Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Whole New Me

I have always felt like I have an unnatural, abnormal obsession with food. I think about it all the time. I love everything about eating...finding recpies, trying new restaurants, preparing food. I adore grocery shopping. If I didn't have other responsibilities, I could spend hours roaming the aisles of a grocery store reading the labels, looking at recipes, comparing prices and ingredients. While I'm eating one meal, I'm already thinking about the next meal. I have zero willpower. When faced with a table filled with potluck items I'll dive into the chips and dip with wild abandon. When invited to a party, it's all I can do to not head straight to the food and begin sampling before I've greeted the hosts. I can out-eat my husband, and am often embarrassed by the speed at which I eat. I've often joked that I must have been a holocaust victim in the past because I always have a panicky feeling that I won't get enough to eat or won't have enough time to eat it. It's my dirty little secret...well, not anymore I suppose. I want to rip the faces off those annoying people who say they "don't really like sweets." How is that even possible?

Thankfully, my obsession with food comes with an equally preoccupying obsession with staying healthy and fit. I treasure my body's strength and ability to move. My mind is always on the go and my body wants to be on the go, too. Becoming inert or unable to be physical is my biggest fear. Not to mention the risk of getting hurt at work is directly related to my agility, fitness, strength and mental acuity.

Recently, Shawn came to me and told me he wanted to try transitioning to a Paleo lifestyle because he had been discussing it with a friend who had been able to get off cholesterol medication with this shift in diet. Intrigued, because nothing else (including vegan) had worked, I began reading and researching everything I could get my hands on about this Paleo crap. I figured it was just another fad diet, but I wanted to see what the fuss was about and figure out what I'd need to cook and buy at the store. I quickly realized that Paleo and vegetarian could not coexist in one household without an unlimited budget and a personal chef. So, if he was going to try it we were all going to try it. We agreed to try it for a month. I shall call February the month I became a recovering vegetarian.

The concept of Paleo is simple, yet complex. Simple in that it is based on the way our ancestors ate and the way our bodies have evolved to eat. Complex in the scientific foundation on which the concepts are based. I'm a skeptic. For every scientific study supporting one idea, there is another supporting the opposing idea. But it's hard to argue with the way I feel. And it's hard to argue with meals like this: roasted chicken, kale salad, sweet potato, and blueberries for dessert. (Okay, I lied...blueberries and a few squares of dark chocolate for dessert).

After a month, I have noticed a marked difference in the following areas:

  • my energy level is stable without the afternoon nods
  • my skin looks and feels healthier
  • my headaches have DISAPPEARED. I was averaging one headache a week, with at least one or two migraine's a month. I attributed these to menstruation and hormones, but I've had two cycles now without a single headache. When I think back to when I began getting migraines, it was about the same time I became vegetarian. Coincidence? I think not.
  • I am no longer a walking bag of gas. After so long as a vegetarian, I assumed that was just my normal state of being: bloated and gassy. I am embarrassed to say I was the gassiest person I knew. I would carry deodorizing spray in my patrol car so the day shift officer who used my car wouldn't think a transient had been driving it!
  • My energy level during workouts is better; my running endurance has improved (much to my running partner's dismay)
  • I'm sleeping better! Working midnights, that's not saying much but I've gone from having to take sleeping pills every day just to get a few hours to taking nothing and getting six hours. A big improvement!
  • My moods have stabilized. I feel less like the Titanic (a party one minute, drowning the next) and more even keeled (much to my family's delight!) I often felt frustrated that I could not explain WHY I felt bitchy...I just DID.
  • My mental acuity has improved tenfold. I often felt like I was in a fog, and now the skies are clear and crisp!
I believe that I have probably been deficient in Omega 3 (flax just doesn't cut it) with too much Omega 6. I am sure I lacked sufficient Vitamin D. I believe I was constantly in a state of insulin spikes and rebounds because of the high carbohydrate diet that came with eating so many grains and legumes. I also believe I have a gluten sensitivity that masked itself with these other symptoms. Whatever the case, I cannot deny how much better I feel! Blood panels at the end of the next month should, hopefully, confirm that I am as healthy as I think I am!

Along with this huge lifestyle change came another big decision. I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition with the goal of becoming a Health Coach and personal trainer. I hope to have a client base within a year, and ultimately turn it into a full time job once I retire from the police department. It's exciting and scary and invigorating all at once!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sad Solidarity

I haven't blogged in a while. I've been busy, ferpeetsake! If working and kids wasn't enough to keep me busy, this semester I took a history class online as I s-l-o-w-l-y plug away at this inexplicable desire to obtain a degree. "A degree in what?" you might ask. Good darn question. I know what I like, and what I don't like. But I don't know what the title of my chosen major would be. Is there a degree called "Healthy living-traveling-cooking-eating-exploring the outdoors" degree? If there is, that's the one I want. Until I find that one, though, I have to decide on something actually offered. So, I plug away...general ed class by general ed class.

Recently, the desire to get out of law enforcement has been overwhelming. While I spent the first 19 years of my career loving to go to work, feeling significant and important in the world, and secretly patting myself on the back for falling into law enforcement out of high school rather than going to college and incurring a lot of student loan debt, I am now at a crossroads. Since I left the Child Exploitation position, work has been less than satisfying. Patrol, midnights, is downright unpleasant. It is hard to be motivated when it seems that NOBODY appreciates you. When I first began in law enforcement, there was a sense of solidarity among this elite group of people who put themselves in harms way or who answer the 911 calls and handle the stress that comes with helping people through their worst days. There was a sense that we were all a special group of people who saw the world through lenses the rest of the world could not wear. Once in a while, someone in the public would come up and offer a word of thanks or appreciation. Occasionally, someone would take the time to write a thank you note. It's been a very long time since I've experienced any of those things. Now, the city I work for seems to have us in the crosshairs. Blaming public servants for the financial crises in the city, rallying the public against us under the battle cry of "pension reform" and devaluing what we do has hit me hard. The community at large, at least the part that bothers to interject, seems also to undervalue and despise us. Combine that with what seems like a department lacking in decisive, inspiring leadership, and I am left feeling unfulfilled. I see the same look of frustration in the eyes of my peers as it seems everyone is looking for a way out before everything they built over the last decades is reduced to rubble. The mantra of "why bother" or "why should I" is no longer the lament of a handful of negative naysayers looking for an excuse, but rather seems to be the mantra in the world around me. Unsupported, unmotivated, unmentored, undervalued, undermined, and unsafe seem to be the new collective feelings. A new kind of sad solidarity.

Lately, I've been thinking about what mark I want to make in the world. "Be the change you want to see in the world." Mahatma Ghandi's words are one of the few quotes I can remember (aside from "ET phone home" and "I'll be baaaack".) So, the question remains...what is the change I want to see in the world? I'm closing in on an answer. It used to be that I wanted to see justice and be a part of it. I wanted to help people in their greatest time of need. I wanted to save children from abuse. While being a police officer has served me in the first half of my life in doing some of those things, the mindset of the community (including the law enforcement community) has left me with a bitter taste about it. The fact that it does not seem fulfilling anymore is a signal to me that I need to shift toward what I am really "meant" to do.

So, what is that? I know it's going to start with education. It's going to include working with people in a one-on-one way where I can really focus on affecting change. It's going to include travel and exploration. It must center around the principles of balance, health, nutrition, exercise, education and overall wellness. So my next step is to "be" these changes I want to see. Rather than waiting for New Years, I'm resolving to start right now. With a nap.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Slipping down the slope

Now that I'm back in patrol, having decompressed from the workload and emotional toll Child Exploitation imposed, I don't know how to feel. I have always loved my job. I loved that assignment especially, and miss the team every day. Now, I'm conflicted. While I still believe in my job, and believe I do it well, I am also noticing a tangible, palpable shift in my perspective. Briefings used to be something I looked forward to. There was always good humor, interesting stories, and a feeling of camaraderie. It was a time to talk about the warrant you wanted to serve, the crazy call from the night before, or share personal stories. Now, it's all negativity. There is no laughter. There is nothing fun about it. I miss the camaraderie.

Our Mayor has succeeded in turning the public against us. Every cop I know agrees that we need to make concessions. We are all willing and prepared to take pay cuts. We are not so disconnected that we don't realize that we, like everyone, need to suffer a little to get through this time. To those who say we are "greedy" I can't imagine anyone working anywhere would be happy and welcoming to a change in their job description and benefits/pay/retirement contracts after years of sacrifice. It's sad to me that men and women who willingly put themselves in harms way are now being vilified by the very communities whom they serve.

I've been loyal to this city for almost 20 years. I have passed up other opportunities to do so. I used to be so proud of this agency and felt lucky to work here. I've sustained injury, worked holidays, and been exposed to chemicals, violence, and disease. I have not paid into Social Security, but HAVE paid almost 22 percent of my income into my pension. You bet your butt we're going to be a little concerned when we are threatened with major, devastating changes.

The Mayor is playing dirty. His intent seems to be to make us seem like greedy pigs who won't compromise in a time when everyone is suffering. His intent seems to be to force an impasse by being unreasonable in his demands and unwilling to compromise. Don't take my word for it. Here's a link to a blog written by a city councilman discussing the Mayor's plan:

I could write pages on my thoughts and opinions about the Mayor's plan. Instead I want to process here is my observations of the effects this "negotiations process" has had on my peers. I have watched hard working, proud officers become deflated, angry, and unmotivated. Men and women who used to develop training for their peers, went out of their way to gain extra expertise and knowledge, and sign up for assignments to better themselves are now saying, "why bother." Myself along with others who would have once jumped at the opportunity to work an investigative unit are now threatened with having to work a 5x8 shift for no other reason than as a demonstration of power by the city. I've been working 4x10 shifts for 20 years and now you want to arbitrarily change it? I think I'll stay in patrol and let someone else work the sex crimes. Wait? Who might that be? Not tenured officers with experience...they don't want 5x8 either. So, will those spots be filled by reverse seniority. Good luck with that.

We feel undervalued and abused. Walking in the briefing room, one can almost taste the bitterness in the air. How can we, as a community, ask young men and women to apply for a job like this when the community we work for and the city we are employed by makes it clear we do not matter to them. We are only human. When I worked in backgrounds years ago, we had difficulty getting qualified candidates. Filling an academy was tough. That was when times were GOOD!

At a recent dinner with friends, both of whom have historically been hard-working, proactive, productive and dedicated cops each and every one of us at the table verbalized how hard it is to go to work. How much we hate it. How we miss the feeling of love and pride we used to get from this job. How we all used to love going to work, and now we dread it and see it only as a means to an end. I highly doubt this is the mindset any employer would want in its employees. I highly doubt this is the mindset the public wants from its police force.

What used to be chatter on the radio from people making car stops, pedestrian stops, and actively looking for "bad guys" is now silent defiance. Why bother? Why risk injury from a possible violent encounter? Why self-initiate an investigation, which might result in overtime for which we won't get paid and which would require more time at such a miserable workplace? Many of those who face lay off seem to be reluctant to get involved in anything that might result in injury or complaint, thus limiting their employment opportunities. Doing what is required versus going above and beyond what is required is a rarity.

It feels akin to the under-appreciated housewife who goes on housework strike to prove a point. Let's see how fast the trash piles up...Anyone who argues that car stops, pedestrian stops, and general proactivity doesn't help reduce violence and crime need only watch as the stabbings and murders are on the rise in San Jose. The gangsters aren't worried. The public should be.

Cops are accustomed to our "clients" despising us. Really, it's their job to hate us, right? That's to be expected. But when you go to work feeling like your own employer is out to get you, it's really hard to motivate yourself to do more than the bare minimum! Can you imagine going to work every day and having your boss say, "Look...I don't care about you. In fact, you aren't worth the benefits and pay you have earned. You are easily replaceable." It would be really hard to put your best foot forward, and I would imagine you, too would do the bare minimum to get through the day. Talk about slippery slopes.

What I see happening is scary. San Jose Police Department has highly educated, well trained cops. To see these people giving up and essentially saying "fuck it" is going to result in several things. Good people will leave for better opportunities. We've already seen that happen. Proactive policing will come to a grinding halt. We were rarely able to get enough candidates to apply and pass the background process in order to fill an academy before. How will we attract good candidates in this type of environment? Standards will be lowered, and corruption will follow. I'm worried about my future here. In the meantime I'm going to handle my calls professionally and thoroughly. But I'm not risking any more than I have to anymore. And I'm dusting off my resume.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Ever elusive zzzzs. Those things that I cannot seem to get today. So, my wonderful husband put in black out shades and installed a portable air conditioning unit because he so desperately wants me to sleep. It might seem selfless, but I'm sure my being rested benefits him. I've seen me without sleep. It's not pretty.

In spite of his efforts, there is the little problem of our very bright bathroom and my wimpy bladder. Inevitably, I have to pee about 2 hours into any sleep session. I could have spent a month in the desert without so much as a drop of liquids and STILL, I gotta go. So, going from a pitch black cool room to the blazing sunlight of my bathroom thrusts me in to consciousness. AHA, a solution. I keep a knit beanie next to the bed. When I have to pee, I keep my eyes closed, yank that down over my head akin to Dumb Donald without the eyeholes and maneuver my way in like a sightless drunk to the potty. VICTORY. I should be able to fall back into sweet slumber, right? Not quite.

You see, we have Bubba. The sweet labrador that has become my shadow. Despite the fact that Shawn bought him, trained him, wrestles with him, kisses him (almost uncomfortably so), bathes him, throws the ball for him, the dog is absolutely devoted to me. Apparently, he's so devoted he wants to be next to me when I pee. Which I would have known if I could see. I'll give him credit...he lasted about two hours in there all by himself on the cold tile before he finally howled his way into my dreams and startled me awake. Oh well...I can survive on 4.2 hours of sleep, right? Why am I doing this again? Oh, that's

Recently, Emma was playing with the other kids and a friend's child. They were playing good ole "cops and robbers." As Emma ran by with a plastic assault rifle filled with icy water (oh, if they only issued those to fact it could be a good parenting tool...but I digress), I asked her if she was a cop or a robber, she loudly proclaimed, "A COP! It's in my BLOOD!"

I hope insomnia isn't in her blood, too.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cable Withdrawl

While I loved my time working in Child Exploitation, now that I'm out of it I realize how much more time I seem to have. No caseload and no work from home has been a huge weight off my shoulders. The fly in the ointment is that I'm working midnights again. Why, might you ask, would I choose to work midnights? I am still asking myself that question. I'm more of a swing-shift kinda gal...the pace and hours of swings makes me far happier. But, alas, I need to actually spend time with my family, even if it is zombie-time. It's been two months, and I feel like I've finally adjusted to the shock of it and am now starting to enjoy my shift and my days off. Then we went and got rid of our TV. My idea...with Shawn's full buy-in. Turns out I'm the only one around here feeling the loss. My multi-tasking, ADD tendencies meant the TV was often my background when doing any and all things around the house. Now there is a very heavy silence around me. It's plain weird. I'm jonesing...

Things are in great turmoil around here. We are in the process of letting our condo and house go. I hate to say we are "losing" them because really it's a calculated decision rather than a loss over which we have no control. It just doesn't make sense to continue throwing money way. With attacks on our income and pensions, it is proving to be a good decision. We will hopefully come through the other side of this with a plan for retirement and college for the kids. Home-ownership just isn't the opportunity it once was. We've learned that we cannot count on the pensions that we'd been planning around for all these years, so it's time to make adjustments and difficult choices. The good thing about this? It has forced us to really analyze our priorities.

All the turmoil at work has caused me to really reflect on exactly what about my job makes me happy. The pension, benefits, and job security have always been a draw. I've always thought of myself as lucky to have fallen into this work without a degree and without really planning it. I've loved this job from the start. With the security, pension, and benefits all being shaken, how do I feel? I still love it. It's interesting, exciting, meaningful and fun. But I have to admit that I'm deflated. The loyalty I once felt for the city has waned in the face of the barrage of attacks. My morale, like everyone around me, is low.

So, as a woman of action, I'm looking for something else. Not necessarily a job change - with 20 years invested it wouldn't be prudent to leave right now. But I'm going back to school and thinking about what I want to do next. I'm drawn toward something that allows me to affect a change in the consciousness of women. My work in Internet Safety, sexual assaults and child exploitation has really opened my eyes to the way women are treated, and the way we treat ourselves. I want to do something to change that. I'm not sure how just yet. My interests in health and nutrition are also working their way into my thoughts of the future. Perhaps I can find a way to weave all of these into a meaningful hobby or cause.

I'm not sure if I'll talk much about Shawn or the kids on this blog. Without their permission, it seems somehow a violation. In fact, I'm not exactly what I'll be using this blog for other than to write and practice formulating thoughts and ideas...a welcome change to the "facts" and "synopsized statements" I usually write.

Thanks for reading!