Homeless and Crazy on Bay Street

Warning: bad languageaccess-to-services_328x212_BXP09A

 

 

 

 

So I’m sitting beside a homeless lady in the food court.

She leaned in to me and said “China. Take the mother fuckin heat out of my shoes. Fuck you. I’m not asking you again. No wonder you get heavy periods. That’s the last time I ask.” 👀

I smiled and said “I’m so sorry I can’t help you with your shoes”.

“You ain’t fuckin sorry”

I asked her if I could buy her a coffee, to show her I was, and she told me she tries not to talk to ignorance. I said I try not to be ignorant and would love to get her lunch if she would like it. She said she would like me to leave her alone. So I wished her a very good day. And she said have a nice life; I wished her the same.

#ThisIsMentalHealth For some its depression and anxiety. For others, it’s homelessness and scaring people with your hot feet in food courts.

To quote Patton Oswald’s wife “It’s chaos. Be Kind.”

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3:15 AM

Were I still 8yo Jenny, last night would have been one of those nights where I would have tip-toed quietly into my parents’ bedroom, careful not to wake my dad, shook my mom’s shoulder gently and said “mommy, I don’t feel good”.
She would have slipped out of the bed, taken me by the hand, led me back to my bed, placed her “therMOMeter” hand on my forehead and known before the real thing confirmed it that her skills as an unregistered nurse were needed. Out would have come the children’s Tylenol, the cool cloth, the glass of ginger ale, the hot water bottle, the just-in-case bowl and the sitting by my bed until I fell back to sleep. Costing her sleep, giving me peace.
Many years later, this same scenario would be played out in my own daughters’ bedrooms, Alan’s girls’ bedrooms and endless children’s rooms across the globe from before and into eternity.
But last night 45yo Jenny got out of bed, trying not to wake Alan. She stood in the bathroom shivering while confirming a low-grade fever. She weighed the fever against the responsibilities of the day ahead. She took some Tylenol, made some tea, put herself back to bed to ride it out then put her big girl panties on and went to work. Because ain’t nobody got time fo dat.
**No need for sympathy comments. This is adulting and actually not the point of my story.
But as I sat drinking my tea and meditating (waxing nostalgic?) on the luxury of being sick as a kid vs. as an adult, it led me to meditate on all the people I know with little ones. Either at the very beginning of the game, smack dab in the middle, or nearing the end of when they need you at 3:15am. I remember. I remember and I salute you.
Whether you have 1, 2, twins, 3, 4, 5. Doing it alone or doing it with a partner. All the times of lost sleep, worrying if it will pass by morning or are you taking a sick day yourself to care for them? Will you have to find someone at 6:30am who can sit with your child for the day? Will they take care of them as well as you would? Feeling guilty because you *have* to go to work.
I lift my thermometer high in recognition of the lost sleep, the snotty kleenexes and the projectile vomit.
Heaven knows I wanted my mommy last night!
Peace,
J

On Being a Mom – Mother’s Day 2017

**note – I posted this a couple of years ago on a now-deleted blog, so some of you may have read this before. The sentiments are the same, though I have more grey hair and wrinkles this time around – J

I calculated it yesterday, I have been a mother since I was 4 years old.

It started with my first baby doll, “My Baby Brother”, an anatomically-correct Fisher Price baby doll who drank real water from a bottle and peed real water from a tiny, fascinating, male appendage. He required diapers that really got wet, had a sweet little baby face and I loved that baby brother with all my 4-year old heart.

My second child was Mandy. A Fisher Price gem who became my best friend and companion. My nan knit Mandy a beautiful wardrobe and I think she may have even knitted us matching jackets. Mandy doll looked about 6 -8 years old, she wasn’t a baby. I read to her, fed her and took her on sleep overs to play with my friends’ dolls. In our neighbourhood, when we weren’t playing Star Wars until the sun went down and the street lights came on, my girlfriends and I were the Original Real Housewives of Suburban Edmonton. I even organized a babysitting service where my friends could leave their dolls with me over the weekend (tired, haggard moms that they were) just so I would have more dolls to play with. 

I would take Mandy to “work” with me. I would dress her before I left for school, made her breakfast, put on her little knit jacket, popped her in my back pack and away we went. When I got to school, out she would come. I would take off her jacket, sit her in my cubby hole, kiss her and admonish her to be good at “daycare”.  I would then sit at my desk, pretending to smoke my pencil before it was time to pick Mandy up to take her home. In 1978 I was a single mom already. 

From my earliest memories, all I ever wanted to be was a mom. As I made my way through school I honestly had no burning career plans. While all my friends were driven to become pilots, nurses, teachers, librarians, scientists…I really just wanted to have a family. For a while, I wanted to write children’s novels, probably because I thought I could do that from home with kids. I also flirted with journalism, urged by my high school English teacher, but ultimately didn’t trust my writing enough. I wasn’t so naive as to think I would find a sugar daddy to keep me and let me breed or anything. I wanted to do something with my life. So I chose elementary school teacher. The one thing that would let me mother ALL THE CHILDREN until I had my own.

Then wouldn’t you know. My plans to be mother to ALL were put aside as I unexpectedly became mother to 2.

I certainly did NOT plan to become a mom at 20 years old. As much as my little maternal heart wanted babies, babies and more babies, my intentions were to have them according to the societal formula: school, career, fall in love, marry, babies. Precautions were taken. Precautions failed. And next thing you know I am lying on an ultrasound table with a doctor saying: “What we have here are 2 heartbeats”. “Mine and the baby’s, right?”, “No. It looks like we have 2 babies in there.” 

I was 19. I was terrified. I was ecstatic.




Having a congenital heart defect, I was told I probably would never have children, my heart wouldn’t hold out. Being me, if you tell me “no”, I respond with “here, hold my beer.” 

I was given the option to terminate my pregnancy immediately. My answer was pretty much “F you”. These babies and I, we were going to see this thing to the end one way or another. And the three of us, well, we got through it without a hitch. I was a high-risk pregnancy, expected to deliver preemies, probably by c-section, expect bed rest for 3 months….blah, blah, blah. Nope. Perfect pregnancy. No issues. Delivered naturally, assisted by a lovely, lovely epidural, 4 weeks early, 8 hours labour, gained only 16 pounds which, after 25 years, I am still trying to lose. It was 4 days after my 20th birthday.







I was raised by a pretty amazing mother. She set the bar high on how to be a good one. I always felt loved. Cherished. Safe. Protected. My mom was my biggest fan, I always knew that. To me, she was perfect. I don’t know that she feels she was or not but mom…you were perfect. 

I was a far from perfect mother in the early years. I was a child when I had my girls and we grew up together. You know shit at 20. But, like all moms, I did my best, I really did. And if love covers all mistakes, I loved, and do love, those 2 babies more than I have ever loved anything in my whole life. Sorry Mandy. To say they were a gift doesn’t do justice to gifts. 

I had my tubes tied 2 months after they were born. The doctor wrestled with my request. I was so, so young. But in a moment of clarity and wisdom, I knew that if I had accidentally gotten pregnant once, I could do it again. I had my 2 baby girls who were never meant to be. Next time could kill me, was it worth making my children orphans?  Let’s not be greedy. Snip.

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I don’t want to say I regret doing it, because I don’t. But would I have liked to be pregnant one more time? Oh yes. I really would have liked it. I really would have liked to hold a little baby (babies?) once more. But the Universe is perfect in it’s provision and in knowing the desires of your heart. I have been sent children to mother throughout my life and I have loved  all of them as though I carried them myself. As any mother knows, more children does not mean less of your heart to go around, it only gets bigger to accommodate all the love. I have my beautiful girls. I love and helped raise 2 amazing step-children. I recently have had 2 more incredible little girls enter my life. Before you know it, there will be grand-babies to mother (oh my God, I am going to be so out of control as a grandma). 

 

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At 44 I have started to see my friends lose their moms. My mom, a bright, vibrant, vivacious, spit fire of a woman, will not be with me always. I will not be with my girls forever either. We leave what we love behind and hope the love we shared was enough. When I am gone, I honestly have no idea how I will be remembered. I don’t know what they will say about me after the theme from Star Wars has played me in and my ashes are sitting there for everyone to say nice things about. 

But if they say I was a good mom and her children knew that she loved them. That will be enough.

 

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Keto – Month One


So here is what I have learned in one month of adopting a full-on Ketogenic Diet.

For those of you following along at home, I did so after my GP warned me that my blood sugars were out of control, I was anemic and I have 15-20 lbs of curves that aren’t doing my health any favours. After careful research, I decided to investigate Ketogenics, or (oversimplified), the science of switching your body’s fuel source from glucose (sugar) to ketones (fat).

Keto Flu is Real, Yo

In the middle of week one of my Ketogenic adventure my body threw a temper tantrum. I had been denying it its carbohydrates and it Jonsed hard for them. Because I never do anything half way…it’s always go hard or go home, here hold my beer and watch this…I didn’t ease myself into low carb. Nay. I murdered the carbs from day one. It was a carb crime scene. Carbs were dead to me. Let us speak of them no more.

The result was a complete rebellion by my system. By cutting my daily carbohydrate intake from say…200 – 300 grams a day (or more!) to 20 grams total, my body burned through its remaining stores quickly and on day three I hit a wall. I woke up and had my Keto breakfast: 2 hard-boiled eggs, 3 strips bacon and coffee with heavy cream. By the time I got on my commuter train I was feeling a little off. A little shaky. Dry in the mouth. Sweaty. Half an hour later, when I got off at the station, my heart was racing, I was dizzy, cold and clammy. I barely made it up the elevator into the office where I grabbed the first thing I could find, orange juice, and drank ¼ cup or so, narrowly avoiding fully blacking out. Totally put me over my 20 grams of carbs for the day but thankfully no one had to resuscitate me.

Keto Flu is caused by an imbalance in your electrolytes which I had completely ignored. Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium, are flushed out of your system with Keto and thus need to be replenished for a multitude of reasons that can be found here. Once I got my electrolytes under control, and learned how to hydrate properly, it all became easier.

Yay Initial Weight Loss! Boo Re-Gain! Yay Weight Loss!

Here is the fun part. I lost 6 lbs in 6 days. Yes, I did. I had high hopes I would be competing in Ms. Bikini Canada by May.

Not so much.

“Weight loss is not linear” is a common phrase in the Keto Community and there is no truer truth spoken. Especially for women. Especially for middle-aged women. We have a lot of things working against us. Over the course of a month I lost 6, gained 2, lost 1, gained 3, lost 4…you get the picture. By the time I hit the 1 month weigh in, I was down a solid 5 lbs. 5 lbs of water or 5 lbs of fat…it’s still 5 lbs that my heart doesn’t have to carry. And while I was seeing people post that they lost 30 lbs in a month, 5 lbs is nothing to shake a stick at.

BUT…

The scale is a dirty, dirty liar sometimes and weight loss is not the only indicator that things are moving in the right direction. I made sure to take before and after pics (no, I’m not sharing, I was in my undies) as well as measurements. I lost 1” off my hips and 2” off my waist. I’ll take those results too.

Keto Energy, Loss of Hunger, Cravings and Exercise

  1. 2 weeks along, when I was well into ketosis, I suddenly felt tapped into an alternate energy source. I called it Keto Mania or Keto Drunk. I was (and still am) almost buzzing with energy for 90% of the time. I feel amazing. Clear headed. Happy. Calm. Satisfied. If nothing else happens in my 6-month experiment, the level of wellness that I feel is worth the effort. So worth it.
  1. Once my body became “fat-adapted” and began to use my fat stores as opposed to burning sugar, I pretty much lost my hunger. Seriously. I will have a “bullet proof coffee” ** at 6:00 am and not feel true hunger until 2:00 – 3:00 in the afternoon. Even longer. There is no hangry. No desperate need to feed. Fasting has become an organic and natural option for me. When I do eat (sometimes only 1 meal a day), I make sure to stay below 20 grams of net carbs, hit my 93 grams of protein and only add healthy fats to feel satiated. I am not eating butter by the stick, like some people think. My fats are olive oil, coconut oil, real butter, MCT oil and that which I get from fatty meats and some cheeses. And my new addiction…whipping cream.
  1. I have been asked how I am dealing with carb/ sweet cravings. The answer is…I have none. I can walk into a French Pastry shop and not even be phased (and I have). I feel no compulsion to snack and no need for sweets. The one or two times I have “treated” myself, I have had 1 square of 90% Dark Chocolate, grated over ½ cup whipped cream. For salty/ crunchy I have indulged in Moon Cheese or Cello Whisps. Or nuts.

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  1. To mix it up a bit, I signed up for a 30-day Hot Yoga challenge in the midst of this all. I have had little issue with stamina or electrolyte fall out. So far, so good.

And so, I enter Month Two. I still have much to learn and discover in Ketoland. I have an appointment for blood work at the end of May; will be interesting to see where I land.

Catch you all in a month!

** With my Bullet Proof Coffee, I add 1/4 cup of whipping cream and 1 scoop of collagen peptides. [ Calories: 384 kcal, Net carbs: 1.6 grams, Fat: 41.2 grams ]

Note: I am not a doctor nor a scientist. If you are curious about Ketogenics, I encourage you to do your own research to determine if this way of eating and lifestyle are right for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keto What?

The picture that broke the camel’s back:

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At the end of February I sat in front of my GP for my annual and got the lecture I never thought I would get.

“Your blood tests came back. There are a few things we need to discuss. Number one, you are severely anemic, I don’t know how you aren’t falling down right now. Number two, your blood glucose is not good. You are pre-diabetic. And. You are a good 15-20 lbs over what is ideal on your frame; it’s stressing your heart to carry that extra weight (note: I have a congenital heart defect). This all needs to change.”

I sat there sputtering. “Bbbbbbut….I’m 90% vegan! I hardly drink. Other than coffee with cream, I only drink water. I’m not a snacker. I don’t over-do it on the sweets. I always eat breakfast. I do hot yoga 3 times a week. I’ve run 5Ks!! ” What am I doing wrong?!?!

I was flubbergasted. I mean, I own a mirror. It’s not like I look at my naked reflection in it every morning and say “Rhonda Rousey eat your heart out”. I am soft, I am curvy, I have some jiggle in my wiggle.” I full-on practice that self-love and BoPo lifestyle. I’ve always loved Adele’s quote (I’m paraphrasing}: “If it doesn’t affect my health or my sex life, I’m not worrying about it.” (sorry mom).

Well it’s affecting my health at least. And dammit, my health is too important to me. I promised my GP that when I saw her again in August for a work up, I wouldn’t be the same woman. And I intend not to be.

Before I go further, I remind anyone who is reading this that I am not a doctor nor do I have a degree in nutritional science. I am a woman who knows her body, is well-connected with her health team and who is not frivolous with her health. The plan of attack I have chosen is mine alone and I own it. This is not a sales pitch and I am not advocating anything to anyone. This is my journey, I am simply sharing my experience.

I went home and hit the internet to get some answers. I am not a believer of “diets”, I am a believer of sound nutritional science. I truly believe that what we put into our bodies is critical to our physical and mental health.  So what have I been putting into mine to get me to this point?

Overly simplified, all our food can be classified under three macro nutrients: fats, proteins or carbohydrates. I wasn’t putting a lot of fat into my body. My protein was primarily plant-based. That means everything else I was eating was a carbohydrate. When I analyzed my current diet, it consisted of pasta, waffles, vegetarian dumplings, rice, potatoes, lentils, chick peas, whole-grain bread, fruit, veggies, quinoa… yah… those are all carbs.  I thought I had been eating all the right things and yet I was sicker than I had ever been.

Enter Ketogenics stage left.

A Whodawhadda what?

Ketogenics is a diet that is low-carb (20 – 30 grams per day), medium-protein, and high-fat. Basically a ratio of 75% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrates. I know. Makes you nervous, doesn’t it? It’s ok. I understand. I was freaking too. But the more I read the science, the more it made incredible sense to me. And read I did. Every blog, YouTube video and medical paper I could get my hands on.

Ok but what does it mean? Here is a simple explanation thanks to ruled.me.com

“When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin.
  • Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source.
  • Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.
Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored. Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.
The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates”

The results I saw online were incredible and undeniable: fat loss, improved cognitive functioning, increased energy, satiety, and improved health in so many areas. But it flies against EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING we have been told about what we should and should not put into our bodies. It’s a complete head trip. I was looking at eating B.A.C.O.N. Fatty cuts of meat. Cheese. Sour cream. Heavy cream in my coffee. Avocados. Coconut oil. Butter!!!! I doubted. Man, who wouldn’t?!

It was this talk by Dr. Jeff Volek that convinced me of the science behind the hype (warning, it’s dry. Sorry Dr. Volek). I became convinced that I need to see if altering my eating to fit this model will help me safely shed the 15 – 20 lbs I need to lose and, more importantly, correct my blood glucose. I refuse to concede defeat to Type 2 Diabetes.

I’ve promised to give this a solid 6 months of living by the strict tenets of the diet. And they are strict. 20 grams of carbs per day ain’t a lot. If, in 6 months, my blood work profile has not changed and I am not down the pounds I need to be, I will reassess. In the meantime, I am going to document my progress as a sheer scientific experiment: what works, what doesn’t, how I am feeling,  side effects, if I fall off the wagon, carb rage…whatever. This isn’t a diet and weight loss blog, I am more than my mass or my cheeky rolls. But this is a significant undertaking in my life, so I’m going to share. Feel free to follow along and ask questions. Again, I am merely a participant in this adventure, not a doctor. For specifics on the science of Ketogenics, I encourage you to do your own research.

As they say: Keep calm and Keto on.

Meet the Cast and Crew

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This here is my family. And I love them deeply. We are an unconventional little unit, bound both by genetics and by free will.

That’s me, Jennifer, the lady in the middle (TK14792) . The two other beautiful young women are my grown daughters, twins, 24. Emma (far right) and Brittany (far left). The hot guy? Yeah that’s my man, Alan. Ladies back off, he’s taken. The sweet little one on the left is Sebastienne (11) and the blossoming young thing on the right is Amelie (14). Now you know the cast and crew.

This is not my first rodeo…I mean family. I raised my twins alone until they were 9 then met my (now ex) husband. He has two amazing children, a daughter the same age as my girls and a son, 2 years older than all three. While that marriage was destined to fail from day 3 of the honeymoon, it lasted 8 years. My ex and myself, for both of our considerable faults, parented well together. Blending a family is not an easy thing and we did it as best as we could. Our children put aside blood, water and anger at the end and chose to remain siblings. They think their parents are idiots but still believe and trust in the bond they formed. The kids are alright.

When I decided to wade into the waters of dating again, I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to become involved with someone with children. I’d been there and done that. I’d raised mine and they were/ are healthy, well-adjusted and happy. I survived the teen years (with 4 teens!). I didn’t really want to do it again.

But then Alan happened.

I had jokingly presented to the Universe a laundry list of qualities I wanted in a man and insisted I wouldn’t settle for less. Right down to “likes camping” and “practices martial arts”. I present exhibit A and B below. He is the biggest surprise and delight to ever happen to me. When the Universe delivers, it delivers.

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The clincher, of course, were his girls. Self assured, sweet, funny, kind, polite, intelligent, poised and adorable; both of them. If they hadn’t been them, this may not have been. They have a wonderful mom who I get along with very well so there is no pressure to “mother” them. Just love and mentor and enjoy. I won the lottery in so many ways.

This also, is not my first blog, but probably my third or fourth iteration. I have been scattered and unclear as to what I want to write about and keep re-writing my story (some of you may have heard this all already). If you followed me before, welcome back. If you are new, welcome also. My posts won’t always be this long but I wanted to make sure you knew who everyone is as we go forward.

I’m just a Jenn with a story to tell and hope you’ll join me on the journey.

Cheers