Categories: Kristin's Earlier Blogs, About Kristin
My apologies… I realized it has been almost 2 months since I wrote a blog. Mea culpa. But I haven’t forgotten… I think about writing often but sometimes the words just don’t make it out of my head and onto the page!! I am thankful, though, that today they have…….
Recently I woke up in the morning, drenched in sweat. There is no masking it any longer. I am most definitely at that perimenopausal stage of life. And at 45, I am at the very beginning of the journey. But I do feel like I am being turned inside out … not only wearing my heart on my sleeve but all my other organs as well. As much as I feel the impulse to, there is no hiding from this. Everything in my life is being laid bare…..
I went to one of my favorite winter hiking spots today. I like this canyon in the winter as it has a wide path that snakes steeply upwards in a meandering way… actually, it is a one-way dirt road that is closed half of the year. Over the weekend, the canyon must have received well over a foot of snow that banked high along the sides of the path, shrouding all the boulders, rocks, logs, sticks and trees. It changed the entire landscape of the canyon. No longer were the distinct elements of the forest visible. The canyon was now a plethora of softly mounded shapes, each one molding into the next…. and into the next,…. and into the next... gentle sweeps of curves thick in the snow. Truly something to behold. And I noticed in walking the same path I have many, many times how familiar, and yet different the canyon felt immersed in snow.
As I walked along the packed powder of the trail, noticing the softness that has blanketed the land, I realized that my own body is just like this canyon today. It is transforming into softly mounded shapes… a softening that only I can notice. But it is there. Familiar… yet different. I began to feel that internal struggle most women feel… the struggle and efforting to hang onto a youthful body image that is beginning to fade. As my mind toyed with what I needed to do to keep from getting, too soft, too matronly, I heard, with each step I took, from deep inside myself the words, “let it go….. let it go…… let it go…”
I love the smooth softness of the snow… how it transforms the land and makes for a completely new experience of place. Why do I not love this transformation beginning in myself? Why do I keep myself tethered to an image of what I am supposed to be rather than welcoming the changes of life washing over me? I started to look for myself in the surrounding terrain… ah yes… that arc of snow hanging from the rock is just like that soft spot on the back of my hip… the lip of snow nestled on that branch… looks like my inner thigh…
And so I begin my journey of acceptance into my own shifting 'experience of place'. May I always remember the beauty of the sweeping softness of the rippling snow, and the patterns of light and shadow that dance across its surface … being reflected in my own changing shape, my own softening landscape.
Driving up along the front range the other day… it was a hazy day, and the settling of the late afternoon sun seemed to mask my depth perception. The layers of foothills stacked one behind each other looked flat, volume-less… like a collage of torn pieces of paper in varying hues of deep purple against the endless backdrop of sky. I am always struck how the light shifts in the turning of the seasons… particularly noticeable from fall to winter. The angle of the sun striking solid objects casts a softly spilling glow to everything…. as if the sunlight was imbued with the most marvelous colors. And the sunset was unlike any I had ever seen! As the sun began to ease below the line of mountains, in the east above the prairie was a swarm of cool muted pastels… blues, violets, and pinks sweeping into the sharp delineation of form in the west… bright orange clouds planted against deep turquoise blue above sharp contours of rock and stone. The contrast was amazing and created a spectacular painting of line, shape, and color across the deep canvas of sky….
The sense of space here in the west permeates everything but for me most keenly in the space above. I always notice the sky this time of year. After the leaves have fallen it seems the sky comes down to hover close to the earth, nestling in to give fingers of blue around the leafless branches that hold me throughout the gray-brown winter.......
As I sink into the still, full space of winter, I also begin to crave tea. Hot tea. Tea to warm me gently from the inside out. Tea to keep my own inner fire alive. Searching through my cupboard of tea one evening I stumbled across an old love…. red raspberry leaf tea. Ah… yes… red raspberry and I have been through many a journey together… gently brewed nourishment through each pregnancy, strong decoctions to stoke the fire of contractions during childbirth… a tea that for me represents balance and wholeness at its best. There was a time when for months on end I drank several pots of red raspberry leaf tea each day. My naturopath told me that if I continue to drink red raspberry leaf tea, it will also help to ease the transition through perimenopause. Such a wonderful herb for women through all phases of our life.
I do love the taste of red raspberry leaf tea. I drink most teas without sweetener… the only ones that I feel the need to add sweetness to are tea blends; single herbs brewed are wonderfully rich tasting to my palate and need nothing more. But red raspberry leaf is a deep, rich brew of greenness… a little like green tea but so full and round. And chock full of nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamins B, C, and E. No wonder my body sings when I drink it! And as a B, I can fully enjoy all the benefits of this humble herb, red raspberry.
So if you have yet to try red raspberry, or think it is only an herb for pregnancy and childbirth (it is wonderful for men too!!) do give it a try. I think you will be as pleased with it as I am.
And may it help to bring you back in balance… and into wholeness… as it does me.
It seems that as soon as November 1st rolls around, winter begins here on the front range. And I don’t mean with snow… we’ve had snow all autumn. The fall into winter begins in the cañons. Without my noticing the transition, suddenly the ground is frozen hard, and light seems to skirt across the cañon rather than enter into it. In November, there is a noticeable chill to the air in the cañon… like a tunnel of frozen breath. The branches that hang by the stream now become coated with ice and a new world of ice sculptures opens to be seen after the leaves have fallen. Today I saw blades of slender grass arced over the stream and coated with ice as if candles dipped in beeswax………..
My parents were out for a recent visit… each visit they make more precious and dear as they are surely getting on in years. I am amazed that they are still willing to drive across the country to visit me and my family. My mother called unexpectedly one night before they left from home. I unconsciously brace myself when I receive a phone call from my parents that is out of the usual pattern. Prepared to hear bad news from the other end, I instead hear my mother ask, “Would you like us to bring you some apples?”. Hmmmm…. I think…. she is calling me now to ask if I want any apples???? Knowing that my parents always buy their apples direct from the orchards I say, “Sure, you can bring us some apples” She asks what kind of apples I want and I try to think of apple varieties that I grew up with that aren’t available locally where I live… like Jonathon and McIntosh. Then my mother says, “Your father says you eat beets”. Yes, I respond. “Shall we bring you some beets too?” Sure Mom… you can bring me some beets too. I end the phone call a little befuddled and not sure why she was calling me at such an unusual hour to ask me these things, but decide to just let it be.
Well… not only did they bring a plethora of apples with them…. but also freshly picked peaches, nectarines, lemons, homemade peach and black raspberry jam, and yes, fresh beets. And only 2 jars of home-canned peaches. I thought how it used to be that they would always bring us jars and jars of peaches in that thick sugar syrup, and stewed tomatoes galore! I’m sure there was sweet corn that I am forgetting too. I know they really don’t understand fully why I eat the way I do, but it was heartening to see that they do accept it now. And both of them have incorporated at least some BTD principles into their own lives as well.
While my parents were visiting, we drove up to the Hayman burn area in the high country…. the scene of a very large wildfire several years ago. I had not been to this region since the fire happened. As we were driving through, I noticed that in spite of the devastation, there was a strange beauty to the map of the fire. Yes, there were many charred sticks poking out of the ground that were once Ponderosa pine and Doug fir…. miles upon miles of charred sticks… but there was now a lush undergrowth growing up and around the burnt trees that softened the harshness of that reality. And clearly seen were the patterns of wind and fire sweeping through the forest like giant brush strokes where the fire skipped over some hillsides only to consume others across the way. But what was most amazing to me was to see the topography of the land that is not visible in a forest full of trees; all that lays hidden by the trees was now laid bare. As if I could now see the skin of the forest. It was breath-taking.
And it reminded me of perspective…. a clear view. A reminder that there is always so much more than is directly visible. As I enter a period of deep change in my life, I hold this image of the forest regenerating itself close to my heart, and the perspective one gains when looking through the charred trees to the lay of the land that was always there.
Perhaps it is sometimes it is necessary to strip away, maybe even burn away, to truly see the forest through the trees.
Today was a stellar day here in my neck of the woods... One of those end-of-summer days with bright blue skies, warm golden sun, cool whisper of autumn on the breeze…… But what I notice most are the shadows shifting and lengthening, becoming softer around the edges it seems… less of a contrast between darkness and light. And a hushed-ness to the passage of time…
Yesterday, a friend stopped by to show me her new beach cruiser… apparently we have something of a beach cruiser community here along the Front Range… who knew?…. and this friend has just started the Blood Type Diet. She has known about it for years and wanted to try it but didn’t know her blood type and being a bit squeamish about needles and such it took her awhile to find out. She is an O, no big surprise there. But what she told me next really did give me something of a jolt.
This friend has been borderline obese for several years and has struggled to lose weight for as long as I have known her. At an appointment with a new doctor, she told the doctor that she was trying the Blood Type Diet to aid in weight loss. The doctor’s response was very supportive and mentioned that several of her patients had tried the Blood Type Diet with great success. Wow! A medical doctor confirming the value of the BTD. Cool! But… then my friend told me that the doctor also said, “If you do not begin to experience the results you would like to see in 3 months… (and I thought to myself… oh boy… here it comes… Doc will want her to try the South Beach Diet, Atkins, water and grapefruit… whatever…) … then we will check and see if you are suffering from sleep apnea as you have symptoms of that and it can be difficult for those with sleep apnea to lose weight.” Whoooooa there nelly! Wait a minute… If she doesn’t get the results she wants on the Blood Type Diet, then they will begin looking at underlying issues? Not automatically dismiss the BTD as a not working, unscientific,… a fad? I was very impressed! I thought, “I gotta get me the name of this doctor”. Plus… the idea that sleep apnea can contribute to lack of success in weight loss……. who knew?
It was news to me... And some really good news to boot.
Over the past several months I have made a few changes in my typical food consumption. I find that it works best for me to incorporate food changes slowly. The biggest changes have been in response to reading the Aging and the Menopause books in the ER4YT Health Series Library. Like it or not, being 45, I have certainly entered my perimenopausal years and I am indeed getting older with every breath I take. Dairy becomes more of a challenge to us B’s as we age. So one of the first things I did was to increase my consumption of cultured dairy, cut back on most cheeses except for goat cheeses and sheep feta, and to limit my consumption of cow’s milk… not that I really ate/drank much before… but to just increase my awareness of such… always a good thing. And I switched to ghee for daily use instead of butter. Incorporating ghee was probably one of the best changes I have made in a long time. My body actually craved it for a couple weeks and I had to be careful not to OD on the ghee. I always pay attention when I notice cravings for foods that are healthy/beneficial and trust my body in its inner knowing.
I also started drinking the ginger soother drink from The Ginger People. The ingredients are: filtered water, honey, ginger juice, lemon juice, and natural flavor. I do hate it when companies list “natural flavor” as an ingredient so I emailed the company for more information. They claim that the natural flavor is also ginger. So for now… I’ve decided to take their word for it.
As much as I like this drink… it packs a powerful ginger punch… it is waaaaay too sweet for my taste. So I pour about 3 ounces or so into a 12 ounce glass of water and drank it for my morning drink all summer. It was enough to flavor the water quite strongly with ginger… but with only a hint of sweetness…. Perfect on a hot summers morning when just the thought of a hot cup of tea made me sweat.
Also… I am always looking for substitutes for tomato based salsas. My favorite from a local company called Pueblo Chili is just roasted red chiles with lime juice, vinegar, and salt. Lovely to have with eggs in the mornings… but not always easy to find , even in HFS‘s.. And without salsa, I really miss the color of red in many Mexican dishes. I can eat Mexican sans beans and tomatoes and guacamole and…. but I do miss the color red. So on a whim, I found a mostly compliant salsa from Whole Foods made with raspberries. It took awhile to get used to the combination of hot chiles with raspberries, but it is quite an acceptable substitute. And the color… it is worth it just for the color… a translucent reddish magenta that is truly heavenly. I can live without tomatoes… but if all red foods become avoids, then I am surely done for.