Nutrition


So, I had a baby May 20, and I had gained 45 pounds by that last day of pregnancy. See here for a recap.

Slowly and steadily, as I had planned in the previous post, the past three weeks of post pregnancy fitness have gone by. Here are the highlights:

  • Longest jog: 1.2 miles (yep, I’m wimpy, but it’s hot and my cardio levels are still awful), 14-minute mile seems to be my speed (yep, I’m slow)
  • Rectus abdominus muscles seem to have fully closed and function well again!
  • Down to 153.6 pounds (a 3.5 pound loss since 4 weeks ago…meaning I’m actually slowing down my loss a bit). I’ve still got 15.6 pounds left to go to my pre-pregnancy weight.  Still, an overall loss of 29.4 pounds in just 63 days since giving birth is not bad!
  • My waist is now down to 31.25″, which is a .75″ loss; 3 more inches to go.
  • 0.5″ off my hips (40.5″)…1.5 inches to go!
  • No thigh measurement change. 😦
Six weeks postpartum after my first run in seven months. Long way to go! 157 lbs.

6 weeks postpartum after my first run in seven months. Long way to go! 157 lbs.

9 weeks postpartum, at 153.6 pounds...and a little bloated from too much bread!

9 weeks postpartum, at 153.6 pounds…and a little bloated from too much bread!

Fighting the Belly Flab

To help retone my belly, which has quite a pooch, I’ve actually dug up an old favorite of my mom’s fitness books from the ’80s: Callanetics. If you don’t know much about it, it combines elements of Pilates with ballet in an attempt to retone the body. I tried one of the basic stomach exercises (that I remembered doing experimentally on and off since age 10, when I first discovered this book on the shelf) and realized how VERY far I have to go yet. The muscles are there, and are, indeed, closed, but they are weak! I’m going to keep at it, though. We’ll see how we do!
callanetics

And now as I focus on my nutrition as a contributor to that belly, I’m noticing a few things about my diet: even though I’ve cut back on meat and a little of my dairy intake (replacing with calcium rich almond milk), I’m still relying heavily on bread. I had a terrible bread addiction while pregnant, and now that the baby is here, I’m relying on it as a form of fast energy to grab one-handed  while I schlep the little one on my hip.

The Baby-Caretaker Diet

Zeke is still at that early stage of babyhood where he doesn’t like to be put down (and will scream if you try to) until it’s actually time for him to sleep at night — and this really does affect how/when/what I can eat.

The beautiful meals I would like to make myself, like elaborate salads or lovely vegan meals that take a lot of raw-material prep, oftentimes never move past the idea stage because my hands are literally full of baby. The reality is, when my hubby isn’t home to hold and entertain our 9-week old, my meal prep time is maybe 20 minutes tops while Zeke takes his mini-naps during the late afternoon.  I’m relying quite heavily on Trader Joe’s frozen vegetarian options that take minutes to heat in a skillet or can be thrown in the oven, in addition to some bagged salads, as a way to get healthy food in for dinner.

But in the morning and midmorning, when it’s all I can do to drag my tired self around after getting up to feed the baby several times that preceding night, and while I’m trying to placate the little tyrant (who is also crabby in the mornings) while I try to do simple things like brush my teeth or get dressed, an elaborate breakfast is out of the question. Smoothies might be my answer–and have been sometimes–but who the heck has time to clean the stupid blender?  I’ve had to go days between smoothies while the blender just sort of grossly soaked in a soapy version of its fruit and Kale and kefir glory, waiting by the sink for me to get around to cleaning all its nooks and crannies. ::sigh::

Folks, I now truly and deeply respect the moms who struggle with the weight issue after having a baby. It is rough trying to take care of yourself when you have a little someone who wants you 24/7!

But I’m not giving in yet.  Here’s my game plan for dealing with this:

1. Try to capitalize on baby’s naps to do prep-steps towards good meals during the day.  I’m learning that everything has to be done in bites and stages with a baby interrupting daily life. That goes for actions like cleaning (it may take me literally all day to vacuum the whole apartment in stages), cooking, and answering emails or doing work projects.

2. Use the time when my hubby’s home to do meal prep for future days (see above, only more ambitious). This will be hard to do, since I’m also now using a lot of that time to do things like shower, jog, SLEEP (oh, man, do I miss sleep) or do work from my regular job, which I’m transitioning slowly back into.  But being able to stockpile healthy eats in the freezer is kind of a dream of mine.

3. Exercise with the baby. I’ll be honest guys, in these past three weeks, I’ve been running twice. TWICE.  The rest of my exercise regime has been taking Zeke for walks or doing floor work while the baby’s asleep, but I’m starting to think that I can maybe put him in his boppy next to me on the floor for yoga, use him as a secondary weight while I do plies, or maybe even wear him while I do Zumba DVDs. A jogging stroller is unfortunately beyond my budget, so I’ll just have to do what I can in the running/jogging department. I have accepted this.

4. Use the nighttime gap to help with the breakfast issue.  There is a little gap between when Zeke finally goes down at about 10:30 and when I follow him after cleaning up and putting on my jammies.  Loathe as I am to give up much of this time to not sleeping, I’m finding that it’s often my only uninterrupted time, since Zeke settles in for a good 3-hour snooze sesh before waking again for his 1:30-2:00 a.m. feeding.  There are some lovely recipes for blender-free overnight oats over at www.rabbitfoodformybunnyteeth.com that contain ingredients like almond milk, fresh fruit, oats, cinnamon, flax seed, chia seeds, even chocolate and coconut — that I’m going to try out, since after they’re mixed, they can go in the fridge overnight to get soggy and smoothie-like. They are made of the sorts of things that give great energy in slow release form, due to the high fiber content. And they’re a little lower in gluten, sugar, and yeast than toast, since they’re oat-based. I’m hoping it will combat the bloat a bit.

Wish me luck!  I’m off to bed after making my oats. I’m trying to get it done by midnight!

Ruth

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So, I have a confession to make: by the time I gave birth on May 20, I weighed 183 pounds.

Huge! Just days before delivery at my hubby's graduation from seminary.

Huge! Just days before delivery at my hubby’s graduation from seminary.

I am 5’4″; I weighed 138 pounds pre-pregnancy. That’s a total pregnancy gain of 45 pounds!

By the time I left the hospital just two days after giving birth, I weighed 17 pounds less, thankfully! Baby, placenta, blood, uterine shrinkage, and a lot of water weight played a role in that weight loss, I’m sure. But at 166 pounds, I still had a long road to haul when I came home.

I waited until my 6-week postpartum checkup this past week before really thinking too much about the weight issue. I was glad to see I’m now down 9 more pounds (157 lbs) seemingly without trying. I’ve been very focused on my baby and making sure he grows and gains, so it’s been easy to ignore my own chub, for the most part, while passively donating my fat store’s calories to my breast milk.

But pictures like the ones below from Zeke’s dedication ceremony at church definitely remind me that, while my body did great work making a beautiful baby, it’s also become a whole new shape, complete with wobbly arms and thighs, Buddha belly, and muffin top!

At Zeke's church dedication. The baby chub is only cute on the baby.

At Zeke’s church dedication. The baby chub is only cute on the baby.

image

Pregnancy really changes the body: it tilts the pelvis (creating a swayback that throws the belly forward and allows the buttocks to get flat and flabby), causes shoulders to curve inward as the body curls and slightly collapses in around that huge belly, opens and temporarily widens the lower ribcage, loosens all ligaments in the body and pelvis, leaves flabby, loose skin on the belly, adds stretch marks in some places, creates huge stores of water in the body’s cells, builds up 50% more blood in circulation, and separates the rectus abdominus muscles on the sides of the abdomen to make room for a watermelon-sized uterus. Let’s not even discuss how the thoracic organs get shoved around to make room as a part of that process.

After you give birth, it takes around 6 weeks for the uterus to go through involution and shrink back to pear-size, for your organs to slide back into some places near their old locales, and for the ligaments to firm back up as pregnancy hormones recede and excess water leaves the cells of the body. At the same time, new hormones flood your bloodstream and bond you to your baby while also turning on the milk production process in your breasts, which become very engorged, enlarged, and soft. During all of this transition, your body still has to deal with the fat stores you gained during pregnancy on your hips, thighs, tummy and breasts, putting some of it to use (300-500 calories a day!) by enriching breast milk and retaining the rest as a source of backup-reserve. Overall, your body becomes a soft, squishy landscape that resembles less of an hourglass and more of a pudgy cylinder with boobs!

Beyond breastfeeding’s gift of calorie use, dropping that extra retained baby weight is a tricky game with a baby to care for. Drop weight too quickly and your body freaks out and stops making breast milk–as a way to keep from expending calories that your body seems to need, while simultaneously starving your poor baby!

My doctor is convinced that the only healthy way to go about it is nice and slowly, using exercise to re-tone the body and to burn just a few calories at a time, while remembering that the body uses 300-500 or so calories daily just to make breast milk for the baby. Crash diets don’t fit in this scenario, although good nutrition certainly does–for mom and baby both.

To that end, I’ve started some clean eating goals and recently started jogging again for the first time in over 7 months. The first jog last week was pretty pathetic–about nine-tenths of a mile before I felt winded (yeah, my lungs are still relearning how to expand to full capacity again) and my faster-twitch muscle fibers really burned. I came back inside and did a set of abdominal exercises designed to help close separated ab muscles (as I recently felt the two sides of the rectus abdominus close two Tuesdays ago; it took that long!) and called it a night. I’m still following this pattern on days that aren’t pouring rain and when Boaz can watch the baby.

It’s slow going so far. I recognize that my body’s done an incredible thing and that it had to radically transform to do it. I have to be patient.

I also know that while it’s possible to get back to my pre-baby weight, it may not be realistically possible to get back to my old shape. As Mammy famously pointed out rather plainly to Scarlett in Gone With the Wind, my figure will never be the same after the structural remodeling that happened during pregnancy that shifted muscles, organs, ligaments, and even ribcage and pelvic bones:

But even if it can’t be as small as it was, my body can be strong and toned in its own way again. To that end, I’ll share my goals here as a way to stay accountable while I try to tighten up my soft mommy-body, which at the moment resembles a kangaroo:

  • Shrink back my post-baby 32″-waist measurement to 28.5″ (a full inch larger than my pre-pregnancy best)
  • Trim my 41″-hip measurement back to 39″ (a half-inch larger than pre-pregnancy)
  • Tone up the 24″-circumference of my upper thighs to 22.5″, roughly where it was when I took weight conditioning classes

Right now, this is visually where I am — stretch marks, linea nigra, and all:

Six weeks postpartum after my first run in seven months. Long way to go!

Six weeks postpartum after my first run in seven months. 157 lbs. I have a long way to go!

I’ll be trying lots of methods to see what works, and I promise to share those, too! Hope you’ll stay with me on the journey… and wish me luck as I try to get back to fighting form!

-Ruth

Does anyone else think that today’s technology culture has shaped our lives in unsustainable ways? That the so-called “convenience” now also means that life must be faster-paced, with more on our to-do list, simply because we can now “handle” more tasks with the help of our smart devices?

Does anyone else wind up staying up later to read or watch longer into the night on a lit-up screen?

Does anyone ever actually cook a nice whole-foods-based meal anymore, or is it all take-out and processed/pasteurized/overly packaged nommage?

Does anyone outside of Chicago and New York City ever walk instead of drive a car to their destinations (even half a mile away) anymore?

 

And am I alone in noticing that, after awhile (usually on the weekends), the way we live in the name of modern efficiency catches up to us, namely with sluggishness, mopeyness, and (eep!) pudginess?

 

Between an unfriendly gym scale and this research presentation by clinical psychologist Stephen Ilardi, I had a moment of uffish thought at lunch a few months back:

 

Here’re the highlights, if you don’t have time to watch: Dr. Ilardi argues that we’re in the midst of an epidemic, and doctors are having to prescribe more and more medication to help us deal psychologically with the effects of a life that, to all the generations before us, would seem simply unnatural. He also argues that by returning to our ancient ancestral roots in the way we eat, work, and move, we’ll return to mental and physical health. (And in case you were thinking, “But wait, didn’t pre-civilization humans live a really short life?” Vallois’ 1961 theory that life was short and violent was recently disproven; so long as primitive people survived the parasites and infections rampant in childhood, they actually lived to a robust age within a the range of life expectancies today, even with all our modern science.)

Ilardi’s argument matches up with what many of us have already noticed: that our twenty-first century life has hit the human mind and body hard, in ways that thousands of years of microevolution from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle couldn’t prepare us.

The frenzied pace, the terrible, nutrient-poor, saturated-fat and sugar-laden food, and lack of daily physical effort . . . These factors really do take their toll, even on the young. With most adults in the US on prescription meds and nearly half of our population overweight or obese and dealing with the ailments that come with it, we’re essentially turning into the mobility-chair bound creatures predicted in the futuristic Pixar film WALL-E.

"WALL-E." (2008). Pixar Animation Studios.

“WALL-E.” (2008). Pixar Animation Studios. Behold, our fat future.

 

Let’s not also talk about the fact that being stressed, poorly nourished, and overweight becomes expensive quickly in terms of medical costs. In fact, it’s these combined “diseases of civilization” that are the biggest healthcare crisis we face in our world today in terms of inflating medical service demands, and with those demands, costs.

 

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to keep my medical costs down and actually enjoy life a little. . . and not wind up in a Hoveround chair.

 

So I thought about it how much civilization and its offerings actually affect my life right now.

I might have experimentally heave-ho’d my way into my pre-marriage skinny jeans and frowned at what I saw in the mirror after just two cozy years of happy marriage. A scale in my work place’s wellness center told me that it was only eight pounds’ gain since my big day as a bride—not huge, right? But then I did the math of four (4) pounds a year (4 lbs. x just 5 years = 20 lbs. . . . which makes a huge impact on a 5’4” frame).

Vanity, and health concerns, made me pause.

 

And then I remembered that I had trouble with stress-induced insomnia now and again.

 

And then I thought about the fact that depression ran in my family, and that at times, it tugged at me like a weepy child at my sleeve.

 

So I did a little reading and tried some baby steps to take myself back in time . . . to go more “native” in my thinking, as it were, by thinking about what my ancestors 500 to 1,000 years ago would have done to just live their lives. I came up with a few lifestyle modifications, and I thought I’d share these little experiments and what happened after, just to see if they encourage anybody else out there.

 

EXPERIMENT 1: Taking Modern Conveyances out of the Equation (Within Reason)

 

I quit taking elevators instead of stairs. That was a no-brainer.

Hubby and I started walking dates, instead of gabbing across our laptops in the evenings.

Ruth's grocery-getter. Glamorous, no?

Ruth’s grocery-getter. Glamorous, no?

Then I took a bigger plunge and ditched my all-American car habit during fine weather in favor of a bike commute to work. Don’t be too impressed by this – it’s less than two miles from my apartment to my office door. Sure, it takes a little extra effort some mornings to pack my work pumps in a backpack while I roll out the door wearing yoga pants and sneakers under my skirt. But it also means I don’t have to schedule in some kind of fabricated, pointless gym exercises that day, which just feel unnatural, and as Dr. Ilardi explains in that presentation, are, actually, instinctually unnatural to humans and most animals. Gee, no wonder I hate working out.

Just two months later, this little change has meant getting my booty back (and core, thighs, calves, ankles, and gas money) without having to work in the extra expense in time and fees for the gym. It’s also given me the endorphins needed to just feel more cheerful overall. And it’s frankly hilarious to see the way people respond to me, all dolled up for work and riding along on a bike in a very non-serious-biker way. Sans matchy-matchy spandex top and bottoms, I somehow manage to look like a helmet-wearing Dorothy Gale stole the Wicked Witch’s bike most days, which the old folks walking the neighborhood in the mornings find very entertaining.

 

EXPERIMENT 2: Eating Like Hunting Is Actually Hard To Do

 

I bet you thought when I wrote “hunter-gatherer” farther up in this post that I’d wind up going all “Paleo Diet” in this portion of my experiment. Nope!

I did think about it, though, since it’s a pretty big fad right now and touts all kinds of ancient-world wisdom. But I started reading more about the dietary components and soon realized that this modern-day diet currently calling itself “Paleo” has FAR more meat in it than any of our ancestors ate on a typical prehistoric day.1 In many places and in many seasons, when gatherable green food was plentiful, people didn’t expend the energy or risk the danger of hunting animals often bigger than themselves. Prehistoric hunters also didn’t catch anything to eat most days even when they tried to; based on the quantity of meat that researchers seem to think the ancients consumed, it seems like early humans hunted with considerably less hunting success than the big cats (for lions in a group, roughly 30% of capture-kill attempts actually succeed; for humans in a group, attempts vary from a 3%-30% success rate, depending on the size of game stalked, according to research like that done by Kristen Hawkes,who has published multiple studies of the Hadza hunter-gatherer people). Regardless, meat, for most ancient people, was reserved for seasonal feast times (when game was available and meat was a treat) or famine (when plant food was scarce).

But regarding the other animal product ruling the current Standard American Diet, the Paleo Diet is spot-on: dairy products, which came much later on the human timeline of edibles, were totally absent from our ancestors’ diets for millennia, and for most modern humans, are still too dense in saturated fats, casein, and lactose to be metabolized in our bodies well.

Yet in today’s Standard American Diet (aptly abbreviated as SAD), there’s meat or an animal product or byproduct at every meal. Too bad we aren’t prepared to deal with this diet physiologically—to the point where it’s killing us slowly with every excess forkful.

 

Please, consider the following (and check out the links to the sources I’ve done my best to embed; I was overrun with footnotes):

 

  1. High-levels of animal protein consumption has been recently associated with higher levels of blood-circulating IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor, which is linked as a growth agent for multiple forms of cancer (including colon cancer, which killed my dad at 54, and breast cancer, for which I carry a mutated gene).
  2. Animal protein consumption, especially red meats and dairy, are also linked to incidence of stroke, both Type I  and Type II diabetes, and infertility in women, in addition to many other lifestyle-influenced diseases and metabolic disorders.
  3. The evidence of the deleterious health effects from meat-heavy eating is so bad that even the pocket-stuffing-corrupt USDA (which is financially backed by multiple meat-industry sources, in addition to Coca-Cola) has gone so far as to risk the wrath of their sponsors by announcing in the 2010 revised dietary guidelines that it’s time Americans cut back on meat intake, calling animal and meat products “solid fats” so as not to raise too many hackles, although their referent is clear when one reviews text closely, as well as the new “My Plate” portion guide. The upcoming 2015 guidelines are anticipated to advise even less consumption of animal products as the “My Plate” recommendation graphic evolves while lobby groups that are sick of the silly political games holding back American nutritional reform sue the USDA (check out what the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine did in 2000 and again in 2011).
  4. Cow’s milk is hormonally and nutritionally designed to take a 90-pound calf and turn it into a 400-pound animal within a year, and even low-fat dairy products (including yogurt—the fastest-growing refrigerator staple this decade) metabolize in such a fashion as to promote weight gain in humans.
  5. Roughly 75% of the adult population in our world is lactose intolerant or has some form of lactose maldigestion, with highest incidence in groups of African, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American descent (see source).   So many of us just aren’t equipped to digest the stuff, but we eat dairy anyway because it’s marketed to us at an insane rate (“Got Milk?” and “Milk Life” campaigns ring a bell, do they not?). Dairy also contains casomorphins, powerful opiates that keep us hooked on the yummy creamy, saturated-fat and hormone-laden stuff. Seriously. Go look it up. Milk contains morphine to keep babies calmly eating—and it affects humans equally as well as a little baby calf.
  6. A diet-based population study from 2009 showed that non-vegetarian eaters have the highest BMIs on average (and it’s an overweight BMI, at 28.8) when compared against ovo-lacto vegetarians (25.7), pescatarians (26.3), and vegans (23.6). Note that the vegan average is the only one within the “healthy” BMI category. (BMI standards currently dictate that a BMI between 18.5-25 is “healthy”).
  7. Lastly, consider that in 1909, the average American ate 123.9 pounds of meat per year and 3.8 pounds of cheese (which is 70% saturated fat. Seven. Zero.). In 2007, we ate 200.6 pounds of meat (mostly chicken!), and in 2005, we nommed on 31.4 pounds of cheese per year2. And with nearly 100 extra pounds of those calorie-dense animal products going into our bellies, we’re fatter than we’ve EVER been.  The USDA’s stastical summary in its 2010 “The Total Diet” report indicated that, “Currently, the average American gains about a pound a year between the ages of 20 to 60 years” (p.2).

 

The Power-Plate was created by the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine in 2009, and it reflects decades of research on diet and longevity, which revealed a plant-based diet as best. Note that the USDA's My Plate has somewhat copied it, after PCRM laid on some pressure.

“The Power Plate” was created by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine in 2009, and it reflects decades of research on diet and longevity, which revealed a plant-based diet, sans dairy, was best. Note that the USDA’s “My Plate” has somewhat copied it, after PCRM laid on some pressure.

After reading all that, I was convinced to go more and more plant-strong in my diet, eliminating more and more animal products, and spacing out my meat consumption to the point where meat and cheese are now special treats – not everyday things.

Not to get too personal, but I’ll share a few things that have happened once I made these adjustments:

  1. I’ve lost five pounds in roughly four weeks after I finally committed to this dietary experiment. (YAY!)
  2. My seemingly-perpetual tummy bloat went down after I’d gone a solid week eating vegan meals.
  3. My joints, which I never even really noticed were stiff before, loosened up, to the point where I realized I was bounding up stairs that I used to trudge upon as I made my way to work. I can’t really explain this, beyond saying that I just feel sort of weightless. Some research indicates that dairy and meat can raise inflammation in the body, so I guess being without it for a week or so made a difference.
  4. I got an energy boost overall, to the point where I felt more productive.
  5. Regularity, folks. Fiber makes a gal feel perky. (TMI?)

 

EXPERIMENT 3: Getting Rid of Synthetic Hormones

This step of my lifestyle experiment actually started far before I saw Dr. Ilardi’s presentation, but I put it last here because I was nervous about posting this controversial step. After consideration, though, I think it’s important enough to mention. It was a tough road, because it meant getting off the progesterone-based birth control I’d been on for the first year and a half of my marriage.

I didn’t take this step lightly; it was after months and months of debilitating insomnia, significant hair shedding, migraines, strange acne and weight gain that bloated my lower tummy (imagine a mini-Buddha belly), in addition to a depression so intense that I went to see a professional. My husband was all for trying something new—trying anything, really—to get back the girl he’d dated and married. I’ll continue some notes about this transition for you ladies in an upcoming rant on this subject, but suffice to say, I adopted a science-based natural form of control in January of 2013, and today I’m still not pregg-o and am feeling and looking so much more like my old, pre-pharmaceutical self. Everything is back to where it was pre-hormones, including my sleeping patterns—except for the acne. Still haven’t figured that one out. Who knows?

 

So, friends, this has been my journey back to nature and back to some older ways of living. And while it’s certainly not the mainstream lifestyle of a Millennial and still has gaps I need to modify, I’ve had no regrets!

 

 

NOTES (to keep this section small, I’ve included embedded links to most sources  in the post above. Do feel free to click into them where they appear in the text above):

  1. Researcher Vaclav Smil at Colorado State reported in “Eating Meat: Evolution, Patterns, and Consequences” (2006) that, for prehistoric peoples, “animal foods provided generally less than 15 percent of all dietary protein” (p. 607); compare this figure with the 19-35 percent animal protein-basis in the trendy Paleo Diet.
  2. Foods per capita figures from US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Presented here by Dr. Neal Barnard: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/5/1530S.full

 

 

 

So, I haven’t written in YEARS.

But to be fair, it’s because huge things have happened: on August 13, 2010, I accepted a position in fundraising for a private school here in town. On October 7, 2010, I moved out—and closer to work—into my own apartment.

The story I’ve woven here on this blog of my life immediately emerged onto a new path: I was no longer Ruth, living with my Naomi, coping after a loss. I just became a person simply starting over—with Mom across town—and beginning a life on my own. Naomi began a new journey, too, of discovering who she was meant to become in her new life, a story no less important, but in the periphery of mine.

And then my little single-girl in quarter-life-crisis-land-story wrapped up in a strange way: after I reached the end of the allegorical comparison of my life situation to Ruth’s, the ending of my own story wrapped up in somewhat the same way as hers: with a romance.

He’s not really a picture of the biblical Boaz (meaning he’s not my boss, or a kinsman-redeemer in the Levirate sense), but he’s an old flame from college that reignited after I shamelessly took some old advice from the original Naomi:

“Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best dress. Then go down to [the place where he works]…” –Ruth 3:3.

I totally happened to call him and mention to him that I’d be in town near him visiting a friend, and that I had some books he might want, based on some interests he’d recently shared. He then happened to ask me to stop by, to deliver said books, to him at work. I might have worn a really cute sundress and some darling espadrilles.  My friend I’d met earlier might have wished me luck. 🙂

All we did was talk—I didn’t do what Ruth did at her meeting with Boaz, when she actually climbed into bed with him (the hussy!). But our night did wind up with the two of us having drinks together later that evening after his shift and catching up. It had been over a year since he had called me up, out of the blue, just to ask how I was coping after my dad died: an act that took some boldness and sensitivity on his part, since we were then about a year post-amicable breakup. It was an act of compassion that I’d never forgotten.

The rest, as they say, is Old Testament history…

Yep, I got married to my Boaz.  August 6, 2011.

Yep, I got married to my Boaz. August 6, 2011.

 

But I’ll give you the run-down of the story, anyway.

Boaz and I dated through the summer of 2010, and I was, at that time, still casually dating other guys in the rather old-school 1950s fashion as you’ve read here on this blog; I kept busy “playing the field innocently”, with no physical or verbal commitments offered to anyone until I could tell which man would not only stick around, but was also the man who I wished would stick around.

In October of 2010, Boaz asked me, “So, what do I have to do to get you to clear the other guys off your social calendar?”

“You want the other guys off my date book?” I replied, pleased. “Does that mean you want to keep me? Because otherwise, we’ll be wasting each other’s time when we could be meeting our potential mates.”

“It’s not a waste of time if I’m serious.”

Oh, and he was serious.

By Christmas of 2010, we had confessed our love, and he was driving up an hour and a half to visit on weekends (with me driving down sometimes, too), and we established a delightful routine that was broken a few months later in May of 2011, when he proposed to me in a horse-drawn carriage. Yes, this man knew my predilection for Austen literature. It was also reminiscent of our first date in 2007, when he took me on a carriage ride in our old historic college town.

We were mBoaz and Rutharried on August 6, 2011, a day after my parent’s wedding anniversary. (Good thing I was an event planner for my fundraising job; it was sure a quick turnaround from our engagement!)

We honeymooned in Oregon, and two weeks later, he started working on his Master of Divinity degree, and I kept on working at my new fundraising job. Ruth has never really left the field.

I’m four years into that fundraising job now, and been blessed by the overarching school environment at my institution of work and its Jesuit roots and Ignatian spirituality. It’s been a time that’s been full of both work-induced stress and home-life calm and rest. No other deaths, dramas, or traumas have occurred, but the softening changes that come about from the conjugal bliss experienced while sharing my life.

And so, my friends, I’m relaunching this blog in 2014, some five years after its inception, with a new focus: the journey that Boaz and I are taking together as he enters ministry, as we both become workers in a different kind of harvest.

In the process, we’ll check in with Naomi from time to time, who has started over her life in many ways as well. She’s left the house my father died in and moved into a condo (less than a mile from my little apartment with Boaz), where she’s resumed her artwork and has totally redecorated every inch of her new home in her spare hours outside of her part-time work. But it’s been a journey for her, too.

So, some topics of this newer iteration of this blog will include:

  1. More of the spiritual—because those have always been my favorite posts to share.
  2. Some gender politics –because being married brings all kinds of perspectives on the male-female relationship in the 21st century.
  3. Musings on work-family balance, and trying to plan ahead for a future baby (no, reader, I am not pregg-o yet! We’ve been putting it off while Boaz is in school; more on that in my Family Planning category posts).
  4. Living frugally—because with a husband in grad school and me on the equivalent of a starting teacher’s salary, we’ve learned quickly how to live simply and focus on what’s important. And it’s freeing, actually; it’s something we’ll do all our lives.
  5. Reflections on this generation of Millennials—because we are a weird bunch in many ways, and we’re also a group that craves some direction, since we’ve been blown about in a world that’s gone global, and also rather multiple-personalitied and crazy.
  6. Books, pop culture, and other neat things –because I love writing about them and reading your thoughts.
  7. My new obsession: nutrition and health, because we live in a world full of lifestyle diseases, including many cancers—which, as a child of two cancer-stricken parents, I’m trying to avoid!

Looking forward to seeing you here.  Thanks for your patience, and welcome, new readers.

Love,

 

Ruth