March Work Release

When I was elementary school I was taught the maxim, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It doesn’t. This still lingers in my memory though, like so many childhood lessons I was taught that turned out to be untrue. March must resent this untruth, which is no doubt why she sends us violent thunderstorms near the end of the month. For weather spite. I hardly blame her.

But it is true that March is finished and it’s time to show our work. Our wellness work. Time to own what we did and didn’t do as work done or work that still needs to be done or work we discovered wasn’t necessary at all. Review and release and start again.

Photo Mar 04, 8 25 16 PM
The practice of sacred adornment

Intellectual Wellness/Creativity

I tried to watch The Heretic documentary but I couldn’t find it for free and the cost to download/stream was $10.00 for a one-hour film. Nope. I’ll wait. I do want to see it but I’m not paying so much for it right now. In general I am interested in all heretics. All blasphemers. All pagans. All heathens. All infidels. I want to hear the other side of all religious arguments. I want exposure to alternative perspectives. I definitely want to take the time to acknowledge anyone brave enough to publish or produce those perspectives. If I can’t find a way to see this for a reduced cost I may resort to shelling out the full price but not this month. I’m including it here because it will signal the Universe to conspire in my favor.

Photo Mar 24, 2 13 20 PM

I didn’t care much about baseball when I moved to Mercyburg eleven years ago. I liked it okay but I wasn’t an enthusiast. But then I married a baseball fan and by virtue of hanging out with a baseball fan and participating in baseball activities, I gradually became one too. I’m an amateur fan though; an appreciative observer. The Chef describes baseball as his drug of choice. He doesn’t just watch the game, he studies it. He’s an active member of SABR. We have more baseball books than any other kind in our home. His home office is a miniature baseball museum. In addition to baseball games we digest a great many documentaries, movies, dramatized series, etc. From March to October it is wall-to-wall baseball at the Jesus Crack House.

We happen to live within an hour of the birthplace of spring training. Yes, as in where spring training was invented and where it took place until Florida was invented. (I borrowed that joke from a baseball historian I met this month.) The city has created a baseball trail to commemorate significant events, locations, and people with permanent fixtures and exhibits to preserve the origins and history of major league activities within the city. Two more fixtures were added to the baseball trail this month. The Chef and I attended the weekend of festivities planned in celebration. The things I learned during the presentations and panel discussions changed my opinion of the most famous baseball player in history.

My interest was no doubt piqued by the fact that despite his superstar status I previously held a rather low opinion of him as person. The baseball weekend softened my judgment. I met his family. I listened to the panel discussions. I listened to experts and aficionados. Listening is learning. I learned that while the unsavory bits about him may have been the most sensational information previously available to me, there was so much more to the man that I didn’t know. It underscored the point that people (you, me, everyone) are often judged and categorized by only one aspect of our public behavior and we pass a sentence of either/or upon people, especially public figures. Everyone — even the people we despise — is both/and. My opinion of the most famous baseball player in history changed because I learned what was on the other side of both/and. He was this AND that. He was BOTH. As we all are.

You can (we can) exhibit questionable behavior in one instance AND be better in another. We are not (none of us), either this kind of person or that kind of person. Everyone is both/and. And while I still believe the unsavory hype about this particular person is likely true, this was by no means the only thing true about him and certainly not the most important thing. I say dumbass things all the time. History might then paint me as an idiot based on only my dumbass quotes when in fact I say many more brilliant things as well. I’m both an idiot and brilliant. And so was this fellow. And so are we all. The Universe used baseball to remind me of this lesson. It’s more than just a game. People are more than their legends.

Photo Mar 16, 4 25 47 PM
Jasmine I raised from an infant. Now she’s a debutante.

I’m still reading The Blind Assassin (a novel swollen with prose) but I also managed to fit in Taking Charge of Your Fertility (non-fiction). It is recommended reading for anyone interested in remaining childless without hormonal intervention.

In addition to the other lovely images you see here and may have seen throughout the month I also stoked my creativity by making these pretty pictures:

 

 

Spiritual Wellness

This is going to sound inflammatory but it’s the truth. A spiritual highlight this month is the triad event of people around me began giving me food offerings. Unsolicited food offerings. To which kind of entity do humans make food offerings? Yep. That kind.

This month someone voluntarily shipped me a box of authentic New York bagels by overnight express from New York. The real-deal bagels you can’t get here in Mercyburg. I didn’t ask for them. I wasn’t overheard longing aloud for them. I do eat bagels but I haven’t been bitching about the limitation of substandard supermarket varieties. I slap on some peanut butter and munch in peace. An associate traveled to New York and sent me bagels; the best bagels money can buy. The shipping cost was surely more than the cost of the bagels.

Another someone rang my doorbell and presented me with vegan cupcakes baked from scratch. With vegan frosting and freeze-dried strawberry sprinkles. I didn’t ask for these either. I also didn’t claim to miss these or want these or crave these or wonder if it was possible to make them. I said nothing about cupcakes. But a non-vegan associate made them for me and delivered them to my doorstep.

Yet another someone brought me a box of Lara Bars. I definitely never said a word about these. I’ve never had a Lara Bar. I didn’t ask for any kind of bar. I didn’t hint that I’d like to have bars. I’m sitting at my desk this month, minding the business of my business, when an associate walks in from running errands and declares with great excitement, “I bought you some vegan bars!” She’s not a vegan. She’s in no way obligated to buy me snacks.

Why are people giving me food offerings? All of a sudden? All in the same month? None of these people owed me anything. I know why. You know why. Yes, you do. You may not want to say it but you are thinking it. Let not your hearts be troubled about it. We manifest our due.

Photo Mar 10, 10 20 35 AM
We get hawk visitors almost on the daily.

In addition to receiving food offerings I am still meditating. Still practicing slow mornings and Morning Prayers That Are Not Prayers. Still studying matters of spirit and soul. My classic archetype of interest for the month of March was The Muse.

Physical Wellness

Photo Mar 09, 6 02 20 AM
Meditating is self-care. It’s like massage for the mind.

Still running, hiking, and practicing yoga. Still eating vegan. Still medication free. Free of synthetic hormones. With the return of Spring comes the return of working out in my outdoor gym, which is a more cheerful description of the neverending yard work that comes with a yard. I’ve also been dragging my yoga mat outside to the back deck and practicing among the dog licks and sunsets.

A physical highlight this month is some additional weight loss. By virtue of consecutive doctor’s appointments in which they INSIST upon weighing me every time I darken the door, I happen to know I lost 8 lbs. since my last visit. I assume this is due to an uptick in running miles. No complaints there.

A highlight related to my new food religion is the surprising reaction of my stepchildren. When they come home for a visit they have begun asking for my vegan specialties. They are meat lovers so this is particularly satisfying for me. This month my stepson begged for my vindaloo and minestrone. My stepdaughter’s body violently rejects dairy products so she raided my vegan cookbook for ideas this month. This is all without pushing anything upon them but rather simply making it available.

The largest, loudest, most fervently held argument from anti-vegetarians is the belief that it is JUST NOT POSSIBLE to get all the nutrients we need from plants alone. There’s the good old protein myth and then the overarching theory that a vegetarian or vegan diet is so deficient in essential nutrients that it is dangerous. An acquaintance challenged me to prove/disprove this with data so counter-challenged with an experiment. I suggested we both track our nutrient consumption from our respective diets for a month and then compare our findings.

She accepted. We both downloaded the Wholesome app to our phones, which allows us to load in the foods we eat. We both agreed not take any multivitamins or dietary supplements for the duration of the experiment. The app breaks out the micro-nutrients for us on a daily basis for comparison purposes. All we have to do is remember to punch in the foods we eat or drink. She eats a typical American diet of meat and dairy. I obviously eat plants.

Since we started this challenge in the middle of the month I won’t be able to tell you who wins until next month. However, this is what we know so far:

  • I easily hit my daily recommended protein intake (46 grams per day) every day and sometimes slightly exceed it. My carnivore rival eats double and sometimes triple the recommended amount of protein per day.
  • I usually nail or exceed by recommended fiber (26 grams per day). My rival has to try hard to meet the recommended amount.
  • Neither one of us drink enough water per day.
  • We both eat way too much sodium. We were both shocked at the amount of sodium we eat per day. This overage comes from prepared or prepacked foods and not necessarily salt added to recipes. Store-bought bread, tortillas, bars, cereal, sauces from jars, etc. shoot this number higher than either of us would have believed.
  • We both eat way too much sugar, for the same reasons we get too much sodium. Prepared foods are loaded with it.
  • I get 114% of my daily recommended B12 intake at breakfast alone. This is important because is the biggest weapon in the anti-veg arsenal — that it’s impossible to get enough B12 without animal products. Not true. Myth debunked. Missile defused. My rival also gets plenty with her diet of meat and dairy.
  • So far my rival and I are neck and neck when it comes to recommended calcium (1000 mg per day). Neither one of us manages to hit 100% per day without deliberately trying to get more but as to who gets more with which type of diet, we are almost dead even.
  • A vegan breakfast smoothie made with whole fruit (plus pumpkin) brings in almost of 25% – 50% of my daily recommended vitamins A through E and potassium. This makes it so easy to nail those numbers later with more vegetables and leafy greens throughout the day. My rival finds that she has to eat more fruit at the end of the day (when she doesn’t want it) to hit her numbers because her typical breakfast contains no fruit. If nothing else changes for her at the end of our experiment she’s at least joining the smoothie club for sure.
  • The widest swings on my side are with iron. On days I eat a lot of greens or beans, I weigh in very close to the recommended mark (18 mg per day). On days I don’t I manage to get halfway there without trying. But it’s easy to boost iron at the end of the day if I notice I’m coming up short because dinner-type foods are rich in iron. My rival didn’t believe this because we are programmed to believe we only get iron from animals. One of the features of the Wholesome app is that it will recommend foods to you based on what you’re missing. She will be shown the same list of iron-rich vegetables and legumes that I see, so I don’t have to preach at her.

I’ll let you know how it shakes out when we finish up next month but the results are already surprising for both of us.

Social/Relationships

Still reaching out, saying Yes, and trying to be generous with my time. I had a 3-hour dinner with friends in a violent thunderstorm with damaging hail but the conversation zipped along as cheerfully and effortlessly as if we were at a picnic. We planned a weekend excursion for next month. It’s sure to make the highlight reel to come.

A social highlight this month is my failure to mention that I’ve developed a lunar rhythm with reaching out to certain friends. I’ve been doing it for a while now but never included it in a work release. I contact a certain friend every new moon. I contact a certain other friend every full moon.

nf

Another highlight is my agreement to a weekend family getaway with my faraway relatives next month. My grandmother is dying. Although her mind is sharp and clear, her body is shutting down. She knows she’s near the end. She’s decided she does not want a funeral. She prefers that everyone come to see her now and say goodbye in person. I haven’t seen her since I was teenager. I said Yes. I’m going.

Occupational/Financial Wellness

Still working the Spending Fast. Still picking up part-time hours on my side gig. Still cooking and eating at home and living off leftovers. Still repurposing, reusing, and recycling everything I can. Still maximizing all perks, benefits, rewards and freebies available to me.

Photo Mar 11, 4 23 36 PM
This blue will soon disappear from the sky and turn white with humidity. Soak it up.

A financial highlight this month is we finally ditched our TV provider. We stream what we want when we want. Saved us about $100 per month. Think about that for a second. Every month we paid someone else for a couple of hundred channels we never watch. At the beginning the year we began tracking how many premium cable/satellite channels in our package we actually watched. I kid you not, we only used five channels and only three of those with any regularity. Yet month after month we paid for the privilege of not watching the entire package, which amounted to hundreds of channels of no interest to us. In March we pulled the plug. We haven’t missed a thing.

I still haven’t been inside a hair salon in almost a year now. The Chef and I get better at it with every home haircut we execute. When the temperatures hit the 80s this month I did miss the sensation of a fresh Spring pixie cut to get the hair off my sweaty neck. Instead of caving and spending $45 plus tips on a cut I’d have to have reshaped every four to six weeks I spent $4 on some giant hair clips. That’s $500 a year I’m saving on just the cut. If you add in the styling products I’m not buying it’s closer to $600 a year.

I blogged earlier this month about the grey socks but I didn’t mention the ragged washcloths. I bought them all eleven years ago when I fled the East Coast and moved to Mercyburg. Because they are all the same age they are all now falling apart at the same time. As you can see below, I’m not exaggerating. Some are worse than this, with nickle and quarter-sized holes in them. When I wash my face my fingers poke through like toes in holey socks. The stitching in the hems has dissolved, so they become more ragged with every trip through the washer and dryer.

Photo Mar 25, 4 04 39 PM (1)
Holey Cotton Textiles, Batman!

Do they look nice hanging in my bathroom? Nope. Can I still get some use out of them before  I replace them? Yep. Does this qualify as a need yet? I used to think so. I used to think as soon as something wasn’t presentable for guests I needed to replace it with newer and better. And in truth, would I be embarrassed to hand one of these to an overnight guest? Yes, I would. But I just don’t have those very often. I could go a little longer.

Photo Mar 25, 4 04 39 PM
Used to be dark brown. Used to not be see-through. 

This makes the highlight reel because it is such a contradiction, or I should say, an evolution. I will not tolerate holey socks or underwear. When something falls into disrepair it gets repaired or replaced, no questions asked. For things of limited lifespan which inevitably become this raggedy I will retire them from service whether I replace them or not. But this still has some life left in it. In fact, it has a lot of my life left in it. My essence. As I wrote on Instagram:

Something has shifted. The more ragged my bathing implements become, the more I love them. Cloths are becoming rags. Some are falling apart as I use them. But I can’t bear to replace them yet. They have held all my magic. They have become sacred as they have absorbed me. Tatter on.

And with that, I conclude my work release this month. What’s done is done. Tomorrow I begin again.

— Mercy

 

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