February 19, 2010

Getaways When You’re Too Sick or Broke to Travel?

We all need escapes from the insidious world of illness. And I’m about to take a big one. I’m headed out to San Francisco on Monday for a Stupid Cancer book reading and then I’m taking a 9-day vacation. No blogging. (I’ll miss y’all!) No writing. No cancer nothing. I love my work and my daily life, and I love getting a break from it too.

Lucky me that my husband has a kagillion frequent flier miles from work. We’ll be spending time in a cabin stowed away by a fire, napping a ton, and reading to our heart’s content. But I haven’t always been this lucky. There have been many times when I’ve been too sick to travel or could not afford it.  Instead of the luxury of travel, I’d get crafty spending moments around my house or my city that felt like vacations. Here are some of them:

Sipping tea at Julius Meinl coffee shop. Their free cookies and European service help me forget I’m in Chicago.

Sitting at the Garfield Park Conservatory. They have a huge series of greenhouses smack dab in the middle of the city brimming with ferns, greenery, and ponds. Feels downright tropical and it’s free.

Soaking in a bath. I do this so infrequently that when I make it happen, I feel like I’m living someone else’s life.

Escaping to nature. When I was going through treatment in San Francisco I would find beautiful parks, hills, gardens, hiking trails. Even if I didn’t have the energy to walk, just sitting on a bench in the midst of nature was a total departure from my world. (I’ve yet to figure out how to do this in Chicago.)

Becoming another character. I deeply love reading because it allows me to enter an entirely different world and totally tune out. Some of my favorite books are short story collections by Alice Munro and Jump Lahiri.

How do you get a vacation from your life without spending much money or without traveling far? I’m looking for some intelligent fiction to read on my vacation.  Any recommendations?

Read Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s to learn how other young adult cancer patients stayed sane during their illness.

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May 08, 2009

Best Bang for Your Buck at Whole Foods

ginger-dressing

Whole Foods ain’t nicknamed Whole Paycheck for nothing. For young adult cancer patients (or anyone else with an illness) co-pays, medicine, medical debt, student loans, and time off work all take a toll on your cash flow – not to mention this whole recession thang.

I only shop at Whole Foods occasionally and am careful to buy the best bang for my buck items.  Here are my favorites:

1. Wild caught yellow fin tuna burgers, frozen
Because they are frozen they won’t go bad before I can eat them (spoilage is the worst waste of food money ever), plus most fish you buy at the market has been frozen anyway.  They are fast to cook, a nice hit of protein.

2.  Organic sausage
Expensive, but fast to cook, again a nice hit of organic protein.  I buy them for myself – Shannon eats the non-organic from Trader Joe’s – much less expensive.

3.  Organic Sale Produce
I buy mostly just a few sale items, but be careful in the produce aisle – there’s a difference between a sale and a good deal.  Example: regular priced organic romaine is way cheaper than on sale organic radicchio.  I also avoid berries – organic are too expensive – conventional too many pesticides.  Anti-oxidants? Show me a cancer study that was not on rats and made a truly significant difference with only a pint or two of berries.

4.  Spices
I usually use fresh lemon, salt, and pepper instead of spices but if I want to buy a spice, bulk at Whole Foods is the cheapest around.



5.  365 Brand Body Products

Walk the body care section with blinders on, by pass all the green-washed, pretty labels that will eat your wallet alive, and head straight for the 365 products.  They are very well priced and free of most skanky carcinogens like parabens.

Do you ever shop at Whole Foods or is it way beyond your budget?  Have you ever used food stamps at Whole Foods?  What are your favorite bang for your buck WF items?  Help me grow my list!

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