Monday, December 14, 2009

The holidays really can suck!

I'm taking a personal day.  I'm not sick, but I am feeling rather overwhelmed today.

I've felt like this for days.  I couldn't figure out why, because traditionally the holiday season hasn't carried any importance to me and my family.  But this year, with the impending divorce and a complete restructuring of our lives, we seem to have nothing on which to hang a feeling of cohesiveness.

My boys are going to spend Christmas with their father on the other side of the world, and I'm going to spend some time with my girlfriend in Southern California.  (We'll go to a spa, go to the gym, buy munchies at Whole Foods and watch a lot of mindless TV.)  My mother is whining because she assumed I would spend the ten days I'm away from the boys with her, but there isn't enough vodka on the planet for me to even consider doing that!  I keep trying to figure out why I'm in such a funk for a season that doesn't mean much to me.  I think it's because I want to recharge our sense of family but I don't really know how.

So today I gave up, for the day, on caring for myself, cleaning house, filing papers and paying bills.  I am just sitting around the house, watching HGTV and really lame Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas dramas, eating sourdough toast.  And as I sit on my favorite wicker chair, I look around my house and wish it was clean and wish I knew how much decorating for the holidays I should do.  I'm conflicted.  If we're not going to be here, then why bother.  And yet, I want to change up what's going on around the house, get a different feel for the house, warm it up, so that the boys will know they have a real home to come back to, and that this is where we experience family.

I'm having the carpets and windows cleaned this week, and Merry Maids will be coming in to get everything else cleaned before the end of the year.  The boys come back on the 30th, so they will come back to a clean home, everything organized, and some winter decor in place. (I don't do the Santa thing...we decorate with snowmen!)  We'll have a small New Year's Eve dinner, just the three of us.  Then on New Year's Day, I'm hosting an open house for family and friends, with lots of food and drink, conversation, music, games and a massive Halo 3 event with wall-to-wall boys of all ages.  I'm inviting everyone who has been instrumental in helping us feel at home since returning to California.  We've very grateful to them all!

Maybe this New Year's Day celebration will become our annual family thing.  Maybe that sense of family cohesiveness will gain some traction that day and we'll be starting the new year in the right direction.  I hope we can find our new family identity, one we can all share and believe in.  We used to be world travelers, but that was really only an activity and didn't mean anything with regards to developing character and a strong sense of family and purpose, which is the direction in which I really want us to move.  I'm not sure how to do that, yet.

I'm still surprised how writing all this down makes me feel better.  I actually want to get a shower now!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Almost recovered

I have been sick for over a week now.  Caught it from my son.  Despite the greens, vitamins and extra water, I wasn't able to avoid catching a bad sinus infection.  But perhaps it was helpful in my recovery as well as preventing the infection from turning into bronchitis, which is what usually happens.

Yesterday I had yet another headache from the stuffy sinuses, and I went through a lot of Kleenex.  Today was a little better.  I didn't really feel like eating anything, and the idea of lifting a weight or taking one step on to my elliptical cross trainer was the furthest thing from my mind.  I have heard of people who were upset at being too sick to exercise.  Now that's crazy!

However, I do understand that regular exercise helps prevent the flu. According to WebMD, when "...moderate exercise is repeated on a near daily basis, there is a cumulative immune-enhancing effect, which leads to a sustained response by the immune system to illness. When you exercise, your white blood cells - the blood cells that fight infections in the body - travel through your body more quickly, fighting bacteria and viruses (such as flu) more efficiently. To maintain good health, experts recommend at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity..."

Alternately, "...extremely vigorous forms of exercise, including working out for hours at the gym and running marathons, can have a negative effect on your immune system. Studies show that extreme workouts can decrease the number of white blood cells flowing throughout your body while increasing the level of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, in the bloodstream. These emergency hormones help you cope with the physical stress but can also increase your likelihood of illness."

But what should we do when we're sick?  Take it easy.  Being sick is stressful on the body, so some downtime will allow the body to rest and let the immune system do its job without the energy drain from exercise.  Definitely avoid exercise when a fever is present.  It would only increase the chances of dehydration and delay recovery.  Wait a few days after flu symptoms have gone before contemplating physical exertion.

Instead of laying around in bed, I did have enough energy to clean the living room and dining room.  I didn't overdo it, I promise.  And my sweet older son actually did the dishes without my having to ask him, and I was able to finish washing up the counters and stove.  The boys made their own dinner.  Thank God for Trader Joe's burritos!

I miss having a housekeeper.  When I lived overseas I had a very good household staff, and when I got sick, I was well cared for.  When I could concentrate on just getting well, I'd usually recover in a few days.  But when I'm running kids to after-school activities, running errands for my parents, doing the laundry, writing a paper for my Myth and Literature class and looking for a job in this economy, its taking much longer to recover!

One more day of "taking it easy at home" and I'm going to get really edgy and cranky.  Perhaps tomorrow I'll blow everybody off and nap.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staving off flu season

My wee one is home sick today.  He's got a low-grade fever.  I'm feeling rather icky myself.  My lymph glands feel swollen and I've had a raging headache for a few days.  Not enough sleep, too much post-holiday pecan pie. (It was better the second day, and even better the third and fourth days!)  I just got back from the salon, where I was turned away due to a sickly stylist.  Everyone's feeling yucky now.  I decided to head for Safeway and see what ingredients I could gather for my next round of healthy, flu-fighting meals.

Quercetin seems to be something that builds the immune system, so I got some foods high in that nutrient: apples, onions, citrus, broccoli, leafy greens, cranberries and organic tomatoes.  Other foods that aid the immune system include homemade chicken soup, green tea (catechins), sardines and wild-caught salmon (Vit D), yogurt (with live active cultures or probiotics) and spicy peppers (high in Vit C).

My shopping list included the following: kale, Swiss chard, apples, oranges, grapefruit juice (unsweetened), oil-packed sardines, organic chicken broth and green tea.  I'm going to make some kale for lunch, after I take a mid-morning nap.  I'm feeling rather achy right now and I think a good power nap is in order.