Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Blame Game is Always...

...A Losing Proposition.

Us humans like to blame; it is in our nature. After a natural disaster there is always plenty of blame thrown around, not about the hurricane itself, but about those who respond to it. (or fail to respond.)

George Bush was blamed because he didn't land on his first trip to New Orleans after Katrina and only observed the destruction from the air. Donald Trump didn't make that mistake, he landed and brought the First Lady with him but she was blamed because she boarded Air Force One in high heel shoes. Never mind that is the way she dresses and never mind that she changed into appropriate Hurricane Aftermath footwear en-route to Texas. Her shoes it took up a lot of news coverage.

Then there's Joel Osteen. He was blamed for not opening the church to hurricane victims right away. When the church did open its doors, the outcry was that he only did it because of public pressure. And the fake news is over the top, like the one that Lakewood church wouldn't let anyone in until their tithing records were checked, only allowing the largest contributors in. That is a hoax by the way. Folks should check out the stories before they forward or share them.

So what's up with that? The Blame Game? The willingness to believe the worst about folks? Perhaps it is because when we are confronted with something horrible like the devastation of a hurricane or tornado or earthquake we want to hold some one responsible. We want to make someone pay. Since we all don't stand yelling and shaking a fist at God, the easiest thing to do is to find agencies or persons who don't live up to our standard of care and response--or someone we intensely dislike--and we will give THEM hell.

Another huge hurricane is headed towards some of our citizens, and there is a lot we can do in it's aftermath, pray, donate or serve with hands. Let's save our energy for that because blame is not productive at all.
Florida by Tommy Roberts

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Weight Watchers --Success and Failure

While I was on WW
These are my memories of my time on Weight Watchers.  And my memories are clear because I remember all the diets I embarked on.  Severe c
alorie restriction, not a normal thing, is traumatic to the body, so I remember them as well as I do a knee replacement.  And I will say again that when I stopped dieting, I stopped gaining weight.  I wish it hadn't taken me this long to figure it out. I wasn't addicted to food, I was addicted to dieting.

I am not bashing Weight Watchers --it is as good as any weight loss program.  Some people swear by it.  It is my opinion that people with average metabolism who, for whatever reason, put on a few pounds can successfully take it off.  However, obesity is a complicated issue and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to it. There are those with bodies ingrained to seek out and capture every calorie it can; for them no simple weight loss solution helps.  There are those who have to diet for health reasons-- I would not dream of telling anyone to go against their doctors advice.  This blog post is only my experience so take what you want from it.

At its inception Weight Watchers wasn't a tough diet, but by the time I used it in the 90's it had already adapted the nutritional guidelines, established by the US government, of low fat and low cholesterol foods.  (Since these guidelines change from decade to decade I wonder what business our government has in dictating to us what we should eat,) The program itself was just an ordinary low calorie diet.  What it is now I don't know. I don't care to find out.

Of all the diets I did, Weight Watchers was the most successful, meaning I took the most weight off and it took longer to put it back on. I think the reason for this was the weekly meetings and pep talks. I used every bit of my will power to do this program because I couldn't bear to be weighed in front of the whole group of people showing a weight gain.  Seriously, I wouldn't eat or drink anything all afternoon of weigh day and I would skip dinner. I didn't want to be weighing the food I just ate-- only me.  Diets make me a tad insane.. er.

One thing Weight Watchers didn't address was the hunger.  Maybe normal people don't get as hungry as I did--maybe it was my calorie seeking body, but I was hungry all the time.  I remember things I did to attempt to fight it. One was the "free" foods.  We were allowed unlimited vegetables. I availed myself of this benefit. I lived in Arizona at the time where there are year-long farmer's markets and I bought day old slightly wilted veggies and re-hydrated them in a bowl of water in the fridge. (dieting is expensive.) While there is valid nutrition in these veggies they were only satisfying while I was eating them.  After all, if you eat something that is only 10 calories it is not good for sustaining survival, it is only slightly better than drinking hot water.  Today, while I am grateful I still like cooked veggies, I avoid raw ones, especially lettuce; when I go out to eat with others who carefully order "healthy" food, I order the cheeseburger and french fries.  I will enjoy my meal and I won't be the one who is hungry in 10 minutes and guess what? EATING SALADS WON'T MAKE YOU SKINNY!!!  I know this because have eaten enough roughage in my life to support a small truck farmer and it didn't make me skinny.  It only made me hungry.

Another trick I used was hot chocolate.  I can't sleep hungry.  So I would save a bread and milk exchange for bedtime and have a slice of Weight Watchers bread in toast buttered with Weight Watchers margarine and cup of sugar free hot chocolate.  To make the cocoa seem rich I only used a half a cup of water. It was barely enough, but it helped me to sleep. Today I have a cup of sleepy time tea before bed and maybe some cheese and always a few pieces of fruit I dried myself--which is my candy.  When I make a cup of hot chocolate, like I am sipping now as I write, I put an extra scoop of the powder in my cup just for the principle of it.

Another thing Weight Watchers didn't address with the obsession--with food, exercise, fighting hunger.  I remember our leader was obsessed. He took a trip to Israel and packed all the little Weight Watchers products to help him stay on his diet while he was gone and he was upset that customs took them all away from him and he had to eat normal food for a week or two.  He was the one who taught us that if we wanted to eat more than the normal serving of peanut butter to mix it with tofu--I refused to try that. To diet we have to be aware of every calorie. We have to plan meals, count, weigh and measure everything that goes in our mouth..  Almost every waking thought was concentrated on food: planning meals, how to avoid fat and calories, how to burn it off, and how to keep the hunger away. Then if I slipped and ate something I shouldn't or skipped exercising for that day, I worried that it would wreck everything until I was weighed again. I finally came to the conclusion that I was better off not thinking about food at all. Today, I eat when I get hungry and eat something that will relieve hunger for hours.  Now, except for special occasions, I don't plan meals. I eat something when I get up--I decide what when I walk into the kitchen.  Sometime during the day I have lunch--I decide what a few minutes before I eat, and dinner I might think of an hour or two before because I might have to get something out of the freezer, but I am better off keeping my mind on something else other than food.  I eat a lot less that way and I eat a lot less if I am not hungry.

Weight Watchers is not a permanent solution. Certainly they have a maintenance program, but it is still a diet. I stayed on the program long after I stopped going to meetings (we moved to an area with no group).  I prepared two dinners every night (there was no way my skinny husband was going to eat what I ate) and after a time, life eroded away the success I gained and I was back where I started.

 About 10 years later I did the food exchange program on my own, I did the plan for men (more food) which gave me moderate success and I wasn't as hungry. After a year of that I switched to Atkins which has very little hunger but after a few years I just stopped dieting altogether.  The thought of doing it today makes a knot in my stomach.  What I eat is pretty normal today. I don't buy "red-light' foods--food that trigger over-eating like cookies or chips, and I don't keep sweets in the house, otherwise I eat what I want, when I want.  If I am out somewhere I am offered a piece of cake I accept it. One piece is enough, though, and I don't fantasize about eating the whole cake.

I exercise moderately, to be strong and healthy; I no longer lie to myself that sweating on a treadmill will make me skinny or that anything less than an hour of strenuous activity is cheating.

I have a lot of other dieting stories but this is enough for now.  I think I'll have stir fry for supper only I will use plenty of olive oil, not chicken broth, and I will have a generous portion of white rice. I ain't gonna weigh measure or count anything. I will just enjoy my meal.  I wish the same for y'all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Can you help someone who is being hurt?

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and it is my privilege to use my voice to help those involved spousal abuse. I am not a a health care professional or expert nor am I speaking for any organization; only my experiences and observation.

So what do you do if you suspect domestic violence?  It's not like child abuse where you can make an anonymous phone call and the state takes action.  Unless you actually witness or hear violence going on (then please call emergency services), there really isn't a lot you can do, except understand, listen and be ready with information if someone does ask for help.  Understand that the mental state of a victims of spousal abuse is such that they are unable to take action. They have been brow-beaten and manipulated to believe that they are worthless, unable to make it on their own, and that no one would care enough tot help them. Or that they will be hurt more to even try to get away.

I have three stories of encounters with abused women.

One woman I met many years ago.  I worked evenings at a steak house and a fellow waitress shared with me the abuse she endured. When her first husband won complete custody of her children because of the violence in her home she ran away from her current husband--the abuser, and started again in a new state, telling no one, not even her mother, where she was living,  She came home from work one day to find her husband on her doorstep.  He told her he would kill her if she tried to run away again so she stayed.  She coped with the stress by working two full time jobs to stay out of his way as much as she could.  She worked at a restaurant 6 AM till 2, got a nap and worked the evening shift at the steak house.  I had nothing to offer her but a listening ear and compassion. I don't know how her story ended but I often think about her, hoping she found a way out.

I met Leslie a few years after I got into recovery.  Her husband had recently sobered up; she and I talked a lot about our experiences with abuse.  One day after he started drinking again, she showed up at our door, physically sick wanting help to get away from him.  By this time I knew from my own experience about the difficulties of breaking out of abuse and as much as I wanted to take her under my wings, I knew that she had to take the actions herself to succeed at breaking away.  I found the phone number for her to call, and she had to walk a half a block to a pay phone as we didn't have a phone at home.  She had to make that trek several times and she was very sick.  When she located a shelter  60 miles away that would take her, I didn't offer to drive her as much as I wanted to, so she had to make more phone calls to secure a ride.  That was the last time I saw her. I heard about a year later that she stayed with the program and eventually reconciled with her husband. I hope hers was a success story.

A number of years ago I met Diane,  It was the same situation as Leslie's--abusive husband sobered up and then started drinking again.  She came to my house with her three children and stayed the afternoon making phone calls until she found shelter and transportation.  I remember her kids were scared and often ran to the window when they'd hear a car on the street. Diane divorced her husband who couldn't succeed at staying sober and she managed to build a life for herself free of abuse.

The role we play in the life of a victim is often small but you never know when you might make a difference. So this is what you can do:  understand, listen without judgement or advice, be informed, and be supportive allowing the person to take the steps they need to take to break free.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Maxie-ims Volume I

A quote is just a tattoo on the tongue. ~Attributed to William F. DeVault 

Short sentences drawn from long experience.  ~Migel de Cervantes

I'm discovering that everybody is a closet quotesmith. Just give them a chance. ~ Robert Brault, 
An Artist's EKG

I absolutely love quotes. During a busy day when I am on the move I have trouble paying attention to a passage with more than a few phrases so I best remember power sentences-- brief and to the point.
While I am a pretty smart cookie, I seriously doubt any of my thoughts are original. Maybe I heard them somewhere and forgot the source. Maybe when someone somewhere, thunk 'em, they bounced on the waves of the universe to me. And this is not an original format-- others have used it.

Don't bother calling the grammar police.  My English professor taught that as long as we know proper English we can choose to butcher it for effect. I use that permission liberally.

The thing that will pique my most intense curiosity is the thing that is none of my business.

They tell me I need to clean my own side of the street but I really think I need to clean my house first.

I have trouble meditating but it seems I do best if I simply study the face of a flower.

Not only Big Brother is watching us but so is his wife, father-in-law, great-granddaughter and three of his friends on Facebook.

Some people are unable to immediately notice beauty; it has to be pointed out to them.  That is why the world needs artists.

Jesus said to forgive a person 7 times 70 but if I only trust once, or twice--three times at the most, I won't have to use all those forgivens.

Leonardo's Ribbons
Falling in love with physical beauty is easy. The challenge is to look for beauty where it is not so obvious.  Don't reject the treasure because of the package it is wrapped in.

On getting older: The thing I miss the most is my eyebrows.

Some say that they can't stand liars and refuse to have anything to do with them.  Some of my favorite people are liars.  The are .... colorful.

The only time I miss my landline is when I misplace my cell phone.

When I copy and paste and hesitate to select "cut," as I'm afraid I will never see my well crafted sentence again.

Today's obesity's problem is not necessarily caused by ice cream, potato chips and visits to McDonald's. It is also caused by diets.

A soulmate is not necessarily a lover but anyone who soothes, heals and understands your soul.

Fractured Proverb: It is better to eat vegetables in the middle of a field than to eat meat in a house of strife. You can reverse that if you are vegan.

A word to Millennials from a Baby Boomer: Don't be like Hitler's Youth who blindly followed a very bad ideology that sounded good.  You have great libraries and the World Wide Web at your disposal, so research the candidates, the platforms, the ideologies, the history. More is expected of those who have been given greater light.

Sometimes even the spell checker doesn't know what to do with me.

On politics: Ain't gonna say. I will either be preaching to the choir or pissing someone off.

People freak out about the germs in a kitchen sponge. I wonder... are they planning to eat it?
Monet's Feathers

Melancholy is part of an artist's personality and that is why they walk close to the edge of darkness, sometimes falling off. But it is when they embrace the light that you see their brilliance.

I haven't walked away from God but there were certainly times that I strained at the leash.

Sometimes the path to Humility is through Humiliation.

As an artist, I have an abundance of paper all over the house--sketch pads, journals, notebook paper, sticky notes, stationary... and I still write on envelopes.  

It appears to me that those who have the most secrets talk the most.  If you can't get a word in edgewise then you can't ask questions.

You get cholesterol from eating meat and eggs? What is in cattle and poultry diets that gives them cholesterol? Grains. Look at the food pyramid the government created and what is the largest section? Hmmmm....

Garfield quote: I am not fat, I'm just easy to see.

Stay tuned for further flights of fancy...

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dream big but stay tethered to reality.

One man's daydreaming is another man's day. ~Grey E. Livingston
I feel I was always daydreaming, and I was always distracted. ~Kathryn Lasky
Realty is for people who can't do drugs. ~Written on a bathroom wall
Sometimes I see someone living my dream but it's not me and I wonder how that happened. ~Maxie Lee

Sometimes we lie to our kids.  We tell them that they can be, do, have anything they want if they dream big and work hard.  In my era, parents told kid they could even become the president of the United States.  Think about it. We will soon elect our 44th president since 1789. And how many kids are there? Certainly any kid could become president, but maybe we should help them to shoot towards a more realistic goal.

Reality can be harsh.  Even if we dream, work, pray, and believe, it still doesn't always work out. As an artist with a very active imagination, I dream a lot. I also have faith, and I pray and believe. Then crash to the earth. There are times that inspirational quotes (which I love) and positive thinking are not enough. My heart still gets broken.

So what do we tell our kids? ourselves? those who have crashed? What is the truth we need to know? 
Island of Dreams Acrylic 8 x 10

You are unique. Even though you share the same DNA with others past and present, no one has the exact same markers as you do, even if you are a twin. There never has ever been anyone exactly like you nor will there ever be.  You hold a special place in the universe. Be yourself--learn who that is and be it.  “You are the only you God made... God made you and broke the mold.” ~ Max Lucado

Think positive.  It doesn't matter if the glass is half empty or half full as long as you pay the water bill and can easily refill it.  We are surrounded with negativity, despair and painful experiences, and how we get through stuff is what energy we want to apply to the situations --negative or positive. This is not denying reality-- it is choosing how we are going to react to it. “Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to success.” ~ Charles F. Glassman

Count your blessings. While reality can be harsh, it also showers us with wonderful  things. Focusing on what we don't have only keeps us in dire need.  Choosing to look at the good opens us up to possibilities and possessions we had never before considered. "Better to lose count naming your blessings than to lose your blessings to counting your troubles."  ~Maltie Babcock.

Be kind. Treat people how we want to be treated, with a ready smile, kind words and acts of service. No, our kindness is not always automatically returned to us; in fact it sometimes generate hatefulness, but be kind anyway.  Because most folks do respond positively to kindness.  And be kind to yourself.  ~"No act of kindness is ever wasted." Aesop

Believe in a Higher Power.  


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Racism and good story...

Racism. It is easy to focus on the injustices in society. It makes us cry, rage and want to get even. It makes us want to blame. But how about the good stories? There are millions of them I think because there are people like me who aren't racist. Surely there are.

Do you think I am really racist and in denial? Let me tell how I formed my opinion about different ethnic groups. I think my parents might have had a little prejudice against certain people but it was very minor and for the most part I was allowed to come to my own conclusions.

Three things happened when I was seventeen shaped my opinion about race and injustice for the rest of my life: 1. It was during the volatile time of integration in the South when I saw on the front page of our northern newspaper a photo of a white cop hitting a black person with a billy club. 2. My history teacher showed films of Jews being liberated from death camps. 3. I read Grapes of Wrath.

All those things broke my heart. These events set me on lifelong journey of learning about racism, injustice, poverty and what was done to the Native Americans. Not only that but I educated myself on the Crusades, Inquisition, Holocaust and marauding people like the Huns and the Vikings.

My conclusion is that there is only once race responsible for prejudice, cruelty and injustice... the human race. But I am part of the human race too and so are you. How can we make a difference in the face of overwhelming brutality? .

I believe in what Gandhi said: be the change in your own little corner of the world. Corrie Ten Boom did that. Mother Theresa did that. Father Damien did that. Susan B. Anthony did that. William Wilberforce did that. Gino Bartelli did that. There are so many more. There are many good stories.
This is a good story. Share this story.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The great chicken experiment-- revised.

My husband and I moved onto five acres of dirt in western Oklahoma, with  great expectations of it being a nice little farm, but all it ever could be was five acres of dirt with a high maintenance house. I never worked so hard in my whole life with so little results. There were so many things that had to be cleared out and repaired that I worked myself to exhaustion

We planted a huge garden but it was wrecked by drought and a grasshopper plague  Green beans and tomatoes bloomed and bloomed but never produced fruit, I think the grass hoppers either ate the undeveloped fruit or scared away the bees needed to pollinate the plants. The only thing that produced was okra. We ate it stewed, fried and pickled. Hub was out of work that summer and the only meat available to us was what we could find my in-law's freezer which consisted mostly of frog legs.  Frog legs, okra and pinto beans was our diet. I despised eating amphibians but I did because I was hungry and I haven't touched the stuff since. Not fond of okra either.
We also launched what I will forever refer to as the Great Chicken Experiment.  We decided we were going to raise chickens to butcher and sell to raise some extra cash.  Actually my husband decided, and as always I said, "Oh, OK"--I was such an obedient wife.  There was a sudden cold snap so we started out with the garage full of baby chicks under heat lamps, which immediately fell prey to raccoons.  Raccoons may look cute but they can be mean when you try to take away their dinner and I recall Hub driving one off one night and the raccoon actually fought back. We put the young pullets in the chicken house with a sturdy fence to keep the coons out and kept the light going all night to help them grow fast.
Ginger was a wired-haired terrier--a wonderful dog. She considered that little farm her personal responsibility and she watched out for the kids, the cats and Ahab the goat. When the goat got into stuff he shouldn't or started pulling clothes off the line, Ginger would alert me with her barking.  Ahab couldn't get away with anything.  
We ran low on chicken feed and  let the chickens out to scratch; at first they didn't know they were free and stayed huddled in the pen.  But when a hen started to venture out, Ginger chased her back in, then another would leave the pen, or two or three, only to be pushed back in by the dog.  Ginger spent a whole day herding chickens until she wore herself out and had to be satisfied with lying on a rise watching over the hens pecking around outside the pen.

Before long we started mysteriously loosing hens and one night I discovered that owls were flying in and stealing our birds, in spite of the the light remaining on all night. I had to install wire over the chicken yard.

We did sell some pullets, but they had to be butchered and that work fell to the women folk and the kids. It is not easy work because chickens like to hang onto their feathers even though they no longer need them. Because coons, owls and other mishaps ate into our profits we didn't make any cash and I was happy to go out of business. 

In fact, I was happy when we left that place because it truly was a hard luck farm. I have to say that it was an unforgettable time and I could write a book on our experiences there-- good, bad and horrible or sell the screen rights. But today I am remembering the chickens.

#chickens #hardluck #