Monday, December 30, 2013

A Year of Firsts

"The Bear's View" My favorite "Doodle."
"It took me a long time... to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with:  that I am nobody but myself."  Ralph Ellison.

"Never mind searching for who you are.  Search for the person you aspire to be.  ~Robert Brault

During the last week in December I spend time reflecting on the past year and thinking about what I want to see happen in the future. I am not into making resolutions, though; if there are changes I want to make in my life I can start them right now. I often went on diets the day after Christmas, I quit smoking in December 16 years ago, and I started this blog December 26, 2009.
Me and my dog fished and watched the sunset.

From time to time, when I allow myself a few minutes to look back at the twisting path of my life, I can see major life-changing milestones. An important turning point for me was January 14, 2008 when I started my journey from disability to full mobility by having a knee replaced.  It also marks the beginning of a very dark time of grief, loss, deep depression, physical pain and more surgeries.  I won't elaborate on the details of this period except to say that it was all necessary, though I wouldn't want to go through it again. I feel like I have come out of the tunnel and into the light and I am very happy about the new opportunities to live fully--like dancing, bowling and camping.  I am stronger and healthier than I have been in 20 years.

The "firsts" of  2013:
~I caught my first trout.  I fished a lot living in the Southwest, but never attempted cold water fishing when we moved to this area in 1994. This year I bought a fishing license, pole and worms for the first time in over 20 years and I caught trout and bass. I still don't know what I am doing but I have decided I love it and it is something I can do by myself if I have too.
~I claimed the whole house for myself. Downstairs was Hub's quarters and I felt uncomfortable there after he was gone; also the stairs were difficult to navigate, so I avoided those rooms. Now I have created a place to frame art, a sewing nook and exercise area--it's become the project room as well as guest quarters.
~I had a party for the first time as a single person--a Christmas open house.  I cleaned and decorated the whole house myself--even the downstairs. And I let friends bring cookies and hors d'Ĺ“uvres (Twinkies on toothpicks) I didn't even feel blue when it was over and everyone was gone. It was a very good experience for me.
~I invited a man over for dinner and he said it was delicious.
~I went to my first class reunion--ever! I met up with classmates on Facebook a few years ago and got to know them better than I ever did at school, which inspired me to go to the 50th reunion. I had a wonderful time.

~I sold more art than ever before and for the first time the jewelry sales were good.  I have great friends and supporters, however; God gives the gift of art so why  wouldn't he furnish art patrons as well? 
~I walked where ever I wanted without worrying about it being too many steps and I can go into a building without being concerned about where to sit.
~I wore red sequins, tie-dyed Easter eggs--which is really cool and learned how to take good selfies like a teen-ager.  
~I worked at a real job a few days a month in a real estate office and used the computer program like I have been doing it all my life.
~For the first time, ever, I shared with someone something painful that was done to me long ago, so it could stop eating me alive.

What am I planning for the future? Hiking maybe? I used to love it but disability took that away.  Certainly more of the fun things I am already doing and continuing to becoming more physically and emotionally healthy. I would like to have a garden party.  I would love to have a sweetheart but that is totally out of my hands--it is up to God. What I can do is to continue to work towards happiness--they tell me that is a choice-- hmmm so then I choose it.  And being of service to others; I can choose that too, though I could never pay forward what has been given to me.

So Happy New Year!! I hope 2014 is a blessed one for you.
Lots of love,

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I'm not fat, I'm fluffy....

The cardiologist's diet:  If it tastes good, spit it out.  ~Author Unknown

I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is fourteen days.  ~Totie Fields

Last summer I read Oprah Winfrey's book about her journey of weight loss and I could relate to her battle.  Like her, my feelings about my weight colored every aspect of my life.  It hovered over my life like the cloud of dust that followed Pigpen.

When I was a kid and a teenager.  I wasn't overweight.  I wasn't skinny but I looked great-- only I didn't know it.  My mother was convinced I was fat and hounded me about it; she bought my clothes in size 14 and now I wonder what size I actually was as my clothes were too big.  I had a bad habit in believing what I was told--at least the negative stuff, so if I was told I was overweight I was.

When I got married my husband was  pretty happy with me except he pointed out that since I was a little hippy, I could look better by losing just a little weight. I never found relief from the nagging thought that I was terribly flawed, so this set me up to try any and every thing to change myself, especially to try and  please someone else.  

I gained a lot of weight during my first pregnancy so the solution was to go on a diet, or so I thought.  Every doctor and woman's magazine offered the best way to lose weight-- calorie reduction. Just cut back to about 800 calories a day, 600 if you really wanted to lose weight fast, which involved a lot of radishes.  Breakfast: One poached egg, 1/2 grapefruit, 1 slice dry toast and coffee without sugar or cream. Lunch: 1 1/2 ounces lean meat, salad or vegetable, small piece of fruit and a small glass of skim milk. Dinner: 2 1/2 ounces lean meat, salad and a veggie, small piece of fruit and black coffee. A diet that involved no snacks, no dessert, no cheese  and a lot of will power.  Since I got so hungry later in the day it made sense to skip breakfast-- drinking lots of coffee and save the calories for dinner. I was hungry -- all I thought about was food, but my metabolism was still pretty healthy so I successfully took the weight off.  Then I became pregnant again, and then again.  I gained 50 pounds with the third child and immediately after found myself expecting the fourth one. Not wanting to gain anymore "baby" fat I dieted. I knew it wasn't safe to diet during pregnancy, but I did it anyway. I remember while making Hubby his favorite cookies every day, I ate radishes so I wouldn't be tempted to eat the yummy chocolate.  I can't look a radish in the face today, but I lost weight by the time the baby was born.

This was the pattern I followed for 20 years, gain weight, go on a diet, lose weight, go off the diet--feel like a failure for not sticking with it, gain even more weight, hate myself for being fat. My husband didn't help, he nagged me constantly.  I read everything I could on the subject, trying every diet I could find.  I weighed--me and the food, measured--me and the food, counted, planned, prayed, journaled, sweated in saunas, worked out in a gym or exercise class, walked, drank shakes for meals, tried weird things like the plankton diet, tried herbal remedies and extra fiber and thought about food --constantly. I followed stupid rules such using smaller plates, not eating before bedtime, chewing my food 2 thousand times and parking in Outer Mongolia at the grocery store just to burn off two or three extra calories walking into the store. Diets were the main topic of conversation among the women I knew. I tried everything, even getting powerful amphetamines from my doctor-- all that accomplished was getting a lot of housework done. I finally gave up, and hated myself for doing that. If I had more money I would have tried things like fat farms or liposuction. I was beaten.

The only good thing that came out of those years was exercise-- I loved dancing, aerobics and riding the bicycle; I was always pretty strong with low resting heart rate and blood pressure.

About the time I quit dieting, the medical profession decided that ultra-low calorie diets were not safe and didn't work.  Well duh! Severely restricting calories puts the body in a starvation mode--it thinks there is a famine-- and when that happens the body hangs onto every calorie it takes in and the metabolism slows way down allowing a person put weight back on quickly when she resumes eating normally. So I had believed a lie.  After 20 years of living like this, my metabolism was pretty much trashed and it didn't matter what I did, I couldn't take the fluff off.  What it did to me emotionally is incalculable. 

I started experiencing pain in the knees and the doctors told me to walk two miles a day.  Everyone, even Oprah, said walking was the best form of exercise, so I walked. And walked.  I got a tread mill and walked on it for five years.  I hated walking and I would have to force myself to do it; I realize now that my body was telling me that I was hurting myself  but I refused to listen. One day when I complained of increased pain the doctor ordered x-rays and he compared them with scans taken 6 years earlier.  The early x-rays showed some cartilage loss and the recent one showed total loss. How could doctors tell an over-weight woman with knees going bad to wear them out even more by walking? I was spitting, cussing mad. I was angry for a long time and maybe I still am angry, but mostly at myself, for believing yet another untruth.  In the end, after years if pain, both knees had to be replaced.

I am not saying people shouldn't walk or run for exercise, some folks love it, but God created all sort of people with all kinds of body types and to impose one kind of exercise on all of them is insane. Imposing one kind of eating plan is also insane, but we buy into it because society tells us being fat is wrong and we must submit to all kinds of torture to get rid of it. I get angry at a society that tells us that if our appearance doesn't fit in a stupid ideal standard, that we are terribly flawed and should hide in shame, or die, or worse-- go on a diet. 

I do not diet, nor will I ever again.  However this doesn't mean that I eat just anything; I needed to come up with an eating plan I could live with.  For me low-carb works best.  I don't count carbs though (counting and planning makes me think about food and that is the last thing I want to think about.) I just don't keep anything in the house that has sugar or white flour in it--simple.  I eat when I get hungry---simple. No more punishing myself Sometimes I plan a meal but it is OK to just scramble some eggs or open a can of tuna.  I refuse to live in a state of deprivation in order to live up to an insane societal standard or worse the insane standard I have inflicted on my self.. 

However, the most important thing I am working on  is to heal the emotional damage I have done to myself over the years because I felt less than; I felt embarrassed; I felt like a failure.  I failed to recognize my value as a human because there was a little too much of me. Even though society and the medical profession are part of the problem, I did that to me. From now on, I will walk with my head high, look others in the eye and I am going to tell my story as often as I can in hopes of healing myself and helping others to value their worth.  To start with, the word fat is no longer in my vocabulary.  I am .... fluffy.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Dating Game....

~ I found a guy on Craigslist.  He was a fixer upper with one "careful owner."
~He described himself as a turn on.  Turns out he was a dimmer switch.
~I'm so desperate, I proposed marriage to the guy from the dating site's tech support. Now if I can find my way to Delhi.
     I promised a friend that I would one day write about my online dating experiences and since they weren't altogether pleasant, I have been working on this draft for awhile.  I decided that I wouldn't publish this post until I could finish it with good humor.  I will say up front that I am not bashing online dating; I know folks who have found their soul-mates online--I'd say give it a whirl.
     This post isn't going to address dating scammers who ask for money or the guys who only interested in internet or phone sex, though there are plenty of those.  This is about what I have found talking to a lot of guys and looking at hundreds of profiles   I have been accused of generalizing about men or that I am over-reacting, but these are my experiences, plain and simple and I won't minimize them or apologize for them.  
      I was hopeful when I started the process of meeting men online, but it only took 5 days to  realize that I belonged to the most undateable segment in society--older women, simply because older guys don't want them.  Men are eternally looking for the younger chick. Even though I discovered this in five days, I continued on the sites for couple of years.  I found that Christian men were the worst about the age thing. I started with Christian sites as I am a woman of faith and I couldn't see myself dating an atheist.  99.9% of the men on the two Christian sites I joined, set their search parameters for women 5 to 20 years younger than themselves; why not up to their own age, I have no idea. We might be a perfect match otherwise, if I wasn't in that magic age group they wouldn't talk to me.  I can understand wanting an attractive partner--everyone does, but I got mighty perturbed by the men's  sense of entitlement.  Because they were fit/active/young-at-heart/extreme skied/ rode a Harley/drove a Lexus/went to the opera/flew a plane/owned a boat/made lots of money/looked good in jeans/owned a house by a lake/ ect... these men feel they are entitled to a beautiful young woman; like a women their age couldn't be fit/active/young at heart and all that.  They often posed with their toys, mostly motorcycles, and I was looking at photos of balding, gray men with wrinkles, acting as if they didn't have their gut sucked in for the picture.  Huh?  Often these guys made it clear they wanted the woman to look good; one man told me that he wouldn't talk to anyone who's photo wasn't physically attractive, and another  said on his profile that he wouldn't consider a woman unless she posted her weight on her profile; uh huh--like that's going to fly.   The men were kinder and on free sites like  Plenty of Fish-- in fact all the  dates I've had came from secular dating sites. 
        When I started this journey, I thought I had a lot to offer a relationship-- even though I am lacking in the looks department, God has given me many gifts; I love to have fun and I have learned through a difficult marriage how to be a good partner. It has taken years of recovery to heal my self-esteem, learning that I am good enough just the way I am. Yet in this matter, I am not good enough--I can't deny it, still I am not going to let this take me down.  I don't regret checking out online dating as  I've learned so much, especially about myself; I am not the same chick I was almost 4 years when I became suddenly single. I have also made a few friends along the way. 

      God told Adam that it is not good for a person to be alone, and so I won't apologize for wanting a partner, however, I am picky so I'm not going take up with just anybody so I won't be alone.  I can do alone.  I am busy, active and I have a lot of friends and most of the time I am OK. Still, I cry myself to sleep sometimes and I don't quite know what to do about that except to look forward, keep learning and trust that good will come into my life whether it is a relationship or not. Some days I am better than that then others.  I have left all the dating sites.  I don't have the heart for it.  If I wake up one day with an appetite for rejection, I'll just start calling guys in the phone book and that should cure that!   I read something recently that said that the Wright brothers wouldn't have flown the first plane if they didn't have an absolute faith that was ridiculed; I realize that I needn't let fear of disappointment keep me from hoping.  If God wants me to have a sweetheart He will have to send him to my front door with flowers --chocolate is optional.  Like the line from Angels in the Outfield, "It could happen!"

Imaginative Profiles:  One man posted "Looking for a wealthy widow or divorcee with a ranch who is tired of the BS. I recently lost my ranch and all my property and I am looking for someone to share." Talk about a sense of entitlement!  Or this one: "Seeking a woman with a Subaru Outback, DSL, a dog, a garden tractor or a kayak, and season tickets to the symphony or the theater.  Send picture of garden tractor, Subaru, and dog (s). Or show me your cast iron skillets, and sourdough starter and bake me some biscuits."  No dude, you bake ME  some biscuits! How about this one?  "I am a world class kisser seeking additional private lessons from a seasoned pro.  I schedule is flexible.  Willing to fly." Hmmm,,, intrigued by the world class kissing.   

Huffington Posts Online Dating Fails:  "There are precisely the correct number hours in the day.  the night is what needs to be longer so my burglary and vandalism can become more lucrative."  And "Hey, I;m really hot.  Send me a cute message sometime.  Try to get to know me. Everybody loves me." Maybe I was using the wrong tactics!