Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 85: Dear Sean, I Wasn't Trying to Mislead You

You've got to say, I think
that if I keep working at this
and want it badly enough
I can have it. It's called perseverance.
Lee Iacocca
Inspirational Song
A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes

Dear Sean,

I know you've been busy with your play and reaching your own aspirations and haven't been reading posts as much. But yesterday you left a comment on my blog that said, "You're almost to day 100!!! very nice, you must feel incredible my friend!!" And reading it made me feel bad--like I'd mislead you. I don't think I've been deceptive in any way, but maybe I haven't been as transparent as I could have been either. . . so I felt the need to set the record straight.

Yes, I am almost to day 100 since July 4 when I had my Day of Reckoning and decided to get serious again about losing weight. But I have not been on track every day. In fact, more than once I've considered re-setting the "dieting meter" or abandoning the count all together. Because that's how far off track I've been.

But I didn't erase the numbers because this is where I am. And the days go on whether I count them or not. And I still have hope that as I get further in my journey I will be able to have an entry that claims some dramatic amount of weight loss and say, "It took me over 80 days to get refocused, even after I claimed it, but I did, and you can too."

But I don't feel all bad, Sean, and here's why. I have depression. I say it that way on purpose because I'm coming to terms with it being a condition. If I say, I am depressed, it feels much more like something I am to blame for instead of something that just is. And during the last 40 days or so at least, my focus has really been on trying to make my way toward relieving the depression. And I am finally getting some relief so the days have not been for nothing.

And if you haven't struggled with depression, it may not be clear how key it is to be unbound by it in order to focus on other things. My hope that this will not always be true as I learn other skills and ways to cope, and have other patterns to fall back on, but right now it is.

And now, I am trying again to move on. I'd love to take the deep dive that you did--straight in, all the way, focused. But so far it's not happening for me. Instead, I find myself making smaller decisions and insights.

Like right now these are the things on my mind and in my focus:
  • I have a tendency to overeat cereal, which makes me feel like I'm starting the day out wrong. I have this kind of addiction to Honey Bunches of Oats Peach--it says 12 servings on the box, but I swear I'm through the thing in less than 5. Because of this, I'm trying to switch out my breakfasts. This is harder than it seems! It's like brushing your teeth with the other hand. But today, I had a yogurt parfait that I put together at home with a nectarine and some frozen blackberries. Yeah for me.

  • I am noticing 2 times when I feel particularly compelled to eat and working on recognizing them, calming myself, and responding to them differently. One time is when I feel rushed or kind of "put upon." Like when I move from one meeting to another at work, with no breaks, and eating lunch at my desk. This makes me feel like I'm racing and like I want to just cram food in my mouth. I am trying to figure out how to reframe this. I actually think if I could feel comfortable enough to give myself the time to do it that a brisk little walk or stretch even would help.

  • The other time I notice a strong desire to eat is when I feel this hole inside me. A disconnectedness. It can be a similar feeling as the above--being put upon, or misunderstood--like if my husband is not connecting with me or when I feel like I need to talk to someone but there is no time or no one around who I feel like I say the things I need/want to say. I am trying to just move my way through this and go ahead and reach out to people. Sometimes sharing with people makes me feel vulnerable because I say things with a level of intimacy that others don't. But really, I think this is me, and lots of people do respond to that and that's what draws them to me. So I think in the end, this hole will be less void if I can embrace this part of me without apprehension and seek the connection I desire.

Anyway, Sean, I so admire you and your family. And I truly appreciate your support and encouragement. And I don't want to feel like I am letting you down. It's a searching journey for me that is bigger than just weight--as I know you know. And it's hard to feel like I'm not failing. . . or letting myself down. . . or justifying . . .but I know I can just start from this moment, always, because that's all I have.



Artwork Admiration

This is art from Bennie Morrison. I saw his work at Atlanta's Folk Fest a few weeks ago. I loved this because it is a painting on a turtle shell! And it's so full of little details.

He also writes little notes on the inside of the shell, which I found really quaint and endearing. The note on this one, if you can't read it says:

Snapping Turtle 13" x 14"

Found in Rivers Streams Wet Lands

Caught on Jugs Traps

Trappers use the meat

4-27-07 Two Wagons Farm

Bennie Morrison

Yep! We were on the farms

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day 83: Fair Skies

Acquire inner peace and
a multitude will
find their salvation near you.

Catherine de Hueck Doherty

Inspirational Song
Free Bird
Lynard Skynard

Fair Skies

I love fall. Every fall I start to make big plans to make stuff for Christmas. That's not completely true. When I've been super depressed I have not wanted to make things and I just thought I was growing out of it.

But I think this new antidepressant--Cymbalta--is helping me. I am starting to feel like my old normal self. And it's amazing. There are actually things I want to do with my time. I want to work on photography and editing pictures and put together little books and write and take more painting classes and learn more about art. I want to try once again to play an instrument. . .

If I have a near miss with a car going to work, I don't think whatever who cares? I think, Yikes! be careful! I think I have things to look forward to!

I know that must sound strange to people who've never experienced the despair of depression, and it's a strange feeling, but it's a true feeling. And one I'm glad to not be experiencing.

Anyway, Fall is the time I start thinking about stuff I can make (which I'm usually disappointed in, but doesn't mean it's not fun to do it!) and it's the season of fairs--state fairs, local fairs, art fairs, and craft fairs! I love them all. . . but I'm especially inspired and uplifted by art fairs and craft fairs.

I'm pretty eclectic--I love the arts fairs that sell fine arts and folk art and grandma's art--you know crocheted booties and trains made from lifesavers & caramels.

Artwork Admiration
Here's a creative guy's work for you to check out Joel Pinkerton make the video box big (click on that box within the box on the right side of the video player, to the left of the triangle) so you can see the expressions of these recycled silver sculptures with attitude! I love each one. . .they are so creative and fun!

This one's called Coffee Quail!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 76: Fat ETs--It's Time to Assimilate

A crust
eaten in peace
is better than a banquet
partaken in anxiety.
~Aesop, Fables
Inspirational Song
Wayfaring Stranger
Emmylou Harris
All Fat People Are Not the Same
You may or may not have noticed that all fat people are not the same. I’ve heard people say, “It doesn’t matter if you have to lose 10 pounds or 110 pounds, the process is the same.” Au contraire.

The process may be the same, but the person trying to lose the weight is different. For one thing, the person who has to lose more than 100 pounds is very likely to have been struggling much longer than the person who has less weight to lose. In fact, they are likely to have little to nothing in common with the folks who have 30 lbs or less to lose. I call those 30 lb or less folks the fat masqueraders. Simply put they are not fat. They may not even register in the official books as “overweight.”

Fat Masqueraders
Perhaps thin at some point in their life, they now find themselves a tad heavier, or they may have always carried this “extra” weight and just want to see finally what “perfect” feels like. Good for them. All they have to do is buckle down a bit on the habits that are already bred in them. They intuitively know when to stop eating and their body adjusts naturally to an occasional overindulgence. Sure, they’ll have to concentrate and feel the pain of a new way of making choices, but the transition is a small one.

They may need to exercise in a more structured, scheduled way than they have previously. And I feel for them. It’s hard to start moving for the first time and fitting it all in. I hope they succeed. But they aren’t trying to do it with the mass of a whole person attached to them like the truly fat do.

There’s no way fat masqueraders can identify with the struggle of long term obesity. But more about those long-term strugglers in a minute because first, we have to cover the group I call the Nouveau Obese.

The Nouveau Obese
The Nouveau Obese have temporarily stepped into the world of obesity. Many of them crossed into the territory after a pregnancy or two. The baby weight just never came off and they kept gaining. Another smaller lot of them are 45ish, leaning toward menopause, and realizing for the first times in their lives that they can’t eat the same things they did when they were 20. These are the kind of people who are shocked to realize that peanuts are high in calories.

I feel for the Nouveau Obese, I really do, because for them being fat is akin to falling asleep as a white person and waking up a black person in a racist world. They just can’t understand why suddenly people aren’t treating them the same way as they used to. They can’t understand why suddenly their old clothes don’t fit or why someone in their family grimaces when they take their standard chunk of cake at an annual celebration. The first time they use the word fat in reference to themselves they can barely choke it out it hurts so much.

While the weight loss challenge that the Nouveau Obese is real and can take a long time and require painful, conscientious, and even ongoing changes, there’s one thing that keeps them from the lowest of despair. The key element the Nouveau Obese lack is a history of being obese. And therefore, obesity is an “acute” problem for them.

At some point in their lives, the Nouveau Obese shopped in “normal” size clothes stores. They may have been athletic—even playing on sports teams. They probably went to prom. They’ve likely worn evening gowns or traditional wedding dresses. They have a healthy self esteem that is ready to be uncovered—that is strong enough to burst through the extra flab.

Some of the Nouveau Obese can get a good chunk of the way toward goal by trimming some calories with the ole dieting standards that in the past haven’t been part of their food pantries—diet sodas, & lower fat milk--skip the fries most of the time. When the Nouveau Obese talk about their success from these actions, I have to try very hard not to hate them. Because, you see, the group I belong to has such a history of obesity that it’s like they’re a variation on the species, I like to call them, the ETs from Obesity World.

The ETs From Obesity World
People from Obesity World have genetics that are not yet understood by today’s scientists. We have a psyche and metabolism that makes us respond differently to food than the average human. Even our personalities are different. We’re the folks who caused the stereotypes to become initiated--like fat people are funny and maternal and generous. We claim as our people John Candy, all “mammies,” and Santa Claus.

We were fat before being fat was a national trend—before it became an epidemic that everyone was being blamed for.

We’ve struggled to fit in here on planet earth, but we are always a bit apart. Thank goodness for the likeness of our kin—the majority being full, with a likeness to being foam filled. Family times made second portions and food celebrations feel normal. No one’s arms reached around the other so all the hugs were without awkwardness.

We ETs from Obesity World share the history of an obese childhood. In the comfort of our fat homes, we stayed protected. But then came the painful awareness that not only were we different but so were our loved ones—the people we admired and looked up to.
Unaccustomed to our kind, this world’s stores relegated us to basements and back of the store sections to ill named departments like Pretty Plus or Huskies. Some of us grew up never fitting into a pair of jeans—or even pants that had a zipper. Some of us had the extra shame of wearing clothes that were tailor made so they would fit us —and leaving us to look all the more alien in our fake denim or handmade replicas of the trendy clothes.

And the shame didn’t leave us in adulthood. Some of us used the shame to excel in other areas—to push harder to rise beyond the prejudiced brought by our bodies. Others sunk into poverty and helplessness.

And that’s the other big connection between us ETs—a long shared shame. Shame of the shape of our bodies—moon faces, globular upper arms, pendulant breasts, blimpie or floppy stomachs, blossoming buttocks, and lumpy thighs-- that look the same as the parents we loved and grandparents we adored and great-grandparents whose pictures hang on the wall.

A shame like smoke that infiltrated our lives and kept us from running to play, or climbing, or jumping; a shame that kept us from expressing our normal sexuality—desiring to be admired and kissed; a shame so apparent to others that they avoided us because of it, or if they didn’t, we didn’t see them because our heads were hanging so low.

The longevity of our obesity in many cases kept us from even trying to lose weight. It seemed an unreachable impossibility—not of our world—even at times a denouncement of our heritage. Still, we know nutrition better than most. Raised on fat free milk, scornful of deep fried foods, experts in cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Our tables are always set with a vegetable with our starch and protein. When we snack on peanuts, we don’t do it in ignorance—we do it with the face-on shame of knowing we are being “bad”—just like we do when we sneak back to the deep fried foods and the whole fat ice cream. We don’t know why we can’t help ourselves. . . indeed sometimes it feels like the choices come from our blood. . . a long line of genetic code. . .

It’s Time for Assimilation
But now it’s time for us to finally assimilate. We have to hold our heads high and step into our place in this world. We can no longer let shame keep us from claiming physical activity. We have as much a right to bare our globular arms as someone with freckles does or with dark skin or tattoos.
We need to claim health--regardless of our size. We need to eat well and move hard to take preventive steps toward heart disease and diabetes.
Let’s embrace ourselves so that others can embrace us. We can no longer let shame keep us from style—we need to shop in stores that cater to our size and make clothes to fit. We need to walk into stores, with our heads up and ask for clothes—we don’t need to buy online in shame.
We need to pull out our seat belt extenders and put them on in the open—just like a short person might unabashedly pull the car seat forward to reach the pedals.
The more we act like we are normal, the more normal people will treat us. And the less likely feelings of rejection will be the catalyst that triggers our fall into a vicious self-destructive cycle of eating more and doing less.

We may always be big; we even may always feel a bit alien because of our big laughs, and big hearts, and big needs for others. But we don’t have to distort these traits with excess to either prove ourselves or redeem ourselves. We can masquerade like fat masqueraders and lay claim to our most perfect selves.

Acceptance Requested
Just please be gentle with us. Don’t teach your kids to hate us—we fat folk are vulnerable to becoming like the victimized smokers who children point at and whisper about their “sin.” (I know a mother who skipped a page in The Night Before Christmas because it showed Santa holding a pipe. She didn’t want her daughter to think Santa was a bad man for smoking. Santa will be doomed if the trend continues. . .)
If you allow insurance or companies to alienate us, you’re ignoring the fact that we all have different genetic makeups, different passed down psyches and ways of responding to the world and coping with things. All of us have weaknesses and strengths. Many of us have chosen tendencies or inherited issues that move us toward costly health problems. First we’ll push out the smokers. Then the fat people. And then who will not get insurance or jobs next?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 70: When You're Lonely

You don't drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.
Author unknown
Inspirational Song
Diamond Road
Sheryl Crow

If I'm Drawn to Hummers. . .
I used to love listening to Sheryl Crow's song Diamond Road when I was at the gym. I would listen to it while I was on the recumbent bike because I could get a good rhythm to sustain me, and if no one was around I'd hum to the lines "When you're lonely, when your heart aches, it's gonna take a little time. . ."

I really do not know what keeps me from doing the things I need to do. Sometimes I think I must be comfortable living in the midst of angst. Sometimes I wonder if I am dysthymic--someone who is basically always down with periods of deeper depression. Hubby has "accused" me of being dysthymic. I don't know if this is how others who are close to me in my life see me. I think people who know me superficially think of me as bubbly and upbeat. .. but I am not really sure. I have lost perspective for how I come across to others.

My PhD in Boston told me that when it came to depression I acted like I was "guilty" of it. Like I brought it on. I do feel like I have no "right" to be depressed. I am smart; I make good money; I have a good job, a nice house, good health, a loving family. I think perhaps I started feeling down the most when my parents got divorced way back when I was 11.

. . . Can I Really Be an Eeyore?
Even before that, I was a kid who cried a lot --looking back I interpret it as being misunderstood by my parents. But I was also afraid of a lot of things. . .dogs, being alone, being willing to try new things. . . But when my parents divorced and we moved and I started a new school, I would lie in bed at night and go over my old class schedule and my teacher's names and my friends. . . afraid I would lose something. Then, I went back one time to visit and spent the whole time fretting and worrying about getting in trouble. . . they had a party for me and I ran around hushing people and picking up spilled cupcakes and such. . . wanting to make sure we didn't get in trouble and making myself and everyone else unhappy in the process. . . It was the thing I had longed for--to be back with the people I was familiar with and who were friends with me, and then I couldn't relax and enjoy them and let them enjoy me. In the middle of them, I still felt lonely.

So am I dysthymic or lonely? I revel in other people, and I am very friendly and outgoing, but I am the type who has only a few close friends. . . I can never get enough.

I can say that I eat for a lot of reasons. . .tension, anger. . . but sometimes I think maybe it all comes down to feeling lonely, disconnected, misunderstood, uncared for.

I think PhD2 has the right idea, probably, when talking about how I need to learn to fill this need for myself. Self care he calls it. Another PhD in my past called it self-parenting.

I do not like feeling this weakness. Like I cannot move past the most basic things in life. Eat only for sustenance and when you are hungry. It's insanity to think food can fill any other need. It's just not socially acceptable for me to wander to someone for a hug when I'm lonely. Or hell, to just go cry somewhere for relief. Or just to leave because I've had enough. . . instead I fill it with food, any food.

And what is it about me that makes me think about exercising, plan on exercising, even feel like exercising, and then stopping myself?

Maybe it is a "spiritual" problem. Maybe it is something in my psyche that needs fixing like Overeater's Anonymous says. I just don't like that they call it a disease or a sickness. I find it easier to admit depression is a sickness. . . dysthymia really sounds more like a personality trait, and I don't like that at all either. . . and I'm not sure telling myself I eat because I'm "sick" with the "disease" of compulsive overeating will help me get to a healthier place. Though I do think that learning to fill this void with some kind of self love could--and I may just need a some kind of "higher power" to muster that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day 66: 66 Reasons to Stay Focused


“You’ve got to
win in your mind
before you win in your life.”

- John Addison

Inspirational Song

Getting in the Mood

Brian Setzer Orchestra

Why I Want to Stay Focused

  1. Because I hate having fat wrists
  2. So I can wear my wedding ring with ease
  3. So my necklaces fit
  4. To be able to walk without my fat paunches (outer thighs) burning
  5. So the chair at my salon doesn't squeeze my hips
  6. So I can wear the smock at the salon and the doctor's office (or a man's jacket when I'm cold)
  7. So my shoulders aren't as broad as the chair
  8. So I can sit down on the edge of the pool without having to drop the last 2 feet
  9. So I can fit in a kayak seat and feel confident enough to try it
  10. Because I know that exercising consistently will start to feel good
  11. Because I know the first 15 minutes are the hardest. . .so you have to exercise more than 15 minutes
  12. Because I want to just see if losing weight gets me more respect at work
  13. So I will gladly get my picture taken next to those I love
  14. To see if losing weight makes my shoulder hurt less
  15. To have my boobs stick out more than my gut
  16. To like what I see when I'm sitting in front of a mirror
  17. So I can pull all the clothes I have in storage out
  18. So I can stop feeling ashamed of myself
  19. So I can walk at least as fast as my dog
  20. Because exercising makes me sleep better
  21. Because eating healthier food makes me feel richer and self-righteous
  22. Because I am too smart to keep living in a way that makes me hate myself
  23. Because I deserve to be respected by others
  24. To get rid of seat belt extenders
  25. To have the armrests lie flat in airplanes
  26. To be able to get up and down out of the tub without rolling over like an elephant
  27. To have my current underwear size be my pants size
  28. So going to Tahiti really feels like something I'd enjoy doing
  29. So the size of my upper arms aren't the limiting factor in buying shirts
  30. So I don't need the football player's size blood pressure cuff
  31. So I weigh less than football players
  32. So if they change the insurance plans to penalize fat people I don't have to worry about it
  33. Because it's humiliating to be fat in my job
  34. So I can play on the floor with my dog and grandkids
  35. Because I'd like to have enough endurance to swim some laps
  36. Because it would be amazing to rent bikes on vacation and not notice every small incline
  37. Because consistency makes it all easier
  38. Because I don't want to be left behind Jack & Sean & Irene & Amber like I am some flunky
  39. Because Jo believes in me
  40. To make Hubby proud of me
  41. Because my knees are already bad. . .
  42. Because menopause is coming up and that's when my mom's health numbers went to pot
  43. Because losing weight is not fucking rocket science
  44. To be able to lie in bed and feel a flat stomach and a curve in my waist
  45. To put on socks without pulling my leg up with my hands
  46. To be able to reach the middle of my own back when it itches
  47. So I can have a big party to celebrate my success with old friends
  48. To wow my cute & sweet doctor
  49. So climbing down 23 flights of stairs during a fire drill at work doesn't leave me sore for 2 days
  50. So I can help my mother more when she has pain
  51. So I can take over tasks like carrying out the recycling as Hubby gets older
  52. To get more fit than I was before when I worked with a trainer
  53. Because I have no reason not to stay focused and all the skills I need to be able to do this
  54. So I can move on to other goals in my life
  55. So at New Years I feel TERRIFIC
  56. So on my birthday I have some other thing to wish for
  57. Because I pay for 2, count 'em 2, gym memberships
  58. Because I own a pedometer, treadmill, stability ball, and hot pink sneakers
  59. Because when I'm focused I feel like a winner
  60. To see if there's any hope that my thighs won't always be like be globulous dimpled things
  61. Because if I'm going to fret this much about what I eat and how much I move I should have some payoff
  62. Because it would just be embarrassing to have a heart attack
  63. Because I'm a cool, interesting person who wants to have a future filled with writing fiction and taking & editing pictures, and seeing more art & learning about it
  64. Because I want my positive results and attitude to spur Hubby to also achieve
  65. Because if Hubby and I both achieve we are unstoppable and leave depression behind us
  66. Because it would be amazing to experience a new life.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 65: Born Under a Wanderin’ Star

I long,
as does every human being,
to be at home
wherever I find myself.
–Maya Angelou

Inspirational Song
Carrying Your Love With Me
George Strait

In My World There Is No Such Thing as The Family Home
The longest I have ever lived in one dwelling is 5 years. Hubby and I spent 2 consecutive 5 year intervals in 2 different rentals--the top floor of a 2 family house and a rented house. Outside of college, where I followed the 5 year undergrad plan and the 3 year grad plan—all at the same college--the longest I was in the same school system was 4.5 years—half of 6th grade through 10th grade. I’ve never lived in the same town as my grandparents or aunts or uncles. And as an adult, I’ve never even lived in the same town as my parents—the closest is now, where my mom and my sister are 45 minutes away. I consider this close; they still describe this as far.

Our Family's Unwritten Motto: Bloom Where You're Planted
When I was a kid, my parents prided my sister and me for being flexible and easy to move. We prided ourselves on our ability to welcome new places and make new friends. I am friendly. That is true. And I’ve always found it kind of adventurous to learn new things about a place—new places to go and things to do. I like experiencing new things and checking out the unknown.
I don’t even like to go to the same restaurants or to the same vacation spots.

But Hubby who spent all his growing up years in the same school system and the same town until he was married (to his ex) and had 3 kids, has helped me recognize some of the benefits of returning to a familiar place. He likes going to the same restaurant; he particularly likes it with the wait staff greet us and know his drink (a bourbon Manhattan straight up), and is delighted if they call him by his last name. He likes reliving meals in restaurants we’ve gone to in other towns, likes to be familiar with the routes to get around, likes to return to the same museums to review their collections again and look at the same islands and lighthouses just off shore. It took me awhile to appreciate the relaxation that can come from these reclaimed sites. And in fact, one of our most common spats is my annoyance at his reminiscing about someplace we’ve been when we are in a new place.

Reluctant to Be Regionally Arrogant
While I admit that I find a certain pleasure in trekking with my family to their ritualized events—like checking out the Christmas window at Hutson’s in downtown Cape Girardeau, and eating spaghetti at Jim’s Spaghetti House with my stepmother in Huntington, or even putting flowers on my grandmother’s grave in Pensacola—I also have to admit that I find some ties to the local routines, well, provincial. I find it simultaneously endearing and annoying when people compare their local bands or plays as “as good as you’d get in a big city.” Or when they think their little local restaurant has the “best” something. . .donuts or hot dogs or whatever.

At the same time, I lay claim to a lot of areas and things, whether I’ve spent a lifetime there or not. I claim NH blizzards and MA hurricane watches. I claim MO humidity and AL palmetto bugs. I claim the smell of wet sand in FL and the ubiquitous servings of grits in GA. I claim KY’s country music and PA’s Longwood Gardens. I claim steel mills, King’s Island, and Appalachia. I’ll strike up a conversation with anyone who claims to be from any of these places and refer to their lands as “home.”

Embracing My Inner Wanderer
Every now and then, I feel like I have no place to call home—I feel awkward when someone asks me where I’m from. But most of the time, I count on my wanderin' ways to help me make connections with people from all over and help me feel at home wherever I am.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 64: Friends, Forts, Frisbee, & Lobster Forks

Photo of Fort Foster Pier SS Kennel found on Flickr


"Summer afternoon - summer afternoon;
to me those have always been
the two most beautiful
words in the English language."

- Henry James

Inspirational Song

Summer Wind

Michael Buble

Breakfast With a New Friend

It's been a good two days.

Yesterday we started the day by our first meeting with a fellow blogger--Rene of Not the Rockefellers. Rene was my first non family follower and she follows my, Hubby's, and my stepdaughter's blogs. That alone makes her special to us, but she is also a terrific essayist and budding poet. We had a wonderful, relaxed time trading stories with her and her husband. Blessings on her daughter who had to tolerate the hours with only a napkin for entertainment (trust me, she could do some creative things with that napkin!)

Here are a few of my favorite posts by Rene. Check her out if you haven't already:

Returning Fear's Gift

What I Wanna Do

Lost in Pronunciation

Meeting Rene was like reading The Velveteen Rabbit for the first time, discovering that beloved things can become real!

An Afternoon of Forts, Frisbee, & Lobster Forks

Yesterday afternoon, we rode with my stepson's family to some forts in Maine. They were on beautiful coastal settings. In between 2 of them, we stopped to eat and I had lobster. I would have felt deprived if I'd left NE without eating one! I'm quite a pro at sucking all the edible meat from a lobster, and it's surprisingly low in calories. (I don't do the butter dunking.)

Here's the guideline for any lobster novices who happen to be reading.

At the fort, I played frisbee with the kids. Sounds simple, but I was very proud of myself for not being shy about moving around and for being even a bit active. It was fun. They said so too. Today, we did it again several times before and after our afternoon cookout.

It was very sad saying goodbye today. I miss these guys so much. They used to come down and spend the weekends with us about once a month. We hadn't seen them for a year and a half. We can't let that happen again. It is too long. Especially for folks who aren't big phone people!

Before we left, my daughter in law's nephew who's in college played the guitar and sang. One of the songs he did was the Summer Wind. His version was really so much better than the one playing . . . very original. . . but this was the best I could do. I love listening to people sing and play the guitar.

Tonight we stayed in the Back Bay area so it would be easier to get to the airport in the AM. We ate at Legal Seafood. I had the lite clam chowder which I really like--it has potatoes & clams but no cream. And after our big cookout lunch, I wasn't too hungry, so I had a tomato salad--tomatoes, cucumber, and feta with balsamic.

Our room has a view of the Charles River. Today it was filled with sailboats. It's definitely starting to become fall in NE. The weather's been perfect--low 60s in the AM, high only to low 80s or high 70s. Some of the leaves are already starting to turn. And it cracks me up, but folks here are already wearing their sweat shirts! I miss the falls up here, but certainly not winter. And I have to say, there is nothing like a Southern Spring! For me, it makes up for the lobster and perfect falls. . . but not so much for the lumps in my throat saying goodbye to our NH family.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Day 63: Woven Lives


"Southerners can't stand to eat alone.
If we're going to cook a mess of greens
we want to eat them with a mess of people."

-- Julia Reed

Inspirational Song

Love Can Build a Bridge

The Judds

Time Sharers
When my college roommate and I stopped living together at the end of the year, I cried. She had already decided to room with a home town friend the next year who was starting school. And even though she assured me we'd still be friends (and we still are), I cried because I knew it wouldn't be the same without sharing every day with her--being the intimate one in her life. The one who she turned to tell the silly little things about the day, her thoughts of the moment to. You don't call someone up to tell them these things. You know, the things that seem unimportant, that just cross through your mind.

And if you're not in the same house with someone for some ongoing amount of time, you don't know their little habits and quirks. Like how long they take to get breakfast ready or if they talk to their cat.

This is one of the reasons why I like to have people I love stay with me in my house when they come visit--not in a hotel. I want to see how they talk to their kids and how their kids talk with them in a comfortable setting. I want to see if they are the type that hug before bed or just kind of disappear. I want to see how they come down to eat breakfast--rumpled from sleep or already showered. I like to see if they walk around barefoot or in slippers or wearing socks that are permanently soiled on the bottom.

We had friends who came to our house once for dinner and the husband brought a raggedy old quilt with him that he liked to wrap in during a conversation. I loved him more night then than ever before.

Sidecar Companions
When I visit my family, I prefer to stay with them for the same reasons--so I can be an intimate witness on their lives. And for at least a while to have our lives woven together. When I stay at my favorite aunt's house, it's always a joke about how everyone goes in the bathroom together. In her former house, the bathroom was a long room with a counter that went the whole length. I'm not exaggerating if I said that one woman could be on the toilet and 3 others sitting on the counter chatting.

That's one thing my dad's side of the family is really good at--not sharing private bathroom moments--but "going with." That's how my aunts and uncles say it--something like I'm going to pick up the kids, want to go with? or I can say something like, I have to go to the store. And they will say, I'll go with. I find this incredibly charming, comforting, and complimentary--a way of saying they want to keep the conversation going, want us to be mutual witnesses to each other's everyday lives.

Yesterday, I was my (step) daughter-in-law's sidecar companion (along side my granddaughter--her daughter). We went to get her daughter jazz shoes, we took her to build a bear, we shopped in Lane Bryant. We went to 2 grocery stores. Compared to my aunt's company, the banter was light. . . but it was oh so relaxing. Refreshing. Surprisingly blood pressure lowering. I can't say why. . . just the pleasure and good feelings of someone wanting you to be there by their side.

When I was in college, I had friends I met at the laundry mat, where we shared pizza hanging out waiting for the clothes to finish. These are the friends you miss the most when you are away from them. Once when I was feeling particularly friendless, I told Hubby I wanted to put an ad in the paper that said, "Wanted one friend who lives within 15 minutes of my house who will hang out with me as we do laundry."

It might be my deep feelings about woven lives that drew me to the story of Amoskeag here in Manchester, NH. Amoskeag is both the name of the falls on the Merrimack River and the name of the mills that ran for 100 years and whose looms were powered by the falls. A dam and canals were built; water was channeled right through cylindrical brick waterways (called penstocks) that ran through the buildings where their flow moved turbines that powered many gears and belts that moved the loom parts. It was amazingly and beautifully intricate. I learned all this by going to the Millyard Museum with Hubby on Friday.

Besides the weaving of the buildings, with the water, and the trains, the lives of the workers had to be interwoven. The mills were basically the whole town. There were multiple buildings for mills and a mechanic shop to keep everything working smoothly and train tracks all round the buildings. And there was family housing for people who worked in the mills--interestingly called "corporations." And many of the other businesses in town came strictly to serve the people who worked in the mills.

I felt like I had a glimpse into their lives--like seeing inside people's homes when you drive or walk by on a dark night. Photos give you the image of folks walking to their particular numbered buildings to start the work day. Multiple family members worked in the mills (This was before child labor laws.).

They talk about the noise of the mills and how people had to shout or lip read. . . they must have worked together like bees--all knowing what to do with one purpose, day after day.

And of course, it was likely often too much closeness. . .but the fact that the workers often came with a common purpose--for a new adventure, leaving their farms or their homelands, looking for new friends, had to have bonded them in some way, connecting them despite their diverse cultures.

Here's how it was described in the museum:

"Amoskeag millyard resembled a small medieval city complete with towers, moats, and gates. By 1915 a graceful arch of standardized brick buildings formed an unbroken mile long facade along the curve of the river, creating a model of visual unity."

The glimpse into my family's lives warms my soul and makes me feel connected. The glimpse into the lives of people at Amoskeag, long dead, fires my intellectual creativity thinking about all the interweaving--not only the fabric they wove, or the penstocks that wove their buildings to the river, but also their lives with the company and the workers to each other.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Day 62: A New Grace

“She’s wound up tighter than
the girdle of a Baptist minister’s wife at
an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.”
- Southern saying
Inspirational Song
Jump, Jive, An' Wail
Brian Setzer

I am not a believer in the traditional ways that people believe. I'm not saying it to offend anyone (nor call on them to save me); it just is. I don't have anything against believers--unless they're pretentiously damning people. I'm happy that they get so much from their faith. I appreciate a lot of the things organized religion does for some people. I appreciate that some people need rules to encourage them to live a moral life or even a kind and loving life.

I haven't felt the need for rules to help me live a loving life. I "get" the love message that religion offers--it makes sense to me and I embrace it. I don't need a lot of rules or guidelines to help me remember to treat people nicely. Treating people nicely and not holding grudges not only makes me feel better about my daily life, but it helps us all get along. It's a simple message and usually simple for me to follow.

But, it seems, perhaps, I do need rules in other aspects of my life. Like eating. Oh how I admire the people like Jack Sh*t who seem to be able to follow a simple mindset that says, "eat only healthy things in moderation--because you'll feel better." He doesn't stress out his life with a lot of rules and plans. Nor does Joe Riddell who said in a recent post, "I’m not afraid that eating a piece of cheesecake will make me go back to my old ways. I am confident that will not happen. Not now or not ever." I do not feel this inner confidence, nor seem to be able to continually call up my inner convictions.

So I've been thinking that maybe I need a prayer. What I used to say to myself everyday (posted on the right) was like a prayer for me. I would call it up during the day and repeat particularly applicable lines to myself. It was quite successful.

Now I think it may be time for a new grace. A prayer before eating. Something simple that gives me pause. Something to remind me of my goals. To remind me to love myself. To keep it simple. I'll need to say it before I make my selections, not sitting before a full plate I think. Although, it would be lovely to be able to sit before a full plate and have the confidence and drive for a happy future (that starts the minute after the first bite) to stop after an ample consumption of calories required for energy. But, I need to start slowly.

I make little good choices for myself throughout the day--like yesterday for lunch I had grilled halibut on Cesar salad (dressing on the side) and I ordered grape nut pudding because it's a NE thing. . . but I only took a few small bites and left it. And at dinner I ordered salad to go with our pizza and I had only a half piece of a peach cobbler/pie type dish. But, I scarfed down 2 large pieces of pizza with several types of meat on it. Calculating after the fact, I discovered I'd eaten more than my calorie count for the whole day just for dinner. (I also "relaxed" with my beloved daughter in law by drinking 2 wine coolers (~500 calories, just there, I discovered a bit too late).

So I think I need to call on some inner guidance and strength. I need a new inner mantra. I need some rules to become part of my blood. I may always be more like Lynn or Maura, who also seem to need to calculate each bite, even though they are at goal. And I don't love that idea, I admit, but at least they got to goal. They discovered what it took and they are continuing to follow it. I want to discover the path to get me there. And obviously, just religion, everyone needs their own path.

So, I'm thinking of taking a page from Jack Sh*t for my grace. (Don't get too big headed here, Jack.) I'm thinking I will slightly alter his words from a few days ago, which were:

Get busy and get yourself in check. Take the steps you need to take to reclaim your body, your health, your life. It's the most important thing you'll ever do because it's the foundation for everything else you want to do, everything else you want to be.

Do it today, because tomorrow will be here in less than a blink, and you don't want to be that person who looks back and wonders what they could have had, what they should have done, what they would have been.

It's time to get going. Tick tock, tick tock.

Of course, even as I write this, and Hubby is online looking for breakfast places, I think Do I want to start this new grace today? I mean I'm on vacation. I want to kick back and drink with my daughter in law. . . I need it.

See? I clearly so need a prayer. Here's what I commit to for today. I will calculate the calories before I eat them. I will make conscious decisions about what I eat. I will put food on a plate to eat, not just keep nibbling or going back to a box or whatever. I will allow myself 500 calories over my max because I am on vacation, but I'm not out of control

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 62: Daily Self Care Step 1: Don’t Screw Up Breakfast


“Well, butter my behind and call me a biscuit.”
– Southern saying

Inspirational Song
Whole Lotta Shaking Going On
Jerry Lee Lewis

Serenditious Calorie Counting
So I admit that I didn’t actually plan to count calories today. I’ve been off track a few weeks and know I need to get on track but you know how it goes. I had the perfect excuse—we’re off work and traveling on a weekend holiday to see stepson #1, his wife, and 2 of our grandkids. That meant breakfast in the airport.

I didn’t select a breakfast that would make it easy to stay on track. I walked up and did a quick glance and ordered what hubby did—a breakfast sandwich, which was a croissant with scrambled egg, sausage, and cheese. My half-hearted attempt at being a good doobie was to leave off the cheese.

But when we sat down and I took a bite, I really did not like the taste of the croissant. I couldn’t believe it. A baked good. A white baked good. A buttery baked good. I got a fork. I tasted the egg. Fine. I got a knife. I tasted the sausage. Fine. I tasted the croissant by itself. Yuck.

I removed the croissant and ate the egg and sausage. Suddenly, even though sausage isn’t the lowest calorie choice (it was really thin, nonSouthern airport sausage. . . akin to the patties you get at Mickey D’s. ), my breakfast seemed countable. I even felt a bit nutritiously self righteous. I wanted to spend the day on track.

Hubby told me I could go back and get what I wanted –I had said when I sat down (after allowing myself 2 minutes to contemplate) that I wished I gotten a fruit cup and some grits. But I said it was OK. And it was. Not in the grumbly, I’ll manage, or I’m already screwed way of being OK. But OK. Like I’ve got this. Like I'm strong enough to make good choices.

Taking In the Nutritious Scenery

As I walked out of the restaurant, I saw that just to the top left of the croissant, et. al. choices, slightly out of view, they had small boxes of cereal. I could have cereal with a banana or fruit cup. I could have had a lot of things that would feel good and be easy and taste good. There are all kinds of offerings in the world availalbe to help me. I just have to give myself a moment to notice them and to choose in a way that is taking care of myself.

This morning’s choice turned out to serendipitously good, and it was eye opening. If you want to have a good day—one where you feel good about self—one where you are taking care of yourself—don’t fuck up breakfast!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 60: Fat But Healthy

In the South, the breeze blows softer...
neighbors are friendlier, nosier, and more talkative.
(By contrast with the Yankee, the Southerner
never uses one word when ten or twenty will do)...
This is a different place. Our way of thinking is different,
as are our ways of seeing, laughing, singing, eating, meeting and parting.
Our walk is different, as the old song goes, our talk and our names.
Nothing about us is quite the same as in the country to the north and west.
What we carry in our memories is different too,
and that may explain everything else."
--Charles Kuralt in "Southerners: Portrait of a People"
Inspirational Song
Natasa Bedingfield

Physical Stats

I got my physical results lately--all good.
  • Pap normal.
  • Thyroid normal.
  • Female hormones normal (guess I'm just moody not perimenopausal after all)
  • Blood pressure 118/84
  • Fasting glucose 90
  • Total cholesterol 164
  • LDL 94
  • HDL 52

Seemed good enough to share. .as a relief--not a justification for staying my fat self.

It's late and I need to sleep. . . but I'm still here. Thank you.