A new approach to losing weight

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I consider myself an expert on matters of weight. When I was born, I weight more than 8 lbs. I was overweight. All during my childhood, I was overweight. This was in the 1960’s when frankly being overweight was not the norm it is today.

I have shared that my mother suffered due to my weight, though I am willing to say that the excess pounds never amounted to more than 10 during my childhood and around 30 during adolescence. It never bothered me much, the excess weight. What bothered me and made me feel really guilty was my mother’s constant criticism, suffering, remedy-seeking and other ways in which I was made to feel inadequate.

My mother was a wonderful and successful social worker and family therapist. Her success, however, did not extend to her family and although I considered myself a good daughter, my weight was a constant reminder to her that she had somehow failed as a mother and that others were judging her for my “problem”.

She tried everything from scolding, to being supporting, to joining Weight Watchers with a view to not only losing weight herself but also to having me join her so I could lose weight. I concentrated on other aspects of my personality, developing the ability to entertain others (a gift inherited from my always-slim father) while taking care of the many household chores that would guarantee me an honored place in the family. I don’t think I have ever really put it in quite these words but I think I was looking to become indispensable so that my weight would not be a factor in my being loved and accepted by Mom.

The many and varied weight loss methods always worked: for a while. Soon after losing and getting to goal weight, the pounds magically reappeared. When I was around 19, an offhand and nasty comment from a coworker spurred me to lose 30 lbs. quickly. That was the extent of my overweight, a number I don’t consider as extreme as I was always made to feel. Perhaps it is because I am very short. I always felt I carried it well, though, wearing nice (I made my own clothes) outfits that complemented my coloring and personality. I do have to admit, though, that after losing the weight, I was happy to go shopping and purchase outfits right from the racks to wear (after hemming of course!). My rapid weight loss was instrumental in forcing me to assess my situation. I decided to apply the good eating habits I learned at Weight Watchers in 1971 and stayed within 5 lbs. for the next 25 years. I gained weight during my two pregnancies but then went right back on a sensible diet and always went back to my new normal weight.

But let’s move on. I am now in my 60’s. In the last couple of years, I have gained weight and although I have lost 20 lbs. in 2018, I still have another 30 or 40 to lose! I am once again following the Weight Watchers method on line because I live overseas. WW has always been my friend, I feel. This new plan, however, is a bit too lax or maybe what I mean is that it has us be completely in control of our eating and I guess I need someone to more or less tell me exactly what to eat. I am a Virgo, after all. Anyway, I stopped tracking for a few weeks and although I did some tracking mentally, I managed to gain back at least 6 lbs.

2018 was a difficult year. I lost my mother in the beginning of it. Later in the year, my older sister died which I have still not fully grasped. We had an odd relationship. I believe she thought we were friends…I could never be myself around her narcissistic person so I never let her see the real me because I sensed that she wanted to take my happiness and get rid of it. It is a terribly lonely feeling which I have yet to address, this lack of sibling solidarity, yet there it is.

2019 is the year I promised myself I will get my office in order and devote myself to writing, which has always been my passion. I owe my mother (who I adored and admired despite her shortcomings) a biography of whatever I have available on her life which is plenty. I also have two novels that I am currently working on.

Yesterday I was tackling the filing system in my office. I am a secretary by profession (well one profession) so I devoted a lot of time to taking a piece of paper at a time, reading it, assessing its place and filing or discarding. I feel that although it is not apparent to the observer, I know that the drawers are in better shape, that alphabetizing has taken place and that much more needs to be done.

While in the office, I saw several weight-loss books that I have purchased over the years. I handled them lovingly, dusting off their jackets and deciding to assign them their own space on my bookshelves. I have realized that I hide my weight loss guides because I am ashamed of being fat. I cannot believe I allowed this to happen to me at a time in my life when weight and its issues should not be important. But here we are. I am determined to giving Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss a proper try. The first time around, I was half-hearted. This time I am committed to it. I am not sure whether I am a food addict (I believe I am not) or just an overeater (I am often). I am eager to get back to the place I was in my late 20’s when I needed no scale and ate what I wanted but remained a normal weight for my age, size and current life situation. I am embracing getting back to that place.

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This is my ranting blog!

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…and because it is, you can stop now if you just don’t feel like you
want to hear it!

When I was around 14 or 15, my mother decided to go back to school
and get her Master’s degree in Social Work, Family Therapy. Good for
her, I thought. How wonderful that she has that much ambition. I was
only in the 10th grade probably but I already knew I didn’t even want
to go past high school education. Back then, it was quite possible to
get a good paying job with a high school diploma and I couldn’t wait
to begin my “real” life.

Well, my mother was working and going to school at night which meant
that household duties fell to us children. My older sister’s constant refrain
of “I didn’t ask to be born” which meant “so I don’t have to do anything”
also meant that most of the household stuff fell to me because I was a
pacifist and the noise from constant yelling between her and my mother
just didn’t suit my style. So plug away I did and most of the time, I was
okay with it because frankly, I like order and I like quiet.

When it came time for my mother to begin preparing her thesis, she relied
on me to read and record the passages of the books she was assigned so she
could listen to them while doing something else…very efficient. It never
occurred to me until recently that this was its own form of child abuse. After
all, I had to use my “free” time to do her work. One of the books she/we read
was by Virginia Satir, a pioneer in the field of NeuroLinguistic Programming.
I so enjoyed reading the book, not to mention what I learned psychologically
about words, their uses, their meanings, etc., that I forgot to be mad at Mom
for cutting into my time. As a birthday present to me for my 18th, my mother
bought me my own copy of the book which I noticed again today. The inscription
always makes me sad and a bit guilty because I was not living at home at the
time of my 18th birthday, having opted to skip the chaos and turmoil at home
and travel to places abroad. An emergency at home brought me back almost a
year later, and to be honest I don’t remember when my mother presented the
book to me finally but I have always loved it and read it often to understand me
and the rest of the world.

But I began this blog saying it was a rant and I’ve gotten off course. My rant is
simply that I still feel put upon. My family, which now includes my siblings, my
nieces and nephew and my own children, still put unreasonable emotional demands
on me at times that I am powerless to ignore…I love them all dearly but sometimes
I wish I could fugue…

Thanks for listening…

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Death is a certainty…

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Death has been my reality this 2018.  In September my older sister died at the age of 65. Our father is almost 90 and is still alive!  I had been estranged from her for over 3 years so I had not known she was ill. I take no comfort in the fact that my other two siblings were not estranged from her yet they seemed to be equally in the dark about her illness. She was a very complicated personality, the subject of many of my essays although not usually mentioned or written about in ways that might identify her.

The word I associate with her passing is not really grief. It is surreal to me that she is no longer on earth in her physical form. She has been cremated and her ashes are with my brother awaiting some closure. I feel like in death, she is still in some kind of limbo and that makes me sad for her. She had a tortured existence, the victim of mental health issues which were not ever properly addressed, or at least to the best of my knowledge they weren’t.

She flitted in and out of my life, showing up when it suited her. Since I was busy with my own life and often exasperated with her choices and demands, the gaps when she made herself scarce were welcomed respites. Knowing that she is in another dimension, with our Mom who passed away on January 1st affords some comfort. She was always jealous about sharing our Mom even though she made no real effort at staying in touch with or supporting our parents in any way, shape or form.

The perfect families that I dream about and want to write about simply do not exist. No matter how good they look from the outside, something inside them is always brewing. Even my favorite television family, the Reagans of Blue Bloods, engage in some behavior that brings up many familiar memories in all of us. Thus the popularity of the show.

I am in the process of getting serious about writing my memoirs. I am doing it so that my children have some idea of what my journey has been like. Now that my mom is gone, I am sorry that I didn’t write down more stories, ask more questions, listen more closely. But there is nothing to be gained by being sorry. It is too late. My husband’s uncle wrote an immense biography of their family which no one ever bothers to look at because of the sheer weight of the thing. I believe even his sister (my mother in law) who should have been fascinated by the ‘manual’ never took the time to read it.

My ‘autobiography’ will be short. It will be more about how I got from there to here than with exploring the fascinating details of our DNA which are now even in question as the suppliers of these kits themselves find they are the target of investigations due to many errors. My daughter received her analysis and weeks later received another…but that’s a story for another blog.

For now, the death toll in my community has risen quite a bit in the last month or so. I have lost two important family members this year, my mom and my sister. I look forward to my father’s 90th birthday at the end of this month, and hopefully a slow down in funerals and an increase in births come next year.  But I am not in control, am I? Only of my reactions.

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After Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving has come and gone! It is amazing how one day turns
quickly into a week, a month, a year and soon we will be greeting
2019!

I have remained committed to my “healthy eating plan”, having lost
25 lbs. and then reaching a not-surprising plateau which then led
me into not tracking, not trying, not caring…

A couple of days after my last post, a family member died unexpectedly.
I think at that point, rather than properly deal with grief, I became a bit
numb and stopped even attempting to diet. I gained a couple of pounds.
Although I was tempted not to share that information, I decided that the
best thing to do is own up to it, admit that my participation or lack of it
is what caused the weight gain. Not beat myself up, rather understand
and decide that one of these meals would be the one that would make me
get back on the straight and narrow, if you will…

Enter November…still that couple of pounds not gone and now I decided
on the spur of the moment to join my pal who was participating in this
years Nanowrimo! Since writing is really all I care to do, even though when
I am about to sit down to write, I always find something more compelling…
I decided to give it a go. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in one
month, a novel…no, I am not going to finish the challenge, perhaps I will
make it to 20,000 words, I am pretty close, but the experience has been so
worth it. I have learned a lot about myself during the month and I am not
going to give up on the story I am writing because I have become invested
in it and in my characters.

So, November and Thanksgiving added another pound, so I lost 25 added
3 for a net loss of 22 lbs. in 2018. I cannot say I am disappointed. I still need
to lose another 30 lbs. but I have 2019 to look forward to. God willing!

Household help!

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By anyone’s definition, my house is very big. Although it is only my
husband and me living here now, there was a time when our home
did not seem big enough for our family and the many guests we had
over the years when our children were young.

In my early childhood, my parents were able to afford household help
so that other than making my bed and the “teach-your-children-
responsibility phase” my mother was going through, my chores were
not very many. That all changed when we moved to New York and
household help was something that only the very wealthy could afford.
That was my introduction to the “real” world of hard physical labor
if one wanted a clean home.

Both my parents worked during my childhood so that each one of us
was expected to do our share. I remember waiting until the last minute
each day and then scrambling off the couch when I realized my mother
could be walking in any minute and would scold us for the fact that
nothing was done. I wouldn’t have minded the scolding except that my
mother’s scolding was actually more of a whine…the kind that is tinged
with just the appropriate amount of guilt-producing expressions that
are difficult to forget even years after the events have passed.

To give an example, my mom would say: “What have I got here? Four
mortgages?” and sigh deeply. Once, in my haste to clean up all the dishes
that had piled up during the day, I didn’t realize that one of the glasses
in the sink was broken until I felt the stab as I plunged my hand deeply
into it. I remember panicking more about the scolding than about the
blood that was profusely dripping into the sink or the stitches I should
have gotten at the hospital or clinic. Instead I made my sister promise
not to say anything to my parents and I hid my injury for however long
it took to heal (at least two weeks). I still have the scar.

The silver lining is that I never, ever again let dishes accumulate in the
sink. To this day, my sink is always ready for action. I am always washing
and putting away the dishes, whether they are mine or everyone else’s.
Peace of mind is very important to me.

But I was actually intending to write about household help. Like the
frustration I feel when I see that my cleaning lady (who has been with
me for 3 years) still doesn’t sweep behind things…unless I specifically
ask her…Just this morning, I noticed accumulated debris under the
pingpong table. I am not sure what the problem is, I have already said
that this is a big house, still it is not a big deal to just sweep it. And
having said that, I guess I will take myself, my broom and dustpan and
take care of it now!

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Noguchi Museum

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I find myself in NYC at the moment. The last time I was here it
was a quick trip just like this one but I had an obligation to be
around for my daughter’s cat while she went away on a trip to
California for a close friend’s wedding. Although it was just a few
months ago, I feel like it was ages since I was “home”…

Yesterday I took myself out to the Noguchi Museum. I was filled
with admiration for the sculptures and the quiet meditative feel
that I absorbed from just being in the rooms. The garden was also
peace inspiring.  I sat and observed a young artist drawing, a few
people quietly chatting, and a toddler sitting on the coarse gravel
ground cover playing with one of the stones. My immediate thought
was that his bottom must be hurting but then I remembered that a
child of that age has a built in cushion thanks to his diaper!

Museums conjure up feelings of reverence in me. I love to go into
churches and settle my soul. The feelings I get from sitting quietly
and alone in churches is replicated in museums, especially if I am
by myself. Yesterday was one of those days. I am very happy to be
living in a city (albeit temporarily) that has so many options for an
afternoon of culture.

Where do the days go?

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I find it hard to believe that my last post on this blog is almost a month old.
Every day, I write at least in one of my blogs (I have five, not sure why except that I feel like every one of my passions needs its own space where I can express things about it). So I have a blog about dogs, a blog about optimism and gratitude, a blog about senior citizens, this blog which is mostly about weight and life issues and then a final one which is a collaborative effort with a few other friends who are also writers.

One of my frustrations has been not to be able (or willing) to take the time to get to my as yet unpublished (because it´s not finished) work of fiction.. Or should I say, works of fiction, since like blogging, I find that I have too many ideas for just one book. Anyway, right now I am working away on a mini iPad that I have not been very nice to…complaining always that it is too small, when in reality, all it takes is a little getting used to. I purchased it about two or three years ago, it was really reasonable. Then I bought a nice keyboard for it, and a case and it is actually working very nicely. So maybe the problem is me, and not it.

Not sure why I went off on a tangent like that except that I felt guitly about not writing in this blog for my faithful followers. I agree that blogging in each site every day is excessive, but once a month is really not cutting it either. Either we put the time in and honor our followers, or we simply go away.

I hope all this rambling hasn´t turned you off. In closing, I would just like to say that although I haven´t been writing here, I have been writing generally, reading also. My weight watchers journey is going strong although I admit that the weight loss is very slow because I don´t feel desperately about it. Of the 50 lbs. I would like to have lost by the end of this year, I have lost 26, so there we are.

Nothing’s changed, so my perspective needs to!

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Ten days ago, I blogged that the world was angry! Nothing’s changed in
the days ensuing this remark, in fact the fact that everyone is angry has
actually become even more apparent since I mentioned it. Going on FB
has become a challenge…I already can predict which of my “friends” will
be there and what they will say. I do have to sign on at least once a day
because I made a commitment to the FB community that I belong to that
I would share a couple of things on a daily basis in 2018. Thank goodness
it’s already the end of July…I can keep it going for another few months
and then make a life decision. Do I stay or do I go?

I have been looking into options of where to go on Social Media to get
the kind of interactions I want: non-political, compassionate, intelligent
conversations about where our world could be headed if we all decided we
are in this together and should really try to improve things.

Because of my age (60’s), I find that there are limited options because the
world at large still caters to the youth! Nothing wrong with that, I was a
youth once and in essence, still identify more with the young than with the
old simply because they are more involved and invested in making sure that
our planet survives. Still, I want to have real and important conversations with
people who have been around the block and have gone through some stuff.
Unfortunately, some of the sites for older folk that existed a few years back are
“parked” or “gone”…does that mean their founders are also? It doesn’t make me
feel so good but I will spend a good part of my morning searching.

In the meantime, if any “third agers” happen upon this blog and can offer some
ideas, please send them my way!

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The world is angry!

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I live in a small town. You know what they say about small towns: Big Hell!
Until recently, I was very content in my small town, living my life, enjoying
the odd social gathering and essentially knowing how my days would begin
and end. The last several months have been increasing my discomfort level
as I hear and see many acquaintances really get into the misery the rest of the
world seems intent on living.

My writing has always been a need for me. I cannot agree with people who say
they “love” to write, for that has never been my feeling. I need to write, I want
to write and get paid for it, but even though I don’t get paid for it, I still need
to do it every single day. Some days it is just a sentence in my head. Some
days I actually draft things out in a notebook the old-fashioned way, with pen
and paper and then I forget how important the particular prose felt in the
moment and I lose the paper, or the notebook until I am clearing off a particular
space and come upon it again.

The social media rants that I voluntarily read increasingly rob me of time and
energy and deplete whatever optimism lives in me; yet I find myself having to
really exercise discipline to sign off or at the very least, put my phone aside to
do other things. It is amazing, I rarely respond to posts even though many of
them stir deep feelings. I get a kick out of those who do because they often end
up saying things I am sure they regret. Not to mention getting “blocked” by the
administrators for offensive and crude language. I can’t entertain the idea of
ever being blocked so I simply do what many others do, read and move on.

I live in a small town that has a large quantity of expats. Although I lived in a
different country and learned its culture well, I am now living in my birth land
and identify more with it. I find that the typical expat (whether originating in
U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia or Africa) believes their new country is somehow
lacking and wants things to be just the way they were “back home”. This attitude
irks me but I remain silent because silence is the path to peace and understanding.

There are so many things that can be said about learning a new language, about
preparing mentally to make a huge move, especially when the one certain is that
wherever you go, there YOU are. I lived in Puerto Rico once. I do remember that
the absence of family and friends was a bit lonely, but it was also tremendously
liberating. I found that I developed some new (positive) traits by not being labeled
or thought of the way family and old friends can see and pigeonhole one. Rather
than wanting things the way they were in my past, I was thrilled to be living in a
completely different culture and learned to love it just the way it was.

I don’t really remember where I was going with this blog, but there it is. I guess
the lesson for today is that if you want to make a smooth transition into a place,
it is best to go gently and quietly into its spaces to first absorb and understand
and then to pitch changes if they are necessary or even wanted.

 

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Why Write?

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I have been describing myself as a writer for at least three decades.
I cannot say that I enjoy writing, it is more like a calling, an impetus
buried not too deep that makes me set down on paper many of the
varied thoughts that take a hold of my brain. I want to write a novel,
a story that follows closely the reality of my small town but one that
I could tailor so that no character would recognize him/herself in. I
am not sure that is at all possible.

My friends in the small writing circle I belong to are not all in the same
writing place. A couple of us (not including me) are quite far in the
quest to write the book, others of us are tampering with sentences and
one of us in essentially very new and shy about the process of writing
and actually sharing. I am not sure how our small group even got
started but here we are enjoying almost a second year of being together.

I don’t know how many of us “social media” followers are feeling as non-
excited as I am. Every day I open my emails on yahoo, aol and gmail and
I am disgusted by the many emails that begin with doom and gloom subject
lines. By this I mean, their titles are “Last chance” “Deadline approaching”
“Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity”…to spend, spend, spend.
I realize that it is a marketer’s function to make sure even spirituality sites
find their “followers” at the shopping cart but I am frankly so turned off
by it that I have unsubscribed to many of the sites that I used to enjoy.

And don’t get me started with Pinterest! So I clicked on one sunset picture,
and you know how Pinterest makes you sign up after a click or two? Well,
I did and now it seems every single day, I receive a come on from Pinterest
telling me that they have found another 18 sunset pictures I can see. Does
anyone really know how to work an algorithm to improve these pitches?

Or how about Amazon sending me pictures of the same items I just bought
last week and asking me to buy them again? And on Facebook, let’s pick on
Facebook for a minute. The other day I uploaded for my “fans” a “Happy
4th of July picture and good wishes”. I posted it. It got a lot of “likes” but
FB now wants me to “promote” the post…see what I mean about the algo-
rithm…doesn’t the robot know that it is now the 6th of July and no amount
of boosting is going to get me more clicks for this once-a-year event? I try
to stay away from FB and that is probably going to be my decision for 2019.
2018 I made a promise to my followers that I would post a recipe and a flower
every day. Because I am the kind of person who says what they mean and
means what they say, I can’t see myself NOT doing it until December 31, but
after that unless something really radical changes at FB, I think I will be out.

A lot of people say these things and say “no more political stuff” and then you
see them being bad mouthed, or in a bad mood or poo-pooing just about
everything in life. What’s the point? Be a mood lifter, there are plenty of jerks
out there who can only see the black dot on the white sheet of paper. Who
needs more of those?

Thanks for reading this far! Have a great evening.

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