Saturday, December 10, 2011

Food Myths

At our OA meeting today, I started thinking about the myths I hold to be true about food. I call them myths, because that's mostly what they are, although there may be partial or occasional truth involved with some of them. Here are the myths:
  1. I'm a busy, active person. Therefore, I need to eat a lot of food.
  2. I need a lot of protein.
  3. If it's mealtime, I should eat... even when I'm not hungry.
  4. I should always eat when I'm hungry, having at least a snack if it's not mealtime.
  5. If one helping tastes good and satisfies me, more will be even better.
  6. Carbs and sweets will make me feel better.
  7. Carbs and sweets will alleviate boredom.
  8. Getting together with friends should always involve eating.
  9. When company comes, I need to feed them well, or they will think I'm a terrible hostess.
  10. I deserve food treats.
  11. I am entitled to food treats as rewards.
  12. Thin people don't eat enough; they are unhealthy.
  13. A little bit of food won't hurt me.
  14. I show my love for people, by feeding them.
  15. I give myself love when I feed myself.
  16. It's natural to want to eat
  17. I can't stop myself from eating too much.
  18. I can eat too much of _____ right now and not ever do it again.
  19. I'm tall and big; therefore my body need a lot of fuel.
  20. On the days I walk for an hour, I deserve and need extra food.

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Gratitude for today:  walking with Gayle, my new computer, Robert's wacky (make me giggle) sense of humor, improved water filter, Great Courses, my hands

Saturday, December 3, 2011

If Food Isn't the Answer, What Is?????

Because of the wise practice of one of my fellow OA members, I've started meeting myself in the kitchen at those times when I find myself there searching the shelves. As soon as I become aware of myself standing there (sometimes I haven't a clue how I got there....), I mention to myself, "The answer isn't here."

Sometimes I reply to myself, "Who cares, I'm going to eat chips, peanut butter or whatever anyway!" Other times I reply, "Yeah, you're right. Guess I'll make some tea. Or, guess I'll go back to work." I like the practice. It's working.

Today, though, I got to thinking, "OK, so the answer isn't here, then where is it?" I'm going to modify the practice a bit to include this question. Just for fun, I think I'll try to answer it for a couple of senarios.

I'm in the kitchen. I realize the answer isn't there. I ask, "the answer to what?"

1. Boredom. That's a biggie. I've always sought food when I'm bored. So where is the answer to boredom? Here are some possibilities:
--->change - do something different, something new perhaps
--->service - do something for somebody else, my husband perhaps
--->fresh air - go for a walk, play in the garden, sit on the deck

2. Fear. Yup, that's another biggie. Been wrestling with that one a lot lately, especially about installing and learning my new computer and operating system. So where is the answer to fear if it's not on the kitchen shelves? Here are some possibilities:
--->ask for help - this worked with the computer; I asked my husband
--->just do it - do it anyway; ramrod right over the fear
--->baby steps - do the thing I do know or do understand; forget the big picture

3. Being stuck. This doesn't happen so often. But sometimes I'm waiting on information from somebody before I can do something else. I get stuck. This one is similar to boredom. So there I am in the kitchen a little resentful for having to wait for whatever it is, with time on my hands to kill. So where is the answer to being stuck? Here are some possibilities:
--->keep a list - a daily to do list that includes things which only take a few minutes to do
--->meditate - use the waiting time to meditate
--->write a post - ha ha, that's what I'm doing right now! Waiting for a phone call.

OK, well that's enough for now. I'll see how this works and if I can expand the list. The steps are:
  1. I'm in the kitchen and it's not meal time
  2. I remind myself, "The answer isn't here."
  3. I ask myself, "The answer to WHAT isn't here?"
  4. I recognize the need or feeling or mood and name it.
  5. I ask myself, "OK, then, where might the answer be?"
It's a plan, Sam!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ah-ha Topic >>>>>>> Changed Me

The OA topic was "suffering"... how suffering is a habit, how suffering is something we get really good at doing.

Suddenly the previous week flowed through my mind. Suffering was the flagship of the entire week, especially how I suffered (and was bored, tired, driven to binge on chips, sleepless, etc.) working on photographs for the book. When anybody asked me about the book, all I could say is how hard I work, how many long hours I struggle at the computer working in Photoshop, how little money I'm earning doing this book, how I have to sacrifice things I love to do (like read and write blogs). Poor me, I suffer so greatly.

Sitting in the meeting, my mind reached into a little lie I told my husband in the name of suffering. I told him I'd spent 4 hours working on just 1 picture in Photoshop and that I had 7 more pictures to go. Poor me. Poor me. Here's the truth, as far as I can recall: I had actually finished 3 pictures in 4 hours and played a couple of games of Spider solitaire as well. I only had 4 more pictures to go. Why lie? Upping the pity-pot quotient, I guess. Habit. Suffering. I'm good at it. I've been good at it, practicing it daily, for as long as I can remember.

No more. Baby steps toward choosing not to suffer, choosing to tell the truth, choosing to speak about the positive rather than the negative. Not that things aren't hard sometimes. So this week, when people have asked me about the book, I've told the truth, especially I've named the things that are working well.

Want to know the truth? I'm ahead of schedule for my 2nd submission. Recently I read through everything that's finished and honestly find it to be pretty amazing! It could actually become a timless classic, THE reference and inspiration book about beads and beading! That's my new truth, and I'm stickin' to it!

I'm also watching and listening to everything that comes out of my mouth... I try to notice any little exaggeration and to correct myself right on the spot.... with an apologetic... oops, I kinda overstated that.

This is a good change.... a relief to speak the truth... a relief to hear myself name the good things rather than the difficult things, to let go of suffering. And, I'm not Pollyanna. To put it in sportsman terms, I'll say I caught a fish (suffering), but the size of the fish will be realistic rather than drastically exaggerated. This is a very good change!

* * * * * * * *
And another good change... In my suffering state about the book, I started to eat a lot of chips... Chips every day and lots of them, stuffing in mouthful after mouthful... standing in the kitchen mindlessly munching on chips. Am I exaggerating? Hmmm... Well, maybe a little. But yes, I did eat a lot of chips.

From time to time, a little OA voice would tug on my sleeve and murmur, "you're binging." I ignored it until the day I decided to stop suffering. At that same time, the warning about binging struck me as truth. Abstinence is the OA answer to binging. And abstinent I have been since that day. No more chips. Yay! I'm feeling better about everything. Binging makes me feel crazy. I knew I was close to the brink of no return about eating. I've known it for several months. But now, it's OK again. Whew!

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Gratitude for the day: OA for sure, opportunities, rain, Robert, my family, Liz, Hollie, Lunnette, Christy, Christi, Mom memories.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Calling on the Serenity Prayer for Help

Horrible time with my husband last evening. I understand that he is feeling abandoned by me as I work so many hours on the book. It comes out as resentment and blame. It involves not only the book but also my family coming here next week, my attention already focused on them and what I can do to make it a good time for them. As the resentment bubble builds, it gets directed at me as anger and blame.

Let me be clear. I am not an angel. I am not blameless. I do enjoy (most of the time) working on the book. I do get engrossed in it to the point of ignoring him. I do emotionally distance him, put him on the back burner, when my attentions are directed toward my family. Maybe I do put them first. Maybe I do care more about doing what I can to make them happy than I do about making my husband happy, at least when they are here. Maybe that is harder on him than I realize or admit.

Calling on the serenity prayer for help: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change,
  1. I can not change that I signed a contract and made a commitment to honor book deadlines.
  2. I can not change my husband's emotions or fix his black hole.
  3. I can not reverse the plans for my family to come here.
  4. I can not make my husband be helpful and supportive toward me in the way I need or want.
the courage to change the things I can,
  1. I can open my heart toward my husband's underlying abandonment issues with compassion and understanding.
  2. I can change my expectations of both myself and him and not expect myself to meet all of his needs or him to meet mine.
  3. I can work on my own anger, blame and resentments.
  4. I can honor and protect the fearful spirit within me, nurturing myself with understanding and compassion.
  5. I change how much I expect myself to solve (control) these issues, and turn it all over, instead, to my higher power.
and the wisdom to know the difference.
  1. Yes, the wisdom to know the difference. That's a tricky one. Obviously from the above, I think I know the difference. But do I? I am filled with doubts at the moment.
I am also filled with gratitude... gratitude for OA, the people in my OA group (the group "conscious" as one member calls it), for Julie, Loretta, PJ, Anne H, Sweetpea, Coral-Seas, DB, Robbie, Dees, Karen, Carol, Lois, and Peggy - who read these ramblings and give their time to write supportive and caring comments - and for my walking partner. Without them, I am well aware that I'd be binging like crazy, gaining several pounds a week, dealing with these hardships by driving to town a couple of times a day to buy cake, cookies, ice cream and the like, hiding in my car and eating without pleasure, the binge voices ever hollering at me for more. What a blessing to be writing around the serenity prayer instead! Now there's a gratitude thing!
Been in a slump for a while. Have doubts about my ability to do justice to the book I'm currently writing. Wanting it to be really good and really comprehensive, but not quite knowing how to pull it all together. Sometimes it's overwhelming. Sometimes I get bored with it, especially with working on the images, the step-out pictures, in Photoshop. To say it's tedious work is a terrible understatement. My photographic skills and my equipment aren't really up to the job, so I have to spend hours (no exaggeration) working on each photo in Photoshop and still they're not as good as I'd like. Sounds like a gripe. Is a gripe!

Had an accident with my motorcycle a week ago. Damaged my spirits as well as my bike and my foot. Lucky I'm not in a cast though. Spirit damage just adds to the book anxiety.

Then there's my family... three brothers and their wives, sister, 2 nieces, 2 nephews and possibly 1 grandnephew... arriving here next week to scatter Mom's and Dad's ashes. We're not the closest family in many ways, emotionally as well as geographically. I'm nervous about how it will go. My house is a mess... haven't really cleaned, except for the quickest necessities, since I started the book on July 1st. Have never hired a house cleaner, but do have somebody coming on Friday. Expensive, but a blessing, I think. Food, transportation, sleep... all issues. Think I was crazy when I suggested we do it here. Akkkk. Didn't know then that I'd be in the middle of book deadlines now. I guess the cup-half-full news is: I'll get a 1-week break from working on the book. The cup-half-empty news is: I'll have one less week to get everything done for the next deadline.

Obviously, there are some food challenges ahead. I've decided to write a few sentences when I find myself in the kitchen, opening cupboard doors and looking in the refrigerator. OK, so I can eat. But before I do, I will write a couple of sentences in a little kitchen notebook. Maybe I'll choose not to eat after I write. We'll see. It's an experiment.

As I well know, one tool to help me to not overeat and to feel better is gratitude. The earlier paragraphs sound like the cup is more than half empty. So here's my list for today... 10 Things
I'm Grateful For:
  1. kindness, people who are kind to me, especially my women friends
  2. the two people who fought McDonald's in the libel suit and the great documentary movie made about it (McLibel)
  3. everyone in my OA group
  4. women who make spirit-based art, quilts, etc.
  5. our garden
  6. our firewood supply and my husband for doing the work
  7. Julie, Jennifer and Karen (my sisters-in-law)
  8. Janet and her contribution toward sun bear rescue efforts
  9. Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker
  10. Captain Jack
  11. One year+ of abstinence from my binge foods... a huge blessing!
Do I feel better? Perhaps, a little. Time to get some sleep. Good night, world.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Birthday Girl Missing Mom

Woke up sad today... and a little cross... even though I had a good night's sleep and it's my birthday... even though plans for the day looked like fun. The first fun thing on the agenda was to meet Christy in town for lunch. I hadn't seen her, at least not to have much of a conversation, for quite a while, so was really looking forward to it.

Driving into town the sadness got very heavy, almost to the point of tears. And suddenly I knew what it was about... missing my Mom. For all but the last two of my 69 birthdays, she's told me she loves me in a card and/or in person and/or on the phone. Even though the last two years she wasn't able to remember or if she was she couldn't find a way to send a card, at least she was there, across the miles in Minnesota, loving me.

Being sad isn't a bad thing, or at least wasn't today. I miss my Mom, and especially I missed her today. That's just the way it is. I accept it. Christy is a mother (and a good one!) and she's warm toward me, almost like a mother. When I met her and she hugged me, I felt good again... and loved, not exactly like Mom loved me, but in a good way. We had a great catch-up talk, delicious food, and I drove home no longer feeling sad.

The rest of the day was fun too. My husband and I took my car and his little pick up truck to the car wash, the do-it-yourself type, for a double bath (it's been a while!) Then we came home and waxed them, by hand. Yikes... my arms got a super work out! I grilled NY steaks and made massaged kale salad for dinner. YUM!!!

For two days, yesterday and today, I have not eaten my way through the day. Three meals each day. No snacks, no after dinner munching. It's true also that I haven't written any new pages for the book. But I was able to work on photos in Photoshop, which is actually more time consuming than writing. It's also quite tedious, so to do it without snacks is an accomplishment.

Tomorrow is another day, I'll try for three and I'll try for at least some writing.

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Gratitude for today: Pretty good health for a 69 year old, Liz and Christy, LL, my Mom, dance, music, purring cat by my side when I go to sleep

Monday, September 19, 2011

Urge to Eat is on Me... Right NOW!

Time out from book work for Peaceful Bird to have a chat with self in Words Paint.... Been working all morning on the book. Not writing. Haven't tried that yet. But have been working with the project pictures in Photoshop. It's tedious work. Not very creative. I take a dark picture, work levels and brightness until the subject matter looks good. Then I fix blemishes, mostly with the rubber stamp. Next, I fix the dark corners that my sweet little camera always has when doing macro photography. Then comes the hard, woefully time-consuming, and boring part... I add a layer and use it to get rid of the background, so the subject (beads) are on a perfectly white background, yet have sharp edges. Sometimes the process takes 3 or more hours for one photo. Who knew I was signing up for this when I took on the book?

I hear the resentment and entitlement in my own voice. Yep. Resenting the time it takes to do this work. Resenting the boredom I feel while I'm doing it. Resentment begets feelings of entitlement and feelings of entitlement send me right to the kitchen... If I have to do this then I should get that (that being food, of course). Let's examine the wisdom of allowing resentment into this otherwise productive day...

What if I choose to look at gratitude instead? What if I make a gratitude list surrounding my work so far this morning? OK, here we go again... 10 Things for which I feel gratitude regarding my work this morning:
  1. I've been able to figure out how to use Photoshop to fix photos.
  2. My fingers, particularly right-index finger, are not aching today (arthritis in hiding).
  3. The pictures look really good when I finish them.
  4. I had a nice break and took a walk up the hill to the mail box.
  5. Robert rubbed my shoulders for a few moments.
  6. My back isn't hurting too much today.
  7. In a couple more hours, I'll get to check one series of step-out photos off my list!
  8. Good sleep last night. Feeling rested today.
  9. Coffee tastes good. Enjoyed my morning coffee.
  10. Computer is working well today.
OK, well that feels better. I don't feel quite so resentful now. Good idea to come here and write. Maybe I won't have to visit the kitchen after all. Ha!

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Gratitude for today: 10 Things Lists, my friend Liz (who started me making 10 Things Lists), sunshine, crisp fall air, all flowers, driftwood, support of readers of WP.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


My priorities are unbalanced or a little off-kilter. Right now it seems I'd rather eat than be healthy. Many self-care things have slipped away since I've been working on the book. I exercise less and I eat more. Some part of me still believes that comfort lies in food and that if I'm working hard on something, I don't need to make time to walk or do my toning exercises. What part is that?

The entitlement part? The part that says: If I am burdened in any way, I deserve to eat. Does it help? NO! Does it make me feel better? NO! Does it get the work done. NO! (I didn't want to write "no" there, because eating seems so forever linked to good and productive writing for me). But, truthfully, the answer has to be no. I don't even test it.

Could I test the hypotheses? Could I for JUST ONE DAY eat according to my food plan (3 sensible meals, no seconds, no snacks) and see if I accomplish any good writing? Could I just do that much? Could I make that a priority? Yes, I certainly could. But will I? What if I say, Yes, I will do that. I will do it tomorrow. What if I say, I will write a report about how it went tomorrow night. Nothing but entitlement to stop me. One of our other OA members says, I can do anything for one day. Surely if that person can, I can too. Can vs. will. Can and will. OK, it's a deal then. I will conduct this experiment for one day. Maybe it will be a myth-buster. Maybe I don't need food to write. Maybe I do. Tomorrow is the test day.

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Today's gratitude: Leah, my fabulous Sony Cyber-shot camera (again), ripe cherry tomatoes (again), everybody who gave support and comments about the situation with my husband (which is much improved right now), pansies, drizzle as an occasion to get out the flannel shirts for fall.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Writing and Eating

Been writing and eating all day. Many calories. No binge foods. Not the foods that make me feel crazy because of my binging behaviors. Just a little too much of everything and too many snacks and high calorie foods, like pizza.

Writing goes with eating. Always has for me. The tougher the writing task, the more it "helps" to eat. Food in... words out. Seems to work. Today I got the instructions for two projects wrapped up. That's good progress on two rather difficult projects. Bad news is jeans feel really tight. I do not want to go back up a size. If I keep eating and writing, there won't be a choice.

I must keep writing... 35 projects yet to go.

Therefore, the eating needs to change. I can not seem to control it. Duh! Why can't I accept that, like I've accepted it with my binge foods? Forget the word "seem." I flat out can not control it. So, help me, I can not.

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Gratitude for today: green frog sighting in the garden, delicious vegetable dish for dinner (all from garden!), beads

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Down, Up, Down

First, I have to say how surprised and grateful I am to be receiving comments, especially such helpful and supportive ones, when I'm not even visiting other blogs right now. The comments to yesterday's post gave me lots to ponder, especially the reminder that under resentments there is usually fear.

So I've been thinking about that. What are the fears, and under them, what is my deepest fear? How can my husband's displeasure with me have such a profound affect on me? I balk at writing anything.... afraid to look at it or honestly not knowing what it is? OK, what MIGHT it be. Ten things I might be afraid of when I feel resentment and anger toward my husband:
  1. I am in prison, controlled by a somewhat benevolent jailor.
  2. I am incapable of pleasing him.
  3. If he is not pleased with me, then I am not OK as a person.
  4. I do not perceive he cares about me; therefore I am not worthy of kindness.
  5. I do not perceive he respects me; therefore I am not worthy of respect.
  6. I made a mistake when I hooked up with this man.
  7. I am not capable of maintaining a healthy marriage.
  8. I am not free; I am under his control.
  9. I don't know how to maintain boundaries.
  10. I don't know how to get what I need and want in this marriage.
That's a pretty serious list of fears. Now what? There are probably more fears involved and possibly the fear that's under the list is something to do with being abandoned. Maybe it's that if I took myself out of jail by setting and maintaining boundaries, he would abandon me. I'm confused by this thought, because it seems he's already, long ago, abandoned me emotionally, maybe never was there emotionally, never was really interested in me as a person, except in what I can do for him. That's how it feels. Maybe it's not true. I don't really know anything right now, except that I feel scared, resentful, angry, hurt and forsaken in this time of need.

The oddest thing of all is that he'd probably say the same thing about me... that I abandon him and forsake him in his time of need.

Well, no light bulbs tonight. That's the way it goes sometimes...

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Gratitude for the day: some decent book progress today, lunch with a friend, women friends in general, writing, amazing digital cameras (little things that don't cost much and take really good pictures)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Resentments and Blame

I just tried to call one of the members in my OA group about this topic. Since I got an answering machine, I'm going to try to write about it a bit, maybe have a conversation with myself about it until such time as I can talk with a friendly, sober, clean individual.

Resentment... mine... toward my husband who is angry with me, resentful of the book, and blaming me for his unhappiness. He's not speaking to me since last evening. But he left me a note. Here's one thing it says: "Right now it seems like my part in your life is more of a distraction than a pleasure, and for that it's too bad "the book" has to be so all consuming, especially this month, and in the time we could have had before the October show. It's wearing me out feeling that disconnect with you... " So, he's resentful of me and the book, and I'm resentful that he's resentful. What a viscous circle.

The resentment builds when I think of some of my guest artists whose husbands help them with great enthusiasm and evident pride for their part in the book. This level of support is something I've never had from my husband. My work, whatever it is, just seems to get in the way of whatever it is he wants from me. Resentment. Yep, it's at a pretty high level right now.

Now thinking about OA and the spiritual foundation of the program and about how addiction is fueled by resentments. About clearing resentments away. I've never especially thought of myself as a resentful person previously. I let go of things pretty easily and I prefer the state of peace to the state of anger or resentment.

Because that's the way I am, Peaceful bird, I wrote my husband a reply saying I was sorry and had not anticipated the book and the deadlines would be so tough on us. I asked what he would like from me this month. I told him how much I appreciate his support so far with it (and by that I actually mean that he hasn't thrown any hissy fits about it until yesterday). He's still not talking to me.

More resentment. Thoughts of divorce. Angry and resentful thoughts toward him. Not good for book progress. Not good for me. Not good for getting a good night's sleep. Not good for him and not good for me. But how to end it? That I don't really know. Beyond eating humble pie, which is what I generally do (and have already done) to end these wars, what can I do to dump my own resentments????

Gratitude, maybe a little. But I'm in no mood for gratitude. Act as if... Hmmm... Yes, that's good wisdom. Act as if his resentments don't hurt me. Act as if he's fully supportive of me working on the book. Act as if our relationship is healthy and we are connected. Act as if I felt sure of his love for me. Act as if my love for him is as full and rich as ever it was. Act as if everything is OK. Act as if I can hear his blame and sarcasm and resentment and not take it personally, as if I can understand it and accept it as who he is right now and as the only way he knows to strike out at a world that doesn't seem to need or want him. Act as if my resentments drained away, leaving compassion and understanding and respect in their place. Maybe.... there's a little glimmer here now....

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Gratitude for today: raspberries, Lunnette, blogging, my parents, early writing mentors, comfortable shoes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Need to Write the Journey

Been a month nearly since Peaceful Bird wrote anything here in the land of Words Paint. That's too long.

I've been writing lots of words... my first book submission on Sept. 1 was about 16,000 of them, plus 118 images, about the same number of 3D objects, an art log and a contact sheet for all the images. These words are fun to write and challenging in a good way. But they are words about beads, words that come from the mind mostly... a little from the heart and soul, I guess, but mostly the intellect... orderly, sane, comprehensive, in the style required by the publisher.

These are not the words of a food addict, someone who overeats and binges. That part of me goes underground while I'm writing the book. In our OA meeting last Saturday, I suggested the topic of "Relapse." Although I'm not yet eating any of my binge foods, remaining totally abstinent on them, I feel dangerously close to the edge of that old binge insanity. I have been overeating and snacking... gaining at least a few pounds by the feel of my jeans and loosing self esteem with every extra bite. I said that at the OA meeting.

A few of the members who've been around the block for many years had some good wisdom to offer. One talked about the OA tools available to us and named them. When I heard the word "write" I knew instantly that Words Paint could help me step away from the edge. So here I am, writing my little heart out. My plan is to write as often as possible, but not to participate in the blog world right now, not until my second and third (final) submissions are finished. But, write I must.

Another tool for me has been gratitude. When I feel gratitude, it takes over my being, warms me, takes away the desire to feed myself with foods. So part two of my new plan is to list my gratitude at the end of each post.

That's all for now. I'm making a commitment to writing and gratitude....

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Today's gratitude list: little green tree frogs, our garden, fresh vegetables, my husband, Lisa, Christi and Liz, Beethoven, opportunities, challenges, members of the local OA group, nippy fall mornings

Friday, August 19, 2011

Can't Sleep...

It's getting on toward 3 AM and I'm having one of those "can't sleep" events. Since two readers have written to ask how I'm doing, a very caring and sweet thing to do, I decided to put a productive spin on not being able to sleep and write a post.

Yikes, you'd think I'd be all written out... words and words and words. Days when I'm on a roll; days when I balk and don't like anything I write. Days when I almost believe it's possible to pull off writing this book, days when the pathway toward the definitive book about beading seems within my reach, and days when I want to run away, disappear, hide under my bed. Up and down I go...

On the down days I want to eat for solace. On the up days I want to eat to celebrate. I don't weigh, so I don't know the damage I've been doing yet. But my jeans are getting tight. Not a good sign. Don't think they shrink in the night on the chair by my bed. The good news is I haven't eaten any of my binge foods. It's actually REALLY good news, because even though I'm snacking and gaining a little, I don't feel crazy. I don't have the food monster constantly bugging me about chocolate or cookies. I'm still going to OA meetings, still eating mostly healthy foods... just too many of them, too often.

Sounds like a rationalization for compulsive overeating. Yes, I admit, some of my snacking is compulsive. And yes, I admit, I am overeating... having larger helpings than I need, eating until I feel uncomfortable sometimes. Maybe I don't have to do that. Maybe the force for balance and harmony will help me to regain mine and not let the book stress take it away from me.

Five more months to complete the book. Sounds like a lot of time, but it's not when you consider that I not only have to write but also design and make about 30 projects, taking step-by-step photos as I go along. And Photoshop. Eeeegad that can take a lot of time. Now I'm griping and trying to justify overeating... Stop it, PB!

Maybe everything will be is fine, falling into place and getting done. Maybe I'll look back on these months and think, "Yeah, the pregnancy was awful, but the baby sure is cute!" Let's vote for that!

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Gratitude for today: friends who care, opportunities, friends who are helping me, friends in general, our garden, abstinence (322 days as of today).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book = Stress = Graze

THE BOOK is taking all of my time. I'm stressed to the max about every part of it... the contract, the deadlines, the enormity of it and of how much I have to learn before I can write certain parts of it. Akkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. There aren't enough k's in the universe to spell the Akkkkkkkkkkkkkkk I'm feeling these days.

I'm still abstinent. Solidly!

But the grazing is bugging me. Every time I have to go near the kitchen, which is often because it's the pathway to the only bathroom in our odd little house, I stop and check all the food places... the shelves, the cupboards, the counter and the refrigerator.

Sometimes I tell myself, "I don't overeat anymore. I'm getting out of here."

Sometimes I tell myself, "This is rotten. I need something. I need peanut butter on a cracker" (or some such nonsense). Then I fall into the food trap, trying to soothe my jangled nerves by sending something to my belly. It doesn't work. As soon as I leave the kitchen (where I've just consumed the something standing up), the jangle is back.

The only solution that works is to get away from the computer, take a break and go walking in the woods. Then, and only then, I can forget for a few moments the millstone around my neck. Oh, it's not so bad. Periodically I have fun with it, enjoy the challenge, enjoy the process. Then I remain glued to the computer or my studio and forget all about eating. "Why can't it always be like that," she whined????????

* * * * * * * * * * *
Today's gratitude: the woods, music in the park, Mahler's first symphony. our garden, Deb Will Be Free (who gave me the nod that influenced me to write this post), beads, the guest contributors to my book, Liz (who had a birthday yesterday), our funny cat, OA meeting tomorrow morning!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Acting on vs. Reacting to...

At every OA meeting certain materials are read, the invitation, twelve steps, twelve traditions, etc. Early in my OA days, I wondered if I'd start getting bored, if repeating the same material every week was maybe a little stupid.

After more than a year, I'm the first to say, it's neither boring or stupid. In fact, nearly every meeting I hear something new in it, something significant jumps forward, making an impression.

Today it was the passage in the invitation that says (roughly paraphrased): we learn to act on the things that happen in our lives rather than react to them. I immediately thought about last night and applied those words to the situation, trying to imagine how I could have acted on rather than reacting to. Here's what happened.

Late yesterday afternoon, my husband and I went to a multi-family barn/garage sale. I'm hyper-aware right now of all my stuff and am trying to lighten my load. My husband is a hoarder and compulsive shopper. Yep, lots of stuff there for him. He kept finding one more irresistible bargain until he had what seemed to be a mountain of stuff, a whole car trunk full. My irritation grew accordingly until it was a correspondingly-sized mountain of anger, criticism, judgements and resentments.

But knowing what happens if I show him my anger, I tried as best I could to keep the lid on it. I did say that the large, multiple-holder, fake brass, candelabra he bought for $5 was ugly. Other than that, I stuffed my feelings.

Next we went out to dinner at an upscale Mexican-SW restaurant that was really busy. Chips were served immediately and we ordered. Ate the chips, all of them. They brought another basket of chips. Ate them too. Ate the dinner as well when it finally arrived. Went home stuffed, uncomfortable, reaching for the now infrequently needed Tums.

What was I doing?
  1. I was over eating.
  2. I was compulsively over eating.
  3. I was mindlessly over eating, seeking to numb myself I suppose.
  4. I was reacting to my husband buying more stuff.
  5. I was reacting to the delay in getting our food.
  6. I was reacting to stuffed anger and resentment.
This is a really good lesson or example I can use to explore what I might have done if I thought about acting on these situations. I'll take them one at a time.

A few possibilities for acting on the garage sale situation.
  1. Say the serenity prayer to myself. Pray for serenity.
  2. Think about what I can change... maybe my attitude.
  3. Think about what I can not change... maybe his habit of accumulating more stuff.
  4. Think about what I could ask him to change at this time... maybe ask him if he would put back half of the stuff.
  5. Speak about my anger, not directing it at him, but asking him if he understands that bringing more stuff to our home upsets me, even when it's nice or useful.
  6. Knowing of his tendency in advance, perhaps I could have made a bargain before we got there, an agreement that we would each get so many "tickets" (good for buying one thing per ticket), whatever we could agree on. Then maybe I could give him one of mine.
  7. Once we departed, recognizing my anger, name it, bring forward forgiveness, remember anger never solves problems, recognize that I'll probably want to eat compulsively because of it.
Baby steps. Baby steps for me, for my sanity, toward learning to act rather than react.

And the delay at the restaurant?
  1. Yikes, I don't know... how could I act rather than react? Well, first I'd have to recognize that I was reacting, that eating chips was reacting.
  2. Make a conscious effort to be mindful about each chip.
  3. Name what I'm doing... "I am compulsively eating these chips."
  4. Make a conscious effort to ask myself, "Why am I compulsively eating these chips?" And then, "Is it really helping the situation?"
There must be more and better things I can do. The point now is just that I recognize the importance of learning about and experimenting with the concept of acting on situations where I am feeling angry, resentful, fearful, etc. It's tricky and will take conscious effort, probably for quite a while.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stress and Overeating

A really big thing is happening and I observe myself dealing with the stress of it in my old ways.

I've been asked by an international publisher to author a large (300+ pages), comprehensive book about beading. It will have about 40 projects, each designed to give the reader a chance to practice specific beading techniques, each as artful and attractive as possible given that it has to be at a beginner's level. I will design the projects, write all the instructions, take most of the step-by-step photos and get it all completed by the end of the year.

Mixed emotions right from the start... happy and honored to be asked... doubtful that I can actually pull it off...frightened, but also challenged by the enormity of it... worried about my marriage if I accept the job because of the time it will take... thrilled to have an opportunity to "give back" for the joy I've had beading for the past 25 years... eager to keep my "foot" in the business by writing another book...

After talking to my husband and receiving his support (he said, Go for it!), I decided to do it. Now, while waiting for my contract, I'm working on it, writing the introductory materials, finding a few bead artists to help in the areas where I lack expertise, outlining the topics and projects. I feel nervous all the time, anxiety + excitement... not all bad, just edgy.

Food! Kitchen! Grazing in the refrigerator! Opening cupboards! What's inside? What can I eat? Oh dear, it's not mealtime. Yes, but what can I eat? Chips? Bread? Peanut butter? Apple? No I don't want that. What about crackers and cheese? Let's go out for dinner, honey! Hey, let's go out for breakfast today...

Yep. Old habits.

All my adult life, when I've had to write something difficult, I eat. Used to be M & Ms, chocolate chips, cookies, or sometimes breakfast at the restaurant, eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast. Never carrots or apples or celery. Eat and write, write and eat... Good work, lots of writing done that way.

Now what to do? At least I'm not eating any binge foods. God forbid I should do that... Yikes, I'd be wallowing in chocolate in no time at all. But, I am overeating. Too much food at meals, too many meals out, snacks. I want to find some other way to deal with the stress of writing this book.

I know... talk to my sponsor and other supporters in my OA group, drink lots of water, take time to breathe, exercise, talk to my Dr. about anti-anxiety meds... yeah, but food, ah lovely food singing its siren song...

I'm thinking about adding a second counter on the side bar, one for days in compliance with my food plan. Shall I? Dare I? OK... I will, even if I have to start the count over every single day. I'll publish this post and do it!

* * * * * * *
Thanks to the comments made on this post by Doreen and Loretta, I found a ticker to count the days I stick with my food plan (3 meals a day of anything I want to eat, no second helpings, no snacks between meals). I will be honest.

* * * * * * *
Coughing MUCH better. Seem to have 95% energy level now. Hopefully pneumonia is gone. X-ray in two weeks.

* * * * * * *
Gratitude for today: garden, neighbors and community, walking buddy, husband (especially his work today on our wood supply), opportunity, OA, blogging and bloggers.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July and Parades

Tomorrow, on the 4th, there will a huge parade through the streets of our little town. I won't be there. In fact I haven't attended the parade since 12 years ago when I rode in one of the county fire trucks driven by my volunteer fire fighter husband. We did that for 2 years.

It was fun, riding high above the crowds lining the streets, throwing candies out the windows to the kids, blasting the horn now and then. It was fun to be part of the parade and part of the fire department.

Since then I've always skipped the parade and the festivities in town. We've only once driven to where we could see the fireworks. Instead, we hole up on our property and wait for it to be over. Why?

Why? That's the question behind today's post. Seems to be something from my childhood, some anxiety or fear.

I recall enjoying community 4th of July celebrations as a youth, spending the whole day and evening at a local park, participating in three-legged races and such, eating hot dogs and ice cream, anticipating all day the culminating fireworks display. Didn't like the big-bang crackers, but super loved the cascading, color-changing sparklers. Happy memories. Whole family, big blanket spread on the ground, our little "turf," Mom and Dad on the blanket, like home base.

But for un-remembered reasons, we didn't go to the parade, which was the kick-off event to the day's fun. Maybe my brother went to it. I didn't.

So, going back in time, I recall going to at least one 4th of July parade in Sutter Creek, CA, as a child, maybe when I was 2 or 3? My biological father died in a car accident in September, five days before I turned 5. Since my memory has me atop my Daddy's shoulders, it must have been when I was 4 or less years old.

Feeling my way through the shreds of memory now... Daddy, taller than most men in the crowd, and me on his shoulders giving me a fabulous view! Yet it's possible I'm a little frightened by the size of the crowd and all the noise they are making. Do I feel insecure way up high, by myself? Did Daddy put me down? Was I engulfed by the crowd? Did Daddy let go of my hand for a moment? Did I get lost? I do not recall the specifics, but as I write these words, I feel agitated, anxious, with a sensation of wanting to graze in the kitchen, rare thoughts of my binge foods.

It seems pretty clear that not wanting to attend parades as a spectator has something to do with this incomplete memory. It's OK if I don't go to parades. Yet, I'd like to find a way to comfort and reassure my inner child about the past event.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Funny to See Evidence of an Early Start...

My earliest memories of being aware of overeating don't begin until my college years, although I was a chubby gal in 6-8th grades and felt (but didn't really look) huge in HS because of my height.

After my mom died in March, I brought home their collection of old pictures. Looking through some of them last evening turned up two tell-tale signs of an early start to compulsive overeating.

This first one was Thanksgiving dinner in 1943, making me age 1 year and 2 months. It appears to me that dinner may already have been served, but there's yours truly, still at the table, eyes fixed on the bird, intently gnawing on a turkey bone, oblivious to everything else including whoever took the picture.

Here's a closer look at my rapt little face.

And then there's this one, probably taken when I was just under two years old. Again, will you look at the frosting on this face. YUM! I'm guessing I had gotten all I could get from that beater and was telling Mom "I want the other one now."

Yep, if you want to produce a compulsive overeater, start them along the path at an early age!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Am a Compulsive Overeater

Being sick and coughing my head off for 2.5 months has tried my patience (Lord, please let me never suffer a long-term illness... I just don't do it very well). I've had no trouble remaining abstinent on my binge foods, no trouble at all with that.

However, I see that I'm still a compulsive overeater. For example, we bought TWO giant bags of brown rice/black bean chips at Costco about a weeks ago. Yummy, crisp, not entirely unhealthy... at least they have some fiber and lower fat/sodium than most chips. The first opened bag sits on the counter by our stove, the top rolled down and clipped with a close pin.

Not at mealtime, but between lunch and dinner, the "fever" hits me. I go to the kitchen and scan the shelves and the refrigerator. Eyes light on chips. Ah-ha, just what I need. Unroll the top, grab a handful, put them on the stove, close up the bag, and munch those yummy little morsels one at a time.

Ummmmm, those were good... think I need some more. Repeat steps x - y above, another handful on the stove. Close bag and munch.

Ummmmmm, those were really yummy... yep, more would be good and I do deserve them after all I've been through. Yet another handful on the stove. Close bag and munch.

Ooooops. Alarm bell goes off. This is compulsive overeating! I don't DO compulsive overeating anymore. I really don't. STOP! Hold it! No more. I quit.

Next day, same scenario... same bag of chips. Same repeating pattern. Once again the third handful awakened the realization of what I was doing.

Today? No chips. Right after scanning the shelves, the realization came. I fixed myself a cup of hot tea and departed the kitchen.... YAY!!!!

* * * * * * * * * *
Gratitude for today: Ron Mann's documentary staring Woody Harrelson called Go Further, which is entertaining, informative, fun and possibly life-changing in some ways for me and my husband. Also, modern drugs (I feel 5% better today), my husband (who suggested I stay home this evening rather than go to a vintage tall ship sailing event with him), cyber friends, and earth.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Still Raining & Coughing

Ever hear the expression, Hope springs eternal in the female breast? So it is with mine. This morning the Med Clinic called after a radiologist looked at my X-rays. Said he detected a strip of pneumonia in my left lung and wants me to begin a 10-day antibiotic prescription.

$175 visit to the pharmacy some hours later, and I'm on the treatment plan! Taking the prednisone as well. OK, chemicals, do your thing and let me move on.... back to no prescription meds... please!

No energy, maybe a tad less coughing today, not doing much, hanging in there. No energy to read much or to do any of my art projects. Maybe tomorrow, eh?

Had a little burst of energy this morning during which I cleaned the kitchen sink, counters and stove top. Badly needed and very cheering to have it done.

Have to eat full meal for breakfast so I can take the prednisone on a full tummy. Not easy for me. I generally just have coffee with milk and 9 fiber-rich crackers. Toast and eggs seemed awfully heavy this morning. Plus I ate a bit more during the day than I generally do. Regular dinner, no problems there. Tomorrow I'll try just one egg and one piece of toast. Don't want to feel like a sausage in my new jeans!

* * * * * * * * * * *
Gratitude for the day: Doctors who care, rain flowing into our cisterns, Dirt, A Movie, and people who preserve and add to the earth's dirt, sleep, dreams (even the druggy ones), privacy, sight, clean sinks, OA meeting tomorrow morning

It's Raining & I'm Still Coughing

No gripes about the rain! I love the rain and our plants, especially the trees, need it. I say "Yay, rain!"

Coughing is another matter. Went back to Clinic today (3rd time). Saw a new Doc. Very, very thorough exam this time, with chest X-rays. She took a thorough history and checked back through my records. Our last try before sending me to a specialist is to put me on a burst (5-day treatment) of prednisone. Her reasoning is that bronchial inflammation is the root of the problem.

I know there are possible side effects, even from taking a short course. We'll see what happens. If no significant improvement in 5 days, I go back. But we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

One of my OA friends said that increased appetite is a side-effect of prednisone, even in a short treatment time. I'll be aware of that, ready with water or tea. I'm crossing my fingers for this new remedy, because I'm worn out, aching, crabby and sick of it!

* * * * * *
Gratitude for today: thorough medical attention, unexpected opportunities, new challenges, rain, dance (especially So You Think You Can Dance), my husband's generosity

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Still Coughing

I'm wondering if mindfulness can help my still persistent cough. I'm so tired of hacking and hacking. It makes my whole body hurt and it worries me as I roll into month three of this business. I vacillate between thinking I should go back to my Dr. for the third time and thinking I might be getting better and should just wait it out.

There doesn't seem to be a pattern... I have coughing fits in any place at any time.

My Dr. seemed so casual the last time I saw her, unconcerned almost.

OK, so back to mindfulness. Could I just be aware of the coughing, notice it, not judge it, notice my body reacting, my muscles working to make it happen? Could I stay calm and mindful about each cough?

In my years of Tai-Chi practice, one really valuable thing I learned was how to draw the healing energy from the universe, particularly from trees, into my body through my feet and legs, and then channel it to a specific place. Could I try to revive that practice, channeling the energy toward my bronchial passageways and lungs?

The answer to all of these questions is, yes. Yes, I will draw healing energy and be mindful.

* * * * * * * *
Today's gratitude: warmth of the sun, delicious lettuces from our garden, fresh fruits, picking and eating thimble berries, Sharon getting my haircut right this time, sitting on the deck enjoying our land.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

..."Relieve Me of the Bondage of Self"....

I opened the topic for today's OA meeting by telling the group I had reached my stated goal, yet was experiencing very mixed emotions about it. In a jumbled way I mentioned these points:
  • I felt dismay at the reactions of some... My husband, for example, said "I wish I could lose some weight" and has seemed rather aloof and cold toward me since I told him.
  • I still think of myself as "fat" or "overweight." What will it take to change that?
  • What next? There's a "let-down" feeling following completion. I wonder how athletes handle it after they win, for example, a gold medal? What is my next step? What direction do I look now? Where is my next work?
  • My achievement seems small and unimportant to me, especially compared to some I know (or know of) who have lost 90, 100, 200 pounds. What does my size 10 matter in the greater scheme of things?
  • I understand that reaching my goal doesn't mean I am "cured." If I were to return to eating my binge foods, I would regress and gain all the weight back in record time. If I do not continue to practice one day at a time and yield my will to my higher power, I will be wearing size 18-20 jeans again very soon.
  • I am afraid of complacency.
Perhaps the key to the above angst lies in prayer. I'm thinking about the 3rd step prayer, especially the line "Relieve me of the bondage of self..." What does that mean? I wish I could find a discussion of this topic on line.

For me, at the moment, it has something to do with the fences, walls, ladders and labels I surround myself with. I build walls and fences around me, which may protect me emotionally in some ways and which concurrently keep me in jail, away from discovery and change. I erect ladders that must be climbed, goal setting, yet the top of any ladder is not a stable place to stand. I label myself as fat, overweight, flabby and more, words that imprison me in discomfort.

Is this what bondage of self means? If so, I would gladly be relieved of all of it and so heartily pray.

* * * * * * *
Gratitude for today: rain last night and moss newly greened as a result, members of my OA group, fresh raspberries available now, having more energy after being sick for so long.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Size 10 and Stuff

Size 10

A little over a year ago, I looked like an overstuffed sausage in my size 18 jeans. Today, I finally got my nerve readied to try on a pair of size 10 jeans. I've actually been thinking my 12s are a bit baggy for a while now. But it frightened me to try on 10s.

What if they actually fit? Would I have to accept myself the way I am? Would I have to stop thinking of myself as "still having a ways to go?" (That's what I always tell people who say I'm looking really skinny.)

Size 10 jeans and size medium tops... this has been my stated goal for a long time. What if I'm there?

Well, big news... I am! Size 10 in my style of jeans (Lee's classic straight leg) fits me perfectly. I can hardly believe it. I can not wipe the smile off my face. Daaaawgonnnne! Imagination that!

Now I have to consider the above questions. How will I think of myself? What will I say when folks say I'm lookin' good? Maybe just "Thank you!" Will this be a danger point for me in OA, a point of complacency about my food plan? Time will tell.

Me and My Stuff

Two months ago I wrote a post (here, half way down) about hoarding stuff. About that same time, I began to work on a piece of bead embroidery about me and my relationship to my stuff. Here's how it looks (click to enlarge):

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Me and My Stuff
This piece totally shocks me. It really does. I expected it to look all ugly and jumbled and messy, just as I feel about having too much stuff. Instead, it's full of life, playfulness, exuberance, fun... How can this be? From writing a poem off this piece, I learned something amazing about me and my stuff, about what it means to me and a lot about why I have so much of it. It's because I'm afraid of forgetting. I wrote about it on my art blog, here.

* * * * * * * *
Gratitude for today: car wash, size 10 jeans, long days, cool evenings, check marks on my "to do" list!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Feeling a Tad Bit Better Today

Walking really helps lift my spirits!

I was having difficulty walking because we generally walk on a dirt road and whenever cars go by they raise a great cloud of dust particles that give me quite a coughing fit. The more times it happenes, the longer the fit and the worse I feel.

We took last Friday - Sunday off, hoping it would help... and it did... a little. Monday we walked on a paved road instead. Duh, why didn't we think of that sooner? Not as pretty a walk and somewhat more difficult because of steepness of the hills. But, with no dust, it went much better. So we did the same today, with almost no coughing as we walked!

Just getting out to walk and having it not be so fitful is a big boost to my moral. Maybe this bug is finally on its way out. I hope!

* * * * *

Reflecting on 257 days of abstinence, over a year of following a pretty healthy food plan through Overeaters Anonymous and nearly 4 years of a regular walking program, I'm thinking about how it all began with an attitude change. I don't even recall what brought about the change, probably many small things that added up at the right time and place. The change was a conscious decision to respect my body.

I'll say it again: I made a conscious decision to respect my body.

Below is a bead piece I did at that time. I found the feather on one of my first walks. The rock-like objects at the bottom are fossilized turtle shell, thousands of years old... gotta respect that! (Click on the picture to enlarge it.) I wrote more about this beadwork and the start of a big change here.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Respect
I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to be more fit. I wanted to like myself. If I had respect for myself (whether real or self-imposed), wouldn't I take care of these things? That was in August, 2007. I started to walk and I joined Weight Watchers on line. The walking stuck; the diet didn't.

It took me over two years of huge yo-yo swings, dieting and gaining it all back three times, before I stumbled onto Holy Hunger, which then got me into OA, the lifeline that keeps me off the yo-yo-coaster.

Reflecting on this today, I realize that I do, finally and authentically, respect my body.

* * * * * * *

Gratitude for today: my quilting girlfriends, fresh salad greens for supper right out of our garden, my husband's to do list, feathers, beads, sleep.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cough, cough, cough

I can't seem to get well... I've been sick for a month now, plagued with constant, harsh coughing fits that make me feel like my lungs are turning inside out. I have no energy. I don't sleep well. Been on antibiotics, which did take away the fever and lifted my energy level a little bit. But still the coughing continues.

So I went back to my Dr. again last week. After testing my lung power and listening to me breathe, she said I might have bronchial inflammation. She prescribed an inhaler, which so far hasn't helped at all. It does make me feel as though I consumed 17 consecutive shots of espresso... talk about the jitters. Yikes! Doesn't translate into productive energy, however.

Am I griping. You bet I am. Coughed through my OA meeting this morning. Talking always provokes a spell of coughing, as does even the slightest physical activity, reclining.

OK, stop with the gripes.

Speaking of OA, I've been working on a series of bead embroideries that represent intersections in my life. The one shown below, is about the intersection of me with my higher power.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, High Power, detail
Writing about it on my art blog, here, helped me to clarify my thoughts and beliefs about my higher power, especially about how it comes from outside of me rather than from within me.

* * * * * * * * *
Gratitude for today: not coughing at the moment, eating fresh-organic lettuces from our garden for dinner every night, hot tea, getting back to reading and writing blogs.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Truth (?) about "Diets"

Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is not a diet or calorie club and does not endorse or recommend any particular food plan. Each participant is free to choose whatever food plan they wish and can alter the plan any time. At least that's my understanding of OA.

The key to loosing weight in OA has nothing to do with typical diet plans and everything to do with accepting individual patterns of food addiction.

For some, this doesn't seem so easy... maybe they're addicted to everything, or at least everything loaded with fat, sugar and salt. To some being abstinent on these foods would, in their addictive mind, leave nothing for them to eat and a horrible sense of denial sets in even as they contemplate the possibility of change. I know because I talked a lot about OA today with a person very, very dear to me. She can not fathom being able to survive without all the "junk foods" (my term, not hers) that constitute most of her daily intake. I'm sad to admit that nothing I said changed anything for her although she says she is miserable. I am horrified by the understanding of what her life must be like (and her life expectancy).

We did talk a little about our past experiences with diets and about how quickly we both regained every pound we lost, plus more. I told her about my husband and I watching a college course on healthy lifestyle (which I wrote about here). Last night, watching lecture #19 on fads and diets, Dr./Prof. Goodman had an interesting story about diets.

He told about going to a large bookstore and counting over 300 books with the word "Diet" in the title. "Why are there so many diet books," he asked? "Because not one of them works!" He rationed that IF one diet actually worked it would be the only book for sale. Word would get around that it works; everyone would buy that book and nobody would buy any of the other books. By this reasoning, there is no diet that works.

I just thought that was kind of funny. I guess one could just as easily conclude that they all work equally well.

Anyway trying to explain today how OA is not about a diet, trying to explain abstinence, food plan and higher power, I found myself a bit tongue-tied as I looked into the eyes of an addict, an addict who looked back at me with aversion and denial in her eyes. How far is bottom? I ask my higher power to help her and to help me help her... not to give up...

* * * * * *

Gratitude for today: rain, 238 consecutive days of abstinence, our adorable cat, that miraculously bottom for me wasn't morbid obesity and related illnesses, our local OA community

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Weighed Myself.....

Well, thanks readers for the good tips on how to feel better. Your well wishes and all must be working... maybe the antibiotics too... anyway, except for coughing spells from time to time (not so often, thank goodness), I'm feeling a lot better after three hits of the Azithromycin, which is my new, favorite antibiotic!

This morning, after a reasonable night's sleep (that means only waking myself up with a coughing fit three or four times, as opposed to every 10 minutes), I woke up thinking about things... chores, how the day might play out, a friend I had hoped to talk with on the phone last night (but didn't), normal morning thoughts.

Then, suddenly, the thought struck me to get out of bed and weigh myself.

Probably doesn't sound too weird, until you realize I haven't been on the scale but one time in over a year, since early April of 2010, after our return from a trip to the South West, where I pigged out every day. That fateful day, I weighed in at 232... not my all time high, but a jeans-squeezing, foot-busting, chipmunk-cheeks, rotundus-abundus, hate-myself, yo-y0 high nevertheless. It was still two weeks, and probably a few pounds more, before I realized I can not control my eating/binging and turned myself over to the care of a higher power and the loving community of our local OA group.

Since then, the only time I weighed was when I had my annual physical and was weighed (fully clothed with shoes) at the Doctor's office. Although I closed my eyes, the nurse said the number out loud. I think it was 187. At the time, I had mixed feelings about the number... good because it was a significant loss from when I started... not so good because I've been around 187 many times before, a number where I seem to hit the wall, often the bottom of the yo-yo drop. Therefore, I vowed to continue my no scale policy.

Until this morning. Don't know what got into me. The results? !66 (with full bladder and flannel nightgown). I was surprised. Thought it would be around 180. Feeling good about it. However, I think this will be the last scale visit for a while.

I don't like the pressure I immediately felt, the panic that the number might be low because of being sick, the fear that being this low (still overweight for my 5 ft. 8 inch frame, but no longer obese) will make me think I can go back to my old ways of eating, some other more personal fears related to the past and my attractiveness to men. No problem, fears! Just cool your jets, because we're not getting on that thing again for a loooooong time! No scale and all's well with PB!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Waiting for Antibiotics to Kick In

Six days of coughing, frequent coughing fits that made my whole chest burn, feeling like my lungs are turning inside out, sleeping only a brief time between the fits, and fever causing alternating sweats and chills, six days and finally I gave up and got my husband to drive me to the Dr. yesterday. Dr. put me on Azithromycin, which already, after just the first dose, seems to be helping to calm the symptoms, and prescribed some codeine cough syrup, which gave me 4 consecutive, blissful, cough-free hours of healing sleep last night.

Today I have zero energy, barely enough to write this post. My hands are shaking, little tremors, and my legs too. Laundry, grocery shopping, preparations for studio tour, gardening chores and much else will have to wait a little longer. But... I am a little better than yesterday and for that I'm grateful. So far, crossing my fingers, my husband seems to be holding to steady health. Dr. said I'll stop being contagious 24 hours after first dose of antibiotic, so by later this afternoon.

My husband tried to find somewhere to get some good chicken soup in town yesterday (bless him), but being unsuccessful, he bought a piece of baked chicken and a can of Progresso chicken soup, which I ate last evening, my first "meal" in several days. Akkkkk, canned soup is sooooooooooo salty! I couldn't finish it. I hope to feel well enough to grocery shop tomorrow and will make a crock pot of decent chicken soup! I should make some to put in the freezer for future health emergencies like this.

Gratitude for today: having no pressing commitments for the next week, antibiotics, the promise of seeing Lunnette and Christy a week from today, and the hope of getting back to walking soon.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ah.... Home Again!!!

One day short of two weeks since I last wrote and now all of those stressful things are behind me, leaving me, however, with a respiratory infection (fever, chills, cough, aches everywhere) that kept me in bed for two whole days. Today I'm feeling better, although I'm still coughing my lungs inside out. (Hate that!)

The next stressful thing is two weekends from now, the Artists Studio Tour (which I posted about here, on my other blog). There will be snacks and treats for our guests and there will be times when there are no customers, when I'm bored and discouraged at the temporary lack of sales. Bored and discouraged... couldn't be two more aggressive triggers for binging and overeating.

However, I'm encouraged by the past two weeks, especially teaching a two-day class where the students brought the most delicious-looking treats, set out for all to share: M&Ms, candy shop chocolates and other special candies, home-made lemon bars and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Eeeeee-yike! That was a disaster waiting to happen. But I was good, sticking to my abstinence program and touching nary a crumb. True, I was neither bored nor discouraged while teaching this lively, talented group of women... so maybe I have nothing to crow about here.

By the way, thanks to readers who supported me with these stressful, back-to-back events, and who gave me great ideas and recipes for preparation of vegetarian meals. Our guest was very pleased and so was I!


My husband and I have been viewing several of The Great Courses recently and are now about 1/3 of the way into Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at Any Age, by Professor Anthony Goodman. By the way, should anybody be interested in any of these courses, don't buy them from the website! Write or call to ask for a catalog and wait until they go on sale for 60 or 70% off.

Anyway, Prof Goodman has some excellent tips about health and change. Three that he repeats are:

  1. One Degree ~ change your course in one degree increments. Over a long period of time, even a one degree change will land you in a different place. I like this at lot. Nothing radical. For example, neither me nor my husband likes fish. So for our 13 years together, I have never cooked it for us. We recognize the need for fish oils in our diet, so we take supplements. The good Prof, doesn't recommend supplements, suggesting we get our vitamins, etc. from whole foods. Ugh... cooking fish. However, we don't need to do it every night. Just one night a week and a couple tuna salads for lunches will give us a 10 degree change. And that is significant over time!

  2. Goldilocks ~ choose the "bed" that fits you. Despite his recommendations about healthy lifestyle and foods, he suggests we always steer toward what fits us, our likes, dislikes, comfort zone. I like this too. He makes strong suggestions, but at the same time seems to understand and value that we know ourselves best.

  3. Whole Foods ~ Yep, I always knew it. But now with the Prof's persuasive language backed by scientific studies he sites, I see the whole value of whole foods. Again, just by making a shift a couple of nights a week, we can lean that way more with our diet.
So with our new vegetable garden and wisdom gleaned from Prof Goodman, I'm pretty sure my husband and I are headed toward a course change for the better with our eating!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mixed Bag o' Feelings

Some guilt remorse about not posting or reading in this realm for too many days. Like the hummingbird drawn to the newest blooming flower, I've been ghost-writing a blog for my husband. Ha. That's not the truth. I'm writing it for me; he's not the least interested in it or in doing it. He calls it identity theft. He seems to be joking when he says that, but maybe there's a grain of truth in it.

We he started a garden. Truth is, I've never liked or been interested in or been good at growing plants. Parents did and next down brother is quite the purple thumb. Not me. So when we first talked about a garden, I basically said, "Count me out." He didn't particularly like my attitude, so we discussed it in counseling and agreed that I'd contribute 10% financially and in labor.

Behold and lo... Who is out there every day looking at the plants? Who is buying the plants and seeds? Who shoveled dirt and gravel and cleaned up after the workers? Who drilled the PVC pipes for the water reservoir? Who started the new blog (Rain Barrel Garden)? Me. Go figure. This I do not understand. Garden = fun? Does not compute, but somehow it mostly is. That's why the new blog I guess.

Challenges for eating. Last Saturday I had to be one of several hosts at a big community art function with a gigantic lavish of foods and snacks. I'm so shy and uncomfortable in situations like that. Akkkk... I went with the thought that I'd be abstinent on all edibles for the three hours. Didn't make it. Ate some fruit and a few crackers with cheese. Not too bad and none of my binge foods. That's good. Felt miserable there. Couldn't find the least little comfort zone. Just white-knuckled my way through the time and departed the second it was officially over. Maybe that's just how it is for me in social situations like that. Maybe I could learn to just say "no" when asked to do stuff like that...

Challenges causing stress. Friend from college visiting us me Wed-Fri. He and I were fairly close for 4 years, but have only seen each other one time since graduating in '64. He's vegetarian; we're not. Anybody got a good, easy to fix vegetarian main dish to recommend? My husband has no interest in meeting him and is already acting pissy toward me. Oh for fun! This is the last guest I will invite to our home. It just isn't worth the worry and stress that my husband might be unpleasant and rude to the guest; plus irritated with me. Why do I always forget how it goes down, and invite someone else?

Next on the list is a slide lecture that I have to do on Saturday, meaning I'll miss my OA meeting. Right now, I have need of my OA meetings, big need. Missing Saturday is not a good thing.

Then I'm home for one day, madly preparing to teach a two-day workshop a day's drive away. I'll leave Monday for that, teach Tuesday and Wednesday, drive back on Thursday. More stress; more temptation to handle stress with food; more anxiety about my husband's attitude. He doesn't like it when I'm gone. He doesn't like it when he's not the center of my attention.

I may have been guilty of playing into that in some sort of co-dependent way for many years. But it has worn very thin lately. Even with counseling, I'm still thinking about divorce, something I promised I wouldn't do for a year... a year that we would work on our relationship. Today it doesn't feel like it's working. Today I feel sad... and mad... and hopeless... and lonely.

There it is. I just named my feelings, for whatever it's worth.

Now, is there any good news to report? Yes, there is... I've been continuing to work on my clutter problem. THAT makes me feel good. I've got several boxes and bags ready for a garage sale (or maybe I'll just take them to the thrift store), lots of bags of recycling and lots of bags of garbage. The keepers are organized. Whohoooo! Not even half way done yet, but keeping at it and seeing light at the end of the tunnel! Also I put some of my bead art for sale on my website, posted about it on my art blog and have sold all but two of the pieces. This is really a good thing and makes me feel happy, satisfied, worthwhile.

So, it's a mixed bag o' feelings today. I probably won't post again until I return from teaching. Supportive cyber hugs and anti-binge vibes are appreciated!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ten Good Things about Me

After reading my last post, coral-seas commented that she'd like me to write a list of ten good things about me. Seems like a good challenge, so guess I'll try it.

Oh, yeah, and I'll curb my instinct to be flippant or shallow about it. Ten good things about me, Peacefulbird:
  1. I tend to be a peace-maker in my family, with neighbors, among friends. I value peace over being right and try to help others see peaceful solutions and compromises when they are in conflict.
  2. I trust most people most of the time. I believe their intent is good and that that they are honest.
  3. I like most people and most animals.
  4. Although I can sometimes make harsh judgements about people, I'm open to changing my mind, willing to give them the benefit of the doubt long enough to find reasons for reversing my negative opinion.
  5. I can be trusted with secrets and rarely gossip about others.
  6. I respect differences. Different styles, tastes, appearances, opinions, histories, countries are of interest to me. I have always liked learning about and exchanging ideas with people who live differently than I do.
  7. I am a loyal friend to my inner-circle of close friends and family members.
  8. I am generous with my time and knowledge.
  9. I love to laugh and am a good foil for people who know how to be funny, like my husband and many of my friends.
  10. I am adventurous by nature, intrepid about just doing it, whatever it is.
OK! I didn't know if I could do this or not, but it wasn't as difficult as I imagined. Thanks to coral-seas for suggesting this.

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Gratitude for today: Rain filling our cisterns, beautiful beads from far away places, having what I need when I want to make something, bunnies, Julie and Lunnette (both sent me bunny cards in the mail that came today).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When I'm Stuck...

Off and on, for about 20 years, I've been writing morning pages... well, sort of like morning pages. Technically speaking, according to Julia Cameron in the Artist's Way, we need to write every day (did for a few months, rarely since then), in the morning (rarely), three full pages (often four) and in longhand (half the time on my computer). The only part I do consistently is write from my stream of consciousness, uncensored... whatever comes along gets written.

When I get stuck, I often write, "What am I blocking; what don't I want to write?" And that seems to bring forth whatever it is.

Tonight when I signed in, I realized I haven't posted here for four days. Stuck. What am I blocking; what don't I want to write? I don't want to write about failures. I don't want to write about how it feels like I'm slipping in so many areas. I don't want to write about how I get insights about how to live more mindfully, with more gratitude, with less clutter, with more honesty and above all with less overeating. I have a moment or two of compliance.

Then I slip, slop, slide down the hill into my old ways.

My sister-in-law is in a mindfulness group, learning how to eat mindfully among other things. She takes time before eating to smell her foods and to look at them with appreciation. She takes time to give thanks to every growing/living thing that contributed to her meal. She swallows every bite completely before putting more in her mouth.

What a great way to eat, eh? Yes! I remembered to eat like that only one time. I don't want to write about all the times I start a program that obviously will benefit me, then fall away from it. I don't want to write about how falling away from one thing contributes to falling away from others.

I don't want to write about how much I need to embrace imperfection. I guess there's a part of me, maybe even a big part of me, that wants to be perfect. A dear OA friend gave me a book on that subject*... maybe it will help. I seem to be in a critical, judgmental mood tonight. Antidote: list 10 things I'm grateful for...
  1. sunshine today
  2. my two quilting-beading-stitching buddies
  3. shooting star flowers
  4. all the beautiful colors and textures of moss
  5. people who work diligently, carefully and cleanly
  6. our cat
  7. people I don't even know who support my artistic process
  8. morning pages
  9. a book on embracing imperfection
  10. my husband
In case my husband is reading this, these are not in any particular order ;>)

I'm still feeling stuck and critical, but maybe a little less so.

*The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. One thing she says that makes a lot of sense to me is that "shame loves secrecy." Maybe that's part of the reason why both an AA-based program and blogging help me. I can't live in hiding, in a state of shame, so much when I blog and go to meetings.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Just ONE Little Degree...

Baby steps.
Often, a course change of just one degree is all it takes for significant results.

I'm thinking about a ship sailing from Seattle to Singapore. This ship has a compass course that it must follow. A one degree change in course would not be significant or noticeable in one hour of sailing. It might not even be noticeable in a half a day of sailing. But keep on that course for several days, and you'd be sailing toward some other destination.

In other words, very small alterations in course, over the long haul can make a significant difference. Case in point is my daily, 12-minute arm-toning routine, which I do holding socks filled with rolls of pennies. It seems almost too insignificant to count, so unimportant that it hardly matters if I do it or not. NOT true! After some months, I notice my arms are looking much less flabby, in fact, one might even say not bad for a woman my age and weight. It was only a one degree course change, yet the new destination is lookin' good!

What this proves to me is that I don't need to make huge changes in behavior, attitudes or habits. Consistency of a very minor adjustment over a period of time will result in significant progress. I like knowing this!!!

* * * * * * * * * * *
my neighbor's chickens and roosters robbing a bird feeder in her yard
Gratitude for today: my neighbor's hens and rooster, eggs, women friends, not having to wear a jacket when I walked today, two fantastic workers who are building us a garden fence and pads for our horse trough garden beds.

Jack hammering bedrock to make level pads for beds
getting the fence posts up
fence gate made and hung; leveling poured concrete for pads
four pads are poured and drying; our initials in one of them!
I added our initials using beads to one of the pads!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Gazillion Lies About Food

Still on the subject of telling lies. Thinking about some of the lies I've told about food... to people I don't know, to store clerks, to close friends, to family, to myself. Just for fun, here are a couple of them...

Lie told to a very close woman friend about 2 years ago

On my way to her house to have a pot-luck lunch with a couple of my quilting friends, I stopped at the grocery store to buy a roasted chicken. Cookies there calling me loudly. Like home-made and only $1.00 for three of the lovelies with macadamia nuts and white chocolate. So I bought a dozen. Got in my car with cookies and chicken, opened cookie bag, chowed one down. Ate another while driving. Was almost to friend's house, but wanted to eat a couple more (this was becoming an uncontrollable binge). Parked my car by the side of the road, ducked my head down, and ate cookies, one after another.

Meanwhile, my friend, driving from a work errand in town, passed my car and recognized it. With 6 remaining cookies, I arrived a few minutes later at her house. "What were you doing parked by the side of the road?" she asked. "Wasn't me." I replied. "Looked like your car," she said. "Nope, guess there are a lot of blue Honda Civics, huh." Flat out lie.

Since starting OA, I told her about that lie and apologized. Feel better about it now.

One of many lies I've told my husband about me and food

Because of having a family that has suffered greatly from alcohol abuse, my husband understands about addiction. When we met 14 years ago, long before OA, I knew I was addicted to chocolate. At times I would go abstinent on chocolate and when I met him was one of those times. We shared that we were both abstinent on alcohol and for me, also chocolate. This was a good bond for us.

A couple years later, I slipped on the chocolate. I thought I could have it just one time, at one special occasion, which of course set me off rolling down the slope of more and more chocolate, more and more binging. But I didn't tell my husband. First lie... lie of omission.

In order to maintain that lie, I had to sneak my chocolate. I had to tell many lies to hide my daily chocolate fixes. One time we were waiting for the ferry and I HAD to have a fix. Standing at the vendor, paying for a bag of M & Ms, my husband walked in, surprising me and catching me in the act. "I'm buying these for you! And they were supposed to be a surprise," I said, covering for my irritated attitude at being caught.

It's a fact...

I have a history of telling a lot of lies concerning my behavior around food, little lies and big whoppers. It makes me feel creepy when I do it; and it makes me feel creepy now to admit it, to write about it, to remember some of them.

I prefer to think of myself as a fundamentally honest person. Honesty is something our parents and teachers encouraged. Honesty is something I admire in others.

So, what's under the lies? What do they have in common? Mostly, I think, I lie to conceal behaviors for which I feel shame. I have a great deal of shame around not being normal about food, about not being able to control what and how much I eat, and around my weight, about my size and shape and at times obesity.

Shame is under the lies. What is under shame? Is it fear? I think so. Fear of not being loveable, fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of being wrong, fear of ultimate failure as a human being.

Today, I accept the fear. It is real and it is part of me. I accept.

Gratitude: shooting stars just starting to bloom, quilting friends, OA

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Little Lies

Been stuck for about 8 months. Not gaining weight, but no loss either. In OA, very aware of the 12-step recovery program, yet not getting past the 3rd step, thinking about the fourth step, but not really doing it. Maybe I'm afraid of what I'll find when I start taking an honest look at my defects of character. Maybe I'm stuck because I want to do it "right."

The exact wording of the 4th step is: 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Reading the AA "Big Book" and some OA guides, I see there are various ways to approach the inventory, all having in common that it should be written. Most suggest that we look at the problem areas in our lives and identify things we do that get us into trouble. I guess there are probably as many diverse ways to approach step 4 as there are people doing it. That's the key to getting past being stuck: just do it.

OK, so I've started writing about lies, about me telling fibs or lies.

For example, I've always lied about my weight. Never once have I told the correct weight when I've renewed my driver's license, always at least 20 pounds less than my actual weight. Never have I given my true weight when arranging a flight in a small plane. While this is probably common, especially among people who are overweight, it bothers me that I do it. It's being deceitful to myself and contributes to double shame, first that I am overweight and second that I lie about it.

Another example is telling lies to exaggerate, to make a better sounding story or to make myself seem better, more important, wiser. These are little twists of truth, starting with a kernel of truth, but get bigger and/or better than the actual truth, just a little embellishment here or there. Well, I don't like that about myself. Sometimes, hearing myself telling fibs of exaggeration, part of me wants to run away and hide from embarrassment.

A third example is telling lies to cover up mistakes, especially when I'm late or have not responded to an outside contact in a timely manner, in other words, to cover my procrastination. Some months ago, I was writing a delayed response to an email. A fib started rolling out about why it was taking me so long to respond. I paused thinking, "No! I don't have to make excuses. I only need to apologize for my tardiness." Since then, I've been telling cover-up lies much less often.

These are the little lies. There are a few big ones in my past. I'm going to write about them too, only not publicly on my blog. This is my 4th step starting point. I see a great deal of comfort and satisfaction down the road in not telling big or little lies anymore, because to stop means I will have to accept myself the way I am and be willing to be imperfect, to make mistakes and forgive myself.

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Gratitude for today: my husband, riding my motorcycle, sunshine