Archive for July, 2008

I had an interesting experience tonight – I had to moderate a very sarcastic and rude comment.  I say it’s interesting because while I’ve had to do this on my other blogs, it’s actually the first time it’s happened here.  People tend to be pretty supportive and if they’re not, I guess they keep their comments to themselves, with tonight’s comment a glaring and obvious exception.  And of course it wasn’t anyone I know, because none of you are obnoxious trolls.  🙂

So I thought I’d just state for the record…I absolutely do reserve the right to spam or delete rude, unpleasant, obnoxious, judgmental or hateful comments.  You may say what you like about freedom of speech and that’s certainly true – but this is my blog.  It’s my sandbox, and I will certainly throw out anyone who decides to try to pee in it. I am not obligated to tolerate overt assholeishness, and I won’t.

I am not – as I frequently point out – claiming to be an expert dispensing advice or in any way superior to anyone else out there.  What I am doing is documenting a personal journey, for the benefit of myself and anyone else who may care to share my experiences.  If you think I’m an idiot, that’s certainly your right.  You don’t have to read.  And if you’d like to point out an area in which you think I might have missed something…I am always open to that and welcome feedback, provided it is given in a polite and sensitive manner.  And most of the time, that’s exactly what happens.

However, if you choose to be an ass, please expect to be treated like one, and if that’s a problem, go comment in the AOL comment forums, with others of your ilk.

That’s all!  Oh, and I hope that the vast majority of you, whom I adore, are having a wonderful weekend.  🙂


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Happy Thursday!  Sorry to have left you without my wisdom yesterday, but things were just too crazy to have time to post.  I had a great topic too but I guess I’ll write it and save it for next week, or another week when I’m feeling particularly unwise.  🙂

As for today…well, I really am feeling very thankful, but I’ll warn you to brace yourselves, because it’s about to get mushy up in here.  Feel free to click away and save yourself the eye-rolling. (And forgive me if I sound preachy; I truly don’t mean to.  I’m talking about my lessons here, and YMMV.)

Today, as corny as it sounds, I am feeling particularly thankful for love.  I think that love means different things to different people and we all have very widely varying ways of expressing it and even interpreting it.  I think that, particularly when we are young (whether it’s actual youth or just not a lot of life-experience) we think of love in very romantic, sort of airbrushed ways.  Being “in love” is the goal for which we strive and while we’re there, we’re blissfully happy…and when it fades, we’re terribly unhappy.  And so often, I think that’s all we ever really know about love.  We’re in and then we’re out and it’s just a cycle.  And it’s very black-and-white, very absolute.  All or nothing.

For me, the past 16 years have been a never-ending process of learning about love in all its myriad shapes and manifestations.  I was in love very briefly and stupidly…and then I was out, just as quickly.  And then I had a child, and whole new vistas of love opened to me.  I learned to love in a way that the selfish, narcissistic person I had always been really could not have conceived.  Suddenly, this little person was more important than the whole rest of the world put together.  If terrorists had held her hostage and told me I had to sell out everyone else in the world to save her, I wouldn’t have even had to think about it.  Sorry, guys, I do think you’re great, really…but that’s my baby.  If God had given me Abraham’s choice, I’d have gone straight to hell.  And yes, that did have me questioning my faith…

So that was amazing.  And at that point I was sort of like a nun taking vows – okay, here’s my great love, that’s it for me.  I’ll be her mom, that’s all I’ll ever need.  And I stopped looking for that amazing “in love” experience.  Which, of course, is when it bit me from behind and shocked the hell out of me.

DH came along when ED was a year old, and I – who had firmly declared that I would never get married, because I could never find anyone who would love her as much as I did, and whom I could trust with her – was completely ambushed.  I didn’t expect to fall in love, I didn’t want to fall in love, but fall in love I did.

Many years of chaos and confusion ensued, with lots of other stuff going on inside me that made everything more complicated than it should have been.  In the process, though, I learned some very valuable lessons about love, at least love as it works for me.

First, I learned that love is not exclusionary.  Love does not build walls.  Love does not act to keep other things out.  Love opens doors, it invites the world inside, and it grows as much as it needs to in order to embrace that world.  Love, for me, makes me want to throw my arms wide and hug the universe.  (Not necessarily all the people in it – I’m not quite that enlightened.)  The more I love, the more I want to love.  When I am feeling it strongly, I am able to feel it for more people and in more ways than I ever imagined.

Which brings me to another thing I learned:  love is one of those things that isn’t always visible.  It doesn’t come and go…sometimes it just hides its face.  There may be days or even weeks at a time when you really think you aren’t feeling it anymore…but it comes back.  It pops out, grinning, and suddenly it’s like it was never gone.

Sometimes, of course, it doesn’t.  I’ve learned that too.  It’s not immortal, and it can absolutely be starved to death or killed through sheer unkindness.  But it’s surprising how hard that is to do – to really kill it.  You can beat it into dormancy, so that it hides away like an abused child, afraid to show itself for fear of further pain.  (And I want to make it very clear here that the abuse and neglect and pain that cause this don’t always come from external sources, and almost never come exclusively from external sources.  A lot of the time, love is damaged just as much from our own rigidity and unresolved anger and selfishness and fear and blindness as it is from anything that other people do.  That was certainly true in my case.)  And if you try hard enough, it hides pretty deeply.  When that happens, it’s hard to know for sure if it’s dead or only hiding and bleeding.  Sometimes, there’s too much pain to care which it is.  But there is a miracle that happens, if there is enough care and effort and true desire to resurrect it.  It can come back.  And when it does, if you can conquer the fear and pain, it is literally like a phoenix rising from the ashes – it blazes with such heat and glory that it is almost blinding.

It’s sad that this happens so infrequently.  There is so much pain and anger in our world that people can’t often bring themselves to wonder if it’s dead or just hiding, and I don’t blame them.  I really don’t.  I think there has to be a very powerful impetus to do so and for most people, there isn’t anything powerful enough to make them want to risk that pain again.  I understand that completely.  I am sad about it, because – having through a miracle  that was so not of my own making, experienced that phoenix rising myself – I am sad that so few people ever will.  But I understand that most of the time, it’s just not worth the risk, because even if it is just hiding, the odds are very good that if it comes back out, it is going to get killed.  Most of the time, it’s better to let it go and move on, and hope that in time it will heal and grow again in other fields.  I do absolutely recognize how rare it is that the circumstances occur that will allow it to rise again.

And that’s what I’m thankful for today.  I have been blessed with love for so many people – my children, my husband, my friends, my extended family, and even people who aren’t really all that connected to me, but who have touched my heart and my soul and my life.  And because I came so close to losing one of those loves forever, because I walked through that fire and experienced that miracle, I know so much more, now, about love itself.  I know so much more about what it can do and what it can be – and how few of the limits that we place on it are real limitations.  So many of them are boundaries we place, walls we build because it’s what our culture finds acceptable or what we think will keep us safe.  Sometimes, I think we don’t realize what it’s capable of until it’s tested to the very limit of its endurance.

So I’m thankful for the limitless love with which I’ve been blessed.  I’m thankful for the awareness I’ve been granted of just how much love I am capable of.  And I have to be thankful for the pain of learning how to love that way…because the end result is so worth it.  Sometimes, you have to get burned a little to understand the glory of dancing within the flames…I certainly don’t recommend that people play with matches, but if you’re in the fire already, for God’s sake, dance.  (I keep thinking of Garth Brooks songs here, sorry.  Standing Outside the Fire, obviously.)  And if, in the end, the flames get out of control and I get burned again…well, at least I know I danced and I don’t regret that a bit.  (And that one, obviously, was The Dance. Told you it was going to be corny!)

Today, I hope that everyone experiences love in all its beauty and glory and none of its capriciousness.  I hope that you are all blessed with all the joy and none of the pain.  Have a lovely day!

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Happy Tuesday and happy week 99872! I hope that everyone’s having a great week. I know a lot of us have had some rough times lately, and I truly hope that things are improving for everyone, or at least going as well as can be expected.

Personally, I’m still fumble-typing. I did break down and go to the doctor today after I pulled off the bandage and actually saw the cut. I nearly passed out. It was…a bit worse than I’d thought, let’s say. The doctor said “we could have reattached it” if that gives you any hint. 🙂 Which totally, totally grossed me out beyond belief. Still shuddering over that visual.

I will always have a little divot there, but my doctor very sweetly told me I would still be pretty. He is such a great doctor. He wasn’t even supposed to be seeing me, since it was an “urgent care” visit I was seeing the P.A., but my doctor came in and checked on me when he heard I was there.

So I have antibiotics, a fresh tetanus shot (yay…turns out the CDC is making them vaccinate everybody who hasn’t had one in three years because of pertussis or something, I didn’t catch it all, but I had to have one even though it’s only been six years, but the nurse did a great job and it didn’t actually hurt at all) and some neat stuff called Adaptik (not sure of the spelling there) that will prevent the bandage from sticking to the wound, which is nice because I won’t have to endure what I did this morning, ever again.

And that, my friends, was an exercise in terminal run-on sentence structure. I hope you were paying attention to the latest installation of What Not to Write.  You’re welcome.

Otherwise, nothing exciting to report. I will say that I took my “weightless” crusade to great lengths – I let them weigh me, but refused to look and wouldn’t let them say it out loud. I felt so free! And a little anxious, because after all, what if I’ve gained? I’m starting to sweat this no scale thing. Only ten more days and I’m petrified. I need to get over that. Maybe I won’t weigh on the 24th, after all.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful week and is doing well with their program, whatever it might be. Have a great day!

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Mangled Monday…

Happy Monday, everybody!  I hope that everyone had a wonderful weekend.

I spent the weekend, or most of it, at the cabin with the girls.  It went pretty well; it had its bumps but for the most part it was nice, and fun.  DH painted and the walls look wonderful…the color isn’t hugely different, but they are very clean and this paint is a higher gloss than the old paint, so it looks very beautiful and reflects the light much better, lightening up the whole place.  At the same time, the color is just a bit darker, so the additional light is very soft-looking instead of harsh.  I love it.  I can’t wait for the new carpet, though (after seeing the price) I suspect I shall be afraid to walk on it.  This would be a great time to break out those levitation skills I keep meaning to develop.

I’m having a bit of trouble typing because I decided to slice part of my finger off last night.  In retrospect I should have gone with the left thumb, because it has no function whatsoever, but I didn’t think of that and went with my right pinkie instead.  Makes it very hard to hit…well, a number of keys actually.  So I’m doing an odd hybrid of touch typing and hunt-and-peck…good thing I don’t use that finger for the “backspace” key.

Anyway, it’s a fairly respectable cut but didn’t require stitches…well, I don’t have stitches, anyway. I haven’t seen the cut close up because it kept bleeding, but I think the bandage will be enough.  Doctors aren’t in on Sundays and no way was I going to the ER for a finger cut…so we’ll just hope for the best.  Makes it darned hard to shower though.  🙂

That’s it for me for now…I have lots to talk about food-and-exercise wise, but frankly I’m tired of bungling my way across the keyboard for a while.  I’ll try to catch up with everyone today if I can manage; I’m still buried in work and needless to say it’ll be slow going today.

Have a great day!

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Okay, okay, I know, you thought you were going to have to live without my wonderful thankfulness this week, didn’t you? Admit it – you’ve been sunk in depression all day at the thought, unable to function. But never fear! I’m here, just really late. 🙂

So today, I’m jumping on the Independence Day bandwagon a little late, because I’m feeling particularly thankful for my freedom. Maybe not quite the way you think I mean, though.

There’s a song by Faith Hill called “Free” that has a lot of meaning for me, or used to – mostly when I was in therapy and going through major life changes. I hadn’t listened to it in a long time because frankly, the meaning it had for me then was all about being angry and standing up for myself and not being the terrified idiot I had been so long – and I don’t really feel any of that righteous anger or indignation anymore. So I sort of stopped listening to it…but when it started playing this morning I just let it play. I was surprised to find that while the old meaning isn’t really there any more, there is a whole new one.

Those of us in America tend to go on a lot about being free – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and on and on ad nauseum. It’s a big deal for us; we’re very proud of it, and rightly so. An awful lot of people have given their lives to make it so, and we’d be pretty ungrateful if we failed to appreciate it. (So many of us do.) But at the same time, we make a regular practice of complaining about all the ways in which we are constrained, all the things we can’t do or have to do. We’re only free to a certain extent; we are free to live within the artificial boundaries we create for ourselves and call “society”. Does that make our freedom an illusion, a pretty story we tell ourselves to make sure we keep choking up when we hear the national anthem or see the stars and stripes?

I thought about this a lot this morning, and the conclusion I came to is that we are all a lot more free than we realize. I kept thinking about a post by Lynn and a choice she made as to what was best for her for a lot of reasons, rather than what would make everyone in the world happy. And I have to say, “Bravo”.

How many times have we found ourselves in situations where we feel that we simply do not have a choice? How many times have we caught ourselves saying, “I just didn’t have any good options,” or “I ate (x) because it was the only thing available.” How many times have we excused a bad choice on the grounds that there weren’t any good ones?

But there are always good choices. To quote the late and wonderful Marion Zimmer Bradley, there is always an alternative. It might not be one we like – it might be going hungry all day or looking like a freak at the company picnic or board meeting – but the choice is there. When we say we don’t have a choice, what we really mean is that we don’t have a choice we like.

There are parts of the world where people really don’t have a choice. There are areas where people eat what is there or literally starve to death. (You don’t generally find them blogging about weight loss.) There are areas where people have no choices at all and do what they are told to do or die. This is not one of those parts of the world. We really are free to choose to an enormous extent – the constraints upon us are constraints of our own making, boundaries of social acceptance, expediency, and appropriateness. We are limited to some extent, I will grant you – by financial means, by geographical availability, by what will keep us out of divorce court or family court, by physical limitations like food allergies or intolerances or disabilities – but those limits are not, most of the time, what stop us. Most of the time, the choices we make aren’t to keep us alive or out of jail; they’re to keep the peace, to keep us from being ostracized or criticized or to keep from being uncomfortable.

And that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with that – as long as we are honest with ourselves about it. When I choose to skip walking because I need to do laundry and clean house, as long as I admit that I’m doing it not because I or someone in my family will die if I don’t but because people will be unhappy with me, then it’s fine. That’s my choice. And the beauty of my life and my world is that I have that choice. It is mine, and no one else’s. And I can make it on any basis I want. I am free to do that.

I may not always make the right choices. Okay, I don’t always. I often make the wrong ones in terms of health, weight loss, and personal dignity. 🙂 But I always, always am the one making the choice. And honestly, there is no greater freedom than in admitting to yourself that you chose. Because then you know that you can choose again, and you can choose differently.

So today, listening to that song, I realized that I really am free, but in a way I didn’t expect to be when I used to listen to it daily. Today, I am free of feeling like I have to make the whole world happy and be something I’m not. I am free of being angry and resentful over choices I made, but that I told myself were limits imposed upon me by others. I am free of self-imposed smallness of mind and paucity of character, and I am free of the unhappiness I carried around for so long, not even realizing that all I had to do was choose to put it down. (And at least partly as a result of that realization, I’m also free of about 50 or 60 pounds I was choosing to carry around, as well.) And I am so thankful for that freedom.

Where did that freedom come from? In reality, it came from me finally recognizing the freedom I already had, that freedom of choice. So I am thankful for that freedom as well. I’m thankful for the freedom to decline the bagel at the morning meeting. I am thankful for the freedom to accept the invitation of a friend to walk. I am thankful for the fact that it is I, and no one else, who ultimately determines the course of my physical, mental and spiritual destiny. I am free in so many ways, and today I’m making it a point to recognize that every time I make a choice, and be thankful for it.

Happy Thursday!

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The other night, I stumbled. Not with my eating or my exercise – though neither of those were perfect – but with my mindset.

It started with me “stumbling” onto a picture of myself. I was actually looking for pictures of myself, for a particular reason, but I wanted good ones. I didn’t find any of those. For one thing, I have evidently made a practice over the past ten years of being extremely unavailable to the camera. I sort of knew that, but…it’s still sobering to realize just how good I had gotten at it.

Still, I did find a few pictures. And I hated them all. But it wasn’t until I found this one, from about four years ago, that I absolutely cringed – and I will warn you now, it’s not pretty. Brace yourself:

What I found appalling is not the way I looked – I was prepared for that – but the fact that I very clearly remember this day, and what I remember seeing in the mirror bears no resemblance whatsoever to what I see in this picture.  I had no idea.  This is, for me, a very clear illustration of the fact that my body image is completely out of touch with reality.  I am not capable of judging my own appearance.  (And of course people aren’t telling me the truth – I mean, who tells someone they love, “Oh, you look terrible, don’t go out like that!”  Come on.  And if they had, or did, I’d be pissed.)

So that scares me.  It upsets me, and it scares me.  And more so because I found another picture – I can’t put this one in because it’s on another computer and I can’t get to it right now, but I’ll add it later if I get a chance – from a few weeks ago that still looks pretty bad, and not at all the way I remember thinking I looked.  60 pounds and a completely different lifestyle and mindset later, and I am still not seeing myself the way I really look.  Again, that scares me.

How am I really going to know when I’m where I need to be?  I have said before that my real, true goal is to be able to take a picture of myself and like what I see.  I am not even close to that, clearly – at least, not a picture from the neck down, and even taking one from the neck up requires intricate planning and positioning.  And I’ve been fighting depression for two days because of this…

And that’s the stumble.  Because I know very well that beating myself up and giving in to despair and self-loathing are the very things that will make me fail.  They are the very things that can and will derail me, if I let them.  I cannot do this to myself.  I cannot mire myself in disgust at my own delusions and fear that I am and will always be disgustingly fat, even when I think I’m not.  We all know what lies down that road, and it’s nothing good.  It’s nothing I want.  I must, and I will, reject that path.

When I realized I was starting that downward spiral that I know from experience would eventually lead to depression-fueled binge eating and lethargy (about ten seconds after I first saw the picture), my mind immediately tossed up a post from GrumpyChair.  She’s talking about her six-week checkup after giving birth and discovering she hadn’t lost nearly as much weight as she felt she should.  The comment that really stuck in my head was, “This did not make me want to go home and pop in an aerobics tape and eat salad.”  (There are other posts in the same timeframe that talk about pictures, and one in particular about how she unconsciously edited herself out of the photographic history of her family.  That one hit home, too.)

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why is it that, when we are faced with a discouraging truth about our weight, our appearance, our health – our immediate reaction is to binge?  To go comfort ourselves with the very things that made us this way?  I know the scientific reasons…I understand how that works…but it’s not okay, and from a psychological and intellectual standpoint it’s insane.  And for me, the bottom line is that I have got to forgive myself for what I became, and I have to do it now.  I have got to stop sinking into the weeping-and-wailing frame of mind and remember that while I may not be where I want to be, I have made enormous progress, and I have every right to be proud and happy about that progress.  I do need to stop deluding myself that I’m done…but that doesn’t mean I have to feel as though I’m back where I started.  Because I’m not.

I know that I look better.  My body image isn’t quite that skewed.  I know I look decent a lot of the time, and sometimes I even look pretty damned hot, based on other people’s reactions.  I just need to accept that my own glances in the mirror are not going to give me honest information.

I knew this at one time.  I started this process out by taking – or actually, having DH take – regular progress photos so I could see where I was headed and how I was doing at getting there.  I’ve stopped doing that, and I think that was a mistake.  (Evidently, this is one of those lessons that takes several repetitions for me to learn.)  I think had I kept it up, I wouldn’t be facing this dark epiphany again right now.  🙂  So that’s something we’re going to start back up immediately.

If you’ve made it this far, I imagine you are despairing of ever reaching the “wisdom” part of the post.  The truth is, you already touched on it.  Forgiveness.  We are taught to try to be the best people we can be.  We are taught to try to do things right and to make as few mistakes as possible.  And there’s wisdom in that, of course, because obviously life is better when you get things right and don’t screw things up for yourself any more than necessary.  But what we aren’t taught is that it is impossible to never make mistakes – we are only human, and we are all going to screw up, a lot.  We will fail.  We will be, at some point in our lives, nearly all of the things we despise the most.  Hopefully, we will catch ourselves before that gets out of hand, but we can’t prevent it entirely, and if we try, we destroy our own joy in life.  One of my favorite lines from a song is from “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield:  “We are conditioned/to not make mistakes/but I can’t live that way…” And neither can anyone else, though we kill ourselves trying.

And we aren’t taught that when these mistakes or stupid decisions happen, it doesn’t make us bad or worthless or stupid or evil or whatever adjective you want to use in your personal self-castigation.  It makes us normal, and human.  It’s how we learn.  Nor are we taught that when it happens, the right thing, the good thing, the personally beneficial thing to do is to take the lesson and then forgive. We do hear a little bit about forgiveness of others…but rarely do we hear much about forgiving ourselves.

That’s what passes for wisdom from me today.  Forgive yourself.  Whatever you did or didn’t do or said or didn’t say or forgot or neglected or just screwed up…it’s not the end of the world. Even if the consequences are grim, you really aren’t the Dark One for having done it.  You are no worse a person than anyone else for having made that mistake, and mistakes are not all bad if they are turned into lessons learned.  So figure out where you went wrong, and (if you can) why, and then forgive yourself.  You’re only human.  And as bad as it is for you to hold a grudge against someone else, it’s a million times worse to hold one against you.  So forgive yourself.  And I’ll do the same.

(I originally said “try to do the same” but then my mindset was saved by, of all people, Yoda.  “Do, or do not.  There is no try.”  God, I love that quote.)

So go, and do!

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Happy Tuesday!  Here’s to another check-in for me that isn’t really much of a check-in, as I’m still weightless.  🙂  (That sounds much less revolting than “scale-free”.)  But as far as my behaviors go…

Yesterday was a wash.  It started out great but went downhill rapidly at the hands of another massive allergy attack.  This one was not prompted by Aleve, but the symptoms and progression were exactly the same.  I can only conclude that it was the ibuprofen, which is very disturbing.  I am, however, thinking it might not be an allergic reaction so much as that the only think keeping my sinuses from draining is massive swelling, and when I take the NSAID it reduces that swelling, so…I don’t know though.  It is something I am going to have to talk to my doctor about.

Meanwhile, between the attack and the medication for the attack, which knocks me out, I got no exercise yesterday.  My eating was good though.  Not perfect, but very very good.  All in all, it was a good first day; the areas in which I slipped were areas I couldn’t really control. But I do feel that the rug has been yanked out from under me…so I’m trying again today to get off on the right foot.  🙂

Today is going to be difficult; I’m starving, which is something that always seems to happen when that medication wears off.  So I’m trying to exercise willpower; wish me luck.  🙂

My big focus for today is to drink plenty of water; I’ve been slipping in that area and that’s an important one, particularly in this heat.  If I can get all my water in and not eat a ton of junk, I will count it as a good day.  The rest will follow at its own pace.  I did start the day with yoga, so I feel good about that.  (Though I was awake from 4:30 on, so I may crash later.)

And that’s about it for me.  Tonight I have to deal with more of the paint selection process, try to get my walk in and hopefully do some cleaning and decluttering – this has to be done before the weekend so DH can paint without huge piles of stuff in his way.

I hope everyone has a great day and a great week.  And I’m still plugging away at work…but feel free to distract me if it seems warranted.  🙂  (That one’s for you, MizFit!)

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