Saturday, October 24, 2009

This Just In . . . !

Hi, folks! I'm now famous—well, sort of. I'm featured on doing a review on a product I won from her during her recent Birthday Challenge that she did to celebrate the one year anniversary of her blog. Come check me out, and see what I think of the product I reviewed. Maybe you'll want to try it.

While you're there, check out her brand-new natural hair forum. You can link to it from the Community tab at the top of her page. I've already posted there a few times. Stop by and join the fun!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Heady Thoughts In The Wee Hours

The following has already been posted on Facebook as a note. I hope my non-Facebook readers enjoy this as well. Due to technical difficulties that are not my fault and a wake-up time that mostly is, I'm only just now posting it here.

Heady Thoughts In The Wee Hours

I really should not be up this time of night. It's the wee hours. I was supposed ot be in bed almost two hours ago. Remember my challenge: To be in my nighties and winding down by 11 p.m. and have the lights out by midnight. I'm in my nighties, but that's about as close to bed and sleeping as I have gotten this night.

Instead, I have been reading posts from the hair blogs listed in my blogroll, which you can see to the left of this post if you're reading it from the blogsite. If you're reading it on Facebook, you'll have to go to my blogsite to see the roll.

Hair is such a fascinating topic for me. I have derived much pleasure and much grief from mine throughout my life. A lot of the grief has come from, among other things, having it break from mistreatment, having people close to me dislike what I chose to do with it, and having my scalp hurt and burn from too many harsh chemicals and too little sensible TLC. A lot of the joy has come from, among other things, discovering products and methods of styling and care that do my hair good when I do them, having my hair grow longer and longer, and discovering that I can easily sacrifice a few hours a quarter year to snip off damaged ends if it helps the rest of my hair to feel silkier and retain the rest of its length.

Right now, I've got a head full of plaits with the ends coiled around themselves, all ready for bed, except that I put too much oil on, so I have to sleep with a plastic bag on my head tonight—what remains of tonight. The oil, unrefined coconut oil, was mixed in a spray bottle with Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut conditioner and water. I store this bottle, a jar of coconut oil, and a jar of raw shea butter mixed with honey and olive oil on top of my cable box with a thick, glossy restaurant menu under them to protect the cable box. The cable box keeps the oils warm, which makes them easier to use. I've tried to return to the nightly habit of my longer hair days of plaiting my hair before bed. I moisturize my hair and oil the ends as part of the ritual. The intent is to keep moisture in my hair against the dryness that comes with being indoors with the heater running as one necessarily does in winter. I think it's working.

I'm more consistent about this, especially now that my hair, which broke off badly two years ago, is showing lively signs of trying to grow back to the shoulder length it was before I lost so much of it, than I have been about going to bed on time. One day, I will tell my hair story in its entirety. I will also post more things about hair, as the effort to maintain length as it grows longer is yet another cygnet I want to bring home. But for now, I think I've done wa-a-a-a-y too much transgressing with the staying up already. I'm going to bed now.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Rather Random Day

Today has been a rather random day for me. Last week, our pastor challenged us to find ways to “be the Church”; that is, to find ways to demonstrate the love of Jesus to those close to us. I live alone, and I do not socialize much—okay, at all, except to speak when we see each other in passing—with my neighbors. I do not drive, and I did not go anywhere today.

Which is not to say that I have not had an interesting day. A certain noted pastor out of the west coast has a widely-watched and long running broadcast on one of the several Christian cable stations available to me where I live. I enjoy listening to his sermons, and I happened to tune in to one today. He took his text from the Song of Solomon 2:15, talking about little issues in our lives that have a negative effect on our faith. Since he spent the whole hour talking about unforgiveness and its impact on our lives, I gather that this is actually a sermon series, and I would have to stay home from church a few more Sundays to catch more of it. No matter. The lesson today was thought-provoking enough. The grudges we hold, irrespective of why we hold them, count as extremely little by comparison to the debt of wrong Jesus could have held over us, yet He chose to forgive us, and it cost Him so much! So for the comparatively little we do to each other, no matter how often it occurs, He asks that we forgive each other. In our eyes some sins seem huge, and He understands this. But not even the absolute worst, most horrific things we can do to each other, and choose to do with frightening regularity, weigh anything at all compared to what He died to forgive in every one of us. Furthermore, unforgiveness is an anchor that ties us to hurt and will not allow us to move on. So for our own good, and so that we may obtain forgiveness from the Father when we need it (and we need it all the time), it is imperative that we learn to live a life of forgiveness with each other.

I have managed to make progress in serving a friend, however, although it may be up for debate if this counts as “being the Church”. She brought me material for curtains and throw pillow covers about two years ago, but she bade me wait on her word as to when she wanted them made. There has been no rush on anything, and I have since completed the one set of curtains she requested, but back this summer she asked about the pillows. I had not made very much progress on them at all. The reason I cited was depression. If you have been following this blog for any time, you may recall me talking about symptoms of hypothyroidism, with which I have been diagnosed. Depression is one of the symptoms, and it can be quite debilitating sometimes, making it hard to purposefully think at all, let alone concentrate on anything. Having no pattern for what she wanted me to do with the pillows, I had to devise one all on my own, and I simply could not come up with a way to execute it. To complicate matters, the material is plaid, which requires special attention to measurments. Trying to figure out how to do it was overwhelming. Then a few days ago, the thousand and one thought fragments I'd devoted to the project finally coalesced into sense, and I spent some time putting together ordered instructions for how to do what I needed to do. I have spent this weekend cutting the material, and it is during a break from bending over the table that I am writing this. At the rate I'm going, I hope I'll have three beautiful pillows finished by next weekend.

In the background is the sound of a cash register ringing. Not a real one, but It is making me money. No the money isn't real either. If you've been on Facebook for a day, you know it is littered with apps. There are quizzes, all manner of cards to send, ways to tweak your profile, and games galore. I currently run two farms, an aquarium, a place in the city, and two restaurants, all from playing with interactive apps on FB. To be more precise, I run all of that except for one of the restaurants, which is currently running me. The potential exists for all the apps to become addictive, and this particular restaurant is highly interactive. Since getting up this morning, I have “served” 1650 slices of Triple Berry Cheesecake, 615 bowls of French Onion Soup, and well over 200 bowls of Super Chunk Fruit Salad. I just put out a platter that will eventually serve over 1100 slices of Homestyle Pot Roast, and in a few minutes I will lay out some 800 servings of Spitfire Roast Chicken. Still in the kitchen are another 200-plus servings of soup and more fruit salad. I have “cooked” and “served all this between getting dressed, watching my sermon, eating breakfast and lunch, cutting out fabric, and washing and prepping dry beans for cooking. My last task in this restaurant today, after I serve up the chicken, is to put on more chicken and beef to “cook”, then I'm done. From now on, the only things I prepare for my “patrons” are those things that are based on a 24-hour rotation. The customers will be served, and once it's gone, I'm “closed” until the next day, when it's time to serve up what I put on the prevous day. Whew!

As for my cooking in the real world? Well, being a bit short on groceries, I'm having to wax creative with the aforementioned dry beans. After they're seasoned and cooked, I'm adding to them some mixed vegetables from the freezer, some more mixed vegetables that I prepared from frozen just yesterday, and, sorrow of sorrows, starch. It is in the form of some slammin' mac and cheese I brought home with me from a visit to my parents' house and stashed in the freezer, right before I started my starch and sugar challenge. I say it is to my sorrow that I'm adding this cheesy goodness to my beans and vegetables, because I have definitely seen positive benefits, including weight loss, from adherence to the challenge, and I don't want to lose any of that. Having already made a large quantity of hummus, my plan is to eat that with fruit for breakfast and have the bean dish, which I'm going to loosely call pasta e fagioli, because that's more or less what it is, for supper.

Well, the interactive chicken is up, I'm waiting for the soup and one more bowl of fruit salad, and my hyperactive restaurant is going on autopilot! The good news: I've advanced another level!.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Sleepy Head

So last night was the first official night of my sleep challenge. My goal is to consistently be ready for bed by 11 p.m. and have lights out my midnight.

I was late on the first part of the challenge, primarily because I got home from Bible study hungry but then spent an hour on the phone talking with a friend. It was around 11 p.m. by the time I finished eating the late night meal I made of the left-over chicken and veggies from supper. But by being too tired to do anything to my hair before bedtime, I caught up and did indeed have the lights out by midnight.

There's more to being ready to sleep, however, than being in the bed in the dark. I am the sort of person who finds it necessary to wind down and relax before I can actually sleep. And last night I found it particularly hard to wind down because I had a lot on my mind. So I know it's important to calm the mind as well as the body in preparation for sleep.

One thing that has worked well for me is to have an external focus that is soothing. For some people a white noise or other sound generating machine is excellent for this. I've never owned one of these, but there are models that allow you a variety of sounds to play, including ocean, stream, wind, rain, and other nature sounds. The nature sounds I prefer to hear are the soughing of a gentle wind and the soft tapping of rainfall. As overcast as it was in my local area last night, I'd have loved to go to sleep to the sound of rain.

When the weather won't cooperate with me, however, I frequently turn to the sound of music to induce a sleepy head. The choice of music is very important for me. Although I am a serious beat-head, liking music with rich, complicated percussion and intricately harmonious instrumentation that is almost as rhythmic as the percussion, it can't be anything too uptempo, or I get revved up instead of winding down. The euphony of well-crafted music engages my mind and gives it an orderly path to follow away from whatever chaos might otherwise clamor for my attention. A frequently-played selection in my bedroom is Vineyard Music's Best of Acoustic Worship in which bongos and the occasional jingle of a tambourine provide the background over which the rhythmic strumming of acoustic guitars and syncopation of fingers dancing over the piano provide all the color to be complemented by harmonious voices raised in worship that is both comtemplative and passsionate. This recording works equally well, I find, as music by which to perform yoga, Pilates, or any other type of exercise that involves slow, deliberate movement with breath.

The right sound is not the only thing that induces sleep, however. Some people rely on warm milk or chamomile tea, both being touted to have properties that help one relax and go to sleep. I frequently drink milk in the evenings, but then I like milk and will drink it anytime, at any temperature. For sleeping, I like it with honey in chamomile tea, or I will drink just the warm milk with honey or agave nectar, or by itself. Other things that are said to induce sleep are other dairy products such as cheeses and yogurt, soy products, seafood, meats, whole grains, legumes, eggs, and some nuts and seeds. These foods are rich in tryptophan or have some affect in the body that contributes to sleepiness. Tryptophan is the amino acid associated with turkey. Foods not to eat before bedtime are simple carbs and caffeine. Caffeine revs you up, and simple carbs do not contain the calm-inducing tryptophan to go with the crash they can cause.

Another way some people achieve a sleepy head is to use supplements to regulate their brain. There are many herbs and neurotransmitters in potable form that a person may try in order to go to sleep. I've already mentioned tryptophan derived from food. It can also be taken in supplement form. Other good supplements are calcium, serotonin, any of the B vitamins, St. John's wort, and the aforementioned chamomile.

However, the thing that will probably help all these things be more effective is having a regular routine, which is what this sleep challenge is all about. Once the body becomes used to going down at the same time every night, the body's natural rhythm will send signals at the appropriate time to cause a person to get sleepy and be ready for sleep when lights-out time arrives.

So here's to a sleepy head every night!