May, oh May, how you wear me the fuck out!

The month of May used to be my favorite month but as I am now one year older I’ve realized how tiresome it has become. Local festivals that induce weeks-long celebration, one child’s birthday, my birthday, three of my best friend’s birthdays, my brother’s birthday, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and graduations all require my attendance and added expenses to my household budget. This year had the added event of the funeral of my best friend’s mother.

I’m not a people person. I find my energy is sucked from my very core if I’m around more than a couple of people for more than an hour. I even find getting ready to socialize tedious and draining. The hair. The makeup. The clothes. I hate it all.

I’m grateful for the love and friendship in my life, but I absorb other people’s energy, negative or positive. If it isn’t an energy match to me it leaves me exhausted. Empath is an overused word, but I do believe in protecting my energy field. Sometimes that means making excuses to bail from gatherings or just plain walking away from people.

I’m friendly when my energy field is in a positive state and when I’m around other people who are on a positive plane. The second a complainer or hateful person walks in the room it becomes a vortex sucking the life out of me. The energy field can be a shield but it can also be a magnet. Have you ever been around someone and then felt “heavy” or down after the meeting? Relieved to get away from them? That’s what I feel.

Come on June!!!

Pressing The Weight Gain Reset Button

In the fall of 2020, as COVID continued to shut down the United States, I decided to go through my closet and purge anything that didn’t fit. No more holding on to clothes hoping to lose 10 pounds! If it didn’t fit, it was outta there! At that time my weight was hovering around 160 pounds and I was squeezing into a size 10. I should have been in a 12 to be comfortable, but I refused on principle.

Winter came on the heels of Halloween Candy, Thanksgiving dinners, lots of mocha yummy Starbucks, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. By January 2021 I had caved and bought two pair of jeans in the bigger size 12 so I would have something to wear to work. That comfort didn’t last long, though. Spring was approaching and the new jeans were already becoming tight. I hadn’t gained that much more weight. I was up five pounds to 165, but my inflammation was raging and I had abdominal bloat, a symptom that is linked to diabetes.

April 2021 arrived and I began the process of switching out my Winter wardrobe to the Spring clothing. On an unseasonably warm April day, I pulled a pair of shorts out of my closet to wear around the neighborhood to walk my dogs and not surprisingly, they didn’t come close to fitting.

The clothes I had sorted through in the Fall were too tight! Not even close to being able to button them, I was bummed. I sat on the couch that night and had a pity party while scrolling through Facebook weight-loss groups for motivation. There were my intermittent fasting groups, my over fifty fitness groups, and my healthy eating groups, yet nothing inspired me until I stumbled across a group that I had been added to earlier in 2020.

A personal trainer friend of mine (RB) had created and added me to this fitness group that was initially a means to sell a non-toxic skincare and health product. The sales pitches slowly faded away and it become more of a fitness motivation group. I had muted the group during the sales pitch days, but it popped up that fateful night as I scrolled through my other groups.

I posted about my woes in this group and was immediately greeted by former co-workers and friends. RB sent me a text the next day and we met for lunch later in the week. He vowed to help me and wasn’t going to charge me for the help. This group is now my inspiration. Maybe because the members are people I know in real life and my post made it public? A month into it and I’m down 7 pounds and exercising 3 or 4 days a week.

How am I doing it?

Food tracking. I’m tracking my food in the MyFitnessPal app and sticking around the 1250 calorie mark. My fancy bath scale tells me that my BMR is 1485 calories. BMR stands for base metabolic rate and is the number of calories my body needs to do systemic functions: sleeping, digesting, breathing, cell regeneration, etc. If I eat more than 1485 calories I will gain and if I eat less, I should lose. I’m not an expert, but that’s my understanding and it seems to be working.

Intermittent fasting. I’m also doing 16-hour fasts. I’m a little loosey-goosey and don’t hold right to 16 hours if the situation warrants a need to break earlier, but I also sometimes do 17 and 18-hours fasts. I mainly do fasting to give my pancreas a break. My mother died from pancreatic cancer so protecting it is just a wise move on my part.

Moving more and sitting less. I’m shooting for 8,000 steps a day. I’m also fortunate to have a home gym equipped with a Bowflex Revolution and Max Trainer. I have dumbbells, resistance bands, a pilates ball and other assorted small pieces of equipment. I have a gym membership and access to a free gym at my place of employment. There’s no reason for me to not work out!!!

Planning. The most simple, but biggest change is planning. I put my workout clothes out the night before and put them on before I ever leave my bedroom in the mornings. I also make my bed so I feel like my day has started. I work 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. and didn’t really have a NEED to set an alarm, but I set one now for 8:30 a.m. to give myself enough time for a thorough workout and shower. I plan my meals. I plan my workouts.

How did I get this way?

I had always been a runner, lettering in track in high school, until at age 50, I tore my left hip labrum. It’s not bad enough of a tear to do surgery but it’s bad enough that running hurts. My surgeon told me if I quit running, I could probably avoid the surgery. He gave me the green light to walk, hike, bike, etc., but no running. So what did I do? I pouted. If I couldn’t run, well then, I just wouldn’t do anything!!!

I was also suffering from PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) which resulted in two surgeries in 18-months that took my fallopian tubes and both ovaries. I was getting cysts the size of peaches on my ovaries and in my tubes. You know what happens to a woman when the ovaries are removed? Early onset menopause is what happens. My hair started to turn grey, my skin lost noticeable elasticity and the wrinkles came in droves. I lost muscle mass and experienced accelerated aging. My body no longer produced estrogen.

Around this time I met my second husband. He loved to wine and dine me. We took a bunch of all-inclusive vacations and made frequent visits to Miami to visit my daughter. I came back a little heavier each time. I also lost both parents within 18-months. Grief added to my waistline.

Medically, I was a metabolic disaster waiting to happen. I had already been to the ER with high blood pressure and my doctor was pushing the meds at me. My cholesterol and triglycerides were almost twice what they should be and my liver enzymes were out of whack. I was flirting with diabetes. I’m 5’8-1/2″ and weighed 165 when my Spring clothes gave me the wakeup call. I was a far cry from my former fit self. At age 47 I was still running half marathons. At 55 I was a mess.

Having a plan.

I work out at home 2-3 days a week and at the gym 1-2 days a week, swimming one of the days. I’m a terrible swimmer, but its a workout like no other.

My workouts do not have to be hours-long. If I have 15 minutes to do something, I do it. Whether it’s cardio, a walk, bodyweight exercise, climbing stairs, resistance bands or stretching.

I aim for 8,000 steps a day. Inflammation and a weak foot structure makes my feet hurt so I don’t normally go for huge step counts.

I track calories and nutrition macros in MyFitnessPal. Sure, I can eat 1250 calories full of sugary carbs, but I’m going to be hungry and malnourished. It’s important to balance the macros and get proper nutrition!

I use technology to my advantage. My smart scale came with a free app. This app syncs with MyFitnessPal. My Apple watch syncs with MyFitnessPal. My workout app (Strong) also syncs with MyFitnessPal and my Apple watch and it all syncs with Apple Health. I set motivating reminders in my phone and alarms to remind me to move, move, move.

I shop for, and prepare, about 90% of the food that goes in my mouth. I buy organic when I can. If I don’t have time for meal prep, it’s canned tuna, raw veggies, fruit, cold-smoked salmon and other easy foods until I can cook a meal. I have a genetic Snp of the MTHFR genes which means my body has a methylation pathway problem. My body cannot detox like someone without the Snp. It also hampers my cell regeneration so I need to support my body with good nutrition and eliminate toxins where I can. I also filter my water to get the water company’s chemicals out.

If I eat out at a restaurant, I eat salmon, a salad or something grilled. I try to make the most healthy choice I can and I track the calories as best I can. I also visually assess the quantity of food on my plate. Most restaurant portions are overly large and I can usually get at least 2 meals out of one restaurant meal.

Listen for the “sigh”. Have you ever noticed when you’re eating that you sigh? That’s your body telling you that you’ve eaten enough. Your hunger has been satisfied and it’s time to stop eating.

Smaller bites and chewing longer. Give your body a chance to recognize that it’s had enough. Chewing longer will also help your body digest.

I have almost eliminated alcohol. It’s a special occasion thing now and just one glass that I milk for hours.

Sleep. I sleep about 7-8 hours a night now.

Water intake. I aim for around 60 ounces of water and have slowed down my coffee consumption.

Planning is going to be huge for the rest of my life. Planning my workouts, planning my meals from the shopping, to the preparation to the quantities I consume. It’s already becoming a way of life.

If you are on a similar journey, drop me a note and let’s inspire each other!

There’s no bandage for a broken heart.

My kids are all adults, creeping into their late 20’s and early 30’s. They’re not children but I see the confusion and pained bewilderment of a hurt toddler in their eyes this week.

Six months ago, my mother died of cancer and this week one of their favorite aunts also lost her battle with the disease. She was 6 months older than me. With her death, their childhood belief that parents are immortal fell way with a resounding thud.

They realized their aunt and I were the same age.

The grief in their eyes over their aunt now alternates with terror at the thought of losing me or their father. They talk with me longer on the phone, send more messages and hug me much harder. I know that things will calm down and the grief will fade for them, but I hate that I can’t wave a wand and make it go away sooner.

I was surrounded by death during my career in crime scene work. I’ve attended over a thousand autopsies and worked hundreds, if not thousands more, death scenes in addition to the autopsies. I thought I was jaded by death. I no longer cried at funerals for people I knew. I barely grieved anyone. I was numb.

Until my father died 2 years ago.

His death opened a flood gate for me and I quickly looked for alternatives to the high exposure of violence I was living on. It was another year before I could move into a lab environment and it wasn’t a moment too soon. 2 months after I started my new job my mother got her cancer diagnosis. 3 weeks later she was gone.

I simply could not have gone back to working with death after watching my mother die. Watching her fall into a coma and then finally succumb to the disease was infinitely harder than any murder or suicide I’d ever worked. I hate that my kids have now had to watch two of their loved ones die from cancer and in such a short amount of time. I miss the days when I could kiss their boo-boos and make it all better.

If only Bandaid made a bandage big enough for broken hearts.

Peter Pan had to die.

I’d been living my life in denial for decades. I was an exercise addict, working out 3-4 hours a day, but I wasn’t feeding the beast with good nutrition. Instead, I lived by the principle that I could eat whatever I wanted as long as my clothes fit. This worked until I ended up in the ER with a high blood pressure episode.

You see, I thought I was a female version of Peter Pan and that I could have my cake, cookies and the entire Frito Lay line as long as I exercised. What I got instead was a body raging with inflammation, a couple of autoimmune disorders and I was a metabolic disaster waiting to happen.

My triglycerides and cholesterol were almost twice what they should be. My liver enzymes indicated fatty liver disease. Mix in the high blood pressure, flirtation with diabetes and I was a major medical episode ticking time bomb. Something had to change. Peter Pan and his evil friend, Apathy, had to die.

All the high octane exercise had beat my body up. I tore my hip labrum and my feet are collapsing from 40 years of running. My adrenals are shot from a high stress job. I lost both ovaries to PCOS and was immediately thrust into menopause with accelerated aging. I was exhausted.

But what made me murder Peter and Apathy? Shame made me do it. I had spent a good chunk of COVID social distancing cleaning out my closets. Anything that didn’t fit in the fall of 2020 was donated and I moved spring clothes to the spare closets. Come April 2021 and I was embarrassed to find that my spring clothes no longer fit. I was ashamed of myself.

I killed Peter and Apathy by making an accountability post in a facebook group full of my friends admitting my plight and I got to work. I broke out the MyFitnessPal to track my calories and laced up my sneakers. I threw Peter and Apathy out in a garbage bag full of junk food. Trader Joes and Aldi’s took a bunch of my money as I replaced the junk with healthy options. Bowflex took even more as I bought home gym equipment.

Six weeks later, I’m down 7 pounds and feeling better. I’d still like to lose another 15 or so but it’s more about the health than the scale. My inflammation is decreasing and I have more energy. My “fat” clothes are getting looser too.

My biggest challenge is coming up. We leave for vacation this weekend. My husband eats and drinks his way through vacations like he’s earned it. It’s always been so hard in the past to keep my own food intake in check when I’m with him. I’ve already put him on notice that he’s going to be eating and drinking alone sometimes. My plan is to get up early and workout while he’s brewing his morning poop (it’s a process is all I can say about that.) I’m not really looking forward to the vacation because I’m afraid it will be a setback to my successes but I keep telling myself I’m strong enough to handle it now.

Wish me luck!

A Little Magick in My Rosary

It’s funny how Amazon works. As soon as I started peeking at occult books my suggested titles became filled with similar books to the exclusion of almost all others. One book I stumbled across was about using the rosary for magickal purposes, sparking a google search for more information.

I’d never really given it much thought. I’ve been Catholic for over 30 years. I was given a rosary as a baptism gift by my sponsor but was never instructed in how to pray it, or really anything about it at all. It wasn’t until a good friend had a young relative fighting cancer that I pulled my rosary back out of the drawer. I recalled seeing a book on amazon about rosary magick and I had also bookmarked a webpage by Ariel Ortega, witch of the domain, on how to pray a witch rosary. His post was exactly what I was looking for.

I’ve tweaked Ariel’s incantation suggestions to fit my style and made myself a new rosary for magickal purposes. When I want to pray the traditional Marian rosary for blessing others, I use the one blessed by a priest. When I am doing a working or petition that’s more witchy, I use the one I made.

I’m blessed to have a friend and coworker that’s also a witch. I made one for her as a birthday present. She’d been salivating over the Etsy witch rosaries and had sent me many photos of ones she liked. I used black obsidian for the decades and skulls for the “our fathers”. I used skulls because she was really looking for something to use at her ancestral altar.

I can see me making more of these to use for specific purposes. Perhaps, green aventurine and pyrite when I’m petitioning for abundance or health. Maybe rose quartz for love or obsidian with a St. Michael center for protection. The possibilities are endless.

Making rosaries is something I did years and years ago when my kids were in Catholic schools. I’m thankful I have the tools and skills to get creative and make something personal for my practice.

Protecting my energy – When the mystical becomes magickal

People drain me. I generally care about the people in my life. I have compassion, sympathy and empathy, but even the people I love drain me of what feels like my very life force. It’s not that I want to keep people away. I just want them to keep their negativity away.

My problem with people started with co-workers about a decade ago. I work in a toxic and extremely stressful environment. My co-workers are the biggest bunch of conniving, gossiping, backstabbing unhappy people I’ve ever met. I switched positions just to get away from them and left a career I’d loved for almost 15 years.

For example, these people reached out to, and befriended the wife of a man having an affair with with one of their other coworkers. They did this simply to hurt their coworker and then provided “intel” to the wife. These same people made jabs at another coworker on social media because she “posts too much” about her battle with cancer and called it a, “cry for attention.”

I began seeking ways to protect myself. Crystals, incense, chakra alignment, meditation, sigils and other symbols. The mystical slowly morphed into the magickal. I came to realize that spells and prayers are not all that different. A spell, a petition, or sending up “good vibes” is asking a higher energy, creator, universe, god, goddess or source for help. That’s exactly what a prayer is.

I converted to Catholicism almost 25-years-ago but have only recently discovered Bible magick, candle, rosary, ancestral, saint and psalm magick. I guess I would call myself a Catholic witch these days. I don’t go to mass often, less so now because of COVID, but when I do, I now see the MAGICK in the service. The priests in their robes, the altar, the candles, the incense, the incantations, the converting the wine to blood. The “mysteries” and chanting of praying the rosary.

25-years-ago I would have never considered the path I am on today, but the more I learn the deeper I want to go. Whether it’s considered prayer or spell-casting, I’m finding peace and protection from the negative energies of the world.

Blessed be and peace profound.

Happy With The Win

Click. Back. Click. Delete. Click. Back. Sigh.

That pretty much sums up how I’ve arrived at the current design for my blog.

My win for this week was creating my own logo using Microsoft Word. It took me about half-an-hour and didn’t cost me anything! I used shapes, changed the fill color, grouped the objects and WAHLAH! I have a cute little logo. It’s the little things in life that make me happy and I will take the win.

Stubbornness and a genuine curiosity about how things work have increased my general knowledge, taught me skills, saved me money and given me a lot of satisfaction every time I master a new problem. Creating my own logo is another happy feather in my cap.

My dad and grandfathers could fix darn near anything and they greatly influenced me. Growing up in a self-sufficient farmer family, I approach life with: “it can’t be that hard” or “if he can do it, so can I.” Keeping with that mindset, these are the problems I want to tackle this week:

Problem #1: The last paragraph in my previous post didn’t make it to the final page. Not sure what’s up with that. I’ve seen much longer posts on other pages, so I know it’s not a case of being too wordy.

Problem #2: Where do other bloggers get all the great pictures? Straight text is a little boring to look at. Are they taking their own photos?

Problem #3: Colors, design, layout, etc.

If you have a great beginner level blogging blog, please let me know. I’d love to check it out!

Titles are the worst

Sometimes I just feel compelled to get words out of my head without bothering my friends and family. As a young girl, I would write in my little diary and hide it from my brother. As a divorced woman that endured a bad breakup, I used a journaling app to get the anguish and anger out. As a happy grandma who always imagined she was a bit of a wordsmith, I’m now trying my hand at WordPress: The modern-day journal.

So what am I going to write about? I’ve spent my whole career trying to not be declared an expert in court and that’s sort of my approach to life. I like knowing a little about a lot and won’t pretend to be an expert at any of it. Life, health, travel, humor, woo-woo stuff, finances…. the sky is the limit for topics and I have many rabbit holes to explore.

Join me as I stumble my way to becoming a blogger. I have a huge learning curve ahead of me as I figure out domains, Word Press, etc. One of the first things I hope to accomplish is to become much more clever at naming my posts. I’m guessing it’s not a good sign that I got writer’s block just coming up with a title…

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned while I figure out how to make my blog pretty. – Annie