Our Bathroom is So Small…

Our 25 pound dog doesn’t fit fully (head-to-tail) when standing sideways! Seriously, take a look:

Frodo in the Shower

No, we STILL haven’t made a video tour of our van, but this is a glimpse of what it’s like to live in a comically small living environment.

Our bathroom is indeed, comically small. Yes, that is the shower, and behind the curtain is the toilet.  During a shower, the curtain is pulled across the doorway (where Frodo’s head is in the photo) to keep the water inside the shower. This means the toilet lid and base are in the shower, and not protected from the water like the photo shows. We did that today to make Frodo’s bath less work by skipping some of the post-bath/shower squeegee time.

Our bathroom is what is known as a Wet Bath – when everything you need is in one space – and it all gets wet. On the PRO side, the area around the toilet gets a bath every day preventing those super scary dust bunnies that would otherwise grow there. On the CON side, you have to learn to be careful in the shower or you’ll bruise your knees!

Today was a very long overdue bath for Frodo. Er, shower. He kind of had a shower. Frodo doesn’t mind the micro-bathroom, and the end result is the same – he is now clean again – yay!

Yes I know, we owe our friends and family a video-tour. Some day that will happen, some day…

They Say it’s my Birthday…

Life Level Up!Do you know what the best part of any game is? Leveling Up!

As you play a game you get to learn what works best to achieve your goal, maybe learn some hacks along the way to make things easier, and all in all, have fun.

Conversely, End Game is the most boring part of any game. You’ve finished the game – congratulations! Now what? Most people will start a new game and go through the same process all over, sometimes rushing through the leveling process again, forgetting that leveling is what it’s all about.

Just like life.

Life is a journey, not a destination. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Take your time. Enjoy the leveling up process. 

P.S. This photo was taken several months ago, by me, with a 35mm lens, camera held backwards. I’m having fun leveling up my Photography skills – no one said you had to do things just like everyone else!

This post is brought to you from Yuma, Arizona

My Cancer Prevention Project

No Day Like TodayMany years ago now (at least it seems that way), I developed an allergy to corn. Because of how pervasive corn-derived ingredients are in the United States it took us somewhere between 6-9 months to learn what living corn-free REALLY means. It felt overwhelming and difficult. It felt crazy. It was in a word – exhausting. As a family, we had to overhaul everything we thought of as normal.

Since then, I’ve had health issues that also challenged “our version of normal” and forced us to take a look at our lifestyle yet again. What and how were we eating. What about exercise? And how was stress being handled?

So yes, more changes were made. But each time we did what we thought was necessary at the time, it felt overwhelming and exhausting, and we created a new version of normal.

The other day I fell down the rabbit hole of research again and discovered I had fallen into complacency. Though I read ingredients on everything I use, I have become accustomed to ingredient lists that include items that are “safe” for me because they are not corn-derived, but I stopped asking questions beyond corn. After investigating for corn-derivatives, I didn’t ask – what is this? What is it made from? How is it made? And most importantly, is this safe for my health?

I intend to live a long, happy, healthy life. But I am in charge of, and responsible for my own health, and it’s time to stop riding in the passenger seat and get back behind the wheel.

Personally, I feel there is a lot we can do to “prevent” cancer. I’m not talking about early detection screenings – I’m talking about true, actual, prevention. Eating well, and living a healthy lifestyle can really go a far way into providing good health. My diet is overhauled and re-evaluated on a constant basis (for a variety of reasons) and I’m happy to say I’m back into strength-training (that’s a topic for another day, I’m sure I’ll talk about that soon). Strength-training makes me happy and I’m very glad I have finally been able to get back into the groove after a very long break.

But my environment has room for improvement. My lack of knowledge about sunscreen made that glaringly obvious. I’m upset with myself for allowing myself to be ignorant for so long.

So… I’m on a quest to Reduce My Toxins. Essentially, I will be looking at a variety of personal care products such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, lotions, household cleaners, etc, and drive down the source of every single ingredient and determine if I want to continue to use that product, or find a safer alternative. I’m not going to just let my eyes glaze over at word recognition in an ingredient list without knowing for sure, what that ingredient does, and what it’s possible effects are on my health.

Each single item will probably take me a week to research so this will be an ongoing project that could last as long as a year, but one I think worth doing. I’m ready to create a new version of normal.

Because I wanted an easy way to keep track of my research and thoughts, I’ll be blogging my findings on a specific blog I’ve setup for this purpose. Since I’ll be looking up common household items (for example, my most recent research project was Softsoap liquid hand soap), you’re welcome to follow along. I can’t promise it will be interesting, but it will be informative! Here is the site for this project: https://reducemytoxins.wordpress.com/

I will still be blogging here (on Drink More Decaf) about life in general, the new site is just a way to give my research a home. I could never find my notes in Google Docs! Anyway, if you choose to check out my “research” site, I hope you find it helpful!

Jan 2015 Sharon and Frodo

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You

Sharon and DaveAs a child, one of my favorite books was called “You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You” illustrated by Edward Gorey. It had alternating sections in back text, or blue text, indicating where to hand the book over and either read, or enjoy the portion being read to you.

Since Dave and I are both avid readers, it didn’t take us too long in the early days of our relationship to run into a reading-related problem. We wanted to each read a short story, of which, we had one paper copy. With only a small amount of free time each evening, it seemed like a good idea for me to begin reading the story to him aloud while he cooked dinner, and then he would read to me later on in the evening. It was a simple problem with a simple solution. We didn’t realize we were creating one of those “us” things. You know, those moments you look back on and realize it was the start of something big? Reading to each other every day is something we have done ever since, now going on nine years!

We discovered several things all those years ago when we began to read to each other. Even though we typically read very different books, it’s also nice to read something else that’s a cross-over book, something we both enjoy, and get to experience together. This broadens our reading experience.

Books are more fun with friends! You know those moments when a book makes you gasp, laugh, shriek, or jump? Even if you are in the same room with someone, this is something you experience by yourself. Perhaps you feel the need to explain what happened in the story, what made you react, but they haven’t gone on the journey with you and cannot share your experience.

Both the experience of being read to, and reading to someone else – is relaxing. It’s a great way to wind down from a stressful day, and get to be together, and from my perspective, much more fun than watching TV!

Reading with someone is like a life-hack. It’s not how the medium of reading was meant to be enjoyed, but it adds another layer that is there for the taking. Happy reading!

Your Minutiae is Not Mundane

Electronic KeyboardHave you read any novels recently that made you struggle to understand the context? When reading any book that isn’t considered “modern,” it can be helpful to be guided through the meaning by a teacher, or annotated version, or of course, your own internet-driven research.

Consider books published more than thirty years ago, when characters had to communicate by way of phone calls (long distance was expensive and costs accrued in per minute increments), or mail – which was slow. Well, mail is still slow, but letter writing is no longer a necessary form of communication.

Now consider a child born this year: 2015, who later reads a book published in 1985, when they are 15 years old. Will they struggle with understanding the culture? Will they understand how characters communicate, and the methods that they use, and realize what is missing and why? Will the mention of an Answering Machine confuse them? What about photographs not being instantaneous, movies at the theatre or occasionally at home on cable, but renting movies? Blockbuster wasn’t around until 1985 so not many people knew about it yet.

My point is this, your daily minutiae is NOT mundane. The details of your day create a small part of the collective makeup of our society and culture, and culture is sometimes lost in lack of understanding.

We now have more variety than ever before, and this carries over to our daily routines.

How old are you? Are you a teenager? How do you spend your free time? How do you get to school? Are you homeschooled (what is that like and how does it work)? Do you watch TV? Movies? Do you watch TV shows on a computer – or an actual TV?

Are you in your twenties? Did you go to college? Did you live in a dorm? Did you have roommates? What do you do for income? How do you get money you need, do you handle cash, or use credit cards almost exclusively?

What about those of you in your thirties or forties? Do you have children? Do you want children? Are you married or single? What is single life like for you? Married life? How you do meet new people?

What happens when you run out of something you need but you don’t need it the same day? Do you add it to a grocery list and drive to a story in a few days, or do you order it online to be delivered directly to your door?

How do you communicate with those you are close to, do you use the phone (what is your phone like, and is it actually a phone), do you use a computer, do you send an email, text, or chat? What is a chat message?

Your life is not mundane. Your life is context. Life is changing around us constantly and your life is interesting!