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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Despite all Appearances to the contrary, I am trying

Fall is here, the autumnal equinox marking the turn of the earth and way we face the sun as we continue our journey around and around and around. Going in circles is a way of life for us, our internal clocks set to a pattern outside of our control. And that is how I view my life sometimes, just repeating endless circles that go nowhere and eat up time as I wait for whatever is next because I have no control. That is the lie that I feel when I am down, when the dirty dishes stack up on the kitchen counter and the lawn hasn't been watered in months - the dry gold of it's dead expanse shining in the afternoon sun as it lay there lifeless, neglected beyond repair, a golden slap against my cheek every time I look out into the back yard and wonder why I let it go. Wonder why I have let everything go, the positive attitude that I had so carefully cultivated gone hiding, overwhelmed by the emotions that have crept in over the Summer. Slowly but surely snuffing out the bright little lights of optimism I had planted, sadness spreads like weeds darkening everything.

AND YET, I am trying. I am making my green smoothies in the morning, I am walking the dog almost everyday for 30 minutes, I am paying the bills with my ever dwindling IRA funds. But this is about keeping my head above water, and I need to look farther ahead than that. I need to quit treading water and get my feet out on the sand. And I will, in October I think. Because this month is just too hard. So I have given myself permission to grieve a little this week, and just as we know thoughts are things, as soon as I did that I was overwhelmed by emotions. But it is just a circle, and I know that letting myself feel the grief and sadness for a few days will leave me drained and empty and full of space that I can fill up with goals and plans and hard work to get on with things.

Tomorrow is Joey's birthday, the day he will never be 26, and for now I am not okay. Thank heavens it is just the way I feel at this moment, and I will not despair because I know I will wake up ready to greet life again in just a few days. I am trying.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

National Senior Games :: A Gold Medal and More

I am so grateful for this sport of archery that I love, but that comes later in the story.

Standing in the Stanford Stadium early Saturday morning, looking out at the row of pristine targets, I was filled with gladness and high expectations. Archers were everywhere unpacking equipment, setting up chairs, lining up their spotting scopes; everyone seemingly imbued with the same festival atmosphere that I was feeling. There were low clouds and a bit of dampness in the air, but that was so much better than the small buffeting gusts of wind that had plagued us in practice on Friday that I welcomed the coolness of the morning snug in the comfort of my sweater. It wasn't to last long, the sun piercing through hot and bright just as we finished up our two practice ends at 60 yards, just in time to change my perspective and make the first official end really challenging in the changed light. I am sorry to say I didn't live up to that challenge, shooting five 9's and taking a blow to my confidence all in under four minutes. Speaking of which, we lost our '30 second flag girl' after the first couple of ends because as a group we weren't even coming close to the five minutes allotted for shooting each end; fine at the time but this would come back to bite me in the persistent winds at 40 yards later in the day. (One gentleman pointed out that there was this huge million dollar electric board in front of us that they could have used, but I'm guessing that's more than the tournament could afford.)

There were only three women in my 50 - 54 group, but they mixed us up alphabetically with the compound men; I started on target 1 and Harry was just next door at target 2 with my main competition. While I didn't have a stellar performance, I stayed focused on making good shots and trying to stay calm; for anyone who knows me you will understand how happy I was just to not shoot the wrong target at any point during the weekend! The wind picked up with each passing hour and the ends at 50 yards passed quickly. I shot my first 60 of the day and started to relax a little bit as we headed into the last round at 40 yards. I started and ended that round with 57's which pissed me off but oh well. Shooting at tournaments is so different than standing out on our practice range and being surrounded by beautiful trees and hearing jays and hawks crying out. But I tried very hard to bring my best to each shot, reminding myself over and over that I just need to make one good shot at a time. Isn't that what we all tell each other, what we all strive for in this game?

We all think we can shoot better than we do and I think that is a good thing, so it was okay that I came away from the first day a little disappointed with my scores but pleased to be up by 18 points heading into day two.

Sunday began much the same way as Saturday, except Mr. Sun made his appearance earlier so our eyes were accustomed to the light when the official ends began. Despite the better light my score at the end of 60 yards was worse than the day before and I was just a little irritated. There were only the three of us in our age group on our target that day, shooting against just our competition, and I felt the pressure. I knew I could come away with Gold if I could just stay consistent and not make any fool errors, but there is always that little voice that pesters me with doubt. Then at 40 yards the wind was pestering us all something awful. I would let down and wait for the gust to pass, pull back and aim, and get pushed by the wind yet again. Think about this for a moment, the flags at the targets could be streaming towards you, the flags mid-field pointing East, and still you could feel the wind at your back as you look up to the top of the stadium where the flags were whipping out to the West. Of course this is an extreme example, but the point is that there was no rhyme or reason to the gusts, they just sailed in over the edge of the stadium and came swooping down to play havoc before disappearing just as suddenly. So patience was the game, let down and wait knowing you would have a better shot in just a minute. It felt like we were pulling back twice for each arrow shot and those five minutes we had were getting eaten up pretty fast doing this; remember we had no 30 second timer so it became a little stressful. And then something wonderful happened. I looked around, and just felt the gratitude pouring up from my heart that I was here, that I was healthy and could shoot, that it was a beautiful day, and I realized that the wind was just a part of it all. I reached deep and used that energy to carry me through the rest of the round, really connecting with the target and able to 'feel' the magic that can come with aiming when you are really focused and truly just living in the moment.

This would be a good place to mention that Harry shot really well, breaking the record in his age group and coming away with Gold too. He had to really buckle down and finish with two perfect ends to do it, and I'm really proud of him. Final Scores: Harry - 1762, Me - 1710

Was it my best score? No. Was I happy with my shooting? Yes. Did my eyes tear up when they started playing the Olympic music? Of course. And when my competition leaned over from her place on the podium at Silver to whisper, "Lets raise our hands and wave like they do at the Olympics" I was all for it, smiling from ear to ear and feeling like a kid despite being just a silly 'young' woman at the Geezer Games as I raised my arms up and waved to the cheering crowd up in the stands.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Me and Kaylee on a morning walk

I love my morning walks with Kaylee. She runs off thrilled with all of the wonderful stink of the waterways, darting back to make sure I am still there then running off to follow yet another trail. This is her sniffing her way along the bottoms, where I am walking in a soft silt that is usually covered with water and reeds. We are in our 3rd or 4th year of 'drought' conditions here, leaving this special little niche for us to peruse at our leisure. And not just us, this circle is the handiwork of a dirt bike that has come to play and left a perfect donut - how fun it would have been to see that, I can just imagine. There are also figure 8's drawn nearby in the earth; what a good time they had. As I hike up out of the ravine the view at the top is breathtaking. So much so that I forgot to take a picture. Large majectic live oaks spreading green branches before the back drop of light golden hills that the sun has just reached for the first time that morning. It's been cloudy and the foothills beyond are still dark, but this one set of low hills just gleams a brilliant welcome and I reach my hands up high to the sky and stretch back in a yoga morning pose. Breathing deeply, feeling the softness of my stomach expand and contract a few times before the headiness of it all overwhelms me and vertigo sets in. Back up straight I take a few minutes to really absorb all I am seeing, taking the time to let it all sink in before heading back home, back across the asphalt to the tract homes. As I put Kaylee back on her leash and head home I am filled with the joy of this earth, this world, and so grateful that I am a part of it .

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cal Cup Archery Tournament

I am so happy with this beautiful little bowl! This is the 2nd place trophy I brought home from a weekend of shooting up in Sacramento. Two years ago my honey brought home his own 2nd place bowl, and last year he won his gold match for the 1st place bowl on the left in the next picture. These are hand made by an archer, and it feels so good to add my own bowl to our little collection. I love the wood, the colours, the shape, the pattern of it all - they are just wonderful. But I have to say that as much as I loved placing 2nd, it was the group of women I was shooting with that made my weekend so fun. Some good competition is always good for one's own performance, and their cheery attitude was a joy to be around.

There are only 3 weeks left until the National Senior games that we are training for, to be held in Palo Alto the first weekend in August. I have been shooting almost every day preparing for this event, and I know from the online listings of registrants that I will have some competition there. Only 3 of us so far, but that is better than winning by default because you are the only one in your age bracket! It's so ridiculous that I am even qualified to shoot in a 'senior' event, but the reality is that I am in my 50's. I still feel young in so many ways, and I know that if I would take the time to add some yoga to my exercise regime my stiff hips would loosen up - that is about the only time I feel my age, when I have been sitting for too long curled up and stand too quickly. I imagine that as I lose more weight that will help get rid of this particular problem too. But I digress. My archery has gone a long way to restoring my sanity this past year. I started shooting this past October, when I had to shoot if I was going to qualify for the upcoming games. But some small spark of my old competative nature took hold that day, and each passing month I have become more and more serious about my shooting. Letting my honey help me with my form, trying to listen and adjust to become a better shooter. All with the goal of shooting one good arrow at a time.

And I can't help but see the analagy of how this sums up how I want to live my life; one good moment at a time, leading to one good day at a time, and within those moments and days building back this life into a new healthier shape. I've never before felt like this was something I had any control over, this forming of a life, nor did I ever want control I think. It took me years to accept that I didn't have to have the same type of motivation and ambition that my siblings had, to learn that maybe it's better to just let leaves lay where they fell and live a life that was 'meant' to be. But I think I am doing a little poking around with a rake now, and making little decisions to tweak my path. I love the part of 'Eat Pray Love' where Liz (author Elizabeth Gilbert) is explaining to her friend that when she prays she asks for the strength and fortitude to accept whatever is coming her way. Her friend says something like, whatever gave you that crazy idea? You are a part of this world, a constituant, and you have the right to petition the universe for what you want! I just loved this, because like Liz, I just ever asked for the strength to 'accept what I cannot change and courage to accept the rest.' I think I picked that up from years of Alanon meeting living with alcoholics and addicts, but do I really believe in that particular prayer now? I don't think so. I think we DO have the right to ask for change, to have a say in our universe. So the tone and focus of my prayers have changed, I just need to say them more often ;)

How did I get from archery to prayer? I sometimes have to laugh at the way I meander all over the place, but I know we all do that. And between those two things was the mantra I used a dozen times over the course of the weekend to refocus and steady my breathing, "Hum Sa"(I am that (God)), giving me a place of calm to quiet my thoughts, and focus on the center of the target that was 70 meters away. To bring in oxygen to fee the muscles I needed to make one good shot after another. Not of course that they were all good. At the end of the first day I was down by 30 points to my main competition. But I beat my personal best score by 19 points I think, and at the end of the day I was only down 21 points from the State record. Definitely something to shoot for ;)

So that's where I've been, busy shooting and walking my little dog and even doing push ups to build my upper body strength for pulling arrows out of the target - sometimes a really hard thing to do! I see myself just doing more and more of the same as these final weeks play out, and while I should be focusing on earning a living, instead I am focusing on being happy and working on shooting better. After Nationals will be soon enough to worry about paying the mortgage :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another Walk, another Thought

As a child I fell in love with Pollyanna, and wanted to be just like her. I was already a good girl and to 'meet' her was like finding a kindred spirit; okay, maybe I had a little girl crush on her - it was Haley Mills after all. But that 'goodness' developed into something else as I grew older. Even as I pointed out silver linings and saw the good in people and things and situations, I knew that I was acting the devil's advocate and that my comments were sure to prompt a disagreeable view from someone else, along with their praise that I was so generous in my view - thereby making me the better person, one I could feel good about. How sad for me. And in noticing this I also noticed that my smugness begat pride, and wasn't that one of the seven deadly sins? So even knowing I was a good person, I also knew that I wasn't, that I had this dark side to my character - a deadly flaw - which meant I wasn't really a good person, I just knew how to act like one. Which brings me to my grandmother, who apparently saw right through me even as a child.

"The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions"

How often did my grandmother say this to me? For sure every time I spoke about losing weight or not biting my nails. And I resented it, each time I heard it I felt the criticism, and was offended that my dear sweet Mommer would tell me, in essence, that I was going to Hell. Now that I am in my fifties and ready to be a student I see it for the truism that it is. But now I see it through the words of Elizabeth Gilbert (yes, I'm still going on about that) and the tale of her Indonesian Medicine Man who pointed out that Heaven and Hell are the same place, but we choose which way to get there, up or down; and it is in that choosing that we create heaven or hell on earth. Each time a good intention comes along there is also a signpost with our choices pointing in different directions; to act or not to act, to create a paver on our road to hell or a stepping stone towards heaven. So my grandmother was right, and each time I had a good intention, but chose the road where I didn't act, I was paving my way to hell, one choice at a time. How awful! I am so ashamed now of all the opportunities I didn't take advantage of, but in my new frame of mind even that shame is a fleeting notion and I have forgiven myself.

And I do have a big intention in my life right now; to be strong and healthy and prepared at the senior games in August. I've been training for a while, and 'trying' to lose weight, but now I see this in a new light, and I think it's time to test if I can indeed choose the sign pointing up and create a little bit of heaven in my life.

As I tag this entry, I realize that I might need to combine categories, because each time I click on 'dare I say religion' I also click on 'Positive Thinking' and 'Self Discovery'. How many times will I do this before I accept that those are all really the same thing :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Walking & Thinking

<- While my walk starts in the suburbs, in 10 minutes I am out to what I call my Marshlands.

Walking Kaylee this morning I found myself thinking and turned off the audio book that I have been struggling to finish (too droll....) I think it is a great sign of mental health that I am able to do this, that I can let myself think instead of hiding behind the words of another. I was thinking about archery, and the shoot yesterday. Despite the heat it was a wonderful day and we had the pleasure of shooting with a gentleman who admired our prowess and asked lots of questions. How flattering :) Anyway, I was having a particularly good day of shooting, and it was fun to share a little of what I've learned from my partner who is the much better archer. And one of the important facets of 'the shot' is that when you are aiming you can't be doing anything else. You really have to be in the moment, and if you're not it's time to let down and regroup and restart your shot. This speaks to everything I have been learning about life and how we should be living in the moment, and walking this morning I really started to think about it retrospectively. If when I was raising children, the only true thing was that moment, and I was doing the best I could, then that has to be the valid point about that time. I know I spent a lot of time in recent years questioning myself with all of the 'what if' and 'if only I' thoughts that we torture ourselves with, and in my journey through the valley of grief I think those were a little necessary so that I could get to where I am today. Which is understanding that I need to respect the feelings and decisions of the me that was present then. I need to trust that I was doing exactly what I was suppose to be doing then, that the feelings were real and the decisions I made because I trusted my feelings were the right ones for me in that time and place. I don't think I could have gotten here (if I really am) without a thought from - yes, again - Eat Pray Love where she points out that God is not only in us, but living and experiencing life through us as exactly who we are. That 'he' is not interested in us trying be someone else, but only just exactly who we are. Because then he gets one special and unique experience. So here I am now, trusting in me back then, because I do remember trying to 'follow my heart' as I use to say. And that is the advice I give my daughter now that she is a mother too. And I'm hoping that she will understand better and sooner that those feelings, that following of the heart, is everything. It's living in the moment, being true to yourself one small experience at a time, that builds a special and unique life experience. So I think I am done berating myself for not having done a better job raising my son. Yes, hindsight shows me specific mistakes I wish I hadn't made, but I need to expand this new found understanding to all the moments in my life, maybe especially those. From this will come forgiveness, maybe not today, but I know I am on the right path towards that end ... because I am learning to trust my feelings, and I'm following my heart in this moment. Rereading this I realize a hard truth, I wasn't always following my heart, there were times I was 'trying to do the right thing' because I didn't trust myself, and I guess those are the moments I regret. But still - I need to fall back on the part that I trust I was doing the best I could in that moment, that even if I wasn't trusting myself I was trusting someone else. Grrrr, so I prove a point and lose a bit of ground all at the same time. But still on a path forward, and most important - lesson learned! Trust my feelings, trust I am exactly who I am suppose to be, and listen to my heart because that's where God lives.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Brix, St Helena CA

What a lovely afternoon! Friends invited us to meet them for lunch in the Napa Valley, and while still trying to catch up from being away from home so much lately we love the area and have fond memories of wonderful lunches together at the V.Sattui winery where we were to meet them. As it turns out we ended up at the BRIX restaurant instead, our friends wanting a more formal sit down lunch than the deli at V.Sattui offers. The restaurant was picked by a friend of our friends, who had never been there but thought he had heard of the chef. What a wonderful choice! They have raised bed gardens you can see in our view from the table where some of our food was grown, and we were all more than happy with our selections. I had the heirloom bean salad with goat feta & finely julliened carrots tossed with a vinegrette. The taste I had of the mushroom, sunchoke soup with cashew cream was to die for, and the wood oven baked pizza the guys had looked and smelled amazing. I almost ordered the olive bread with hummus, but was so overwhelmed by the choices that I stuck with a salad. There was not much goat cheese, and I did supplement the small portion with some sourdough slices which were also made fresh at the restaurant. They ordered several desserts for us to share, and I had a nibble of peanut brittle and one strawberry bon bon (freshly made ice cream inside dark chocolate - OMG!) So much for no dairy or gluten, but the amounts were small and I have a wonderful minestrone full of spinach, tomatoes & peppers simmering away in the kitchen for dinner later.
One of the nicest surprises of the day was that I can actually see that I am getting smaller in the picture we took this afternoon. I knew from the clothes I was choosing from to wear this morning that I must be losing again, but to see my shoulders thinner was more than I could have hoped for upon waking this morning. Thank heavens in this economy I won't have to shop for summer clothes.

Pancake Parfum

The smell of pancakes comes wafting down the hall from the kitchen, and the sweetness is perfume to my brain. I feel neurons firing and a 'coming awake' as it were. But I analyze it all, find it interesting, and move on. For a moment I regret that I am subjected to this small torment, then I remember the warmth wafting across from under the sheets last night, and I am grateful that the same someone cooking pancakes out of a propellant bottle is also the someone who loves me best in this life and is willing to warm my feet at night. So I choose to enjoy the smell, remember the warmth, and move on, thinking of the yummy blueberries that will go in my smoothie later when I am hungry.

Speaking of later, we are taking a day trip to Napa to meet friends for lunch. This will be my first visit there since ditching dairy and gluten. We are going to the winery with the awesome deli, but what I remember is lean peppered pastrami, pungent cheeses and sourdough baguettes. I am praying for salad & roasted red peppers & Sicilian olives - but no matter what the fare I will choose wisely. I did not like seeing Mr. 200 Monday after five days eating on the road and I am not going to do anything to welcome him back now that he's gone again. ...And now I feel like saying to the universe, "So There!" and sticking my tongue out. Is not it wonderful how a part of us never grows up.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love is a beautifully written book by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I've spent the last month listening to her melodic voice reading it. I first read the book a year ago last October while house sitting for my sister in Ventura, the nurturing vistas from her deck on the hill overlooking the bay there a perfect counterpoint to the lessons I was finding in the book. I always meant to pick up my own copy, and I will eventually, but for now I have the audio book read by the author loaded on my ipod and I am on my third time through listening to every word with wonder and hope and love. I am so in love with the words, with the way she reads them, with the wonderful things she has to share that you would think they were fresh donuts warm from the fryer and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Now to digress a bit.

It's been a crazy few weeks, first driving with my daughter and granddaughter (5 months old) on a grand tour of visits to Southern California for five days of showing off the baby to family and squeezing in a quick visit with a friend I miss terribly. Then home again and a long weekend traveling down to Fresno for the annual Safari Archery novelty shoot and hiking over boulders where native Americans use to sit and grind acorns, the holes of their work living on to tell their story. Two days home for laundry and repacking and a couple days of 'real' work and then off north to Redding and their annual Trail Shoot. Hiking and shooting and getting drenched and not giving up despite being a drowned rat with numbing fingers and barking dogs (read that as tired, sore feet.) Anyway, I am home again and just back from walking Kaylee (the wee dachshund I missed so much on all those trips) and listening to E. Gilbert's words and wanted to share the feelings of my walk.

We go several blocks north bordering the nearby golf course until we come to a pond, then we wind our way around the water until we turn East to cross over to a strip of protected land that runs along a creek that is fed from the snows in the Sierras. While somewhere I know in the back of my mind that we are on the edge of suburbia, once there I can let the wind blow around and through me, head back (lifting my heart to the world) and fingers spread wide to feel the coolness blowing by and all of a sudden it's just me on this planet as it spins through the universe. Kaylee sits close by my feet, her nose in the air too, and I wonder if she feels the same connection I do to the world at that moment. And I am so grateful for this beautiful earth we live on and the quiet I find at the end of this trail. I am surrounded by the beautiful foot hills covered in spring grasses, the taller mountains to the north dark with scrub pines, and the huge clouds plowing through the blue sky like tug boats on their way to Kansas; their bottoms dark with rain yet to fall and their tops stacked tall and thick and gleaming white in the afternoon sun. At that moment I feel so blessed, so much a part of it all, that I can even think of Joey and stay glad. At that moment I am not just there enjoying the weather, but I am also the observer watching this woman and her little dog and loving them because they are a part of me, and I am a part of them .... lol, 'and we are all together.' (Think Bono singing in Across The Universe.) When I left the house for this walk I really had to talk myself into going, telling myself that Kaylee needed the time & attention, that the exhaustion I was feeling could be ignored for her. Arriving home I am refreshed, and feel like writing for the first time in quite a while.

There is a small, very small, dark corner inside me trying to make a stand now that I am back home and the wind is no longer holding my spirits aloft. But I have a feeling I will never let it grow big again. These words I have been listening to over and over are a blessing, a benediction, a cleansing of spirit like I have never known before, and I send light to this woman for sharing a part of her life and giving me a better way to think about some important things. I am so open now to whatever is going to happen next in my life, and I think somewhere out there walking today I made a decision that it's time to be happy again. Maybe it's just another nudge in the right direction, but it feels more like turning a corner - or to be more exact, it feels like I've opened up a little inside, that I'm no longer clenched tight by grief. This is a good thing, and the freedom is lovely, and I know Joey would approve.

ps Did you figure out I am recommending her book to read?
pps Happy Cinco de Mayo

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is having an online Community healthy?

I recently was at the receiving end of several scathing comments for having typed something in a public forum that was perceived as rude. I mean, several posters were so mean and critical I literally fled the scene - well, after trying to politely explain what I had previously posted. I had just been voicing my opinion honestly, in direct contrast to the OP's (original poster's) comment, but will say that in re-reading my post I did forget to insert the IMHO clause at the beginning. So why did I let them upset me? I don't really know these people, it was an anonymous thread at a weight loss support site, so why was I putting myself out there in the first place? Is this online community I have become involved with simply a commentary on how pathetic I have become? It seems to be a rather large community - and it's only one of ... thousands? millions? I see our world wide web as a way to connect, but when you don't also have a fullfilling social life is it mentally healthy? Words continuously shared without benefit of facial expression or vocal tone? Words perhaps more harsh or blunt than intended because you can be faceless? Does lack of responsibility to what we are saying distort how it is said? Well, of course. Even mild mannered me managed to piss off a few people, how on earth did that happen? I've never been intentionally rude in my life and here were several people jumping on that band wagon and pointing at me. Me! WTF! And so where do I vent about it...not to my family, or close personal friends...but to an invisible audience, because the whole thing is rather embarrassing. Or, to be more realistic, to myslef - because I am just one of , well scads, of others who type away into the universe with no response expected - so when it comes it can be a shock.

Granted, journaling is a great way to work through feelings, and typing here I feel is better than not journaling at all. But why blog, why not just type into a work document and save like I have done so often. Connection, I think. Or trying to feel connected. So many of us have made our individual worlds so small we lack the society we need. Which brings me right back around to ... how healthy is this? Wouldn't I be better served to start a bunco group, a hiking club, or just participate more in the real world? (don't EVEN get me started on reality tv...)

So, recognizing that I spend too much time here, my goal this season (spring at the moment) is to be here less , and work on a better social life where I am more sensitive about the things I have to share. Sigh, I'm guessing my thoughts will be no better received there either.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Too Many Clothes!

I am tired of this ritual, making room for summer wear by packing away sweaters, replacing jeans with shorts in my drawers, and ousting the sweatpants so the bathing suits have a place of their own. I long for a basic wardrobe that will carry me through the year with just a few adjustments for the seasons. This is California after all, it's not like I have snow gear for winter and flowing robes for summer. I'm a jeans and tank top sort of girl, clothes shouldn't be such a chore.

Let me digress a bit. I've been doing lots of inside work - no, not dusting - the kind where you look inside to your darkest corners and flip the light on to see what you actually have hiding in there. Doubts, fears, hopes, dreams, shame, blame and all the little cracks and imperfections that make us individuals. My biggest dilema right now is figuring out how to forgive myself for all the small ways that I contributed to my son's death. For all the times I felt I failed him. For the perceived evils that lurk around his demise. I was listening to Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert this week. I had read the book while house sitting for my sister last year and fallen in love with her words and her story. And in listening to her read those words so beautifully some of them sank in a little bit, and I started thinking about the things I carry inside and what I was going to do about them.

So what on earth does this have to do with clothes? Good question, and here is my little story connecting the two. It's spring, and I would like to put on some shorts to wear while mowing the lawn. I really don't want today to be the day I lug out the cartons of summer clothes from the bottom of my closet and pack away the winter items. My Sis is coming this evening and I would rather spend my time working around the house to make it neat and cozy and welcoming. So I've just finished listening to Gilbert's book before I go to change my clothes, and all of a sudden I see this mass of material as a dead weight in my life. And it clicks - here is something I can work on. Here is a part of my life I can examine that is a whole lot easier to start with than my son's death. If I can look at this problem and solve it, then I will be ready to look at something else, and eventually I can get around to the really hard stuff.

So what do all these clothes mean? Why do I have so many things that I either don't or can't wear? The obvious answer to me is that I am constantly looking for something to make me feel smaller than a whale. Like if I can find something that fits perfectly it will make me look 50 pounds lighter. That's one thing, the other is that I save everything knowing that one day I will fit into it again and won't have to spend money shopping for clothes once I have lost weight. I think I finally threw away the 12's last year when we cleaned the garage out realizing how very outdated everything was (and falling apart) but I still have 14's, 16's & 18's in both stretch and regular sizes; my wardrobe grew as I did. Each time there was somewhere to go I would have to go find that one thing that would help me feel better about myself. Did it ever? I guess once in a while, but Another factor is not passing up a sale on something that I was absolutely positive was going to fit next year. I have a whole section in my closet devoted to this delusion; I'll bet I could go in there and count two dozen pretty tops that I have bought over the last several years and have never worn because they are still too small.

Time to rant for a second - if thoughts are things and I keep thinking I will fit in these things then why don't I?

Okay, so back to mucking about in my brain and heart and soul to do some dusting (ok, I lied, there is dusting involved) and figure out what to do about the clothes from the perspective of what is going to make me happy. Because that's what it's all about, isn't it? I think I need to visualize what it means for me to be happy, and what will I be wearing while I feel this way. Do I need the pretty gold tank top that would be perfect for giving a presentation or wearing under a snappy black jacket for a formal meeting? Do I see myself actually being happy doing those things? Is that me? Trust me, it's a real top and those have been the reasons for hanging on to it for about five or so years. Originally I wore it to a Christmas party with black velor pants, but I didn't really feel like me wearing it even then. So just because it's 'like new' and yes, eventually I might wear it once more, it deserves to be taking up space? I think not. And this is just one example, there are probably a thousand more stories much like it hiding in my storage bins, drawers and closet. So to get rid of these things, I need to accept why I have saved them, admit they are things I don't love, that don't represent who I am, and let them go to someone who can better use them before any more crumble from neglect in my care. And lets keep in mind the clothes are just the physical manifestation of me not feeling good about myself; ah, the real knitty gritty of the problem so to say. I've sort of lost me in all this mess. It's not so much about not really knowing who I really am, it's more about accepting who I am and embracing that instead of hiding from it. Because I do see that glimmer of me in there, it's not all doom and gloom; I use to be strong and confident and creative and helpful and athletic - I'm still all those things, I know that, I see that spark. I just need to get some kindling going (don't worry, not in the closet.)

So now I set myself this task - to set aside some time after my sister leaves to go through the clothes thinking about who I am, and what makes me happy. No pretending, no begrudging the dollars already spent, no unrealistic 'maybe if' scenarios. I saw in the mail today that there is a city-wide garage sale on June 20th, what better way to welcome in Summer! I plan on having more clothes than anyone else out in my driveway that day. And probably the biggest mental barrier to doing that - the weight thing of course. BUT...I have a sewing machine, I can alter my clothes as I lose weight. I'm eating for nutrition, and I'm back under 200 pounds, and as the weight keeps coming off I will be glad I saved a few things in smaller sizes. But the jeans I'm wearing now, my size 16 stretch, two pairs in this size would have been just fine, but I have six pairs - no more of that. I will only keep the things I really want, that I will really wear. And I will purge with a vengeance the clothes that were never really mine despite the fact I paid for them and brought them home.

Thinning out my wardrobe will be therapeutic, a winnowing of who I am, each decision in some small way bringing me closer to me. I can forgive myself for wasting so much money on these things that didn't make me happy because I know I'm not going to be like that anymore. I feel like I am on the road to being comfortable in my clothes, and that someday soon I will be able to wear the pretty tops hanging in my closet - the few I just have to keep because they sing my name. I feel like today I have made progress.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eating for Nutrition

Well, I kept my food log update throughout the week, and it was looking pretty awesome until day 5. I've been fighting a cold (1st time in four years, I should not complain) and the only way to keep the phlegm at bay was to eat. I was tired of crunching on carrots (they work best) and yearned for comfort food. So days 5 & 6 I had too many calories, which brought my average daily calories to about 1400 - right where I should be to lose weight slow and steady. Interestingly enough, my well days, where I ate for nutrition and followed the Eat to Live guidelines, I was only consuming between 1000 & 1200 calories a day; I wasn't hungry, there were no cravings, no compulsive thoughts about eating bad things. Keeping in mind my activity level is super low I was mostly okay with this, but can't help but wonder if the low calories helped instigate the Cheetos attack. Going forward I will add more beans to increase the calories. I worry about upping the protein, but the Dr. says lots of beans and legumes and I've only been eating between 1/2 & 1C each day. I can hardly wait until I can eat for nutrition combined with getting in exercise. I imagine the pounds sluicing off my frame revealing the trim athlete hiding inside.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Food log, Monday 3/16/09

Admittedly February was hard and I give myself kudos for not eating myself to death. Speaking of which, compared to death all the rest of the stress I can take in stride; I will stay positive and take care of myself. To that end today starts six weeks of eating for health. Well, yes, I have been doing that for over a year now...almost two? But I'm not making progress as fast as I would like. It averages out to ten pounds a year lost over each of the last three, but that counts the ten I gained eating after Joey crossed over. So now that I have changed a few basics I am interested in using my old tracking sheet to plan each day to see where I am calorie and percentage wise. I have guidelines I think I pretty much stick to, but obviously I am splurging more than I should. The idea is to lose more often, not just maintain! And while I say six weeks, the reality is that I will be happy if this manic mode lasts even one.

Basic changes made:
1. No more oil or store bought salad dressings. I'm making my own using nuts.
2. I'm adding in 1T of flax meal each day, and 1oz of nuts to get enough Omega 3's.
3. I have a goal of 1# of raw veggies each day, and 3-4 fruits.

I won't make myself crazy by trying to post my log everyday, but often, and at least weekly updates since my sheet tracks for weekly summaries. Yes, a little crazy...I'm tired of the dark, I'm ready for spring in more ways than one.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

~** Valentines Day **~

I was thinking in the shower this morning, that if indeed we choose our lives, then I must have felt I was ready for the challenges that this one would bring. At some point I must have pointed and thought, "I can do that, I'm ready for this." Sometimes I feel that strength within me, shining out and manifesting as courage. Sometimes I wonder if I have given up too much too often and not fought hard enough. But there are times like this morning when I can look from a distance and critique from a place of calm acceptance that things are as they should be. For whatever reason or lack there of. Times like this I don't need for there to be a 'big plan' or an 'evolving spiritual life' or really to know anything. Just being here is enough, for this one moment before the physical world comes barreling back in, I am all that I should be, or can be, or desire to be. I am calm, satisfied to be breathing, warm from the shower, damp..clean..wholesome. And with the calm is a sense of heaviness, and all of a sudden instead of writing words I want to be curled up with a soft blanket and my dog and reading words written by someone else - words that will take me somewhere wonderful. I have always used books as a buffer between me and the 'world'. Today is no different.