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Am I Ready?

SNOW
This morning, the cat looked up at me, flicked his tail and let out a meeeoweer when the cold air hit his whiskers. Yeh, I know he’s just a cat, but I was pretty certain that was his equivalent to WTF. He turned and walked back over to his food bowl, also exactly what I want to do …French toast would be just fine with me.

I didn’t need snow this morning, and frankly it surprised the hell out of me. Sure, I heard “winter storm” on the news, at least I think I did, but who really listens to that shit mid-November. Last night, I took it as meteorologists looking for a little evening wood over the potential of bad weather. I was not ready to wake up and actually see the shit.

I’m not sure why the wintery mix makes me so mad. Would I feel differently if it weren’t Monday, if I knew there wouldn’t be a stupid-ass long commute or if there was going to be a crack of sunshine today? The husband will wake up this morning and check the snow report for Mad River before grabbing a shovel to clear the driveway. I’ll look at him and grumble something about picking up his gloves off the kitchen floor.

What if we have another winter like last year? I’ve heard mumbling. Yes, I’ve chosen to ignore it, but what if it’s true? I sit in my cozy chair with a soft, fuzzy blanket wrapped around my shoulders with the SAD light beaming in my face. Can I make it through another Polar Vortex?

During periods of snow last year, I vaguely remember saying, “Well, at least it’s not rain.” No sir-ee, and it might be here a while. That doesn’t really help my half-full outlook, but it also doesn’t change reality.

Am I ready? The cat sucked it up and went outside. Unlike my cat’s furry wardrobe, neither the ass of my pants nor my head can handle four or five months of total hibernation. So, what’s next?

Maybe I need to grab the snow shovel and begin my morning with a little brisk activity. Maybe I could learn to love the snow like the husband. Maybe I could lie down in the front yard and catch snowflakes on my tongue and swish my arms up and down in the fluffy white stuff until my snow angel appears.

Trick or Treat

Last night’s plan included a Zumba class, and then I was gonna sneak into my dark house and avoid any trick or treaters. It’s not that I hate Halloween, I just didn’t want left over candy giving me the evil eye, and there’s nothing too fun about packing 45 fun-size Snickers to each thigh.

But then I remembered how much fun we used to have in our neighborhood. Either my husband or I would take our son house to house until he tuckered out, and the other one joined friends across the street at a ring of fire. The blaze kept the chilly October evening at bay, and the trick or treaters maximized their turnout reaching three or four houses at once. It didn’t hurt that as the evening wore on, the tipsy candy-hander-outers got more and more liberal with the stash. On occasion we’d offer a weary dad a beer, and his kids were bribed with candy so they didn’t mind a little longer stop. It worked, really well.

The friends moved, not far, but far enough I guess. The annual tradition stopped. I still really miss it. There were a few more years of trick or treating for us as a family, but of course our son grew too big to think it was cool. By then, I was trying to make better food choices and eating a bowl of candy wasn’t in any diet program I could find.

I had always tried to buy candy that I didn’t like. In theory that works, but I can man-up and force down any candy in a pinch. Well, maybe not Mike and Ike’s or Juju fruits, but I’m not gonna to be known as the lady who hands out that shit.

So, over the years it was just easier to not be home. But as I drove home from Zumba, I saw all the scampering superheroes and princesses, which made me think of the plastic pumpkin full of sweet-smelling chocolate, Twizzlers and Nerds our son brought home and spread out on the floor. Sorting. Categorizing. Eating. I stopped at the convenience and bought a bag full of Cowtails. They were fairly cheap, and I’m not super fond of the powdery caramel and gritty, white nougat stuff.

As I drove through my neighborhood, I wondered if we would even get any trick or treaters. Since there wasn’t going to be a ring of fire to lure them down my street, and I was going to make them actually walk to my front door, would it be worth it to come by my house? Well, I ended up with a bunch of leftover candy. I ate two Cowtails and called it a night.

As I sat looking at the rest of the cowtails, I thought about the slippery week I’d had. There was a lot of stress: looming deadlines, late nights, not enough exercise or sleep, and now I had two cowtails worth of sugar in my gut to further fog my reasoning.

I thought about running into the darkness again, but something tugged and said, don’t do it. It’s not worth it, or maybe you’re worth it.

Don’t let the goblins get you.

Vacation Reality

Aussie Sign

We got back from Australia a few weeks ago. For three and a half weeks, we experienced genuine Aussie hospitality, met lifelong friends, and saw wonders that travel guides and big, beautiful coffee table books don’t do justice.

No, we didn’t see any sharks or pythons or funnel spiders. We did encounter some poisonous plants and a spider so big its legs cast a shadow on the wall.

Before we left the States, friends would say, you know the 20-something most deadliest creatures can be found in Australia.

The Aussies laughed when Lyle asked about places to avoid. No worries, mate. Sure, we have those things, but you’ll be fine as long as you don’t look for trouble.

I smiled and figured Americans watch way too much TV. I didn’t think about danger much until we ran across a precaution sign at a park that advised visitors of what to do should they see a kangaroo. Don’t approach. Back away slowly. If one charges, drop to ground. Curl up into a ball. Protect your head and throat. The kangaroo was not an any dangerous-animal list.

aussie kangaroo
Then, there was the warning sign about the poisonous plants to avoid during the 6 km walk down into the rainforest.

aussie poison tree

 

 

aussie poison fern

Blah, blah, blah I thought until I realized these particular trees hung over our heads in this vast green canopy, and the palm looked just like all the others and lined the paths where we walked.

But I made it out just fine.

During the trip, we walked along headlands that towered over the ocean below and then hiked down to the beautiful, deserted, white sandy beaches. We watched whales breach the surface of deep aquamarine waters (that never gets old). The day we trekked through the unbelievable rainforest, I found myself dwarfed by trees hundreds of years old.  Another morning we floated down a river on kayaks and spied long, bearded dragons as they skittered across fallen logs, and of course, we saw more kangaroos than I would have imagined existed.

But re-entry into the real world was tough, really tough. For the first week (okay two), I wanted to hop in my car and just drive, drive, drive. Surely, there was a place to escape. My husband was a pain in the ass, my work deadlines were impossible, and my house was a disaster. That was just the beginning.

My mind continued to get more slippery. I didn’t like anyone around me, and if I could have escaped from my sarcastic ass, I would have. Mostly, I tried to keep my mouth clamped tight because I knew venom would shoot out if I opened it just a wee bit.

Things are better this week, but why? Sure, I’ve caught up at work, and my body clock adjusted to the current time zone so I’m finally sleeping when I should, but the things that annoyed me last week are still there, and they’re still annoying. The only difference is I stopped looking for trouble.

aussie beach

And The Award Goes To…

Me. I’m proud of me today. I wanted to eat a house, multiple times actually. Had it been covered in chocolate I might have surrendered, but as of 8:30 p.m., my house is still standing as are my neighbors’.

It’s been tough, but I keep circling back to my goals of 2012 that I posted earlier in the week. I do believe that it is worth the effort to take care of my body and soul, and I am convinced that sugar will be my life-long enemy. I’m not always sure about the beauty or the strength things I jotted down, but I think those goals are at least worth working toward.

As I sat in my office today at 1:30 p.m. with absolutely fucking nothing crossed off my to-do list, I tried to convince myself that a sweet treat from down the street would alleviate stress and increase my productivity. Hell, the walk to buy this bit of yummiliciousness would actually be good for me, and if I got something with nuts or dark chocolate, those ingredients have been proven to contain things like omega 3s and flavonoids.

Stop.

I chewed some gum, munched on raw veggies and gave myself permission to go in an hour if I still wanted the sugar that in my world resembles crack. Tick. Tick. Tick.

I still wanted the fix, but I asked myself what I really needed? No stress. Was a brownie or biscotti or cookie going to rid me of stress? Damn. I stuck a fresh piece of gum in my mouth and later snacked on a boiled egg when I knew I was really hungry.

I revisited another a brief moment when I walked through the door this evening. The house was quiet and would be for hours since my guys went skiing. I’ve accomplished some of my best binge eating when I was alone. Woo hoo, let the party in my mouth begin. I passed the calendar on my way to the snack cabinet. I saw the stars lining each day of the New Year; little awards recognized my effort at taking better care of myself. I wanted another star…so, here I sit writing about my feelings instead of eating them.

May I have two stars, please?

Agree for Change

I’ve been wrestling with 2012 goals. I hate to call them resolutions, which are meant to be broken like diets and bad habits.

Instead I choose to think what I want to improve upon. This year I want to focus on the positive and re-write negative self-talk and behavior that have been weighing me down in more ways than one.

For at least six months a copy of The Four Agreements has laid atop the end table next to where I scribble in my journal. I’ve read the book multiple times, even writing about it here, but lately it seems to call me. So, every morning, I pull out the book and read a few pages trying to absorb some of the message: be impeccable with your word; don’t take things personally; don’t make assumptions and always do your best.

Recently, I picked up The Fifth Agreement. Be skeptical, but learn to listen. It’s taking me a while to finish the book because it seems appropriate to savor the words like a hot cup of tea with just the right amount of honey and lemon. What is beginning to crystalize is the need to really shift my paradigm of me. I’m tired of being my biggest critic.

As I thought about this and what I hoped to achieve in 2012, invariably my thoughts meandered to the time I wasted in 2011 with my yo-yo diet mentality. Instead of trying to push the negative thoughts into the shadows, I shone a light brightly, feverishly writing every nasty thought about my weight escapades I could muster. It was quite a list – embarrassing and maddening and disappointing.

Then for every negative thought, I created a positive statement to be rewritten repeatedly until it lodges into my brain. Whether rudimentary or revolutionary, the idea is not mine. The exercise came from The Artist’s Way. I’ll spare you the ranting portion, but here are the resulting positive statements:

I am beautiful inside and out.
I will limit exposure to sugar.
Taking care of my being is worth the effort.
I am strong and will achieve weight loss goals of one pound per week.

The first one really makes me squirm. I even hesitated a moment before I typed it here, but the exercise made me realize how negative I’ve become toward myself, illuminating how I’ve struggled over the last year.

In The Fifth Agreement, I’m discovering how to question the “truth” I’ve told myself, and I think I might be ready to rewrite these destructive messages in change for something more affirmative. I’m sure there will be detours, life is full of them, but acknowledging the negative and making a choice to focus on the positive has to impact the journey. Doesn’t it?

Treats Gone Bad


I detoxed yesterday. Ate a healthy breakfast; packed healthy lunch; munched on healthy snacks.

I left work early because I had gone in early originally planning to take Russell to a doctor’s appointment, but Lyle called to tell me he had it covered. I felt pretty good until I walked into the house and kicked off my shoes in the quiet space. Cue the music.

There on the counter was a Christmas tin of yummilicous.

I can’t even use the excuse that I wasn’t expecting it when I arrived home because it had been taunting me for two days with only minimal collateral damage. But now there were no witnesses, and I would actually be doing everyone a favor by eating the items with nuts. (Lyle and Russell like nuts, but not in their cookies). I told myself I would eat just one. Poof. Gone were the two small brownies, some kind of cracker cookie, a chocolate rolled thingy, a chocolate version of a wedding cake and a macaroon (no nuts, but I really like coconut macaroons).

Thankfully, there wasn’t a huge platter of treats to mistreat.

I had to get out of the house. I remembered an errand. Good thinking except I almost stopped at the bakery for a fondant dipped cookie. Oops, close call, but it was just the thought I needed to acknowledge. Instead of turning on the internal garbage disposal and devouring everything around me, I pushed pause. Wooo Hooo.

As poor of a choice as I made, I didn’t beat myself up (or make it worse), but I also realized I didn’t want to keep mistreating myself, and that was a better treat than the one I had devoured just a few hours earlier.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Today instead of looking at things as stupid or marvelous, I searched for beauty in simplicity.

At lunch, I trekked off to Pilates. It’s always a good workout, but also centers me in ways that a spin class can’t touch.

As I thought about stupid vs. marvelous and twisted into one of the seated moves, I caught my reflection in the mirror that stretched the length of the wall. I saw a beautiful woman – not fat, garish or any of the other negative terms I often attach to my body, but someone sitting up tall taking care of her body and soul.

I have to admit there was a moment when I wondered if the Y had placed mirrors along this wall that were meant to flatter. I glanced at the woman next to me, but her reflection looked no different than what I saw in the flesh. Instead of chastising myself for thinking the likeness was not the real me, I thought about what that woman brought to my world as if we were two separate beings.

For just a moment, I looked at her in the mirror and saw me – strong, independent and yes, beautiful. I wondered why I didn’t let myself cohabitate with this woman more often, and yet wondered what might happen if I talked to her on occasion.

It’s been a long time since I looked at my reflection and saw the real person. After first losing 100 pounds, the mirror image looked strange, foreign, unreal. From time to time reality and reflection converged, but quickly splintered leaving me squirming for answers.

When I was at my heaviest, I knew I was overweight, but I never thought I was THAT big, and when I was at my thinnest, I always compared myself with large farm animals. How can I find some peace in all of this?

As I talked to my counselor last week, she asked if I had been overweight all my life. I quickly said yes, but then realized it might not be an accurate statement. I can look at old photos, and remember thinking I was fat, really fat, but the faded Polaroids don’t reflect that either. There were certainly times when my weight fluctuated as a kid, but now I wonder how much of this mindset centered on reality.

I do need to take charge of my recent fluctuation. It scares the hell out of me, and I never want to go back to the woman hiding beneath an invisibility cloak, but today I saw something else, something worthwhile, something simply beautiful.

How closely does your reflection in the mirror match the image in your mind?

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