Resetting my guts!

I have hidradenitis supperativa and it is a drag. Right after easter I had such a hard time with it that I decided to ditch my efforts at an I Quit Sugar lifestyle (I found Sarah Wilson’s book at new years and gave up sweets in January, dairy in February, but noticed nothing even after 3 months) and go bolder. I found an academic study done over a year with HS sufferers that claimed elimination of brewers yeast could be the cure. Anecdotal blog posts suggested nightshade vegetables could be a trigger for HS for some, and other posts (many, many) pointed to clean/paleo/primal eating as a way to cure it.

I decided to go big or go home and since I was in a lot of pain, I went for an elimination diet. Eliminating sugar, grains, pseudo grains, dairy, soy, legumes, brewers yeast and nightshades for 30 days. I’m now 18 days in and noticed a huge difference after just 24 hrs in bloat and how well rested I woke up after a normal nights sleep (before I could sleep 12hrs and still feel wrecked in the morning). 

Here’s the bloat before :

Ok I’m pooching my tummy out as far as it will go,for effect but still.
Here’s after 2 weeks , pooching as far as it will go :


And in just 15 days I lost food cravings, hunger (I eat huge meals), tiredness (waking up super groggy), and brain fog. And about 11-12 pounds. I have one pound left of pregnancy weight left, but at 5’7″ and 142lb I could still lose 12-15 more pounds and not be too thin. 

It’s exciting not to feel depleted and hungry and longing and craving foods I was denying myself. Now I have clearly changed my microbiome and my gut is in way healthier shape and I don’t think much about food at all. And I am eating way more in bulk and calories than I was before. Yay!
However, my HS is no better. 😦 wah!!!
But here are check in photos today, no pooching but totally relaxed, no about tightening or sucking in.  let’s see how much more progress I make at the end of the 30 days! I would love skin to clear up too but it might actually be worse so…. Need new ideas.

I suck at hating my mother in law 

  
Mine is staying with us for 5-6 days and so far she has turned her nose up at my cooking, questioning whether it was safe to eat (??) and then when i chose a yoga video on YouTube precisely because of how much older/less fit&attractive the instructor is (so I don’t feel like a fat old hag in comparison) —she brightly exclaimed that the instructor looks exactly like me! 

Finally, she’s here to help with the girls while my husband focuses on renovation work from dawn to dusk so it doesn’t all fall on me without his help. Yet this morning at 6:15 she slept in and DH asked me to get up with the 2 year old. I suggested that he ask her (that’s why she’s here, so he and I can get some help where she can help) and he didn’t want to so he got up and by then the conversation had woken me up so much that we were all awake and no one could sleep anymore. Except my MIL who stayed in bed for her tenth hour of uninterrupted solo sleep. Argggggghh.
However, no matter how much I want to hate her for these and other transgressions (I could go on….), I just can’t! We both adore the same little girls and when they are being adorable we are both smitten and mesmerized and in love and gosh darn it if I can’t avoid feeling kinship and camaraderie and even liking this silly, rather obtuse woman. Is it evolution at play, making sure little ones’ primary defenders are allies and don’t go to all out war over normal personality clash (or typical annoyances of proximity)?
I don’t know, I just know I want to hate her! But I can’t.

Why must mommies always fear the demise of our kiddos???

  
I think it’s a result of the brain coping with suddenly falling so deeply in maternal love. Your brain realizes immediately that the object of your obsessive devotion is -gasp- mortal and that it’s possible to lose baby. Indeed other women in the world have lost baby . -brain momentarily freezes with incapacity to process such horror – All your life the worst things you can imagine….being yourself diagnosed with a terminal illness and facing death, widowhood, whatnot, your brain can kind of go through the motions of what that would be like and you get a deep sense of tragedy and melancholy in your heart, your eyes may well up with tears, and you shake it off and send major vibes of empathy into the universe for those who have to live it and then move on with your day, saddened by the mental/philosophical exercise but still sort of willing to continue functioning through a human existence wherein those things are always at risk of happening.
But then you have a baby and looking at that face is literally like having previously lived on a dark planet but now the sun has risen in this glorious sunrise and you feel like the swelling of love and light and peace and gratitude in your chest is so beautiful it’s hard to remember to breathe and you smell the baby and you think if there’s a god, this feeling in this moment is somehow my closest access to holiness that a human life has to offer.
And then your brain decides to remind you that there’s a flip side. You’ve always known that even young people can die but then the thought that *your baby * could die registers into your brain and your stomach clenches into a cruel knot and your breath catches and you think of the possibility, the reality other mothers have had to face and dare for a moment to imagine what your reality would be if your baby died. Your brain can’t even get more than half a second into the pandora’s box full of worse-than-never-ending blackness, demons, swirling vortex of anguish before it promptly drops that line of thought like a hot, toxic potato that will incinerate you to the bone for even looking at it, much less touching it for a moment longer, and your psyche runs and hides from the thought, furiously mumbling desperate pleas to the universe to never ever ever ever let this happen, not mother fucking ever, please please please no, that cannot ever happen. 

You’re short of breath and you wipe a few tears and you exhale and try to banish the thought and calm down and shake your head at the thought that any woman has ever had to face that in reality. And continue breathing. How do mothers not just spontaneously combust? You know you couldn’t deal, knife to the gut, bottles of pills immediately, that’s the only sane reaction.

And then you have another child and you realize you could not ever do that to your surviving children so you’ve lost your only out. So that sucks. 

So your brain just lives in this horrible ‘holding your breath and hoping to God that it never happens’ state of quiet begging prayer for years.

And you get more kids and then grandchildren and the anxiety just compounds. How women put one foot in front of the other while carrying all this fear I think is just a function of necessity. Our families need us. But our brain never forgets for a second that all this wonderful love we enjoy with our children comes with a hefty price tag. Always scared something could happen to them, and ever grateful when they safely navigate through the world another day. So intense, it’s crazy that women live longer.

Time marches forward like a relentless little bitch.

  

How DO you deal with getting older?

I’m 36 and feel a bit freaked out about my thirties going by so….quickly. I feel like yesterday I was 32 and trying to convince my partner to hurry up and get going on babies (I had already two kids from a previous marriage but always wanted lots of kids), but he was not ready until I was 33 and then pregnancy-baby-pregnancy-baby and bam here I am turning 37 in the autumn and I feel like with my focus on the intensity of little ones it has just flown by and I’m going to blink and be 40. And my mom (who, next to my children, is everything to me, my whole family) will be 73, with autoimmune diseases that will most likely shorten her lifespan (especially the meds she takes to keep life free of pain) so I can’t expect her to live into her  90s like her mom did. I have to try to enjoy the time we have now. But we live thousands of miles apart and that can’t be changed and….sigh. Aging of her (and I) is something I’m a bit stressed about, yes. Almost panicked. 

As for my getting older, why I get freaked out about turning 40 and heading into my identity of being a middle aged mom of 4 school aged kids, well…. I put so much ‘me’ on the back burner as a young woman. Don’t all moms? I got off the academic track after just my bachelor’s, I got off the career track, I didn’t prioritize many things, especially as a foreigner staying home with kids. Just focused on my kids for so many years and now I’m realizing that this gig does not go on forever(kids grow up, duh) and I really do need stuff going on that is apart from motherhood NOW, to be really happy, and I will especially need it once kids are teens and young adults, busy with their own things much of the time. And I’m not especially easy to satisfy, and I’m an extrovert so part of it needs to really be out there in the community with other people, part of something that involves other people, helping them, meeting new people, being stimulated and feeling appreciated/reaching my potential. Part of this is ego. I guess graduating #1 in my high school class and graduating from a prestigious college, then getting a very fancy job kind of set me up to believe that if I try, I can be successful in whatever I want. I put everything aside at age 23 happily with my first baby and was satisfied with basically only that for years, feeling that I could go back anytime. 

It doesn’t feel like that as much now. It feels harder. I compare myself to people who didn’t stay home with kids and have achieved such impressive things. I was listening to NPR and I hear my best friend from college being interviewed about discovering meteorites. I remember that I was a better student yet I have nothing on my CV/Resume and feel like a failure compared to her, who just kept going with tons of grit and a joyful heart and she gets to play remotely with robots in outer space. I mean that’s so cool for her and she totally deserves it and I’m thrilled for her, but what have I done? Will my sons grow up to seek out talented, driven women, and will my daughters believe everything is possible, if I don’t pursue anything outside the home? I want to be the perfect role model for them in the long run, not just nailing natural childbirth and extended breastfeeding which are great but not something that they’ll remember as adults.
But time is a bitch. I would like to do grad school and start something beyond that while still in my thirties. I would like a fifth child as well. I would love for my kids to get many many years of time and love from their grandma while she’s in good shape. None of this will happen. It makes me sad.
But I did get into grad school and I start in August. I will finish by my 40th birthday and then continue to something else (teaching maybe, or more school, or both, or maybe a job in industry, who knows) and I’ll be bummed to be just getting started with it while over 40 but what choice do I have anymore? 40 will be here soon anyway, better just to put on my big girl panties and start where I am and smile and be positive. I do realize in 30 years from now I’m going to look back and think I was just a baby right now.
Oh and my astronomer friend would like kids. I’m sure from her point of view my 4 utterly gorgeous, healthy, perfect, top-in-their-class, tri-lingual children in addition to very happy marriage to dedicated father who looks like Hugh Jackman is hardly anything to not feel thrilled about at this point in our lives. I get that.
So much angst women go through about the cycles of life! I think men almost never think about this stuff. I’m jealous.

I want to rock out!

  Mommy needs to go back to juggling family and being a rock star on stage, occasionally. 

And the creative outlet of writing songs. At least the vocals.
I’m trying to write new songs now and in the style of Hozier Arsonist’s Lullaby, bluesy slow tempo rootsy rock with soulful, almost gospel melancholy crooning and kind of a relentless, heavy thumping bass/percussion line, building up to a crescendo. More light hearted blues rock sounds like Sunshine of your love by cream or ain’t no sunshine by Bill withers, Magic Man by Heart or even Rolling in the deep by Adele. i love most the dark, riff- heavy, percussion thudding sounds in those tempos and the scoopy jazzy twangy croony vocals bordering on country/gospel is how my voice sounds best.
My husband is a 70s rock lover ; our tastes align squarely with Led Zeppelin, which we both love. He plays guitar in two death metal bands and has a recording studio and booth in our garage, and loves making songs and recording and mixing. So…. My plan right now is to write the vocals and song mockups using live loops on garageband and then ask him to play around with the guitar and bass lines until it’s his own original composition, then record the demos with him playing and my singing. He doesn’t know about this plan but any suggestion that allows him more time to play in his studio is thumbs up for him. We can fool around with it when the kids sleep perhaps.
I want to build up a local band to gig live, too. I love being on stage. I guess I’m a hopelessly social butterfly/people person type of gal–and I love being the center of attention! Only child thing I guess.

And I have a sewing room and it would be fun to design and make costumes for the stage. For all of the band– if they are all women, as I hope they would be. I have an unrelated life goal to invest as much time and energy as possible in female friendships now so that in middle age & beyond I have enough ‘sisterhood’ around me to satisfy my extrovert self who gets easily lonely as an expat. I figure combining my desire to perform my songs with my desire to build relationships with cool women could overlap with some luck.

I also found a violin playing mom interested in starting up a duo and maybe we will find more and expand to a quintet eventually, to play classical music at weddings, etc. I play classical flute and I need that in my life, stat. I practice scales while sitting in the floor with my littles in the living room but I want more. 

Good god that was a novel. It helps to write out my plans, they get even more crystallized as I write about them. Thanks for listening!

Western skin care products vs. Japanese/Korean cosmetics  

  
VS

  

So I previously blogged about going deep into the far East for my face. I bought into the whole many-stepped routine, morning and night. It is now 9 months later and my skin is exactly the same as when I washed with soap and exfoliated with sugar/coconut oil mixed, and moisturized with coconut oil.

I gave it 6 months before I stopped replacing products, and now 9 months on I am soon out of everything.
I won’t be ordering more from the Far East. Except for my iope air cushion xp -that is the best makeup ever and I’m not even halfway done with it 9 months in (meaning I’m still using the original sponge and have one replacement still in packaging, so this €35 purchase will be close to 2 years -or more -of makeup for me!).

Today I bought serum, moisturizer for day and night,and eye cream from the store and I’ll figure out what sunscreen soon….probably a neutrogena or paula’s choice. It is so easy to pick up from the store my skincare, so let’s see in a few months if I feel like it is at all inferior.

The main ingredient I was drawn to in the eastern products was hyaluronic acid, and I found a serum and night Cream with that ingredient, so I’m hopeful it will be fine.

Plus, European standards for what can be sold in a cosmetic is very high and I’m breastfeeding so maybe that’s a plus.

Why every frazzled mommy should read Big Magic 

  

I just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic & it was bananas inspiring for this stressed out,sstretched thin mommy of 4. Even life-changing-magic level inspiring (for you fellow KonMari people). In fact, I think that this book in conjunction with Marie Kondo’s would be a great duo : first you sort your space, then you dive inside yourself and see what’s there.

Let me explain.  Most moms I know are not actively pursuing a passion, or have an identifiable passion which features regularly and rewardingly into their day to day lives with a family to raise. That’s such a shame because I think creating human beings in the first place really unlocks a big part of a woman’s heart and psyche and introspective abilities, which is a great place to begin in terms of searching for a bit more from life than “kids fed/check/laundry done/check/floor vacuumed/check/marriage happy/check(-ish ;always a work in progress)/basic self care /check/touch base with social-circle/check/now hurry and get to bed so you can somehow get through it all again tomorrow”….

because no matter how much you adore your family, if your home and hearth is all that your do, it lacks the ability to give you a bit of your own identity as an autonomous woman, with special talents outside your domestic roles. 

Now, if you have a 9-5 job that already allows you to express yourself creatively, and you get into the zone or ‘flow state’ in that role then yahtzee, you don’t need to read this book, you already have IT ALL. (Assuming everything at home is fine)

But…if your job is not so much an outlet for you to do something that feels creative and transcendent, or you are a SAHM, then read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic.
In this book, Gilbert explains that it’s fine if you don’t even know what the hell your passion is. She describes what you can do to pull at little threads of slight curiosity, in order to stumble upon something you can develop into a project that excites you. 

She helps you to not see adding this facet of your existence into your life as a chore or overwhelming for those of us who don’t feel like we have a lot of time to devote to a hobby (or anything that’s not strictly for our families), and to think of it as having an affair with your ‘thing’–exciting and fun and light hearted. Rejuvenating and invigorating, even. 

I’ve even been managing to sprinkle my creative pursuits while spending time with my kids, and I think it is awesome for them to see their mom joyfully pursuing the arts, throughout their childhoods, in order to inspire them to do the same in their lives! Not all can be done while minding small children and sometimes you have to cut it short, but if you start blending it into your home life with your family, you might end up creating an awesome habit that benefits everyone. When your littles are older and you actually get more alone time to concentrate, it will feel so luxurious! But in this book she explains that even if it’s 15 minutes here or there, just do it. Immediately. And decide that it’s a fun little dash of excitement to dip in and out of when you can steal a moment to do so, not a drag, or ‘one more thing on your list of things to do ‘ that leaves you feeling more overwhelmed.
Maybe most importantly, Gilbert addresses the fear and insecurity that holds us back. In the beginning when she was listing what your creativity-killing fears might sound like in your mind, I started crying because so many of them were verbatim things that I’ve said to myself that’s stopped me from doing things I want to do. I think for frazzled mommies who can feel physically, mentally and emotionally drained by creating people, can really easily find reasons not to pursue things just for themselves. Like :

I have no time (what mama feels like she has expanses of free time to leisurely pursue the arts?? She explains that creative geniuses have never had swaths of peaceful time to create yet made their masterpieces around the edges of an overwhelming day to day grind, anyhow.)

I’m too fat right now (why does this matter?! I don’t know –but when carrying pregnancy weight and feeling alienated by my own body I can somehow feel like my self loathing needs to be sorted out before I can think about putting myself/my abilities’out there’ in any way).
I’m too old (many of us mommies have devoted the years when we were young women to our children and put aside our own creative pursuits during that time, unfortunately. Now we are no longer ingenue age, our twenties long behind us, and we feel that it’s probably too late to get started with something new so why bother….worse, we fear looking foolish if we do begin, at our age. That people might pity us for not realizing that we are ‘too old’ & ‘we missed our window’ of when we should have started. We fear that by the time we are any good, we will be really old and by then, we will really be out of place in the given field and really ought to focus on knitting and grandkids like a nice old lady does). 

I may never be any good. This book will have you thinking “so what? I will do it anyway, because what is the alternative?! To just be a consumer and sit on the couch and watch TV and wait for something to happen to me?” 

I love the part where she recalls an older woman who began pursuing a brand new interest at age 70 and became an expert by her 80s, who told her that it’s a shame women in their twenties and thirties spend that time thinking that everyone’s judging them, then you spend your forties and fifties just not caring what people think about you, and finally in your sixties and seventies you realize no one was ever paying any attention to you in the first place. And she explains why that’s a good thing and you should let it set you free from your stupid fears! Gilbert gives a wake up call that everyone is so wrapped up in their own ‘holy struggle’ to pay much attention to you and your efforts anyways. So do it for you, and do it now.

A very shrewd observation was made when she noticed that somehow women seem to let the fear that they are unqualified for a task hold them back much more than men do, as in men think to themselves, “I’m about 44% qualified for the task. When do I start? I’ve got this.” and women think to themselves, “I’m 99.8% qualified for the task so I think I better not.” 

And it’s a shame that many women let themselves be held back and paralyzed by that last little smidgen of skill before jumping in, whereas many men jump in confidently (with far less) and end up growing into the role and succeeding. We need to be a bit more oblivious, a bit more like men, and just jump in and figure it the eff out along the way. Amiright?

I think this book might have been even more life changing than the tidying book. That’s saying a lot!