I consider myself an African Violet enthusiast, hoping year after year that I will
actually become an expert by devoting more consistent time to the hobby. My interest
in these colorful, little plants began many years ago when a current love interest
gave me one and said “May this plant bloom and grow as our love does.”
I didn’t realize at the time that his words were to be the kiss of death for the
poor little plant which was neglected by me like our “love” was neglected by him.
Both the plant and the love died suddenly and quickly and it wasn’t until a few
years later that I began to see what a terrible thing it was to have let the poor,
innocent plant bear the brunt of our immaturity. I suppose I didn’t want the plant
to remind me of him but still, I could have given it to someone. Instead it found
itself in the garbage.
A single African Violet leaf was presented to me about 15 years ago by a pre-school
student at the end of the school year. I had no idea how African Violets propagated
but by that point, I was not willing to let any living thing die in my care, so I
watered it regularly. It took a long time before anything happened but eventually it
grew lots of leaves. Finally, after a few years, I could not believe I actually saw
a flower! I was really excited. I think that the reward after so much patience on my
part made me want to have more of these beautiful plants. I began to purchase them on
any outing to the nurseries, often having a dozen or so on display. When I travelled
I was always afraid that they would die, but my husband took very good care of them
and they have been thriving and flowering despite some neglect on my part for many
I just went out to look at them and spent some time removing dead leaves, watering,
admiring the flowers and it hit me that they are very sturdy and that is probably what
I like about them. Although they could refuse to flower, the do so regularly. I really
enjoy this hobby and now that I am saying NO to many things, perhaps I can begin to say
YES to having beautiful, healthy, prize-worthy plants.
As I write my regular Sunday blog, I usually listen to music for meditation or
other relaxing, inspiring music. After I finish my writing, I browse the You Tube
channel for other kinds of music and let someone’s playlist go on for a while. Today
I happened to begin with Richard Marx and then the playlist segued to the gorgeous
voice of Whitney Houston. I felt at once exhilarated by what her voice was like and
incredibly saddened by what became of her. I could actually hear the deterioration
of her voice as the years went by and I am overcome by grief for the years her
destructive addictions robbed from her precious life…and her daughter.
When I was a child, I loved to sing, fancied myself a future chanteuse! My mom was
never fond of this idea saying singing was fine as a hobby but not something worth
entertaining as a career. Like the obedient child I was, I put the idea away but
continued to sing every chance I got. I married a controlling man many years my
senior when I was just 20. He didn’t like any singing and scolded me any time I
sang so I soon stopped and realized just some months ago that I have gotten completely
out of the habit of singing and that my voice (never anything special) is no longer
even what it once was. But I still can carry a tune and I think I should begin to
sing once again, even if only in the shower!
On the Second day of Christmas…and so it goes, and soon it will be the first
day of 2016 and before you know it, half the year has gone by and so on.
It is so important at the end of this year to really get clear on what is of
vital importance to each of us, remembering that life is precious, that we can’t
take anything with us and that our time should be spent doing the things that
make our life worth the time we have.
I just turned down an opportunity to volunteer to participate in a charity event
that is held every year in my town. I don’t feel too guilty about saying ‘no’ but a
part of me does feel a need to explain when honestly like they say in those 12-step
programs: No! is a complete sentence.
Volunteering used to be a huge part of my life, from the time I can remember (grammar
school!) so much so that it became a burden and interfered with the way I felt about
myself and how I was perceived by some members of my family. When the volunteering
was done as an effort for the teams or schools my children were involved with, it did
not feel so bad, but when the efforts were for organizations that only saw me as a
person who would not say no, and was concerned with hurting someone’s feelings, or worse
believed that things would not happen without me (ego!), it was time to take stock and
begin to behave differently. I don’t have a whole lot of spare time (although I do
admit that after our children got to college I have more!) and the little bit of time
I do have I want to spend writing or making my home look as lovely as I know it can be,
or return to my craft hobbies (jewelry making, embroidering, etc.).
It sounds selfish but sometimes in order to be selfless, it is important to be
a little selfish.
It’s the first day of Christmas! From where I sit, I can hear a radio playing and
a bird singing but the rest of the atmosphere is hushed and it doesn’t seem a bit
like the Christmases of the past. It has been a difficult year for me on many levels
but I have never been the kind of person to dwell on things so I guess this year will
be no different.
I look forward to 2016 with an optimism not matched by recent years. I anticipate many
new and exciting adventures and I am open to meeting new people and finally letting go
of others whose interests and leanings no longer reflect the person I am today.
For today, may I enjoy a day free of bad habits and in good health and good cheer.
I live in a tropical country where Christmas is celebrated in the ‘summer’.
Christmas carols in Latin American tropical countries are joyful, happy,
songs in stark contrast to the solemn traditional carols of the U.S. where
I spent most of my youth.
As I sit in my living room and look at the beautifully decorated Christmas
tree, I am conscious that today does not feel like Christmases of the past.
Perhaps it is because my children are not all here; our daughter is here but
she is heading to the beach in a few hours and our sons are still in the U.S.
and while one will arrive between now and the New Year, one son will remain
where he has been for the last few months.
My parents stopped putting up a Christmas tree after we were all gone from home
and I never thought the same would happen to us but I notice that every year
I take out less and less decorations because dismantling and putting things
aways is honestly a bit of a chore.
The real reason for celebrating Christmas (the birth of Jesus and the optimism
with which his arrival was met by people who lived at that time) will never change
whether I decorate or not and this makes me feel some comfort, at least some
traditions will never change.
I can’t say I’ve seen too many films with Elizabeth Taylor in them, but I can say
that she was one of my favorite movie stars, a celebrity who personified glamour for
me and who actually made me believe (when I was young) that if you did your best
to look “put together”, your days could be easier.
Ms. Taylor battled lots of demons in her life, not the least of which was the
fight she had with her food addiction. Despite that, though, she always looked
fantastic and I loved her attitude of perseverance and optimism.
It is not easy for anyone, famous or not, to constantly keep negative things at
bay. This Christmas I gave myself two gifts of jewelry, perhaps this is the first
time that I realize I actually really like jewelry even though I rarely wear it.
I used to before I had children and now that I can again because my children are
all grown-up, I feel like I have to have somewhere fancy to go to and don’t bother
because we live in a small, casual town.
For 2016, I am going to purge all the items in my closet that don’t fit, or that I
no longer find flattering. I intend to catalogue my jewelry and use some of the
closet space to put it away in. Then I will begin to select the items I want to
keep and the ones that I want to donate. That is one of my very achievable goals.
In telling her story, eating disorder expert Geneen Roth mentions that she once
wore the same dress for a while because it was the only thing that fit her. A few
days ago, I found myself with an almost equal dilemma. I have gained a bit of weight
again in the last few weeks and it seems to me, I am wearing the same two or three
pairs of slacks (thank goodness for the stretchy, yet elegant, fabric!) with different
blouses to make it through the week.
I don’t remember whether Ms. Roth encourages us to keep the scale or get rid of it,
but I have decided that for me, it works better if I keep it and get on it at least
every two or three days. Many years ago when youth was on my side, I could boldly
approximate whether or not I had gained weight by just how my clothes fit. These
days, it is not quite so clear and I was shocked to find myself at exactly the same
weight a few days ago that I was when we ended December 2014. During this year, I have
lost and gained the same 10 lbs. That had never happened to me before, I either lost
the weight or gained the weight but I have never begun and ended a year on the same
number. I am not sure if I should be happy or sad about this.
But back to Ms. Roth. Her writing is very inspiring. Her story is heartbreaking and
at the same time uplifting and she has been able to help many people who are suffering
from eating disorders. Her books have helped me too, but like other times, the help
was temporary; not because of her but because of where I have been in my journey when
her books and I come together. Today, I am feeling positive. I want to write about my
journey and peharps this daily logging that I am doing will make a strong habit in me.
After all, I would like tomorrow’s log to reflect what today’s will: that I was able to
eat normally and healthily.
Marianne Williamson came to my attention years ago when her knowledge in A Course
in Miracles was featured everywhere you turned. Many years later, she wrote another
book applying the concepts of ACIM to weight loss. The book came into my life several
months ago and I was delighted but I confess I simply gave it a cursory reading and did
not do anything more. Yesterday as I was dusting off my nighttable, I realized that
I have so many books on the subject of weight issues, I could devote a whole bookshelf
to them! And still the weight lingers…
Ms Williamson states that she is not a food addict but that before she began studying
ACIM, she was a compulsive overeater. She mentions that after studying ACIM for a while,
the weight came off, almost on its own. I can relate to these words because there was a
time in my life when I became so focused on other things (work, night school, 12-step
programs, etc.) I did not spend time focusing on eating every minute. I am longing to
get back to that time and at least for this week, I am determined that I will eat like
a normal human being: when I am hungry and stopping when I am full…and naturally eating
healthy food and cutting out the junk.
I have taken a second break from my Candy Crush obsession and find that I
have lots of time these days. It’s unbelievable how much time one can
actually waste on those things. The last time, I stayed away from it for
more than 6 months. This time I want to perhaps go back after April 2016…
not sure why I picked that time but it seems like something I can do. I enjoy
playing candy crush, it’s fun and a challenge when I spend just a few minutes
on it. When it interferes with my daily routine, though, it begins to worry
me. I am not sure why I haven’t removed it from my phone since I know that
in the scale of what’s important, it is certainly not adding anything to my
life but that is where I am right now.
It’s funny, I have tremendous will power sometimes but it doesn’t always
mean I have discipline. For example, I find that I don’t miss candy crush
but if I see an open bag of snickers (the teeny ones) lying on the counter,
I find I don’t have the discipline to walk by without grabbing at least one!
Today, I actually did close the open bag and put it high in the cupboard
where it is not easy for me (with my height handicap) to reach. I hope I can
continue to do that every time I find myself reaching for food mindlessly.
The holidays are approaching (or here!) and celebrations abound everywhere
we look these days. Last night I attended a board meeting for the only
organization that I belong to these days and as a lovely surprise, we were
served a nice dinner for our ‘refreshment’…complete with a small slice
of homemade spice cake. As I sat eating my dinner, I was relieved that I
had not had anything to eat prior to arriving because it would have been
awful to turn down such a special and thoughtful treat, but also because I
would have felt so uncomfortably full and anxious about the extra calories.
Will it ever end, this endless focus on food and weight? During our repast,
I glanced over at one of our colleagues (who has lost a lot of weight in the
past few years) and noticed (unwittingly) that she ate quite a bit and repeated.
I asked myself why I was concerned with it and realized suddenly that I am often
focusing on the behavior or habits of others rather than keeping the focus on
myself. I was embarrassed, glad no one could read my shameful and judgmental
thoughts and promised myself to do better. As I write this now, I am filled
with determination that going forward, I will try to limit myself to paying
attention to what I am putting on my plate only!