Friday, December 31, 2010

Thanks to Eat Pray Love

I've been reading (no, savoring is a better word, slowly savoring) Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for the past couple of months and have just begun reading her book, Committed, about marriage. Both books are memoirs, exploring the important concepts of faith, love, marriage, language, prayer, food, and self, written it seems almost more for her own benefit than for the reader's. So many things she says make sense to me, plus I appreciate her wordsmanship skills. I like her.

At the end of Eat Pray Love, she writes about a time before the events of the book when she retreated, alone, to a remote island for 10 days, vowing to utter not one word to anybody and with no books or anything to distract her from her purpose which was to work out some kind of deal, some way to get along with her demons, her pain and fears. I so resonate with the description of her reasons for silence:
We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash. We get seduced by our own mantras (I'm a failure... I'm lonely... I'm a failure... I'm lonely...) and we become monuments to them. To stop talking for a while, then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves with words, to liberate ourselves from our suffocating mantras.
After some days of silence, the mantras dropped away and raw emotions - sorrow, anger and shame - bubbled to the surface of her awareness. Do you know what she did with them? She invited them into her heart. She told each of them in turn, "It's over. It's safe. I love you."

I love the idea of inviting my unpopular feelings, like hers - fear, shame, resentment, guilt, anger - into my heart. Giving up resistance to them. Accepting them into the warm home of my heart.

I see the value of silence in this process, but don't feel it is absolutely necessary. Perhaps I can take some baby steps here, thinking about the emotions of the day (today some fears about mortality, particularly my Mom who is approaching her 94th birthday and the husband of a good friend who was just diagnosed with incurable cancer and given only a few weeks to live) and practice inviting them into my heart. I have goosebumps thinking about it. I will try.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Late Night Musings

trying to feel my feelings
a little sad
to see 2010 winding down
wanting
to have finished a few things

in the moment though
all is well
our house is warm enough
house
in a metaphorical sense

teaching a child to bead today
her focus
amazing for an 8 year old
sharing
my passion with her

so many blessings given me
accept them
forget about deserving
or not
because love is all there is

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Beginnings

thinking about new beginnings
a time when many set their goals
and take baby steps toward change

what do I want to change in 2011

resisting
my hands still
keyboard silent for a long time

what might I want to change in 2011

oh, that's a better question

I might want to lighten my load
give up many many possessions
work on reducing the clutter

I might want to let generosity
gain a stronger foothold
less hoarding more giving

I might want to be kind to my body
daily arm toning
daily clam shells to strengthen hips

I might want to let go of angst
oh there's a good one
use mindfulness and serenity prayer

I'm not good a goals
never have been
may this poem be a new beginning

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Note to Self About the Holidays


solstice
christmas
hanukkah
or st. nicholas

a time
of giving
of sharing
of connecting

think respect
act peace
feel love
breathe renewal

Monday, December 20, 2010

Floating on the Surface

going through the motions
floating on the surface
of the week before Christmas

not getting into it
not finding center
numb like the old days

and wanting to eat
standing in the kitchen
staring at the shelves

what can I eat
honey looks good
popcorn looks good too

jeans are a bit snug...
I tell myself
the old days are out

floating on the surface
feeling numb
what is this about

why do I resist Christmas
why do I hold back
why am I so sad

what do I really want
too numb to know
think about it

what do I really want
family, closeness
meaning, spirituality

depth of soul...
not on the surface...
inside where it hurts

inside where the river flows
deep inside where
I dare to care

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Refrigerator!

We had the local power company do an Energy Audit on our home in September. Interesting! Our results were mostly positive, except for one remaining single-pane window and our ancient refrigerator. A new, energy-efficient refrigerator, they told us, would pay for itself in 2-3 years in electric bill savings.

A window is on order, with installation scheduled for next week. And today, oh wonderful day, our new refrigerator was delivered!

How I can be so excited about a refrigerator to want to blog about it? I don't know. It's a simple thing... no ice maker or filtered water-spigot, single door. But it does have a bottom, pull-out drawer-type freezer, which means no more on-my-knees to get veggies, salad stuff and left-overs from the lower shelves, no more bumping my head on the upper freezer compartment when I've stooped and leaned inside to get things from the upper shelves. Here's a picture of our new baby! We got the brushed-stainless steel model.

It's so darn sensible to put the freezer on the bottom and make it a drawer!!!! I get into the cooler part at least 5 times a day, maybe 10. I only open the freezer part 1 or 2 times a day, often not at all. So doesn't it make sense to put the more often used part at standing height rather than stooping or kneeling height? You bet it does! The pull-out freezer drawer doesn't have as much storage space as our old unit, but it's really easy to see what's in there and to get stuff out.

My husband said we should put a big, red bow on it, because it's our Christmas present to ourselves. So I did. Very cute! Know what? I love our new refrigerator!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Epiphany about Step One

OA Step 1:
We admitted we were
powerless over food -
that our lives
had become unmanageable.

I've had a little epiphany about step one in the past couple of days. Here's the thing. Back on April 17 when I went to my first OA meeting and began an abstinence program, I looked at Step 1 and said, "Yep, that's me... I am powerless over food and my life is unmanageable." I had no trouble with it, could not imagine a deeper truth about myself.

Now, however, I find that my mind's been playing a little trick on me. My subconscious mind made a slight alteration in the wording. Here's the version I accepted 7 months ago:

We admitted we were
powerless over binge foods -
that our lives
had become unmanageable.

See the difference?

I turned my binge foods over to a higher power. I gave up trying to control my eating of cookies, cake, ice cream, pastries, pie and candy. As I've written several times, a drastic change occurred, a miracle, an unimaginable blessing. I no longer crave these foods, nor have crazy voices in my head convincing me to have them, nor feel deprived at not having them.

But my other eating? Well, I guess my mind thought I could control that part of it. I could stick to a food plan of three modest meals a day and nothing in between meals. Not so. At first I did fairly well. Lately the kitchen and refrigerator are calling me, a taste of this, a nibble of that, sometimes a handful of nuts or a small slice of bread and butter, my plate piled high with food at mealtimes, eating it all even when I realize I'm full.

Who am I trying to kid? This is not following a food plan; this smacks of compulsive overeating. Oh, not like before.... not the whole box of cookies type of thing. But, when I return several times to the jar of nuts and have just a few more each time? That to my way of thinking is both compulsive and overeating.

back to
the first three steps
1 - admit I am powerless
over food
(all food, binge and otherwise)
yes, true
2 - accept that a higher power
can restore me to sanity
3 - turn my will over
(give the control to)
a higher power
yes, now

I thank my OA group, my sponsor, my walking partner and my husband for various insights that lead me to this improved understanding of my addiction and the process of recovery, especially as held in steps 1-3!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Deprivation Points

Before OA, for eons and eons, I either binged or dieted, one or the other. Being a fairly active person and perhaps luckier than the average overeater, I never went over 240 pounds. Each time I got close to that number, a diet mentality clicked in and I'd begin Weight Watchers, South Beach, Atkins diet or one of the many others I tried.

With each diet, I'd immediately start racking up deprivation points. No cookie? One point! No seconds? One point! No bread? One point! Keeping a huge mental suitcase full of points was no problem at all.

When finally I reached some sort of goal weight, or at least went down a size or two, guess what? I'd start spending the points like crazy, the pounds reapplying themselves to my body in no time at all.

One of the blessings of OA, turning food over to a higher power, knowing it's not me anymore, is this: for the first time in my long weight loss history, I have no suitcase full of deprivation points. I'm not eating cookies, cake, candy and the like, not any at all. But the way I see it is that it's not me making the decisions about what I eat and what I don't eat. It's all in HP's hands. Thus, I don't do anything to earn points. There are no points to be spent later. And that's a good thing!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fun in the Rain

fun day with my husband
loving him today
and loving being with him
laughing
he can be so off the wall
with his humor
singing
reading to each other out loud
eating at a Mexican restaurant
eating a little too much
too many chips
they're so dang hard to resist
fun though
day-trip off-island
to the mainland
in his little red wheelbarrow
that's what he calls his pickup truck
it's almost as old as dirt
and small
and the windshield wipers
whack the outer dash
with every wipe
but no complaints
it works and it hauls stuff
like his motorcycle
to the mainland repair shop
our main reason for today's trip
rain, more rain, rain rain rain
good for trees
good for watershed
food for earth
fun in the rain
fun day with my husband

Saturday, December 4, 2010

PJ's Million Dollar Question

Since I didn't have a pressing subject anyway, today is a good time to respond to a recent tag by PJ. Here we go:

1. If you could live in another time period, which would you choose? The future? biblical times? 19th century? the 50's Whatever or whenever one you choose and why?If you need to answer with the thought you would still have your same family then do so.
I love our times and have never even considered what it might be like to live in other times. Other periods are interesting to read about or glimpse in movies.... However, to be honest, I'll stay right where I am, with pleasure!

2. What did you want to be 'when you you grew up' when you were a kid? Did you become that?
For a long time, from about age 5 to age 9, I wanted to be a ballet dancer. (See my post about how those hopes got dashed, here, and about a dance performance fiasco, here, and about dancing later in life, here.) So yes and no... not a ballet dancer, but I did dance for fun and for a few years was a dancer in and choreographer for a performing dance group.

Later, in 7th grade and up, I wanted to be a math teacher. Didn't do it. Couldn't get up in time for math classes in college, always scheduled for first or second period for some unknown reason. I tried, but my drinking and card playing at night took priority and so I majored in English and Psychology instead. I took some Education classes, thinking a maybe I'd be an English teacher. I couldn't stand the classes which seemed utterly inane to me and finished my BA with a straight English/Psy degree; went on and got a MA in Counseling Psychology. However, once again, fate brought me back to teaching in later years, not in a HS or college classroom as I had once thought, but in art workshops and conferences around the country. Way fun!!!! I think the counseling training helped me be a better teacher than the education classes would have.

3. If you won a million dollars (after taxes) what would you do?
Lordy, lordy, I have no idea. I have a close friend who won a large lottery. It so changed her life, more than anybody can imagine. One really significant change is that she went into hiding mode. She did not want people to be jealous of her and she felt shame at having gotten so much money, like she didn't deserve it. She and her husband gave a lot of it away. They also bought a very large, fancy home and quit working. After some years, they both felt lost, angry, useless, unworthy. Finally, the only answer seemed to be that they should go back to work, which they both did. Still, I'd have to say, she's not a very happy person. It seems almost that the money is a burden. I would not like to be in her shoes. In fact, I prefer a simple life and have no desire for a million dollars. If somebody gave it to me? Well, maybe I'd just tell 'em to keep it.

My husband and I saw a very interesting documentary movie that follows the lives of five lottery winners and what happens to them over time, Lucky, The Lottery Winner. We were fascinated!

4. What are you most afraid of and why?
On a personal level, it's cancer. Getting cancer or my husband getting cancer frightens me more than anything else. My grandmother, grandfather and mother all had cancer. Sometimes I feel doomed.

But on a more-important, non-personal level, I am most afraid of global warming and the decline of precious life forms on this earth. I hate the way we use it up. I hate that we keep adding to the human population. I wish every woman in the world would allow herself to give birth to one and only one child. In two generations, collectively, we could solve many of the earth's problems with this one simple act. Feeling this way for a very long time, it's the main reason why I never had children.

Thanks PJ, for giving me the opportunity to expound on these interesting questions. If anybody happens to read this and wants to answer the same questions, please do (and also please let me know so I can read your answers).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reviewing Abstinence

Hmmm, just noticed that today is my 64th day of abstinence in round three. That makes a non-cumulative total of over 200 days without a single bite of:
  • chocolate
  • cookies
  • cake
  • pastries
  • candy
  • pie
  • ice cream
By the way, that list is in order of my lust for each item, highest at the top. I like my program very much. I like it that I'm not trying to eliminate all sugar from my diet and that there are still a few treats available to me, like nuts, even glazed nuts in a salad, and crackers.

Truth is, I don't miss those things. They look good, if/when I see them, and they even smell good, sometimes, but I'm not really tempted by them. It's not a struggle and there's no inner dialog about whether or not I can or will or won't have them. This is an unbelievable switcheroo for me, a blessing beyond belief.

Currently, my much more simple food struggles involve portion control and snacking. I have good days, mostly, and a few not so good days in the portion control department. I tend to eat everything on my plate, whether or not I'm full, which tends to be a problem when eating out.

For example, tonight, my husband and I went out to dinner after our marriage counseling session, something we generally do, a neutral place to debrief and review the past 1.5 hours with our counselor. I ordered a three-piece chicken dinner that came with a baked potato and salad bar. After eating one piece of chicken, most of my potato and most of my salad, I noticed that my tummy was measuring satisfied on a scale of hungry to stuffed. I noticed, also that my husband was still eating his prime rib dinner. What is it? Competitive nature? I don't know, but I kept eating... finished the salad and potato and ate one more piece of chicken, at which point I'd have to put myself at full on the scale, maybe even quite full. Finally I quit eating. Yay!

Note to self for future: When you notice you're satisfied , pause for just two minutes. Enjoy the feeling of satisfaction. Notice how the tummy feels. Remember that you do not have to keep up with your husband. Take a deep breath. And THEN decide if you'll eat more. Yeah, yeah, I know... eating lesson 101. I just need to remind myself.

All-in-all, after 200+ days in OA and abstinence, I'm a new person.... happier, more in touch with my feelings, more respectful of myself (and others), much less despairing and resentful!

*****
PS. My husband just reminded me that he took home half his prime rib in a box!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Question Is....

A dear friend from the other side of the country sent me a beautiful card recently. Much more beautiful than the card is her support, her reminder that I'm finding my way one day at a time, and a quote she included by Eugene Ionesco:

It is not the answer
that enlightens,
but the
question.

Immediately I thought of a book I'd seen in one of those holiday catalogs, The Power of an Open Question, The Buddha's Path to Freedom, by Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel. The description says:

Deep insight can result from
simply asking a difficult-to-resolve question --
whether the question is
ever satisfactorily "answered"
or not.

The author's intriguing premise is
that the very process
of questioning
can itself
teach us openness, wonder,
and the ability to live
in the present.

The coincidence here is too important to be ignored, so today I put the book on my "wish list" for my husband to get me for Christmas. Maybe I can't wait. Maybe I need to order it right now. Or, what if most of what I need is already in the title and description?

Ten Things List coming up! Ten unanswered questions in my life right now:
  1. Shall I Do I want to What might I feel if I don't send Christmas gifts to my family this year?

  2. Are my jeans fitting tighter the past two weeks? (The answer to this one is easy... yes, darn it.

  3. Am I cheating, nibbling too much, justifying larger portions than I really need, eating between meals? (The answer to this one is also easy... yes, darn it.)

  4. What will I do about #2 and #3 above?

  5. Why do I feel so lonely and blue? What am I hiding from myself?

  6. I feel so much pressure all the time because of my self-imposed, exhausting to-do list. Why do I procrastinate rather than prioritize and do the stuff on the list?

  7. When will I make a written to-do list rather than try to keep it all straight in my head?

  8. When will I just say "no" to myself or others when I or they want me to do one more thing?

  9. What 10 things am I most grateful for right now?

  10. When will I get serious about walking and arm exercises... action rather than reaction!?

Well, that's pretty illuminating? Openness? Wonder? Not yet... more like beating myself on the head with a big rock. OK, guess I need the book. Obviously, there's a germ of truth about open questions and enlightenment. Yup, I can see that. Action seems to be the key!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More Thanks!

Today, the officially designated day for thankfulness, is the easiest holiday for me. Even when it was all about food (either what I would eat or what I would not eat), the day was generally fun and easy. That's because I've always felt myself to be unusually blessed; and gratitude comes easily for me, flowing naturally like rain drops into almost all days of the year.

This year, added to all my other blessings, is the blessing of not being obsessed with eating, especially with consuming my binge foods. It is a miracle, pure and simple, one I never dreamed could happen in my life. For this amazing blessing, I thank:

Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, author of Holy Hunger
my dear, understanding, supportive husband
my OA group
Liz, my OA sponsor
Julie, another sponsor and dear sister-in-law
Liz and LL, bestest long-time friends
Christi, Lunnette, Christy, Leah
PJ, Anne, Karen, Jules, Cammy, Dees
Bobbi, Carol-Ann, Carol, Susan, Lois, Sabine
Blogger
LR
the founders of AA
and
God

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanks!

The Unmistaken Child loves animals6 years old
beguiling child
the unmistaken child
reincarnated lama
in training
for his role
as spiritual leader

* * * * * * *
temperature outside
still crazy low
for our neck of the woods
15 degrees last I looked

but the sun was out today
cold and warm at the same time
cold outside
warm inside with sunshine
pouring through windows

took up my beading
for the first time in many weeks
sunshine did it

feeling better today
call of the kitchen
not so strong
chicken soup for supper
black tea with milk and sweetner

our phone line is kaput
again
more snow and more wind
in the forcast
for Thanksgiving day

gratitude day
wait
what if every day
is gratitude day

movie tonight
Unmistaken Child
beautiful man
peaceful place
amazing true story

prayer of thankfulness
cold wind
eloquent movie
it's all good

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

B*r*r*r*r

Fifteen degrees, wind howling, whipping the branches this way and that, blowing the snow into clouds that scud along the ground gathering size as they go, chilly even in the house with a wood stove fire blazing all day, I'm wrapped in a down comforter, woolly slippers, wool sweater and fleece vest... and still I'm feeling the brrrrr.

Oddly, more than personal confrontations, this vengeful show of nature's power has me wanting to eat. All day and all evening the kitchen has been calling my name. "Come here, my pet, you need something... maybe a few crackers? a few nuts? or perhaps a grilled cheese sandwich? what about popcorn?"

Entitlement thinking. I deserve to eat.

I went for a walk. Put full feeders out for the birds. I drank tea... and more tea. And still the kitchen calls.

Note to storm: You are a challenge, displaying your awesome force like this. You frighten me. I'm afraid the power will go out, a tree will fall on one of our buildings, the water pump will freeze, animals and birds will die; I'm nervous about chimney fires, cracked engine blocks, frozen pipes. Your noise scares me. I am naming my feelings rather than making popcorn.

I am entitled to my feelings; I deserve to feel.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hanging In There...

porcelain rabbit figure, hangin' in there
Eeeegad! Twelve days since I last posted. Lots has happened, yet I just haven't had the mojo or energy or desire to write about it.

A dear friend who follows this blog emailed, sending concerns. I responded, saying:
Despite the joy of not having sugar obsessions blaring in my consciousness every moment of the day (or possibly because of it), my emotions and thoughts are a bit confusing and extreme. My husband and I continue to work at our marriage, but have had a few set-backs lately. I don't seem able to do any beading, although I've been knitting and quilting a lot. I think it is mostly a matter of dealing with all of the emotions that surface at this time of year in some other way than overeating and binging. I've been thinking of writing a post trying to work with, or at least name, the emotions... a bit stuck there as well. Not to worry though, this will pass.

Her compassionate reply to the above indicates a remarkable depth of understanding and provides the impetus I needed to open this posting window. She also sent me the image of a little, porcelain bunny, the one you see above, giving me the title for this post. Yep, I'm hanging in there, ears back, stretched out, gripping firmly the lifeline of sobriety, just like the rabbit. What else can one do?

It feels a little daunting to face my emotions, to write about my feelings. Maybe a Ten Things List will do the trick? OK, then. Ten emotions that surfaced today:
  1. Worry. I had three Dr. appointments at our local clinic today. One for little-toe bunions with a podiatrist who comes here once a month. One for a flu shot. One for an odd lesion on my left breast, a little red mole that turned red and got all scabby starting 9 days ago. I can build tragedy in my mind so easily. Worry. I worry and procrastinate, hoping it will go away. Turns out it was only a scratch (how that happened I have no idea) across the mole that got a little infected.
  2. Fear. It's snowing a goodly amount right now, accumulating rapidly. When it snows like this, my car does not leave the garage. Lots of fodder for worry and fears here. How many days will it last? Will we have enough food? Will our pipes freeze? Will our water pump break as it has in past years? Will I miss the OA meeting tomorrow morning? Will our power go out from snow laden trees falling on power lines? (A calm, little voice is saying: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...)
  3. Joy. I decorated a wooden stick-tree with battery-run Christmas lights, twigs of fir and white ribbon bows as a display for selling beaded spirit dolls at the Farmers Market tomorrow. Probably won't make it because of the snow, but it gave me great joy to make the display and have it look so sweet.
  4. Happy. Walking 2.2 miles this morning with my neighbor made me happy.
  5. Despair. Looking at Christmas cards in town today lowered my spirits considerably. Do I want to send cards this year? Some years I've had fun making cards, sending them to a few special people. Most years my husband and I send cards with a brief newsletter. Many of our card and gift exchanges feel hollow, little more than a habit, following the path of expectations, meaningless.
  6. Resentful. From thinking about cards and gifts, my thoughts drifted toward my husband. A few weeks ago, I suggested we volunteer to help with the community Thanksgiving dinner this year. He doesn't seem interested. I got a list of work assignments and read them to him. None of them appealed to him. Do they still need helpers? Should I go alone and leave him home to have a peanut butter sandwich for Thanksgiving dinner? I am procrastinating, not volunteering, not planning a meal for us either, feeling stuck and resentful.
  7. Relieved. I'm glad I saw the Dr. about the lesion today and relieved to know it's a non-issue.
  8. Sad. Last week I went to our annual Quilt Camp, four days of stitching and socializing with about 40 local women who quilt. Big bag of mixed feeling there, some good, some not so good. I don't make main stream quilts using the latest patterns and fabrics. The noise of sewing machines and constant chattering annoys me, so I find a spot in the corner to work. I'm shy, always have been, not much of a socializer, a loner. I tend to focus on working and getting my projects finished rather than on people. Part of me wants to be more like them and with them... sadness blankets me. I don't seem able to shake it.
  9. Lonely. My three best women friends are unavailable to me right now because of work, travel or other activities.
  10. Guilty. I'm behind on lots of things and not very focused about catching up. Procrastinating on both little and big things, the to do list grows ever longer and I feel more shame.

Well, that's a bag-o-feelings for the day. I feel good about naming them, revisiting them as an on-looker, detached a little from the experience of them. They're not so bothersome in a Ten Things List as they are in my mind. How cool is that!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Changing Up the Holidays

bead embroidery, Dark Thoughts Pointing at Christmas
Dark Thoughts Pointing at Christmas

I am darkness
looking at Christmas,
pointing dark thoughts
at Christmas,
especially at all the hype,
the production
and the requirements
at this time of year.
I am supposed to be happy,
merry and bright.
But I am not.
I am darkness.

I want to change.
I want to hear
the sweet songs
of the Christmas birds.
Where is my big heart
at Christmas?
Follow the birds.

* -_- * -_- * -_- * -_- * -_- * -_- *

The above beading and my poem from 2007 tell my holiday story for many decades, how upside down it all was and how dark, all the way back to my 30s, possibly even my school years. The child got completely lost in the sauce.

As the poem suggests, every year I attributed holiday blues and bah-humbugism to things outside of my self, blaming the world for my unhappiness because of:

  • rampant commercialism
  • the way society pushes its traditions on us
  • not being good at the whole gift giving thing
  • lack of spiritual foundation
  • pessimism about world peace
  • seasonal affective disorder
  • not having any children through whose eyes I might experience the so-called magic of Christmas
  • my family being geographically scattered

Today I'm here to acknowledge something different, to state the one, encompassing mother-reason for dark thoughts pointing at the entire holiday season starting with Halloween and marching right through Valentine's Day. To day I'm here to admit the one word that sums it all up:

B I N G E

If I was not in diet mode, then I dreaded the holiday season, knowing I would

  • embarrass myself taking cookie after cookie, bar after bar, pie after pie, stuffed mushroom after stuffed mushroom at whatever party, dinner, event, restaurant I was at
  • stuff myself repeatedly until I was way beyond uncomfortable
  • buy every imaginable treat, bring it into my home and rapidly consume it
  • binge on sugar both publicly and privately
  • probably gain at least 10 pounds, perhaps 20, in five months of celebrating the holidays
  • eat rather than talk at social events
  • harbor deep resentment against my sugar-craving body
  • experience self-loathing and disgust

If I was in diet mode, then I dreaded the holiday season, knowing I would

  • be deprived of sweets, craving them, dwelling on them, feeling angry every time I had to pass on available sweets, feeling equally angry every time I "cheated"
  • figure out how to have as much fruit cake, pie, chocolate, Christmas cookies, etc. as possible, how to cut the healthy foods way back so I could binge without gaining weight
  • face the fact that I'd probably blow my diet, possibly gain back all the pounds I'd lost
  • avoid social situations because of deprivation or the possibility of blowing my diet
  • experience deep resentment against my body
  • ridicule and blame my body for being fat, for preventing me from eating all the treats I want

All-in-all, five months of being a super unhappy person, driven by addiction to a state of perpetual anger, resentment, angst and despair. No wonder dark thoughts pointed at Christmas!

* -_- * -_- * -_- * -_- * -_- * -_- *

Change! Ah-ha! Ho-ho! Change is here! Super, big-time, hallelujah change! Binging is simply not an option any more. It's not about trying to figure out how to cheat my diet any more; nor is it about flat-out gobble it all down. Been there; done both. I am abstinent now. Period!

Gradually, the call of the cookie, the whisper of the pie, the siren song of candy has faded. I don't dwell on or crave these things any more. I rarely think about them at all. And I don't feel deprived.

What does that mean as I look ahead toward Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day? It means I have a clean slate! I can re-invent the holidays and look for things to do that will be meaningful or fun. Unlike all years past, where obsession with food and sweets overshadowed everything else, this year I can focus on what is really important!

I feel giddy with excitement about it!

At the same time, I'm fully aware of how shaky sobriety is, about how it's one day at a time with the help of my higher power and fellowship of others who have known what it's like to binge for five months straight, about how feeling my feelings is still very much a learning process.

Shakiness aside, my optimism and child-like wonder at this time of new-beginnings is like the unfolding petals of the sweetest rose imaginable!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dealing with Disappointment and Grief

How do I deal with disappointment and grief? Used to be I ate my way through it, cookie after cookie, chocolate after chocolate.

I have a very vague memory of when the pattern started. When my biological father died just before I turned five and my mother immediately decided to return to college, my brother and I were dispatched to live with our grandparents for two years. In my family, crying was definitely not OK. Daddy and Mommy were gone, but I was not to cry. One time at the breakfast table, when I started to cry, my grandmother tried to make it all better by pouring syrup on my waffle, noting that she was filling every hole. I actually recall looking at that delicious-smelling, thick, rich maple syrup, my tears evaporating as she filled all the holes with it.

How poignant! Filling every hole, indeed! Not filling any of the deep holes in little me, crying in disappointment or grief or loneliness. Yet, hmmm, she's paying attention to me, giving me something to fix my woes, sugar pops into my mouth bite after bite and guess what? I start to feel better. I learn that sugar fills my holes. NOT!

Indeed, she didn't know any better and I unconditionally forgive her. Yet, there began a life-time pattern of trying to fill grief holes with sugar. My OA sponsor says this is very common with women who overeat. She believes, when doing Step 4 (listing defects of character), that more of women's defects stem from grief than from resentment, which is common for men. She encourages me to look at how I've handled grief and disappointment in my life, at how pacifying with eating sugar may negatively affect my character and behaviours.

OK, I was 5 or so when the syrup incident happened and 67 when I stopped eating sugar as a solution. So for 62 years, I more or less unknowingly smothered my grief in sugar consumption. That's a long time.

What happens when I eat a lot of sugar is that I get cranky, really nasty sometimes. I can recall yelling at my parents, at my siblings, at girlfriends, at boyfriends, at co-workers and often at my poor husband after overdosing on sugar. Lots of mean spirited yelling over trivial things.

Interesting, isn't it, that this character defect, the yelling, is an indirect result of not dealing directly with grief and disappointment. I've doubtless harmed others, at least harmed my relationships with them, with my angry yelling, never even considering for a moment that the basis might be my own unexpressed grief rather than something they did to cause me irritation.

For the past seven months sugar has not been an option. Did I have disappointments and grief during that time? Yes. And I note that the anger response is still in me, even without the sugar to trigger mood swings. It's habitual. I need to change this. Awareness is the first step. Notice grief. Notice disappointment. Name it. Sit with it. When anger wells up in me, ask myself, what is making me feel sad.

Not OK to be on the pity pot? Nope, it's not. Yet, unfortunate, unplanned, unwanted, sad things happen. I must learn to recognize and allow grief into my life, and not just the big things like death of a loved one or pet, but also the day-to-day disappointments, even the ones that seem trivial. Not pity pot, but to be mindful of sadness, that is my journey now.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tools of Recovery

Overeaters Anonymous, a program of recovery based on and very much like Alcoholics Anonymous, is deeper than I thought at first, offering a wide range of possibilities for change and healing, proven to work for many individuals. I stumbled into OA through reading Holy Hunger by Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, an amazingly honest and thorough exploration of her personal experiences with binging, purging, dieting, emotion-evading and all the crazy voices in her head which provided every excuse for continuing to eat compulsively.

Although I've never purged, all the rest, the angst, the yo-yo dieting, the binging and obsession with food, the voices, all as she described in her book were exactly as I've experienced for 60 years of my life. It is as if she wrote my story, not hers.

Her story and her book offer an addict, like me, great hope because she turned to OA, admitting her disease and her powerlessness. In accepting her weakness, accepting the support and fellowship of other OA members, accepting the help of a power greater than herself, she turned herself around and was able to stop eating compulsively, stop binging, stop feeling crazy, reach a desirable, healthy weight for her size and remain at that weight without the relentless struggle of dieting.
The biggest benefit, for me, is to stop feeling crazy. It really makes me feel crazy knowing absolutely, without a doubt, that eating a dozen cookies at a time is not a healthy thing to do, knowing that if I eat one, I'll continue eating them until they're gone, and yet I do it. More than the weight, more than the embarrassment about my food habits, more than high cholesterol and other health problems directly related to my eating, much more than all that, I hated the feeling of being crazy and my inability to resist the slightest temptation.
OA teaches us that this is not a motivation or will-power problem. This is a disease, a progressive disease, one that can not be cured with will-power, a diet, a pill, a stay in the hospital or surgery. Yet, it is not hopeless, as once I had thought.

The way I interpret OA, to arrest the symptoms of the disease, two parallel pathways must be followed. The first is to use the tools of OA to stop compulsive overeating. The other is to work the 12 Steps of OA (and AA) to gain a spiritual foundation for change. Tonight I want to write a little more about the tools and about how I am using them at present.

There are eight tools of recovery, as follows:

1. Food plan. Since I definitely suffer the binge syndrome of overeating, where I've been known to eat a whole box of cookies, a whole bag of candy or a whole pint of ice cream in one sitting, the first part of my food plan is to identify and eliminate these foods from my diet completely.

"Why can't I be like other people? Why can't I eat just two cookies or half a piece of chocolate cake?" I don't know the answer, really. It's part of the disease. The important point is not why, but just that not being able to resist or stop is a fact for me. There is no half-way. I ask myself, "Do I want to be abstinent on my binge foods today, just for today?" So far, the answer is "yes."

Other than two slips, I have not eaten any of my binge foods (candy, cake, cookies, pie, ice cream, pastries) since April 17th, which is 199 days!

Just today, in a coffee shop with a fellow OA member, I briefly noticed a huge display of tasty-looking and delicious-smelling assortment of muffins, rolls, sweet breads, cookies and cakes. In the past, I would have been obsessed with looking at them and selecting which one or ones I would eat or equally obsessed with not being able to eat them because of dieting. Today, I noticed them in passing, got my coffee, and thought no more about them until writing a description of them here.

My point? The obsessive compulsion about sweet things is gone! I attribute this delightful change to a food plan of abstaining from eating my particular binge foods. Another benefit? Well, for once, I don't dread the soon-upon-us holiday season, the time of year previously known for stuffing myself with every imaginable treat and gaining 10 to 20 pounds in three months.

The other part of my food plan is simply to eat three meals per day and nothing between meals. I don't pay much attention to what I eat, although "healthy choices" are ingrained after years of dieting. Not eating between meals is definitely a challenge, one I struggle with, particularly during meal preparation. Sometimes I stay with the plan; sometimes I don't. I do the best I can.

Although, because of a previously negative relationship to the scale, I do not weigh myself, I have lost weight, going from a snug size 18 jeans to a comfortable size 12 in the seven months I've been practicing my OA food plan.

2. Sponsorship. I am fortunate to have two sponsors.

One is my sister-in-law, who is 16 years sober in AA. She is an invaluable mentor, guide and support! Talking on the phone and emailing several times a week, she helps me to accept both my success and my failures, to understand the program, and most of all to have patience with it.

My other sponsor is a long-time member of my OA group. A spiritual guide, she is helping me to understand the 12 step program, to face myself and my disease with honesty and to seek help with this journey. I see her at meetings and meet with her one-on-one as needed. Right now, I'm fairly self-motivated, yet I feel her support and am grateful to know when I need her, she'll be there for me.

3. Meetings. I've written about our meetings fairly often, about how they're invaluable to me in this process of recovery. We are united in our weakness and in our commitment to recovery. We share our process and our inspiration to the benefit of all. What if, for some reason, there were no OA meetings where I live? Having experienced the understanding and fellowship of meetings, I would go instead to AA meetings or I would join an on-line, live-participation OA meeting. I am certain meeting are a significant tool in my recovery.

4. Telephone. This is a tool I haven't used very much as I'm not very fond of talking on the phone. Yet, I understand the importance of resisting isolation in recovery. I guess blogging (writing and reading) and emailing are forms of communication like the telephone, yet not so immediate. I shall consider using the telephone a bit more.

5. Writing. Of course this blog is all about writing my feelings, thoughts, process. I love writing here, reading other recovery blogs and the exchange, inspiration and support that happens between us, almost as if we are all meeting together. It's magic for me!

I must also write privately as I work the 12 steps. Here is another area where I'm dragging my feet at the moment. Time to call my sponsor and get some help.

6. Literature. Over the years, AA and OA have amassed a vast library of literature relevant to recovery. There are stories, history, workbooks and guides. I've read and been inspired by several of these, the most recent being The Big Book itself, the fourth edition of the original Alcohol Anonymous book, written by the founders of the program. Quite an unexpected treat, this book both instructs and inspires me, helping me to better understand the concept of alcoholism or compulsive overeating as a disease. I'm currently reading an OA workbook designed to help participants work through the 12 steps.

7. Anonymity. I respect the concept of anonymity in OA. It gives me power to be honest with myself and others. For this reason, I do not use my name or anybody's real name in this blog.

8. Service. Although I have taken responsibility for the meeting-room key, until today, I had not offered my service to anybody else suffering from overeating, at least not directly. Perhaps indirectly, as a result of reading my blog or talking with me about what it's like to suffer the disease of compulsive overeating, I may have been of some slight service to others. However, today I offered to be a food sponsor (as opposed to step sponsor, which by my own standards, I am not yet qualified to do) to another OA member. I don't know where this will lead or how it will be for her. But, I can say that for me, it feels like a good thing, a pathway that can only lead to greater learning and healing, hopefully for both of us.

So this is a summary of the tools and where I am with them in the OA program at this time. My gratitude for having learned of OA and for all the assistance I've received to date is boundless.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Building Self Confidence

hot springs, Yellowstone National Pk
The above is my tribute to Halloween night, when witches boil their brew, its bubbling sulfurous stench a warning to all who might venture near... Actually it's a picture I took on my recent road trip, a hot springs in Yellowstone, which didn't smell all that bad, thanks to a slight breeze blowing away from me.

Looking at it tonight reminds me of the day of departure, of feeling a little daunted, a little frightened even, about the prospect of the long drive ahead, of the many little decisions I would need to make, where to stay, which route to take, when to stop. Not consulting anybody else, taking into account only my own wishes, experiencing such solitude of being and arriving safely back home again after 4,000+ miles gave me a wonderful boost of self confidence, hopefully a dose that will last for some time to come!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Serenity

serenity stone, 3 inch diameter
I don't know what I'm going to write today. It's not planned, yet it must have something to do with serenity, because I thought of the above picture, taken the day nobody showed up at our Saturday morning OA meeting, taken outside the AA meeting building, where someone had carefully nested this three-inch treasure in the moss at the edge of a little planted area near the door. I was compelled to find the picture and put it at the beginning of this post.

Who did that, I wonder? The artist in me wants to know if the base is a rock, solid and silent, under a thick coating of gesso or if perhaps the whole thing is made with clay. The child in me loves the little snails oozing their way slowly, ever so slowly, across the stone. The seeker in me loves the word serenity, craving a place where my mind can be like that, totally at peace, where time stands still, where colors blend into harmonic tones. The elder in me loves the essence of it, the thought behind its creation and position in time and space, spirals of snail shells winding both inward and outward, tiny baby steps represented by snails, innocence of white, inevitable growth symbolized in the vines, all these things culminating in serenity.

So how do we know serenity? Where do we find it? Once experienced, how do we keep it from evaporating as our busy minds create heat from friction of daily concerns. Surely the spiritual practice of meditation must allow an entry to serenity. Baby steps. At our weekly OA meeting we say the serenity prayer in unison:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can
and wisdom to know the difference.

In those brief moments, I feel my shoulders drop and my breathing slow. A sense of well-being comes over me, and I'm ever so slightly more optimistic than when I arrived at the meeting. I still don't know anything, don't have any answers, but in the moment of saying this prayer, I am more open to whispers from the universe, less needful of control. Fleeting? Yes, but with each meeting, each week of fellowship, serenity cloaks me a nanosecond longer.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Feels Like I'm Dog-paddlin'...

lion cub at Smithsonian Zoo
don't like the pity pot
really don't
so...
trying to stay positive
trying to count blessings
trying to stay focused
trying to keep swimmin'
forward

little tyke in the picture
a lion cub
at the Smithsonian Zoo
got put in the moat
to see if he could swim
a test by his keepers
to see if it's safe
to let him be
with his mommy

he's doin' it
look at that sweet face
a little frightened maybe?
yet his nose is definitely
above water

me too
my nose above water
dog-paddlin'
across the moat
in the dark of the year

don't know what I'll find
on the other side
or how long it will take
to get there

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hard Copy, Soft Bound...

I used Blog2Print to make a book of my first 95 posts on this blog. Easy-peasy! 116 pages, chose the black/white cheaper version, selected black for the cover with my blog header painting for the image. Twenty something dollars, including free shipping. Not bad! Arrived yesterday (much faster than promised) and actually looks really good!

Two regrets, two things I'd do differently if I decide to do it again... I'd use reverse chronological order, starting with post number one and progressing to the most recent post at the end of the book. I thought it would be good the other way, but reversed my decision as I started to read through the book.

The other thing is that I'd pay more attention to the front and back cover photos. (1) There's a little box under the photo where you can over-type their instruction to title the photo. I'd delete their words but leave the window blank as the title looks goofy. (2) I'd make certain the photos I upload from my files are high resolution, not the ones that work fine on the blog but look all pixelated and stupid on the cover of the book.

Oh, and I might also delete a few posts from the book, particularly the ones with lots of pictures. Blog2Print formats everything just the way it appears on the blog (text size, font, text alignment, bold, italics, etc.) EXCEPT placement of photos. Two of my posts have a bunch of photos with a few lines of text under each photo. The book ended up having the text lines all bunched up and the photos at the end with no accompanying text.

I chose black and white, because this blog isn't about color or photos and because it's MUCH less expensive. But still looks good. The color photos in the various posts just show up as black and white. They look fine that way, especially since it's not about art here.

I chose not to include the comments. Maybe I'll regret that decision because many of the comments are soooooooooooo great, helpful, inspirational, funny, nurturing... dunno... we'll see.

As I said, it's really easy to do the book on the Blog2Print website. You just check your platform (Blogger, WordPress or TypePad), tell it the range of dates you want included in your book, and then tell it to upload. At that point, if I remember correctly, you can actually "see" and "read" your book. Then you get some editing options... like cover color/design, uploading cover photos, whether or not to include comments, how to order the posts. Not a lot of editing possibilities, which keeps it simple.

All in all, I'm satisfied and will do it again. Nice to have it in print... like a journal...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Be Patient

Once again, Jules (Big Girl Bombshell) soundly struck a chord in me. The title of her post, Serene Silence... Stopping the Pursuit, offers profound wisdom in just five words. Somehow knowing that my pursuit of answers, especially concerning my marriage, feels like an endless and pointless chase, I crave serene silence of my mind.

Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart.
Try to love the questions themselves.
Do not now seek the answers
which cannot be given you
because you would not be able to live them now.
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps, you will then gradually without noticing it,
live along some distant day into the answer.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke


Isn't Jules saying the same thing as Rilke in the above poem? Love the question. Live the question now. How can I do that? Live everything. That I understand a little better; that maybe I can do. Patient? I was not so patient today. I wanted resolution. I wanted the decision about staying or not staying in my marriage to be made.

Chewing the inside of my lips, being tempted by all kinds of baked goods and candy, feeling resentful that I can't use these substances to numb my fretting mind, self-pity close to the surface and ugly even to my eyes, I plowed through the day as if on a tractor constantly bogging down in mud and driving rain. How sweet to finally come in from the rain, to stop the pursuit, even if just for the moments of this writing! Be patient, says Rilke. Yes, I say, and live everything!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Soothing Myself...

nobody there for our OA meeting
this morning
nobody but me
room dark and locked

feeling sad about that
looking forward to the fellowship
and wanting to talk
wanting to tell them
about listening to the big book
about struggles
with sticking to my food plan
about how I missed them
the past three weeks

our marriage counselor
told us we both need to learn
how to soothe ourselves

used to be easy
easy as a couple of cookies,
a piece of cheesecake,
a nice sweet treat

so I'm standing by myself
on the sidewalk
near the AA/OA meeting room
asking myself
how
how can I soothe myself

POP!
into my mind pops the thought
I could call my quilting friend
invite myself to her house
for a knitting/stitching bee

hot tea
a big hug
sympathy and understanding
then we settle down
she stitching
me knitting

and later for lunch
we make a concoction
with canned pumpkin
pumpkin pie spices
plain yogurt
a little brown sugar
and pecans
comfort food
comfort companion
comfort activity

ah, life is much better now!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Where Is Home?

Recently, Jules, Big Girl Bombshell, wrote an excellent post about the spiritual element of health and weight loss (here), which inspired me to write the following:

Mind * Body * Spirit
and of these
we try so diligently
to make it
all about the mind
all about mind control

I agree with you, Jules
the spirit part
sleeps
while we struggle
with our minds

like you, I want
to write about faith
to uncover spirit
for without it
my body and mind
are empty

I am home now, home from 4,046 miles of solo driving, across five big states and back again. Home? Where is home? Was I home in Minnesota, the land where I grew up, the place where most of my small family still lives, my mother, two brothers, two nieces, a nephew and a grand nephew, a place where just two weeks ago I felt comfortable, accepted, totally loved?

It's almost weird being back on the island, in my own home with my husband, who couldn't say he missed me, who doesn't like so many things about me, where sometimes, I tip-toe around in fear of displeasing him. Can this be home?

What can I change? How can I make this place where I live feel like home. Doesn't it seem the answer lies in the realm of the spirit, in opening my heart? Closing to my husband over the years, no matter the why of it, feeling open in Minnesota, feeling closed again now, my heart aches.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Road Trip Pictures ~ Giants

Since my original intent regarding this blog was to keep it centered on recovery, not about attracting readers, not about pictures, tutorials, awards or giveaways, I'm feeling a little conflicted about posting pictures from my recent solo road trip. On the other hand, who would want to see them if not the few who have followed my quest, my journey of 4,046 miles, here on this blog?

At least I must post pictures of the wind turbines, my new lovers, the giants who bewitched me as I drove both east and west. So here they are, along with a few pictures of the oil drilling business, also mentioned in my posts here and here. All pictures are click-to-enlarge.

wind generators at wild horse, WA

giants in the dawn, first day on the road
Washington state, East of Ellensburg
see the car?

wind generators at wild horse, WA
each giant stands 351 feet tall
and weighs 223 tons
rotor blades, I call them wings,
are 129 feet long
and weigh 7 tons each

wind turbine, hauling a 7-ton wing
hauling a wing
me chasing, stalking
lead and follow cars
wondering about me
passing them
lurking at the next town
waiting for another photo op

wind turbine, hauling a section of 221-foot tower
24-wheel trailer!
would you say
this tower is big and heavy?
base is 13 feet wide
compare to size of red truck

wind turbine, hauling a section of 221-foot tower
as big as a building

oil drilling rigs, ND
old-time oil rigs
reminding me of birds pecking
in horse pastures and farms
scattered across northeastern Montanna

oil drilling rig, ND
new oil developments
building rigs like these
black, noisy and
nearly as high as wind turbines
laying pipes
employment boom
hotels and motels
all display no vacancy signs

oil drilling equipment
heading east from Shelby, Mt
going to work
there's oil to be drilled

oil drilling equipment
more oil fellas
going to work

personal car of oil drilling worker
nearly all the cars
at the motel
looked like this
oil workers
looked like this too
motel posted a sign on the door
"take off your boots
before entering"

oil pipeline, ND
miles and miles
of pipelines
being laid
farms and oil wells

wind turbines, MT, dawn
ah, the beauty
and nearly silent whisper
of wind turbines
dawn patrol
this time near
Cut Bank Montanna

wind turbines, Cut Bank MT
walking among them
filling me
with joy and wonder

wind turbines, Cut Bank MT
newer designs
turn more slowly
safer for birds

hwy2cafe, Cut Bank, MT
breakfast at
Hwy 2 Cafe
Cut Bank, MT
my favorite
restaurant meal
huckleberries
on hot cake
no syrup needed
bacon crisp

hwy2cafe, Cut Bank, MT
antique plate collection
all around the room
chalk drawing
of my beloveds

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Road Trip Report ~ I'm in LOVE!!!!

time on my hands
don't feel like reading
or knitting
or beading

solitude of being
produces much thought
so two posts today

I'm in love
with many lovers
all of them giants
all of them majestic
all of them powerful

in early morning light
I walked among them
their sweet voices
whispering love songs
their arms outstretched
dancing in circles

enchanted and in awe
filled with gratitude
under their spell
I took picture after picture
could not stop
could not get my fill of them

there on a dirt track
through the rolling hills
of middle Montana
just west of Shelby
there I fell in love
(as though I weren't already)
with the wind giants
immensely tall
white
slowly turning
wind turbines
generating power

much later
after tearing myself
away from my lovers
I ate breakfast
at the Hwy 2 Cafe
a charming little place
with a vast collection
of antique plates
on the walls
also pastel drawings
one of them
depicting my lovers

taking a picture
of the drawing
generated a discussion
with three old timers
having breakfast
at a nearby table
one of them is 101 years old
and still quite spry

I love these wind machines,
I tell them
yes, they say

I tell them I wish
for money to invest
in the company
that manufactures them

NO
says one of them
emphatically
too expensive
much too expensive
hydro's the thing
invest in hydro

yes, I say
the infra-structure's expensive
but after that
wind is free
and there's no harm
to the environment
(maybe to a few birds
maybe not)

hydro, he says firmly

his buddy says
he's a retired commissioner
of the local hydro-electric company

well then
he knows a thing or two
about power

never-the-less, I say
wind is everywhere
wind is the future of power
and dagnabitall
I'm in love with the giants

****

Sorry I don't have a way to download my pictures while on the road... so for now it's just word pictures... but never fear, once home, I'll select some to post. Question: better to insert them in the previous posts at relevant points OR better to put them all in a new post???

Two Rings

I'm wearing two rings
on a chain around my neck
two gold rings
each with this inscription inside

FEA & EFC
august 3, 1949


one is my mother's wedding ring
the other is my dad's

when Dad died
four years ago
Mom wore his ring
as I am now
on a golden chain
around her neck

confused
thinking he is still alive
and married to one of her nurses
she decides
not to wear either ring

my sister in law had them
and offered one to me

no, I said
these rings should stay together

she said I could have them both

is it right?
should I keep them?
I don't know the answer
about should or shouldn't

they mean a lot to me

touching them often
thinking about marriage
thinking about
how compatible my parents were
aware that it's a rare thing
aware of the times
when my husband and I
enjoy that type of togetherness

how did my parents
deal with their differences
the moments when respect fell away
the times when their paths parted
for surely they felt gravel underfoot
just as we do

I wear these rings
touching them often
hoping to find a way
to remain in my marriage

Friday, October 8, 2010

Road Trip Report from Shelby, MT

first move of the day
turned the wrong way
from the motel
and drove about 30 miles
back the way I'd come
the day before

ooooops!
I'm not supposed to
be driving into the sun
in the morning...
that's the evening's bane

then I started getting bored
and hungry
yep
the old eat from boredom syndrome

walked past greasy, personal pizzas
at a gas station hot "food" counter
had to have it
not healthy
but not on my abstinence list
been thinking about pizza
but this isn't good pizza
but I'm hungry
ok, ok, ok
ate it in my car
while driving
not mindfully
burp
ugh
darn

old highway church
with Native graveyard in back
old, old graves
and some new ones
very primitive
wooden crosses
humped dirt
plastic flowers
feeling a little sad
and lonely there
trucks and cars passing
their drivers giving no thought
to the souls resting there
just above the highway

the big pink church
farther along the way
once Catholic
now abandoned
today with a huge crowd
gathered in the Native graveyard
next to the church
more than 100 cars
parked along the highway
and the little road to the church
I stopped
but didn't want to intrude
later I inquired at a
Native-run visitor center
in the next town
a tribal elder
an original land owner
a woman respected by all
92 years old
had died
was being laid to rest

respect for elders
what a wonderful concept

for the rest of the afternoon
I played cat and mouse
with some wide-load trucks
pulling 16-wheel
flat bed trailers
hauling parts for wind turbines

unbelievable
huge
gigantic
dwarfing
all other vehicles
on the highway
I'd pass them
drive ahead
pull off the road
get out of my car
camera in hand
and try to
take pictures of them
as they went by

then I'd do it again
being dissatisfied
with my pictures

tomorrow
the mountains
whoooopeeeee
Glacier National Park

tomorrow
another day
another opportunity
to make healthy food choices
to not eat in my car
to eat mindfully
whoooooopeeeee

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Strange Day on the Road

lovely start
a few miles west
impulsively
took turn off
for Turtle River State Park

beautiful, quiet place
nobody there
no campers

soft morning light
on the rushes
surrounding a little lake
flocks of Canadian geese
flying low in formation
and landing
perfectly

sunning themselves
pristine

red sumac
along the road
picture perfect
didn't want to leave

talked with Park Ranger
soon they'll close the park
for the winter
only a few stragglers now
none last night

he tells me some boy scouts
are coming for the day
he'll teach them
the ecology of the place

I ask him about wind
which he says is fierce
especially in winter and spring

I ask him about wind generators
he says it's growing in the state
but not self-sustaining yet
supported by a wind-power sur-charge
on electric bills
(later I am awed
seeing a whole ridge
rimmed with white giants
turning slowly
collecting the power of wind)

oil's the thing he says
in fact if I'm headed west
which I am
he says I may not find
a place for the night

all hotels and motels
are filled by oil rig workers
and pipe line builders

I make calls at the next town
he's right
none of the less expensive places
have a vacancy

I make a reservation at a place
that's way over my budget
taking the last available room
glad for his warning
glad to know
I won't have to sleep in my car

the day drones on
a little boring
although I'm listening to
The Big Book
(Alcoholics Anonymous)
on my CD player

I am surprised how much
I learn
how much I like this book
how much sense it makes

although written in 1935
it feels very current
maybe it's because
truth is not bound by time

it holds my interest
relevant to my past as a drinker
my whole life as an overeater
and my recent recovery process

I had a bad fall today
walking around the side
of a gas station
unseen
a deep divot in the road
caught my foot
sending me reeling
and tumbling
onto the pavement

makes me think of Mom
of how often she fell
in her later years
and how each fall
cost her dearly

a little lunch
at the Frontier Cafe
and two aleeve
helped with the aches

after that
came the oil rigs
big, tall, powerful, mean-looking
oil rigs
and the more standard types
little ducks
bobbing their yellow heads

farms
farmers plowing their fields
farmers cutting and bailing
the grass
dairy cows and salt licks

and right next to them
another oil rig
or a ditch ready for pipes
to be laid

oil and farm
oil rig workers
and farmers

is there conflict
how could there not
be hard feelings

the noise
dirt
heavy trucks
the rigs dominating
the horizons
wouldn't the farmers
resent them

beauty, peace and recovery
in the morning
gradually shifting
to disrupted nature and conflict
as I traveled westward

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On the Road Again....

yep
on the road again
solitude of being

driving west
this time not on the freeway
slowing down
way down
for small towns
and farm equipment on the roads
pulling over
to view a grove of birch
white bark gleaming and
yellow leaves twittering
in the magnificent sunlight
stopping at little visitor centers
asking
is there anything I should see
in these parts

hard to say goodby
sad to leave Mom's room
blowing her kisses
her sweet little stuffed kitty
clutched firmly in her arms

my brother asked me to stay
said they'd love to have me
through the weekend
when they'd be off work
and we'd have time to play

but solitude of being
was calling me
the call stronger
than the desire
to stay longer
in the warmth
of my extended family

pausing for a moment
indecision
on the fence
stay or go

then I knew it was time
time to get in the car again
and head west

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Working the Steps

Yesterday I went to an AA meeting with my brother and sister-in-law. Half my life ago, I quit drinking, a habit compulsion that got me into a lot of trouble during my 20s and 30s; but I never went to an AA meeting, just quit cold turkey one day. Surprisingly it wasn't very difficult to quit. Guess I'd had my fill of the repercussions of excess alcohol, plus I had my real addiction, food, still firmly in place. Good, reliable food, easy to hide, perfectly legal and socially acceptable.

Yet, for others it's clear that alcohol is their primary addiction and for them maintaining sobriety must be a huge challenge. My brother, bless his heart, has been clean and sober for 17 years. And at yesterday's meeting my SIL was awarded her 16-year sobriety pin. Everyone there spoke very highly of her, saying how much they admire and are inspired by her honesty. How great it was to be there, filled with respect for both of them!

Once a person has been sober for a while, feeling whole and sane again, not gripped by the need to drink, their life back on track, it must be easy to slip out of the program. Yesterday's meeting, however, was filled with long-time-sober folks who are working the steps, dealing with character issues that lead them into alcohol addiction, issues that still affect their lives and are always a threat to sobriety. The meeting topic was Step 6, We're entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Ten thoughts I had while listening to others talk:
  1. Defects of character sounds so horrible, yet I know I have them and can name a number of them.
  2. Listing my defects of character happens in step 4, which is where I am at the moment in the OA program .
  3. How can God remove them? Why would God remove them?
  4. Would I be a genuine, whole person without them?
  5. I want to fix it myself. I want to identify and then remove my character defects all by myself, no help needed, thank you. I can do this. I think I can, I think I can.
  6. But I couldn't stop overeating by myself. That is a fact, proven over and over.
  7. I'd be more accepting of step 6 if it were worded differently, if it said, We're entirely ready to have God help us remove all these defects of character, leaving us somewhat in control of our own destiny.
  8. To turn it all over to God? Well, that's a concept I resist.
  9. Not there yet, I'm only working step 4. Maybe by the time I get to step 6, the concept will have grown on me.
  10. My will be done/Thy will be done.... that is the conflict.
What came to me in the meeting as a certainty is that following a food plan and remaining abstinent from my binge foods is just the tip of the ice berg. Yes, I feel much more sane. Yes, I feel more peaceful and less resentful since I began working the program six months ago. Yes, I've lost weight, am more healthy and more fit. Yes, yes, yes!

Yet, like the alcoholic, my underlying character, my unresolved issues, my lack of faith threaten to undermine progress and send me back to food for solace. I accept the challenge, with a nod to my brother, SIL and other participants in yesterday's meeting, of working the AA/OA steps as best I can, with the realization pointed out by my SIL yesterday that I can work the same steps over and over, each time learning something new, each time finding new levels of peace.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Traveler's Food Choices

a traveler's food choices
often in restaurants
and in my case
in family homes
are certainly more challenging
than when safely in one's own home

yesterday I picked up rolls
at a scrumptious bakery
as my contribution to dinner

samples
omg! samples!
long one of my greatest downfalls
some sort of cinnamon-swirl goodie
and something with frosting and nuts

didn't think
forgot about my food plan
entirely
I'll try a sample of that one, I said

carried it to my car
along with the rolls I purchased
seat-belted myself
and took a big chomp
ooooops, this is sweet
ooooops, frosting
ooooops, this thing isn't a bread sample
shall I finish eating it?

I'm in my car eating it
knowing it's technically an abstinence food
knowing I don't eat in my car anymore
knowing I'm eating between meals
which also I don't do anymore

did I spit it out? no
did I throw the other two bites out? no
did I eat them
even though I knew it was
in violation of both my
food plan and abstinence list?
yes

I'm sorry to say, mea culpa

what now?
shall I start my abstinence count again
yes, I suppose so
I don't want to start again
loving and being attached
to the number 90
today's number
I really resist
setting the counter
back to zero
but I will
because that's the truth
and the way it works best
is to stick with the truth

I forgive myself
for yesterday's mistake
wrapping the truth of it
around my neck
like a beautiful scarf
and move along the path
of today's food choices
armed this time
with greater awareness
and a stronger commitment
to feel my feelings
first
before reaching for samples
or whatever is offered

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Accepting

after avoiding
after dawdling and washing my car
after stopping at the grocery store
after gathering my courage
I finally climbed the stairs
to the second floor of the nursing home
and crept down the hall to room 240
where my mother lives

how could I have thought for even a moment
that seeing her would be difficult

oh joy and smiles and tears
as we embrace for a long time
me rubbing her thin-fleshed back
and murmuring
mmmmmmm, oh mama, mama, mmmmm
her kissing my cheek
and repeating my name over and over
accepting
accepting each other's love

because she is 100% deaf
we use a dry-erase board
to communicate
I'd been afraid that she might not
be able to comprehend written sentences
at this time
but she does
even long, complex sentences

so we talk that way
me giving her news
about my sister and brothers
about my husband
about Yellowstone

she telling me her news...
seems she's been appointed
along with nine other scholars
to a special committee
of the Geneva Conference

ten scholars given the difficult task
to solve a problem of arithmetic
one that's never previously been solved...
the square root of seven

she, being the chairman of the committee,
has been very busy, she tells me
but she's happy and proud to say
that after several weeks
they have managed to solve the problem
and now the conference leaders
being satisfied with their work
have given her committee a new task

she apologizes in advance
saying she might have to attend
a meeting or two while I'm here
although they never meet for too many hours
I tell her how proud I am of her
and that it's OK about the meetings

this morning before I go to her again
(this time with warm anticipation)
I'm pondering her vivid fantasy life
and thinking about how getting old
might have some advantages after all

and Terri is so right
I am fortunate and blessed
to have her hands to hold
these many years
and still some time to come

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Avoiding

arrived in Minnesota yesterday
after seeing some "new lakes"
along the way
resulting from torrential rains
guess it's much worse
in the southern part of the state

settled into guest bedroom
in my brother's house
feels good to be here
using his wife's laptop
taking a walk with them this morning
enjoying a sense of quiet
knowing I don't have to drive
for 400+ miles today

yet at the same time feeling anxious
avoiding going to the nursing home
to see Mom, who is nearly 94
family tell me she's a lot more confused
than the last time I was here
yet physically stronger
they warn me about
how difficult it is
to communicate with her

I am avoiding it
reading blogs
writing this blog
thinking about washing my car
thinking it's her lunchtime now
thinking she'll probably have a nap
after lunch

feeling my feeling
fear
fear of impending loneliness
sad
sad to see her decline
longing
longing to connect with her

I will hold her hands
massage them with lotion
gently reminding us both
of how much I love her

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Graced by Bison - Solo Road Trip Report #2

414 miles today
Billings Montana to
Bismark North Dakota
freeway semi-empty
except for when passing
two cities of size

eastern Montana
seems hard hit economically

highlight of the day
was not lunch
at the half-way point
200 miles east of Billings
I veered off the freeway
into a small town
and drove around hoping to find
for a cozy-looking cafe

lady in the grocery store
told me to go to CCs cafe
and gave me directions to get there
oh, delight, I thought
home-cooking
regional delicacies maybe

waitress recommends
roast turkey with all the goodies
said people drive there from all around
to have turkey on Sundays
ok... I'll try it, says I

should have had
cottage cheese and an apple
from my cooler...

stringy, dry, over-cooked turkey
string beans out of a can
mushy, way over-salted dressing
white air bun
barely tolerable salad bar
with wilted lettuce
I passed on cherry cheesecake
for dessert

oh well... the waitress was nice
I gave her a really big tip

highlights of the day
were the lovely rock outcroppings
along the rolling hills
of eastern Montana
blazing sunshine
and stopping at a rest area
with a herd of bison
grazing right there

nursing baby bison
and big-headed bulls
yikes they're intimidating
needless to say
I stayed in the car
to take pictures
but was so close
I could hear them breathe
and chew the grass
could smell their musk
could look them in the eyes
what a thrill

***

Thanks for comments... I feel like you're with me in a way and that's a blessing!