Fasting is Key

The last few days have been good for eating and for life in general. I’ve been sticking to the 18/6 intermittent fasting (the right balance for me, at least for now) when I’m not at Mom & Dad’s helping with Ed, and it’s making me feel much better. The food plan is actually really good, but I’m adding a tiny tweak to account for the reality that sometimes I go over the feeding window slightly when trying to work around the unpredictable schedule of Scott and the kids. As what’s important with intermittent fasting is really the length of the fast more than the feeding window, I’m emphasizing that it’s most important is that daily feeding windows are interposed by eighteen hour fasts which means if one feeding window goes a little longer, it just means I start eating later the next day to compensate.

Food Plan with Emphasis on Intermittent Fasting

  • Consume calories during a 6 hour feeding window each day ending at or before 7PM (which hours is unimportant, though during the daylight is preferable) which I’ll measure using the Zero app on my phone. Daily feeding windows must come after an 18 hour fast; this will compensate if timing is slightly off with the feeding window. Tasting tiny bits of food for seasoning while cooking is permissible outside this window. This rule is suspended when at Mom & Dad’s helping care for a cancer patient.
  • Consume all solid food on a dining surface (e.g. kitchen or dining table, breakfast bar, etc.)
  • Eat only foods that Great Grammy Chaplin would have been able to prepare in her kitchen back in the 1920’s (if she had access to ingredients anywhere in the world) with the exception of Huel Powder (vegan meal replacement).
  • Consume 66% or more plant-based products
  • Consume at least 1 cup of leafy greens every day
  • Never eat high fructose corn syrup
  • Never eat store-bought foods with any type of sugar in the first three ingredients. In the case of jam, chocolate chips, or other ingredients that are composed of sugar and another ingredient by definition, these should be kept to no more than two servings each day.
  • Drink at least 64 oz (half a gallon) of water each day

Grateful Respite

Today was so much better than I imagined. Lately I’ve felt like I was only just outrunning the boulder that was barreling down behind me, threatening to crush me. Be it financial, work, or personal problems, feeling overwhelmed has been my baseline as of late. I was dreading today when I got up for the sole reason that today was the day I would file my taxes for the first time with yet untaxed self-employment income. I was sure I would owe thousands. I had a great time with my family at the Made in Vermont show in Essex, a nice lunch break with Scott when we went to ReSource in Williston to check out the cheap records (I got like 20 for $11), a wonderful time discovering Speaking Volumes on Pine Street where an Austrian gentleman runs a vinyl shop with a remarkably good selection of music and the drink at Zero Gravity afterwards. I was thoroughly relieved when Scott’s flank pain didn’t turn into a kidney stone. But when I got home and fed the dog, it was time to snap back to reality and face the music. I fired up my laptop, logged into HR Block’s website, and started doing my taxes.

To my incredible relief, there was no need to dread the process. With zero exemptions, my regular employment ended up over witholding so my untaxed self-employment income just wiped out what would have been a decent refund! In fact, I’ll even get $2 back from the Feds! Sure, it’s barely enough to buy an unsweetened tea at McDonald’s, but that will be the sweetest drink I’ll have had in a long time since it won’t be accompanied with huge tax payments. I woke up expecting the worst and ended up having one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. Thank you, Universe. I really needed this.

A New Chapter

In mid-July, after six weeks of incredible turmoil at work during the CEO transition, I found myself suddenly unemployed. It was pretty shocking after six years (almost to the day) of dedicated service to the company, but many of the decisions made by the new CEO were suspect–the board of directors ended up “going in a different direction” a few months later appointing an acting CEO who probably should have been their pick in the first place (she certainly always was my number one choice). Regardless of how it happened, it was never a place I expected to find myself, and triggered something I can only describe as a minor existential crisis.

The three months following have beenĀ a journey of reflection and discovery. A few days after packing up my office, Scott and I had a planned vacation in Mendocino with the kids and his family. After three very emotional days, it was good to be on the opposite coast breathing the fresh ocean air and soaking up the sunshine. I needed to get away from the site of the trauma to start the healing process and be around loved ones who were totally disconnected from the situation. I felt like I didn’t know who I was immediately after leaving CHCB, but standing on the deck looking at the ocean without work e-mails or phone calls, I realized that I was not only unemployed but also unburdened. I hadn’t really had an uninterrupted vacation for six years, and I desperately needed one. By the time we were on the plane back to Vermont ten days later, I felt like I was actually reconnecting with the person I was when I graduated from Middlebury, the one not entirely consumed by the well being of The Health Centers at the expense of my personal life.

Back in Vermont, it was time to dedicate myself to finding a new job. I was lucky enough to have enough savings to live for up to six months without working, but given how hard finding a decent job can be in Vermont, I had no time to waste. Happily, I had a good network of professional contacts and was able to land interviews for a few positions in health IT relatively quickly. I had forgotten how arduous the whole process could be, but getting to the first interview was just the beginning. Between the two jobs I wanted, I was interviewed a total of a dozen times by as many people before I got to two good job offers. It took two solid months, but by mid-September, I had my pick between two very different but excellent options: a senior database administrator at a large regional hospital system or a technical services manager at the company that administers the Vermont Health Information Exchange. After six years of the managerial life, the prospect of really testing out the programming skills I’d learned over the years and through my WGU degree was pretty tempting. When the hospital offered significantly more money, it was a no-brainer with a family to support.

I’ve only just started at the hospital, but I think I’m really going to like this job. Sure, the hospital has its own challenges to work through, but I have an excellent manager, great coworkers, and the opportunity to really put my technical skills to good use, expanding them in the process. I may return to management someday, but for now, I’m excited to beĀ learning about datawarehousing, natural language processing, and so much more. Look ma, I’m a real programmer now!

Life’s journey is far from a straight line, and though I never saw this new chapter coming in quite this way, I think it’s just what I needed in some ways. It’s the start of a new adventure, and I’m excited to see what comes next. And for the paycheck. I’m really excited for the paycheck.


A Rainy Mother’s Day in Saint A

Scott and I had planned to go up to Montreal this morning since we didn’t have the kids and we both somehow had the same day off (a rare treat). Sadly, though yesterday was gloriously sunny, today was dreary and damp. While we didn’t get to go to Montreal, we did get to spend the day together and actually got a lot of household work done that we just haven’t had time to get to. I’m actually glad it was rainy; it’s so nice to be able to get things done.

Not only am I grateful for the chance to spend a whole day at home with the man I love, I’m also extremely grateful for my mother (it’s Mother’s Day in the US today). It took my mother fifteen years to conceive me during which time she had to have operations and undergo several other fertility treatments not to mention lie flat on her back for the end of her pregnancy with me as I caused her to hemorrhage so badly at one point it could have ended both our lives. Despite the hardships, she kept going, even when her family doctor encouraged her to abort me to save herself. I’m grateful that she refused to listen and instead carried me to term; life is an incredible gift! I’m also grateful that Mom gave up her career to stay home with me and, four and a half years later, my baby sister Heather. She has sacrificed much over my thirty two years of life to ensure I wanted for nothing and could have the best possible chance at a good life. She’s helped me every step of the way and anything I have I owe to her (and Dad, of course). Today I am most grateful for my mother, a woman of incredible character, unshakable will, and the most wonderful, compassionate soul I’ve known. Thank you, Mom, for all you’ve done and continue to do to help me become the best person I can be.

Showing a Little Gratitude

We take too much for granted in life. Here in the US, we have so very much and yet we always seem to expect more. Not only is this hedonistic cycle untenable, it makes us miserable. Several studies have proven something our forebears knew all to well: you should be thankful for what you’ve got and you’ll be happier for it. I’m not sure if it’s the act of reflecting on how your needs are met instead of how they’re not that starts the serotonin pumping or just being present in the here and now long enough to realize that things are generally pretty amazing and that life is good, but I like the idea of acknowledging that I have a lot to be thankful for. For that reason, I’d like to start a gratitude journal here to celebrate just how wonderful life can be.

Today I am thankful that after all these years, I have someone to hold hands with and kiss at the movie theater. I’m also thankful for a partner who likes to go on walking adventures as much as me (though I think I’ll be even more thankful for that tomorrow). I guess I’m just really thankful I’ve got Scott in my life and that I was able to find my soulmate after so much searching. Not everyone gets the chance to know love, let alone find “the one”, and I count am grateful every day for this miraculous gift.