Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Now What?

I keep trying to catch up . . . and somehow, this fall, I am just not having great success :-S

This is a clear signal - one I have been ignoring. It's particularly apropos because I just cautioned a friend about listening to the signals her body was sending. So - I've realized that I had better take my own advice and listen to what my body is telling me.

Here are the symptoms:

I am not eating well - in fact, I have been eating fast food occasionally in the past month, and if you happen to know me, you would likely know that I pretty much just don't do fast food.

I eat out at lunch every day during the week because there is no time to cook so that I might have healthier (and less expensive) lunches.

I'm only sleeping about 6 or 7 hours a night. I've always been an 8-hour girl.

I'm dancing as fast as I can, but I never feel like I can catch up - and when I have an evening free, I pretty much just collapse rather than do the things in the house that truly need my attention.

So. Now what? What does this mean? And perhaps more importantly, what does this mean for me?

First - I believe some of my inability to keep up could be hormonal. Don't run away!! If you're a woman, menopause is going to happen in your body at some point - and if you're a man, it's going to happen in the body of a woman you care for. It's important that we educate ourselves about how it affects us.

As my body travels through menopause, what has worked best for me is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Or as I often like to call it, Better Living Through Chemistry. I'm not on the HRT that caused the furor a number of years ago. I take bio-identical hormones. Two of them at low doses, every day. The different they have made in my life is so remarkable that it's amazing - I'm one of the minority of women whose menopausal symptoms were truly wreaking havoc in my life. The HRT choice was one I wasn't sure of - but sleeping through the night again was really, really appealing (when you only sleep for about 4 hours at a time, you are never really rested - and not sleeping exacerbates everything else).

So - there's one thing - and yes, I have an appointment for my annual next week - the doc and I will be having a conversation about how my original symptoms seem to be back - not sleeping too well, inability to concentrate, anger swings, intolerance, and inability to keep it all together all the time.

Hormones aside, though, there's more going on here. I think these symptoms mean that I have fallen into a pattern of convenience - and by choice, I have stayed there. I think it means that I need to examine what's really going on with me. Over the years many friends have told me "you're doing too much" or "how can you do all these things?" I do have more energy than the average bear - always have - and I have already given up a lot of stuff I used to do. Giving up more feels very painful . . . and yet . . .

And in that spirit, I'm going to give you a typical week for me - and I'm soliciting your comments on it. I think my average week is pretty normal, but maybe I'm wrong. I have only my own perspective on it. I understand that we are individuals, and that what's normal for me might not be for you - still. What do you think? And what would you give up if you had to?

Here's my typical week.

Monday - up around 5, check email, etc. Walk for 40-45 minutes on the treadmill. Do the 30-Day Shred (I hate this workout and have only gotten two or three of them in so far). Catch the 7:57 a.m. train into the city. If I miss my train, I take the second train at 8:03 - I've missed that one twice in the last two weeks (that never happens . . . ). I look for photos to take on my way to work for my 365 Project. Work all day. At lunch, I usually go downstairs to the deli and get something to eat. Sometimes I go out and get take out, and look for photos to take during that time. Then, I almost always eat at my desk, and then take the 5:17 train home. Get home about 6:05 p.m. (yes, I'm gone for 10 hours every day). I try to eat right away so I'm not eating dinner really late. Twice a month I have Church Lady Knitting from 7 to 8:30. I (try to) go to bed at 9 so I can get up at 5.

Tuesday - like Monday except this is one night I almost always have free lately.

Wednesday - Like Monday except no 30-Day Shred. I usually walk down to Weight Watchers at lunch unless I don't want to face the scale . . . I work out with my Trainer from 7 to 8 at the club. Maybe watch a show I've DVR'd, and go to bed.

Thursday - Like Monday. Choir is from 7:30 to 9:00, but I leave at 8:30 so I can hopefully get to bed by 9.

Friday - Like Monday and Wednesday - I work out with my Trainer from 7 to 8. I often stay up a little later on Friday.

Saturday - I hopefully sleep until I wake up . . . but I usually wake up around 5 anyway - even if I went to bed late. Lately my Saturdays are my own and I'm very grateful. I try to go to the store, get things done around the house and get some dulcimer practice in. I also catch up on telly and usually knit. If there is African violet work to be done, it usually happens on a Saturday (or on a Tuesday night).

Sunday - At this time of year I sing in the choir, which means I get to church around 10:30 and am done by around 12:30. Once a month I drive 2 1/2 hours to Indiana for a dulcimer lesson.

Somewhere in there I do my best to carve out 15 to 20 minutes most days to practice my dulcimer. I also have a large number of houseplants and African violets - it takes about 15 minutes to water them all and I have to do that a couple three times a week.Grocery shopping, and laundry usually happen on Sunday afternoon. I try to read a little before falling asleep most nights - twice in the last week I fell asleep with the book in my hand and woke up at 2 a.m. with the light on . . .

What do you think? I'm interested to hear your thoughts because this seems pretty normal to me and I think I should easily be able to keep up. And yet . . .

In the meantime - here's some photo catch up :-) I have been really feeling the stress of taking photos every day - not stress, really, but I need to vary my routes and see some other stuff :-D As always, please click to biggify so you see the entire photo.

310:365 Startitis

I have a bad case . . .four sweaters, four pairs of socks, a pair of wrist warmers and a to be felted lunch box. And there are two more pairs of mitts that need just their thumbs done that I somehow missed getting into the photo :-D

309:365 What a Find!

All day - at the mall. Can't remember the last time I did that. Got there around 10 and didn't leave until around 3:30. It was exhausting - so many people, so much noise, and Christmas everywhere . . . already. Home to the quiet and comfort of my living room - this awesome tree was at Pottery Barn. Last one - PERFECT for this section of my house - although probably not going to stay in the middle of the floor ;-D

308:365 Molten Gold

I was late for the train . . . but the light was just perfect. This is one of the trees in my front yard. I have never thought it was beautiful - until today. I had to run all the way to the train. I made it. Just. :-)

307:365 Hurtling Through Time and Space

A grey day in Chicagoland - out the back window of the train headed for the City to go to work. That's the Harvey station we just blasted past.

306:365 Childhood Memories

. . . on a carry bag :-D

305:365 "Urbs in Horto" II

Once again - City in a Garden :-) Today they were plantings the bulbs that will be magnificent in the spring. For a taste of what the beds will look like next year - see my photo from May 13th :-)

304:365 Halloween

A view that you don't always see. I was on South Michigan Avenue, looking Northeast across Millenium Park. The Prudential Building - now called One Prudential Plaza - used to be one of the tallest buildings on this view! And "Prudential" used to be red when I was a kid. The tower behind it is Two Prudential Plaza :-) The white square is the Aon Center - formerly the Standard Oil Building. When it was built in 1973, it was the tallest building in Chicago.

Next is the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower (BCBS is an insurance company, as is Aon and Prudential). The shorter buildings are all condos, and at the very end - the black building is Lake Point Tower - it is the only skyscraper east of Lake Shore Drive. It's also condos - building in 1965 it is still a very tony address :-)

303:365 Milang Skies

. . . is the name of this plant. I've let it come into bloom because it's just so darn pretty. It will be disbudded soon and repotted to get ready for show next year. End of the day - had some photos, but most of yarn I was adding to my database - A violet is preferable to another skein of yarn :-D

302:365 Happy Diwali

Today I went with a friend to see a Bollywood film, Ra.One. Before we went to the movies, we had lunch at a great Indian restaurant. This is a Rangoli drawing - I think they are sometimes also called Kolam drawings - in celebration of Diwali. Colored sand, glitter, and already some little hands have been in to it :-) I took a shot that didn't have these stark shadows - but this was the more interesting of the two photos.


Kris said...

I think you're over doing it. To be going, going, going all the time is stressful. Yet I can't imagine having to remove things from your life that make you happy. That's a hard call and only you can answer that question. (((hugs)))

Nancy said...

Geez, woman, I'd be tired, too! Here's what I think: I'd cut my daily walking down to 30 minutes on the treadmill and spend that other 10-15 minutes putting good food together for lunch. Fast food alone every day is going to make you feel like crap and sap your energy. Look into trying green smoothies for breakfast -- they stick with you all morning and help you up your fruit and veggie count fairly painlessly. And you could make one and drink it on the train on the way in -- get a big cup with a lid and some disposable straws. I think if you are enjoying your evening activities, then you shouldn't give up anything. But you need to tweak your morning routine so you have time to take better care of yourself!

Linda M (lulabellbird) said...

The fact that you are able to get to bed at nine most nights tells me you are still in control. I do think you are jamming a lot into your day, so as the second commenter suggested, maybe cut back in the morning just a little so you will have time to fix the food thing. Maybe add some low stress cooking time into the weekend so that you can have healthy food available when you want it. Making a kettle of soup is something that can happen while you are doing other things, then you could freeze individual portions to take for lunch with some good bread or something similar.

Amy said...

You are busy. But I can't imagine what you would give up. I do like Nancy's suggestion. You aren't doing your body any good if you are exhausted and then you are not getting rid of your walk just shortening it.

Plus I do find when I spend some time on the weekend getting food ready I am much happier during during the week.

Hopefully something small and a chat with your doctor will help.

Michelle said...

I'm so busy myself that I'm going to have to come back to this post later, both to read the whole thing and comment if I can. Two people have invited themselves to spend the night here Thursday night (separate beds) which adds to my stress, but I am trying hard to practice hospitality and stay positive....

Linda said...

Whether it's a "typical" schedule or not, you're feeling overextended and you're smart to start questioning how your time is structured. We're the type of people that could stay perpetually busy and satisfied without a day job. Any chance of retiring early or working a reduced schedule? Really.

I know I'd love to get away from having to structure the activities I love around someone else's schedule (in this case, work). I often think about negotiated a reduced schedule...but the cut in pay scares me. You may be able to do it, though!