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Health karma

I was referred to an endocrinologist after telling my doctor that I was super frustrated at not being able to lose weight.  Knowing I’ve had a high A1C for years and a family history of diabetes, I wasn’t exactly sure she was sending me there for preventative treatment or weight loss.  Turns out it was a little of both.  The doctor recommended a series of blood tests( blood sugar fasting,  and after a sugary drink, etc)  and talked to me about going on diabetes medication for weight loss.  Either an injectable drug or metformin.  I was not crazy about the idea.  It felt like failure to me.  It felt like face it it’s just a question of time, you have diabetes, might as well get used to it sort of thing.   My common sense was saying, well, you’ve tried everything else, why not try it?

When I got the test results back, my A1C had crept up a bit more, just one point out of range but I was so upset.  I talked to my husband about it and that turned out to be a huge mistake.  I did not get the response I wanted.  The first thing out of his mouth was, “Well, you’re never going to change your diet”.  And then proceeded to be defensive when I replied that I expected him to be supportive and reassuring.  He asked me what did I mean by being supportive, what did it have to do with him?  It was like he was angry.   I was dumbfounded, honestly.  Somehow he had missed that I had changed my diet, frankly I’m the only one who prepares and eats vegetables, salad and cooks from scratch.  As a matter of fact, I have often cooked 3 different meals for dinner.  Adding starches for his meal, vegetables for mine and a separate meal for my picky eater son.  I rarely eat rice anymore, no potatoes, hardly have bread anymore.

Then I understood.  He blamed me, it was my own fault, I was still overweight and so it was my own fault.

I had gone back to Weight Watchers last year and lost about 5 lbs in about 4  months.  The weight would go down a pound or two, then would go back up a pound.  Back and forth.  I’m listening to women talking about counting fucking almonds and I snapped.  I was working out on a spin bike, my knees were throbbing in pain, but I took ibuprofen and carried on, I walked the dog,  I’m counting my points and eating disgusting frozen 6 point meals for lunch.  I lost motivation.  I actually remember when.  I had changed the day of my meeting/weigh in and this particular team leader wasn’t as good as the other one.  She asked,”So what do you do when you get stressed out?”  I answered, “I eat.”  She just gave me this blank stare as if I had said the craziest thing.  Perhaps she was thinking I was scarfing down a Big Mac and fries, I don’t know.  Candy is my thing.  But I quit after that.

This past fall, I was doing really well.  I was up early, chanting, then taking my son to a new school for a program for dyslexia, then walking in the mountains with a group of ladies with our dogs.  I was weaning myself off of the candy binges, I was sleeping great, oh yeah, no weight loss, but I was content.  I was getting lots of acting work, made it through Christmas albeit with lots of wine.  Gained a few pounds but lost it when I put away the wine and chocolates.

And so now what?  I went back to the endocrinologist to discuss myL results which were a little out of range on a few things.  For instance, I was low on Vitamin D.   She suggested that if I didn’t want to go on metformin then I should try the ketogenic diet.  I was a little surprised she endorsed that, but it’s worth a shot.  I need to retake another creatinine blood test as it indicates there’s a little more protein than there should be.  Kidney problems?  Is it connected with diabetes?  That I supposedly don’t have yet.  Then I went back to my naturopath to discuss the results.  At least with her I can talk more than 5 minutes. Did a urine test there and still a bit of protein found.  Hmmm.

I joined a gym.  And I actually started going.  Once last week and twice this week.  It’s spring break now so the kid is off school and his grandmother came to visit for a couple of days.  We’re off to walk the dog in the driving rain. He wants to ride his bike, which means I have to put the hitch on.  This should be interesting.

I’m so fucking tired right now.

 

 

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Where have I been?

Ohmigosh, it’s been months and months and so much is going on. I don’t even know where to start.  Let’s try bullet points, okay?

  • I have had the best year in acting in a looooong time.  I was booking gig after gig after gig.  And good parts, too, not just one liners.  Hubby is extremely busy as well and at one point, we were both working 12 hours a day and had to bring in two different sitters for our sick son during one week last summer.  The downside of being self employed is that when get work, you work cause you never know when the money will stop flowing.
  • I decided to run for a director position at my actor’s union and won.  So on top of being a Buddhist district leader, on the school PAC, on a Theatre for Young Audience jury, and also two committees at the union, auditioning,  and running the household, I am now attending monthly board meetings (albeit for a honorarium).  More emails!  I’ve even been to Toronto for a national council meeting.  That was cool. Met a lot of super awesome people who are doing a ton of work on behalf of our members, so inspirational!  Except hubby was asking me to arrange for a sitter as I was packing.  Couldn’t get away fast enough, you know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
  • I’m officially in menopause.  Haven’t had a period since September.  Went to my naturopath for bio-identical hormones which worked great!  Had some nasty hot flashes last month but they seem to have stopped.  I am definitely struggling with the weight around my middle (yet again) but now I have to deal with high blood sugar.  Though my blood pressure is stellar.  Went to the endocrinologist to deal with my weight issues who ordered some tests.  She suggested diabetes medication to help lose weight.  Hmmmm, of course, once you go on them, you’re pretty much have to stay on them.  I have all the markers for having pre-diabetes and it runs heavily in my family.  So I guess the fasting glucose test could seal my fate.  Oh, yeah and an optometrist told me women my age get dry eyes.  Thanks for that.  I’m supposed to go back for a dilation test which will render me useless for a couple hours and unable to drive back home.  Yeah, I’m on that.
  • I did get new glasses – yay!  No more flimsy spectacles falling off my face.  Now the lens in my fancy expensive glasses keeps falling out!
  • Joined an O.range Theory Fitness gym or whatever it’s called.  Went to one free class which was brutal, but it’s cheaper than a personal trainer. I have no idea of how I’m going to fit that all in and get everything else done and still be there to pick my son up after school.
  • Oh, yeah and I just finished writing a solo theatrical presentation for my son’s school for Black History Month which I’m doing Friday.  I missed doing it during anti-racism week (seriously?) because we went to Edmonton for a family member’s funeral.
  • Did I mention we hosted Christmas at our place?  Oh, we did it up nicely, a few more lights, me cooking everything but the roast potatoes.  I organized everything.\
  • We had a 3 day holiday in Whistler.  Boo got sick because someone knowingly brought THEIR SICK KID TO A NEW YEAR’S PARTY AND THEY STAYED OVER!  So we spent 2 days in the very expensive suite while hubby and him watched TV.  We haven’t had a family holiday in over 4 years.
  • Hubby is now working 7 days a week which is both good and bad.  Good because now we have to move cause our landlord is moving in at the end of June.  Or so he says.  And every place we’ve looked at is at least $800  a month more than we’re paying now.  The thought of moving makes me want to throw up, but it’s out of my control, so what can I do?  Bad cause everything falls on me and we have next to no time to even have a decent conversation that’s not about our son.
  • We need a vacation and March break is coming up and hubby is working straight through it.  As in a warm place where I don’t have to cook or do laundry?
  • Did I mention I need a vacation?  However, if we end up moving in a month, we’re going to have to say goodbye to that fund for moving expenses.  Or maybe not.  Need another gig! Or seven.

Working girl

So I’m officially a working actor. I’m on set today and no, I can’t tell you which show, but it’s a new one. A bit role but interesting how I got here. I actually booked multiple days on a TV movie but it conflicted with another gig for a day (recurring character) on a very popular show. I would have loved to have done it but I couldn’t turn down the bigger job. Strictly economic reasons. But the casting director needed someone to do this bit role in another show. So 10 minutes the deal was signed and 3 days later – here I am. Not a dream role but I’m so grateful to be working! My goal today is to create value and truly appreciate everyone around me.

Challenges in adoptive parenting

I am grateful that Boo’s birthmother asked about sending a gift.  I wasn’t sure if the gift was from her or her other son.  And that’s my soft spot.  Boo would love to have a sibling, I think.  (He reminds me of what I remember of her, that she didn’t like to be alone.) I just sensed a desire for more contact, however veiled.  Notwithstanding what that would be, it really opened up conversation between my husband and I about open adoption.  I also called up a fellow adoptive parent who is in a open adoption and asked for her input.  I think it made it easier for me to understand my feelings.  I knew I could not fully control things and I think that was bit of an issue for me.  It reminded me of opening up my life to infertility doctors and social workers.  It was really tough having to prove your worthiness, but now I have to open up in a way that risks my son’s heart and that frightens me.  And it’s not that he’s asking any questions, it came from his birthmother.  It’s been years of emails and flowers and photobooks but nothing else.  And now something has changed.  I know this is true in my gut.

My husband is very protective over our son, he’s just that kind of person in general. You’re either in his circle or you’re not.   If I ask him to go out to a gathering, he wants to know who is going to be there.  Me? I couldn’t care less.   If I get invited by a friend, I just go.   Even when we were doing our homestudy he was quite open about his feelings about not being open to possible “wingnuts”.  (Yeah, that did not go over well with the social worker.)  Yet he does want the best for his son and so I proposed we go to an Adoption and Trauma seminar being held by the adoption agency we used in the past.  I thought it would help us learn more and spur conversation.

Now I have to say we didn’t have the best feelings about our agency.  Not that they didn’t act ethically or do anything wrong, but I feel they could have done much more in terms of adoptive parent education.  They were great about hosting birthmother panels for prospective adoptive parents (which were mandatory by the way) but there was very little information from actual adoptive parents in how to navigate the emotional landmines we faced along the way.  Everyone assumes that just being you’re the one “who gets the kid in the end” so you’re happy, but navigating adoptive parenting can be complex because you are now a “triad” with someone you barely know.    I am grateful that I did get together with other adoptive parents just to talk (we made our own group) and it is because of those connections that I have someone to talk to who understands the complexities of adoptive parenting.

So the seminar was being led by a therapist who was an adoptee herself.  She talked about a number of things about trauma and loss, the brain’s neuroplasticity and how trauma affects the brain,  what she went through with her adoptive mother in particular (not ideal) and how she dealt with her trauma.  I’d have to say that what she said also applied to other scenarios of trauma, not just through adoption.  A lot of the symptoms would also be relevant for children of divorce or alcoholics or domestic violence.  Yes, the Primal Wound was also mentioned.  None of it is easy to listen to.   Someone wanted to know if that trauma was the reason their child was undergoing struggles with school and/or educational delays.  That got my attention, but of course, any child can have a learning disability whether they’re biologically related to you or not.  At least she acknowledged that she couldn’t answer or affirm that suspicion.  I actually knew two parents there, one of which is my naturopath by the way.  I’d love to talk to them about it at some point.

I did write an email back to Boo’s birthmother to fill in her in on the changes that have been going on in her son’s life.  Perhaps I wrote too much, but really, I was just being honest.  I let her know what we’re all growing together in this experience and that we had to consider how our actions would impact his life.  There’s more to it than that, but I’d have to password protect. Good news is that I’m glad this is all happening now while he is still young.  7 year olds can digest things in an easier way than grownups can.  They just want the facts, no fears, no doubts, no overthinking involved.

I can’t control what he will feel or won’t feel, I can’t protect him from feeling of sadness, I know that.  But we are the ones who are in charge of parenting him through life’s difficulties and surprises.  And it’s up to us to do with as much grace as possible.  Lord knows we’ll get the blame if we fuck up.  Ah, welcome to parenthood, eh?

 

A woman my age is damn busy

Oh, gack it’s been a while.  That’s an understatement.  I’ve also switched to using a tablet for all things non business( instead of my trusty full to the brim laptop ) so I don’t write very much.  I can’t touch type on my phone or my tablet.  But this morning, hubby is away for a couple of days for a work and the kid is on summer holiday and is currently asleep (pretty sure it will be for 30 more seconds because I have started this) and so now I feel compelled to write.

Here’s life in bullet points.

  • I quit Weight watchers in June.  Honestly, I just couldn’t stand the slow weight loss.  It’s not their fault, of course, I just got tired of eating frozen Weight Watchers food and counting points.  I have neither the planning skills or the patience to make up an interesting menu for myself while trying to cook for husband and a picky eater.   I lost 5 lbs after months of counting points and starving only to see the scale creep back up.  Now of course, I’m back to the weight that got me going there in the first place.
  • Around Mother’s Day I heard from Boo’s bio mom and she wanted to get our address (that she had but misplaced) so she could send a gift.  Of course, this necessitated a long conversation with my husband who wanted to know what the gift was and all the while I’m thinking it’s not about the gift it’s about wanting more contact and what does that mean when we’ve never actually had much contact.  I actually got husband to go to a seminar about Adoption and Trauma.  I felt it was really important that we be on the same page about how we navigate forward with our son.  I also talked to a friend about what her open adoption looks like.
  • Then not long after, we had a psycho-educational assessment done with Boo for his educational delays.  We waited months for this (through the school system as we would not have to pay for it then) and shockingly we got it before the school year was out.  That saved us a couple thousand if not more had we had paid privately.  He has a learning disability, mild dyslexia with low scores in the visual spatial area and fine motor skills.  Great scores for vocabulary.  Though he has come a long way with his reading, there was scant time to work with him at home with math and writing.  He will be going to a new school for 3 months this coming fall for intensive learning before rejoining his classmates at his present school.
  • Oh, yeah, did I mention Boo asked us what the “N” word was?
  • I’ve been auditioning like crazy, got 2 days on a gig (one night away out of town – yay!) and on a short list for a project I really want to do.
  • oh, yeah, and I’m also the coordinator for my Buddhist group, a vice chair on a diversity and inclusion committee at the actor’s union and possibly more….

I have a lot more to say on the above but got to get moving….

 

 

 

Microblog Mondays – Life Story book

You know what?  I don’t think I told you that I actually finished Boo’s life story and had it printed and delivered it to him.  I took me a while to get the last perfect picture but I finally did it.  That only took 7 years.

I included his one and only sonogram, the picture of his birthmother and us, the day he was born, etc.  I did not include a picture of his biological father, even though I have one somewhere that his birthmother sent me.  We never met and he did not come to the hospital when he was born.  I guess if he had, I might not have my son here with me.   Sigh, I only wish I had taken more pictures at the time.  He loved it!  He didn’t ask as many questions as I thought he would.  But we had a really good chat about everything.

I do remember how strange it felt to have this teeny tiny infant in my care and even though I was smiling in every shot, I also felt quite sad, too.  That bittersweet feeling become an obstacle for me (never mind my age or the issue of finances) in entertaining the idea of another adoption.   It was hard to let go of this idea that I would magically become this unconditionally happy woman despite the loss it meant for my son and his birthmother.  I held it together like a rock in the face of this woman sacrifice and tears.  Why does everyone keep telling me I should be happy now?  I had an idea of what I would feel and what transpired was most decidely different.  I read a blog post from a woman who did not have the ideal birth experience that she had prepared for.  She felt robbed somehow of the blessed experience for events that were beyond her control.  Maybe I had felt something like that.  Like, hey look I have a baby but….. why do I feel so traumatized?  Expectations versus reality.  I learned a great deal about equanimity.

I remember the wash of unconditional love I felt for him as I held him, the awe of it all, how humbled I was at being given the opportunity to mother, how badly I wanted to remove his loss.  I wanted to be perfect, not make any mistakes.  I would not be afforded another opportunity in this lifetime.  I was terrified of failing him.  And yet sometimes I did.  And then I get off the floor and did better.   I now know it’s just part of the job, the hard part of being an adoptive mother, knowing you won’t be the answer to his question of where he came from.  He will one day look to you for answers that you hope you can answer.  To be the bridge he crosses.  You just hope he comes back.

I had built up this book to be such a momentous big deal, but Boo just seemed to be happy to marvel over how tiny he was once.  His big foot next to my wine glass.  His dog nuzzled next to his sleeping body.  He liked his life story and was eager to share with only those closest to him.  He didn’t see our doubts, our fears, our hopes.  He only saw how much he was loved.  Which I suppose, was the whole point.

 

Taking my bow

This is long overdue, but my play closed Saturday night, so instead of running around on Mondays (which was my day off) I can slow down a little and write.

Yes, my play.  Refuge by Mary Vingoe.  I don’t cry very often, but let me tell you I cried in 15 out of 17 performances in my last scene.  I played an Eritrean refugee mother who has lost her son to suicide. Refugees issues are front and centre these days and audiences were really engaged in the topic.    It was well received by audiences and I have to say I had a wonderful time.  It brought the joy of my craft back to me.  Friends saw me recently on an episode of a major network show and I have to tell you I got far more out of doing this play than I did with that role.  I had my issues with the play itself but I still had the time of my life. The crazy actors, their different personalities, the crappy dressing room, the “places” call.   It was like getting back the part of me that I thought was beyond reach.  Like discovering sex can actually be so good that you just want more and more of it.  I just tingled down to my toes.  It was emotionally exhausting no doubt, but when I came home, I would slip into my son’s tented bed and watch him sleep.  That shit never gets old.  Just watching his lips purse in sleep, hearing his deep breathing, kissing his impossibly soft skin.  The play is based on a real Eritrean refugee whose claim was rejected and eventually he committed suicide rather than be returned to his homeland.  I still had my son and feeling his breath on my face was an antidote to the despair and pain I portrayed on stage.

My part wasn’t huge, in fact, I was only in 4 short scenes, but I believe they were impactful.  It was just what I could handle at this time and it was just what I needed.  I’m not sure how people handle all the pressure of a huge, demanding role and also a family life, but I guess that’s just a matter of expanding one’s capacity.  Oddly enough one of the actors commented on how much I had to do as both a mother and an actor.  I have to admit that at times I feel as if my capacity is not big enough, I often felt frayed when I straddled both worlds.  None of them had children or were responsible for taking care of other people.  They had lifestyles that supported them. They just cleared their schedules and did the play.  They had spouses to make them lunches or quiet spaces to retreat to.  If I had an early rehearsal day I grocery shopped or walked the dog (and memorized my lines at the same time) or attended to some errand or another.  I checked in with my Buddhist colleagues for updates, cleaned the house, did laundry, put things away.  I had a couple of auditions (which I resented) but I did them anyway.  I was basically working 6 out of 7 days just over a month (seems longer) but it didn’t really seem like work.  I guess that happens when you really love what you’re doing.   Hubby had to go away for work for a few days and it was spring break.  I arranged a few days in a day camp for the boy.  The inlaws came over during that final week of rehearsals (long days).  That was a blessing to be sure, but of course, that also means I cooked meals ahead of time for them.  Being at rehearsal came to mean an escape;  all my energy could be focused one direction not several.  The minute I was on my way home, it was about juggling and picking up things and meeting others’ expectations and it was jarring at times.

Still, I learned a lot about my capacity to juggle things and handle stress.  All in all, I think I did alright.

I’m sad right now though.  It was great working f/t doing something I loved.  I received a good review for my work, got my picture in the paper and I admit it, it was good for my battered old ego.  It was the first show my mum missed, but she was with me in spirit.  I learned a lot.  Onward and upward.