How Tattoos can Heal Us

17 Jan

After the death of my beloved dog Molly nearly four years ago, my health took a nosedive into unfit territory. I lived in dark sadness on which I’ve only recently started to shed light. I gained a significant amount of weight specifically around my midsection. I consoled myself with sugar. I pushed loved ones away.

Things started to turn around over the summer when I finally got my memorial tattoo of my best girl’s paw. She would always sit on my left side, and anytime I reached my hand down, it was met with the softest of fur and sometimes a cold nose. That’s where my tattoo had to be.

I only had a cast of her paw because of the sweet vet tech who heard me cry out that I didn’t have a print of her paw. My boyfriend had smooshed his pup’s paw in purple paint (his grandmother’s favorite color), and had it tattooed on his forearm years ago even though his girl was still alive. I was so jealous that he had that reminder, and that I wouldn’t. When I picked up Molly’s ashes, the cast was in the bag. I cried even harder.

She was a big girl, a black lab retriever, but just a paw print on my thigh would seem out-of-place. I decided to surround it with a wreath of flowers. There had to be roses because my grandmother, my mother, and my cousin’s daughter were all roses.

I asked my father to take me to the man who had done my first tattoo – a week after my 18th birthday. He had to do this one too. It was important. We went to the shop one afternoon. I explained my idea. The artist nodded and sketched. Asked lots of questions. And when he was all set up, I didn’t move. I sucked it my breath, closed my eyes, and listened to the constant buzzing of the needles piercing my skin over and over.

For three hours, I sat still. I never sit still. I am always in too much to sit frozen, but I did it. The aching knees, and warm flesh, the itching toes and throbbing hips did not deter me from remaining motionless. This tattoo was too important for breaks.

We had talked of colors, and I watched him mix pinks and greens, shades similar to those on Molly’s paisley collar. I didn’t know what parts of the final image would be each color, but I could wait to find out.  He took his time. Rolling back on his wheeled chair to get a better view. Shading in leaves with multiple greens. Making sure the paw was perfect. And when he was done, he sounded nervous.

The moment I looked in the mirror and saw the final piece, I broke. Ugly tears. Quiet sobs. Without words, I threw myself at the man who tattooed me, a man my father rides Harleys with, a man who doesn’t mess around, and hugged him. I could feel his surprise, but wouldn’t recognize that it was there until afterwards. “Thank you for giving me my girl back,” I cried.

In that moment, I felt like she was with me. I fought back the urge to rub my leg knowing that it needed to heal first. But she was there now. Right where she had been for fifteen years.

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Sunday Soups

25 Jan

Winter in New England is harsh.  It’s cold.  It’s dark.  And there’s lots of snow, especially this week with Winter Storm Colbie reading to drop 2-3 feet of white stuff outside.  There’s nothing better than a big bowl of soul-warming soup – the kind that kicks those winter-blues to the curb.

Because I try very hard to not waste any food, I have gotten into the habit of making soup on Sundays.  I take all the extra veggies and meats from the week and throw everything in the Crock Pot.  Yup.  The Crock Pot is one of the best soup-making tools ever.

Today, I had half a bag of baby carrots, one potato, two stalks of celery, half and onion, and a rotisserie chicken breast leftover.  I chopped everything up, added some garlic (I always have a jar of minced garlic in the refrigerator) and some spices (Italian spice blend, red pepper flakes, black pepper), and I was on my way to delicious.

Crock Pot Chicken SoupInstead of using all stock, I use half stock and half water.  There are always cans or boxes of chicken or vegetable stock (the low sodium kind) in the pantry, and I stock up at the market when there is a sale.  Once everything was in the Crock Pot, I gave it a stir, put it on high for four and a half hours (I had a late start to the day), and enjoyed the warmth of homemade chicken soup in the air.

This is seriously the best way to use up whatever is in the refrigerator.  Green beans from dinner the other night?  Throw them in a soup.  A head of cauliflower that you swore you would cook?  Throw it in a soup.  Little meatballs or beans?  Throw them in a soup! Be creative with spices and combinations of ingredients.  Everything tastes good in a soup.

One of the best tips I can give you about making the BEST chicken soup is something that my Sicilian mom and grandmother did.  They added a small can of tomato sauce to their soup.  It might sound weird, but I swear it adds a fantastic depth of flavor that reminds me of being a little girl waiting at the kitchen table for a bowl of yummy goodness complete with a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  Try it.  You’ll never go back.

Can I tell you how much of something to put in?  Nope.  Use what you’ve got.  Can I tell you how long to cook it for?  Nope.  I can tell you that I usually put it on for 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.  I like my veggies to be tender (especially if they were raw when I put them in), so I check on them after a few hours.  I can also tell you that if you’re going to add pasta, WAIT UNTIL THE END, like maybe the last 30 minutes or so.  I may have added pasta at the beginning of cooking one batch, and let’s just say it disintegrates.

What kind of soup are you going to make?

Silicone Bake Cups: Are They Just for Cupcakes?

19 Jan

If you’re anything like me, you want to find multiple ways to use things you’ve got lying around your house.  I hate to see empty baskets or containers, and I like to be creative with how I display things.  For instance, all of my vitamins and medications are on display on this cake stand I made:

vitamins

I’ll make a post showing you how easy it is to make your own cake stand.  I have given them away with goodies during holiday time, and they make great organizers for the bathroom or jewelry too.  So. Easy.

Do you ever bake with silicone molds?  Do you pack lunches, either for yourself or for your kiddos?  Then these versatile baking goodies might become your new best friend.  Sometimes I can’t find my divided plastic containers when it’s time to pack lunch.  Okay.  If I’m being honest, sometimes I don’t want to look; my Tupperware cabinet is an avalanche waiting to happen.  That’s where these little beauties come into play.

bake cups

I don’t like when certain foods touch.  Call me OCD, but I don’t enjoy when my mashed cauliflower mingles with freshly washed raspberries.  I need boundaries in my life.  You can turn any container you have in your cupboard into a divided container with these silicone bake cups.  They are also super helpful if you have something that needs to be heated packed with something that doesn’t need to be warmed up like a salad or fruit.  It’s fun and easy to pack healthy lunches with some flair that all your co-workers and your kiddos friends will be jealous of.

If you’re following a diet like the 21 Day Fix, you can use the colors to keep track of your containers as well.  I think that would be a helpful way to keep on target when you’re on the go.

cuppies

Now, for all intensive purposes, I did find a divided container in the dishwasher that I forgot was clean and ready to empty, but I did use a silicone cup to add my raspberries to my lunch.  I can easily remove the bake cup while the rest of my lunch goes into the microwave to warm up.  The great thing about these bake cups is that they are easily washed and definitely reusable which might save you some cash in the long run.

lunch

These silicone baking cups can add organization to more areas of your home than just the kitchen.  Use them in a desk drawer to separate paper clips, pins, erasures, and more.  They would be great to use when organizing jewelry too.  What other ways could you see using these versatile containers?  Let me know!

Back on the Grind…

24 Sep

Well, it finally happened.  My alarm quacked at 5am (it really is set to quack), and I worked out.  Now, let’s be honest.  I haven’t exercised in weeks, about five or six to be exact; I’m a little rusty.  But, I’m feeling much better than I was, and starting is the hardest part.  I didn’t go crazy, but I did work up a little sweat and breathing was hard.  The circuit I did took less than ten minutes, but here’s what I decided.  Since it’s been so long since I’ve worked out, anything is better than nothing.  And even though it was short, I really did FEEL it.  So here you go:

50 Jumping Jacks

25 Crunches

10 Tricep Dips

15 Squats

10 Lunges (each leg)

25 Russian Twists

20 Standing Calf Raises

10 Push-ups

30 second Plank

50 Jumping Jacks

If you’re feeling adventurous, or if you’ve been working out consistently and want more of a challenge, double or triple this circuit.  But trust me, you’ll feel it after one round.  I’m easing my way back into the game.  Stay tuned for Weigh In Wednesday to see where I’m starting over from.  I’m still going to attempt my 33 by 33 challenge, but I know I’m at a slight disadvantage right now.  No crazy diets or anything like that, but I’d like to get as close to that goal as possible.

Have a great week everyone.  And remember, it’s never too late to start!

And the Hits Just Keep Coming…

8 Sep

I have been MIA for weeks; not only MIA from keeping you all up-to-date on my weight loss efforts and other fabulousity, but it seems from my every day life in a way.

I should have posted a Weigh-In:  Week Five this week, but, and please excuse my language, shit got crazy.  The headaches got a little better, but then school started.  Getting back on that schedule wasn’t easy, and although I was waking up at 5am, I wasn’t working out the way I wanted to.  I ended up gaining back the weight I had lost, but figured that I could easily get back on track.

The Universe had a different plan.  Last week, I had some back pain.  And let’s be honest, pain is something I live with.  I chalked it up to walking into something and figured it would go away on its own.  Cut to this past Tuesday where the pain became sharp and stabbing and I could barely walk.  I ended up in the ER with a bladder infection.  Who knew?  I had NO symptoms.  None.  Ain’t that a kick in the urinary tract?  It didn’t stop there.  Of course not.  Wednesday found me back in the ER; the infection wasn’t content in my bladder and decided to invade my kidneys.  AWESOME.  103.5 fever.  Chills and sweats ALL day and night.  Achy body.  Migraine.  Nausea. Dizziness.   And still the back pain.

Things are going well today, but I don’t want to jinx myself!  If the fever stays under control today, I won’t have to go back to the hospital.  I’m pretty positive.  So, I gained weight back.  I missed nearly the whole second week of school.  And I’m taking more meds right now than anyone my age probably should.  But, I’m on the mend.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to work out again, or eat things other than Ritz crackers and chicken broth, but I will.  I’m just going to have work extra hard to reach that goal.  But right now, I’ll just be happy to be healthy, regardless of what the scale says!

Weigh-In Wednesday: Week Two

15 Aug

Okay.  It’s the end of the second/beginning of the third week of my self-proclaimed 33 by 33 challenge.  And in all honesty, it’s been a bittersweet week.  Let’s get down to business, and then I’ll explain.

The verdict:

-3

Yup.  I lost three pounds, bringing my two-week total to -6.4.  Pretty awesome.  Here’s where the “bad” news comes in.

I haven’t worked out all week, and I’ve barely eaten.  This has not been a choice; in fact, it’s killing me to just lay around.  I’ve been suffering from a migraine for over a week now.  I’ve gone to the doctor, had some blood work, and just yesterday had a CT scan.

I don’t know if any of you suffer from migraines, but I’ve NEVER had one like this.  One day, there’s an ice pick in my face, the light makes me feel like Vampire Bill, and all I want to (or even can) do is sleep.  The next day, it’s a dull ache with the dizzies – the sober drunk girl.  And on and on and on.  I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night because of it.  I’ve been even more forgetful than usual because of it.  I’ve got more unexplained bruises than normal because of it.  This just sucks.

Trying to look on the bright side, I’m glad this is happening BEFORE school starts back up because I don’t think I’d last a day with all those loud teenagers.  Eeeeek!  I’m sad that the end of my summer is less than sensational.  I don’t know.  Hopefully my doctor will have some answers today.

So, my weekly weigh-in post has turned into an “I have a migraine” rant.  So back to the skinny.  I’ve got 26.6 pounds left to lose, and I’ve got 18 weeks to do it. I should add that I bought two new pairs of pants in a size smaller than I have previously worn, and I’m in a whole new weight decade (that’s what I call each ten pounds).

Weigh-In Wednesday: Week One

8 Aug

Ok.  So, I’ve been committed to my 33 by 33 plan for a whole week now.  This morning I stepped on the scale, and the result was:

– 3.4 lbs

Yup.  I have lost 3.4 lbs in my first week!  That means I only have 30 more to go!!!  Hahaha.  I worked out five out of the seven days, drank lots and lots of water, and was more mindful of what I put in my face to eat.  I’ve been going back and forth all week with the idea of cutting out gluten because I had done some research about it and fibromyalgia.  Apparently going gluten-free can help reduce the pain and fatigue that comes along with FMS.  I’m all for anything that will make me feel better.  This week I definitely cut down on the gluten, and there were some days where I didn’t have any at all.  We’ll see how it goes.

But, all in all, it was  a successful week.  I feel good about my accomplishments.  If I keep this up, I will definitely meet my final goal!