Post #6 – Thoughts on Mother’s Day

Dear Reader:

It’s mother’s day.  I hope those of you who are mothers are having a restful day, spent just as you would wish.  The older I get, the more I realize this holiday (same with father’s day) is really a loaded situation.  It can be joyful or filled with sorrow.  It can be a day of celebration or a day of obligation.  It can be lonely.  It can be overwhelming.  It can be everything you always hoped, and, like many special occasion days, some times it can end up as a let down.

Growing up I loved mother’s day.  Sundays were already family day for us, and my parents loved to do things up for special occasions.  Obviously, mother’s day was one of those special days.  Some times we would drive the hour to my maternal grandparents house to celebrate with them.  We would attend their Baptist church service, then take everyone out to The Round Table for a good old fashioned southern spread.  The Round Table was fixture in that part of the state.  All the food was placed on lazy-susans set down in the middle of the tables.  I LOVED IT!  Fried chicken, rice and gravy, biscuits, butter beans and snap peas were my favorites.  You just turned the gizmo around until you got to what you liked and load up your plate. Those mother’s days were fun, for sure, but more reserved and quiet.  My mother’s parents were already quite old (both born in 1893) by the time I came along.

When we stayed home, my dad was always in charge of the mother’s day lunch, which was served outside unless it was raining.  Usually he would grill and we might have potato salad, a green salad and fruit with some kind of sweet at the end.  Once I was old enough, I would be in charge of dessert and loved to make my grandmother’s chocolate pound cake or my mom’s 1,2,3,4 cake.  Dad loved corn-on -the-cob and even though it was a little early in the season, if he could find it he served it.  We had special wooden plates reserved for meals when we ate food grilled outside, and cute little green plates shaped to fit one ear of corn nestled inside where it could bathe in melted butter.  We always used cloth napkins because my mother didn’t care for paper, and she and her sister (my Aunt Margaret) often made fun, colorful napkins for outdoor dining.

My dad would bring home roses for my mom (yellow) and I’d make a card for her at school and my sisters and brother would buy her small gifts/cards and we would just laugh and have fun and enjoy the day together.  All of my memories of such days were of laughing and carrying on.  My father was the chief photographer and always wanted to have formal pictures taken right after church in our Sunday best, before we changed into our “play” clothes.  He would orchestrate each shot.  The last one to be taken was always just the two of them.  One of my older sisters was always in charge of taking that picture.

Every year was the same.  That’s one of the things I loved about my family growing up.  As my sibling got older (they are 12, 10 and six years older than I am), went to college,  and moved out on their own, the crowd might be smaller, but no one forgot mother’s day (or father’s day.)  If they couldn’t be there, although they often came home that weekend, they made sure their greetings were sent in plenty of time to be placed on the table for my mom to open and enjoy with those of us present.  Everything in my family was about tradition.  There was always a certain way we did things.  I found it immensely comforting to be able to predict how a holiday or special occasion would unfold.  Even knowing what to expect did not take away from the magic.

On mother’s day 1990 I decided I really wanted to be a mom.  Prior to that I had hoped to have a family at some point, but hadn’t feel I was ready or that we were ready.  My then husband was in law school and I worked to support us.  This was his second graduate degree and he had yet to be out in the world working, so I had been the sole bread winner since we married in the fall of 1987.  Also, I thought waiting til 29/30 to have a child seemed like a good idea.  By that time, we would be married over five years, he would be finished with his post grad degrees and getting settled into his career.  We both liked the idea of making a plan and being prepared.  What I was not prepared for was the way I suddenly felt as I heard the sounds of a young family walking around our little neighborhood on that Sunday.

It was not unusual for our neighborhood to be filled with families walking about on weekends.  It was the coziest of places – a quiet, tree-lined street of tiny 1940’s cottages and small homes, tucked away from the main road, but close to the university.  At the end of our street was a sweet little park.  So while the scene was not unusual, my reaction that day was totally unexpected.  Most of the time I never really noticed what was going on outside when I was inside the house.  I guess that’s one of the reasons I was so taken by surprise.

The law student was in our living room studying and I was lying with my head at the foot of the bed, which stood next to an open window, reading.  It was a perfect spring day in Charlottesville, Virginia, and you could still smell the fresh mowed grass from the day before.  As was typical for me, I was pretty lost in my book, a mystery by Dick Francis if I recall correctly, when out of the blue I was suddenly aware of the sound of a baby crying somewhere outside.  It wasn’t a wailing cry or even that screaming cry of hunger.  It was more like whimpering frustration, and a bit like a cat cry.  It stopped me cold.  I moved over to the window, pulled the curtains back, and stared out at a little family approaching our yard.  The dad stopped pushing the stroller to check on what was ailing their baby.  He leaned down, picked up the tiniest little swaddled creature I had ever seen and handed it ever so gently to the mom.  She stood there looking at her child, smiling, then began to sway, only slightly, in the most even and easy way you can imagine.  I remember thinking it looked so natural, so fluid.  Although I could see her lips move, I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but I have always assumed she was singing or humming softly.  Soon the cries subsided, and the mom and dad leaned in together to planted a sweet kiss upon their baby’s head.  As the mom tucked the baby back into the stroller I caught my breath.  My heart began to ache.  Painfully so.

I turned over onto my back, lying there quietly for several minutes.  At some point I noticed a salty taste in my mouth and realized I was crying.  I felt confused.  Kinda stupid really.  I didn’t understand why I had been so effected by what I had just witnessed.  I spent years baby sitting when I was growing up.  I didn’t hate it, but I can’t say I loved it either.  It was simply a way to make some extra spending money.  I always thought I would be a mother, some day, but I had never been one to feel any kind of intense rush of emotion when I saw a baby or a mother and child.  However, in that moment I knew I wanted more than anything else to be a mother, and I could not bear it if I had to wait another two or three years.

Fast forward one year, and I was eagerly awaiting the birth of my first child, due in one week.  I had no idea if it would be a girl or boy.  My parents came up for mother’s day, and I remember thinking it would be so nice to celebrate with my mom again for the first time in many years.  They were going to stay with me until the baby came because the law student would leave the next day to start his second summer internship with a law firm in D.C., living up there with his parents until the baby came.  We all felt it would be best if I had someone with me until I went into labor.  My parents surprised me by making the day more about the fact that this was my first mother’s day, even though I was still pregnant, than it being about my mother and her day.

That was 27 years ago.  I had another daughter in 1993 and a third in 1997.  We moved from idyllic Charlottesville to Westchester County, NY when the law student graduated with honors and accepted a big law firm job in NYC.  My marriage became rocky after the arrival of number two.  When number three was nine months old, I learned her father had taken up with the young new hire he had been assigned to mentor.  That was the first time he left.  The second time was two years later, six months after my father died and one month after we moved to Massachusetts so he could take a new job.  The third, and final, time was another two years later.

Between 1991 and 2001, my mother’s day experiences moved quickly from happy, cozy celebrations with my growing little family, complete with breakfast in bed and cards scribbled on in precious toddler “script”, to the older girls asking their father frantically the day before at 5PM, when he finally came home from either playing golf or “working”, “can we please go now to get mommy a present and card?  We’ve been asking you all week.”  He always seemed embarrassed or sometimes annoyed at having to be reminded.  I always assured them they needn’t worry.  They were present enough for me.  But what I knew, and he either didn’t care to understand or just didn’t get it, was that their world at school was all about mother’s day for almost two weeks leading up to the event.  In nursery school cards and sweet little home made gifts were worked on.  In elementary school it was all the talk – what their friends were doing for their mother’s on Sunday and how their dads were helping.  By the time he left for good, mother’s day had become a day I dreaded.  His attitude made me feel as if I were a burden.  The girls were more often than not disappointed and crushed.

Once we were left to our own devices, the girls still looked to their father for help preparing for mother’s day.  That was usually a mistake.  Often he couldn’t be bothered or was just too busy.  The first year I was officially a “single mom”, a kind women from church asked if she could take the girls for an outing the week before mother’s day.  I am not sure how she knew they needed it, but she gave them the chance to pick out a card and took them to make little gifts at a pottery studio, all at her expense.  And we weren’t even close friends.  She did the same for a close friend of mine who also became a single mother around the same time.

Eventually the girls took it upon themselves to figure out a way to prepare some kind of breakfast for their exhausted mom on mother’s day.  Wanting to help and take some of the pressure off, I would prepare my coffee the night before so they could just flip the switch and “make mommy’s coffee.”  I would act all shocked and happily surprised the next morning when they dragged me downstairs to the kitchen.  As they got older, they began to walk to Starbucks to get me a coffee and scone for breakfast.

I have kept each and every card the girls have made or bought for me every birthday and mother’s day.  I have framed their little hand prints made in nursery school and the poems written in kindergarten and first or second grade about why they love their mother.  I will always be eternally grateful for the gift of motherhood.  I cannot imagine my life without those three girls.  Yet, while all of these memories are dear to my heart, some are tinged with emotions that are difficult for me to talk about.

When I started this journey, I never once imagined how it would unfold.  I mean, who would even entertain the idea that they might end up raising their children alone without any help or encouragement from the father?  For so many years when I heard women talk about how they had a good working relationship with their former spouse, father of their children, and how he would take the children to give her a break the entire day before mother’s day, just because, and make sure the kids had flowers or candy or cards or things to prepare for her breakfast I would become enraged.  I allowed those feelings of resentment and anger to simmer in me for far longer than I should have.

As I think about it today, I feel embarrassed.  I tried so hard not to let my resentment and disappointment show.  I never wanted my children to think I wasn’t happy to be their mother or felt for one moment that I wished I hadn’t had children.  But after a while, all those feelings I worked so hard to keep bottled up began to color my enjoyment of days like mother’s day.  There came a time when I was just too tired and overwhelmed with single motherhood day-in and day-out and all the years of doing what needed to be done, feeling like I always had to be the bad cop because there was no one else there to take on that role and give me a break just once in a while.  All I longed for on mother’s day was peace and quiet and alone time – just time to myself in my garden to dig, maybe drink some coffee on the front porch and listen to some classical music.

Eventually all three were either away at school, or had graduated from college and lived on their own, therefore no longer constantly needed my attention and help.  As the years went on, I saw less and less of them on a daily basis.  At first I reveled in my freedom.  I missed them tremendously, but I also felt grateful to have less daily responsibility for other people.  The last two years I lived in Massachusetts, the older two had settled down in jobs and apartments in the greater Boston area and I was able to enjoy them every now and then either at home or where they lived.  It was so easy to get together.  The youngest was in college in Connecticut.  No one was home with me, but no one was too far away either.

Now I live four and a half hours, without traffic, from two of my three children.  While the third one has lived with us this year as she transitions back into school full time after taking time off, it has been hard to negotiate living with a 20/21 year old who, until recently, did not have her license and resented the heck out of the fact that she had to live at home, and depend on me for her transportation, while all of her friends were away at college anywhere but here.   It is complicated because I know she is grateful and her anger is really about the choices she made that brought her into this situation, but still we have had a very bumpy road this year.  Today she really put in a wonderful effort for me.  My heart was full of gratitude.

This isn’t my first mother’s day away from some or all my children; I have spent mother’s day alone while all three were away at school, but this is my first mother’s day away from the home where I raised them.  This is really the first of many mother’s days for me as a mother of grown and independent young women.  Within the next five years, it is likely at least one of them will become a mother and have a family of her own.  My life has taken all kinds of turn the past couple of years and, as things have unfolded, I have realized that I spent too much time while my children were growing up holding on to anger and resentment and wishing for freedom.  It took me too long to let go of feeling let down.

Today all I wished for was to see each of their smiling faces and their delight in having me sit at the kitchen table while they tried their very best to put together a breakfast their “mumsie” would enjoy.  It’s been kind of melancholy for me today.

I love my life, don’t get me wrong.  I have been so very lucky.  I have had many amazing experiences, some truly wonderful and some pretty tough, but each one has made me the person I am today.  I prefer not to live with regret, but I do wish I had been able to sit back more and just take in some of those moments that didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped when my children were growing up.  I hate to think any one of them would wonder if I really enjoyed being a mother, because I honestly feel it was a privilege to raise them on my own.

So, to all the mothers out there, I hope your day was blessed.

And thanks again for dropping by.  I am always happy to hear from visitors, so don’t be shy.  Drop me a note.

Until next time…






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Post #5 – New photograph, willing spring to arrive, and rounding the bend of the Whole30

Dear Reader:

When I started my blog I wanted to use a photograph of my children, but, being a bit backwards when it comes to technology, I couldn’t figure out how to take this photo from my phone and make it my header.  I started to ask one of my children for help, but decided it was time for me to pull up my big girl pants and figure it out.  So I did!  I took this years ago on our last trip to Cape Cod together.  We spent time there for 17 years, visiting my aunt who took a place every summer right on the beach in Truro.

We started going when I was married to their father and the youngest was maybe six months old, but very shortly afterwards our marriage began to crumble and soon it was just the four of us and my aunt.  She provided a dependable situation during a critical and difficult time in their lives and mine – – a week or two at the beach in August, just before school started; no internet or TV or outgoing calls; card and board games galore; crossword puzzles; unlimited high-end art supplies (she was an artist); nightly movies (usually oldies/classics) piled upstairs in the loft with blankets and pillows on the bunks and bowls upon bowls of popcorn; pop tarts for breakfast; sandwiches and chips on the beach; days spent at the beach, exploring the lighthouse, P’town, the occasional flea market or art gallery and shops; bonfire cookouts on the beach, followed by star gazing until the little ones fell asleep; games of flashlight tag; and the promise of one lobster dinner over in Wellfleet followed by ice cream at A Nice Cream Stop.

Being a born and bred Southern, and raising my children in the heart of New England, tradition is the cornerstone to my life.  And making sure my children had traditions they could count on and recall (when their own lives were turned upside down and often unpredictable) was of great importance to me.  Almost every aspect of my parenting style has been centered around traditions.

For the past 31 years I have been a wife, a divorcee, a single gal, a wife (again), a widow, single for a long time, and a wife (yet again).  But for 27 of those 31 years there has been one constant in my life – motherhood.  Although I have also worked at various points in the past 31 years, my identity has been as their mother.  In many ways, I cannot think of myself outside of them and I also feel they are my greatest achievement.  That is why I wanted to use this photograph as my header.  If you knew us, you would say it very clearly says quite a lot about my children, my mothering style, and us.  An old friend used to say we were quite the force, a total unit.  Also, I took the picture and I think it’s cool!

I hope you like it.

Although we are closing in on the last full week of April, the temperature here in northeast PA is still on the chilly side.  Just 10 days ago we were still getting little snow storms off and on for almost an entire week!  The high today was supposed to be 62*, but it never felt that warm at all.  It was so windy!  Since the end of March/early April, we have had a day or two here and there of spring-like weather, but it was always short lived and back we went to cold and snow or chilly and rainy.

Although my winters in New England were terrifically cold and very snowy, and often seemed endless, for some reason I am finding this winter the one that doesn’t want to end!  When I lived north of Boston, I lived in a typical New England town that was built around a small main street area and in conjunction with a private boarding school.  Our streets had sidewalks and, therefore, it was safe to walk all over for miles and not worry about cars.  All I had to do was get dressed for whatever the weather was and head out my door.  Talk about easy!  My favorite route was up the street, through the downtown and into the campus of the school.  I have so many pictures taken at various times of the year to document how the seasons changed.  Here, in the bucolic mountain area of Northeast PA, there are no sidewalks.  While our views are stunning and we have so much privacy, as we are surrounded by small mountains, I am very uncomfortable heading out for a walk or run.

I usually walk the dogs with the professor once or twice a weekend, and sometimes during the week when it is not too cold.  But the ease I enjoyed before, of walking out the front door without worrying about cars, is not the case here.  We have to navigate roughly a mile of windy road until we arrive at a local school where we can walk for another two miles in the woods.  There are similar routes without the woods option, but all require me to navigate windy roads and passing cars.  There are nature trails that are beautiful, but they involve getting into the car.

I think the fact that I could easily get out and about safely when I lived in New England helped to alleviate any possible feelings of winter blues.  It did take me about a year to get used to it, but, once I had dogs, we were out almost every single day for a three to four mile jog.  Unless the sidewalks were icy and dangerous we were outside enjoying nature.  Thankfully my back yard was fenced in and solved the need for daily outings when the conditions were poor.

It is a funny mix of emotions for me.  I can stand in my kitchen and look out upon mountains and feel so at peace and filled with gratitude.  However, I can also think longingly back to my morning outings with my dog and feel sad at the loss of that easy daily activity.

Finally, I am nearing the end of my Whole30 experience and I could not be more excited!  I know I won’t be going back to my milk and sugar coffee habit, but just knowing that I will have the freedom to make choices again is glorious!  I’ve been doing research on grain-free and dairy-free baking and am eager to put my research to the test.  Wednesday morning of next week…

All-in-all, I have felt really good the past 10 – 14 days.  I continue to learn a lot about myself and my relationship with food, and about food in general.

With the end of April comes preparation for exam week in mid May at the U.  Once exams are under way, the professor and I can happily start to think of our summer plans and heading up to Maine to get our New England fix!  We have a little cottage up there, nestled against some woods, along the mid coast.  Not only is it private and woodsy, but it is also very close to the beach – – close enough for a four or five mile bike ride.  I have two gardens I love to tend and we go on daily walks with the dogs, often along the rocky shores.  We have comfy sofas and chairs for reading books and napping and a back deck perfect for lounging and cooking out.  It is our little slice of heaven!

I guess my high/low today is connected – – the sun was out (HIGH!), but it was pretty chilly (LOW!).  Another high was figuring out how to put one of my favorite photographs on this blog.  All-in-all, it has been a good day.

Until next time…


P.S. – I have just made an Instagram account!  The account name is elinor_may_.  Guess I am not the only person named Elinor May.  It was hard to find a handle that wasn’t already taken.  I think of my name as being rather unique.   Oh well.  At any rate, I haven’t posted any photographs yet, but I will soon.  I hope you will follow along.  And, as always, I’d love to hear from you.



Post #4 – Life on the Whole30, Day 11

Dear Reader:

Today there were real glimmers of hope in an otherwise same-old-same-old day on the Whole30.  I’ve got to be honest: this Whole30 thing is getting old!  Today was day 11 and it feels as if each and every day crawls by at a snail’s pace.  It’s not like I’m ready to wave the white flag, throw up my hands and surrender, but this is really wearing on me.  While my experience remains basically the same as last week, there have been two major changes: one welcomed and one not so welcomed.

Before I started the Whole30, I read each and every bad thing listed (that I would supposedly go through the first two weeks) to my husband and asked for his patience in advance. I am happy to report that 95% of those issues have not been my issues. Thankfully, I have yet to suffer from mood swings (read “hanger”) or any of the other maladies listed in the book (head-aches, body-aches, feeling like I have a hang-over, etc.).

However, I have felt utterly and totally bowled over with exhaustion!  My energy levels, which are usually sky high, have barely gotten off the ground.  I haven’t really feel like myself at all.  It’s odd.

Until yesterday!

Most days since I started this I’d wake up, roll over and go back to sleep, snooze off and on for roughly an hour, maybe 90 mins, then drag myself out of  bed and stumble around as I got dressed for the day.  And by dressed, I mean putting on sweats or throwing a sweatshirt over my t-shirt and remaining in my flannel jams most of the day.  This is NOT normal for me.  Ok, sometimes I do live in sweats or yoga pants, but the not being able to wake up and stumbling around part is WAY out of character.  Plus, normally I tend to get things done every day.

I have struggled to feel motivated to do anything, be it get dressed, eat breakfast, go to yoga, run the vacuum, do the laundry, go to the grocery – – you get the picture.  NO MOTIVATION.  NO ENERGY.  NO DRIVE.   This is not the best situation for a happy state-of-mind.  It’s had me feeling rather down in the dumps.  One night I totally fell apart and cried like a baby because I haven’t had any real appetite and nothing has appealed to me. The word depressed has crossed my mind more than a few times.

Today, however, it was as if a light switch went off.  It was the second day I was able to wake up with relative ease.  I even got dressed in real clothes.  Like, I actually WANTED to get dressed in real clothes.  SCORE!!

Yesterday I completed most of my to-do list, which consisted of household chores such as cleaning the first floor, changing out winter linens for spring, and putting away all the Easter decorations I took down and gathered on the dining room table over a week ago and then promptly ignored.  The annoying thing is that while these chores might normally take me half a day, yesterday they took the ENTIRE day!  I must have sat down half a dozen times, if I sat down once, just to rest.  Some times for an hour.

Today was much better.  Still not getting up super early, but I woke easily and got ready for the day.  By 9AM I had made the bed, gotten dressed, done a few kitchen chores and was ready for a grocery run.  After returning with a bounty of delicious whole foods, my youngest and I put on an old Mary Chapin Carpenter CD, cranked up the volume, and did (what the millennials call) “meal prep”.  We had such a great time together!  All day I felt up-beat and eager to go.  I haven’t felt the need to rest.  Not once.

After a quick trip into the city, I finished up my tasks and made vegan salted chocolate chip cookies for No. 3 and gluten-free (also super low carb) pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for my guy – – all from scratch, which is the way I roll.  Sadly, I can have neither of those until May 2nd, but who’s counting?  Really.

I am so grateful for the energy I have felt these past two days.  It’s been like a ray of sunshine.  It’s hard to explain what it was like the previous nine days.  Feeling flat.  Absolutely no energy.  None what-so-ever.

To illustrate my point, Saturday I drove No.3 to Philly to attend an accepted students day event at one of the schools to which she applied.  We left at 5:45 AM.  I packed bananas, apples, nuts, and an RX bar, but I failed to pack anything else that was Whole30 approved thinking: “This is Philly.  Super hip.  Cutting edge.  Vegan restaurants.  They’ll have something easy for me to grab within the vicinity of the school.”  NOT!  I momentarily forgot that vegan does not = Whole30.  UGH!

The food offered for lunch at the school was carb-based – – not a big surprise.  The vegan restaurant down the street was also carb based and offered fake meat options, which are not allowed on the program because they are processed.  The only thing Whole30 approved on the menu were sweet potato fries.  The other options close by, outside of fast food, were two restaurants, each with a pricey menu and the inevitable wait for a table, wait to order, and wait for the food to arrive, etc.  I didn’t have time for that because we were on a schedule with the school program that day.

So, for the entire 24 hour period, I ate an order (and it was not a very big one) of sweet potato fries and two apples and one banana and one RX bar – – and more nuts than anyone should consume in one day.  (Plus my first almond milk latte from Starbucks, ending my coffee drought, which turned out to be the highlight of my entire week!)

The drive back should take roughly two hours and 15 mins, without much traffic.  We were less than an hour from home when I suddenly became so utterly tired I could not keep my eyes open.  It was scary.  Seriously.  Like a blanket of exhaustion covered me completely.  And No. 3 doesn’t have her driver’s license yet.  (Don’t ask.)  So I pulled over to shut my eyes for maybe 20 mins, and 90 minutes later I woke up in a fog of confusion and horror at the time! That, coupled with day after day after day of not being able to complete the most menial of tasks, had me like WTAF???????

BUT today was a good day, as was yesterday.  No fatigue/exhaustion.  Also, I’m feeling pretty upbeat!  Seems like I might be on the up-swing here.  Don’t want to jinx myself, but things could be looking up.

The other change, but not for the good, has been pretty persistent stomach issues.  This is my ONE AND ONLY low for yesterday and today.  It started Sunday, which I basically spent lying around on the couch with a heating pad on my belly.  I was not nauseated, but my belly ached severely all day and I felt like crude.  It has remained an issue ever since, but to varying degrees.  Kinda comes and goes and  right now it’s nothing I can’t handle, but it is annoying and sometimes slows me down a bit.  The book tells me this too shall pass, so I won’t let it get get the best of me.  Apparently, it is possible I have been consuming far more nuts than is advisable, so they are off my list for a while.

As I round the corner of my second full week on the Whole30, I am feeling my highs today well outweigh my lows.

  • I am back to feeling more like my old self.  I have motivation again for tasks, and not just my day-to-day tasks but projects.
  • I made it through the entire day today without once feeling as if I needed to sit on the couch and veg.
  • No.3 and I enjoyed some really nice quality time in the kitchen, which is not always, maybe even rarely, the case.
  • I enjoyed another almond milk latte, even experimenting on my own to make it at home as good as Starbucks does.
  • Today was the first day in a really really long time that it wasn’t cold, or even chilly.  And tomorrow and Saturday it’s going to be even warmer!  Such great news for this southern gal.

Here’s hoping all is well with you and, if you live anywhere north of Philly, that you are able to be out and about enjoying these first few days of real spring weather.  Please feel free to ping me with any questions, and if you have tried the Whole30, I would certainly love to hear about your experience.

Until next time…



POST #3 – The Whole30 and me

Dear Reader:

After starting this blog with all good intentions to keep it up and running, posting at least once a week, here I am 44 days after my last (and only second) post.  I am guessing the momentum has fallen by the way side.

Life can get in the way, but it is not how many times you fall down that counts; it is getting up and trying again!

Lots of stuff has been going on since I last posted, but I am not sure if I will reflect back on any of it.  As the days melted into weeks, I was nervous about writing another post after being off for so long, but keeping this blog up and running is important to me so here I am.

What’s new, you ask?

Today is my third day on the Whole30.  My middle one did it about two months ago and has been raving about the positive effects – even now, four weeks after completion.

She didn’t do it to lose weight; she’s a former NCAA Div I athlete and continues to live a healthy lifestyle.  She has always been super careful about her diet and exercise.  She did the Whole30 because, while she doesn’t eat a ton of sweets, she had been wondering about food intolerances (such as dairy) and she liked the whole idea of “resetting”, taking away the extra stuff – – no matter how infrequently she consumed it – – and seeing where she ended up after 30 days.  Would she notice a difference in her energy?  Her skin?  Her sleep?  Her digestion?  Food intolerances?

The answer was a resounding yes.  Well, her skin wasn’t an issue, but she has noticed her energy staying constant and her focus, which has always been pretty good, remaining sharp throughout the day.  She no longer experiences stomach aches after consuming dairy because it was on the “no” list.  She reintroduced a few foods she loves, such as chick peas and rice, and hasn’t noticed any bad reaction so those went back on her food list.  Leading up to Easter and over the weekend, she indulged in sweets and realized that effected her energy, so things like sugar and dairy are out save for special occasions.  And she won’t be eating bread or pasta any time soon either.  She doesn’t miss them so she hasn’t reintroduced them.

Why did I decide to give it a try?  I tend to eat a diet heavy on fresh vegetables with lean protein as a compliment.  Pasta is reserved for those evenings when I am in a bind to get dinner on the table fast.  It is also a favorite comfort food for me, especially with pesto, but it is not a weekly indulgence.  I like bread, but I don’t consume it regularly, although I did eat these amazing multigrain flatbread crackers while visiting my mother for five days last month.  Every.  Single.  Night.  And toast is my go-to whenever I feel yucky, but my general diet is not a concern.

My real problem is sugar.

For a long while now I have felt I might be addicted to it.  It’s not like I eat a lot of junk food and sweets, and certainly not every day, BUT I do have a special way of making my coffee that includes sugar and dairy – – I start with hot skim milk, roughly half of the mug, then add a heaping spoon of sugar, and top it off with strongly brewed coffee.  You should know that I used to take two heaping spoonfuls of sugar, but in recent months I lowered that to just one.  However, that one is still heaping!  Wile I may not have more than one mug in the morning, I definitely have a second mug in the afternoon, say around 2pm.  Some days, I admit, I consume three or four mugs of this deliciously wonderful concoction.  The other problem for me is that it’s all wrapped up in the ritual.

I am a highly ritualistic person.  I thrive on it.  Rituals of sight, touch, taste, and smell, even sound.  I am highly attuned to my senses and they kinda run my life.  I do best when I can follow through with the way I prepare my coffee, make my salads, set the table, make the beds, organize my belongings, even the route I took on my daily jogs  with my dog when I lived in New England – – you get the picture.  Now that I write it all down, I sound like a freak! Anyone else out there like me?

At any rate, worried about the long term effects of so much sugar on my health, I decided I needed to try to cure my sugar addiction.  Now, I realize addicts have to give up their addiction for life, but, seeing as my love of coffee is tied up in the way I prepare it, when this is all over I  hope I will find a way to enjoy coffee again.  Sans sugar.  I know – – milk contains sugar.  That is something else I am contemplating over the remaining 27 days, since dairy is also out of the picture.  UGH!

Day three and what I am really noticing is the absence of my morning and afternoon ritual: taking the long-handled, two tablespoon measurer out of the vintage, cut glass, handle-less sugar bowl (given to me years ago by my aunt to corral my collection, which she helped start, of antique and vintage silver teaspoons); measuring out two scoops of beans and one heaping teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa; the sound of the beans as I grind them; the smell of the coffee, tinged with cocoa, brewing; the act of measuring out the milk in my pyrex measuring cup (the one I use ONLY for heating milk); the ding alerting me to both coffee and milk being ready to pour into any one of my special mugs (Yes, I have a collection; are you surprised?  Each one actually means something to me.  Right now I am favoring my millennial pink, short, squat mug that makes me smile because it reads “hello gorgeous”); milk first, then comes the sugar, followed by coffee and topped off with cinnamon.  I pause briefly, both hands wrapped around the mug, as I bring it towards my face.  The warmth transfers from the mug to my hands, which always run cold.  The aroma wafts up, around my head and inside my nasal cavity.  Gosh, I genuinely love that moment.  I take my first sip leaning back against the counter.  Often I will say, to no one in particular, “Wow, now that’s a cup of coffee!”  Then I move to the kitchen table or living room couch or back deck to fully enjoy every single sip.

This time is for me, usually, and mostly I simply sit and enjoy the mountains beyond the back of our house in NEPA or the view from the living room couch into the dining room or the woods behind our Maine cottage or the flames flickering in our gas stove up there.  Sometimes I read an article or three.  Often music is playing; sometimes NPR news on our little kitchen radio.  And there are days when I barely get it made before I have to run out to take my youngest to class, so the coffee is enjoyed in the car with country music playing on the radio and the passenger seat occupied.

Before I started this journey, I tried several different ways to prepare my coffee  – – with almond or coconut milk and vanilla extract – – but nothing tasted good enough to warrant me taking the time and energy to put it together.  I may change my mind after another few days, but I decided to go without coffee altogether!

I don’t seem to have an issue with caffeine.  It rarely, if ever, keeps me awake at night.  On mornings when I rise feeling sluggish and tired, I don’t think it is the caffeine that gets me up and going.  Honestly, I believe it’s the sugar.  Sadly, I think I kinda run on it.

So, on this third day of the Whole30, it seems my main complaint is missing out on my morning and afternoon coffee ritual.

Have you heard of the Whole30?  Tried it?  If so, what was your experience?

Time to get ready for my Wednesday early evening slow flow/restorative yoga class.  I had worried my yoga practice would be effected this first week on the Whole30, but yesterday morning’s class was definitely one of the best I have experienced since moving to NEPA.  While I was a bit tired and sluggish, I found I was able to rise to the occasion and put in a really positive effort.  Interested to see if tonight is the same.

Until next time, which I hope won’t be too long…..


Post #2 – Getting started and other thoughts

Dear Reader –

I thought I would have something for you before the weekend ended, but I couldn’t seem to find a way to close out the piece I have been tinkering with recently.  UGH!

Last week I decided my first real post should be about something that has been occupying my mind for a couple of years now.  I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would approach this topic, and yesterday while my husband was napping, I started to put ideas onto paper.  But for the life of me I could not corral it.  When I started, it seemed like it would be focused and easy enough to write.  I mean, I have been living with this for more than a year, so how hard could it be?  Today I worked on it again and tried over and over to pull it together, to make it shorter, easier to digest.  Finally, I had to put it aside, admit defeat for now, and start on something else.

I did some research before attempting to start my blog.  I wanted to make sure I knew the right and wrong way to go about this.  You know – – make sure I set myself up for success and all.  Basically, while I learned there is no real “right or wrong way”, the general consensus seems to be that concise is best until your readership has made the commitment to stay the course with you.

Since this is only the beginning, I think it is fair to say a commitment has not yet been made.  I am laughing at myself as I write this.  I mean, how many people are really reading my blog so far?  I have only made one post, and it wasn’t what I would call a real post any way.  It was merely an “About Me”, an introduction of sorts.  Who knows how many of those first readers will come back to see what I have to say today.  And after that, the question remains – – will they continue to return?

With that in mind, I will strive to keep my posts under control for now.

I will start with my “low”.  It was cold and wet today.  I have no patience for cold, wet days, especially in mid to late February.  I always get homesick this time of year.  My birthday is this month and when I was growing up, the weather in February was always nice.  It wasn’t hot, but it certainly wasn’t cold either.  There were a few years when it might have been in the high 50’s, but mostly I remember bright, clear, sunny days where the most you would need was a sweater or a light jacket when you set out in the morning.  But not here and not today.  Today was all about boots and gloves and warm coats.  And umbrellas.  One of the things I miss the most about the deep south is spring. Just about this time each year, the first signs of life to announce its arrival are the early bulbs and flowering  trees/shrubs, and the hordes of birds singing as the sun rises.  Some days could be windy and kinda of crazy, but cold and wet they definitely were not!

In spite of the dreary weather, I managed to have a pretty good day.

I decided not to give anything up for Lent this year.  The moment I say I will give up something is the moment I am sure to crave it so badly you would think I had an addiction.  Over my lifetime I have had a few Lenten successes, but I was not feeling confident enough in myself to take that challenge this year.  Instead, I decided to add something to my life.   It’s part of this burning question with which I have been struggling – “purpose”.  Specifically mine.

I am struggling with the concept.  Truth be told, it started taking up more and more real estate upstairs not too long after I hit the big 5-0.  A lot has changed for me since that birthday, but I digress.  I will eventually address that in another, most likely much longer, post.

Back to Lent.  I started reading a daily devotional of sorts.  I wondered if I would grow weary of such intense religious thought, day in and day out, for 40 long days.  So, in typical fashion when I fear failure, I made the commitment with some trepidation at the very last possible moment, which was the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.  So far so good, I am happy to report.  I won’t bore you with details of the readings or my thoughts on them just yet.  This is not meant to be a religious blog in any way.  It is meant to be a blog about life in general, mine in particular.  Of course, religion and spirituality are a part of my life, for better or worse, so I suppose from time to time the subject might come up in more detail.

For this past week, I have found I am more focused on the positive and less obsessed with the negative.  There was one day when I didn’t get going early enough, so I felt I couldn’t take the time to read, reflect and pray.  In the evening, I realized I had grown more and more grouchy as the day progressed and thus ended my day feeling resentful.  If nothing else, this daily quiet time has helped me to focus of what is good in this world and in my life.  That is always a plus.

Another “high” today was the unexpected gift of a charge-free visit from my new plumber.  Our dishwasher is not yet two years old, and my husband, who was living alone for a number of years until we married last May, had not used the brand new dishwasher until I moved here in June.  Since then, we have made a habit of using it at least three times a week.  Long story short, after Christmas I noticed it smelled musty; then I realized it was not properly draining.  My handyman suggested I call a plumber, which I did.  He came, figured out the issue (not really a big one), and was out in less than half an hour.  He refused to charge me, and now we are friends for life!

On that high note, I will say good night and sign off.  I will continue to work on my epic post, trying to whittle it down to a more manageable length.  Purpose is weighing heavily on me, as I think it does on many women my age, and I want to talk about it here, but I fear it is a hard subject to keep short and simple.  Wish me luck.

Until next time…



Post #1 – About me: A New Start

Greetings and salutations!

My name is Elinor May.  This is not my first time at the rodeo.  I have tried my hand at blogging in the past more than once, but, as they say, apparently the timing was never right.  This past year has brought some important changes to my life, and now it would appear all the stars are aligned for me to give this the old college try.  I am nervous, but very excited!  Before we get started, here are a few FAM (facts about moi):

  • This month I turn 55.
  • I was born and raised in a small town in the deep south.
  • I was educated in the northeast.
  • I am my father’s daughter.
  • I am the youngest of five – – but also an only child.
  • Besides my home state, well below the Mason Dixon Line, I have lived in five states since 1980: New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, (New York again), (Massachusetts again), and Pennsylvania.
  • I have been married and divorced.
  • I have (also) been (re)married and widowed.
  • I raised three daughters, mostly on my own.
  • They are my greatest accomplishment.
  • After eight years on my own, I took the plunge (again) – – this past May I said “I do” for the third time – – so I am, in essence, a newlywed (again).  Ain’t love grand?

Continue reading “Post #1 – About me: A New Start”