My body hurts.

My dad had surgery on Monday. Today, he bled out and is having complications.

Tomorrow, I fly out to California. 

Please wish my family well. I hope to return with good news just in time to start planting my garden.


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At this moment, I see all of the shit going on in the world, from sheep skinned alive for boots to the economic disparities in this country, to the bombings going on in Afghanistan. 

My brain is numb. My emotions are kind of stale.

All I can think of and hope for is the well-being of my family. 

When that is secure, my life can resume. I can take on the world. 

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Pulling an all-nighter.

Due to travels and whatnot, I am buried under work right now.

So, where does my mind go? Why, to reading everything I possibly can about veganism and GMO-free gardening, of course!

I spent a good part of the afternoon looking up a million recipes and printing them from my school printer. My plan is to make a binder in which to keep all of these recipes. The recipes that I like will eventually make it to our family recipe book that S and I have kept over the years. I hope to explore new ways of cooking and new flavors–and to identify some “staples” that I can easily make again and again. Still working on the fundamentals here. I’ll try and post some pictures of what I cook, if it turns out looking appealing enough!

In terms of gardening, this year I want to be 99.9% sure that my seeds and/or seedlings come from non-GMO sources. This means I’m most certainly going to buy seeds online. I’m currently doing some research and trying to identify good sources that are a) non GMO and 2) not owned by Monsanto. I’ll let you know what I find. Suggestions are also welcome!

I’m sitting here in my office at school–an office I share with 3 other graduate students–and I wonder if they would mind terribly if I grew seeds here instead of at home. I am trying to avoid the disaster with my last seeds that occurred when Moe got hungry and ravished my little greens. I happen to have the only space in the office with a sliver of window and I have a little bit of floor space next to my window that’s all my own. Hmm…am I crazy?? Should I just try a heating bad and some protection from the elements and grow these guys outside on my balcony?? I have no idea what I’m going to do, exactly. All I know is my mind is completely preoccupied with these thoughts. Here is a post from a couple of years ago that I made in a different blog that kind of illustrates how obsessive I can be about these things sometimes:

I have taken up gardening.

Or, rather, I have taken up reading about gardening and dreaming about gardening and smelling the fictitious vines growing in my head. I want to reap the fruit of plants that I have not tended and labored over. It’s a fantasy. I imagine this wonderfully ripe, plump tomatoes, some tall, crisp leaves of basil, some beans growing up trellises, and cucumbers dangling over the railing on my balcony. Edible flowers all around me. Wild insects buzzing through and helping themselves to mouthfuls of luscious, yellow pollen. A whole biosphere right outside of my glass double-doors.

It’s really exciting to me, for some reason, to think of the microbes interacting in the soil under my make-believe plants. They are wining and dining, dancing under the roots, swinging around them, leaving behind a trail of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that escapes the edge of their glasses as they toast to the night. The pull of life leaves them dizzy. The transpiration of the plants–a beating heart created by the intersection of multiple worlds. It’s all very entertaining.

And here I am, dreaming of this. Fantasizing of the ants that will carry away bits of dry leaves and take them deep underground to be sliced and packaged and placed on an assembly line. The rations of food found in excess in my garden feeding countless mouths and creating heroes out of the brave scavengers.

This distracting world is so appealing and enticing. It certainly beats my world of stress and deadlines and endless to-do lists. I am left giddy with the thought and planning. I find it hard to get back to my work…

Some of the same feelings are here now..but also a good dose of dread. I have an assignment that is due tonight at 11:59pm which I am most fearful of. I better get this thing done. It is interfering with my veg-life research.

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On stress and other things

Right after I promised to start writing on this blog more regularly, I was unexpectedly pulled away from home.

My father got very sick and was in the hospital–they live 2,167 miles from me. Naturally, i hopped on a plane and 7 hours later (layovers suck) I was in L.A. Turns out he had a hemorrhage in his small intestine and nearly bled out.Thankfully, he’s going to be fine, though for a while it was looking bad. It was bad enough that we all started thinking the worst, and he had started sharing his hopes for when he passed…

It’s so odd how many emotions go through you in that moment. From anger at my mom and dad for not making more of an effort to improve their diet, to fear knowing that it is only a delay on an event that will eventually come to pass. But not now. Thankfully, he will live to eat unhealthy food another day!

I’m not a health nut, by any means, but I aspire to be one. I am newly vegan because I truly believe that animals should not be subjected to torture and slaughter–health consciousness has come more recently in this transition.

If you have read my blog at all, you know that I am going through some health stuff right now. My focus on eating more whole, healthy foods began last October, when I was misdiagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Though it is still in the realm of possibilities that I might develop one–I’m not out of the woods yet–the thought of dealing with a chronic illness propelled me into action. I switched from a careless veg-head to a healthy vegetarian. One that ate more fruits and vegetables than processed foods. I started to work out. I began my weight loss efforts and they have proven fruitful–so far, I’ve lost 22lbs.

Deciding to switch to a vegan diet alarmed me though. I knew it was something I wanted to do. However, I had bought into all of the harm that can come from abstaining from animal products. I wondered whether decided on this radical change would be a poor choice for my health. I am iron deficient already!

However, the choice to become vegan made me even more health conscious and upped the urgency of eating a more balanced diet. I have been vegan now for nearly a month and all is well. I have read a lot more on the vegan diet to make me less fearful and I continue to get my blood levels looked at regularly.

Anyway, all this to say that when one is making attempts at improving ones health and ones loved one(s) [are] dying and struggling with improving their health, it can feel very frustrating and saddening. Sad because the short wick of life makes changes at this late stage difficult, and sad because I know that it will burn out eventually and I’ll be left in the dark for a while.

I have turned my efforts towards my dear S, and I am helping him make some changes. Not to say that I have given up on my parents, because I am far too much of a control freak for that. Every time I visit them, I cook for them and show them how they can make delicious and healthful meals. The last time I went there, they couldn’t get over how delicious a vegetable soup I made them was.

Teaching by example is important–but the way to the mind is through one’s stomach.


P.S. I know how guilty I am of transference, believe me!!


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A shout out to Hazlnutt!

So, I recently started venturing out and reading other people’s blogs on here. Thanks to that, I have apparently been accessible to others and have gotten my very first few comments on my page, as well as made my first ever comment on this blog:

I was greatly rewarded for this effort and now I feel that I need to get back to blogging on here. Currently, I have about 4 blogs going at the same time. While this blog was supposed to be dedicated to archiving my journey to improved health, I feel that it can now be a space that can be used to celebrate life in general and all of my random pursuits in it.

So, here’s a promise. I will invest in this journal. I will consolidate my thoughts here. If they are read and understood, that would be great! If not, I will at least have a more comprehensive archive of my meanderings here.


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Goodbye obese Cynthia for good!

Today, I reached a pretty great milestone on my weightloss journey. I have now lost 21.6 lbs and have gotten to a weight that makes me no longer fit the “obese” category. I never thought being “overweight” would make me so happy! It also marks a complete loss of all of the weight I have gained while living here in GA and working on my PhD. It took me 3.5 years to gain all of that weight and only 4 months to lose it. All in all, I’d say that’s something to be proud of! 

My next goal will be to get rid of my M.A. fat, which was about 10lbs in 2 years. so, once I get to the 30lb mark, I will be rid of ALL of my graduate school weight!

So, I don’t really have any good full body “before” pictures but one thing that has surprised me with the weight loss–and something that I hadn’t noticed–is how different my face looks. Below, I’ve posted a picture of me right before I started losing weight. This was at our Atlanta wedding reception. I’ve also posted a picture of me today. 

Can anyone else see the difference?



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Nothing much new

Edit: I just read the previous post and realized that I never actually SAID what was discovered at my follow-up with my rheumy. Basically, the inflammation markers were down (!) and no notable levels of autoantibodies were found in my blood. ANA is still positive though. In terms of the x-rays, some swelling was found in my lower back region. They recommended I start a round of PT for my back.  I also have iron-deficient anemia again, which I’ll have to take supplements for. And in case you’re wondering, no, it’s not due to the fact that I don’t eat meat. It’s genetic. My mother has it too and she eats plenty of meat!  Unfortunately, I have small red blood cells–on the lower range of normal. Not dangerous or anything, but it makes it harder for me to absorb iron. Okay, that’s pretty much it. Back to the original post!

So, I thought I’d update this blog, though I really don’t know much more at this point.

I haven’t started physical therapy for my back yet–my PT never contacted me. I’m thinking of switching to someone different, but I’m not sure that will be feasible. I’ve kept my school insurance instead of signing onto Sam’s health insurance. The school insurance is covered by my grant and we’ll be saving a good bit with it. The coverage for PT is pretty good. I only have to pay $20 per appointment. For other things (i.e. dental, vision), Sam added me to his plan. I should be getting new glasses soon. Thank god, because I really need them!

Lately, I haven’t been as good with my diet and exercise routines. Though I still seem to be losing weight, I am feeling pretty crappy. My back pain has climbed up to around my bra strap now. It’s not really an unbearable pain (I take the pain meds), just like an achy pressure all along my spine. I also am having pain in my leg again. This all tells me that I need to be meticulous and consistent with my PT exercises, and with fitness in general. I spend so much time just sitting. I need to get on this exercise thing.

So far, in terms of WW, I have lost nearly 19lbs. It has taken me so much longer to get to my 10% goal than I would have wished, but I am starting to get back on track. I have less than two lbs to go. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get down there before my trip to Hawaii which is in a little under 2 weeks! I still have 2 weigh ins before that, and  I would love to be able to get to my 10% by the 2nd if not first of those.

Today, I’m back to swimming. I’ll be taking my first swim class with an all-new instructor. This semester, I’m taking classes 2xs a week. I am repeating the intermediate level class because I certainly don’t feel like I can go on to advanced just yet.

Another set of classes I would LOVE to take are Tai Chi classes. They are supposed to be really good for your back. It’s too bad that they aren’t offered at GSU, but maybe I’ll look into it this summer.

In the meantime, outside of all this fitness stuff, I do have a huge load of work I need to focus my energies on.

I guess I’ll get started now!


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