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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July is here already!

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It’s the Fourth of July! Celebrations are going on in the U.S. but
where I live (in a tropical paradise), nothing seems to be going
on in quite the same scale as the celebrations of years past.

I feel a bit odd that one entire month (June) went by and I didn’t
post a single entry. It is not that I don’t write every single day,
because I do, it just hasn’t been the kind of writing that I feel
comfortable sharing. Not sure what that’s about.

My husband was away for almost the entire month of June. He
returned quite exhausted and seems to have caught a bug, maybe
on the airplane? I feel bad for him but in a way, perhaps it is best
to let him rest while I catch up on some of the writing that I have
put on the side so I could devote myself to doing the chores that
keep our household running and that he is usually responsible for.
A few more days won’t make any difference, the poor guy has a lot
of things on his mind.

So July! I have continued to have slow progress with my Weight
Watchers plan and I am confident that by the end of this year, I
will have lost most of the weight I have set myself a goal for. It
would be wonderful to begin 2019 (which feels like it is just around
the corner!) in some new clothes…

I have done some serious decluttering in June. I actually got rid of
a good amount of clothing and knickknacks that were not bringing
me any joy. It is amazing how light one feels after disposing of items
that no longer fit one’s life. I finally accepted that I was keeping things
for the wrong reasons. For example, a friend of mine gave my daughter
and me earrings that were crafted by her then-boyfriend, a man I know
and whose behavior has impressed me, but not in a good way. I never
wore the earrings because they were too long for my short neck and my
daughter never wore hers because they were not in a style she liked. But
I felt I needed to keep them because my friend might be hurt if I found
another home for them.

A few months after the earrings were given to us, my friend’s relationship
ended. The artist boyfriend began a new relationship and a year later, that
one also ended. Every morning, I saw the earrings. I moved them from one
side of the dresser to another.  I began to question why I still had them.
One serendipitous night as I was watching Youtube, I ended up catching a
video on Marie Kondo, the decluttering consultant…she has a very unique
way of approaching decluttering. You have to gather all the items you own
wherever you are working. You hold each item in your hand until they either
spark “joy” or not. If they still give you joy, that is your permission to keep
them; otherwise, it is best to find a new home for them.

I held each pair in my hands. Waited for the “joy” that never came. I made
two beautiful packages for these lovely items and then placed them with
other “treasures” I was giving away to the local Animal Shelter for their
fundraising campaign. It felt so good to send the earrings to a place that
I know will find someone they can bring joy to.

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In and On Plan

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I begin every morning with fruit. Early this morning, I realized I had
finished the last of my blueberries yesterday morning and completely
forgot to buy new fruit. Then I remembered I had a lovely salad left
from yesterday’s lunch which included two slices of tomato! Tomato
is fruit…so I added a bit (a lot actually) of cottage cheese and voilá,
my dilemma was solved. If only all of life’s tribulations could so easily
be remedied.

It has been a hectic week. I have travelled to the U.S. for just a few
days to take care of some very necessary errands and I am fully aware
that two of the ten days are traveling days so don’t really count. It is
eye-opening to see just how little one can actually get done in a week
in New York. Life here is hard, it seems much harder than when I was
younger and living here. Living in a tropical paradise where everything
moves slower has definitely spoiled me for the hectic pace that is kept
here.

I find I am more sensitive to the sounds, smells, and attitudes than I ever
was before. Although I excuse people because the pace of New York has
always been very fast, I find myself feeling disoriented and quite out of
touch with what the population of New York finds important. Listening to
the news is always disconcerting, journalism finds its success in sensation-
alizing everything but there is no doubt there are situations of violence on
every corner of this melting pot, patchwork quilt or mosaic, pick your term!

My visit is coming quickly to an end. I am blessed by having the most loving
children and for them I am grateful. My work here for the moment is done
and I will be back late in the summer to get any shopping done that I want.
For now, I will enjoy my last day in the company of my children, taking nice
pictures to share with my husband back home.

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Suicide Awareness…

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                       Communication is king

Avicii’s apparent suicide has left me profoundly sad. I remember that the first time I
heard the song “Wake Me Up”, I had a bit of trouble reconciling the upbeat music with
the sad and haunting lyrics.

I am more than twice his age. My thoughts about suicide have always been very clear.
Just don’t do it. But I have never been in a place so low that it would be a solution that
would occur to me. I have always been grateful for the faith in that “something out there”
that provides the strength I have had in the face of many obstacles and disappointments
that just being alive will bring.

May he rest in peace, finally in a place where nothing is painful. I cannot even begin to
imagine what it must be like for his family to know that this exceptional human being is
no longer available to chat with, to laugh with, to just hug and let him know that they
would help him find peace.

It is sad to know that so many of our talented people are simply not prepared for the fame
and fortune we foist on them with our superficial love. When I was a young girl, I longed
to be like the Supremes, singing my heart out to entertain people but also to feel that I
was somehow appreciated and that I “counted”. My parents never encouraged that side of
me, suggesting that I study for a career that would provide basic funds and then maybe a
little extra for affordable luxuries but certainly not the “Hollywood” glamour that I thought
I craved. My life has unfolded in such a way that I do enjoy a bit of popularity and fame in
my small town and I can attest to the fact that sometimes it is not pleasant to be out with my
husband or family for a nice quite family dinner and have several people interrupt our meal
because they would like to have a word. It’s exhausting. And I am not (1) that famous,
(2) that young or (3) that sensitive.

 

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Cauliflower pizza, anyone?

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A lovely head!

I did a terrible thing today: in anticipation of tomorrow being garbage
day, I decided to clean out my refrigerator! No, that’s not the terrible
thing I did! The terrible thing I did was to throw out almost an entire
week’s worth of vegetables that my husband and I purchased at the
farmers market just last week.

I don’t know what comes over the two of us when we visit the place. It’s
like all those colorful vegetables are shouting to us that they want to come
home…and that they will be cooked…only to end up in the compost bucket
time after time.

In the last few months, since I’ve been watching what I eat, I have become
a bit more interested in trying out new recipes. Don’t get me wrong, I used
to love cooking, especially when my children were young and I was a full-
time (and happy) stay-at-home, home-school Mom. But then the kids grew
up and moved away and now it’s hubby and me and we spend a lot of time at
home (semi-retired) and I have embraced this “new life”.

My husband enjoys cooking and so for the last few years, he’s been more or
less responsible for the meals we have for dinner. Of course, he also enjoys
eating and snacking and has a penchant for things like pepperoni, potato chips,
chocolate…thus, we have both gained a fair amount of weight in those same few
years.  I know no one was forcing me to have the extra calories; I am human too
and although I don’t indulge in pepperoni or chips (no sacrifice really, it’s not my
thing!), almonds, chocolate and cake are definitely on my list of favorites.

Since I joined Weight Watchers in December, though, I have definitely been off
most of those goodies. Not that WW “forbids” anything, I just feel that if I am
dieting, it should feel a like a diet. I am one of those people who feels a need to
have “rules” that I will feel disappointed about breaking. I know, I know, but
there you have it.

Last week when we were at the farmers market, there was an enormous cauli-
flower for sale. It was sold by unit and my husband found a much smaller one
that he preferred but he deferred to me since I had visions of making a pizza
with a cauliflower crust. I don’t know what possessed me to think I was going
to actually tackle that project; to begin with, it involved getting out and dusting
the food processor and making cauliflower rice! It never happened and today
when I found myself tossing the entire head, I was overcome with pangs of guilt.
If we had purchased the smaller head, it would have been a nice side dish for one
of our few dinners at home this week. I told my husband that from now on he
must not humor me when I lose my head momentarily like that!

 

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Change the mattress…

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My daughter has had trouble sleeping for a long time. I used to think it
was because of college and all the stress that goes with it. Recently, she
requested a new bed frame, at a total cost of $49. I thought the request was
very reasonable and then I began to think about the condition of the bed that
she was sleeping in, remembering that the mattress and its box spring are the
same ones I slept in more than 30 years ago.

Why don’t you buy a new mattress? I asked. Do you know how expensive they are,
she balked! I replied that I was planning on paying for it, I know it is a
major expense that a recent college graduate like herself could not afford right
now and I felt terribly guilty that the idea had not occurred to me sooner.
Well, I won’t bore readers with the steps that took place between my approval and
her actually getting the new mattress and box spring all set up, suffice it to say
that it took a lot of back and forth since we are living in different countries and
time zones.

She set everything up over the weekend. This morning I asked her if she had slept
well and she replied with a resounding and energetic YES! The best ever, momma,
thanks!

I am happy this situation had a happy ending but can’t forgive myself just yet for
my lack of awareness. Poor kid!

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A slow journey, the weight loss route!

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April has indeed been a very busy month for me. When I began my weight loss
journey in December it was motivated by my disbelief at how much weight I had
gained in the last few years. All my “reasons” for the weight gain were understood
by me, both emotionally and intellectually. When I saw a picture of myself (that I
immediately deleted), I was spurred into action mode.

It is now almost 5 months later. I have managed to lose almost 19 lbs. and wish
it was so much more but I am feeling much better these days that the speed at
which I am losing (slowly) will allow me to “fit” into the idea that going quickly
is not in my reality or future. I cannot say that I have not been hungry on this
program (Weight Watchers) but I also cannot say that I have deprived myself
of healthy or tasty food in the last few months.

I track my food for accountability (personal since I am strictly on the program
“on line”), weigh myself every day (it works for me) and have good support from
those around me. I use the tools available to me, especially the ones that allow
me to see other people’s progress and read their comments.

A new weight watchers enrollee asked others to share their motivations and the
ways in which they get or stay inspired. I began to think about that; I usually
don’t give it much thought, I just do what I do because I know it will get results.
But when I looked deep into my soul, I realized that I am motivated by the most
superficial of reasons: I don’t like what I see when I see myself in pictures!

It’s that simple and that superficial and for now, it is the best incentive I have. I
realized last week that the almost 19 lb. loss has allowed me to consider trying on
clothing that had been relegated to the back of my closet. I am a clotheshorse and
although I have gotten rid of impossible-to-get-back-into-sizes, I have kept those
that are reasonably within my reach. Much to my great surprise and joy, I was able
to fit into a lovely blouse and slacks (size 14…) that I wore to an event last week. My
friend and I took a picture and I did not balk when I saw it; I am beginning to see
the self I recall…it is also worth mentioning that even though I usually drive every-
where I was forced to take a bus last week and I fit into the seat without any discomfort.
All of these non-scale victories are doing wonders for motivation and my self-esteem.

I am eager to continue my slow and steady progress. Just like the turtle, I too will
get to the finish line!

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Changing the Setting!

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I’m the kind of gal who can sometimes drown in a glass of water! I can be
so hands on in certain situations and then a really nonsensical thing can
completely throw me off!

Take my weigh-in day with Weight Watchers. When I started the program
it was established that my day for this activity was Mondays! As with all
kinds of “new” projects, the beginning was just fine, energy was wonderful,
I was delighted with the food plan, the variety, the recipes, etc. So Mondays
were just fine for the weigh-in (I do the program on-line BTW). Fast forward
a couple of months, now you’re used to the program, it starts to get a little
stale, the daily menus are not being planned with as much precision and the
tracking is not as strict so the losses each week are really, really low. This is
also the result of eating a little more on the weekend, using up those extra
points, etc. I began to feel miserable on Sunday evenings, eliminating the
one chocolate truffle I was splurging on because I feared gaining an ounce
or not losing at all…instead of doing something about it, I chose to deny my-
self and that is never a good feeling.

Last night, it occurred to me that I have complete control of how I work my
program. I signed on and found the “settings” button. I changed my weigh-in
day from Monday to Saturday so that I can be “good” during the week and
have a few treats on the weekend, after all, isn’t that what the weekend is for?
Fun, treats and enjoyment. I still weigh myself each morning, it’s what works
for me and today I actually had a lovely surprise but I do have a plan for this
week (a food plan that is) and I know that on Saturday morning, the surprise
will be even nicer! No need to drown in this glass of water!

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A fuzzy brain

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A few years ago, suffering from constant clutter, I came across
the Fly Lady, the woman who would change my life from CHAOS
to serene! Well, it was good while it lasted until I started to receive
so many emails per day from her that I had to release her. Email
clutter is just as bad as physical clutter. I found eventually that I
had subscribed to a lot of sites just because I didn’t want to have
nothing to read on a daily basis. Then I figured out that the
amount of time I was wasting on the computer was taking its toll
on my home and family (even though they didn’t realize it).

I can say that I made very good use of lots of the Fly Lady’s advice
and to this day (although it was a habit of mine already), my kitchen
sink (where it all begins) is shining (well, as much as possible since
the material it’s made from doesn’t really shine, but you get the point).

These days, I feel like I am having a constant battle with brain fog. You
know, you start doing an activity, or looking something up, or gathering
materials for a project and suddenly, you freeze because you can’t recall
exactly what you were going to do. I feel that maybe it is because I have
way too many things on my mind…not able to prioritize so that at the
end of each day I feel like I got nothing done.

Take today for an example: my cleaning lady is here. I find that her (very
much needed) presence is an intrusion. I love the fact that the house is
dusted and the floors are mopped and things look lovely but I dislike the
fact that I have to prepare for her arrival which cuts into the time that I
would ordinarily use to draft an essay or at least devote some time to it.
In the end, though, I know that it is really just an excuse, that in fact, I have
nothing thought out or outlined and perhaps for the very first time in my
life, I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants. I have never been this way
but then again, I have never had the life I have today.

I find myself a little lost. Every day since my mother’s passing on January 1st
has reminded me of the temporary nature of things. Granted my mother lived
almost 89 years, an almost permanent presence in my life but I wonder now if
my brain fog is my way of grieving. Since I was expecting my mother to die, I
didn’t get hysterical in the moment. So many things needed to be done. I had
joined Weight Watchers just a month before and I was so determined to lose
the weight this time, that except for one night where I had an excessive
amount of Johnny Walker Black label Whiskey (and no hangover!), I did not
grieve by eating myself through it. I know she would be proud of me for not
overeating.

I think of my mother every single day,  I guess I always did; she was an6
incredibly strong influence in my life; of both what to do and what NOT
to do when faced with life’s adversities. I was always very proud of her
and I hope she knew it because I don’t remember every saying it to her in
quite that way.

So Weight Watchers has been pretty good to me. I find that I can “connect”
with others who, like me, struggle to get back to a good weight and know
that it will be a lifetime commitment. My husband and I celebrated our
anniversary yesterday. Our daughter posted a picture of us taken one year
ago, and although we both look very happy, it is obvious we are both in the
category of “American overweight couples”! It isn’t funny and while I have
lost about 20 lbs. since the picture was taken, I feel a bit embarrassed that I
allowed the weight to creep up like that. But onward…getting menus for the
week done is a good way to clear up some of that brain fog today. I think I
will get to it.

 

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