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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Under the Weather

I've been feeling crummy since Thursday night.  It has been a while since I was sick with a cold or other minor illness, and I am interested to see if my gluten-free, vegan immune system is as healthy as I imagine it to be.  I started feeling congested Thursday night, and by Friday morning I had a headache as well.  Relatively minor compared to a nasty cold or full-blown flu.  Since I am a public school teacher, I stayed home from work to avoid either contracting a worse virus with my weakened immune system or infecting someone else with my illness.  It is hard for me to miss work because my students all have emotional challenges and things can get quickly out of hand if I am not there to regulate behavior, so I hope I am able to return on Monday.

I spent the last 24 hours in the house on the sofa watching Catfish and Millionaire Matchmaker reruns on TV.  I never sit around watching TV for more than an hour or so at night a few days a week, so I'm not sure if it was the TV or my illness that put me in a comatose state by evening.  I made some GF vegan comfort food: mac & cheese with brown rice macaroni covered in a mix of tomato soup and cashew cream and topped with plenty of nutritional yeast.  I added some peas and kale to cut the richness a bit.  Yum!

This morning I needed some fresh air so I walked down to check out the sunrise.  Jason and I are usually up by 5am (insane, I know, but we go to bed at 8.  We are old people already. By the time we are in our 70's we'll be eating dinner at 3pm and in bed by 5.).

1/26/13 Sunrise

I hope I can dredge up enough energy to do chores this weekend.  My photo theme challenge this week is "vanishing point" which I will probably have to do macro-style unless I am near any train tracks or long straight roads today or tomorrow.  I would like to finish the Monthly Scavenger Hunt photo challenge as well.  And I need to make some progress on my Valentine's Day cards, which I am drawing by hand this year.  I have been getting much more into illustration lately and am considering creating a few pieces for sale on etsy.

As the month draws to a close, it is a good time to reflect on my Happiness Project resolutions.  I am using Gretchen Rubin's system of making a resolutions chart.  Based on my goal setting and intentions for 2013, I identified 12 areas of my life in which I could make small changes toward a happier existence.  January has been dedicated to "Taking Care of Me".  My resolutions have been to: do 10 minutes of yoga and 5 minutes of meditation each morning, to take all my vitamins daily, and to wash my face and brush my teeth each night.  Those last two may seem like no-brainers, but I hate washing my face at night for some reason and would much prefer to drag myself from the couch to the bed and avoid the process altogether.  I therefore avoid brushing my teeth at night as well.  These are basic self-care tasks that are important to my self-esteem and heath, so I need to start doing them as part of a routine instead of debating each night, "do I wash my face or not?"  Having a concrete resolution like this helps me to shift my interior dialogue to a more helpful script of, "you will wash your face and brush your teeth each night because you are taking care of your health."

The most successful of my January resolutions, however, has been to do yoga each morning.  I now get directly out of bed and unroll my yoga may in the living room.  10 minutes of simple stretches and sun salutations helps me to release the tension of sleep from my body and to focus my mind on the day ahead.  Not to mention that sun salutations are apparently good for toning your arms, even if you only do 5 or 6 vinyasas a day, because I have seen a positive change in my upper body definition and strength in just 25 days.

Another benefit of Rubin's chart system is that it has prevented me from becoming overwhelmed with all of the areas of my life in which I have set goals.  When I feel I need to focus on fitness or housecleaning issues, for example, I can remind myself that this month is focused on one area of my life, and there will be plenty of time in the coming months to work on other areas of growth.  I have planned for next month to be focused on "Relationships" but I may change that to "Home" because the messy house has been getting me down lately and I know both Jason and I could be much better at completing simple chores like washing the dishes each night (see washing face, above, for the reason this does not get completed each day!)

Rubin has a few more interesting and helpful things on her site that have inspired me lately.  I have subscribed to her 21-Day Relationship Challenge with the idea of setting some concrete goals for improving my relationships in February.  She offers some simple, practical tips for changing your own behavior to have a happier relationship.  She also recently posted an updated reflection on the idea of abstainers vs. moderators which I found quite applicable to my own situation.  I am most definitely an abstainer, and am much happier now that I simply don't drink alcohol or eat gluten or animal products.  I really couldn't manage these things in moderation.  I feel that way about sugar as well... at some point I will likely have to give it up altogether because moderation is very draining for me.  It is tough for me to regulate my intake of food.  I constantly have to ask myself where, when, and how much is appropriate to eat of any "restricted" foods because this does not innately occur to me.  So it is much easier just to give these foods up altogether.  Rubin says that research supports this idea and that abstaining appears to be the better solution for most people precisely because of the internal debate involved with moderation.

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