Thursday, March 10, 2011

Creative musing

"The glory of grace is that our lives are not filled with to do lists - just to be."
My friend Dyane posted this quote on her Facebook page this morning and I thought it was the perfect way to start off Lent. I doubt I'll make it to a Mass today -- but I'm not too worried about it. It's a time of thought and reflection and I can certainly say I have been and will be doing a lot of that -- with or without the smudge of ash on my forehead.
Last year, to celebrate Lent, I gave up Facebook. I did manage to accomplish more than usual, but I really missed my friends. This year, based on inspiration from my bestest pal Nancy, I'm opening my heart and soul to my creative energy. I'm ask God and the Universe to speak through my art -- writing, sewing, crafting, painting, photography.. I'll go anywhere the Spirit moves me.
My plan is to spend 2 hours a day working on something that feeds my creative soul. The first hour doing the activity-- the 2nd hour writing.
So, I started this Ash Wednesday. Now it's Thursday and only part of my plan came together yesterday. I did spend an hour working on a project, but constant interruptions kept me from writing more than a few minutes.
Oh well, we'll keep moving forward.
I've been putting more thought into my weight loss goals. And I've come to the conclusion -- yet again -- that I'm over thinking this. Remember a couple of summers ago when I just stopped thinking about it and just did the things that brought me joy? I made sure to stay active, but I put the weight loss behind me. Remember how it worked? I felt fabulous. That is until I had a relapse into the depression and eating disorder world that has been polluting me since. Anywhooo -- I think I'm just going to go back to that. The fake it til you make it -- remember?
I'm going back there. I've been thinking about checking myself into an eating disorder clinic. I'd really like to go because I'm so sick of this being an issue in my life. Done. But I'd have to be gone for a month. Away from my kids for a month. I know it would be great for me and by extension, my family. But a month? A month. I just don't know. I could probably handle two weeks. Four weeks?!
The thing is, I know I'm close to having this conquered. So very close. I've been close for years. I'm not sure about this...I know I can do this. But damn... a month away is a long, long time. I know I have the tools to make this happen without going to rehab -- but then I haven't managed to conquer yet for longer than 120 days. I keep saying that I want to be done with this -- so why don't I just... be done? I did it before. Couldn't I do it again?
I'm thinking if I focus more on creating and writing, the rest will come together. I tell people to focus on what they love and the rest will come -- shouldn't I follow my own advice?
I'll need you guys to still with me as I take this journey. If I focus on what I love for 40 days and still so the need to go to rehab, then I'll go. I'll need your help and support as always. I'll chronicle the journey here -- and we'll see if I can make it last a lifetime!
I'll post art pictures later this afternoon... Cheers.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Holy Cow. I just had a huge epiphany. I mean life changing awakening.
Here's what happened: A friend and I were talking about finishing unfinished projects. I rarely finish projects. I have THOUSANDS (I'm not even exaggerating)of unfinished projects. THOUSANDS.
As we were chatting I heard myself saying out loud (so even I could hear it): "Unfinished projects make you feel needed. Like you matter. If you always have a project to go back to, you'll never be lonely or bored. You have an existence."
As I heard the words spill out of my mouth my heart took a leap. It was like the rope that had been strangling it was suddenly cut free and the blood to my soul could pump again. Do you suppose that's the road block to all the goals I've been trying to meet without success for oh-so-long?!
What I know now is that those unfinished goals and projects are not really keeping me alive, they're drowning me. Slow suicide.
One of the issues I've been dealing with again is my self esteem and weight loss. (Yes, AGAIN. I am so sick of it too!) One of my friends asked me what purpose being heavy served. It's been asked again and again and I've never really been able to come to a clear answer.
Yes, it is the isolation and insulation that I crave in a world that often seems too cruel in which to exist. It is the excuse to fail. It is the armor to protect my heart against the expectations no human could ever meet. And now, it's clear to me that the 150 pounds of bricks I carry around makes me feel substantial. It makes me feel like I can always play the victim and that if people can't see the real me, they can at least take pity upon me. I guess there is a part of me that feels like only my true friends like me at 300 pounds. Those that only want to be my friend because of what I do or how I look won't bother. They assume I'm stupid. The weight allows me to fit in instead of stand out. The more my heart has been broken over this lifetime, I've added more and more weight in hopes of being big enough to withstand the unbearable pain.
Food has offered me that comfort of unconditional love and warmth when it felt like the world was crashing down upon me. I had to be externally heavy to withstand the internal pressure.
As I uttered those words today I felt the pressure start to lift. As if acknowledging the falsehood was the sledgehammer I needed to break the pressure --the knife I had been seeking to cut the rope that has been squeezing the air from my soul.
There is this fear in me that if I shed the pounds, if I take care of myself like I should that I might somehow be more lonely than I already am. I understand that is the addiction talking and not the real me. I'm no longer the little girl bounced around to the next safe haven. I am not the teenager that was just "too much". I am not the conquest. I am an adult in control of my own destiny. My own choices. I can set my own boundaries when I choose, rather than letting someone else draw the lines for me. I don't have to be anything I don't want to be.
I'm not saying that this is the miracle that will suddenly make everything alright. Nor am I saying my journey ahead will be smooth and well paved. I am saying that as I walk the road ahead of me I can so with a lighter load.
Those unfinished projects are simply potholes I can choose to fall in -- or I can finish the project and repair.
I have never not had an eating disorder. It's attached to me like an umbilical cord. In some cases it has allowed me to survive when I didn't think I could. Looking at it at this moment it's a cord that is filling my heart with toxic beliefs and my mind with poison.
It's time to cut the cord.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Morning Stroll

It's the beginning of day 2 on Maui and I took a short stroll on the beach this morning...I had intended on a fast paced, heart-healthy walk, but when I got down to the sand I slowed down. Perhaps it's something in the air.
Each morning, the locals come out -- some, mostly men, bring long poles and throw their lines into the surf. Then they sit nearby and watch the waves roll in. I haven't seen them catch anything yet -- but I don't really have the attention span. There are the morning surfers and kayakers -- and the morning tourists. Those not-so-easily distracted fitness walkers and those plagued by the time change from the continent -- up before dawn thanks to preprogrammed internal clocks.
Then, there are the seaweed pickers. The locals, who, armed with plastic bags comb through the mounds of seaweed left when the tide goes out for a particular type of seaweed.
So, as I headed out this morning for my morning stroll, I stopped and watched. A small woman with a visor and sandals stooped every few steps and pulled a brownish collection from all the green. I watched her for a few minutes and all I could do was marvel at the way she could spot these little brown plants when all I could see was green.
Another tourist came up and asked her about the seaweed. She explained that you clean it, then par boil it. It's served chopped with sweet onions and tomatoes and a little bit of pepper.
That tourist left and I asked the woman if I could take her picture. She hesitated for a moment -- "Come on?" I said. "You'll never see me again..." She looked up and smiled.
Her name is Lenore. She's originally from the Phillippines but moved here when she got married. She said she has to walk each morning because she's retired now. Sometimes she picks the seaweed for herself, sometimes she gives it away to her friends. Her children are grown and she has grandchildren and great-grandchildren now. Lenore admits that sometimes she'd like to move back to the Phillpines -- a brother and sister are still there. But, later she says there's nothing much to miss as it's almost the same here.
I ask her to teach me to find the seaweed and I stoop to pick up a clump that I'm sure is right. She laughs, "No -- that's not it." This process is repeated for about 5 minutes, when I finally learn to spot the right stuff. "That's it!" she nods. I was ecstatic.

I walk with her for a while -- not sure if she wants company -- not sure if I do -- but watching her eyes scan the clumps of verdant plants for the small brown branches of her salad. She's like an eagle -- scooping up her prey -- prey that is unseen by anyone else.
Lenore explains that you can find this certain seaweed on several beaches, but this one is closest to her home. (I think she said it was called gobo, but by the time I got back to the house, I'd forgotten the word)Each side of the island has different kinds of seaweed. She said tourists come here and learn how to eat the Hawaiian way -- and it makes them feel better. Then they go home and forget about it. The next year, they come back and they remember again.
Finally, I'm able to see it. Once you're eyes are trained to it, it's easy to spot. The branches are longer than the other feathers, not green... It occurs to me that hunting for this seaweed is a lot like life. Sometimes what you need is not the magic potion purchased from the great wizard selling hope -- it's right in front of you hidden among the mundane.

Eventually I thank my new friend for sharing her day with me and I walk ahead. The beach is an interesting place -- there is the weathliest of visitors -- walking along with their $20 "green" mug filled with expensive coffee and good taste. The grateful retiree who saved and pinched for a lifetime to visit or to stay here each winter. The locals whom I suspect begrudingly share this space with everyone else. Then there are the people I suspect slept here last night -- worldly belongings packed in a 30 gallon black plastic garbage bag and a few essentials tucked into a back pack. This group is also diverse -- a college age kid in a hurry to get somewhere. A 20-something smelling of patchoulli and dreams of living "free". The elderly gentlemen who found a protection collection of palm trees under which to camp and talk.
It's easy to make assumptions about these people as I travel through their world and I wonder what or if they stop to think of me. The housewife on vacation -- stopping to find seaweed or take a picture. The writer who wonders if other people hear the words in their heads like I do -- the person who has a hard time soaking it all in because she want to get back to the computer so badly -- to write and tell the story of her new friend Lenore and her seaweed.
It's easier to walk close to the water -- the sand is more compact. Yes, there is risk of a wave or two -- but again the beach has reminded me of another life lesson. Sometimes it appears to make more sense to stay away from the risks -- to walk away from the water. But maybe it's better to walk closer to the water's edge -- there is risk, yes -- but the rewards are so much greater...
Today I met someone new -- I learned a little about seaweed... and maybe a bit about myself -- all I had to do was walk along the water.

Oops -- I posted this on the wrong blog...

It's day one in Maui -- I'm on the island in the Pacific. Don't get me wrong -- it's a cool thing. I'm on the brink of relaxing. It's all good. My husband and I here for a wedding. His best friend is getting married. They've been close friends since they were 8.
Over the years, their friendship has gone through the normal roller coaster of a life long friendship -- but there was no way he was going to miss this event ... despite the fact it's wedding number three for the groom. Over the years, I've become good friends with the first two wives -- so this feels a little odd. Wife 2 (although they were technically never married) is one of my closest friends. Number 3 seems very nice. She's a tall, thin 30-something -- beautiful brown eyes, perfect teeth -- traffic stopping tits. She's been very welcoming too me -- and to her credit that's got to be hard -- as she knows wives 1 and 2 are my friends -- and close.
I came to the wedding with a bit of dread in my heart -- wondering what the hell I'd do while vacationing with the couple and 30 of their closest friends and relations. There are 5 bridesmaids and their boyfriends/spouses. They're young, tanned and tattooed. They call me sweetie and honey. This makes me a little crazy -- but all my city -friends seem to do this -- so apparently I'm missin' something. One of the bridesmaids apparently has decided I'm quite elderly and feeble. She hugs me around the shoulders and asks if she can bring me anything. When I wouldn't stand up for a drunken toast, she came over and as if I were suffering from an addled mind-- (Why else wouldn't I want to listen to drunk people try to make a toast? "You're my best fuckin' friend, dude." ) -- take my hand and try to walk me to the deck. I actually yelled at her. And you know what she did? She came over and hugged me for a dinner -- a meal which I did not prepare or pay for ... and included a kiss on the cheek. What is with city people? They're always calling me sweetie and kissing me.
I didn't do a damn thing today. It was freakin perfect. I sat on my ass all morning taking in the sunshine and ocean breeze. I finally got hungry and bored enough to go out in search of fish tacos and a quilt store. Found both. Got some yummy tacos and a couple of nice quilt kits and fabric. Plus, I signed up for a Hawaiian appliqué class. Conveniently it's at the same time as the reception and I think I can sneak away for a few minutes and perhaps avoid anymore "sweeties" and "kisses" .
The best part of being here is hanging out with the groom's family. Growing up, Clem became their fourth child. For him, being one of four was a whole lot easier, sometimes, than being one of 10. They are a close-knit and loving bunch - and have always gone out of their way to make me feel welcome.
While the young whipper-snappers and a few old-but-still-like-to partiers are downstairs fielding noise complaints -- the bulk of the family and I are snuggled into the upstairs condo watching Dancing With the Stars.
These are my kind of people -- and my kind of vacation.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hearing the call

Forgive the cross post -- I'll try not to do this often -- but I have been sick this weekend and don't have enough creative energy to do two posts today....

For the past several months, I've been feeling the urge to write here again. First, I've been struggling with the eating disorder again and secondly, because I continue to hear from people who miss this site -- and could benefit from the shared experience.
I haven't written much of anything for the bulk of 2010. Mostly, I've been distracted with other things. I can always find other things to work on and do.
But it's apparent to me that the more I put aside things that bring me joy, the harder it is to combat the addictions that haunt me.
I know, I know. I've said this before. It takes me a while to catch on -- and I'm easily side tracked. Recently, I've been talking with someone close to me who also has an addiction. He didn't want to go to counseling or rehab or church, so he came to me. Go figure. The situation has forced me to look at myself, my own addictions and what is working for me and what isn't. The process has reminded me that I know more than I think I do. And just when I think I'm failing at everything, I only need to relax long enough to remember what I have all the tools I need.
I thought I'd share the suggestions I'm sharing with my friend in hopes of helping others -- and reminding myself of all the tools in my toolbox.

So for today the assignment is: Give yourself to do something you love today.
Try for an hour, but 15 minutes in the minimum. Maybe it's playing or listening to music. Try reading a book for pleasure. Maybe it's uncovering your sewing machine. Maybe it's taking your camera out for a walk and shooting some photos of the great fall colors. It doesn't matter. Do what brings you joy.

Now here's a danger: If you're like me, you'd like to say... do some scrapbooking but it would take you a day and a half to uncover all the stuff to get the job done. So, divide your time in half. If you're giving yourself an hour, spend no more than 30 minutes finding enough stuff do something simple. The time spent will bless you. Then spend the remainder of your time working on your project. Initially, it will be frustrating -- but if you give yourself a little bit of time each day -- quickly enough you'll be working on your scrapbooks -- or whatever project. If you're like me and it will take more than a few days to uncover the tools for your project -- Spend half your time working on that project -- then work on something else that blesses your soul -- like reading a book or walking or whatever.

To help your progress, find some music that makes you smile Today I'd suggest Bette Midler. This is the best version I could find on You Tube, but I highly recommend finding Bette's version.

Comment below to share how you're blessing your soul with others. Together we can reach our goals.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Toto, we're not in Arizona anymore.

Here's the good news. Unlike Arizona, Wyoming has picnic tables. At least within Yellowstone National Park it does. But our ongoing quest to seek out suitable picnic tables will not be so easily satisfied.
We arrived in Henrys Lake, Idaho late yesterday afternoon. We have rented a 3 bedroom cabin near the state park. It's comfortable and warm and affords us the luxury of spreading out and cooking our own food. While at face value it costs more than a hotel -- we believe we come out ahead.
The last several months have been typically hectic and we're all tired. It's the kind of exhaustion you feel after living on adrenalin for too long. Now the pressure is off and the body goes into a repair mode. This short vacation is what we need to recharge our batteries.
We went to bed early last night and got up late this morning. Just what the doctor ordered. We woke up to a rainy, windy day. We kind of hope the bad weather will keep other tourists at home. This is unlikely, but it can't hurt to hope.
This vacation gives us the chance to visit two more national parks. As you may recall from our Spring Break trip, I'm obsessed with visiting our national parks. Over spring break we hit 4. Today we took in the grand daddy of them all, Yellowstone National Park.
We had hyped the park's wildlife to the kids and within minutes of passing through the gates, the park held up its end of the bargain. A moose, elk, buffalo, a coyote and a brief glimpse of a wolf -- all within the first 10 miles or so of being in the park.
We headed straight for Old Faithful, stopping at some of the geyser areas along the way. Already it's been a great lesson for the kids. Amid the instant gratification and artificial world of video games and television, Mother Nature creates real entertainment. The vivid colors of the bacteria that live in the geyser fields--the anticipation of seeing where the the trail will lead -- real life has the best graphics.
We made it to Old Faithful just in time for a good eruption. The kids were only mildly impressed. It was time for lunch. Past time. Everyone was getting cranky. Surely there would be a picnic table near by.
There might have been.
But picnic tables tend to disappear if our presence. Finally we spotted one in a wooded area. Snow covered and muddy. But a picnic table. We made quick work of sandwiches and chips. Chipmunks waited at our feet for tasty treats. Camp robber birds flew over head.
We packed up and headed out -- only to find just around the next bend...beautiful picnic tables, lakeside... and for only a few brief moments -- sun. Oh Well...
Next on the itinerary: Upper and Lower falls. The kids were fading. It was raining. But we really needed some exercise. The falls are truly breathtaking and worth the walk. Last time we were here, Clem and I hiked to water fall somewhere in this park -- but we had to climb this horrendous stair case. We've been telling the kids about it. They want to make the trip as well. Each time we mention it, we both look at each other with that, "I'm going to regret saying that" wince.
10 years ago, both of us were better shape. Much better shape. Neither of us is confident we can make the climb now. With luck the children will forget we mentioned the staircase....
The way I see it, we must have picked a good cabin. The kids wanted to go back to the cabin. They were even tired of seeing buffalo. All three fell asleep after the last look at the falls. Clem and I drove home listening to the windshield wipers as the kids slept in a pile in the back of the suburban.
Within a few minutes of being home we heard the sound no mother wants to hear; bodies tumbling down the stairs. Apparently, there were trying to play a version of leap frog while coming down the stairs. I'm not sure why that made sense to them. I suspect they won't try that game again.
Tomorrow we'll head for Grand Teton National Park and conclude the day with dinner at a friends cabin.
Sure, it would be nice if there were sunshine. But the sun tends to make us want to go out and do more. We did plenty and the rain makes us want to snuggle into warm blankets. Perhaps, this is what we need.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April Showers bring May clarity

I can't believe it's been more than a month since I posted. Really?! The month of April just zipped by and I've been, as usual, trapped in one project after another.
It's funny how we all find ways to distract ourselves. Some people smoke or drink. Others work out. I know others than shop and still others who text or spending time on the computer. I probably do a little of everything -- eating leads the list. Talk on the phone. Read. We all have some way of trying to numb the pain we are feeling or think we might feel if we acknowledged our feelings.
I have always volunteered. When I was in high school I had extra curricular activities during every lunch hour and every night after school. If I was gone, I didn't have deal with a home life that was disappointing and confusing. It was doing drugs. I was gaining valuable experience, building a resume' -- doing the good work. That trend has continued into my adult life.
There is the very real part of me that truly enjoys community service. I love most aspects of leadership and activism. I have a lot of interests and many talents and I enjoy what I do.
But, if I'm honest with myself, I know I get over involved because I get uncomfortable just being home.
I'm not sure why. I think it's partly guilt. Guilt that I can stay home when so many of friends have to work to support their families. How did I get so lucky? Maybe it's boredom for this ADD-riddled brain of mine -- I have to have a kabillion things going on in my life to keep interested. I'm lonely, sometimes. I have friends, yes. But it's not like I can walk next door and visit them. (Ok, I can. It's about a quarter of a mile away, but she's almost always at work)I don't really fit in around the farm. The other wives work for the dairy. I do not. I'm liberal. They're not. I went to college. They didn't. They're all good people -- people I really enjoy and cherish. But I'm a bit of a fruit loop in the bowl of cheerios around here.
For many years, I used food to distract myself and numb the feelings of guilt, loneliness, boredom and more. I rarely binge anymore and am getting used to recognizing when my body is full or hungry.
It's an odd sensation. I'm often full when there's a lot of food left on my plate. I find my self quite flabbergasted. What the hell are you supposed to do with the extra food? Not everything is suitable for left overs. How do you get this extra food to the starving children in Africa that are supposed to need it? Then I'm always rather stunned that I DON'T know what to do with the food left on my plate. It seems simple enough. You just push the food away. Throw it away. Put it in the scrap bucket. Save it for later. It all seems odd. After all these years of being part of the clean platers club, it's like I've been kicked to the curb.
Today I was able to walk away from a plate. It made me crazy, but I did it. Did a little victory dance, in fact.
Here's the real clincher. My life doesn't suck nearly as bad as I thought it would without my dependence on binge eating. In fact, it's a pretty good life. I have lots of friends, a supportive family, plenty of activities to keep me busy.
While there is certainly a need for better balance in my life, I'm aware, for the first time in a long time, that the journey is the point. I'm always working on bringing things into balance, but perfection isn't necessary. Sometimes, I have it together. Some days, I don't. That's OK.
Part of what makes me who I am is the ability to juggle a lot of projects at once. The trick is understanding when I'm doing a project because I love it, or because I'm trying to hide. Now that I'm listening to my body, I can tell. If I'm getting physically sick at the prospect of a project or task, it's not a task I need to be doing. I can hear my own voice in my head telling me what's good for me and what's not.
Clarity, much to my surprise, is a blessed gift.