The Ocean is Worth It

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We were right there in the sea! 

Have you ever gotten off the wagon? It’s not easy getting back on. Hubby and I went to Cozumel, Mexico for our honeymoon. While there we enjoyed the snorkeling. It was the most beautiful, serene, exiting time of my life. If you have never been, what you do is basically float with your head in the water and have a tube in which you breathe into the open air. The minute I put my mask into the water, I was in another world. A world with no sound, beautiful shades of muted blue and sand, and exotic fish I would have never had the chance to see: It was akin, in reverence, to walking on the moon. Had I the capability to talk I would probably have gasped audibly but I had no medium to express my awe.

We floated all the way out to the buoy before we came up out of the water and then swam slowly back. When we both popped up near the ladder to go back up to our hotel my husband said, “I think we were made for this!”

I giggled and said, “Two chubby people floating in the ocean, who would have thought!” The only downfall from this blissful foray into the ocean was climbing out of the water onto dry land.

I had the flippers still on, and I had to climb up this steel ladder, much like a ladder out of one of those above ground pools. Except, this ladder is halfway in the ocean and covered with slime.  It took several attempts to get up the three steps to finally reach the platform. My legs were a particular form of Jello that made it gut wrenchingly hard to get out of the water at all. My feet kept sliding off and I would plop down into the ocean time and time again. I would then have to collect my breath and then lift myself out of the ocean again and again.

The platform was half out of the ocean. The waves hit the large cement platform most of the time, so it too was covered in slime, but this didn’t stop me from laying down like a beached whale to catch my breath from the physical exertion of pulling myself out of the ocean.

That is how getting back on the wagon feels. The exertion of overcoming the doubt in my belly, the stiffness in my muscles and the weakness in my pallet can sometimes leave me beached on my bed with doubts of my success. I came back from vacation and was sick so my eating habits were atrocious and I didn’t exercise for two weeks because I was extremely sick.

Last week I was getting back to my yoga, walking and veggies. Before my fall off the wagon I had only been vegetarian for about two months. Grocery buying and recipes weren’t cemented in my mind so I again had to reacquaint myself with what to buy and how to cook it. I only walked a mile that first day, and I was up to three miles before. So my one mile left me aching and sore like someone had beaten me with a baseball bat. I was a whining wimp.

I was disheartened but Brad pointed out that I was just getting over being sick and having my “Aunt Irma.” These assurances made me feel better, but I also realized that I had gotten back on the wagon almost like it was second nature. I didn’t think about it as if it were a choice. I just did it. I never stopped doing yoga except when I was sick, and even then I did it once. After I got better, I got the right groceries, and I started walking. Done. No hemming or hawing. I didn’t have to think about whether or not I was going to exercise or eat right. I just did it.

I guess I am just gonna have to remind my body that this is the way life is now. I am a healthy person, who does healthy things. That is who I am now. I climb up the ladder. I will probably be climbing that ladder my whole life, but more time in the ocean is worth it.

A New Year – A New Hope?

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This is what exercising in the winter looks like for me

Did you set a New Year’s resolution? If you did, I envy your hopefulness. I usually set a bevy of New Year’s resolution. I usually spend the days between Christmas and New Year’s packing up the decorations and making a list of how my life will be different NEXT YEAR.  This idea that I could drastically change this year was too much for me. The concept that next year would be different than every other year didn’t work for me. Maybe I am too old. Maybe forty was just the year where I throw up my hands at resolutions and say things like that’s hockey pucky, or horse manure or whatever old people say to mean I am not able to believe in the magic of (insert thing here) anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not jaded. As a matter of fact, my Christmas this year was one of the most magical ever. I spent the entire week with family. My family is nuts for Christmas, like weirdly crazy about it. Most of us kids think about the presents months to early. My Mom goes crazy with the pie making and the dinner is of course extravagant and delicious. My nephew is the cutest of course. We got to go look at Christmas lights while my raven songbird sister sang silent night and my nephew exclaimed several times, “That house is the most beautiful house in the entire world.” We got to have breakfast in my brother’s kitchen and then decorate gingerbread houses with little candy canes, sprinkles and as my nephew kept reminding me: not frosting, “edible glue.” Best of all, we saw Star Wars, which by the way took four phone calls before my trip to plan just the snacks, and thanks to J.J. Abrams, I believe in the magic of Star Wars once again. I am not hard hearted. I just can’t believe in the magic of resolutions anymore.

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See, isn’t that magical!

I usually write down all my resolutions, and usually attach them to some area of my apartment. I look at them hopefully for the first month, resentfully the second, and by the third I have totally forgotten they exist. Lately I have been doing better with just having daily goals. I think I just have to take it day by day. Heck, some days having a goal minute by minute is best.

Maybe it was because I was horribly sick this year.

For the nine days I was unable to talk, swallow, or eat without pain and with a snot filled nose. After two days, I got my curse in life, my period, and all that pain that my endometriosis brings with it. I felt as if I had been cursed and spent most of those days attached face down to my bed/sofa. I am lucky that I have the best husband in the entire world. He took care of me every day: providing meals, tea, three different kinds of cough syrup, cough drops and the desperately needed Nyquil.

Because of all this, I just felt like I couldn’t fathom the hope it takes to believe I will actually accomplish my resolutions. No big declarations anymore!

As of yesterday I am feeling better and my cycle has ended! Now it’s time to clear the cobwebs of my mind, my shoes, and my yoga mat. I need to plan on how to get back into my walking and yoga again. I really hate resolutions because I have failed at them all before, and aren’t large proclamations are just ripe for the failure? I am only going to continue doing all the things I was doing before Christmas break. I am going back on the vegetarian diet (turkey was undeniable, also my Dad’s grilled hamburgers, and my brothers sausage gravy –Oklahoma is big with the meat, Okay.) I will both walk and do yoga three times a week. I just need to get back on the train, that’s all.  Okay, now look at me being ambitious, I have already upgraded to thinking by the week!

 

Let us Be Bold again

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Isn’t she the most beautiful sister! 

My sister is seventeen years younger than I am. She has weight of the world on her shoulders. Do you remember that? I mean not really the actual weight, but it felt like it. It felt like make or break time. It felt like every decision I made would determine the course of my life. The fear and the inevitable dread that I had already made the wrong ones kept me up at night or kept me drinking late into the night. Then I got older and realized with age, experience, and exhaustion that my decisions were always the right ones because they led me here which is nice and cozy. I love my life. It is filled with freedom, love, and wonderful people. What it is not filled with: gumption.

Something I have lost is that bursting with energy, that gotta get it done, push it to the limit drive to succeed. As my friend Alice Isak rephrased it, “I’ll get it done, but I am not going to ruin my sciatica.” When I brought up my sisters seemingly innate energy, Alice made a good point when she reminded me how good it is to have young people around. They are energizing even though they always seem to be so exhausted. My sister works full time, has a full college schedule, visits my parents once a week, and has a live in boyfriend who works twelve hours a week. Just writing that sentence made me tired. I love her so extremely dearly, but I could not live like that now…. and yet…I envy the extreme sense of urgency. I miss the concept that I need to accomplish this or I might just implode.

I miss that drive that makes me work harder than I thought I could. I again, finally, have those choices to make. I have a clean slate that I can make my mark upon. I have been staring blankly at it, blinking, and tired. It is awfully big sometimes. It wasn’t when we were looking at my husband’s slate. I helped him decide on a career easily. He listed his options to me, and I printed out descriptions from the internet and we had discussions of pros and cons, and eventually he made a decision that worked out for him. However, now that I have the luxury, I wimble back and forth in my mind. I know getting healthy and higher education are in my future. At forty they seem like impossible tasks but at least I know that much. However, where the higher education will lead or what degree I will get, I don’t know.

My friend Alice Isak just told me I need a toddler’s lunch. I of course said, “HUH?” She explained you need to give yourself only a limited amount of choices and then pick from those. If the choice was every food in the world a toddler would get overwhelmed, but normally it is a choice between two like: hotdog or peanut butter and jelly. I know I want to write a novel, freelance or teach. So in the coming year I want to get some experience doing all three so that I can see which one I like most. The one I like most I will study further. It seems so simple, that blank slate, but I just figured it out. I told Alice I feel stupid not figuring that out before. She said, “Well, don’t.”

I started laughing but then she said, “If it is not moving me to the next step, let it go.” Wow.

Oprah has this article in the January issue interviewing Brendon Burchard, author of The Motivation Manifesto, and he talks about how to accomplish goals. Something he said really hit me, “Let us be bold again.” I feel like I was bold back when I was the first person in my family going to college, and graduating from college, but lately I just feel old and tired. I want to be bold again. I want to gather up energy and feel the intensity of a blazing goal. I want to roll up my sleeves again, and not put them down until I accomplish what I want. I want to brave new experiences, social situations, and environments with the vigor of youth. I want to “boldly” work under the assumption I can accomplish anything I want.

I read a good book called “The Dreamgiver.” In it the author, Bruce Wilkinson, explains that when God gives you a dream it is our responsibility to accomplish it, how is that for immediacy. God wants me to be bold again.

Managing Expectations

 

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We all have our idea of happy holiday is. I can only speak to the Christian and secular ones because that is my experience, but I am sure when Hanukkah and Kwanza come around there are expectations and rituals in the minds of all who observe and celebrate.

I enjoy decorating for Christmas. It is an obsession of mine. I surround myself with red, green, silver, gold, and an inordinate amount of glitter. My poor husband finds glitter in places a man should never find glitter…like his ears…geez. My funny friend came over to have dinner for Thanksgiving and said, “Wow, it looks like Santa threw up in here.” It’s true, and this year I couldn’t even afford a tree. I just decorated every other surface. I love shiny things during the rest of the year but during those days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, my apartment looks positively sparkling.

If I didn’t have those decorations would I be disappointed? Would it wreck my Christmas spirit? It really would disappoint me. I feel like these decorations really get me in the mood for Christmas. The glittery trees and deer make me think of showering my family with gifts, and the snow globe nativity makes me think about giving thanks to the Lord. I don’t need those things to do any of it, but it helps. It makes me joyous. I think it is important but not everything.

My perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas includes family. Traditionally for Christmas or Thanksgiving I break bread surrounded by family – gobs of it. I have two brothers and a sister, aunts and uncles, a Grandma who is splendid. For the past, *ehem* years and years, I have not been without family for Thanksgiving, until this year. This year my hubby and I were going to be celebrating alone. I will be honest- I was feeling sort of down about it. I love my hubby but holidays always mean big family to me. I was determined to make it special but I was down. We had decided to break our meat embargo and really go crazy by having a meat I miss most – BBQ ribs. I made my finest potato salad, zucchini a gratin, and asparagus. Then we invited a very lovely friend! The delightful Alice Isak brought the best cranberry sauce I’ve ever tasted and pumpkin pie. We ate until we were stuffed, talked for hours, laughed, learned things, and no one felt deprived at all. I am a little closer to my hubby and my dinner guest.  It was just as epic as every other Thanksgiving. While I missed the family I usually spent the Thanksgiving with (some I didn’t even get to Skype or talk to and that was sad) I was touched and felt loved by the people who did include me in their holiday.

Alice has been teaching me something and I think I finally get it. Holidays and big days like birthdays can mean or can be celebrated in a new way. It doesn’t make the old way less precious or thoughtful. It doesn’t down play where you have been or where you are going, but it does make it just as special. If this year you are lacking what normally makes your holiday special, whichever holiday it is, look around and think about another way you can celebrate.  Too often, I have found myself clinging to traditions of the past and ruining days in my present. I will not do that anymore. When faced with a holiday without what you have normally had, I hope my friends and family reading this will create new traditions or will take another look at the holiday in a different way. Don’t ruin it for yourself: embrace new experiences, new friends, and new traditions.

There is such a thing as helping wrong, or as my Mom liked to say, NOT HELPING!

I have a beautiful young friend that won’t go to the doctor because she is afraid they won’t do anything for her other than tell her she is fat.

I will let you sit with that for a minute. Yeah, truly soak that up. Because what fat person needs someone with a medical degree to point that out. As if our culture doesn’t already stigmatize us to the point of brow beating it into our heads, but now that a doctor says it…

There are so many people that claim they are doing what is right by telling fat people to lose weight. I, as an official fat person, want to stand up and speak for all fat people right now and tell you to not do that. Admittedly if anyone could talk about another’s weight it would be a doctor. However, don’t talk to anyone, not even a young person with judgment and announce that they are fat as if that is the thing causing every problem. An ear infection can’t be caused by being overweight. Believe it or not doc, there isn’t an overweight person in this universe that isn’t aware that they are overweight.

Let me assume for the moment that you are really concerned with my weight. You are desperately trying to save me and you feel that the only way you can do that is to tell me that I am overweight and need to lose weight. You feel the only way for me to be healthy is to do so. I get it. For me it is true, I need to lose weight so that my five three frame can feel better. However some fat people are still healthy. However, that still isn’t the point. There are also many reasons why someone is overweight. Unless it is a health reason, nothing you do is going to change that.  So the shaming of a patient is not necessary. Do you understand?

Maybe you believe that shaming them will cause them to lose weight. Many times and many ways that it has been expressed and studies have come out that say THAT IS JUST NOT TRUE. Shaming people doesn’t help them lose weight.

You know what sucks is, it may not even be the doctors fault. It is probably a symptom of an intolerant society that refuses to actually take the time to be empathetic.   If you have been on the internet at all you have probably seen the video from that Canadian comedian talking about fat people. I refuse to write her name because I don’t want to give her any more hits or any more publicity. Let’s be honest: I struggle to forget hateful people exist so I definitely try to forget their names.  It is intolerance such as this that encourages fat people to be ashamed. The more people act like this the less likely people will get help with their obesity. When you shame someone they hide. When you shame someone they shrink. This is your goal. You are hateful and I hope that someday you will see what you have done and you will change.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. I wish that more people had empathy. Not just for this issue but for every issue. I think that this is possibly the most important thing we should teach each other. I also think that the minute you cannot empathize with a certain part of society, you should shut the fuck up about it.  If you can’t for the life of you figure out why someone would be fat, then shut the fuck up until you do. BECAUSE YOU ARE IGNORANT! Struggle to figure out a realistic not hateful reason. If you can’t then – don’t speak – because all you are doing is making the problem worse. Stop making it worse. REALLY. STOP. Please. Stop.

I am so tired of my family and friends being ashamed or saddened by your ignorance. As a community, we are failing our fellow humans.

There is a girl who is only three years old diagnosed with type two diabetes. Her parents I am sure probably were just ignorant to how to eat healthy, and how to take care of themselves. So that poor girl has to live in a society that hates her, and makes fun of her. Some day she is going to want to change to take care of herself. Do you know how hard it is going to be for her? When all she has learned is to take solace in food, she is going to grow up in a society that is relentlessly finding fault in those who do so. Her friends will make fun of her, the media will vilify her, and doctors will chastise her.

That is just the support a young person needs to get better, right?

Now, I am going to go really radical. We need American women to have pride in their bodies, not only the ones that have your standard of beauty.  Our bodies are magnificent in all sizes. Our bodies are works of art that move. We rely on them every day. We must appreciate them; love our bodies, in order to live a healthy existence. We also need good self-esteem to be happy. There is no reason not to love our bodies. There may be things that need help, or maintenance, but it is not something to hate. Stop contributing to these young people hating their bodies. Just stop.

The Good News

This is a day I was super happy. Swinging with my nephew. (Had to cut him out of the pic, that's an internet no no.) I am almost this happy today.
This is a day I was super happy. Swinging with my nephew. (Had to cut him out of the pic, that’s an internet no no.) I am almost this happy today.

September of 2013 I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was prescribed 1750 mg of a drug called Metformin and a Victoza injection every night. That day I cried on the floor with my husband looking on helplessly. In the two years since, I have gone through so much pain and setbacks. I have quit my job, my Dad had a heart attack, I left the friends and family I love so much and moved across country. It has been a really hard two years. Between the PCOS and Endometriosis, I have been in pain, depressed, on pain pills and frankly fed the fuck up.

Slowly I have been trying to take control of my health. First, I started eating all organic about three months ago. I have learned about all the chemicals and antibiotics they put in our food, and how cruel they are to animals in industrial farming. I have wanted to vote with my money for a long time, but finally put that into fruition three to four months ago. An amazing side effect of this choice is my PCOS symptoms have lessened. It was surprising but also very motivating, and so Brad and I decided to take it further. About a month ago we went to a mostly vegetarian diet. Ninety percent to ninety five percent of our diet is meat free.

I went to my doctor’s appointment last week, at the time I found out that I had lost twenty-nine pounds in just a month and a half of my last appointment. This is really awesome, but not even close to the best part. This morning my doctor called to give me the results of my tests. I am overjoyed with the results. I now have the A1C results of a pre-diabetic, not a diabetic!!!! Hard work pays off!  I am not out of the danger zone yet. I doubt I will ever be out of the danger zone truly, but for the first time ever…my numbers are going the other way!!!!!! I am only taking one Metformin now and no Victoza. My doctor wanted me to take two but said it would be okay if I waited another three months to see what I could do in that time to get my blood sugar down.

I have three months to get my sugars down .2 points in order for my doctor to feel good with my current medicine regimen. So that is where I must start. I can do this! I am of the fake it until you make it camp so I say that a lot. However, for the first time ever, I believe it. I am so happy that the choices that I have been making are finally the right ones. I feel like I should celebrate, but I will wait. I have many more meals to plan, and miles to walk before a PLANNED celebration. That’s how I do things now. I plan my indulgences. I make good decisions. That’s me, controlling my destiny over here.

Okay, so I might be having a mini celebration in my head which is pretty powerful these days.

Everybody in my Apartment is Relieved!

One of the good days
One of the good days

I danced this morning to music in my head. I woke up and started singing to my husband. He had a slightly relieved but also amused look on his face while I started pumping my arms over my head and shaking my chest at breakfast saying, “Mocha, mocha, mocha, mocha!”

See, for the past three days I have been experiencing fantastical headaches to go with my endometriosis pain and sinus infection. What a boon! Right?

My CPAP mask has been leaking. When it leaks I don’t sleep so well. When I gasp for air I lunge with my neck and that causes my neck to seize up. When I wake up I feel like someone has been wrapping a rubber band around my neck all night and all the blood in my body is stuck up there. I used the alien head massager, ice, heating pad, and my husband gave me hour long massages. Nothing helped to relieve the headache until my mask got fixed. Brad got me a caramel mocha at the Starbucks across the street as a reward for my ingenuity, fixing my mask and helping myself feel better.

I am not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me. I am just struck by how wonderful I feel this morning. I want to explain how glorious it is when I don’t am not in pain. I am so happy this morning that the pain is gone, I am dancing. The thing is: I don’t know when the cramps will come back so that means that since I am feeling good, I have a long list of things to do today. I will be cleaning the kitchen, writing blogs, editing my book, emailing my new friends, writing letters, and cooking three meals.

I will try to do more if I get that done. I am excited to do things. I love getting things done. I have to pace myself though because if I don’t I will be in pain again tomorrow. So I mix sedimentary things with active things. It is a trick I have learned after ruining my good health streaks. I think sometimes these bad health streaks are there to remind me to take care of myself.

I just read an email from Myfitnesspal with a quote from a woman who lost over one hundred pounds. She said, “You need to take care of yourself like your life depends on it.” That really makes sense, because our lives do depend on it. It is a simple saying, almost like a “duh” moment, but I have never thought of it like that. I would go even further for myself to say, I have to take care of myself like my next week depends on it.  I can really mess up my week if I don’t eat right, get exercise, and sleep deeply.

These horrible times are fewer and farther between which is all I can hope for. I am slowly making things better through research and my resources. I am taking better care of myself and that is a win in itself, but the product of that is less pain. The other benefit is that I am able to listen to my body better. When I first had sleep apnea it took me years to realize why I was having the headaches. I figured out my mask was leaking the first day this time.  I am listening to my body closely now, and that is a benefit I didn’t see coming.

While I am working on my health I am going to relish the days I do feel good. I am going to live life to the fullest while I can. So today I am gonna get as much done as possible, but I will be singing and dancing while I do it.