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Adventures

The Evolution of this Vegan

If you told me 20 years ago that I was going to be a devoted vegan, I probably would have laughed. And the reason would have been simple: animal products taste good.

  • Burgers are delicious.
  • Pizza is awesome.
  • Cheesecake can be so good, it’s “orgasmic.”

I’ve never been opposed to veganism; I just didn’t think it was something I would want to do. As a student at Oregon State University, I learned a lot of the basics merely by being around people who were vegan. When “The L Word” came out, two of our friends were roommates and they got Showtime. Every Sunday, we’d all come over to watch it, and everyone had to either bring a dollar to offset their cable bill or vegan snack.

Omnivore to Vegetarian

I love documentaries, and a few years ago, I started watching films about food including, Food Inc., and it churned my stomach to see how factory farming works in the United States. The conditions in which these animals are raised and killed are despicable. I agree with the saying that if more people knew how factory farm animals lived and died, they couldn’t eat them.

After seeing a number of these films, I didn’t feel comfortable eating meat, knowing what I knew about how farm animals went from birth to packages of meat in the store. I thought fish didn’t have feelings, so I decided it was ok to still eat them. When I learned that that wasn’t true, I gave up fish.

Going Vegan

It was actually Dog by Dog, documentary movie about dog breeding that made me think, “If I’m not ok with any animal suffering, then I need to give up dairy and eggs.” I was deluding myself into thinking it was ok to eat these because an animal didn’t die for my meal, but often still live horrible lives. If I wanted to have integrity around this issue, then I needed to be vegan. One thing that I can do is vote with my wallet and lessen the demand for animal products.

I let myself finish the animal products I had in my house, and started looking for vegan replacements. I had already switched out the meat in my diet for more grains and legumes. I replaced the half and half in my coffee with vanilla almond milk. I bought vegan butter. I was grateful to see that my favorite soup base also has vegan varieties. I bought vegan cookbooks and searched the internet for new recipes.  

I am sensitive to soy, so I eat mostly low soy and soy-free products. Sometimes that limits my options for vegan products, but that’s something I mostly encounter when I’m looking into meat-replacement products, which is something I rarely do. The only meat substitute I buy with any regularity is Trader Joe’s Hi-Protein Veggie Burger patties, which are made with pea protein.  

This was the day I knew I never wanted to eat a beef burger again.

Caveats and Exceptions

I used to have caveats or make exceptions to being vegan. Early on in my journey towards veganism, I use to eat animal products if they were from a certified humane source. My justification was that these animals were well-treated and had a good life before they became my lunch. That worked for my for a while, until I spent a day volunteering at Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary, cuddling Adorabull, a newborn calf who was brought to the farm after being abandoned in a ditch. He was sick little guy, and as I stroked his head, I knew I never wanted a beef burger again.

Apparently, others who have visited the farm sanctuary have come away with similar thoughts about changing their diets. Aimee doesn’t tell anyone who visits what they should or shouldn’t eat. Merely being with the animals inspires some people to re-think what they eat.

I also used to have an exception when I traveled and I would shift to vegetarianism if it wasn’t convenient to be vegan. I don’t give myself that out anymore. When I go to a restaurant, if there isn’t a vegan option, I look at the menu as a list of ingredients and make my own meal or I end up ordering a bunch of sides instead of an entrée. Thankfully it’s become easier to find all-vegan restaurants or restaurants with plenty of vegan options.

Committing to Full Veganism

It’s actually not hard to be vegan. I usually have oatmeal for breakfast and add in vanilla protein powder, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sliced banana. For lunch and dinner, a common meal for me is rice, beans, and a vegetable or I meal prep soup over the weekend. I’m on a lentil soup kick right now. Between meals I like to have fruit, dried fruit, veggie sticks, almonds, pretzels, and/or chips. It’s rare if I’m craving something that there isn’t a vegan option or something that is “close enough.”

Being vegan has been great for helping me avoid a lot of junk food. It’s easy to say no to things like cookies in the office, or when I get pizza now, it’s just crust, sauce, and veggies, which is much healthier than what I used to order.

About a year ago, I saw this video by Merle O’Neal talking about why she went vegan, and her words embody a lot of why I went vegan, more than what I could put in a post.

Undeniable Recap of 2020

Oh my goodness – I’ve been living in a pandemic-based society for over eight months. All of my in-person conferences were converted to virtual ones this year, and my Ironman race was deferred until 2021. For the bulk of the year, I worked and trained. I only left the Phoenix metro area once since we all started needing masks to leave the house.

Even with the monotony, there were still some important events that happened this year:

Helping Rosie Over the Rainbow Bridge

I’d had a suspicion for months that Rosie wasn’t going to make it to end of 2020, and as her arthritis and doggy dementia added more and more challenges to her life, I helped her over the Rainbow Bridge on August 7, 2020. My eyes still well with tears when I think about losing her, but I know I made the right decision and gave her a good death.

Photo by Lauren Ellis Photography

Officiating Sarah and Thomas’ Wedding

My friends and neighbors, Sarah and Thomas, got engaged last year. I thought they were going to ask me to watch their dog while they were getting married, but to my surprise, they asked me to be their officiant. I had a blast spending time with each of them individually, asking about how they met, their relationship, and their hopes for the future. From their stories, I found themes, looked up quotes about marriage, and wove them into a short ceremony that was customized to them.

I also felt like a bit of a MacGyver that day because at the beginning of the ceremony, I had the bride and groom’s rings on my fingers (because they didn’t have a wedding party), and the bride’s handkerchief tucked into the back of my belt to hand over when she started crying since neither of us had pockets.

Singing at Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary

I love spending time at Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary. In the winter, I was out there to help with Gracie the baby lamb with the crooked neck. At one point, I was snuggling her on my lap, and I started to sing. Aimee was awestruck and said I have the voice of an angel. Since then, she invites me out to sing whenever an animal needs extra love and attention – like Peanut the pony when he was new to the farm and scared, Duke the cow who was born without elbows, and Wooliam the sheep after he had surgery (neutered). I love when I start to sing to one animal and other animals wander over to listen too. Aimee even had me out on the Fourth of July to help keep the animals calm while the fireworks were going off.

Photo by Aimee Takaha

Releasing the Lights Camera Lawsuit Online Course

It’s been about three years in the making, but I finally finished and released my first online course, Lights Camera Lawsuit: The Legal Side of Professional Photography. I wanted to create a course that gave the photographers the information about copyright and contracts at an affordable price, so could avoid making the painful and avoidable mistakes that I see photographers making all the time.

This course has been a journey, and probably the start of more courses to come. I had to form a separate business, create the website, hire people to create the logos and slide templates, create the lesson outlines, record and upload each lesson, and promote the course. It felt so good to bring this to market. 

Every Time Miss K Says “Oggy Ruth”

I have a nibling who lives across the country. She’s two and has brilliant blue Disney eyes. She’s so expressive. Now, I’m not a fan of children as a species, but I adore this little creature. If her parents don’t post pictures of her often enough, I’ll send them a text that says, “Send proof of child.” Since there isn’t a gender-neutral term for aunt/uncle, I picked “oggy” as my title (rhymes with “doggy”), and everyone in this kid’s life is completely on board with it. My heart melts every time I hear her say, “Oggy Ruth.”  

There were a few things that didn’t make my top five for 2020 – including going to my friend Cora’s wedding and participating in multiple Love and Compliments rallies. The thing that made these and the other top events from the year so important was that I got to spend time with my friends, even when we had to stay at least six feet apart at all times. Being away from loved ones has been one of, if not the biggest challenge of the COVID pandemic.

Photo by Liesl Pimentel

I didn’t have many firsts or any celebrity sightings in 2020, so they’re not in this Undeniable Recap. Hopefully, they’ll be back next year.

In Memoriam

Humans: Mary Griffith, Maggie Griffin, Katherine Johnson, Grant Imahara, Justin Lutch, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sean Connery, Alex Trebek

Other Creatures: Ziggy Moriarty the Boston Terrier, Moonflower Takaha the Cow, George the Corgi

A Year Without Hair

Ruth Carter Shaved Head by Marc Farb

I made the decision in 2018 to keep my head shaved for a year. My first shave was by a professional stylist, but then I bought a set a clippers and re-shaved it ever 7-10 days. It was great in the warmer months. Not having hair kept me much cooler. Starting in the summer of 2019, in addition to cutting my hair with clippers, I began using a razor blade to cut my hair as close as possible, making my head feel as smooth as a honeydew melon.

Having no hair was super convenient. Every morning, all I had to do was flop out of bed, and I was ready to go. I never had to deal with bed head, and I didn’t have to pay for conditioner, styling products, or haircuts for a year. (I washed my head stubble with a shampoo bar a few times a week.)

I’ll admit, having no hair made me feel like a badass at time, like the embodiment of a superhero. I don’t think it made me more aerodynamic though.

Painted Gold from Head to Toe

One of the best experiences I had while bald was being painted by Skin City in Las Vegas. Since I didn’t have hair, the artist was able to paint me, literally, from the top of my head to the top of my feet (except for a pair of pasties and gold undies. I felt like a living statue.

After the event, I put my jeans and went back to my hotel. My friends liked watching people react to me watching around with my gold head and torso, so I humored them by walking through the casino floor. That’s where we learned the fun way that you can’t walk through a casino with a painted face (which is ironic given how much makeup some people wear). Security stopped us as I was finishing my lap around the room.

Assumptions People Made About Me

There were a few occasions when people asked if I had cancer. One man came up to me in the parking lot of Sprouts and tried to tell me about how carrot juice kills cancer. Every time, I responded honestly that I was just taking a break from having hair.

As far as I know, no one assumed that I was a Neo Nazi, or anything, though a friend said I looked a bit scary in a tank top with my no-hair.

Did I Ever Sunburn my Head?

I am grateful to whoever invented spray on sunblock. I rarely left the house without spraying my head if it was after sunrise. I managed to go the whole year without burning my scalp. When I went outside for longer workouts, I wore a bandana under my helmet when I was biking and a hat when I was running to protect my head from the sun.

Lessons Learned

Here are some of the things I learned from my year with no hair:

  • It’s challenging to cut your own hair around and behind your ears.
  • Yes, you can cut yourself with clippers. I nicked the top of my earlobe on numerous occasions.
  • It’s really easy to cut yourself if you use a disposable razor to shave your head.
  • It’s difficult to find a ballgown that goes with no-hair. The fanciness of the dress didn’t have anything to balance it out up top. I tried to find a sparkly headband, but it didn’t look right.
  • It was easier to present myself androgynously without hair. More people addressed me as “sir,” when I was in baggy guy clothes.

Now What?

Now I’m letting my hair grow out, going back to my previous undercut. I’ve started to miss it. Hopefully, I’ll have enough hair to have the style I want by this summer.

Undeniable Recap of 2019

As I read through the notes in my memory jar for 2019, I noted that a lot of my happy memories this year involved hugs and dogs. It so cute when dogs get so excited, they piddle. Depression and anxiety were regular companions this year, and it shows by how empty my calendar was except for work travel and race training.

Nevertheless, there are still things to celebrate from 2019:

Top 5 Events

1. Half Ironman Maine.

The bulk of my year was focused on training for and competing in Maine 70.3, my first Half Ironman. It was a fun, but somewhat brutal race. The swim in the freezing cold and choppy water was exhausting, and it was only the first mile of the race! I love the bike ride through the back roads of Maine. I had some choice words for Coach David when I realized that a portion of the run was on a dirt trail. It felt so good to raise my arms as I crossed the finish line, but the best part of the day was hugging Coach David after we both had finished.

Proud Coach

2. Meeting the Nibling.

I wanted to meet my nibling before she got too big, so I made a special trip across the country to spend the weekend with her. When I first walked in the door, my sister was feeding the baby. She took one look at me and started to cry. (Apparently, she’d reached the stage where she can distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar faces.) By the next morning, we were friends. I love this little creature – watching her piercing blue eyes take in the world and seeing her independent spirit whether she’s playing with her toys or crawling across the floor. I hope I’ll hear her say, “Oggy” soon.

I was awake. Baby K was working on it.

3. Snuggling with Adorabull.

Aimee’s Farm Animal Sanctuary took in a sick calf this summer. He was found in a ditch, umbilical cord still attached, and covered in mud. A good Samaritan brought him to the sanctuary. Aimee named him Adorabull. She also put out the call on Facebook asking for extra help at the farm since the sick baby needed so much attention. I spent a Saturday morning at the farm helping to tube feed him, give him his meds, and snuggle with him. I nicknamed him “Addy.”  It was such a joy to see him stand up and eat some starter feed. You could see he had a fight in him, even when he was weak. He survived and is doing great at the sanctuary now.

Sweet Adorabull, aka “Addy”

4. Plastic-Free July.

One of the ways humans are destroying the planet is with single-use plastics. We use these plastic items for a matter of minutes, and then it won’t decompose of thousands of years. It makes no sense to use our fossil fuels like this. It makes me sad and angry to see how it’s wreaking havoc on marine life. I challenged myself to do avoid single use plastics for Plastic-Free July, and to find alternative products that no plastic packaging. It forced me to re-think the way I shop for food and hygiene products. Even after this month ended, I still try to avoid single-use plastics at least 90% of the time.

5. What We Left Behind – DS9 Documentary.

I love Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It’s my favorite Star Trek series to date. It’s a Trek that focused more on relationships compared to the other series, and it how the writers created their story arcs was changed the way others wrote episodic series. I loved sitting in the theater, surrounded by my fellow Trekkies, and hearing all the behind the scenes stories about this series.

Firsts in 2019

I’ve had a lot of firsts related that came leading up to my first Half Ironman race. I got my first triathlon bike, that came with my first tri-bike fitting. That was followed with my first time riding a bike with my feet clipped to my pedals (and my first fall from my tri-bike). In physical therapy, I also had dry needling with electro-stimulation for my hips and back.

I had my first dermatologist appointment this year for a strip-down-check-every-mole skin exam this year.

When my friends got engaged, I thought they were going to ask me to watch their dog during the ceremony. Instead, they asked me to be the presider.

I committed to keeping my head shaved for a year. Starting I the summer, I began taking a razor blade to my head in addition to my clippers.

When my flight was delayed from 11pm to 7am, I spent my first night in an airport.

I was glad I was working from home the morning a neighbor asked me to give his car a jump when battery was dead.

After Shankminds in Las Vegas, I was asked to leave a casino for walking through it with a painted face (and body).

I was painted down to my feet, but I put on jeans to go back to my hotel.

I called the Cleveland Police Department to get more information about Ohio’s decency law. They put me on hold and took a poll around the office to decide how topless I could legally be in public.

With my non-binary birth certificate in hand, I attempted to get a non-binary passport and update my social security record. Both times, a clerk on the phone told me I could change my records, and both times, it turned out not to be true.

Rosie the basset hound is still alive and kicking, thanks in part to cold laser treatment and CBD.

Flat basset!

Foods: Homemade almond milk, Homemade oat milk, Daiya vegan pizza (not food), Homemade crackers (meh), Homemade vegan butter, Mushroom calamari

Places: Canada, Maine, AZ Zipline Adventures, Welcome to Las Vegas sign

Events: Stomp!, Conex, Shabbat

Celebrity Sightings

  • Henry Rollins
  • Mindy Kaling

In Memoriam

  • Sylus Kolsrud
  • Carol Channing
  • Bernice Sandler
  • Tim Frank
  • Mars Rover Opportunity
  • Luke Perry
  • Grumpy Cat
  • Frida Carter-Ortmeyer
  • Zavi Solis
  • Buddy Williams
  • Cokie Roberts
  • Aron Eisenberg
  • Ad Wedzik
  • Johnny Cash Moriarty
  • Caroll Spinney
  • Rene Auberjonois

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Whenever I book a hotel room, if there’s a box on the reservation form for notes or requests, I like to type in something about being non-binary or I’ll put in something silly. One time I asked for the hotel to put a “high five” in my room, just to see what they’d do with that. I would have been tickled pink if they had taped a piece of paper with the outline of someone’s hand on it to the wall. Unfortunately, they ignore it.

I like to have fun when I travel. I’m also the person who shakes out the Gideon Bible, just in case there’s money in it.

Don’t worry. My silly antics aren’t just limited to hotels. I regularly ask servers at restaurants for a pony when they ask if they can bring anything else. Usually they smile and say something lighthearted back. But one drew me a picture of a pony on my bill. She got an extra tip that night.

Last month, I spent a few nights in Vegas for the Shankminds live mastermind event. When I booked my room at the Park MGM, I asked for the staff to refer to me as “Your Grace” and for the hotel to put an octopus made out of towels in my room.

This was what I saw when I walked into my hotel room.

I shall call you “Ocky.”

I giggled when I saw this little guy. I put him on a side table and smiled every time I looked at it for the rest of my trip. (If there is such thing as a spirit animal, I’m pretty sure mine is an octopus.)

I think asking for a towel octopus will be my new thing when I travel. I’m curious to see how other hotels execute my request.

Undeniable Recap of 2018

It’s been a busy year, and I’ve barely blogged a thing. Sorry about that. I’ll do better in 2019.

I’m glad I keep my jar of happy memories next to my bed to remind me of all the good things that happened this year. Sometimes with everything that was happening in the world, it was challenging to remember that everything doesn’t suck all the time. So many good things happened that I had to do more than a top five list:

Top 5 Events

1. Non-Binary Birth Certificate: I am officially legally non-binary! I had my California birth certificate corrected and re-issued, so now it states that I’m non-binary. For now, I can’t get a non-binary driver’s license in Arizona, but I’m working on it. I hope to influence the State to pass a bill that will allow non-binary birth certificates and driver’s licenses next session. Having a non-binary birth certificate also makes me want to go to states that have passed “bathroom bills” and ask where my restroom is.

2. First Marathon and Triathlon: I finished a marathon this past January. By Mile 20, I was hurting but also planning for my next race (which will be in February 2019). During the off season, I had Coach David add biking and swimming to my workouts for cross training. A few months later I signed up for my first sprint triathlon – just to see if I liked it. Less than 100 yards into the swim I thought, “Yeah, I like this.”

3. Christopher Creek Lodge Vacation: I shipped Rosie and myself away from society for a few days to stay at a cabin with bad wi-fi. We spent a lot of time reading, watching nature, rejuvenating, and getting my creative energy flowing again. It was what I needed.

4. Open Water Swim with the Jewish Swim Club: When I started swimming this year, Coach David asked, “What’s the goal?” I responded that I wanted to hold my own “with the Jews.” (Note: When I started my swim workouts in April, the furthest I could swim the first day was 75 yards.) During the summer, David and his friends swim in the ocean off Brighton Beach, sometimes a mile or more.

By the end of June David asked when I was coming to visit. I did a whirlwind trip, flying across the country on Thursday, to go swimming at 7am on Friday, and be back home in less than 24 hours. It was an awesome trip, including the swim. This was my first real open water swim, and I had a bit of a panic attack at the start. Once I realized I would never find my cadence in the waves, I was fine.

5. I Became an Oggy:  A few months ago, my sister had a baby. (I can’t wait to meet the little human.) If they don’t post photos of the little one for seven days, I send my sister and brother-in-law an email that says, “Send proof of infant.”

I had to figure out what I am to my nibling (collective term for niece/nephew). There is no gender-neutral term for aunt/uncle. I adopted a term from another non-binary person: “Oggy” (rhymes with “doggy”). I like being “Oggy Ruth.”

Honorable Mentions

Seeing Dan Savage Live: If you ever get the chance to see him speak, go.

Blind Rosie: Rosie went blind a few weeks ago, and we had to remove her other eye. She was in surgery a few hours after waking up blind that day. When I brought her home, she was bit freaked out by the protective cone she had to wear, and she refused to walk. My neighbors, Sarah and Thomas, came to my rescue and helped carry Rosie into the house when we got home. Since then, we’ve both adjusted to blind basset life. She’s such a trooper.

Rescue Dogs at CMWorld: Last year at Content Marketing World, I asked for rescue dogs in the expo hall. (Everyone loves dogs, right?) This year, they made it happen! One of the happy hours was “Yappy Hour” where, for a donation, we got to pet adoptable dogs from City Dogs Cleveland. I hope it becomes a standard part of the event.

Skateboarding: Last year, the crew at Content Marketing World bought me a penny skateboard. This year, I learned how to ride it – with lessons, pads, and the whole she-bang. I also bought a proper board. I love riding my board. When I’m skateboarding, I literally can’t think about anything else, otherwise the risk of falling is too great. I’ll tell you the whole story next year.

Firsts in 2018

Fostered a dog for a week – and learned that Rosie’s meant to be an only child.

Peleton class – at the flagship studio

Ebay listing – sold my BarBri books

Rubber bands on my Invisalign trays

SlotZilla Zip Line

Settlement conference

Deposition

Garmin watch

Amazon affiliate link

Seeing Chicago’s Second City perform

Visit to Bart Simpson Bust

Being told I look like a young Richard Gere by the clerk at JJ Hat Center

Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, Lake Erie, and Tempe Town Lake (Yes, I was up-to-date on my tetanus shot. No, I didn’t get super powers.)

Events: Intelligent Content Conference, American Alliance of Museums conference

Attempts to be a Better Human (affiliate link): Reusable produce bags and jars, Bringing my own container to the store for Rosie’s chicken, Zero waste deodorant, Bamboo toothbrush, Menstrual cup

Foods: Making beans from dried, vegan pancakes, Daiya Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac (not bad), Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie – Chocolate Chip (not worth it), overnight oats, Just Desserts vegan chocolate midnight cupcake (delicious but soooo sweet), chia seed pudding (meh), Café Indigo vegan carrot cake (yum)

Celebrity Sightings

Margaret Cho

Elizabeth Smart

Dan Savage

Tina Fey

In Memoriam

Stephen Hawking

Harry Anderson

Larry Dolan

Kate Spade

Anthony Bourdain

Aretha Franklin

Elena Shushunova

John McCain

Mary Sigler

Burt Reynolds

Jay Bottomlee

Stan Lee

Penny Marshall

Little White Lie

I told a little fib last weekend. The exterior of the buildings in my complex was painted months ago, and then last week, we got an email that said a painter would be on-site over the weekend to paint the edges of our doors and we would have to leave each painted door open to dry for an hour after it was painted.

Did I mention the powers that be decided to do this on a weekend with an excessive heat warning?

I’m coming off a pretty nasty bout of depression and anxiety. Two weekends ago, I was so withdrawn, I wouldn’t even talk to the clerks when I ran my errands and I went dark on Facebook. I didn’t want to deal with a stranger knocking on my door. I didn’t want to inhale paint fumes. And I didn’t want to be forced to sit with my door open when it was 100+ degrees outside. (The complex has the paint so those of us who didn’t get our doors painted this weekend can do it ourselves later.) To keep the painter away, I clipped a little note to my door:

I figured, “it’s just a little white lie so it wouldn’t hurt nobody.” I bet he felt better about passing my place. It seemed like a nicer and more effective note to post than, “I have severe depression and selective mutism. I really don’t want to deal with strangers today. Please go away.”

Either way, it worked. No one knocked on my door while this was posted on my door.

Mission accomplished.

PS – I sent this picture to my friend who is a new mom, and she responded with, “You win all the things.”

Invisalign Part II: 34 More Trays

Your groundhog said you’re getting 6 more weeks of winter.
Mine said I get 34 more weeks of Invisalign trays.

A few weeks ago, I saw my orthodontist after completing 53 weeks of Invisalign. He said my teeth are straight, and my bite is improved, but my upper and lower jaws are still out of alignment. The tech took another set of impressions and sent them off to have another set of trays created. They didn’t tell me how many more trays I’d have to wear to correct this problem. (I wore my Week 53 trays for a few weeks while my next set of trays were being made.)

I couldn’t manage to take a good photo that shows my rubber band, so I stopped trying.

Last week, I was back in the orthodontist chair (I always feel like I’m in junior high when I’m in there) and I asked, “How many more weeks do I have the pleasure, I mean privilege, of wearing Invisalign trays.” The tech laughed, but I was serious. I suspect many people who can’t afford it wish they had the means to afford Invisalign or braces. Even though I may complain that my teeth hurt or that wearing trays is a hassle, I never forget that it’s a privilege to do this.

The tech said, “34,” and I get to wear a rubber band on one side of my mouth. The tech had to move some of the anchors for my trays (aka “dinosaur teeth”) and she glued a metal “button” to one of my lower teeth. The rubber band attaches to an edge carved into my upper tray and the button. Every time I take my trays out, I’m supposed to replace the rubber band.

Looking at the calendar, I’ll be wearing this set of trays, changing the trays each week, until mid-October. Basically, I added another year to this adventure.

At first, I had the compulsion to try to chew on the rubber band, which isn’t actually possible, but now it’s a non-issue. Putting it on is easy, though in my first week, I managed to shoot a rubber band across the room and snap myself in the lip while trying to put it on. These are first world problems.

The rules with these of trays is the same: try to wear them at least 22 hours a day. Some day I’ll get to sip my coffee again. The only difference now is I must remember to bring my bag of rubber bands in addition to my tray case when I leave the house, and for now, I need a mirror to put on a rubber band. Note to self: Put a compact with a mirror in your backpack for when you’re traveling.

The only problem I’ve encountered with wearing a rubber band is I can’t sing properly. I can’t open my mouth wide enough to sing the notes. I don’t wear my trays when I have a voice lesson or perform, but I do when I’m singing in the car and around the house. Knowing me, I’ll test how well these rubber bands stretch. I hope it doesn’t hurt much if one snaps in my mouth.

A Year In Invisalign

I’ve worn Invisalign trays for the last 53 weeks. Every Tuesday night, I switched out my current trays for the next set, and every time it was a remarkable sensation to feel which teeth my new trays would be moving. Thankfully after the first few months, my teeth didn’t hurt that bad, but I did get my trays stuck in my mouth on more than one occasion.

There has definitely been movement in my mouth. I’m curious to see my before and after photos to see if the change is significant. My teeth were mostly straight before doing Invisalign. I did this because their alignment was off and if I didn’t do something, I’d likely break my bottom teeth on my top ones. So, as long as we prevented that issue, I’m happy.

52 Weeks of Invisalign Trays – Week 53 is in my Mouth

Two Birds, One Stone
Sleeping with Invisalign was never problematic, because I’ve been sleeping with a night guard for years – one of the lovely benefits of going to law school. (No, you don’t wear a night guard with your trays. The trays replaced the guard.) My trays help protect me from myself, well at least grinding my teeth. There were many mornings where my trays were jammed tight on my teeth from grinding and clenching them in my sleep.

So it’s a two birds, one stone situation, but a very expensive stone.

Floss Champion
I’ve become that guy who keeps a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss in the office. I regularly brush my teeth and my trays when I’m at work. One of the benefits of Invisalign, is you will instantly know if you have a bit of food between your teeth the moment you pop your trays back into your mouth after a meal.

If you’re doing Invisalign, you’re probably flossing – by necessity.

22 Hours a Day

Running with Invisalign
I’m training for a marathon. During my long runs, I use gels to replenish my calories and electrolytes. With Invisalign, they recommend you wear your trays 22 hours a day, and my long runs were usually longer than 2 hours. I didn’t want to run without them, but I didn’t want to have to pop them in and out either. I was afraid the gels would either stick to my trays and/or stain them.

Thankfully, neither of those things happened, even when I used cherry-flavored gel.

The Process Continues
This week, I go back to the orthodontist this week for my 53-week follow-up appointment. I feel like a junior high kid every time I go in there. Hopefully, my doctor will tell me that my teeth have moved to where they need to be, and I get to move into the maintenance phase: 6 months of wearing my trays all the time and then I get to shift to just wearing my trays at night. I look forward to the days I get to chew gum and sip coffee for hours.

Reducing the Waste I Create

I’ve watched the videos like I Tried To Make Zero Trash For 30 Days and We Tried To Make Zero Trash In Our Beauty Routines For A Week, and they inspired me to look at my habits and what I can do reduce the amount of trash and waste I create. Like many people, I recycle and I use a reusable water bottle, but I feel like I can do more, especially when it comes to the amount of plastic I use. These are some of the things I want to try to reduce my environmental impact:

Don’t Forget to Recycle by Blue Pylons from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Bamboo Toothbrush: The next time I need a new toothbrush, instead of buying a plastic one, I want to try one make of biodegradable bamboo.

Zero-Waste Deodorant: Instead of buying a deodorant in a plastic twist-bottom tube, I want to try a natural deodorant that comes in a glass jar. I also wonder if something like this would be better for my sensitive skin.

Shampoo Bar: Yes, there is shampoo that comes in a bar. I’m curious to see how well this will work. It’s going to be a while before I try it because I have short hair and it wasn’t too long ago that I bought a new bottle of shampoo.

Seedling by Kevin Doncaster from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Regular Bar Soap: There was a time when we just had bars of soap next to the skin for washing our hands. I could go back to that. I wonder if I can find a bar of soap that has exfoliating properties that I could use instead of my apricot face wash.

Asking Companies to Consider Lower-Waste Options: There are certain products that I know I won’t want to give up – like my moisturizer. I can ask them to consider offering a version that comes in glass instead of plastic. At least then they’d know there’s an interest.

Reusable Produce Bags and Food Containers: Top of my list this year is to pick up some reusable produce bags so I don’t have to keep using plastic ones every time I go to the store.

I often shop in the bulk food section of Sprouts for seeds, dried fruit, grains, and lentils. They don’t advertise this, but you can bring your own reusable containers to use after they weigh it. I want to get some jars and try this.

Since my diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, I would love to compost the parts I don’t eat. I currently don’t for a few reasons: (1) I’m afraid I’ll do it wrong and create a smelly mess that will attract rodents and bugs and (2) if I use vermicompost (aka worms), I’m afraid I’ll kill them and have a smelly mess that will attract rodents and bugs. (The fear is real – I’ve killed a cactus.) My city collects landscape waste, but not food scraps for composting. If I want to try it, it appears Arizona Worm Farm sells a ready-to-use worm bin.

I’m excited to try new products as I need them and see what works.