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????????

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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!

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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.

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

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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.