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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Todays Theme: Stolen thunder

It’s been a long time since I posted.  I’ve been having a bad time with sugar and I’ve been feeling uninspired and fraudulent.
Several months ago I saw a program in the Kripalu catalogue, Deep Writing Workshop.  It sounded great.  A focus on writing with no one reading and critiquing.  I have no issue with people reading my work, or critiquing it, but I loved the idea of five whole days to focus on my writing, possibly with some insight into the process thrown in.
So I signed up and waited.
I waited to write.
Whenever things are hard my dad asks if I’m writing.  He’s been asking a lot the last several months and the answer has been no every time.  There has been so much going on there was no room in my head, or my schedule, for writing.
And I was waiting.
Plus, that whole fraud thing gets in my way.
Mostly I have been so overwhelmed with sugar and my inability to stay away from it.  Within that there has been nothing to write, my embarrassment was greater than my need to write and share.  How often can you say I went home and ate . . . whatever, without sounding whiney, possibly pathetic?  I wasn’t up to it.  I didn’t have the courage.
So there’s my confession, I was whiney and wimpy and pathetic.  And I ate sugar.  Lots of it.
The writing course ended yesterday.  We wrote every day for hours.  Except the first night, but that session was only an hour and a half.  And even then I think we wrote for almost an hour.  It’s amazing how easy it is when you are sitting in a room with 20ish people, writers, and the guy in the middle (we were sitting in a horseshoe) says, write.
I don’t know if you know, but I started this blog because I was deeply, deeply frustrated in my attempts to write a book about my struggle with sugar.  The working title of the book has been Just Say No To The Ho.  Four or five years ago I was having a discussion with my colleagues about my then recent obsession with HoHos.  One of my friends said, just say no to the ho!  We were hysterical.  And I chose that as the title for my book.  I love it as a book title, but I think it requires too much explanation to work.
Anyway, I would sit down and try to write a chapter.  My early years, when I realized I was addicted to sugar, how I gave up sugar in 09, tools to help you get off sugar and stay off sugar.  It was, possibly, the most frustrating thing I have ever tried to accomplish.  I would start on one subject, but it’s connected to six others, but those six others should be their own chapters and how do I keep them separate yet connect them and not make it all one damn run-on sentence?
I couldn’t.
I hyperventilated a lot.
So I started the blog.
Which has not taken off quite the way I would like, seriously people - share it with everyone you know!  Sorry, I had a moment.
Cause I was hoping this would be the book.
Because that would save me from the frustration of writing the damn thing.
I sat in that workshop and rewrote everything I had attempted to write years ago.  Everything.  In five days I wrote 50 some manuscript pages.  I sat with the discomfort.  When one subject horned in on another subjects pages, I let it.  I wrote every day, for hours.  When a thought popped up of something I needed to include, squirrel!  I didn’t run after it.  See what I did there?  Fun, right?  Anyway, I didn’t follow the squirrel.  I just noted the squirrel in a subcategory or new folder and ran after it when I was done with the current thought.
Oh, and I created a new project.  I’ve been keeping all my blog posts in the old project for Just Say No To The Ho, so I created a new project.  Lo and behold, the new project is shiny (not really, it just feels that way) and organized (it really is and that feels fantastic).  I look at the categories and subcategories and I think they make sense.  And I think they are in pretty good order.  And I think the words are pretty good, though I haven’t read any of them over.  I’m going to print them out for my dad to take a look at when we head to Maine tomorrow.
It was an amazing, long, relaxing, tiring and productive week.  If you are a writer in search of a great workshop, check out Eric Maisel.  If I had any money at all I’d be heading to Esalen next month for another workshop with him as my employer is shutting down for four weeks and there is no work to be had.
I got home from work last night and was catching up on FB when I saw this    
This woman, and her handsome husband and two beautiful daughters gave up sugar for a year and she wrote a book about it.
I learned this week that this falls into a genre called stunt nonfiction.  One woman wrote about the year her family ate locally, we talked about others I can’t remember.
Anyway . . .
I clicked the link, saw the beautiful family pictured, scanned the article and thought . . . crap.  I’m just a fat schlub who can’t stop eating sugar, why would anyone want to read about that? (In case you didn’t get it, the subtitle here is: why read my stuff when you can read about the beautiful family and their lovely experiment).  I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know for sure, but there was no angst in the article.  And we all know there will be plenty of angst in any book I write.
Buuuuuuut, as Eric would say, this is not a thought that serves me.  I will not let those thoughts put out the fire that I stoked so carefully this week.  I will not let those thoughts be a speed bump to my momentum.
I will finish The Book (that’s the working title, it doesn’t take as much explanation as Just Say No To The Ho).
Unfortunately, while it won’t lessen my momentum, it sure did lessen my sleep.  Bobby (my cat) went out at 4AM.  I went back to sleep.  Bobby wanted back in at 5:15.  Instead of going back to sleep I thought about that woman and her lovely family.
I got my computer out and wrote.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Todays Theme: You just don't understand

I spent some time yesterday trying to explain to a friend why my house is cluttery and messy, given that I really don’t have things to get rid of.  She kept asking me questions that I answered to the best of my ability and she kept coming back with, I don’t understand.  I don’t understand why it was hard to get your tree out of your house.  (I took my Christmas tree down two days ago).  I don’t understand why there is clutter if you don’t have stuff you don’t need.  I understand about the table and the mat and the bike (I’m a massage therapist with a two room apartment who has a massage table, a thai massage mat and a beautiful bike that lives in the house), but I don’t understand why there’s clutter if you don’t have stuff to get rid of.
Back in December I spent some time trying to explain to a friend that I hate beets and wasn’t going to have them on my salad.  Someone mentioned raw beets for the salad and I said that I don’t like beets.  My friend said, oh I used to hate beets then I had them raw, I’m sure you’ll like them.  No thank you.  But they are so delicious raw, they really add to the salad.  No thank you.  You really should try them, they’re delicious raw!  I’ve tried cooked beets, I’ve tried raw beets, I’ve tried beet juice.  I hate beets.
The thing is - these things are impossible to explain.  I’m not neat, never have been.  Every time this discussion comes up with my mom she says, you’ve ALWAYS been that way.  I can’t explain why there aren’t places for things that should have places - I can only tell you that is the way it is.  I can’t explain to you why I don’t like a food - I can only tell you that I won’t eat it.  (And I do try stuff before making this statement).
If I could explain these things to you, they probably wouldn’t need to be explained.  If I could explain why things don’t have a place in my house, it’s very likely they would have a place.
And if they had a place I’d put them there.
And my house would be neat.
And I would never again have to attempt to explain why my house is a mess.
Because it wouldn’t be.
And if I liked all the foods everyone thinks I should like, I might not have the sugar addiction that brings us all here.
But I don’t.
When I was home at Christmas I was telling my family the beet story.  My dad said he read something that said picky eaters have more taste buds.
And since I have no idea what I’m talking about, I just googled and found this article that says people with more taste buds taste things that the rest of the population will never experience.  Thus we are labeled picky eaters and thought to be very high maintenance.
Though it does say that super sweet things aren’t appreciated by supertasters.  Initially I was thinking that doesn’t apply to me, but it really does.  Even when I’m on sugar some things will turn me off as too sweet.  But when I’m not on a super sugar bender (which I have been and is my explanation for not posting since 24 November, yikes) I really notice the sweetness of everything - have you ever noticed how sweet carrots are?  That’s one of the reasons I put them into my rice & beans dish last, if they cook too much their sweet takes over the whole dish.
Okay, maybe you will understand why I’m a picky eater, probably should have googled that before I started writing.
But you will never understand why my house is a mess, I just can’t explain it.  I really wish I could, because, like I said, if I could it probably wouldn’t be the case.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Todays Theme: The Most Beautiful Body In The World

I got up and went to Masters Swim today.  And let me tell you, that was tough - it’s 13 degrees with the wind making it feel like −6.  It was very cozy under the covers and my kitty was very warm.
Then Bobby moved so I got out of bed, put on my swimsuit and ran to my car.
Cold.  Very, very cold.
It was a tough workout.  Even if I was in shape it would have been tough, lots of kicking.  We were in the second to last set and I had to get out and go to the bathroom.
As I walked toward the doorway the teenage life guard smiled and said hi, or something like that, I don’t understand much in the echo chamber that is our pool.  I smiled and said good morning.
And as I walked past him and out the door I thought, what must that cute young man thing of this old, chubby, dimply body?  And then I thought, my body is the most beautiful body in the world.  To me anyway.  And that is all that matters.
My body is beautiful because it has carried me though 50 years of thoughtless treatment on my part.  It has remained healthy despite my tendency toward self-abuse with sugar and junk food.
I believe I have made previous commitments, in writing, to treat my body the way it deserves.  And then I don’t.  I try, and then I have a mindless moment and I eat something comforting, familiar and deadly.
Yeah, I said it - deadly.  Say what you will, think what you like - I know this processed sugar, fried, baked crap is deadly.  It’s calories without nutrition and with chemicals that just shouldn’t be in food.
And yes, that would be me, chowing down on those crappy chemicals.  When life is “perfect” it’s much easier to say no to that stuff, to eat only whole delicious foods that will sustain me.  But when I’m stressed out, well you know the saying - stressed is desserts spelled backward.
When things are really rough it doesn’t even matter if I don’t like the sweet thing at hand.  And things have been pretty rough lately.  Which means desserts have been in abundance.
So I haven’t kept my word to my body.  Which is really crappy.
But this time, walking down that really cold hallway in my wet bathing suit, deeply loving my body I thought, all I need to do is think - anytime I’m choosing something to eat - “my body is the most beautiful body in the world and I am going to treat it the way it deserves to be treated.”
Because it doesn’t matter what that teen-age boy might have been thinking, it doesn’t matter what anyone else may ever think.  The only thinking that matters is the thinking I do before I put something in my mouth.
One little sentence before I eat?  Even I can handle that.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Todays Theme: Disordered Eating

I have believed for some time that my relationship with food could be considered disordered eating, ie that I have an eating disorder.  I heard that binge eating was finally categorized as an eating disorder in the most recent DSM, so it’s possible.  Whether or not the medical establishment thinks my eating is disordered, I know it to be so.  A person should not have to struggle as much as I do when dealing with food, that just can’t be the way things are meant to be.
That said, I have never starved myself, induced vomiting, turned to laxatives or adopted any of the fad diets that come and go.
I remember when they told us we had to stop eating fat to be thin and healthy.  I ate some lo-fat or fat free stuff.  But there were some things that I just said no, this can’t be right.  Cheese is not something that should be fat free.  One of my law school roommates wouldn’t eat the nachos that I made - Tostitos and cheddar cheese, that my other roommate and I gobbled up when studying - she made her own.  Lo-fat corn chips and fat free cheese.  I wish I had a picture of them - sad little beige triangles with blackened squares on them.  Because, you see, the fat free cheese she used was american squares and, without the fat, there was nothing to melt.  Just some plastic to burn.
To this day I don’t know how she ate them, they were horrifying.  Especially compared to the beautiful corn triangles with gooey melted cheddar that my other roommate and I were eating.
I also didn’t do the grapefruit diet; the lemon juice, cayenne, maple syrup diet; the Atkins diet.
Back in the day, and this is the 80s so I can’t speak to the quality, I did Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig and a brief stint with Weight Watchers.  Jenny Craig was the best one for me at the time for losing weight, but they don’t teach you how to deal with food once you start preparing your own.
Plus, the food they provide is highly processed and, though I’m not the best eater, when I’m having actual food - as opposed to junk - I prepare my own whole foods.  I’m not one of those people who cooks and creates, but there are a few things I prepare that I do really well and they are easy and tasty.  So I don’t buy those things in a box anymore.  I have tried a few times since I’ve been on this journey, but things I used to love really taste lousy to me now.  It limits my options, but I’m okay with that, those things aren’t really worth eating.
It turns out that even though I have almost never been happy with my body, I have never hated myself enough to . . . do something idiotic.
WAIT, before you get in an uproar, I’m not calling you an idiot because you go to Weight Watchers, ate fat free american cheese squares or ate only grapefruits at some point in your life.  I’m not saying judging anyone, I’ve done plenty of these things.  I have a dear friend, she finds that Weight Watchers gives her life the structure she needs to make choices that help her get where she wants to be.  And she is doing great, her body is much smaller than when we met and she is healthy and athletic and kicking a$$.  I love that she has found what works for her.
What brought this on was this article that a friend of mine posted about . . . the cotton ball diet.
You read that right, the cotton ball diet.
I won’t capitalize it because I don’t want to give it any gravitas.  Apparently, people who want to lose weight will dip the cotton ball in orange juice and eat it.  Followed by a few more.  Some people will eat the cotton balls before a meal to help them feel full.  Some people are only eating cotton balls.
Which, in my opinion, is insane.
The article points out that many of these folks are eating polyester, not even a natural fiber.
This can lead to bezoars - your intestine gets blocked and you end up with a giant glob of stuff that needs to be surgically removed.  This happens a lot with people who EAT THEIR HAIR.  It can kill you.
In all my life, no matter how badly I have felt about my body, no matter how badly I wanted to look differently, no matter that I felt like my body was the source of all my problems - particularly the lack of a partner, in all my life there has never been a moment where eating a cotton ball, or a blackened piece of plastic cheese, or whatever, seemed like a good idea.
Apparently, somewhere under all the insecurity, there is an inherent feeling of self-worth that keeps me from following the crowd down these roads.
I’m not judging these people who eat cotton balls.  I don’t know how it got started, though the article says a lot of models do this, I don’t know how people come across the idea, I don’t know what makes them do it.
I do know that it isn’t healthy.
What has happened to society that we idolize people who have a body type that occurs in 1% of the population?  (I don’t know if it’s 1%, but I do know it’s a very low number of people who have the body type that is the “ideal” these days)  Especially when you consider that so many people trash those beautiful people when they see them in pictures without makeup and air brushing.
I wasn’t interested in makeup when I was younger so I never learned to wear it.  I never really learned how to “do” my hair.  I don’t have much fashion sense.  I am completely average looking, I guess.  There have been people in my life who find me beautiful.  I’m sure there have been people who find me hideous, though no one has ever said so to my face.  I’m overweight at the moment, though not as much as the charts say.  The weight range for my height is 111 to 140, I’d be a skeleton at 111.  I’m not happy where I am, about 164, because I’m not comfortable in my clothes, or even my skin for that matter.
But I will not be eating cotton balls.
The only opinion of me that matters, is mine.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Todays Theme: Yeah, I don't really know

I had this idea that I couldn't start a juice fast, or whatever my next attempt to get off sugar would look like, until I cleaned my fridge.  I emptied it a bunch of days ago - once I took out all the stuff that should not be consumed by a human . . . there wasn’t anything left.  Well, there was very little left, some almond milk, a couple of bottles of GTs Kombucha, a couple of containers of coconut water.
PLENTY of room for healthy foods for juicing or . . . whatever.
Except . . . it really needed to be cleaned first.  And when I say really needed it?  WOW.  You have no idea.  Seriously, no idea.  If I had thought of it I would have taken a picture or two to give you a real idea.  Actually, even if I had thought of it I probably wouldn’t have, way too disgusting and embarrassing.
Today one of my goals as stated to Team AWESOME, a page started by my friend Monique to bring together people she thinks are awesome to support each other, was to get off the couch, get to the store, buy some mason jars and get some fruits and veggies to start a juice fast.  There is no reason that posting in the group should help me get things done, but it does.  I got off the couch, bought some fruits and veggies (shopping list from Joe Cross and his reboot plan), bought some mason jars and ended up getting a calendar for next year as well.
So I came home with a HUGE quantity of healthy fruits and veggies to make my juices (I’m deeply afraid that the HUGE quantity will turn out to be one days worth of juice, which will be the end of my five day juice fast) and an empty, but disgusting fridge to put them in.
Cleaning the fridge was not one of my goals, but it was absurdly necessary.
So I put some water in a fry pan, boiled it up and poured it in my fridge.  After I took out the shelves to clean in the tub that is.
Now the shelves are drying and the water is sopped up and the fridge is spic and span.
And the healthy food is in there so that I can make some juice tomorrow after I go to Masters swim.
I can’t tell you how long I’ve thought about doing this juice fast, and I’m really hoping that the bags and bags of veggies and fruits I brought home today last for more than one day of juicing.  I will find it completely demoralizing if they don’t.  BUT, I’ve been thinking of doing this for a long time, but didn’t because my fridge was full of stuff that needed to be cleaned out and I just didn’t do it.
Then there were these people out there in FB land on a page . . . people I could tell my goals to.  People who support me and take inspiration from what I’m doing.  As I do from what they are doing.  One woman said she didn’t think she was awesome enough to be in a group like this with so many people “who had their poop together.”  Then she started reading our posts and realized that none of us are any more together than anyone else.  So she jumped in and shared her goals, goals that to me were HUGELY impressive (they had to do with cleaning, and having read my posts you know this might as well be brain surgery when it comes to my ability to get that done) and that she accomplished, so clearly she is awesome.
And I got s*&t done.  My living room is still pretty much of a disaster, but my fridge is clean and there is healthy food in it.  Healthy food that I’m hoping will last for more than a day of juicing, I’ll let you know.

I started juicing this morning.  I have had three HUGE juices.  And I am, as expected through most of the veggies and fruit I got yesterday.  Not sure this juicing thing will go much farther - I can't afford $50 a day to feed myself and if I'm going to spend that much time in food prep, I really want to eat something.  For real.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Todays Theme: Think Before You Speak, seriously

It is no secret that there is plenty of stuff going on in my life right now.  And that stuff is stressing me out.  People ask how things are, friends mind you, not the general hey, how ya doing, but friends wanting to catch up and my response is . . . my life is a sh*&storm, thanks, but really everything is great.
Because really, everything is great.
Sure, there’s stuff I would change.  I’d like more money.  I’d like to live a little closer to my family.  I’d like to have no debt.  I’d like to have another bike or two.  I’d like to have a man in my life - a funny, handsome, respectful, smart, caring man.  I’d like my motivation back.  I’d like someone to figure out how to straighten out my dad, actually physically, not any other way.
So, yeah, there’s stuff that could be different.  But I have amazing friends, a wonderful family, a beautiful home in a spectacular setting, a kitty who is warm and purry and sweet, a great job - actually two great jobs (thank you Christine at Optimum Health Therapeutic Massage).  On balance, yeah, it’s all good.
However, given the sh*&storm stuff, I’ve been in the sugar.  It was bad for awhile, but I’m getting it under control with an eye to ending it.
Right now I am vaguely obsessed with Cherry Tootsie Pops.  They aren’t easy to find - the only place I have found them is at the rest stops on the Mass Pike.  I can have one and be satisfied so that I stay away from other stuff.
But I can only get them on the Pike.
And today I was on the Pike.
And I needed gas.
So I stopped at the rest stop in Lee.
Pump gas.  Fill up the water bottle.  Trip to the rest room.
Tootsie Pops.  A bunch of them.  I’m not sure how many, but not one or two.
Up at the counter I put the Tootsie Pops down so they could be rung up.
Dude at the counter says, “quite a sweet tooth ya got there.”
To be clear, there were less than 10.  It wasn’t 20 or 30 or 40.  It was a few Tootsie Pops.
Then the woman at the other register said . . . crap, I can’t remember what she said, but it was something like WOW THAT'S A LOT OF CANDY.
I heard BOY YOU ARE LAME AND HAVE NO SELF CONTROL, from both of them.
I explained - at the gas station at the rest stop, where all I should have to do is pay for what I want while exchanging generic social pleasantries - that I can’t find this particular item, these red Cherry Tootsie Pops, anywhere else and I don’t drive by here often so I’m stocking up.
Y’all know I’m working not to eat sugar.  Y’all know that I suck at that when I’m stressed.  So, I’m making an effort.  I’m not proud of myself, but I’m not beating myself up.  I’m not rationalizing, in this moment I’m doing my best to find focus, to get my house clean, to create a space for meditation, to create a space for my bike on my trainer, to quiet my mind, to eat right, to connect with my family, to connect with my friends, to figure out my finances (which is not happening) and doing all that and staying 100% away from sugar is feeling impossible.
I’m trying.  I found something that I enjoy, that is small, that I own’t eat endlessly.  It is not a triumph, it’s a finger in the dike, it’s a stop gap measure.
And I have to explain myself to the clerk at the gas station?
So think.  Think before you speak.  You have no idea what the person you are speaking to is dealing with.  The words you speak can lift someone up when they are lower than you can know.  Or they can push someone down, raising their demons and making them seem bigger, uglier, scarier.
We all know these people I spoke with yesterday had no ill feelings toward me.  None of us intend to hurt the people we encounter in our daily lives.  My behavior just caught their attention.
My behavior got their attention and their words cut me.
So think.  Think before you speak.  Your words may be the thing that turns their day around.  Your words may be the thing that turns their life around.  Make them nice words, create positive change.
They’ll feel good, you’ll feel good.  What’s not to like about that?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Todays Theme: Must Have Oreos

At work today Oreos appeared.  In my head that is.  And boy I was prepared to buy me some Oreos at Stop & Shop on the way home.
My first stop was Guidos for actually healthy stuff - sliced almonds for my chicken salad, pomegranates, Kombucha, an avocado.  Then on to Stop & Shop for a rotisserie chicken, some celery, more pomegranates and . . . Oreos - remember, they were on my mind and I was prepared to buy them.
At Guidos I saw carmel apples.  They make insanely good carmel apples.  I thought about getting one, because, really, they are delicious.
I stopped and thought.  Do I really want a carmel apple?  I know I’ll eat the whole thing tonight, do I really want a whole carmel apple?  Hmmmm, did I enjoy the last one I had?  Sort of, but not all that much really.  So it was off to other aisles.  I made it out of Guidos without any crappy stuff.
And by crappy stuff I mean sugar.
So now it’s off to Stop & Shop.  I picked up the rotisserie chicken and celery, a couple of pomegranates.
And off we go to the cookie aisle.  Oreos, I WANT OREOS.
Stop & Shop has been changing around their aisles.  Oreos used to be on the end of the cookie aisle near the back of the store, I walked past them a lot because I do my best to shop on the outside perimeters of the store.  I went to the cookie aisle and found that Oreos are no longer at the back of the store, they are at the front.  I walked down and checked out the Oreo options.
And holy cow there are a lot of Oreo options.  Yellow cookie/chocolate filling.  Fudge topped with just one cookie.  Fudge topped with peanut butter filling, also just one cookie.  Yellow cookie white filling.  One yellow cookie, one chocolate cookie chocolate filling.  One yellow cookie, one chocolate cookie, chocolate filling.  The Double Triple - three chocolate cookies with white filling between one and two and chocolate between two and three.  Christmas Oreos, red filling and four seasonal pictures on the cookies.  Mega stuff.  Double stuff.
All I wanted was Oreos, plain old not too much stuff in the middle Oreos.
They were at the very bottom of the rack.  Clearly they are old hat.
All this scanning involved contemplation - except for the reverse Oreos, they don’t interest me - I had to determine if I wanted an alternate Oreo.
Nope, no, if I was having Oreos I wanted to have plain old not too much stuff in the middle Oreos.
Which are on the very bottom.
At the end of a lot of contemplation.
So much contemplation, as a matter of fact, that by the time I reached the plain old not too much stuff in the middle Oreos I had spent quite a few minutes thinking about Oreos - the cookies, the cream filling, the color of the cream filling, the amount of the cream filling - I looked at the package of the plain old not too much stuff in the middle Oreos and said no.
It wasn’t a loud no.  It wasn’t a strong no.  It wasn’t a very solid no.
It was actually kind of a regretful no.
But it was a no.
I made it out of Stop & Shop without any crappy stuff.
And by crappy stuff . . .
I’ve said it so many times, mindfulness is the key.  Sometimes it just sneaks up on me.