Well. Didn’t see that coming.

the scream

 

I have always been an active person.  I still ride my horse, I get out and about, and I can still throw a 50 pound bag of chicken feed over my shoulder.  I do have a job where I tend to sit, but I do get up and move around. Could I run a 5k? Probably not. ( I hate running and I wouldn’t do that even if I could.)  But overall, I consider myself to be in darn good shape for my age.

So I go to my annual medical visit.  Weight, height, pee in the cup, blah blah blah. And blood pressure.

This is where it gets ugly.  140 over 90.

Say what?

Now, I have ALWAYS ALWAYS had low blood pressure.  If I was ever 120 over 80, that was high for me.  I bragged about my low blood pressure.  I wore it like a badge of honor.  Gloated, even.

So I am in disbelief when my doctor tells me this. He asked me “did your parents have hypertension?”

” Yes, both did.”

“Well”, he says “There you go.”  For crying out loud.  My parents ate poorly, drank like it was an episode from Mad Men, and didn’t exercise at all.  No effing way.

My doctor says that I can control this with diet.  And he wants me to follow a specific regimen for 6 weeks.

Full on vegan.

Ok, kill me now.  The no-meat thing I can manage, but NO CHEESE?  Seriously? If I could marry cheese and live with it forever, I would. That is how much I love cheese.  I think my blood pressure will go up because I am so pissed at not being able to have some goat cheese.

So, having gone through:

Denial-“Your blood pressure gadget isn’t working. Take it again.  No, it’s still not working”

Anger-“I do everything right! I don’t over-salt! This sucks!”

Bargaining-“Can I have butter? No? Can I have skim mozzarella?”  Jeez.

Depression-“I won’t be able to go out. I will have to bring my food with me. I will be pathetic.  People will think I’m a real vegan and not a medically induced one…”

And finally:

Acceptance–“Fine. It’s only 6 weeks.  I like vegetables.  I don’t like medications.”

Thus begins my foray into the world of veganism. The first night I had some dark red kidney beans, some diced tomatoes and chilies, add some Penzey’s Taco spice and put it in a tortilla.  And you know what?  It was really good.  And filling!

And my husband is on the vegan bandwagon as well, bless his heart.  He is joining me in the effort, and is looking for recipes we can make.  We both love to cook together, so we will explore this as a team.  My son’s fiancée has been eating vegan and she is going to send me recipes and we are going to do this together.  She is my VB. Vegan Buddy.

I am only 5 days into this, but it really is not as bad as I thought.  I don’t feel as deprived as I thought I would.  And I did blow the vegan diet off for brunch today, because it was my son’s birthday.  I had gazpacho-that met the vegan standard- then had Moule Frites.  I love this French dish of mussels with skinny French fries.  And they were perfect.  I think I actually enjoyed them more, because they were a treat, not the norm.  Ok, I can deal with that.

One up side.My doctor told me one glass of wine a day does help lower blood pressure.  Thank God. One small victory.

While this really felt like a curve ball, I am thankful that I am so healthy.  This is a part of life. My life. And I am really very, very fortunate.

So I will keep you all posted on my progress.  What I would really, really love if you would share some vegan recipes if you have any.  Your support would be a real boost.

I’m in it to win it.  And I will.  I’m coming for ya, blood pressure.  Your days are numbered! You’re going down….

The First Without

 

first without

My Mom died peacefully this past November 1, All Saints Day. She was 94, and suffered from dementia, so it was a combination of grief over losing her, and relief that her suffering had ended.

With her passing, I am officially an orphan.  My Dad passed away in 2003 and my only sister in 2004.  I am flying solo now.

This past year many of my friends have lost parents or siblings.  It is bound to happen, as we are of “that age”.  Family members pass, and with them go many of the family traditions that bound you all together.

The first Christmas without.

The first birthday, yours or theirs, without.

The first wedding anniversary without.

These times were times of family sharing, or they could be times of great stress. My Mom put so much importance on being together for Christmas that it was not enjoyable.  The meal was tense, the pressure to be the perfect family was enormous. It was like she was trying to recreate that Norman Rockwell painting of the family at Thanksgiving.  And yet, I do miss it. For all of her stress and perfectionism, the bottom line was she treasured our small family. She just had a weird way of showing it. To learn more about my Mom, check out my post “Betty and the Banana Cake”.

My Dad and I were very close.  I used to show horses competitively, and he was my biggest supporter and champion. We would get up at the crack of dawn, hitch up the horse trailer and head out. I couldn’t eat anything until I was done competing, just my own nervous food ritual. When I was old enough, Dad and I began our post-show ritual.  We would both sit down and crack open a Genesee Cream Ale. (Beer fans, do not judge me…). Whether I won or lost, this was how we ended a day of competing. It was one of my favorite times with him. To learn more about my Dad, check out my post “Old Ritual= New Ritual”.

My sister loved good meals.  And she adored anything French.  But she could not keep a stocked pantry or refrigerator to save her life.  My son, who was about 9 at the time, and I went to visit my sister in Florida.  I needed to make my son some lunch and opened her refrigerator. No bread. No fruit. No mayonnaise.  But there was a half used jar of capers and a head of frisee. Check the cupboards. No peanut butter. No tuna. No cereal. No kid food, period.  But there were canned snails and dried porcini mushrooms…

We had to go out to the local deli and buy my son a sandwich.

I can’t fault her. She shopped like a European.  And I love snails…

When my Dad passed, I could share the grief with my sister and my Mom.  When my sister passed, I had to support my Mom. No one wants to outlive their children.  When my Mom passed, I had the support of my husband, son, his fiancée and my friends.

I’m not alone, and yet I am.

This year for me is the First Without-without ALL Of Them. And it feels sad.

I have the ashes of all three of them.  And I have been trying to decide what to do.  We aren’t funeral people, there was not a service for any of them. But what I am thinking of doing is having a dinner party for my friends and family who knew them.  And I will cook my Mom’s pot roast (it was always fabulous), make escargot in honor of my sister, and drink a Genny in honor of my Dad.  I’m going to take all of those elements of our meal traditions and share it in remembrance of them.

I’m taking my First Without and having it WITH those who knew and loved them. And I won’t feel alone.

family

Eat, Drink, and Be Sad. It’s Okay.

I am reposting this page because of the Orlando tragedy. And I hope this brings some small comfort to those who have lost a loved one.

But I am so tired of this. I just cannot stand it any longer. This country needs to ban all semi-automatic weapons, as they are only designed to kill people. I don’t want to hear about your Second Amendment rights.  My right to safely go to a club, a movie , a mall, and send my precious child to school overrules your right to own a killing machine.

Enough. This must stop, and it must stop now. We must all do all we can to make the necessary changes to the laws and to the people in power to prevent any further tragedies. No blaming the Muslims, no saying that gay people had it coming to them, no more EXCUSES.

Make change. And make it now.

My deepest sympathies to those in Orlando, and to all who have lost someone through this senseless acts of violence.

 

IMG_20130828_184537_966

I was reading the NPR page on Facebook and discovered a group that was doing something that made incredible sense, and at the same time, was a new concept.

This group is called  “The Dinner Party”.  And no, it is not a site for traditional party planning or a gathering of recipes, although it has both.

It is an organization for grieving the loss of a loved one. Over a meal.  In 2010, five women, in the ages of 20s to 30s, got together for a meal in Los Angeles. Each one was connected by the fact that they had each lost a parent. They found a common bond in each other, and were able to validate the feelings and intensity of their loss, and openly discuss their lives after their losses.  One dinner turned into a monthly gathering, with more friends in attendance. Then the Dinner Party was born, and expanded into other major cities; San Francisco, Washington D.C., New York City. What started as a casual shared experience has  reinvented “grief support” and how  people conceive and talk of loss.

Think about it.  What better way to share a loss than over a meal? Food has always been the great unifying force in all cultures. After a funeral, there is almost always a potluck meal held at the home of the ones experiencing a loss. And at those meals, memories are shared,  and support and love is given.  But what happens after?   The loss of a loved one is different for everyone, and how, when and  why you grieve is deeply personal.  And although we are connected in so many ways today, there is still a lot of isolation.

To me, this is a truly wonderful way  for people to get together to grieve.  Note, these are not counseling or therapy sessions; there are no professionals involved.  This is a venue for a shared experience, among friends. I lost both my father and my sister within one year of each other. To be able to just talk, laugh, and cry with those who have also had a loss would be a moving and freeing experience. And to share that over a meal, how wonderful and fulfilling.

The Dinner Party has a Life After Loss Manifesto, which starts with:

“We are Dinner Partiers. We know what it is to lose a loved one and we’re not afraid to talk about it”.

So, if you are struggling, take a look at The Dinner Party. This may be a way to feel better,  be validated, and not feel so alone. And you will enjoy a good meal with old friends, and maybe make some new ones.  After all, its all about connecting. All we really do have is each other.

If you are interested in finding out more or would like to  attend or host a party, please go to their website,  thedinnerparty.org and all of the information you need is there. I am planning on hosting a party at my home, so if you would like to attend, or have friends who you think would benefit, please contact me and we will set up a dinner.

Below is a writing that I found on grief, author unknown.  But I think it is most fitting.

Grief

I had my own notion of grief.

I thought it was a sad time

That followed the death of someone you loved.

And you had to push through it

to get to the other side.

But I’m learning there is no other side.

There is no pushing through.

But rather,

There is absorption.

Adjustment.

Acceptance.

And grief is not something that you complete.

But rather you endure.

Grief is not a task to finish,

and  move on,

But an element of yourself-

An alteration of your being.

A new way of seeing,

A new definition of self.