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
to have finished a few things

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

teaching a child to bead today
her focus
amazing for an 8 year old
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

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

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
he can be so off the wall
with his humor
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!