar & olive oil dressing, and fresh basil. This felt like it was rather boring so I decided to just add whatever I had on hand, including black olives, feta, and Italian seasoning. In hindsight probably a bit weird to add to grilled corn, but it added colour and texture. I'd probably just leave out the corn & maybe add chickpeas next time. or leave the corn & add blackbeans instead of olives.

I made ground chicken soft shell tacos which are a fairly regular dinner around here.  I like to add mushrooms (because I add mushrooms to everything) to the cooked chicken and use homemade taco seasoning. I sprinkle some white cheddar, cashew cream & guac. I finish it off with some fresh lettuce. My sweetie adds tomato & salsa to his.

This was a super quick 'crap, oh yeah dinner' throw together meal. I cooked some gluten free rotini and tossed it n the delicious herb infused olive oil I shared previously. I added steamed fresh shelled peas, asparagus, carrots, and sauteed mushrooms, I added a generous helping of fresh chopped basil and parmesan cheese.  I added a handful of sliced tomato to my sweetie's plate. A bit of a hodgepodge but delicious!

We have been eating a lot of barbecued corn on the cob and portabello mushrooms this summer.  I toss them in olive oil, sea salt & pepper before putting it on the grill.  I also steamed beets and broccolini.

An Imperfect Girl original Enchilada Casserole.  My Sweetie LOVED this one and I am sure we will be adding this to our rotation. I set the oven to 400 degrees and roasted cubes of yam tossed in olive oil, sea salt & pepper and cooked until tender.  While the yam cooked, I sprayed a rectangular pyrex dish with cooking oil. I spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce. This time I used canned enchilada sauce, but you can make your own easily, I used 2 cans in total. After the sauce I arranged a layer of soft taco shells. When the yams were done I tossed them in the enchilada sauce and added a can of black beans and an equal part of frozen corn.  I put this layer on the soft taco shell layer. 

I then added another layer of taco shells.

I set this aside and cooked 2 cubed chicken breasts.  Once cooked through I put it in a bowl and added enchilada sauce coating the chicken. I then sauteed mushrooms and sliced zucchini, and once cooked added it to the chicken coating it in the enchilada sauce. Once coated I put this layer on top of the soft taco shells.

I finished it off with a layer of white cheddar and popped it in the oven at 375 degrees, just to warm it all up.

After 20 minutes I set the oven to broil to brown the top. MMMMMMM bubbley cheese!

We served it with a handful of fresh cilantro, cashew cream guac, and my sweetie had salsa on his too.
We ate about half of it and I put the other half in portioned containers for a quick easy dinner or my sweetie's lunch for work.  I will leave it there for now & by the time I post again I will have reached my 5km running goal!

When you get stranded, the way to tart moving again is not to search for an answer but to find a new question to which your life can be the answer. ~ Jennifer Kraus