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Friday, September 23, 2016

I’m up to 15 Tibetans a day!

I’m pleased with my progress post fast. And though all things aren’t perfect—today has been a struggle with depression, for instance—I feel like I am getting better and stronger. Maybe one of these days I’ll even give the bionic man and woman a run for their money.

Yesterday, for the first time since the fast, I loaded the dog in the car and took him to the start of the mild climb up to the town’s fire tower. It’s a short walk and not much of an uphill march since most of the ascent is by car to the trailhead. The tower itself was closed. I must admit that we didn’t walk the final 30 feet since the grasses were overgrown in the clearing. Afraid of ticks, am I.

Can't see the forest for the ticks


Today on my way back from grocery shopping I stopped at a quarter-mile trail down a small embankment to see some magical old growth trees. The wooded path was clear, but anytime my dog and I encountered even the slightest opening in the canopy, grasses and other brush emerged. I found one tick on my pant leg and calmly removed it, but promptly turned around with only a quick general hello to the trees.

I had hoped to stop and enjoy their presence. But ticks and I do not mix. And though I didn’t outright panic, I had a bit of a fight on my hands, trying to remain positive and not fall further into depression. At the car I found no ticks, but that hasn’t stopped my body from itching ever since—and that was almost three hours ago.

The power of positive thoughts


On my drive home, I began by breathing in the depression and breathing out joy, compassion, and love, but reasoned I needed some of that positive energy internalized, so I ended up breathing in a bit of it for myself too. I didn’t release the depression energy into the world, instead owning it and winning it over with a positive attitude. It worked. By the time I returned home I was feeling better. And right this moment I’m feeling much better. It also helped landing on a positive title for my blog post.

We really are what we eat


Last week’s fast triggered symptoms of interstitial cystitis. I hadn’t experienced pain in my bladder since 2012. The moment I realized my body was in trouble, I adopted my restrictive, acid-free diet (available HERE), though without the dairy products, which I haven't been able to tolerate since giving them up during my first bout with Lyme a few years ago. I was feeling better within 48 hours, and have already been able to add back many of the foods I love.

My theory is that I may have pumped a wee bit too much lemon and/or vinegar water into my otherwise empty belly. The next time I pursue the three-day fast I will definitely commit to drinking only water—no caffeine or additives of any kind.

I had hoped to have typed up my first few post-fast days by now. I will get to that soon. For now, it’s time for dinner. And I’m happy to be able to eat it!

Note: The title refers to the Five Tibetan Rites exercises of Yoga poses that are completed in sets of three up to as many as 21 at a time, explained a bit HERE and on several other sites. I've done these nearly daily since the beginning of the year after choosing this as one of my New Year's Resolutions. Over the past several months I built up my number of repetitions to 21, but that number dropped during the fast and in post fast. I hope to build up to 21 again soon. I also hope to do these daily the rest of my life. I tend to follow my Tibetans with meditation, another reason I am so devoted to my daily practice.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Was it a Water-Only 3-Day Fast?

One of the questions I fielded from family and friends—and especially my concerned husband—was whether or not I was adding any other calories to my day.

While ideally my three-day fast would have consisted of only water—warm, room temperature, and cool to change it up a bit—as you’ll notice in my graphic below that records what I drank, I found I couldn’t maintain a simple water-only regime.

In my not-extensive-enough research prior to embarking on this journey I found some sites recommended the consumption of up to 200 calories a day, mostly in the form of honey, organic cider vinegar, and lemon juice. I didn’t want to add any calories since the study that I noted in my first blog post on this journey promoted a water-only fast, as does Jonathan Turley’s first-person account of his own successful three-day water-only fast.

Listening to the needs of my body


However, in Day One I had a scant couple of calories of honey mid-day, and ended the day with a crushing headache that prompted another 10 or 11 calories of honey. I hadn't caught it soon enough and soon found myself with a migraine. I chose to shut down my painful symptoms with a generic Excedrin and half a Dramamine. It was the right decision for me, but admittedly may not be ideal for the purpose of the fast. I own that.

The next two days I added black coffee, sometimes with half a teaspoon of honey, consuming it at the regular times of day I ordinarily drink it. More research during my fast revealed that caffeine addicts frequently experience the headaches caused by withdrawal. For my next three-day fast, I will prep several weeks ahead, finally kicking my caffeine habit once and for all before I attempt the water-only fast. Yes, I do believe I will be embarking on this journey again.

Breaking fast can be hard to do


You can see that I broke the fast at 7:50 pm on Day Three. That’s because I technically began at 7:45 on Saturday prior to Day One. As I mentioned in my first post, I’ve taken up the daily routine of a 12-hour fast. Since I am a natural early riser, and because breakfast is often my favorite meal of the day, I decided months ago to make eight pm my latest target time to stop eating for the day.

If you’re considering embarking on your own three-day fast, I hope you can learn from my missteps and my successes. Of course, you should do your own research. And consultation with a physician or a natural caregiver is helpful (and recommended in most every narrative you’ll read). I did mention that I was considering the fast to my holistic nutritional advisor at Bridge to Natural Wellness who had a few notes for me, but seemed to sense that I was determined to make this journey on my own terms.

And what a journey’s it’s been…and continues to be. My next post will sum-up my three days post fast. Bon appetit!


Note: My fruit, cider vinegar, & lemon juice was organic. The honey is local. 
Another note: The Tibetans refers to the Five Tibetan Rites exercises of Yoga poses that are completed in sets of three up to as many as 21 at a time, explained a bit HERE and on several other sites. I've done these nearly daily since the beginning of the year after choosing this as one of my New Year's Resolutions. Over the past several months I built up my number of repetitions to 21, but you can see that number dropped during the fast and in post fast. I hope to build up to 21 again soon. I also hope to do these daily the rest of my life. I tend to follow my Tibetans with meditation, another reason I am so devoted to my daily practice.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Day Three is not as Smooth as Day Two

While yesterday I experienced an overwhelming Zen feeling and felt more energized than I have in weeks, maybe even months, today I woke at 6 a.m. tired and hangry (when hunger causes anger).

Actually, that may be an overstatement. I had a few moments of feeling that way—especially while I made my husband’s lunch and prepared his dinner for the crockpot. But I was able to identify it, even stating out loud, “I feel hangry now.” That made it dissipate. Warm water helped too. And our two happy dogs who never seem to get hangry even when it’s past their mealtime.

Today as I write this there are only a precious few hours left in the great three-day fast experiment. Five to be exact. Four hours and 44 minutes if I’m really being precise. Yes, I am counting down to that degree. Yet I am also trying to accomplish other things so I can distract myself from the fact that I’m occasionally hungry.

To-Do List as Distraction


Balancing the checkbook today and going over our summer expenses I experienced two belly rumbles. They’re my first since midday Sunday. My initial thought was to head into the kitchen and see what was available to eat. But then I remembered, “Oh yeah, I’m fasting. My only choice is water.” The water worked, dispelling my hunger almost immediately.

When it came time to vote in today’s primary elections for state offices, I wasn’t sure I had the energy to walk. My knee gave out just after I had tossed a peanut-butter bone to my dog, which convinced me to drive the couple blocks. It felt good to vote. And it feels great to cross off so many items from the to-do list. Even with the weariness I am still able to do more today than I could all of last week. 

Just Nod if You Can Hear Me


I just got off the phone with the nurse at my primary care physician’s office. It was a challenge parsing out the symptoms from last week vs. today, but we managed. I’m thinking I’m not supposed to still feel this bad after being on antibiotics and extra supplements since February. Because I’m no longer sure all my symptoms are caused by Lyme, I want to see a rheumatologist to discuss my progress and my challenges. I’d like answers, but even just someone to listen is a good start.

Present and Future Posts 


I know today’s post is a rambling update of my day. I can’t help that. It’s my brain on hunger, and hopefully on reboot. I envision a future post to include a recap of what I drank during the fast and a few notes on things like bathroom breaks (I was up twice as much last night compared to the night before, for instance). After having heard from several people via Facebook and text messages that they’d like to know more about my experience on the fast, I’d like to make even the more personal information available to anyone who might be interested.

I will also write about my post-fast strategy. Tonight at 7:45 I won’t get to savor a veggie burger on a gluten-free bun. Instead I have an organic homemade juice planned. I don’t have a juicer, so my blender and a sieve are going to have to do. I’ll mix the result at least 50/50 with water, possibly watering it down even more than that. One glass is all I plan to have before bed. And tomorrow, after my customary morning two glasses of water, I’ll have another. Of course we all know what is said about plans made, right? 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Meditation Message Leads to This Post

Today as I meditated my guides advised me to start blogging again. They meant today. Almost at that very moment. Or at least as soon as I had completed my final in breath/out breath.

“What should I blog about?” I asked them in thought, even though I know from reading about meditation that I’m not supposed to think while I’m doing it.

“Your health,” one said.

“Your current fast,” said another.

“Life,” said yet another. Or maybe it was one of the first two. I’m still learning to recognize the voices of my guides.

My father’s voice I have down pat. As well as the voices of a few other departed relatives and friends who like to visit. I also know the voice of my Guardian Angel. She’s recently asked me to write about how I know her so well. That’s a future assignment. After I’ve finished editing my first novel, which I’m working on now.

But I digress. Just like my random thoughts while meditating.

Fasting as a Health Benefit


I’m more than halfway through my first fast. The idea of a three-day fast was proposed to me during our annual family sojourn to Cliff Island, Maine—a small, quiet place that is a ferry ride away via Casco Bay Lines out of Portland.

Someone commented on my abundance of supplements, tinctures, and prescriptions that lined one of the windowsills in the kitchen. They’ve been part of my daily regimen since early February when it was discovered I was infected with Lyme disease for the second time in my life. In late spring, I was further diagnosed with both Babesia and Bartonella, which added yet another Rx to the mix.

I said that I was hoping to drop some of them soon, if only I could get better. Blood tests over the past few months have revealed that my white blood cell count has been declining instead of improving on all the meds. One of my doctors wasn’t sure why that would be, but we left it that I’d have my blood tested again in late September.

My son told us about a study that found a three-day fast could reset the immune system. My initial reaction was how difficult it would be to fast. “The best things for us are often the hardest to do,” he said (though I may be paraphrasing slightly).

Leo has an incredible mind. It’s one that remembers an astonishing amount of facts, especially in the area of natural sciences. Because I value his insight, as soon as I returned home to available Wi-Fi, I researched it. Almost immediately I discovered the article “Can a 3-Day Fast Reset Your Immune System” by Steven Salzberg in Forbes.


Knowing that is exactly what I need, I became convinced it was worth a try. Yes, it would be difficult. But hadn’t I taken on the ridiculously restrictive Interstitial Cystitis diet that lasted for many months…and eventually helped me cure most of my symptoms? (You can find that diet HERE.)

As I write this, I am three short hours from being at the official two-day mark. It’s actually much easier than I thought it would be. While I had initially worried about being hangry, instead I’m finding that I’ve become more introspective. It may have even made me more receptive to my guides. (They’re agreeing with me!)

How did I begin?


Sunday morning I woke not feeling well. Nothing new there, except this time I wasn’t feeling up to eating anything. While I normally wait 12 hours to eat after my last bite of food, I just wasn’t hungry at 7:45. So, getting the idea that I could take advantage of this peculiar feeling of not having an appetite, I decided to jump into the fast.

How’s it going? That’s a story for tomorrow. Though I can report that I am feeling quite good. A tad bit dizzy at times, but my husband would tell you that’s completely normal for me. ;) 

  

Monday, November 23, 2015

A letter to my students as I leave adjunct teaching

I’ll miss you. If you don’t believe me, ask any of my former students. Or ask my husband who has had to put up with my moping and my bouts of tears these past few weeks as the semester winds down to an end.

It’s not you; it’s me. I can’t teach for poverty wages and zero benefits any longer. The university administrators have taken advantage of my need to mentor long enough. Knowing that teaching is a calling, administrators have carved out a fiefdom in which they exploit this need of ours to teach, while paying themselves fabulous salaries and bonuses (see "UNH justifies bonuses for administrators" HERE).

I have taught scriptwriting, media writing, and Image & Sound
since January 2004 (with a year off for health reasons). 
After ten years of teaching for the university, I am paid $1000 per credit—a sum I’ve reached after having to ask for my raise every other year.  The last time I asked for a raise, I was told via email that this was “the upper limit of the UNHM adjunct pay scale.” A few weeks later I learned of a colleague who was offered almost double that amount—$1950 a credit—to teach his first class.

When I began, I didn’t even make minimum wage for all the hours I worked. About four years ago I finally climbed past that lofty ambition, and now make about $14 to $17 an hour each week, depending on how much grading I have, how many extra emails I need to respond to, and how many times I need to meet with students.

I thought my time here would eventually be rewarded with an offer of full-time employment. I was wrong, and should have known better. Why would the university administrators offer me benefits and a livable wage if I’m obviously willing to work for almost nothing? Why buy the tree if you can get the apples for free?

I’m uncertain of my future since I thought I was working toward it this past decade. But I am certain of my advice to you: Do not pursue advanced degrees with the thought that you will teach at a college or university one day. If the university’s administrators have made anything clear, it is this: Faculty members are not valued; they can be bought for a couple thousand dollars and zero benefits. It’s an unlivable wage. To administrators, it’s an unspeakable wage, for you won’t hear it from them.

Therefore, your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is this: Ask your professor if she or he is an adjunct. If so, ask if they make a livable wage. When they’ve stopped laughing or crying or both, ask what you can do to help in the struggle to pay adjunct faculty a fair and livable wage with benefits. Then do it, whether it takes the form of a picket line, a letter to the editor, a petition to administration, an email to your legislator, sharing a handout I've prepared (available HERE), or what have you. It won’t be easy, but it will be much appreciated.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

On set for the noon newscast

Enjoyed yesterday's visit to WMUR with my students of the discovery course Image and Sound. While the class is comprised of students from across many majors at UNH Manchester, everyone enjoyed the tour--even those who aren't currently studying video production. Led by Production Manager Peter McKay, who is also a director at the station, we were shown the room where the reporters and producers work, the editing and sound booths, the production booth, and the studios. We were even permitted to stand inside the studio during the live broadcast, which means we'll never see the news in the same way again. Thanks to everyone at WMUR for making us feel welcome! 


News Anchor Sean McDonald and Meteorologist Kevin Skarupa
discuss the upcoming holiday weekend forecast. 
Every production begins with lights. These
are energy-efficient LEDs.

Meteorologist Kevin Skarupa motions to
the weather pattern that is crossing
New England. How does he do it?
A touch of magic may be involved! 

News Anchor Sean McDonald learns how to make brandy apple and
peppered-peach-filled pound cake from chefs Jillian Lemay and Pat Brideau
of Kingswood Regional High School during Cook's Corner.
You can watch the clip via WMUR's website HERE.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Some stories need prompting

Looking forward to traveling to UMASS Amherst tomorrow night to see the debut of "Prompt," a short film based on the screenplay I wrote earlier this year.

The script was selected as one of five shorts filmed as part of the Women Only Project sponsored by Counterfeit Cow Productions. The parameters of the original call for screenplays was one location, two to four women characters, and five pages max. Scripts also had to be penned by women.

Because the project was women-centered, I felt it was a safe place to share my story of when I was raped as an undergrad, became pregnant, and had to make a difficult choice that was right for me at the time.

When the call for entries landed in my inbox, this type of story had made the news once more. Frustrated as I listened to the call for restrictions on women's choices and freedoms yet again, I decided it was the perfect time to dramatize some of what had happened to me. It is my hope that in sharing my story I may help someone get the mental help they need in a timely manner, instead of suffering in silence for years.

And now I look forward to seeing the screen story unfold in which a radio interview with the imagined me plays in the background, giving a young co-ed the strength to confide in someone. No one should have to go through this sort of thing alone, which is why I am also pleased to attend the screening with my BFF. Films are better with friends. Especially debut screenings of your own short stories.