Friday, February 25, 2011

Early this morning.......

Early this morning a concrete truck backed up our very steep driveway.

Finally, after 8 1/2 years of living in our house, we are finishing the last little bit of landscaping work - the concrete path down the side of the house.

How wonderful it will be to step out my laundry door onto a nice neat path, instead of into squishy mud! And because the ground level is now quite a bit higher, I will be able to reach my vegie patch along the fence a bit more easily.

The boys (plus one little doggy) were pretty excited to watch the whole spectacle, but not as excited as their camera-toting mother! Now we just have to keep Molly the dog off the new path for a couple of days :)

Hanging out the bathroom window watching the concreters work.

Even Molly wanted to see what what happening.

So happy with my new neat, tidy, clean concrete path. It is a simple thing, but it will make a HUGE difference to us.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A little secret......

I want to let you in on a little secret. It is a little secret that has made a BIG difference to my health in a short period of time. I am a "green smoothie girl". I drink a litre of green smoothie every, single day and I can highly recommend it.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't worry. I had no idea what green smoothies were about 6 months ago either. My dear friend J started waffling on about them in about mid 2010 and I thought she had turned into some kind of extreme health nut :) Then she started talking about Raw food and I really thought she'd gone completely hippie! But I couldn't deny the changes I saw in her. In a matter of weeks she had bright, clear eyes; fresh, glowing skin; a huge increase in energy and a smile that she couldn't wipe off her face. She was losing her excess weight too, which was a happy bonus to the way she was feeling.
After witnessing the changes in her, I thought I should start listening to what she was on about and start asking questions. Then I started doing my own research. Wow - talk about opening up a whole new world! Green smoothies were just the start to my awakening to Raw and living foods.

I must admit, I started on the green smoothies late, last year. I was feeling heaps of improvement almost immediately. Less fatigue, less joint and muscle pain and best of all, a clear, unfoggy head. I hadn't really changed my diet completely - I was just trying to avoid processed foods and focus on eating "whole" foods that were as close to their natural state as possible.

Over the summer, particularly over the Christmas break and during January, I really "fell off the wagon". Christmas feasting and lots of road trips meant that I slid back into a diet of fast foods, soft drink, sugary snacks, lots of meat and processed rubbish. And the result? I felt SICK! Back came the extreme pain, the overwhelming fatigue, and the foggy, muddled brain. I went back to needing to sleep for an hour and a half every afternoon. I woke up tired. I was grumpy and depressed and I felt absolutely lousy! That's after only a few weeks of abusing my body.

On the 2nd of February we returned home from visiting my sick Nan in Wangaratta and I decided that I'd had enough of the crappy diet. I was going back to the green smoothies, and transitioning to more Raw, living foods. I completely cut out caffeine, sugar and processed foods and upped my intake of fresh, mostly raw vegetables and fruit. Lo and behold, within a week I felt A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! I can honestly say that after only two or three days, the headaches and brain-fog lifted and I felt "alive" again. In the past few weeks, my joint and muscle pain have all but disappeared and I have loads more energy. The best part is that my head is clear. I no longer feel like I'm walking around in the "cone of silence" (Get Smart reference there for any fellow fans). I am by no means on an all Raw, vegan diet, but the better I feel, the more inclined I am to consume things that keep me feeling well. I find myself avoiding the foods that leave me feeling sluggish and unwell. When I do succumb to processed foods I immediately feel unwell and this discourages me from eating those things next time.

It is early days, and I know that I have tried other types of diets (gluten free, dairy free, allergy elimination etc. etc). I also know that my experience with those diets showed some improvement, but I couldn't sustain them. Why I didn't continue with them is a complex question. I think much of it has to do with the fact that these diets were imposed on me by health professionals. I also feel that while these diets had benefits, they were not the "whole picture" and I continued to eat processed foods and meats while on them. There was something missing with my previous attempts at diet change. They just weren't quite right for me. So I got frustrated and threw in the towel. But I learned a lot along the way, and I continue to do so.

l know this lifestyle experiment seems a bit extreme to many people, but hey, you know what? If it makes me feel well, then I'm going to keep doing it. I will happily be an "extreme health nut" alongside my friend J.

I cannot get my hands on enough reading material about Raw foods and thanks to the internet there is plenty out there to be found, right from the comfort of my own home.

Want to know something else? Even my husband has started drinking green smoothies every day! For those who have known him all his life, that is a complete miracle. He loves his green smoothie after work and is feeling much better since starting the habit about 2 weeks ago.

Want to know what is in my green smoothies? I will come back with a post tomorrow to let you know exactly what I put in them.


Saturday night saw the celebration of an engagement in our family. Our niece D recently became engaged to her boyfriend A. They are such a gorgeous couple, inside and out. Their engagement party was held in Eltham with about a hundred family and friends attending.

Cutting their engagement cake.

D's dad kicked off the speeches.

The speeches were lovely, even though A's dad "stole" a large portion of A's speech before he got to give it! lol! A still managed to give a great speech with a heartfelt declaration of his joy at having D as his partner for life. D was called upon to give a speech too - something she hadn't planned on doing. She handled it with eloquence, sincerity and warmth, as is her usual style. We are so proud to call her our niece.

D's impromptu speech - beautifully done.

My boys came along to the party and tore up the dance floor! Who knew that J had such funky moves?! He had the dance floor to himself and was grooving away in front of a growing audience of guest for about half an hour. Very cute! I captured about 30 seconds of it on video but I won't embarrass J by posting it here for the world to see.

My boys having fun at the party.

J and her cute daughter E having a groove together.

The boys in the car on the way home.......all tuckered out after all that dancing!

We had our other gorgeous niece come to stay with us on Saturday night. It was so nice of her to make the trip down from the Gold Coast for the engagement party. Despite her flight home being delayed by almost 2 hours, I think she had a great weekend catching up with family and friends.  

Lastly, I thought I'd show you the engagement card I made for the happy couple. I chose to use the same colour scheme and style as the engagement invitations. Looking forward to the wedding, although I'm told it will be a couple of years away.

Hearty Congratulations on your engagement D and A. We couldn't be more thrilled for you both. xxx

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day in "real life"

What does Valentine's Day mean when you're a grown up couple, married for a decade, living the suburban life with a couple of kids and a dog?

Well it means forgetting all the frou-frou of flowers, chocolates, fancy dinners and so forth. It means spending the day together doing day-to-day stuff - going to school assembly, hanging out washing, trimming the pittosporum hedges and taking the clippings to the tip, clowning around and being silly, picking the kids up from school and then cooking steamed veg. and sausages (vege ones for me) for dinner - all done together.

Every day Dan and I express our love for each other. We see no need to wait for a predetermined day to be loving and romantic. Our love infuses every thing we do.....even the seemingly day-to-day mundane stuff.

Love you, my goofy Valentine!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rebuilding wellness - leaving fibromyalgia behind.

I want to let you in on what has been going on for me health-wise over the past ~6 months. I am a little shy about sharing my latest attempts at achieving wellness, at least until I know that I am achieving positive results. There has been a quiet revolution going on in my life. It all started with Sue Ingebretsons book FibroWHYalgia. 


This fantastic book turned on a lightbulb for me. It made me feel empowered to take control of my health and wellbeing, and stop letting fibromyalgia define me. Sue has lived with severe and debilitating fibromyalgia for many years, and like most fibro sufferers endured a long, scary and disheartening road before finally being diagnosed. But she didn't throw in the towel once a diagnosis was made. She decided to take back control and responsibility for her own wellness and embarked on extensive research into the things that promote vibrant health and wellbeing. She also started to eliminate the things she knew were counterproductive to her recovery. After completely overhauling her life Sue now lives a healthy and productive life in which fibromyalgia symptoms play a very tiny part from time to time. I cannot overstate how important this book has been in my life - it has turned my world upside down - in a good way :)

Best of all, Sue's book has been a springboard for me to investigate the things that promote wellness in my own life. I spend countless hours researching health and how to achieve it and keep it. I have always done this because there has not been a day in my life when I have not tackled health issues. Asthma, eczema, hayfever, acne, digestive problems, food allergies, depression and a tendency toward infections and illness in general have all been a part of my life at different times. My quest for answers to better health led me to my combined degree in nursing and health promotion 17 years ago. After finishing that I then went into a naturopathy degree (which I deferred after 18 months and never got back to because I was busy getting married and having my babies). When I was struck down by fibromyalgia 4 1/2 years ago, I had just started a course in Personal Training (unfortunately also abandoned due to my disintegrating health). Informally, I have always had a thirst for health education, devouring books and magazines on nutrition, fitness and natural healing. The bookmarks list on my computer is a testament to my eternal search for wellness.
Sue Ingebretsons book condenses so much research into the things that are essential for rebuiling wellness. For me, having Sue's experience, research and knowledge all condensed into one easy to read book was a godsend. Knowing that she has been in that dark, depressing place called fibromyalgia and was able to climb out of it and turn her life around was all the inspiration I needed to do the same. Recovery is possible! Wellness - long term wellness - is possible! 

If you, or someone you know, suffer from fibromyalgia, another chronic illness, or just poor health in general I urge you to get hold of FibroWHYalgia. Like me, you could find it a turning point in your life. I have had personal email contact with Sue and she is just as warm, caring and friendly as she seems in her book. You can listen to an interview with Sue, in which she shares her story, on her website Rebuilding Wellness. You can also find links to her blog and facebook page there too. She is always coming up with new gems of information and research to educate and inspire.

Of course, as I said, Sue's book was a starting point. My next post will get more specific about the resources I have engaged, the changes I have made and how they are working for me.  Wishing you a healthful weekend :)