Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Diabetes Shuffle

  

I got some bad news recently, which actually turned out to be one of the best things that's happened to me in a long time. My doctor (actually my physician's assistant) said, "You're not gonna like me very much." And then she told me I was obese. Okay, that's not fair to her. What she really did was tell me that I have Type II Diabetes. I've had blood sugar issues my whole life, and weight problems since I moved to Alaska at the age of 22, got busy and quit eating.
So she talked me into going on a diet.
At first I really really really didn't want to do it.
But she finally talked me into it.
The point where I caved in and decided that I'd do it was when I told her that the reason I'd given up on Jenny Craig five years ago (after losing 35 pounds and then gaining it all back again) was because I hated having to make two completely separate meals every evening for dinner. One for me (out of a box) and one for everyone else. There came a point where eating a pre-prescribed microwave meal became such a mundane task, something I just didn't look forward to, even dreaded, that I just gave up.
She told me that this diet, which consisting of 5 pre-measured and pre-packaged snack meals each day, allowed me to choose and cook my own dinner meal, as long as it was lean and green.
So I cried a little bit, and then I decided right then that I'd do it.
And I did.
Well, I am.
One month ago I committed myself whole hog (minus the hog), to reversing the diabetes by reversing the obesity. Even though I took a week off for a trip to Hawaii (where I ate at least two cheeseburgers, several servings of french fries, a half order of Eggs Benedict and drank two Gin & Tonics every day), I still lost 15 pounds.
I've got a long way to go. But I plan to go the distance, just so you know.
(And thank you to Karen, who tapped me on the shoulder at The Fray concert the other night, just to tell me how fabulous I already look. You're so sweet!)
Each day I eat bars and shakes and little puffs and cup-o-soups. But when I come home, I have been concentrating on making some of the best damned meals I've made in a long, long time. I have actually found myself spending a ridiculous amount of time thinking about what I'm going to make for dinner, probably because it's the only real meal I get to eat every day. So I put a lot of thought into it, and get a lot of joy out preparing that one, delectable meal.
From the get-go I started taking a photo of my dinner every single evening and posting it to my Facebook profile. (Check out a few of my photos over to the side.) I didn't intend to make all my friends jealous with my incredibly delicious meals, I just wanted to own it. Really own it. And that's how I did it.
But obviously, I've been doing a lot of thinking about food lately. Nothing like depriving yourself of something to make you fantasize, obsess and salivate about gnocchi with a pesto alfredo sauce and heaps of parmesan cheese. Or a salami, mozzarella, sun dried tomato and olive calzone.
And so, my friends, now that I'm back from vacation and back on the diet full time, I'm living out my food fantasies through music.
Bon appetit!


Diabetes Shuffle by Valerie Ing-Miller on Grooveshark

Check out the playlist at Grooveshark


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Swoon





The smell of my lover's cologne. On him, not on anyone else. The sound of his special ringtone when he's finally gotten off of work after 10 hours. His hand on my hip as he leans in to kiss my neck. The voicemail I've saved from 2008 that says, "I love you more than all the raindrops in Oregon." The taste of Wild Blueberry Twist gum that he was fond of when we went on our 2nd date - rafting down the Rogue River on the 4th of July. That moment in the middle of the night when he wakes up momentarily, to search for my hand so he can hold it. The feel of his tongue running along my lip. The memory of the first time he kissed me, at a ninth grade dance, just before the Vice Principal came up behind him and cleared his throat. These are the things (the things I don't mind sharing with you, that is) that make me swoon.
Not literally, of course. Swooning, in the traditional sense, means to faint or become completely enraptured by ecstatic joy. For me, swooning is more like a giant sigh while butterflies do somersaults inside my stomach. Swooning is the way I feel when I'm in the first stages of falling in love. When I'm completely smitten and can't seem to stop smiling from the moment I wake up in the morning to his "Good morning baby, I love you" text message. And still today I find myself feeling all giddy, whether it's with anticipation, knowing that my lover will be here any minute, or from a sweet memory from four years ago.
That swoon, that deep breath that relaxes every muscle I have, is what lets me know that I don't just love him. I'm in love with him.
There is one other thing that still makes me swoon, and that's music. Of course. You know me well enough by now to know that was coming, right? But admit it. You're the same way. I know you are. When you're falling in love, just like when you're going through heartbreak, you relate emotionally to every single song on the radio. Your senses are at Defcon 4. Suddenly, the lyrics that were pretty meaningless last week now make perfect sense and seem as if they were written specifically for you. You know what I'm talking about, don't you?
And you know that I have a playlist to swoon by. You knew that I'd pull it out of my hidey hole to share it with you on the most sacred of all lover's holidays. I am, of course, because I would never dream of disappointing you.
This is my very special playlist of music I like to play when there's nobody in the house but us. Because who knows what might transpire. It's the music that reminds me of those first few months together again after we hadn't seen each other for more than 25 years. Sometimes I become that 14 year old girl all over again, charmed by the long haired wrestler who playfully tugged at my shorts instead of the flag during a frisbee flag football tournament in gym class.
The funny thing about this playlist though, is that not all of these songs are about falling in love. Some have nothing to do with happy, warm feelings or joy and everlasting harmony. But each one of these songs strikes a chord inside my body that brings me incredible peace and warmth or they got me a little hot and bothered and...well, I don't know any other way to say than this: These songs make me swoon. Doesn't matter what the lyrics are about. It's the way they make me feel when I hear them.
I hope you find a song or two in this playlist that brings you close to that feeling, and I'd love to know one or two of the songs in your own internal playlist that bring on your butterflies or put you solidly in the mood.
And lastly, if you've got a lover, please take a moment to reflect on how you felt when you were first smitten, and don't let Valentine's Day go by without reminding your sweetheart why you fell in love. Maybe you can do it all over again - with a little mood music.

One more thing. I'm writing this after reading this column to my lover, just to make sure he was completely okay with me letting the world know that this tattooed, rough-around-the-edges construction worker with a missing tooth doesn't mind me telling the whole world that I can reduce him to tears (albeit happy ones) just by talking about a song that reminds me of him.
I didn't always have Eddie. Four years ago I was divorced and pissed off. I felt like I had so much love to share and I wanted to be with someone. Or at least I wanted to have fun with someone. Even that seemed like too much to ask for. Dating was like beating my head against a brick wall sometimes. 
Maybe that's where you are right now. Wishing you had someone to swoon about. Maybe you've been hurt before. You lost someone or it ended badly. Perhaps you've taken a few hesitant steps out there into the dating world, fallen on your face a time or two, and now you're resolved to spending the rest of your life alone because you don't want to get hurt again.
Please, don't do this. Don't give up.
Would you rather be lonely for the rest of your life, never taking a chance because you're afraid of something that may or may not happen?
So what if you end up in a relationship that doesn't last the test of time. At least you had some happiness, some good company, maybe some good sex. At least a couple of nice dinners and interesting conversation.
What's the harm in putting yourself out there?
That old saying about how "It's better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all?" It's true.
So get out there. Give it all you've got. Worry about getting hurt when it actually happens. Don't let it stop you from having a fulfilling life. Flirt. Get smitten. Love. And here's the most important thing of all: Be the best person you can be. Because when you fall in love, it's not because someone else 'made' you fall in love with them. It's because you love who you are when you're with that person. You're falling in love with YOU. So be that person every day, whether you have someone else encouraging you on or not. Because when you're the best person you can be, it's extraordinarily attractive. Who could possibly help but to fall in love with you? But you gotta put yourself out there. Run along now, fall in love.

1. L'Amour - Rouge Rouge It's all about l'amour!
2. Venus As A Boy - Corinne Bailey Rae Every time I hear that phrase, "His wicked sense of humor invites exciting sex," I smile in that knowing, I totally get what your layin' down kind of way.
3. Destiny - Zero 7 
4. La Femme D'Argent - Air
5. The Hustle - G. Love
6. Moonlight Kiss - Bap Kennedy Who doesn't swoon when they hear this song? 
7. Better Man - James Morrison If someday we toss aside our concerns about how two Alphas could possibly live together and get hitched, this would make a great first dance.  
8. Like A Star - Corinne Bailey Rae Another great line comes from this song..."I don't argue like this with anyone else but you." Maybe it's because I've never tried this hard to make something work.
9. She Loves & She Confesses - The Dowland Project This 16th century song by John Dowland is a bit of a fish out of water on this playlist, but it's also the one that literally makes me close my eyes and sigh deeply every time I hear it. I guess people have been loving each other this passionately way back in  the days before Gone With The Wind.
10. I Want Someone Badly - Jeff Buckley
11. Love'll Set Me Free - Michael Franti Lover, remember that day we had a picnic on the beach, watching the surfers, and listening to Franti? Just thinking about that day gives me palpitations.
12. In This Twilight - Nine Inch Nails This is a very special piano version of this song that reminds of our first trip to Maui, driving on the road to Hana through the jungle. You remember. When you said you wanted to swim naked under a waterfall.
13. Moon Song - Bob Schneider
14. Stone Me - G. Love I can't explain why this song elicits such a loving, sexy feeling in me, because it's about a guy who is not very happy with his girlfriend. 
15. Further The Sky - Gabe Dixon with Mindy Smith
16. God Put A Smile Upon Your Face - Coldplay In our house, Coldplay is referred to as "Sunday morning making pancakes music."
17. Feelin' Love - Paula Cole One of the hottest, sexiest songs of all time, hands down.
18. The Way I Am - Ingrid Michaelson Back when we started falling in love again, I gave my lover his own special ringtone in honor of the fact "I love the way you call me baby."
19. So Nice - Bebel Gilberto
20. Feeling Good - Nina Simone
21. Say Hey I Love You - Michael Franti Eventually my Ingrid Michaelson ringtone disappeared, and  this became my sweetheart's special ringtone. Just for him, when he's calling to tell me he loves me.
22. Booty Call - G. Love I may be sharing this song with you, but I'm not gonna tell you why!
23. You Shook Me All Night Long - Ac/Dc I don't expect the rest of the songs on this playlist to make sense to anyone listening to it except for me and my lover...or any of our friends from 9th grade who were around us the first time we dated back in 1980. 
24. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen I still remember when he sang this song to me during gym class the day he asked me to the winter dance.
25. School's Out For Summer - Alice Cooper I think he had about 3 record albums. This was one of them, and it's the song I remember hearing play over and over again when I'd go to his house after school.
26. David Gates - Goodbye Girl My family moved away after we'd been dating for a few months. I didn't think I'd ever see my boyfriend ever again. I remember crying, listening to this song on the radio, and making a cassette tape to give to him. I can make him cry at the drop of a hat now if I play this song for him.