Monday, May 23, 2011

Epiphany (Protecting my Inner Child Against Cheese Puffs)

I had a realization last night that made me cry, and I have been celebrating it ever since.

I have been talking about how I miss Lent, and I need to impose more limits on myself (not that I eat crap now, but it makes even more of a difference after you have cleaned up your system), so I have been thinking more about what I consume and how I feel about it.

Yesterday I was looking for something in a cupboard and I saw a bag of cheese puffs (DISCLAIMER: WE DO NOT, AS A GENERAL RULE, KEEP CHEESE PUFFS AT HOME. THESE WERE PURCHASED AS A TREAT FOR L2 AND SHE HAS TO ASK FOR PERMISSION EVERY TIME SHE WANTS TO HAVE SOME). It would have been very easy for me just to reach in and grab a couple and go on about my searching, but I resisted and when I walked away I felt relieved, grateful, moved.

These feelings surprised me and I took time to think about it as I did some laundry (which reminds me, I have a load in the washer!, be right back... OK). I told Loren that I wondered if this is what an alcoholic feels like when s/he is able to walk away from a drink.... relieved, comforted, safe! I explained that it had not been a huge deal, the cheese puffs were not that much of a temptation, but the threat had come instead from the habitualness of it (that word does exist, I looked it up), the danger was in how mindless a gesture poisoning myself has become.

I told him, "as little as it took to walk away, it feels like a lot. It feels comforting... There is a safety in it".

Then, as I took his shirts out to hang them, the answer appeared before me as if written in a book:

As a kid I didn't feel cared for and safe --not that I was abused or that I lacked for a basic necessity, because that was not the case, but I felt insecure most of the time and I had recurring dreams that ranged from anxiety about the first day of school to horrific nightmares about a nuclear war. I also did weird things like save the last little bit of thread that is left on a needle after you saw a button or something (because I might "need it"), and always play the same scenario with Barbies: there was a tornado/earthquake/war/epidemic/tragedy/apocalyptic event coming and the Barbies had to pack up the bare essentials into the Barbie car and lead foot it out of Barbie town before they were victims to it. I used to love repeating the scenario to try to improve my evacuation time-- so somewhere inside me still lives a little girl with a desperate need for security.

In that moment when I saw the cheese puffs and walked away, instead of simply following the mindless reflex of just popping them in my mouth...

my inner little girl felt PROTECTED

I protected her from myself, from the bad habits that hurt us, from the land mines my Ego has planted along our way, from mindlessness, from the sleep walking that leads to waking up in the middle of a nightmare that takes weeks or months to fix.

My inner girl deserves to feel safe and I'm ready to help her.

Blessings to all of you, may you feel safe and peaceful tonight.

I also thought about my session with the acupressurist and how she said that our body stores extra weight to create a shield in order to protect itself. Has my inner little girl been making herself a fortress in my hips?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I miss Lent

I really do, I miss Lent.

I miss the slight hunger, the constant self-awareness, the incessant examination of everything I ate, did and thought.

When I mentioned this to my family, L1 reminded me that towards the end I started to say "I can't wait for this to be over, this diet is messing with my brain" and she might be right. (Part of me feels I should go back and read my posts, the rest of me is telling that part to shut up because I'm enjoying the romanticism of this longing) But I miss... the self-denial maybe? I'm not even sure, but I want that feeling back.

Maybe it is on my mind more today because we went to church this morning and I walked out dissatisfied, again, with the lack of spiritual challenge (which, of course, is MY responsibility, not my preacher's) and -while I don't "need" the complication of searching for a more challenging doctrine right now- I really miss what the Lenten challenge did for me.

I guess part of it is that feeling hunger (physical or otherwise), discomfort, frustration, whatever! is better than feeling nothing at all, and the self indulgence I am allowing myself now leaves me feeling empty, complacent, less-than.

Ironic, in a way, but really rather obvious that the seemingly eternal 46 days of sacrifice were so satisfying, and now the supposed pleasures of "rewarding" myself with a caramel Frappuccino leave me feeling empty and cheap, like the morning after a night of casual sex.

I miss Lent. SO I have loaded up the pantry with dried fruits and nuts, Portobello mushrooms, guacamole, vegetables and fresh fruits. I am not going completely raw again, but I will be rewarding myself with self denial.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Weight and Measurements :)

I can't believe it's been almost a week since my last post!!

Time keeps rushing by! In fact, that was one of the reasons why I decided to learn how to meditate, because I thought it would help to slow time back down.

I have been doing well with my new resolution to meditate and exercise every day, and my weight and measurements have been holding well... in fact, they've improved a bit!!

Let's compare to before Lent and on Easter:
              Mardi Gras    April 24th          Now

Weight    183 lbs          168 lbs              169 lbs

Bust        39.5"             38.5"                 38.5"

Waist      35.75"            32"                    32"

Hips        43"                41.5"                 41"  (WOO HOO!)

Thigh      26.5"             25"                    25"

According to the tables in The Zone by Barry Sears (The Zone: A Dietary Road Map to Lose Weight Permanently : Reset Your Genetic Code : Prevent Disease : Achieve Maximum Physical Performance) since March 8th I have lost...

14.39 lbs of fat!!  so my lean body mass is 120.13 lbs. My body fat percentage went from 34.57 to 28.92 (it was 29.27% on Easter! yay). The cool thing is that I have lost an extra 0.30 lb of fat and *gained* 1.30lb of muscle since Easter! I guess it IS true that muscle burns calories even at rest!

I will make this short for today, Loren has a day job now (before he was gone 4 evenings a week) so I am still getting used to him being at home for dinner. After 3+ years of having his evenings at home be something special, I still feel a little guilty when he's home and I don't spend time with the family. Plus I still have to get stuff ready for tomorrow, eat dinner (salad and a bit of spaghetti), exercise, meditate AND try to get to bed by a decent hour!

I wish you all the best, have a wonderful night!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


This morning I was interpreting at a facility where people are treated for depression, addiction, attempted suicide, that sort of thing. I was told to get a key on my way in, because it had happened before that an interpreter was not able to get out because the staff thought he was a patient who was trying to escape!

So I went in with a little apprehension, not knowing what to expect. The place was great and the staff all seemed kind and efficient. The residents looked like a well varied collection of stereotypes, half of them walked around as if saying "I don't really belong here", the other half walked as if walking took everything they had.

I, of course, was walking around very happy about the fact that I didn't belong there, trying to seem nice in my superiority and hoping my nerves didn't show.

The first group was Art Therapy. The facilitator had everyone draw a symbol that would describe who they thought they were at the moment, but they had to draw it on a puzzle. She talked about how most residents there feel like the pieces of their puzzles have been thrown up in the air and are all in disarray. I looked around the room as everyone worked on their drawings and from the things the facilitator said I realized that most of them were in there because they had attempted suicide.

I also realized that I felt a connection to every person there. There was the woman who stopped her drawing to reach for a tissue and quietly burst into tears, the man who said he felt rested, the woman who put herself down under her breath the entire time she was drawing, the gorgeous young mom who carried herself like a confident professional, the alcoholic who had to be cracking jokes all the time, the quiet man who looked frail but was so strong in speaking about his vulnerabilities, the overweight woman whose mother had killed herself and she didn't want to leave her daughter with the same legacy, and the woman in the Jesus t-shirt who drew a cross inside a heart. In this room of broken puzzles I felt a deep sense of belonging, of acceptance, of compassion and love.

At first I was saddened by their presence there, and the stories I tried to imagine from the small clues left by their clothes, their voices, and their mannerisms. But I reminded myself that this was a place of healing, and realized how lucky they were to be there. I thought about the times in my life when I could have used a place like that, when I could have benefited so much from a group of fellow broken puzzles to talk to, when I would have given anything to be plucked out of (what I perceived as) my overwhelming life just to rest, think, recharge and regain myself.

I left before noon with so many thoughts and prayers swimming in my head that I forgot to turn my phone's ringer back on. It was my sixth sense that alerted me to L2's call from school. She said her spleen hurt a lot and she felt nauseated and wanted me to go pick her up. I felt overwhelmed again.

I had barely enough time to go get ice and cash for the lock box and to set up for our first farmers' market of the season (remember I told you about the free-range pork that we raise and sell?). Last night I had taken the time to update our website and Facebook page, to create events, and to send out an email to all the people on our database. I was supposed to go spend four hours peddling our pork and "visitn" with our regulars. I was not ready for L2 to be sick again (which she might not be! I am not trying to manifest another illness, but after the events of the last few months, I couldn't just say "hang in there honey, I'll see you at 7").

On the drive home I examined my options. I had one of those moments when I come face to face with the ugly side of my self-protective independence... I have no one to rely on.

Which isn't necessarily bad, mind you, I am not trying to get anyone to feel sorry for me. I have made my choices and continue to make them, hopefully ever more consciously each time.

I could ask for help from the people who are always sweet but later talk about me behind my back, or from the ultra polite friend who would never say no, I could call the neighbor who thought last time would be the last, or the acquaintance who could be a great friend to me -if she only thought I could be a great friend to her-, or I could force myself to ask the one who has slowly chipped away at my trust, I could even allow myself to worry about money enough to justify taking the sick child to the market, to sit in a folding chair in the muggy heat (in the shade of course, I'm not a monster!), or I could simply bring her home to sleep "cozy and comforty" (as L1 used to say) under her mother's watchful eye.

She's been sleeping soundly for hours.

PS. A guy came over to build a creek-rock edge for a couple of my flower beds. At one point he knocked on the door and gave me this one. He said the Native Americans used to say that colored rocks made you feel better. I think he gave it to me for L2, because I mentioned she wasn't feeling well, but I told him I "need it so much, should I just hold it or eat it?"
I washed it so the colors would show more; I ran my hands on it and it felt great against my palms. When I finally took it back outside I went barefoot so I could feel the grass and my body could "ground" itself (some people say by touching the earth with your bare skin you re-balance the energies in your own body. Yeah, yeah, I can hear you rolling your eyes all the way here, I don't care).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ARGH! (frustration, Dizzy Whizz, and poop)

No, it's not pirate day. I am just very frustrated.
I don't feel at liberty to share what is going on, but I do want to talk, briefly, about how it affects me (and then talk about food of course).

Someone let me down today, but see, this comes after a loooooong line of disappointments and I am just fed up. I feel like giving up on the relationship, but, instead, I give up on myself!

I realized tonight that:

1. Emotional upsets now get me physically upset as well (maybe this happened before but I didn't notice it as much because my system was not as clean?)

2. Feeling like I have been treated badly makes me want to treat myself badly (not exercise, eat the wrong things, stay up too late).

**********HOW STUPID IS THAT???**********************

So, I will be mulling that one over for a while (the good news is I did not mistreat nor neglect myself too much tonight, although it IS 11:26PM and I have to be up, again, at 5:45 --these long days are getting to me!).

Food wise today was a good day, yesterday... not so much.

I started with the obligatory (and beloved, don't get me wrong) smoothie, then had a salad with chicken and for dinner I was just going to have a small snack, go see L1 in a recital for school (she kicked BUTT) and then come back and eat some fruit.
The snack consisted of what I lovingly call a "constipation sandwich" (one slice of whole wheat bread (we get the kind with "double fiber" but wait till you hear what I put on it), cream cheese, and jalapeno pepper jelly).

But wait, it gets better. Then we picked up Loren and he had not eaten, and L2 said she was still hungry (she had a proper sandwich), and, honestly, I kind of was too, so we went to Dizzy Whizz (a Louisville institution) and I ate a double burger with American cheese (the really processed kind) and tartar sauce, amazing fries, and a coleslaw that tasted like it had butter in it.

At one point I even said "I wonder how on earth I am going to poop tomorrow!"

This morning my gut was very gurgley and it hurt a bit, but it was not as bad as I expected (I think all the grease helped slide it out). I had another smoothie this morning and that helped get the day started correctly.

I did skip lunch but instead snacked on dried soy nuts, dried apples, dried apricots, and fresh pineapple. It has been very hot and muggy today and I think that is why I was not hungry for dinner, so I just had a small spinach salad.

Ok, I have yawned three times in the last paragraph and I have another fuuuuuull day tomorrow. My goal for tomorrow is to be sweet and happy and to drink a lot more water than I did today.

Sleep well everyone and happy Wednesday!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers' Day!

Today was an amazing day, thank God.

I woke up to see Loren coming out of our walk-in closet wearing a pair of reading glasses that made him look like my dad, and pushing an empty grocery cart. I thought "hmm, it must have something to do with Mothers' Day", then I woke up.

A few minutes later he and the girls came in with a tray of Eggs Benedict, grapefruit and coffee. They gave me cards and L2 had made wonderful gifts for me at school.
This brooch

and two great things she wrote. I would love to share both but I need to get to bed, so here is the shorter one (grammar and spelling exactly as it appears):

Top 5 Reasons Why MY Mom is the Greatest!
1. You taught me to sing and sing well.
2. You help me come up with solutions when I have problems with friends.
3. You're smart and teaches me things I've never heard of but are intresting.
4. You are strickt and make sure I follow rules.
5. You're a health-monster, always makes sure I'm healthy, and when I'm sick you take care of me.

Isn't that precious?

Then we went to church, visited my mother in law and then --after a wonderful salad of red romaine lettuce, spinach, carrots, cucumber, tomato, Kalamata olives and feta cheese, with Loren's home made dressing-- we got to do what *I* wanted...


There was a lot of work that we have been needing to do, but between Papaw's passing and all the rain, we just had not gotten to it. So we went to pick up a few supplies and worked outside until it got dark (well, L2 had a lot of homework so she did not, but she did make us Gatorades).

It was awesome! We planted some baby trees, weeded and mulched one of the flower beds, moved compost from the pigs to the garden, and potted some volunteer sunflowers and a strawberry that came up in what will be the veggie garden (I did not put in spring crops this year, so it is still a field of weeds), I also transplanted some lilies from one flower bed to the other (photos coming soon!) and Loren ran the weed-eater.

For dinner I had a fruit salad (apple, banana, golden raisins, plain yogurt and honey) and the last egg Benedict (I couldn't resist).

All the gardening counted as my exercise for the day, believe me, I WILL be sore tomorrow!! (I was not today, by the way, I was a bit surprised), but now I must run to meditate and still try to turn off the light before eleven.

Have a wonderful week! and Happy Mothers' Day again!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Good report (and how to relax in seconds)

Just a quick post to report that today was a great day and I have been sticking to my new resolution.

I walked for 20 minutes yesterday with Leslie Sansone (Leslie Sansone: Walk Away The Pounds: Power Mile, my favorite exercise video because it is so quick and it always lifts my spirits. Today I kicked it up a notch and worked out with the cast from The Biggest Loser (The Biggest Loser Workout: Cardio Max), so I spent 40 minutes sweating and grunting and I might be a little sore tomorrow (pathetic! but I have not exercised consistently in so long).

As far as the meditation is concerned, today's was extra special because L1 wanted to join me. We used one of my favorite recordings (and apparently hers too, because she requested it) and the first one that I was ever able to use successfully to fully relax and eventually meditate. It is part of the Silva Life System, but you can get it with their free introductory (6 lesson) course. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone that would like to learn to relax physically in a few seconds, that's right, SECONDS.

I am not exaggerating, after doing it consistently for a few weeks you will become so conditioned that you will be able to relax in seconds, I used to carry all my stress in my neck and shoulders, now I can make them loosen up with just a few deep breaths (I don't have to be listening to the recording anymore). If you are also interested in meditation, this is a good way to get you started, but you may eventually want to do it on your own or listen to something else, the particular recording I am recommending is a great starter but has too much talking for someone with more experience. Click this link to get you to the free course (and you will eventually be linked to the entire program, which I also have and recommend... este es el enlace si le interesa en espaƱol).

The meditation turned into a snoring fest for her (so cute!) but I loved it and I felt very close to her, what a change from two nights ago!

Have a wonderful night and a great Mother's Day tomorrow!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Back with a new 40 day discipline (controlling brain chemistry and enjoying consistent happiness!)

A lot has happened since Easter, both in my life and around the world.

I have been tempted to write a post several times, sometimes because I thought I had something valuable to share, sometimes just to get a "fix" (I don't fancy myself a "creative writer" but writing these posts definitely feels like a creative activity and it helps enormously in lifting my spirits).

I don't think I'll go back to share the thoughts I had, although they may become pertinent again in the future, right now I need to focus on the next 40 days (not 46 like Easter, I'm making this one a true "cuaresma" or "cuarentena"!!). But first I need to explain where this idea came from with a shameful and somewhat scary confession.

I have to backtrack a bit, stay with me... I have struggled with chemical imbalances since I can remember, from feeling opposite emotions at the same time coupled with strange black and white images, to having an incessant soundtrack playing behind every thought for years, to getting an uplifting boost from holding on to an electric fence (on purpose) that would make anyone else cry, to a low-grade but long lasting depression that dipped dangerously low in my teens and mid twenties. Thankfully these are not things I experience anymore (not for a long time, thank God!), but I am keenly aware of what it took to get it under control.

Over many years of self destructive behavior due mostly to plain ol' ignorance I learned, sometimes through research, sometimes trial and error, that:
  1. My brain doesn't seem to want to work like everyone else's, but it CAN be taught new tricks.
  2. My hormones and emotions are controlled almost entirely by what I eat and drink.
  3. Sleep and exercise are essential to a healthy mind.
  4. If you don't control your thoughts they will control you (and NOT in a good way, the Ego is a nasty, sneaky tyrant).
  5. (and most importantly) I had to learn to love myself, "defective" brain and all, in order to stick to the healthy habits that made a peaceful brain and stable emotions possible.
That being said, sometimes we, nope, I can't assume you or anyone else does this, *I* don't stick to all the disciplines quite as well as I should and I find myself not living as healthy a life as I would like, physically, mentally or emotionally.

You might remember this post in which I spoke about my "default setting" being apathy and how I wanted my new mode to be HAPPY. Well last night was a very scary example of what that apathy extreme can look like.

I had told L1 to put something on her to-do list for today. I didn't say "I want you to do this", I specifically said "put this on your list" because we have been having A LOT of problems with her just blowing things off, usually because she's thinking about something else and doesn't switch gears or because she just forgets (I KNOW she's 14! I know I know, it doesn't help that it is age appropriate!). Later I asked where her list was because I was going to add something else and she said she had not started it and planned to write it in the morning. That's when I said "By what miracle do you expect to remember in the morning what I told you tonight?" in the most condescending tone I could muster...

I know.

This is the girl that gives me hugs "from Jesus" (remember that story?). This is, by anybody's standards, a GREAT teenager, straight A student, respectful, sweet, generous, hard working, funny, and well-behaved. I should go to Hell for that.

She ended up crying in her daddy's arms, he tried to talk about it, all I had to say was "she can try to turn this into "mommy's crabby and taking it out on me", but she just has to take responsibility for her actions". And, yes, maybe in principle that was right, but the scary thing was that I felt NOTHING.

I was not angry, frustrated, jealous, annoyed or sad. I felt N O T H I N G!
I remember thinking "why don't I feel anything?, this is strange" but, since I felt nothing, I didn't really feel concerned about that either. I just went to bed.

This morning I woke up and all of a sudden all of my thoughts and emotions rushed to that image of my gorgeous princess crying over what I, the evil witch mother, had done to her. I immediately wondered if she had slept well, I prayed that she had slept well, I prayed for God to protect her from me, for God to heal whatever scars I may have caused. I tried to talk to Loren about it and was so overcome by tears and the tightness in my throat that I couldn't finish the thought. It was as if all the emotions I should have felt last night and all through the night had finally caught up to me and were crashing into me one after the other.

See what I mean by "defective"? This is not normal.

Not that I am trying to excuse my behavior with "my brain is broken". I completely take responsibility for all my mistakes, shortcomings and displays of unabashed bitchiness. But I have to do something! this is not OK.

By the way, I cannot blame my diet (or my liver!) for this one. I had eaten mostly raw (a little chicken on the salad, a little popcorn for snack, a little hard boiled egg on the second salad). I have been doing pretty well since the Easter brunch fiasco, keeping my weight steady and even losing a little more off my hips!

But anyway... (I am finally getting to the point, you are so patient!) I know I don't want to go to a medical doctor with this, and before I start going to other people for help of any kind I KNOW there are things I should try first.

So, starting today, I will be exercising for at least 20 minutes every day and meditating for at least 15 minutes every day...

and trying very, VERY hard to be super nice, especially to L1.