Happy St. Brigid’s Day

Scarves out for the attention of St. Brigid on the eve of imbolg!

St. Brigid is a 5th century Irish Saint. And a Celtic fire goddess. How Christianity is interwoven with Celtic mythology is something that can only be sensibly discussed in an Irish pub! Indeed, the celebration of imbolg, about halfway between the winter solstice & the spring equinox, goes back even further. Through the times of the mythological Tuatha Dé Danann & probably further, all the way back to neolithic times. But whatever the origins, February 1st is celebrated as both imbolg & Lá Fhéile Bríde, St. Brigid’s Day.

Neighbours passing by our Canadian homes over the years have been treated to occasional displays of (mostly unrecognizable to them) flags of Irish counties, green lights on Paddy’s Day, & other traditional oddities. Nothing, though, is as strange as seeing scarves tossed onto winter-stripped shrubs at the end of January!

While we are usually still white & frozen at this time of year in Canada, in Ireland, spring is imminent. Crocuses & snowdrops have been blooming in January. And, this year, I’ve already seen pics of bright yellow narcissus blooms on the social media pages of my Irish friends. Though, sometimes, I feel like they’re growing them indoors & sharing pics with the sole purpose of irritating me! 😜

So what’s with the scarves on the bushes?

Brigid, the saint & the goddess both, have a large portfolio of responsibilities. She is the patron saint of farmers, milkmaids, blacksmiths, fisher folk, mariners, children, poets, & Lord knows what else. She stands, side by side, as a patron saint of Ireland, with her contemporary, St. Patrick. Known for her kindness & charity, Brigid is also famous for turning water into an endless supply of beer! Funny enough, she is not one of the patron saints of beer. Go figure!

Again, what is the thing about the scarves?

If you toss a ribbon or scarf out on a bush on the eve of St. Brigid’s Day, it’s said she passes by overnight to bless the cloths. These will then protect you for the next year. And they are reputed to cure ailments, like headaches, pains, & other afflictions! Probably worth a shot, if you are so afflicted.

Hey, if nothing else, especially during these pandemic times, it makes for a great interactive story opportunity for the kids. But, even for us adults, what’s the harm in having a scarf round our neck that’s been naturally freshened outside overnight! 😁

If you have covid-confined kids that you’d like to entertain, try making a St. Brigid’s cross. You’ll find plenty of simple instructions online. If you can’t find any reeds growing around your garden at this time of year, try plastic drinking straws, craft pipe cleaners, or cut strips of card stock. Very entertaining & a great time consumer for kids. That’ll be St. Brigid protecting your sanity during covid too. And I pray those refreshed scarves will keep us all safe ’til we’re vaccinated!

Stay safe out there & …

Happy St. Brigid’s Day! ☘️☘️☘️

Meditation & Diet?

Ponder the Puffy Clouds!

Lying on a beach, under the shade of a palm tree, cold one within reach … now that’s calm-inducing, stress-alleviating & the best kind of meditation, & medication, I can think of. Can’t do that, in Canada, during the Canadian winter, without some serious risk of frostbite!

But there must be an app for that, right?

I tried a few meditation apps & they just didn’t work for me. Worse, I actually found them stressful to listen to. First one I tried starts out counting a breath in on one, out on two, in on three & then this soothing voice tells me to carry on doing that up to twenty. On my own! Is she kidding me or what? Am I going at the right pace? Maybe she counts more quickly than I do? Will I get all my breaths in before she’s back with the next activity? What if she’s slower? Do I have to hold my breath ’til she catches up? OMG, I’m hyperventilating, this is driving me nuts!

I was a trembling wreck by the time I got to twenty. Enough of that nonsense, let’s try another one.

This time it’s a guy. Great voice. Calm, soothing, very relaxed & reassuring. We’re going to do this body thing, a routine that goes from the head to the toes. With some pretty peculiar internal organ stops along the way, I might add! But this turns out to be even more excruciating. First, he tells me to get comfortable & relax. Next he’s telling me it’s okay to move uncomfortable body parts. Pick one for cryin’ out loud! I know it’s really not okay though, & I’m just screwing up, am I not? And he’s just saying all that to make me feel better about it. Right out of the gate, he knows that I’m no Zen master & that I’ll almost certainly have to move. Maybe even all the time. That’s exactly what I did, of course. I just kept squirming. And I hated every second of that little medication exercise. Next!

Then I tried this one with an irritating little bell chime thing. I’m sure if you had a real bell, while sitting cross-legged in the Himalayas, it would work far better. You know what I mean, you’d have the right atmosphere for meditation all the way up there. With the monks & robes & whatnot. But the mind-numbing consistency of a mathematically accurate & repeatable digital ding just did my head in.

I know, I know … I’m probably doing it incorrectly. I know I should probably chill out & just try it again. But my heart rate is up, I’m sure my blood pressure is too, so I’m going to resort to something I have more practice with. Something I know works.

A slice of deep dish cheesecake. With a big blob of whipped cream.

And afterwards, when I’m cheesecake-calm, maybe I’ll try that meditation thing with the sound of the waves lapping on the beach. 😜😁

PS … Happy International Women’s Day to all the ladies out there. And to the National ladies too! 🤪😁

Results … Month #14

Results … Month #14.
Oops!!!

I was going to lie my way through last month’s results, in the hope that I could correct things this month! But what would be the point of that? Sometimes, shit happens. And shit really happened, big time, this month!

I thought I had oodles of excuses but I really can’t come up with anything that justifies what I did. Other than I’m human. And, sometimes, humans suck when it comes to adherence. And I just couldn’t adhere to the plan I had in place for when I couldn’t adhere to a good weight-loss strategy.
What!?!
Yeah, there’s a strategy for eating bad stuff. For those times when you just have had enough of eating good stuff all the time. For those times when you just need to be wicked. But I couldn’t even do that.

August felt like the last-of-the-summer-fling kind of month. I was drinking beer, cider & wine. I was eating fish, flesh & foul. There were some green choices in there too, lots of plant based stuff. Unfortunately, too many that had their origins with grain & starchy veggies! I sampled some excellent desserts throughout the month too.
All in all, I probably ate more wheat during the past month, than I had in the past year. I ate more sugar in the past month, than I consumed in the six previous months. I definitely went on a potato binge.
And now, as I write this, I can’t believe that I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to squeeze in a slice or two of pizza along the way. Okay, now that I think on that one, I really should have wolfed back a whole pizza or two, eh!?!
OMG … I might have to continue this nasty streak into September!

The summary of August is this … I was out of control. And I have no idea why. I read all my little tips & tricks for such occurrences. And then totally ignored the advice they offered.

Again … why!?!

Could it be that I kinda quit smoking!!!

Almost half way through the month, one morning I awakened to a bright & beautiful sunny welcome. Leaves & plants were all more effusively green. Birds were twittering with an extra zest of joy. The air was somehow cleaner & sweeter. It was one of those days where you are just glad to be alive. And you feel more alive because of it all.
Have you felt that joy before? Do you know what I mean?
I thought I’d like to have more days like that & I decided it was time to quit smoking. Again. I immediately made up my mind that I’d finish my pack today, & try quitting the following day.

I did. And then I immediately wanted a cigarette. I wondered if I could treat smoking like diet? Despite my “all or nothing” approach to many things, I think abandoning the requirement for perfection made things more bearable for my weight loss efforts. And, up until this month, it generally seemed to work well as a dietary approach. I was “kinda” dieting & it was “kinda” working. Could I “kinda” quit smoking too?

I kinda am.
But it’s killing my diet!

Seems like I have to stuff something in my mouth, in lieu of cigarettes, & food is the go-to alternative. I could be screwed here.
I wonder if a pacifier would work!?! (Tried later, it doesn’t!)

I will always be a smoker. I may occasionally manage to not smoke for a while but I will always want to smoke. And I will probably go back to smoking again, somewhere along the way. As I have so many times in the past.
Or am I just making excuses to abandon my diet?
Or to just go buy a pack of cigarettes?

I’ll muddle along through September & see what happens. I deliberately avoided the scale on the first of the month … I just didn’t want to know what damage I had done last month … but I need to get my act together & decide what I’m doing now. If I were forced to choose only one, I think I feel better at a lighter weight, than I do as a non-smoker. I know, I know, both should be done but what if I could only choose one!?!

Pity this isn’t following some Hollywood script guidelines & I’d already be skinny, blissfully smoke-free & loving it, while also running marathons!!! 🙂

Results … Month #13

Not a typo!
Unfortunately!!!

I just can’t believe it, I weigh exactly what I did this time last month. I can’t even get the same weight on the scale twice during a single day, never mind over the course of a shaggin’ month. At least I didn’t put on weight, but this whole project is supposed to be about weight loss, so what happened over the course of the last month?

Summer is the time of salads & walking on the beach, it should be the easiest time of the year to lose weight. Not!

My story, & my excuse, for this pretty shoddy result is that I was trying to shop local. In fact, I was trying to find a local beer. I wanted a “favourite” beer made by a company that is locally owned, & not by one of the big international brewers. I have nothing against the big guys, I like a lot of their stuff, but I did want to have a couple of favourites among the small, local brewers too. Craft brewing is big everywhere these days, of course, but I’m struggling to find a couple or three beers that I really like. I don’t know what’s going on with all these fruit & chocolate flavoured brews, I just want a bloody beer-flavoured beer. And no, it doesn’t have to be screaming hops, or some other bloody ingredient, at me either. Is that too much to ask for?

Anyway, sitting amongst hordes of millennials, all of them sipping pink & cranberry coloured brews, with cinnamon sticks & orange slices hanging off the glasses, I tried beer after beer. They’re not all bad but I haven’t found the one yet. You know the one I mean, that one that is so good that you have to have a couple of dozen in the beer fridge, at all times, in order to avoid the constant worry that you might be running low. So … & only very reluctantly, I assure you … I might have to continue this beer investigation through the month of August too!

I think I might not be a wine drinker. Now that doesn’t meant that I haven’t drunk a glass or two of wine in my time. And I’ll probably drink a few more going forward. But really, is it just me, or doesn’t most of it taste like shite!?! That said, I’ve had a few glasses that I’ve enjoyed along the way so, never one to give up, I will persist until I find that perfect red & that perfect white. Here again, I’m looking for a local product. I still have a lot of work to do on this wine front yet. So maybe another project for the month of August.

And of course, when you’re testing beers & wines, you need to eat some stuff that you mightn’t normally eat. To mop up all that excess alcohol swishing around inside you, as it were. The old French fry is a great tool for that & you can get them everywhere, can’t you!?!

On the bright side of things, the good news is that it looks like I’ll be able to integrate beer & wine into my regular diet & not balloon up again.
Sure, isn’t that only great news!!! 🙂

PS … I hope you’re all having a wonderful summer & if you have any recommendations on the beer & wine front, send them my way!

Back to Normal?

My Drugs of Choice!

Is it possible that only a week of fentanyl and hydromorphone use, prescribed & while in hospital, could result in withdrawal symptoms?

I’m scared of drugs. I mostly choose to put up with a headache, rather than take an over-the-counter medication. I prefer to let a fever run its course, over taking something that might reduce my temperature. I generally try to avoid antibiotics. Don’t get me wrong, I will take prescription drugs if my doctor tells me it’s essential. I just don’t want to mindlessly, nor needlessly, take them. I figure that my body, despite how poorly I treat it, will know best how to handle most minor afflictions. That philosophy went out the window with my recent attack of pancreatitis. I couldn’t wait for the medical professionals to stuff a fire-hose into my vein. The pain was excruciating and I didn’t care what they had to do to make it go away!

After two or three days, I passed on a refill. I wanted to see if the pain was manageable without drugs. The logic being that pain serves a purpose. If I move, and I feel pain, then perhaps I shouldn’t be moving in that particular way. The test worked. I still hurt. Stick that thing back in my arm again, please!

Next day, I skipped another dose. It hurt, but not so much. I was switched to the oral versions. Overnight, inadvertent turns triggered pain and disrupted my sleep. I wanted to be oblivious, so I took the overnight doses too. When I finally came out of hospital, I was depressed. I was missing my gallbladder. I felt sure that if I’d had time, I could have figured out a dietary solution. I regretted not having had a chance to do that. But I couldn’t risk another attack. Imagine if that happened while travelling. I thought the, potentially unnecessary, loss of my gallbladder was the cause of my melancholia.

While I had to get back to grinding through my work days, I wasn’t enthused about much else. It is only a few days ago that I started to feel like my usual self. Notice too, the length of time between this post and my last. That’s just not me. With the return to my “normal”, I can’t help but wonder if, as much as I missed my gallbladder, was I missing those drugs more?

Scary stuff, those drugs. I think I’ll carry on steering clear of them. And, I hope, hospitals.

Now if I could just develop a similar attitude towards cigarettes!