30 Day Vegan Challenge for April

I think, post-miscarriage, that I’ve indulged enough in takeaways and other less-than ideal food choices.

I am ready to get back on the healthy eating bandwagon, but I wanted a kick-start. A way to really make conscious choices about my food in a structured way for a while. A way to reinforce healthy habits that have been slipping.

I am mostly vegetarian. I do not eat cheese. I don’t eat a lot of sugary snacks. Overall my diet is OK.

But I want more than OK.

So for the month of April I’m trying a vegan experiment. And… [drumroll] so is the hubby!

It’s great to have both of us doing this, as we can support each other and cooking meals is going to be easier in the evenings.

I think that DH will find it harder than me as he loves his cheese, his chocolate and his butter. But, we will see.

I’ll be taking weight measurements, body-measurements, blood pressure and blood glucose beforehand, and a couple of before and after pics. I may or may not post these, depending on how much (if any!) change there is.

We will be following the 30 Day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau starting Tuesday April 1st.

I’ll be blogging intermittently through the 30 days – no set schedule.

Should be fun!

Quick and Easy Shortbread

shortbread

You know me. I do not bake.

Ever.

I’m not a big cake or biscuit eater, pretty much every cake or biscuit I’ve tried to bake has been a disaster, and I am always terrified by the sheer amount of butter that has to go into any of these recipes.

But as you also know, money is tight.

For years now, because they are sugar free and organic, I’ve been buying these for the boys:

animalbiscuitsbabybiscuits

They have no sugar in them and contain only organic ingredients.

However, they are also £1.39 and £1.29 respectively for a pack of 100g.

Hmm.

So today I did a search for some really basic biscuits, and I found a wonderful recipe at a great blog I have discovered. So simple, even I could do it!

I used half the amount of each ingredient (there are only 3), and it is foolproof, because we didn’t do any resting or chilling – we just mixed and baked.

Cost?

£0.49 for 10 (150g) biscuits. It would be even less if I didn’t use organic flour, butter and sugar.

AND

The boys got to do this:

boysbaking

Which is a super-rare treat with a non-baking mum like me.

Paying Off My Debt

Not working, having children, spending as if I’m still bringing home a decent income… these things have left me in a mess.

Financially, things are not good. Ha!

That’s OK, because I’ve been here before.

After completing my second degree, over 10 years ago now,  I took a programming job which meant a move across the UK. My salary at the time was less than my monthly outgoings. I had to rent a flat AND buy a car, and I had a huge student loan to pay off. In the first six months I had to supplement my income with credit cards, simply so that I could make ends meet (I wouldn’t advise this).

Luckily, my job prospects were good, and payrises and bonuses meant that within a year I could actually live within my means. Three years later, not only had I cleared every debt, including my student debt, but I’d also saved enough for a house deposit with the husband (then boyfriend).

I vowed I would never get into debt again.

But that was before motherhood and the transition to being a stay at home mum (something I never even imagined I would do).

So, after keeping my head in the sand for the best part of 4.5 years, I’ve finally taken stock.

I owe, today, £5786.06.

Ouch!

One of my 12 goals is to pay this off within 5 years, which means a monthly commitment to at least £96.44 each month towards my debt. That’s almost double what I currently pay back.

Initial problems are that:

a) I’m also paying around £25pcm in overdraft charges. This is £300 a year. I know this figure will reduce as I reduce my overdraft, but by shifting this debt onto a long term 0% credit card, the transfer fee (<£100) will easily beat the overdraft charges, and leave me with more available cash. I’ve made an application, but for the first time in my life I am not sure if I will be accepted. Having to put “homemaker” in the employment field doesn’t fill me with confidence. So, we shall see.

b) Aside from my massive overdraft, I have one other credit card, which actually contains the debt from some work we had done on the house last year. This has been at a 0% rate for 18 months, but runs out in July. This is bad news, as I’m not sure if I can obtain another card to shift this debt to (see above).

So, action points:

  • Wait for card application result (not hopeful, as these things are usually instant).
  • Either shift debt around, or replan budget.
  • Finish monthly budget and consider withdrawing cash at the start of each week rather than using cards.
  • Set up payments to meet at least the minimum repayments.
  • Start selling on ebay!
  • Commit to a monthly summary, to track debt reduction.

 

Emotional Peace Takes Practice

I’ve been working on my “issues” of late.

My issues/baggage/neuroses/problems/mental clutter/obsessions/afflictions have been constant companions throughout my adult life. I am so comfortable with most of them, that I’m not even sure who I would be if they went away (and isn’t that the problem we all have?).

Despite the fact that they caused me upset, grief, resentment and anger I carried on, persisting with these emotional patterns, over and over.

Crazy eh?

Something has happened though. Well, a combination of things.

My recent miscarriage, of all things, seems to have grounded me. And in the tender, impressionable days following my loss I read two books: Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin and Sacred Fire by Kino MacGregor.

This seemingly innocent trio has started an avalanche. First came the realisation of how negative and bitter my thoughts had become. Then the revelation that my thoughts (and consequent high levels of stress) could be affecting my health. Then the slow belief that we can change our thoughts because they are just thoughts.

The morning I woke up in the hospital, I started keeping a list of gratitudes. The first thing I wrote was:

That I am alive.

I’ve added many, many things to that list since then.

Being grateful really does make me more inclined to notice the good. It helps me see the things that I should be appreciating.

But not only that.

I’ve been working, practicing seeing old hurts in a different light. In the light of forgiveness.

At first it felt wrong, and strange, like something terrible might actually happen if I let go and accepted things for how they were.

But as the days have drawn on and I’ve kept up that openness inside me, things have stared to shift. I have been meditating, just quietly being in my own body, almost every night. I have started practicing yoga – something I had always dismissed, but which seems to have opened up a new path for me. I have even held a small private ceremony where I burnt pieces of paper that contained old hurtful thoughts (yes, even for me that’s a little weird, but hell, you should have seen those papers burn).

I always thought that getting over emotional issues was something that just happened one day, when you were ready, or when life was right, or when cosmic justice dished out an appropriate punishment for the offender.

It doesn’t. You get over an emotional issue when you are ready to let it go.

No one else can help you, or do it for you.

Letting go is not easy. Sometimes I have a moment of fear or doubt, that somehow I am weak or gullible for not having that hurt inside me to remind me of the pain of trusting the wrong person. But then I realise that releasing old hurts and moving on doesn’t have to erase the lessons I have learnt from them.

I can still be me, but without the pain.

So each day, I step a little further into the light.

It is terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. Who am I if I am not who I think I am?

I know I could, at the drop of a hat, run back into the darkness. If I stop being mindful of my emotional state, it will slip back into old habits. Ingrained patterns of thinking do not disappear overnight.

So I will keep writing my gratitudes each day, and I will keep giving myself the gift of mental quietness, and I will keep my heart open, because with practice, emotional peace will eventually settle. It will become a habit. A habit that will change everything on the inside.

And for that, and the realisation that change is directly within my reach and under my control, I am also grateful.

Kino MacGregor posted this on Instagram today:

Practice Santosha, contentment, and learn to be at peace with yourself and the world around you. After many years of practice you will get saumanasya, the cheerful, joyful yogi’s mind. Cultivating love for all aspects of your life is the essence of yoga and when it is perfected you will have a happiness that shines forth regardless of what lies out on the horizon. I didn’t invent this, it’s straight out of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Book II 😊

Emotional peace really does take practice.

New Plans

It’s 15 days since I found out our baby had died.

It’s 10 days since I finished bleeding heavily.

I’m still passing blood each day, but it’s light now, and I suppose to be expected given that my last ultrasound check said I still have a womb-lining thick enough for pregnancy. I think this will probably last until my first period arrives.

Last night I stayed up late (well, 10:30pm, is very late for me), drank 3 glasses of Prosecco, and made plans.

After pottering around the house doing pretty much nothing for two weeks, not showering, pretending to be cheerful for the boys and aimlessly wandering though the days, I’ve had enough of myself. Enough of myself as a figure of pathos and misery. Enough of the house that now looks like no one loves it. Enough of the mess and the chores and laundry that are up to the ceiling.

It’s time to start doing things again.

DH feels the same. That it’s time for change. That daily life seems meaningless at the moment, in the wake of everything that’s happened. He suggested Australia and wine farming. I suggested India and writing. Whatever happens, we’ll do it together.

So, plans.

Like an evil genius I sat at the computer last night, tapping away, nodding, thinking, and tapping away some more.

Because dammit I love making plans, and I’m never happier than when I have a list to work with.

I thought honestly, deeply about what I really want, about meaningful happiness and it turns out it’s not wildly different from where we are.

I made a 5 year plan.

12 goals.

5 years.

Something to focus on.

I’ve broken it down into 3 year, 1 year, 6 month, 3 month and 4x weekly targets.

They range from getting out of debt, and having a set amount of savings, to incorporating yoga into my life daily and working towards emotional peace. They cover minimalism, writing and building genuine friendships. And possibly having another baby. Maybe.

I think, since I blog here pretty regularly anyway, that the focus of this blog will morph as I move forward.

I no longer want to blog about secondary infertility, or recurrent miscarriage (hell, I never wanted to blog about any of that in the first place, but I kind of woke up one day and realised that’s what this had turned into). These things are part of me, so inevitably they will come up, but I want this blog to be more than that.

So, as always, this blog is a journey. But a journey I want to make, rather than one I happened to find myself on.

I hope it will be an interesting one, because I am fed up with writing about bloody miscarriages!