I am like Popeye

I have a cold.
My dog hasn’t had a seizure for more than 5 weeks.
This is a four-day weekend for me.
I had a great Christmas (Jake and Grace).
I’m like Popeye.
I am what I am.
I appear to be over the worst of my hot flashes after 11 years thank you very much.
My world is mostly black and white.
I strive to see gray.
I have good sheets.
Sometimes, OK often, I bite my cuticles.
I love crossword puzzles.
I love sudoku.
I hate to vacuum.
I wish I had gone to school to be a French teacher.
If I found out I was going to die next Tuesday, the first thing I’d do is go out and buy vodka and wine and cigarettes and dark chocolate truffles.
Then I’d get laid.
I wish I was the kind of person who would read and actually enjoy Moby Dick.
This winter, I have been sleeping in a hoody.
Blue is my favorite color.
I really like to swear and put new combos of bad words together.
I can’t stop coughing.
I’m sick of coughing.
I love the smell of dirt.
My mother makes the best fudge on earth.
My mother makes the best pie crust on earth.
I know the difference between right and wrong.
I wish people wouldn’t be mean just for the hell of it.
I’d move to a warmer climate if I didn’t want to stick close to my parents.
I have $12 in my wallet.
I love the truth.
I like pink nail polish.
I like thick white socks.
Cancer made me a better person.
I want a cuckoo clock.
I love to sit in the sun with my book.
If I had more money, the first thing I’d do is own more big poodles.
I prefer white appliances to stainless.
I like waterbeds.
I really don’t like salt.
I would like a house with a sleeping porch.
I’d rather tell than sell.
I don’t really care what most people think about me.
I love big cities – to be more specific Paris and New York.
I wish I could retire.
I don’t like foam pillows.
I should have adopted when I realized I wasn’t going to get a child the regular way.
I despise cold weather with a bloody passion.
My dog snores.

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The Battle of the Bulge

A friend asked me about Weight Watchers – anything I wanted to tell her.  I started thinking it was fodder for a blog post.  And I wrote this next paragraph before Thanksgiving.  Before I “fell off” the dieting wagon.  So here goes.

I go.  I weigh in.  Keeps me honest.  I eat very little of the prepared food.  Sometimes I keep a couple of packaged Weight Watchers dinners in the freezer for emergencies.  Or if I get up really late and don’t have time to make my lunch.  I eat cereal, skim milk and strawberries or banana for breakfast.  Or oatmeal or farina.  Or toast and apple sauce.  Or hard boiled egg(s).  I eat a lot of eggs.  Usually rice and vegetables for lunch.  Apples, clementines, raisins.  Big salads with cut up chicken, gorgonzola.  Baby carrots.  Popcorn.  A pork chop with a big pile of vegetables.  Tomatoes, mushrooms, capers over pasta.  I keep a box of chicken broth in the fridge all the time.  I use it in lieu of olive oil when I “saute” vegetables.  I make several days lunch at the same time.  Sometimes I pack as much as I can at night and just add the cold stuff in the A.M.   Diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale.  I have ice cream every Saturday.  Its really flexible. And you will find your favorite things.  I do weigh and measure.  It gets easier all the time.  I’m used to it.  I am into it.  Keeping my eyes on the prize.  Is this good info?

So Thanksgiving.  Great week.  I blogged about it already.  I had a blast.  I had company and the week off and went out almost every night.  Met a friend for dinner Monday night.  Went out to lunch Tuesday and it was downhill from there.  Such a slippery slope.  I ate lots of stuff.  In addition to the piggy Thanksgiving dinner, I ate cereal snack, scones and butter, chocolate cream pie, fried dough pizza, chocolate brownie cheesecake, artichoke dip, lobster bisque, three-layer chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and chopped up peanut butter cups in between and on top, need I say more.  You can be sure I didn’t bother to write any of it in my food diary.  CRASH.  CRASH.  CRASH.

I’m having an awful hard time getting back on the wagon.  I know I’ll do it but I’m struggling.  I have lost a ton (well 40 pounds) over the last year.  And I want to keep on going.  But it’s hard.  I’m an addict.  I want everything that tastes good or feels good.  Combine them, as in the case of wine for instance, and I’m a goner.

What to do.  What to do.  I don’t see this getting any easier through the next couple of weeks.  For instance, I am invited to – count ‘em – five Christmas parties on Saturday.  My sister and her family are coming to Connecticut a week from today and staying for more than a week.  I haven’t seen my nephew in over 2 years and I’m trying to remember how long its been since I’ve seen my niece – maybe 6 years?  Not to mention my sister and my FBIL (favorite brother-in-law).  Cookies and candy at work.  I feel like I’ve lost it.  Social life and food – so closely interwoven.  I went to a Christmas party last night.  I had the most decadent delicious delectable dessert.  It was a pie.  Bottom layer was peanut butter fudge, then a layer of chocolate mousse, topped with whipped cream and crushed peanut brittle.  It’s the chocolate.  I cheated and ate other stuff, but I didn’t go nuts – with the quantity anyway.  But I’ve let the devil chocolate back into my life and now I’ve got to fight to get him out.  I can say this one thing – there is no chocolate in my house.  That would be a disaster.  Oh yeah, I got a box of chocolates for my birthday.  Killed that off.  I can say one other good thing – at least I don’t drink alcohol.

Anyhow, I’m trying.  I was good all day today.  I was pretty good yesterday until dessert.  I was very good Sunday.  I was a little bad Saturday.  I’m trying to remember that this is a lifestyle change and I have to stick to my food plan as much as I am able.  I’m definitely a screwball in my brain.  But I’m very hopeful because I’m not mad at myself.  If I got down on me, I would probably really mess this up.  But I’m so self-analytical that I’m more curious than anything.  I believe if I just hang in there, my willpower will reappear and I’ll be back at it again.  That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

But in the meantime…  Any suggestions?  Encouraging words?  Anything at all to give me a verbal slap up side my head?  To turn on the lightbulb in my brain?  I could sure use the help. 

My friend Susan made the one on the left.  I made the one on the right.  We can cook.  Yep.  We really can.

Dear Dear Louise

I come upon these ideas for my blogs in different ways.  A couple of my favorites posts, I have written almost entirely in my head while lying in bed first thing on a Saturday morning.  Then I run downstairs and birth them almost fully formed into my laptop. Sometimes I get an idea and write a little here and a little there and then returning for rewriting and adding and tweaking.  Sometimes what I am writing pours out of me faster than I can type and sometimes I have to work for it.  This morning while zooming up 84 toward the vet’s office, this blog started forming in my mind and before long I was weeping.  While driving.  Some days I am a such a sap.  Some days I am Hercules, Samson before Delilah took the scissors to him, Atlas holding up the heavens.  And some days not.  But all those tears convinced me I was onto something.  Then I was trying to scribble notes in my little yellow pad – certain phrases I wanted to use, ideas I felt might slip away.  Talk about kids and texting.  I had to slam my breaks and my poor Mikey fell hard off the back seat onto the floor.  Good thing he’s tough too.  I probably should buy a little recorder before I hurt my dog.

I have wanted to write about my experiences in Therapy and have been noodling around with it for a long time, not happy with my results.  But this morning it started coming together for me.  I am tired of my secrets and sometimes I feel I am their prisoner.  I want to be free, freer, liberated.  I don’t even know the word for what I hope to feel.  So as far as secrets go, I’ll keep other people’s secrets.  I am an honorable friend and I know when to keep things to myself.

So here I go…

Dear Dear Louise-

What a mess I was.  I had no idea how I felt about anything.  I truly didn’t even know what that meant – to feel.  But I am a good student.  And we studied for a long time.  You were Anne Sullivan to my locked up Helen Keller.  Lowenstein to my Tom Wingo.

You somehow convinced me to tell my secrets; you cajoled, coaxed, dragged my life story out of me.  You never said one remotely bad word to me.  As I look back now I see that you really didn’t need to.  I was mean enough to myself, hard enough on myself.  Didn’t need any help with that one.

Without you, I wouldn’t be typing this.  I wouldn’t have a blog.  I wouldn’t be happy like this.  I wouldn’t have ever had one single healthy relationship in my life.  I wouldn’t be living right here with my good dog and the sun shining in the slider every morning.  I wouldn’t have just halted my typing frenzy to appreciate the sweet smell of the candles on the table behind my laptop.  I don’t know if I ever would have gotten a divorce.  I wouldn’t love like I do.  I wouldn’t feel joy like I do.  I wouldn’t have experienced the passions I have.  I wouldn’t have done the amount of volunteer work I have and will.  I would have worried that I couldn’t spend time doing that unless my house was clean and I was perfect.  I wouldn’t be right here knowing that the best is yet to come, that my life is better every day.  I wouldn’t be able to dismiss those who are critical of me for whatever reason I cannot figure out at the time.  Just let it go Susan – this is me talking to me.  You taught me to be kind to me.  I wouldn’t have known I didn’t have to save the world, convince the world, change the world.  I wouldn’t have cried in my car this morning on 84.  I wouldn’t know how to stand up for myself.  To be more precise, I wouldn’t know how to stand up for myself without being really really angry with the person messing with me.  I wouldn’t have stopped worrying about my life ending up like the Space Shuttle Challenger – I used to describe it to you exactly like this – I’m going to blast off this chair straight up into the sky and explode into a million pieces.  You taught me many things.  A big one – Life is about choices.  And I can make them.  I choose happiness.  I know what I want.  I know when to wait and consider.  I was doing well at the time of my graduation (smile) but I’m even better now.  I want you to know that.  Without you, every single thing about my life would be different.

One of the always and ongoing themes we talked about is how I would let someone be bad to me because I understood him.  I am still working on this one but I think I’ve got it now.  Of course I had to do it one more time (don’t worry different guy) and of course make it really messy but I’ve got it!   Just because I know someone’s guts inside and out and understand every little screwed up move they make, does not mean that I should accept and allow him to be bad to me.  Why this was so hard, I have no idea but I bet it won’t happen again.  With a guy anyway.  I may have needed a remedial class for this one.  I do have a couple of women friends that could use a few whacks but I’m hopeful for their future.  In the meantime, I’m settling for not letting anyone else’s issues make me unhappy.  I keep finding and finding more and more ways to apply the things you taught me.  And every time I come up with another one, it makes me a better person.  All I want is to be better.  Happier.  More.

We talked about The Prince of Tides when that book came out.  My god that man can write.  We talked about Luke‘s death, Savannah and her breakdown, and the survivor Tom.  All victims of their Callanwolde.  That is how I think of my biggest trial.  My own Callanwolde.  I thought I was the one who would die.  I thought I was one who would just dissolve.  I didn’t know I was the survivor but you did.

When the Prince of Tides movie came out, I went right away and sat in the back and cried.  I started about 20 minutes in and never stopped.  What a catharsis for me.  I think I was dehydrated at the end of that movie.  A few seats away was another couple – two women.  One of them was like me, she cried non-stop.  Her friend just patted and patted her.  At the end of the movie, our partners exchanged wan smiles and then all four of us laughed – weakly.  Today I would walk up to that weeping woman and hug her and tell her how good she was, no matter what her Callanwolde.  Then I was more involved in my own emotional embarrassment/lack of self-control.  I owe you that one too.  A couple of months ago, I was at the vet’s office and a woman lost her dog while I was sitting there with mine.  Her dog was sick and she brought him in and he died.  Just like that.  There were probably 8 people in that waiting room, vet employees and patrons alike.  Several of us wept, no one moved.  I went up to her and wrapped my arms around her and patted her back and made shushing poor baby noises to her.  I figured if she wanted to be left alone, she would tell me.  She didn’t.  She just put her head on my shoulder and cried.  Oh my goodness Louise what you taught me.  I will owe you until the end of time.  I feel things.  Really really feel them.

So just like Tom Wingo at the top of the bridge in the dimming light whispering to his long-gone Lowenstein, I thank you Louise, for my life.

Happy Birthday to me

Today I am 56.  I tell you this because I use it as a baseline to measure how much one can change one’s life in a year.

The years 2009 and 2010 were a challenge for me.  My job and my home life were not-so-good.  And I was none too pleased with my physical body.  So during the early part of 2010 when it was getting really ugly, here I refer to my life not my figure, I thought about how I would change things if I could.  The first thing I needed to do was live alone.  My situation was unhealthy and it was getting harder and harder for me to maintain a positive outlook.  And my job was so bad that I didn’t want to get up in the morning and go to work and when the workday ended, I didn’t want to come home.  I also felt that a change had to be made in my eating and drinking habits.  I knew I couldn’t diet if I drank wine because every night about three sips into my second glass, I recommitted to embracing my fat.

So in August of 2010, I became officially single.  That was the first of the big steps.  Then I started considering the best way to clean up my physical act.  Since I felt I wanted to make a big commitment, a measurable landmark in my life and I needed to prepare, I started playing with the idea of turning over a new leaf on my 55th birthday on December 1.  Then in November, my boss decided to resolve my employment situation by firing me.  All the more reason to reconsider my eating and drinking habits because now I had the time and opportunity to be very much worse or very much better.

So December 1 came.  I stopped drinking alcohol and I thought about what I ate and I lost 17 pounds in two months.  I got a new job in January.  Then I gained 5 pounds back.  I sat there until the beginning of June and then went to Weight Watchers.

So now it is one year later and I have lost 40 pounds.  That thought really hit home as I lugged the 20 pound turkey into my kitchen last week.  I lost TWO 20 pounds turkeys worth of weight! That sucker was heavy!  I feel great physically and mentally.  Weight loss is very difficult and succeeding and lightening the physical load helps to lighten the mental/emotional load too.  At work two weeks ago when were rearranging our office space, I found myself running down the aisle pushing the wheeled moving boxes making vrrrrroooom vrrrrroooom noises.  The really odd/great thing about this is the running.  I have not run for at least 5 years.  I really couldn’t; I was too big.  When that thought struck me like the proverbial ton of bricks, I became teary-eyed.  I feel great.  I have always been a happy person, but I can honestly say I have never been in a better emotional place.

I am changing my life.  I am enjoying changing my life.  For now, I love living with my dog and no one else.  I love seeing and feeling the changes in my body.

I get up in the morning and I get ready to go to work to a job I like.  If I had my way, I would never work another day in my life, but I do not.  So I go to work.  But if I have to go, I am definitely going where I want.

I read every day.  I work on my writing almost every day.  I do exactly what I feel like doing.  Once in a while, someone tries to tell me what to do and I ignore them.  This blog has made me very happy.  Most peoples’ reactions have been encouraging and complimentary, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank you all again.  I am very proud of what I have written here.  It is very liberating to put it all out there.

I love my condo.  It is my favorite place I have ever lived.

I cook sometimes.  I enjoy that a lot.  Since I’ve been watching my calorie intake, my cooking has tapered off quite a bit.  I eat a lot of salads and cereal and fruit and whole wheat pasta and vegetables.  But every now and then, I have something naughty.  Almost every Saturday night I have ice cream.  I am trying very hard to eat right.  Good most of the time, bad only a little.  One time I read an interview with Elizabeth Taylor and she was asked how she kept her figure.  She said she was on a diet 6 days a week but on Saturday night she had pot roast and potatoes and gravy and dessert.  On Saturday around here, I have Ben and Jerry.  Every now and then I take on a big cooking project.  I made Thanksgiving dinner for my family.  Fried dough pizza and Peanut Butter cake for my friends Friday and Saturday.  It’s getting cold outside so soon I’ll be making soups and stews.  Love soups and stews.

I have a new goal.  I want to lose 88 pounds – I’m almost half way there!  I believe I can do it too.  I have a final weight in mind.  A number I liked a lot a few years back and when I get there, I’ll tell you all where I started.

My life is more than half over.  Very much more.  I want to live out the rest of my days in peace and happiness.  I want to travel and read and write and hang with my family and friends.  I want to go to Maine in the summer.  I want to go to Florida in the winter.  I want to save some money and go to Paris again.  My favorite place.  I want to be with a man who deserves and returns the passion and commitment I bring to my romantic relationships, to be in love again.  And stay that way.

And I want to do a cartwheel.  I used to do them all the time.  Need to lose a few more pounds.  Maybe by spring when the grass comes up green.

Wish me luck.  And Happy Birthday.