White-Knuckle Budget

handmade greeting card, collage artThis is a Pattern:

Live in Denial.   Wake up.  Overcompensate.  Go Crazy.  Repeat.

Basically, this is my Pattern for living.  It’s definitely my financial strategy.  This past year I thought I was getting comfortable with my poverty—coming to terms with it—my smug self said.  But what really happened was that I just pretended it didn’t exist.

I know lots of people do this with money.  Statistics from The Federal Reserve say that the average U.S. household credit card debt is $15,270.  That doesn’t include medical or mortgage debt, so imagine what the real number might be!  People all over the country plug their ears with their fingers and sing, “La la la la.  I can’t hear you.”  Knowing this makes me feel a little less crazy, my compulsive spending a little less shameful.  It makes my combined debt of $3000 seem paltry.  But I still have to deal with it.

My hope is that every time I go through this cycle I learn a little something.  Maybe I can adjust the pattern a wee bit this time.  Maybe that’s denial talking, but it seems like I’m required to try.  Right now I’m between Waking up and Overcompensating.  Maybe I can keep from swinging too far into a way of living that’s unsustainable.  I did that when I decided to save money for a new car, cinching the financial belt so tight I passed out from stress and threw myself into a month of rapid cycling.   Neuro-normals go through this, too, I’ve learned.  There’s even a term for it—Frugal Fatigue.  They don’t land themselves in a mental hospital, though.  Well, I’m guessing they don’t.

There are some things I do right.  I keep a spreadsheet of every penny I spend.  I pay my bills through the Bill Pay option with my bank, so things like rent and internet service get paid the same time every month.

There are things I’ve gotten better at doing.  When I was recovering from electroshock and very brain-sick, cooking threw me into scary anxiety attacks, so I ate a lot of take-in.  I mostly enjoy cooking now, especially when I create something fabulous from digging through my pantry (see my Kitchen Sink Chili recipe below).  But, there are still times when I’m so brain-sick I can’t face cooking.  I try to have easy, microwaveable stuff on hand for those times.  And if I can’t even do that much, then try to limit the splurging to one meal, one item, one treat.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.

Making wise money choices while cycling through mixed states is sort of a contradiction in terms.  The urge to bolt in my truck requires gas.  The day-long camp-outs at the theater require tickets.  Then, of course, we have the standard binge-eating and internet shopping wallows.  I’m trying to work on those things with my therapist, but squeezing them too tightly also causes backlash.  So, I need to plan for them while I work at minimizing their effects.  Tightrope walking at its finest.

So, here’s the first draft of my plan:

  1. Stop using my credit card.  That means buying gas for my truck with cash, which means a lot less driving.  That translates to only going to Des Moines in cases of mental emergency.  It also means walking as much as I can, which may have to wait until it gets warmer.  The windchill today is -8, so I think I’ll be driving to the Y later.
  2. Try something new.  This time around I’m going to try the envelope system.  I’ll take out my budgeted amounts for food, gas, laundry and entertainment each week and keep them in separate zip-lock bags.  When the money’s gone, it’s gone.  I have a friend who has used this system for decades, but I’ve always thought it seemed too restrictive.  Well, restriction is what’s needed, so I’m game to try.
  3. Keep saving for the new car.  That’s a priority for me, so I’ll keep tucking away a little each month.
  4. Adjust my medical payments.  Paying $40 a month to my mental health clinic wasn’t taking care of my co-pay from Medicare.  I asked them for a statement and found out I owe about $500.  I’ve increased my monthly payment (through Bill Pay) to cover my weekly therapist visits and start whittling at the debt.
  5. Start chipping away at the credit card balance.  I’ve routinely paid a lot more than the minimum required, but never enough to cover the monthly charges.  If I’m not using my card, I can start reversing that trend.

Personal financial experts suggest test-driving a budget before making a huge commitment.  That makes sense to me.  I won’t be able to start until my Disability check comes in February, then I’ll take this puppy for a spin.  Until then, I’m committed to zero spending.  I have gas in the truck, food in the cupboard, a gift card to the theater here in town if I need a movie.  I have $11 in my billfold, and I’m determined to still have it come February 3.  I’m good.  Really good.

Here’s what I created yesterday—a vegan chili recipe that is so delicious I couldn’t believe it.  Score!

Kitchen Sink Vegan Chili

½ C dried beans (I used pinto beans, but any kind would work.  And canned beans are just fine, too.)

¼ C Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Wild and Brown Rice (Again, this is what was in my pantry.  Use whatever rice or pasta you have.)

1-16 oz. can diced tomatoes

1-16 oz. can corn

1-6 oz. can tomato paste

1-4 oz. can green chilies, chopped

1-2.25 oz. can sliced black olives

½ onion, diced

Water

Seasonings: salt, turmeric, chili powder, sweetener (I used a packet of Truvia, so 2 tsp. of sugar would be the same)

*

Soak and cook the beans according to the directions.  Same with the rice (or pasta).  Beans need a couple of hours to cook.  Wild rice needs an hour.  Drain.

Add all the other stuff.

Add water to make the chili a consistency you like.

Add seasonings.  I think seasoning is personal and requires tasting, so I don’t have any measurements for them.  Turmeric was a creative choice this time and turned out to be fabulous.  Use whatever you’ve got.  The one exception to my chili seasoning rule is sweetener.  It cuts the acid of the tomatoes and just makes any kind of chili better (in my humble opinion).

This made 4 big bowls of deliciousness—231 calories/bowl.  I topped it with crumbled up corn bread (add another 150 calories).

Focus on Gratitude: Day 11

Whole Foods

It’s Monday.  A new week.  A new start.  I’m determined to do my best to get out of sick mode—at least for part of the day.

First things first—stock the larder with greens and good-for-me stuff.  So that meant a trek to Mecca, or more commonly, Whole Foods.  I am so thankful to have a source for so many organic and vegan choices only an hour away from home.  After the mini-snowstorm we had on Sunday, it felt glorious to get out on the road with the sun bouncing off the white.  And then to walk into Nirvana.  Bliss!

Produce, Whole Foods

A Bad-Ass Opportunity

the-world_s-top-10-best-images-of-animals-with-a-mouthful-51Another week of violent rapid cycling, but as Napoleon Hill said, ” In every crisis lies the seed of opportunity.”  A couple of those seeds sprouted this week.

First, was a presentation at my UU Fellowship by a local teacher on diet and support of locally grown produce.  Part of her talk included this amazing TED Talk by Dr. Terry Wahls.  As a doctor and medical researcher, she found that healthy cellular mitochondria determines brain function to a large extent.  If you don’t have time to watch this 18 minute video, come back to it later.  You won’t be sorry.

I’ve read about supporting my brain with diet from a number of sources (Dr. Daniel Amen for one) but I’ve been half-assed in incorporating what I’ve learned.  The half that eats well and buys organic is sabotaged by the compulsive-eating half uncaged by my illness.  But Dr. Wahls offered some definitive data.  If I want a healthy brain, I need to eat for a healthy brain.  Being a Mostly-Vegan wasn’t going to cut it.

The second seed of opportunity came in an email from our TOPS group.  The club is in a slump, gaining more than loosing for several weeks in a row.  Leanna, our group cheerleader, said we needed to have more fun, get excited, find our motivation and get back to supporting each other on our weight loss journeys.

Eowyn, Lord of the RingsThere are always moments in the upheavals and dives of my life when I recover my Bipolar Bad-Ass—a ferocity and strength that drives me to do what needs to be done.  This warrior stance isn’t one I can maintain.  It’s the positive end of a mixed episode where superhuman courage and creativity mix with a low level of anger.  The Bad-Ass demands change.  She draws her sword and dares anyone to stop her.

I’ve started projects and made changes in this state that fall by the wayside once my moods shifts again.  But the changes I have made in my life—exercising every day, turning off the TV, meditation—also came from The Bad-Ass.  She’s still my best chance of doing things differently.  So when she came back this week, after these two seeds of opportunity presented themselves, I told her to suit up.  That’s it, I told her.  We’re done fucking around.

I went to Whole Foods and bought greens—kale, collard greens, beets with their foliage, spinach, arugula.  I got kelp and balsamic vinegar.  I loaded up on bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, and onions.  Every night I make myself a fabulous salad with all this stuff, add a few sunflower seeds or walnuts, maybe chop up a couple of Mejool dates or toss in some berries.  I dug out my Moosewood Cookbook and found this wonderful entry on assembling a salad.

Use a large enough bowl, so you’ll have plenty of room to toss the salad thoroughly.  Make it your special salad bowl—it will acquire more depth and soul with each use, and this will enhance something nameless (I don’t know what) about this experience.

I pulled down one of the few survivors of my many manic purges—an artisan pottery bowl I bought years ago at an art fair.  It’s beautiful, and now it’s my salad bowl.  Today I filled it with slaw that I made up without a recipe—purple cabbage, raw shredded beets, collard greens, onion, carrots, minced garlic with a dressing of vegan mayo, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  It’s sitting in my fridge steeping, letting all those flavors percolate.  But, already it’s delicious.  Tomorrow I’ll share it at Fellowship.

It’s up to me to take care of my brain. There’s a twisted irony behind the idea that a particular diet could help me do that.  And another twist in that a Healthy Brain diet might be the best way to drop weight.  But, that’s okay.  Most Bad-Asses spout irony and sass without even blinking.

Yipee-Kai-Aye.  I’ll be back.

But, those catch phrases don’t quite work.  I can imagine my Bad-Ass, sword in one hand, a fist full of kale in the other.  Her lip curls as she whispers, I dare ya.  Eat your medicine.

The Good Fight

handmade greeting cards, collage artSo, I’m ducking and weaving with this whole idea of letting Life be instead of knocking it to the ground.  It’s a weird place for me, the Ultimate Gnat’s Ass Detailer.  My modus operandi is to schedule, make lists, revise the schedule, scrap the first list and make a new one.  I’m never comfortable without a Plan.  But, see, after all this time, the Plan is ingrained.  I know what works and what doesn’t as far as my bipolarness goes.  And there will never be an Answer. There’s no alchemy, no incantation of To Do lists that will halt the rapid cycling or turn me into someone who can work a day job.

What I’ve got are a few tools to help me be the healthiest I can be in the moment—daily exercise, an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, distraction that does no harm, and an attitude of skepticism when it comes to what my brain says.  That’s all really.  Turning from “what’s the plan” to “what do I need now” is incredibly hard.  I’m giving up my fantasy of the future.  But when I take a breath and notice the details around me right now, that unlikely future loses its glamour.

Yesterday, walking around the track at the Y, I had to dodge clots of teenagers.  Bored from watching the girls’ volleyball tournament, they hung out around the free weights or wandered aimlessly back and forth across the track, not paying attention to the runners and walkers.  Several times, I had to gently push them aside as I marched past.  One girl stopped right in front of me and I had to straight-arm her out of my way to keep from falling.  But, no one fell.  No one stumbled.  No collisions or recriminations.  No anger or scolding.  Just paying attention and making adjustments.

And then there was that golden, winter afternoon light that shot through the high windows and kissed me on every lap.  Sweet, blinding sunlight for a moment.  A flash of warmth on my face.  A gift, if I only turned my face toward it.

Of course, there will be backsliding in my acceptance of moment-to-moment life.  Last night I rebelled.  After seven months of vegan eating, I ordered a Super Supreme from Pizza Hut, ate half of it with a bottle of wine, and watched “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton.”  This, my sad and angry little brain told me, is as close to sex as you’ll ever get again.

Richard ArmitageYes, facing reality instead of living in fantasy is a little hard to swallow sometimes.  I watched Richard Armitage in The Vicar of Dibley on YouTube and cheered.  A handsome stranger falls head-over-heals for an obese, middle-aged cynic—oh, dream come true!  But, dreams like that keep me from living.  There are no handsome strangers in real life, just banter with the happily married help-desk guy at the Y.  Losing weight will not transform me into a young, desirable princess.  I am firmly in Queen territory now, fast approaching Crone-hood.

There are pleasures and delights in my life as it is—a purring, furry presence to wake me in the morning, an iPod full of cheer, train whistles in the dark, the kindness and patience of friends.  This is my life—quixotic and painful with moments of grace.  This is the fight now—to stand side-by-side with my bipolarness and duke it out together for place to stand.  To live together in the moment.

To be real.

Thoughtless

handmade greeting cards, collage artAs part of the “vacation from my life,” I’ve put a moratorium on thinking.  No ponderings, no plannings, no endless rehashing of what my moods mean.  I refuse to follow my thoughts into the future or back into the past.  And when I catch myself drifting along with my brain, I gently bring myself—empty-headed—back to right now.

It’s what we do in meditation, and what I teach as the beginning point of self-monitoring.  But as long as this respite lasts, I’m not shaking loose of my thoughts to monitor anything.  I’m just clearing space.

And what a lovely day I had today.  Without a routine or a plan, I got up this morning wondering what I needed.  Gentle exercise and warmth (I’ve been feeling the cold lately).  So I went to the later water aerobics classes in the heated, shallow pool.  After that, I drove to the city for a movie (Broken City.  Excellent.), then went to Half Price Books to look for poetry.  I spent a good hour leafing through anthologies and slim books of poems, something I never do.  I took my time, reading and browsing.  I picked House of Light by Mary Oliver, then found a cheap copy of Bird by Bird, my favorite book on writing by Anne Lamott.  Those thin volumes made me happy.

Across the street is one of my new favorite places in the world—Whole Foods.  What’s that smell when you walk in?  The flowers?  The produce?  Something super-saturates the air with life.  I love wandering the store with those tiny carts, touching the pretty greens and finding everything a vegan could ever want.  Fellow vegan blogger Jeff, linked to a recipe for Roasted Apple, Butternut Squash, and Carmalized Onion Pizza this morning.  On impulse, I decided to get the few ingredients I needed to make it this weekend.

Then, I went next door to Best Buy and found a Magic Bullet at a very reasonable price.  I’ve wanted a food processor for a while now, but since I wasn’t cooking much I didn’t think it was worth the cost.  But, today, when I saw the Big Yellow Box, I went in.  Compulsive?  Maybe.  I don’t care.  I’m not thinking about it.

What I sensed today was my brain relaxing.  Little bursts of inspiration, like when I first woke up and I had the solution to a problem in my manuscript.  I didn’t ponder it or agonize over it.  It just came.  A gift.  I also felt more kindly toward people—touched by the cashier who found a coupon for my pizza crust, touched by the young dad who carried his tiny daughter on his shoulders.  I felt my aversion to the human race softening.  I engaged the people I encountered today, something I’ve not wanted to do in a while.

Whatever this relaxing brain brings me is fine.  I’m not going to stew about it, second-guess it or write pages on it.  In fact, I left my book bag (with my ever-present journal) home today.  No thinking allowed.  Just experiencing my life as it is.

I may get to know me yet.

Scooping the Loop in Bipolar Town

hand-made cards, collage art

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. —Lao Tzu

= = =

Change is hard for me.  I guess it’s hard for most people.  We get comfortable in our routines, settle in and snooze.  Life rolls along in a predictable way that’s soothing and reliable.

Change requires attention, energy, planning, and action.  It shakes us up and makes us re-evaluate everything we’ve taken for granted.  It knocks us out of that fuzzy comfort zone.  Sometimes it’s painful—letting go of ideas, people, places, things we hold dear.  Sometimes it rocks us to the core.

Part of my bipolarness is the need for routine—a generally consistent schedule to my day or week.  My routine comforts me.  It soothes the anxiety and agitation that are constant companions.  It gives me a way to move through the day when that seems impossible.

Also, my routine helps me maintain my priorities and meet my goals.  When the mood swings start looping one after another, it’s hard to move forward.  Routine is like a light over a familiar off-ramp that I can’t see in the dark.  Instead of driving around and around on the Rapid Cycling clover leaf—not able to focus, not able to make a choice about what to do—I can maneuver my car to that off ramp with my routine’s help.  I can keep moving forward, however slowly.

Big changes to my routine can trigger a blow-up of my symptoms.  And, since nothing stays the same except change, I’m discovering I need a strategy to manage those times.

Last week I had to quit my beloved deep water aerobics class.  The routine had changed over the summer from mostly cardio and core work to more arm exercises.  Too much of that makes my bum shoulder worse, so I tried to adjust my workout, ask for help, do my own thing.  But I wasn’t getting the workout my brain needs, so today I went back to the shallow water classes.

I’ve made good friends in the deep water class.  We created a tight community that supported each other.  But I know how important a hard workout is to my brain chemistry and to my over all health.  The decision was excruciating.  Not just because of what I had to give up in the class, but because it mucked up my routine.

Add to that my homelessness in terms of a coffee shop/writing aerie, my conversion to a vegan diet, and developing several new friendships and my routine is pretty much shot to hell.  I know in time I’ll pull together a new structure, but right now I’m free-falling.  And the anxiety that produces keeps me from rational thought.

All I can think of to do today is seek comfort—not the bipolar versions of comfort which are all obsessive-compulsive (though those are really calling to me), but something more useful, healthy and safe.  And if I can’t do that, then maybe I can aim for the least amount of harm in my compulsive behavior.  I’m not sure I can even do that.

I have to hold Lao Tzu’s words as a mantra today.  Let reality be reality.  Let this illness be what it is.  Flow with the changes without resistance.  Breathe.  Eventually, I’ll start to slow down.  Eventually, a new off-ramp will show up with a light bright enough to steer by.  Hold that wheel lightly.  Observe.  Embrace the new road coming—a new life is on the other side.

The Plan

collage art, greeting cardsOur YWCA is closed this week for its annual scrub and tune-up.  This year they’re refinishing all the pools, so we won’t be back in the water until August 20.  Since I get a little squirrelly on weekends when I don’t have my water aerobics class, a whole week without water or my other exercise options carries the potential for what my shrink calls “destabilization.”  After stumbling though this for a few years, I finally figured out that I need to put an alternate exercise plan in place in order to come out the other side without going completely yampy.  Like the Russians in Hunt for Red October, I always need a plan.

ω ω ω

This year my friend, Penny, generously offered me the use of her condo’s pool.  I’m also hitting Tom and Cheryl’s stationary bike in the evenings, setting up “walking dates” with other friends, and doing solo walks as long as my feet hold out.  I’m much more comfortable in the water than on land—my feet and joints get too sore pounding the pavement, and I have a congenital twist in one leg that generates monster blisters no matter what kind of shoes I wear.  But, as long as I can give myself a few days between walks, I’m good.

So much in my life has shifted since last summer’s break from the Y.  This year I’m deeply committed to getting the exercise my brain and body have grown used to and need along with continuing my exploration of the vegan way of life.  Another year of living medication-free and developing strategies for managing my bipolar disorder roots me in my Bipolar Bad-Ass way of life.  As a reminder this week, I added another mantra to my Inspiration Door.  The illness rises and falls, but my determination to live well remains constant.

Hunt for Red October, Sean ConneryI think even Sean Connery would approve.

The Best Way to Boost Serotonin

Collage art, Greeting cardsMore cool information from  Dr. Michael Greger about nutrition and mental health.

Studies show that the secret to naturally boosting serotonin levels in the brain may include eating foods such as pumpkin seeds with a high tryptophan to total protein ratio.  This may help explain why studies show  that those eating plant-based diets have superior mood states.

(Oh please, oh please, oh please!)

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-best-way-to-boost-serotonin/#.UB__xjFMDu0.email

Vegetarian Gold

Abraham Lincoln, vegetarianI’ve just about completed my first week as a vegetarian, and the Judges are ready with their scores.

Level of Difficulty:  Nonexistent.  I’m amazed at how easy this is.  No meat, fish, dairy or eggs except for cream in my coffee and whatever gets into my bread.  I’ve been trying to eat “clean” for some time, so going for whole and raw foods is already part of my food-consciousness.  And if I don’t mess with sauces and other packaged items, I don’t have to wonder what’s in them.  Suh-weet!

Albert Einstein, vegetarianBalanced Nutrition:  A Perfect Ten.  Here’s another shocker.  Aldi, the discount grocery store in town, carries everything I’ll ever need to maintain a diet rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.  Nuts, beans, green leafy vegetables, a rainbow of fruit, brown rice—they’re all there.  So, not only do I get a winning score on nutrition, but also on cost.

Alice Walker, vegetarianWeirdness Factor:  I lose some points here trying to explain my new eating habits to Iowans.  I live in the middle of farm country where beef and pork production are major industries.  The slaughterhouse is the largest employer in town.  I’m thinking if I ran down Main Street naked, I might reach the level of incredulity and shock I’ve encountered.  But, I’ve been to this circus before.  I’ve learned how to take it slow and easy with scary, radical personal information.  If I can help my loved ones understand bipolar disorder a little bit better, I can do it again with a plant-based diet.

Annie Lennox, vegetarianPhysical Adaptation:  The score is still pending in this category.  I find I’m not nearly as hungry as I used to be, and that when I am hungry I can actually feel it in my stomach.  This is a new sensation for me, so I’m a little fascinated by it.  I’ve discovered that eating too many nuts at night will necessitate a mad dash in the wee hours of the morning (with or without cats-as-hurdles).  But it might only be pistachios.  More trials are required.

Tesla, vegetarianMental Health Score:  No consistent changes at this early stage.  I’m still rapid cycling.  It’s tempting to hope for a miracle, but I know better than that.  A little boost in energy or a smidge smoother moods would be glorious.  We shall see.

Weight Loss Marks:  Along with the informative Nutrisystem Lean13 review I read, the books I read at the library said it was more important to get comfortable with the new diet than worry about caloric intake, so I didn’t pay much attention to how much I ate this week.  And I still lost a pound at my TOPS weigh-in.  Can I say it again?  Suh-weet!

Christian Bale, vegetarianAll in all, I feel like I brought home the gold this week.  I plan to check prices of more exotic items at other grocery stores (like pumpkins seeds and black beans) to see if I can afford a few non-Aldi purchases.  And I’ll be on the look-out for restaurants that will be both affordable and vegetarian-friendly—for those times when my illness makes me bolt.  As with any non-typical diet, planning ahead saves on stumbles and belly-flops.

And on a completely different note:

All week, I’ve been hearing a song in my head.  It’s from a Porky Pig cartoon called “An Itch in Time” and featured a flea set out to munch on Porky’s dog. Like the flea, I’m feeling pretty happy about the food around my corner.

Food Around the Corner

Hold Your Horses

This woman did not fly to extremes; she lived there.

—Quentin Crisp

• • •

Enthusiasms are suspect in someone with bipolar disorder.  There’s a thin, fuzzy line between passion and obsession, drive and driven.  So it is with cautious optimism that I pursue my intention of becoming vegetarian.

As I sat in my coffee shop yesterday, journaling, I could feel the buzz of mania—my thoughts leaping and shoving each other out of the way, the Crusade taking me over with its conviction, dedication and magical thinking.  But, after the despair of this past weekend, the energy and purpose felt like a reward for slogging through the Pit.  A Reprieve.  And yet, I knew it would be a mistake to identify with the high I was feeling.  I was still there, behind the excitement and the speed, so the task was to watch and wait.vegetarianism

Starting new projects while manic can definitely get them off the ground with a bang.  The energy acts like a catapult—but the one pulling the trigger isn’t too concerned about aim.  I once ripped out the carpet in the whole basement of my house in an hour.  Did it need to be done?  Maybe.  My cat had been peeing on it for years.  Did it need to be done at 11:00 at night?  Probably not.  The trick with mania is not to do anything that can’t be undone later.

vegetarianism, Alicia SilverstoneHolding that maxim, I spent a couple of hours in the library reading about vegetarianism and retrieving information buried in my defunct memory.  I remembered that I flirted with this years ago, influenced by my friend, Dee, who is a devout vegetarian.  The basics all came back to me and seemed so easy.  Could it be that easy?  To a manic, sure.  We are invincible—gods in our own minds.  We scoff at the feeble attempts of mere mortals!

Yesterday, I was able to set my super powers aside and assume a gentler approach.  Instead of running to Trader Joe’s and dumping money I don’t have into miso and tempeh, I bought a bag of pinto beans and some produce.  I still have my Moosewood Cookbook—one of the few things that has survived my many manic purgings—and found my favorite (and simple) recipe for refried beans.  Last night I made a meal so beautiful, I had to take a picture—corn tortillas with my homemade refried beans, brown rice, green onion, yellow bell pepper, topped with salsa and mango.

The fact that I actually cooked a meal is not lost on me, either.  Cooking can be a major source of anxiety, but the process of soaking and cooking the beans felt very relaxing.  There was a sense memory in running my hands through them, hearing their clatter against the strainer.  Another question arose—could this process help me find the creative cook that vanished when I got sick?  This, too, I’ll hold gently as the adventure unfolds.

Because, I am on an Adventure!

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