Monday, December 31, 2012

Snowing - A Change of Attitude

wet, heavy snow is falling
on this final day of the year
not sticking yet
temperature just at freezing
will it accumulate?

worry accumulates in my mind
cold, like snow
fear of being trapped
can't get out when it snows
thick ice forms on the hill

fear of slipping, sliding, falling
out of control
my old friend "control"
taps on my shoulder
whispers of jail by snow

another voice is shouting
but we have food
and water and wood to burn
we have things to do
we are safe in our home

let both voices be heard
let me accept this white jail
  comforting fear with understanding
like all things
it will not last

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Contemplating the New Year

I have never been good at and have always resisted "goal setting."

I've owned my own business for more than 25 years... never wrote out goals. For the 10 years before that, I worked as a department manager for an expanding company... hated goal writing, procrastinated, delegated, produced only the briefest goal reports.

To the best of my memory, I've never written a list of personal goals.

So, when the end of the year rolls around, and I start feeling peer pressure to set some goals, I go right to the kitchen, seeking solace in food. Why?

Ten Possible Reasons for Not Wanting to Set Goals:
  1. Fear of failure. Fear of failure. Fear of failure. (Do I make my point?)
  2. Not wanting to be controlled, even by my own stated goals.
  3. Love of an improvisational life style. Desire to be free to follow my nose at any given time in any given direction. Impulsive personality?
  4. Lack of training and/or experience with how to write realistic goals.
  5. Dislike pressure.
  6. Feeling of irreversibility involving this type of list. This point has to do with a preconceived notion about what goal setting "should" be.
  7. Could there be something in childhood? Some "lesson" that setting goals is asking to be "thwarted?" Maybe.
  8. Could I have learned from my mother that setting goals results in disappointment?
  9. The farther out the goals (as in setting a 5-year or 10-year plan), the more angst I feel about it. Is this a trust issue? Do I not trust anything about the future?
  10. If there's a 10th reason, I'm blocking it...
Is it OK to not set goals? It must be... I've gotten along in life in a way that satisfies me without ever writing out a list of resolutions or goals. I don't have regrets. There are many things I don't do that I wish I would do, but nothing that could be called major regret. I make commitments  to myself and others, but don't think of them as goals. Life goes on in a pretty good way.

Guess I just need to count my blessings and stay out of the kitchen during the week right around Jan. 1st. That's a commitment!


Thanks to my visitors for your comments on my 2 previous posts. I'm totally blown away that I've had any visitors at all after not writing for so many months. I'd love to hear your thoughts about goal setting.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Big Girl Panties

Trying to Time to put on my big girl panties. Grow up. Get over it. Let go. Turn it all over to HP.

The truth is I'd like to be in control. I started writing because I'm upset. I just checked the Amazon reviews of my new book, which previously had all been 5 stars. Now somebody (somebody I know personally) gave it only 4 stars. OUCH! I'd like to be in control.
  1. I'd like to fix the index of the book, which the publisher did... and in my opinion didn't do well.
  2. I'd like to change the table of contents to include "quilting with beads"... (how did that get left out? my bad for not catching it during proofing?
  3. I'd like to change the "Look Inside" pages shown on Amazon.
  4. I'd like to delete any Amazon reviews that aren't 5 stars.
  5. I'd like to punish our local book store owner for saying to my face, "Oh [read with disregard], it's a craft book [read with disgust].
Yes, I would like to be in control.
  1. I'd like to follow my food plan to a T.
  2. I'd like to do arm exercises, every day.
  3. I'd like to walk at least 2 miles, every day. 
  4. I'd like to "uneat" 2 cookies, yulekaga, and pumpkin bread so I could put my abstinence counter back where it was at over 800 days.
And while we're at it...
  1. I'd like my husband to sleep less.
  2. I'd like to change a whole lot of things about him.
Is this starting to sound ridiculous? Why, yes it is.

Time to put on my big girl panties. Let it all go. Breathe. Be grateful for all the 5 star reviews. Be grateful that the publisher finally activated the "Look Inside" feature. Be grateful for all that my husband is and does. Be grateful that I exercise some days and follow my food plan sometimes.

year's end
a turning point
big girl
with gratitude

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

After Christmas

A friend says, all the stuff to eat on Christmas is like bombs going off...

I think of it as a WWII movie scene, where the whole city is being bombed by pies and cookies and cakes and pastries and more than anything else,

I’m down there scrambling to avoid being hit. Whamo! One lands 2 inches from me. And another! And yet another! There’s no shelter; I’m in one H of a mess.


Well, today there are fewer bombers overhead. I’m grateful for a little respite in the deluge.These past few weeks, I have not kept to my abstinence program. I have eaten 2 cookies, 1 slice of pumpkin bread, several slices of yulekaga, a bunch of crackers with butter and honey on them. These things are not on my program.

I need to reset the counter. This morning I had a slice of yulekaga. A little of the loaf (given to us by a neighbor) remains. I will probably finish it off later today. I am making a commitment to reset the counter, back to zero, as soon as the yulekaga is gone. Wish I could do it right now and leave the remainder for my husband. Could I do that? Maybe. I feel weak and helpless.... and sad.

It's a sad thing to reset a counter when it has 818 days of abstinence on it. That's 2 1/4 years of not eating one single bite of chocolate, cookies, pie, candy, cake, ice cream, or pastries. Gotta pat myself on the head for that one! Looking at the positive side of the relapse coin, at least I realize I am sliding deeper into relapse mode... eating more, edging up to the abstinence items by eating sweetened yogurt (how is that different than ice cream?) and crackers (the ones that are closest to cookies) and sweet breads (close as I can get to pastries).

There is light and good news in this story. I have not nibbled chocolate in any way. Chocolate, for me, is the most addictive substance of all. So far, I am still abstinent on chocolate. Although many times in the past few weeks, the little devil has sat on my shoulder saying, "It's OK! You've blown your abstinence program, you might as well have me as well. You can go back to abstinence some other day, later, maybe tomorrow. But just for today, you can have me. I come in many new, delightful forms, especially right now. You wouldn't want to miss that, would you?"

So far, the OA group consciousness, correspondence with my OA friends, and the unseen hand of my HP have helped me resist the devil chocolate's insane temptation. For this, my gratitude is huge.

For weeks (months?), I've been avoiding writing here in Words Paint. Why? I think it's because I've been straying more and more from my eating program, not caring how much I ate for each meal, eating/snacking between meals, gaining weight, edging slowly toward the abyss, the dark place where daily binges, self-disgust, self-loathing, and morbid obesity tear me apart. I know, because I've been there... more than once.

In that place, I care for nothing but to consume. In that place the tools of OA, the support of my friends and family, mean nothing to me. And so, as I slip toward that place, I begin to miss meetings, and I stop writing.

Today I am here. Saturday I will go to the meeting. I will reset the counter. On my knees, I thank God that I have not yet tumbled fully into the dark place. I thank God for this day, this Words Paint place of honesty and hope.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

One More Day at a Time...

Feeling better today... better about myself. Managed to not eat between meals yesterday. Really difficult! After months of snacking, it was a struggle to maintain between-meal abstinence yesterday. Maybe it will be a bit easier today. So far, so good... One hour at a time.

One of my friends says, "Sometimes it has to be one minute at a time." I get that.

Part of the earlier sadness is about the damage I've been doing to myself. Turning that around will help, I think. Part of feeling better today is being honest yesterday.

Thanks to my visitors yesterday... I appreciated your comments very much.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Feeling blue today, lonely, sad. Trying to get in touch with these feelings, explore them, accept them... rather than take the easy way out, the coward's fix... food. Some reasons why I might feel blue...


Oh heck, I don't want to dwell on the blue side of life. Or maybe I don't want to know why I'm sad, maybe I'm afraid of knowing. I was sad yesterday too. Rain and chilly weather... I could blame wanting to eat and wanting to take naps on the weather...

Or maybe I could look for some sunshine. This is a diary post, just writing, not thinking much... journaling. Topic at OA meeting today was "being honest with ourselves." Lots of ways we can look at that topic... I suggested it because I don't think I'm being honest with myself about my weight gain in the past year or about what really is at the bottom of the gain. I came away thinking I'd said such dumb things. I drove home thinking that every person in our safe, loving group is at least overweight; some obese. Am I overweight, borderline obese, or obese? I really don't know the guidelines. Hmmm... I'll Google that one.

I just read a bunch of stuff about BMI (body mass index), and some guidelines for gender/age/height weight. According to that (and to what I know about myself, where and how weight is distributed over my body), I figure I am about 22 pounds over weight. I was within 9 pounds of an acceptable number a year ago, and have gained 13 pounds in the year since then, most of it in the last 6 months.

I gained the weight by overeating... not following my food plan. The results? Goodbye size 10 jeans; hello size 12; then hello tight size 12. More importantly, the results are that I'm feeling sad, discouraged, self-deprecating.

I'm admitting to myself and to others the exact nature of my wrongs. I binged on chips, bread, cereal, butter, nuts, and peanut butter, overeating in this manner nearly every day since sometime last fall. I gave myself much larger portions than I needed to satisfy hunger. I regularly cruised the kitchen, thinking something to eat, a treat, would make my life easier or make me feel better. Wallowing in weakness, I gave in to compulsive overeating, knowing I was doing it, doing it anyway. I am telling the truth about myself.

No more lying to myself, saying I'm the same as I was a year ago, saying maybe I just gained a pound or two, saying my eating is only slightly off-program.

This seems to be a good starting point for the rest of my life, eh? One day at a time, even one hour at a time, eating according to my food plan. For today: a sensible, light breakfast (done), a sensible lunch, a sensible dinner, no snacks or between-meal eating. This is a gift to me from me (and my higher power) for today.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I've been thinking about being married and my friend, who's never been married, these past few days. Seems the best way to express my thoughts on the subject is in a poem....

Either Way

May and June, the wedding season,
take me back to days of writing
‘Mrs. Bob Lewis’ over and over again,
covering pages in my notebook
in print, in script, in cursive.

A few months later, I’m writing
‘Mrs. Ed Hutchinson’, like before
only trying out this new name,
wondering if HE is the ONE,
planning our wedding, our family.

Years, and a couple of lovers later,
I ask, will I ever find the ONE, get married,
have kids and live happily ever after?
A romp of many more years passes
with a few more lovers, fleeing hopes.

I give up on marriage. I am tainted
with the failure of spinsterhood, yet
oddly comfortable in my little home,
paid in full, and my sole proprietorship,
comfortably alone, most of the time.

Meanwhile, my friends are married,
some of them divorced and married again.
I attend bridal showers, weddings.
The baby showers begin, followed by
graduations and the kids’ weddings.

Part of me envies this pattern,
while part of me questions
‘Is this really all it’s cracked up to be?’
Still, it seems my parents would love
 for me to settle into a marriage.

So, yes, at age 55, I meet someone
who seems to be the ONE,
the man of my dreams. We marry.
We struggle to find a balance
between independence and partnership.

A good friend, now in her 70’s,
with a few sweet lovers in her life,
never married. We meet for lunch.
She’s retiring, talking about travel,
making plans, exciting times, happy.

Neither of us has children or grand-kids.
Both of us are capable of great adventures,
she with only herself to consider,
me with a partner, a husband,
who has his own ideas about the future.

Pity not the single ones, the spinsters.
Believe not that marriage is necessary
for contentment in a woman’s life.
Either way, with or without the ONE,
we will have our glory and our pain.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Indecision ~ The Beast and Maybe Some Cures

The topic at our OA meeting today came from the daily reading.


What causes it and what can I do about it?

Thinking about this topic (with the contributions of other members in mind), I notice that making decisions, for me, is often something that causes a lot of stress and anxiety.
  1. I have it in mind that there is ONE RIGHT (or PERFECT) decision; and therefore one or more wrong decisions.
  2. Many times, I get it in my mind that a decision is an either/or deal
  3. Often, fear of making a decision is based on fear that my husband will not approve of my decision, or that he will prefer that I take a different path than the one which most appeals to me. These fears keep me from discussing the decision with him at all, keeping me stuck in a state of indecision. Sometimes this fear makes me sneaky... eventually making a decision, but not telling him about it until whatever it is is a "done deal," which isn't a very good thing for our marriage.
  4. Somehow, I grew up with the "damned if I do and damned if I don't" belief about decision making. Since I prefer not to be damned, I sit on the fence forever sometimes.
  5. Decisions feel like ending points. Make a decision and stick with it. Make a decision and that's the end of that.
Today's meeting gave me some tools for dealing with the above decision-busters!
  1. I don't have to be perfect. My decisions don't have to be perfect or right.
  2. Most decisions do not have to be either/or. Most of the time, I can consider and take more than one path.
  3. Dealing with my husband's disapproval regarding my decisions is difficult. But keeping our communications open and honest is a priority. I respect his right to disagree with my decisions and my own right to make decisions he doesn't like.
  4. What about changing the old rag? My new mantra is:  "blessed if I do and blessed if I don't."
  5. A decision is never an end. A decision is a new beginning. From the moment of every decision there is a journey to take along a pathway with many more decision points. 
  6. Saying the Serenity Prayer helps in times of indecision.

Compulsive Overeating - New Beginnings

Book writing and two eye surgeries are behind me now. During the 9 months of book and eyes, I've gone off my food plan, returning to some of my former compulsive overeating habits, looking to comfort foods to deal with stress, anxiety, fear and procrastination. I'm admitting it, full disclosure.... I don't weigh myself, but am guessing I gained 10-15 pounds during this time.

Did compulsive overeating, between meal snacking on large quantities of nuts and chips, help me get through the stresses, etc? Did it help me to avoid procrastination. Nope, I don't think so. Actually I used snacks to procrastinate, to avoid working on the book. And I'm certain it added to my stress levels that I was obviously gaining weight.

To my other fears, compulsive overeating added a fear of sinking into the abyss of addiction, returning to binge eating of my abstinence foods, spiraling into horrendous weight gain, until once again I was squeezing into size 18 jeans and avoiding people because of my shame. So, no... it didn't help. I knew it wouldn't, and yet I ate.

I'm going boldly out on a limb here... I FORGIVE myself. I made mistakes and I forgive myself for them. I let got of the mistakes and look to the future.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Today I re-embrace my food plan. Today I let go of the mistakes and begin re-winding the spiral, moving toward healthy eating and following a sensible food plan. The book, eye surgeries and compulsive overeating are behind me now. The blessings of new beginnings grace me.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Comfort Foods and Eye Surgery

After more fiddle-farting around with various appointments and required physical (to make sure I'm fit for day-surgery), I'm finally scheduled for cataract surgery. Left eye is Wednesday, May 2; right eye is on May 16th. I'm already doing the pre-surgery drops.

Half of me is still quite fearful and anxious about the procedure itself. The other half of me can't wait to see better. Everything is blurry now. I have trouble sewing, especially threading the needle (even with extra magnification). In the grocery store, the aisles look like a blur of color and shapes with no distinguishing characteristics. That's WITH my glasses.

I'm going on record to say that this is all going to work out fine and that by June 15th I'll have new glasses for close-up work (computer, stitching, beading) and no need for distance correction at all.

Meanwhile, comfort foods call me. Today, especially. I had some flavored yogurt in the fridge and a tub of Cool Whip (which I normally don't like much or get into). Mixed together, they made a lovely, smooth, sweet comfort treat. Yummm. Big baked potato, smothered in butter and sour cream for supper. Honey and PB were calling me all day, though I haven't succumbed yet.

I figure a little comfort food in the two days before the first surgery is justifiable. Yes, it's feeding my addiction. Yes, I'm using it to numb myself and for just a moment to escape my fears. So be it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Eye Surgery Fears > Chocolate Cravings

In 535 days of chocolate abstinence, especially the past 500 or so of them, I've been relatively free from obsessive thoughts about chocolate. Sometimes I see something, a candy shop window, an ad on TV, or an array of chocolate in a store, which triggers a momentary craving. But, for the most part, I'm blessed in my abstinence program with quick recovery after these stirrings.

Not true right now. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a little display of Lindt chocolate bunnies near the checkout stand at our local grocery store. I'm always drawn to bunnies anyway, and so picked one up to examine it more closely. Immediately I noticed it was not milk chocolate, which I never liked much and only ate in desperation, but dark! I noticed it was weighty, a goodly amount of chocolate. It's totally adorable with it's little, brown, crinkle-ribbon bow, and golden bell.

Adorable as the bunny may be, I could so easily chomp off its ears, devour it's nose, and scarf down all the remains of its plump little body in less than 5 minutes flat. I've been obsessing about Lindt bunnies ever since. Every time I go to the store, I can't take my attention away from them. I wake up thinking about them. After Easter, they will be gone, thank heavens, but until then, it's tough business.

Today, I'm asking why. Why am I obsessing about dark chocolate? Why is chocolate haunting me, calling my name, pleading with me to give up my abstinence, just this one time?

I have to think it's fear. Either that or the fact that my mom died 1 year ago today. She's been on my mind a lot these past few weeks. I am missing her and feeling the loneliness of not having a mom or dad any more. However, chocolate wasn't a problem for me around the time of her death. So why now? I'm back to looking at fear.

Oh ho, a thought just came to me... maybe it's both Mom and fear! In the next two months, I will be having eye surgery in both eyes, cataracts, stage 3. Yes, I've been doing the research and understand it's a common and relatively easy procedure these days. Plus it's almost 100% guaranteed to improve my vision, which has been deteriorating quickly. That's the logical, adult, reasonable way to look at it.

The little kid in me remembers Mom, when she had cataract surgeries many years ago. Mom wasn't one to complain about pain or inconvenience. She endured child births and surgeries without any sign of fear or complaint. But when she told me about her cataract surgery, her description sounded like the worst nightmare you can imagine. She told about the horror of her eye being clamped open, and being able to see the knife coming at her eye. I recall her saying she wanted to die then, and would rather be blind than ever have to go through that again.

Her surgery story has always stuck with me, as my worst daymare. So yep, memories of Mom, extra strong right now on the anniversary of her passing AND my own fears of the surgeries ahead. That's what is under the chocolate cravings. What to do about it? I don't know.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wind Scares Me

Skunk Cabbage, picture taken last week
 Our weather has been somewhere between January blizzard and March winds... some snow, quite cold, dreary, and the worst part for me... high winds. We are surrounded by tall trees, Doug Fir mostly, and live on the top of a ridge. The winds sweep up the ridge, gathering momentum it seems, and slam into our house, actually moving it and making horrendous noises. Eeeek. I have trouble sleeping when it's like this.

Must be age-related. I recall as a kid loving storms, the more violent, the more fun. We lived in MN during my school years. Tornadoes and thunder/lightening storms were not uncommon. Once, during college, I was visiting a friend who lived on a farm. We were out in the fields when a tornado suddenly developed. We hit the ditch none too soon, as it thundered over us in one exciting whoosh. Later that afternoon, we saw a large motor boat (6 passenger) wedged in the fork of an oak tree about 8 feet up. Still, I wasn't scared then, only excited and in awe of nature's force.
Same Skunk Cabbage, 3 days later

Seems fears have little by little been creeping into my life as I face turning 70 in 6 months. One of them is wind. Not breezes, mind you, but near gale force winds. And we've had a lavish of them lately. My walking partner and I walked in moderate gale winds today. The trees - alder, fir, hemlock, madrona, and maple - were cracking and creaking. Branches (ok, mostly not very large ones) were strewn everywhere along the road, and one good sized tree was down. Never was I so glad to get home, although with all the trees around our home, many of them a good 200' tall, it doesn't feel very safe inside either.

Skunk Cabbage in a creek
I'm writing about fear because experiencing it makes me want to eat, eat, eat... Comfort food... need comfort food, which to me is peanut butter and honey on toast or a big bowl of granola. Have not given in to it. Just for today, I'm acting as if everything is going to be OK. Just for today I'm writing about fear rather than eating about fear.


Gratitude for the day: at time of post, all trees around house are still standing; time to write; fabric; internet; walking partner; DB

I'm Baaaaaaack!

The book writing is a done-deal now, and thankfully I now have time to write (and read) for myself! For what it's worth, I wrote a series of posts about the process of writing the book, Part 4 of which tells the story of writing the current book.

During the 8 months, I went from a fairly comfortable size 10 jeans back up to snug 12s. Slowly at first, and then increasing my transgressions: eating more than my food plan (heaping my plate or having seconds), adding snacks, binging on chips, slacking on my walking program, not doing my toning exercises. The good news is: I did not eat any of my binge foods. I can still be proud of a year and a half of sobriety in that department.

Everything else is frayed at the edges. Snacking is, I think, the worst part... a hand full (or two or three) of almonds, a piece of toast with pb and honey or jam, a bagel and cream cheese... none of them counted as a meal. Yep, that will put the pounds back on a girl.... legs, tummy, thighs, and face... all showing the increase.... I'm wearing the snacks on my body.

Again, on the gratitude side of things, I have continued to go to OA meetings regularly. Without them, I'm certain my abstinence would have crumbled and I'd be squeezing into size 16s. Yep, that can happen very quickly. My OA group, small and steady, keeps me from unraveling completely. Bless them.

I don't know what to say about the state of my spiritual fitness. It seems shaken, or maybe frayed on the edges. I don't quite trust, don't quite believe, that there is a higher power out there somewhere (or inside somewhere) that will guide me and has my best interests at heart. OA says, "Act as if..." So that means I need to act as if my higher power exists and turn over my control, put myself in the hands of HP. Ooooh, that's a tough order. Act as if... Act as if... Just for today, I will act as if my HP, a force for balance and harmony, will guide me on a path of healthy eating and maybe even walking.

Well, I went to three of my favorite blogs tonight, revisiting dear friends for the first time in 8 months. It makes me happy!!! I'm grateful for their insights, inspiration and understanding!

* * * *

Other gratitude: skunk cabbage and daffodils opening their yellow glory even in the snow, quilting and beading, post-it notes, our purring kit-cat.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Best Intentions

Here's a link to a poem that really says it all... better than I could ever hope. One of those poems where "hmmmmms" involuntarily escaped from deep withing my chest with every line.