Underneath my yellow skin

Getting older and not necessarily wiser

taiwanese tai chi sculpture!
I don’t want to be made of stone.

I woke up yesterday to an incipient migraine and immediately popped two Excedrin Migraine (generic) in hopes to stave it off. It didn’t pop into a full migraine for the rest of the day, but it also didn’t dissipate after an hour as it normally does. I am still dealing with it now, but at a very low level. This is new to me. In the past, either I caught it and it went away in an hour or I didn’t. I mentioned it to my taiji teacher yesterday, and she said that unfortunately, our bodies get brittler as we get older. This is true. When I was in college, I could get by (barely) on three to four hours of sleep. In my late twenties, I could go out all night and bounce back (mostly) after four hours of sleep. Now, I could go out all night, but it would take me three days to return to normal.

Speaking of sleep. I used to get four hours a night. On the regular. Thanks to taiji, I’ve slowly added to that. Now, I’m up to six hours on average a night. That’s epic for me. I keep hearing how terrible it is if you don’t get eight hours a night, and I always want to shout, “Yeah, I know, but what the fuck do I do about it?” They never talk about that, do they? They only talk about how important eight hours of sleep is, and by the way, people used to sleep in four-hour chunks rather than one stretch of eight. That seems way more reasonable to me than sleeping eight hours in one stretch.

The only time I can sleep for eight hours (or even seven-and-a-half) is when I’m sick. Which has been a lot in the past few years. It makes me wonder if my body gets sick for the sole purpose of getting more sleep. I know I’m really sick if I actually manage to get nine hours. One time, I got ten hours! TEN HOURS. I can’t even with that. That’s like, luxury. I hear from friends who get eight to nine hours regularly and who love sleep, and I’m so envious. I don’t know what it’s like, and I can’t even imagine it. I wrote a whole novel about confronting Morpheus, for fuck’s sake.

Sleep is something that I’ve given up trying to improve consciously because I’ve poured so much energy into it for no benefit. I’ve tried ::deep breath:: melatonin, hot beverages, hot baths, valerian, lavender (found out I was allergic to it while taking a bath in it. Not a good way to find out), sleep deprivation, sleeping pills (can’t wake up from them, even if I only take a fourth of a pill), dream catchers, and other things I can’t remember. None of it worked, and it only left me more frustrated than ever. Taiji is the only thing that has helped, and it’s taken a long time. An added two hours of sleep over ten years of taiji. That means I should reach eight hours a night in another ten years!

Before I talk about things I want to improve health-wise in the new year, let me list what I’ve improved in the last. Why? Because I get very down on myself, so it’s good now and again to note the positive things I’ve done. The biggest is adding twenty minutes of stretching to my daily taiji routine for my back/thigh issues, and it’s helped immensely. To briefly summarize, I had a burning pain/numbness in my right thigh. I knew it had to do with my back, and I asked my taiji teacher about it. She gave me stretches to do, and I decided I was going to dedicate myself to doing them because I did not want to end up like my father who before his back surgery couldn’t walk for more than two minutes without feeling pain.

A few months later, I can say that it has been a resounding success. The numbness is mostly gone, and the searing pain is very seldom. It’s funny, though, because the searing pain used to be in the upper thigh. It’s moved to right above the knee, and I know it’s ultimately a good thing. It’s getting the circulation going, and it’s moving the pain through my body (and hopefully out of it). I wasn’t surprise by the reappearance of the pain because I had been suppressing it for so long. In taiji, my teacher talks about how when people first relax after holding in tension for years, they feel overwhelming pain. It makes sense, and that’s what was going on with my leg. Now, however, the pain is almost completely gone, and the numbness is reduced by at least 75%. It’s a marvel, and I’m keeping up with my stretches diligently.

One of the positive sides of having OCD traits is that once I decide to do something, I do it rigorously. I just have to put my mind to it, which is the most difficult part. I’ve written about that before, so I won’t dive into that again. However, I decided a few months ago that I was going to rid myself of this leg pain (that I knew was caused by back pain) , and I’m proud of myself for following through. My life has been immeasurably better for it, and I’m going to continue doing the stretches. It’s a testimony to the tangible benefits of taiji that I can look at this experience and pinpoint the improvement with precision.

I love taiji, don’t get me wrong. However, the benefits are not something that can be measured in the short term. I can look back and tick off the benefits–more able to deal with crowds. Still don’t love them, but I can move comfortably through them. Less injuries. I still fall and run into things, but I don’t hurt myself nearly as much. I have fallen off a ladder twice, and all I got each time was a bruise. When I realized I was going to fall, I instinctively relaxed.

Funny story. In class yesterday, my teacher was showing us the applications for one of the sword postures. I had to switch to my wooden sword for this as we do not spar with metal swords. She told me to grip the sword with all five fingers (which you do not want to do most of the time) in order to demonstrate how much easier it is to dislodge the sword when it’s tensely held. As she struck my sword with her sword, I instinctively relaxed, then I had to tighten my grip so she could prove her point. My taiji brain kicked in before my rational brain!

My teacher’s schedule is changing in the new year, which means I have to adapt to it as well. I don’t want to talk about it right now, but it’ll be a way for me to stretch myself if I so choose.  I would love to learn the rest of the Sabre Form in 2019, and it’s a real possibility if I go to the Weapons class my teacher will be teaching at her teacher’s studio. I just don’t know if I can handle feeling like an idiot in front of her classmates who will be the students of the class.

Let’s talk food. I need to eat better. This is not an option. I mention earlier that my migraine situation might be changing for the worse. I haven’t had a full-blown or even a low-key migraine in years. The fact that I’ve had both in the span of a week is worrying. I think it’s because I’ve been sick so much on and off the past two months and maybe because of stress. Otherwise, it means that my go-to for staving them off (popping two Excedrin Migraine when I first sense it coming) isn’t working any longer, and that would be a pain in the arse. Hey, I’m listening to the IGN UK podcast, so a few British-isms may crop up in my lingo now and again.

I bought an instapot with the intent of cooking more. I bought into the hype, unfortunately, without thinking about what an instapot actually does. I talked about this with my brother and sis-in-law when we (and the boys) had lunch the day after Christmas. My sis-in-law and I were in complete agreement as to the shortcomings of the instapot, mainly that it doesn’t cut down on prep time. Plus, she mentioned that if you’re doing meat, you have to do other things before actually cooking it, like browning the meat. I chimed in enthusiastically about having to brown the meat and how easier it was to do in a saucepan/skillet.

See, I bought the thing thinking it made cooking easier. It doesn’t. You still have to do prep and there are still steps and you have to preheat so literally the only thing it cuts down on is actual cooking time, and that’s not with everything. I didn’t realize until after I bought it and used it that it’s a game-changer for people who already cook and cook a lot, but for someone who is looking to get into cooking and doesn’t cook much, it’s not that helpful. For something easy like mashed potatoes, it doesn’t save time at all. I still had to cube the potatoes and mash them, and the cooking time was twenty minutes. It was a lot of work for mashed potatoes. Did it taste good? Well, yes, but not that much better than instant. I love instant mashed potatoes, by the way.

I don’t mind buying things from the co-op, and they are cooked better than I could do without a lot of effort. The stuff from Cubs, though, is not good for me. At all. I would still like to find a way to cook simple dishes that are better for me than buying from the hot bar at Cubs. The other issue I have with the instapot is that all the recipes are for four people, which means way too much food for me. Also, finding gf/df recipes that aren’t also everything else-free is nearly impossible. I can find gf recipes and df recipes, but not just df/gf recipes. Yes, I know I can substitute ingredients, but when it reaches the point of having more substituted ingredients than actual ingredients, my brain freezes and refuses to accept it.

The problem is that I’m not very motivated to do something I hate. I hate cooking. A lot. I like baking, but that’s even harder to make substitutions for, and it’s not as necessary to sustenance. When I got the instapot, it was with the vague idea of making a lot of stews and chili. Which, fine, but many of them still have more than ten ingredients (my personal cutoff). Again, I wish I had read reviews of it from people who don’t cook rather than actual cooks because cooks take for granted many things that newbs don’t know. It’s the same in any field, obviously. It’s why I don’t want to talk about Feminism 101, for example. It’s so basic to me, and it gets tedious to have to repeat myself.

I know I need to read the manual for the instapot and blah, blah, blah. Again, the problem is that I don’t like cooking. At all. So, reading about it feels like a deadly dull chore, and my mind resists learning about it. I like watching cooking shows, and I like watching other people cook, but I actively resent it when I do it myself. I don’t know how to resolve this, by the way, I’m just ranting now.

I have no answer for my food dilemma, apparently. I’ll have to keep thinking about it. My BFF mentioned ordering meals to be delivered. She did it for a while for her family, and she said if she were single, it would definitely be her go-to. I feel as if that’s admitting defeat, though, so I’m not sure I want to do that. In addition, I don’t know if there are any that have gf/df meals that are actually edible. Just did a quick look, and there are a few paleo options. I hate paleo in concept, but it does mostly fit my needs. At any rate, it’s probably better that I learn to cook a few basic things than find a meal plan that caters to my needs.

I’m hoping 2019 is better than 2018, but I have to do more than hope. I have to actually do the work.

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