Thursday, April 29, 2010

Doughnut by Doughnut

It was high noon, and the enemy and I watched each other warily from either end of a dusty, deserted road. My fingers twitched above my holstered weapon, ready to draw at his slightest movement ...

OK, actually it was 9:30 AM at Albertson's on 128th. The kids had just left the dentist and were selecting their rewards from the bakery case, while I swooned over the sticky-sweet smell of glazed, old-fashioned, and maple-drenched doughnuts. Listen: There's more than one way to face down your demons.

The kids each held a bagged treat, yet I couldn't bring myself to close the case, mesmerized by a puffy glazed cinnamon roll near the back.

"Are you having one too, Mommy?" Sweetpea finally asked.

"I shouldn't, but I really want to."

"Why shouldn't you? Because it has gluten? And sugar? And milk?"

Thank god for that kid. Yes, for all of those reasons. Because my naturopath has advised me to steer clear of milk and gluten (or, as Sprout aptly calls it, "guilten"). And though he lifted the ban on sugar this week in compensation for the gluten (you can't imagine how hard it is to find ANY prepared food that doesn't have one of those three ingredients), I know that every sweet, over-processed granule further taxes my already overtaxed immune system.

I closed the door.

There's no tidy lesson here. Just a daily struggle to make better choices. To forego the familiar paths to immediate gratification in favor of the less-traveled route that (I hope) will lead to greater health and well-being.

What I'm discovering is that the healthy route is not grim and tasteless. The gluten-free bread I had when I got home, toasted with melted goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, surely gave me as much pleasure as that doughnut would have, without the negative impact on my health. But my brain has to be convinced of that one day -- one doughnut -- at a time.

Meanwhile, as I sent my kids off to school with glazed lips and eyes, I had the unhappy realization that unless we all make some drastic changes, they will inherit my same demons. It's not the occasional sweet treat that concerns me. It's that I've already taught them, at 5 and 8, to associate processed sweets with comfort, the reward for a job well done.

As always, they give me even greater resolve to kick my demons to the curb.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Riddle Me This

What do Barbie Girls, Mapquest, and my health insurance carrier have in common?

Answer: They all appear in my current list of frequently-visited websites. Midstream does not.

Lately it feels as if someone else wrote the entries here. A co-worker, maybe, who left the job abruptly, leaving me unprepared to carry on in her place. Every time I think about jumping in where she left off, I don't know where to begin. The more time passes, the harder it gets.

I wish this feeling were less familiar. The truth is, I've often had the feeling that two different women inhabit my life, like the Odd Couple, or a tragically bad job-share. One with energy and verve, who organizes the house, undertakes complex projects, volunteers for tasks, parents with a clear and level head. And the other one, foggy and overwhelmed, who uses every bit of energy she can muster just to crawl through the day's minimum requirements.

No, it's not always that black and white. But not knowing which version of me is going to report for duty tomorrow morning is something I learned to live with a long time ago. Hubby at least knew what he was signing on for before we took our vows. How the kids make sense of it, I can't imagine.

The past few weeks, I've been taking a long, hard look at the wildly varying degrees of wellness that I experience from week to week ... sometimes day to day ... and I don't like what I see. The monthly sinus infections were just the last straw. (Nothing like a stabbing pain in your left eye to make you pay attention, I always say. I guess the Universe finally realized "subtle" isn't my thing.)

I'm ready to get to the bottom of this riddle. For the moment, I'm choosing to do that by ditching conventional medicine -- which has done nothing but pile chemical upon chemical with limited success -- in favor of a host of more natural, holistic healers. Though they purport to look at the whole person, still each sees her own version of the woman in front of her, offers her own explanation, suggests her own cure.

It is taking vast amounts of time, energy, and money -- and I will do it all, as long as it helps in the end.

I'm doing this for me, because I deserve to feel better than I do today. I'm doing it for my family. Because we all deserve to know who is going to be downstairs making their breakfast when they wake up tomorrow.