Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Soft

I found a rental house I really like so put in an application for it. On the application I had to list my previous landlords, so I emailed Mountain Man to give him a heads-up that he may get called. The reason for moving that I put on the application? "MM and I were dating and living together, we broke up and I moved. We are still on good terms." This is true. He said he'd be happy to give me a good recommendation and we emailed back and forth a few times talking about work; it was warm and kind. There was no energy around it, other than soft kindness felt for someone who had an impact on my life, and gratitude for my life today as a single woman.

After our email exchange, I realized the heartbreak of our split softened me. Soft. Not a word I thought I'd use in relation to myself.  I learned so much from that relationship as I've lived relationship post-mortem in a place of "I want to get rid of this baggage. I don't want to carry this around with me anymore. I don't want to feel this way anymore. What do I need to feel inside myself and what do I need to change to get rid of this and be a better version of myself than I was in my past?" Yes, as you can imagine I spend a lot of time in my therapist's office. I've done a lot of work in the last year to open up the hardest, most shameful parts of my past and show another human being my brokenness in order to heal it and let it go. It's hard, scary, and worthwhile as it's allowing me to become the woman I am supposed to be.

you have to keep breaking your heart until it opens
Rumi

I haven't always shown up as my best self. My last relationship was really hard. We're both good people, but just not meant to be together and I knew that the day I left. I spun off-kilter for a long time trying to get my bearings after that. It took quite a few months, but in emailing about Dirtbag Foreclosure Rental House I realized my heartbreak has officially healed, which allows me to give myself permission to finally, officially move on.

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In other news, I started my new gig at work last week and it is BEYOND AMAZING. I have been asking the Universe for this job for a very long time without realizing this was what I was asking for (it sort of kind of fell in my lap, which is how most amazing things in my life have come to pass), and it granted my wish. I feel a little uneasy about it, almost like it's too good to be true (but it isn't). You're telling me I get to work from home sometimes and that's ok? I don't have to sign in/out on a whiteboard like I used to? I'm in charge of my own workload? I get to use my skills and knowledge and be respected for it? The freedom is incredible, and hasn't been my experience before (especially at the last company I worked for). I ran into my new boss today and he told me I look happier than I have in a long time, and that my spark is back. When I was walked back to my office afterwards I mouthed, "I LOVE MY JOB." while looking up. I feel like the luckiest woman on the planet today.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Woman Like a Forest Fire

So the good news is I don't have to go to Stanford; my new nephrologist gave me more kidney-specific info in 20 minutes than I've gotten in 4+ years. He was cool. I guess I'll keep him.

Good news:

  • My kidney disease is as a result of an acute injury and not an ongoing health issue like diabetes or high blood pressure. This bodes well for me because my kidney disease may not progress like the other kinds.
  • I'm doing everything right and there is nothing else he recommends, except I need to drink more water.

Other news (I'm not calling it bad because I'm not judging it)

  • My kidney function is likely at a point where it may begin declining over time due to age. Most people lose kidney function as they age, but most people have more kidney function than they need. Me on the other hand? I can use everything I've got and then some.
  • He explained that my GFR could drop 1 - 1.5 points each year. My GFR is currently 40 (normal for my age/sex is 90+), so I could expect to begin dialysis in 20 years. 20 years!? They'll be 3D printing new kidneys by then.
  • My ultrasound showed that my kidney looks like the "aftermath of a forest fire." I have massive scarring throughout my kidneys and those areas will not get better. WHOA analogy.

I was thinking about his forest fire comment on the drive to work after the appointment, and I think it's an incredibly fitting description for me, my life.

Woman like a forest fire. 


King Fire damage

I burned hot and fast through the first 28 years of my life and barely survived.
I got to start over from scratch.
Like metal, I've been honed by living through the fire.
I'm stronger now than I've ever been, kidney disease or not.
The new growth that has popped up in my life is astounding considering how completely everything burned.

But sometimes you just have to burn it all down and start over.

Thank goodness for that.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stanford?

Man, the last few weeks have been crazy. I'm in the last couple weeks of my old job, training folks and transitioning to my new job, and have had a slough of medical appointments lately. Stress does not do a body good.

In addition to seeing my therapist (in order to maintain my sanity) every week, I've been dealing with another round of gastric ulcers from throat to stomach. Aside from heartburn from hell for months, it finally clicked for me when I was hoarse for a few days. UGH. I've always had stomach issues and the leading theory as to why I got sick in 2010 is the bacteria crossed into my bloodstream through actively bleeding ulcers (also kissing dirty boys - waves hello! You know who you are). 

I had an ultrasound on my kidneys a couple weeks ago (sidenote: whoa! totally weird) in preparation for an appointment with a new nephrologist (kidney specialist). I scheduled my appointment almost two months ago and it's not until the beginning of October (strike one). I would have had to wait an additional two months if I wanted to get into the nephrologist that my primary doc actually referred me to (strike two).

I fired my last nephrologist, a man who saw me when I was in the hospital (!!!), because spending time with him was WORTHLESS to me and my health. The fact that I had an ultrasound for this new nephrologist was well above any care the last dude managed to provide, nevermind getting the ultrasound imaging referred by the new nephrologist's office was a NIGHTMARE (strike three). Over the past few years I managed my kidney disease by learning everything I could about it, but I've recently come to a point where I need help, hence getting referred to a "highly recommended" nephrology practice here in Roseville. Three strikes already...we'll see about that.

I have no idea what it means and Google isn't much help

Last week I was talking with my therapist about all the craziness as of late and how I just want some answers about my kidneys, and she told me to let her know how I like the new nephrologist. I cocked my head and said, "I presume you have other clients who have had trouble with local nephrologists? The pool isn't very deep around here, if you get my drift..." because frankly Sacramento nephrologists have been beyond disappointing, if I'm being honest. She laughed, agreed, and said, "You know, Stanford is just down the road..."

So there you have it. If this next nephrologist sucks as much as the last guy, I'm doing everything I can to figure out how to get a referral to Stanford.

PS - I think it's humorous and telling that my spell check wants to correct 'nephrologist' to 'phrenologist' - "a pseudoscience primarily focused on measurements of the brain."

Monday, September 22, 2014

It Gets Better

The best thing I've ever done for myself is create a life I don't want to escape from anymore.

I hated being a kid. Those were some of the worst years of my life. I am a free spirit and want to do what I want to do, and being a kid is the exact opposite of that - being told what to do, beholden to everyone else, not really having any idea what's going on, and having little to zero autonomy. I couldn't wait to live on my own.

When I moved out on my own, I was working and going to school full time. School took a lot of time (nevermind it took me 6 years to get my bachelor's degree), and at one point I had two jobs. Life was busy. I said, "I can't wait to just work 40 hours a week! That will be the life..."

And then I did work just 40 hours a week. I had a series of jobs I absolutely hated, for different reasons.


  • I did customer service for a wireless company. I was drunk most of that year.
  • I did electrical safety education outreach and let's just say it wasn't my favorite, nor was I well liked. (But hey, I kind of met my BFF here, so not a total loss!)
  • I quit my last job after being there a few years because the stress was literally killing me. No, really. It was. See: meningitis


So I quit and took a year to figure things out. I went to therapy weekly (going on 5 years). I got sober. I determined what I wanted in a job and then found that job. I left a relationship that wasn't serving me and was OK with being single. For the first time in my life I liked myself enough to keep my own company (and still do). I targeted my next step at work and achieved it. I have spent a lot of time working through crap to find the gems, and it's really starting to pay off, which is mind blowing.




I was driving to aforementioned BFF's house on Saturday and saw a vehicle that reminded me of who I used to be and how much work I have done to change my life (and my attitude). I started crying, like boo-hooing tears of joy on Sunrise Boulevard laughing hysterically because it kind of came out of nowhere.

It felt so good to let go and just be in gratitude. To lose control and be OK with it. I have spent so many years making it all look good on the outside and can't explain how freeing it is to just let it all hang out. As I've said before, "This is me. This is my life. This is me surviving and kicking ass."

There are very few things I would change about my life (maybe living in a house with an awesome cat named Ollie and have a boyfriend...someday) but truly I am really content for the first time in my life. I have a freedom I never thought possible.

I have absolutely created a life I don't want to escape from.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ready For Prime Time

The last relationship I was in began the month before I turned 30. He used to joke that I “just barely made the cutoff” because there’s a well-known joke that men don’t date women over 30. In fact, here’s some OKCupid graphs that represent this backed up by data from their own website:




Sad, isn’t it?

I recently saw this video titled the Hot Crazy Matrix in reference to women guys should let into the "wife zone." Yes, it was super objectifying and generalizing. He also did a matrix about men for women and basically said past a certain income point, it doesn’t matter how a guy looks. TL;DR point being, women are crazy and only interested in money. So let me get this straight…because I’m a woman, I’m crazy, only interested in a guy who has a shit ton of money, and is tall?

Hm. Alrighty then.

I have always marched to the beat of my own drummer, and I’m just beginning to understand how awesome this is. I make my own money and have a kickass career. I wear heels that make me 5’6” instead of 5’2”, and though she be but small, she be fierce. I may 33 and past my "expiration date" (bwahahaa!) but am just coming into my prime. I handle my business; I work on my shit. I piled up my baggage and set it on fire (oops, guess that's where the crazy shows), leaving it in the past where it belongs. Today I look and feel like a million bucks. I’m happier and healthier today at 33 than I was at 22, and a hell of a lot less na├»ve. And because of that, a hell of a lot more fun too.

I’m not buying into the data says I’m past my prime because this soul is ready for prime time.

And I can’t wait for him to show up and shatter the stereotypes with me.

/drops mic

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lasagna without Tomatoes or Dairy

I made a tomato-free, dairy-free lasagna and it didn't suck.

Back in 2010 when I had bacterial meningitis, I had antibiotics so powerful that they changed the bacterial composition of my body. Before I got sick I used to joke that I was a goat and had a gut of steel. I could eat almost anything and never had an issue.

Shortly after getting out of the hospital, I started having major reactions to food. Over time I figured out that it was dairy, tomatoes, and peppers I had issues with (that list also includes mushrooms, blueberries, and cauliflower). I could no longer eat pizza, my favorite food. It was the end of an era.

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When I get home from work the first thing I do it turn on my computer and TV to veg for a little while. I usually watch The Pioneer Woman on Food Network, and I can't eat anything she makes because so much dairy and tomatoes and all the bad things that make me feel sick. But I'm obsessed with cooking and love to watch her cook, so I do.

I recently watched her make lasagna roll ups and I couldn't get them out of my mind. I haven't craved anything with tomatoes and cheese for a long time, but this was calling me. So I set about figuring out how to make a tomato and dairy free lasagna.

This is about 3 hours of cooking, but the results are beyond worth it.

1. Nomato Sauce

Notes: Using a mandolin makes for easier dicing. Plus the smaller you cut the dice, the faster it will cook.

Prep time 35 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour 5 minutes

6 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small beet, peeled and diced
1 large red onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 bay leaf, whole
1/4 cup lemon juice (about one lemon's worth)
3/4 cup water (adjust up if you don't have a 1/4 cup of lemon juice)
1/2 cup chicken stock
3/4 to 1 tsp citric acid (available in the canning section of your local grocery store)

Add all ingredients except citric acid to a large pot and cook until everything is soft enough to blend, about 20-30 minutes. Add all ingredients to blender. Add citric acid. Blend until smooth, adding more chicken stock to get right consistency. In my opinion, the sauce should be slightly loose and pourable.

Recipe adapted from here




2. Tofu ricotta (start once nomato sauce is cooking, and start boiling water for lasagna noodles while waiting for tofu ricotta to drain)

Hands On Time 5 minutes
Wait time 40 minutes
Total time 45 minutes

1 container extra firm tofu (about 14 oz)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp basil (I used dried)
1 tsp oregano (I used dried)
1 tsp salt
1 egg

Drain tofu by cutting open and draining package. Layer paper towels and put them on cutting board. Set tofu block on top of paper towels. Layer more paper towels on top of tofu block and place a plate on top of that. Then add 1-2 cans of canned goods on top to provide weight. After 20 minutes, swap with fresh paper towels and wait another 10-15 minutes. Cut tofu into smaller pieces and add to food processor with all ingredients and combine. Adjust salt to taste.

Note: I might throw another egg in this next time.

Recipe adapted from here



3. Cook lasagna noodles, drain, lay flat on aluminum foil so they retain their shape. This can be done concurrently while the tofu is draining/meat is browning.

4. Meat sauce (start once nomato sauce and tofu ricotta are done)

Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 15-20 minutes
Total time 20-25 minutes

1 lb ground beef (I used 85/15)
1 white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil

Update: I totally added parsley and some other spices (oregano? garlic powder? basil? I don't really remember).

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Cook until translucent but before garlic starts to brown. Add meat, brown. I didn't drain because I like all the goodness and it wasn't overly wet or fatty with the 85/15 mix.

5. Assembly

Because I wanted to make the lasagna roll ups like Ree Drummond from The Pioneer Woman, I cleaned off a section of my apartment counter so I could take pictures for you.

I added 3 large dollops (a technical term) of the nomato sauce to the meat sauce until it was the texture/consistency I wanted. There is no need to cook this anymore, just mix them together. I also added salt to the sauce, tasting with each addition until it was just right. I made sure ALL of my ingredients were salted this way. Not too much, not too little.



I layered the bottom of 3 mini loaf pans with some of the meat sauce, and then started adding the tofu ricotta mixture to the lasagna noodles. Then I rolled them up and put them 4 to a pan.



Then I added another layer of the meat sauce. Once the assembly was done, I added my favorite non-dairy cheese alternative, Vegan Gourmet Shreds Mozarella, to the top.






I baked one of them in the oven at 375F for 20 minutes for dinner, and finished it off by broiling for a few minutes so the shreds would melt on top. They started browning instead. That happens sometimes.



Believe it or not, this actually tasted like lasagna. I couldn't believe it myself. I'd seen that nomato sauce recipe before and thought it was too good to be true. After trying it for myself, I can tell you it's perfect.

Next time I'll double the recipe and make 6 mini loaf pans and freeze the rest. Ree says when cooking from frozen, cover with foil and cook at 350F for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook another 10-15 minutes.

Overall, this is a total win and I can't wait to see what else I can do with that nomato sauce! I have 2 freezer jars worth of leftovers.

Pizza I am coming for you.