Author Archives: marisundays

About marisundays

Commitment to living the best life I can has always driven me to seek out a personal development path. I believe in the power we each have to make a difference in the world but I also accept that most people are not interested or courageous enough to travel unfamiliar paths. I am motivated to help others see their own power so that together we can build a world we can be proud of and happy to live in.

Wills and Trusts…

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When I was a little girl, my mother talked to me often as if I were an adult. I didn’t always understand what she was talking about – adult subjects and language being so sophisticated and all – but I enjoyed having her focus on me so I just didn’t do anything to make her think I wasn’t interested. In the years that followed, I continued to be her confidante, sometimes a confusing and double-edged sword which I tried to diplomatically cover as best I could to spare everyone pain.

My older sister and my mother didn’t often spend time “chewing the fat” because my sister had her own agenda and rarely had the patience to sit and listen to story after story for hours. It didn’t really occur to me that by virtue of being a good listener and taking time to listen to my mother, I was unwittingly becoming a kind of chronicler for the family archives. After my mother passed away in 2018, I honestly believed I would be able to write her biography. I have not been able to put myself in the right frame of mind to begin doing so.

My parents were typical, hard-working, middle class people who came from very little but amassed a modest fortune and property that they intended on leaving their four children. For some reason (perhaps a fear that making a will would make them die that much sooner) my parents never made a formal will. Their properties in another country were “donated” to us years ago so that is not an issue, but they have one house that has not been willed to anyone. One of my siblings died last year and now three of us are left. Because of my attachment to my parents and their certainty in my integrity, I am the one that was authorized to help with their banking. It was also a matter of practicality: I was the one geographically close to them, I have never been estranged from them – taking a 6 month absence while I underwent therapy doesn’t count – and I have always been very, very responsible. They knew what they were doing and I have done my job honestly, efficiently and well.

The death of my eldest sibling did not affect me as it should have. I had no idea that she was ill but her lifestyle choices had never been optimal and her death did not surprise me. She and I were not on speaking terms when she died and although I feel some guilt about that, I have not been able to conjure more than passing grief that she left us just months after our mother died. Our father, though frail, continues to enjoy pretty good health and at 90 can still get around and manage his daily routines. This will not last forever.

My passion in life has been to entertain. I originally wanted to do it from a stage, as a comic, or a singer, or a storyteller. I have also always wanted to write and in fact, write every single day either in my blogs, on paper or in my head. My recent attendance at a Writers Digest Conference opened my eyes to the fact that I have never taken the time to figure out what it is I want to do with my writing. This is something that I need to address so I can get going. I am currently working on two novels but all the workshops and conferences emphasized the importance of being clear on what it is your intended purpose is in order to get going. It seems there are many different ways of attaining success but one thing is very clear, personal participation in the process from writing to publishing to marketing is dependent on the single creator: me! It is at once an overwhelming sensation and also a very comforting one since it means I am in control of the situation, if you will.

But back to my parents and wills…mental health issues abound in my family. I believe myself to be pretty healthy (is that a sign of mental health or a delusion?). My younger sister is paranoid. There is no way to rose color that. We don’t see each other very often. When we do see each other, I am often on the defensive, not knowing what word or subject will trigger her paranoia. Fortunately, I am getting older and less willing to be spoken to in any old way. I asked her today to meet me so I could show her a document I need to present on her behalf to the Municipal authorities in that other country for tax purposes. My idea was that I could present it for her because I live in said foreign country. Her immediate (and not surprising) response was that she would not be bringing her identification, that she wanted to talk about what she was signing and that she would rather fly and sign the documentation herself. I have no stake in the thing, that is fine. In the past, I might have been hurt or felt like she was accusing me of something. Now I just remember who she is, who I am and that mental health issues are often not as evident from the outside. It is sad and worrisome but I can handle it.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Self-Esteem is an Issue

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I just spent a good 30 minutes reading all about Karen Carpenter. What did I come away with? That her issues were caused by a strong desire to get the attention of her dismissive mother. How sad, the mother had ample physical evidence and yet chose to be blind as her daughter lost pound after pound. It is heartbreaking and even more disturbing is the fact that even today, despite all we know, there are many many mothers (and fathers) making mistakes that could easily be corrected. Sometimes I wonder what gets into people’s minds when they decide to have children. Then I stop myself and remember that everyone has their own path to follow and it is not my place to be a judge.

Karen Carpenter was beautiful, talented and had no idea of her value. Self-esteem is nurtured in childhood. By her brother’s own account, no one was paying too much attention as Karen dwindled into a waif and then disappeared. I wonder at her perseverance. Having always had a weight problem (but not a body image one, since I accept what I look like!), I know how difficult it is to lose weight. Although I learned early on (from WW) all about sound nutrition for safe and slow weight loss, I can admit to crash dieting, starving and a very minute foray into bulimia. I was too scared to make a habit out of laxatives or vomiting because my desire to live (fat or thin) trumped everything. I thank my lucky stars that this is my way because fat and thin – well, normal weight – I have lived a very good life. It seems like it would be an easy thing to do, boost one’s child self-esteem by just telling the child he/she is loved for just breathing, but it would appear that many people who have children just repeat the same patterns they were brought up in even though in their deepest recesses they can accept these were not healthy. I sincerely hope that all the literature that abounds will one day reach the ears, eyes, and minds of all the people who find it imperative to continue to bring infants into the world.

I am not by nature a fan of dystopia but I can see the downward spiral we are succumbing to. I hope we can stop before it is too late.

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Sharing our bounty!

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Of all the things I know I will never be is a painter…and how I wish I could be. “They” say one can learn to do these things but I always have felt that art has to come with you, it can’t be learned, it has to be felt.

I am learning to play the guitar and have an amateur’s skill on a few songs after hours of practice. I do write and occasionally do come up with an incredible sentence but I know that can never happen with painting. I can copy, I can trace, I can paint by number but never, ever will I be “free” enough to feel that I can just go “en plein air”,  set up my easel, grab paper and paint and just do it. There are so many other things that I am fairly accomplished at, why is it that I focus my frustrations on the things that I know will never be mine in this lifetime? Human nature, I suppose.

Today, the woman who comes to my house once a week to do some housekeeping (thank goodness) was observing the state of my house plants. I have an amazing (and growing) collection of African Violets that I am very proud of. They are responding to my attention and it makes me feel good to have their energy and colors around me most of the year.

After several years of unsuccessfully attempting to propagate new plants from leaves, I have experienced the exhilaration of seeing at least 6 offspring bloom from one of my favorite purple specimens. I hate to part with any of my babies, but the crowding in their space has caused tiny little white spots to appear, an alarm indicating they are getting too moist…I have begun to part with a few of my prized possessions to make it possible for more air to circulate. The two persons I have given these plants to are avid gardeners so I am certain that the plants will continue to thrive under their care. It was hard to part with them, but in the end I know it was the right choice for us all.

I am feeling very accomplished and although I will never be able to sit and paint one of my breathtaking creations, I have plenty of artist friends who can do that for me. Let me revel in the knowledge that propagating African Violets successfully has made me feel very talented!

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African violet picture my own

Another Approach to Weight Management

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I absolutely hate anything that promises to be “boot camp”.  I got invited to watch a webinar that was going to tell me all about the mysteries of weight loss or resistance to weight loss…what did I come away with? Not anything I didn’t know already although I did get a good explanation about dopamine and leptin! In any event, I am glad I reserved my space…and actually listened to the entire hour…and waited for the (sales) pitch…

While I was listening to the wonderfully sincere webinar “guru’s” pitch and story …I was mentally wondering how much I would be willing to pay (I am already doing WW at about $23/month). I watch my pennies, $23/month works to $276 with no added expense (unless I want to) for special food, equipment etc. What I want to do is live the rest of my days within a good weight for me…which I once was and was able to maintain for 25 years. I get annoyed that I allowed the weight back on…when the final price came at a price of more than $5000 for a private coach and the group price a bargain at $497 I felt like someone slapped me!

Wow, I am thankful, so thankful today. I know what to do, I need to do it and pay for the rest of this year until I reach my goal and then apply discipline, planning, prepping and NEVER EVER skipping breakfast but also not being silly enough to spend money like this. I am looking forward to getting a gorgeous headboard for my bedroom, many many high quality wooden bookcases and beautiful, colorful clothes to go with my lively personality. My hundreds of dollars can be spent in so many other ways. I hardly will have time to feel deprived, have cravings, etc.

I came away with the same answers I have always had, calories in and calories out, movement, a positive attitude and a lot of common sense. Although I can understand the wisdom of this particular program, I can also see how most people will still not be able to conquer it. Meanwhile, someone else is going on vacation, having a beautiful life on our hard-earned dollars.

What a shame…

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Fit for Life?

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Except for the ugly platter that this fruit is on, this is a mouth-watering variety of fruit, ready-made for a good start to the day.

In my clearing up of bookcases to prepare for painting my bedroom, I came across a copy of Harvey and Marilyn Diamond’s Fit for Life “program” that I had participated in almost 20 years ago. It is amazing how good advice never goes out of style. I also came across a Weight Watchers program guide that dates to 1976 when my mom and my sister were participating in the program. I was at a good weight at the time, they were getting ready for my upcoming wedding! It seems like a lifetime ago, and actually I have experienced many changes and have updated my body for many years. Right now, I am back on WW (they too have had many iterations!) and hoping that this final time will see me going into the final chapters of my life with a manageable weight and good health. So far, it has been slow going but that has its own rewards as my skin is not as wrinkled as it would be if the weight loss were too quick.

But going back to the Diamond’s plan. It makes sense. It’s kind of the advice one would give a friend one cares about: start the day with fruit, move, have good thoughts, keep yourself hydrated, etc. The problem is that we are all distracted by work, family obligations, the need for relaxation which usually involves fattening and delicious food…

I did the plan when I was just 10 lbs. over my goal. It was not something I wanted to do, trying my best to lose the weight naturally by eating healthily when hungry and avoiding binging and eating high calorie junk food. However, I had a friend who was about 25 lbs. overweight at the time and wanted to do something drastic about it. She had heard of a homeopath who was implementing meditation, inserting a tiny device in one’s ear (like acupuncture) and following the Diamond’s plan. The homeopath gave a group discount for three participants so my friend enlisted one other person and off we went. I don’t think I lost a single ounce but I did get to keep the meditation tape, and the book. The acupuncture thing came out of the ear after the three or four sessions, I can’t remember. Doing the program turned into one of my big mistakes, it seems to me that is when my modest but steady weight gain trend began. 20 years later, I had added almost 40 lbs. to my small frame! The instigator of the idea eventually went on to another commercial diet plan where her food intake was monitored (I think she wore a patch for a few months) daily but she did successfully take off the weight and has kept it off for more than 5 years. Our other friend remains the same weight more or less but has been trying to lose also as I have.

The moral of the story for me is this: everyone who is or has been overweight has an individual story to tell. Some people are fat because they love to eat. Some people are fat because they eat in response to emotional triggers. Some people focus so much attention on dieting, their body rebels and hangs on to the weight just in case it ever finds itself stranded on some desert island with nothing to eat…it is protection. In my case, I was a fat kid because bad habits begun when I was a baby (my mom adding sugar to the milk to make up for her absence) continued to my teenage years and I never learned to eat properly and healthily until I was an adult and decided to lose weight for me. I am a veteran dieter. I know any plan will work if you stick with it long enough and although I am a very big fan of WW, I can accept that everyone has the ability to make choices. My choice for today is to stay away from the scale this week until Friday which is my weekly weigh in. I will mindfully plan, prepare and eat my way into health and a good weight for me. I am grateful that my internal panic button did not allow me to add hundreds of pounds to my body. People who have that much weight to lose inspire me and have my heartfelt solidarity and compassion during their journey.

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My philosophy on Weight Loss Programs

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Whenever I see a large cat like this, I am invariably reminded of the gangster movies I enjoyed as a teenager. You know the kind I mean, with the rich guys (fat cats) spoiling their loved ones  and crying over their loss even as background stories show how cold and horrible they can be to their enemies. Not sure what brought that up really, except that I watched a “horror/horror comedy” last night that really made me think about how awful people can be to each other.

As usual, the month is flying by. I can honestly say I have been very good about keeping track of my nutrition and have happily lost a bit over 3 lbs. since I returned home from my trip early last month. It doesn’t sound like much but since I lose very, very slowly and I am trying to eat all my daily points and weekly extras, I feel I am making some very welcome progress after plateauing for various reasons for a good number of weeks.  This month, I am committed to a challenge that will hopefully find me losing 5 lbs. before the end. We shall see, I have been doing my best to stay on track.

I recently read an article by an author who takes issue with weight loss plans. I understand her basic premise which is that any weight loss plan is created as a business first and does not really care about the individuals that follow or shall I say more accurately, pay to join and pay additional monthly installments, don’t follow the plan but also don’t quit the plan so essentially they are not losing anything but money. The author believes that the customers are victims of some cynical marketing plot.

It is my contention that most intelligent people have choices. Although it might not be easy to quit a program once you’ve joined it, it is not impossible. In other words, sometimes the paperwork to get out is complicated or the savvy marketing department has taught the people manning the phones to pitch ways in which the customer can improve their results and at the same time keep paying their monthly quotas. I understand all that but I still believe that one can indeed quit programs. My daughter did it recently and although she does confirm that the person on the other side of the line tried very hard to persuade her to continue, she was firm and was able to get out.

I have been pretty successful with my WW plan. This past couple of weeks have seen me focused on doing everything I can to lose at least 4 lbs. this month. My scale is in kilos so it is difficult to gauge with any exactitude but I will not purchase another scale just for that. I can see that the trend is downward and I am happy with that. And let’s face it, if one is overeating one doesn’t usually need a program or a tracker to tell us that.

At this moment, I am feeling very satiated. I had a good breakfast and for lunch I ate a whole half avocado which was juicy, tasty and filling. I hope I can have a good rest of the day, the weekends present a challenge because I am not as busy on weekends as I am on other days and have a tendency to look in the refrigerator more often than on week days. In any event, I am satisfied with my numbers today and figure that if I can lose one pound a week for the rest of the year, that will be 28 lbs. less than when I started! Down is good. I might stop there too since it will be exactly where I would like to stay for the rest of my life. It is doable and I know I can do it.

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A week of transformation preparation…

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On Easter Sunday I was invited to a lovely family gathering. It has been a long time since I actually spent Easter here on the East Coast, I have been living in the tropics for almost 20 years! The holidays, like the rest of my “real” life are celebrated differently due to many factors, mostly the culture, climate and availability (or lack thereof) of traditional foods that go with the celebrations. But I digress.

Easter Sunday was fantastic until almost the end of the visit when one of the spouses of the couple hosting decided to take a young friend for a practice drive in the family car. It seemed natural enough to me until I noticed that the wife was washing utensils and metal baking pans in anger. Not realizing what I was getting into, I asked innocently whether our hostess was angry, to which she replied “No, I am just not a gentle person.”

When she said this, her husband glanced in her direction and stood by for a moment while she continued with her chore. I sat back and tried to resume my earlier conversation with another guest when I heard a loud crash as metal pan collided against metal sink. At this, the husband replied “Yes, she is angry” and looked to his wife for an explanation which she did not offer.

No one has to be reminded how it feels to be an unwitting participant in someone else’s argument. What followed left me uncomfortable and worried since this young couple is one of my favorites. I could sense they were in for a long night even as the husband led his friend out to the driveway. Although I wanted to stay out of the fight, I am also often given to self-appointed errands of social work and communication. I asked my questions and the answers from our hostess came quickly: she wasn’t consulted, he doesn’t share any information, he doesn’t trust her, a licensed driver, to go out in his car, how come a young unlicensed driver gets to use “her” car without so much as her permission?

I was speechless but also wise enough (or old enough?) to know that this was just the proverbial straw that broke that camel’s back and not the issue itself. My young friend agreed that communication between them had been lacking lately because their work and family obligations had not allowed sufficient time for them to spend together just contemplating the world, their hopes and aspirations, and their place in it.

A few minutes later, everyone came back (safely) and the husband apologized for his thoughtlessness with as much sincerity as he could given the circumstances. The wife graciously (if somewhat detached) accepted it and after a wonderful dessert, we all packed into the car for our return to the train station to head back home. I worried about my young friends as we made our way home but as in many things, I have learned that one cannot do the work that others must do themselves.

That night I had a dream that I remembered all too clearly the next morning. I told it to my daughter, mentioning that it seemed to be a very clear and detailed account of what is going on psychologically for this couple and in many ways for me personally. It had to do with veneers and the crumbling of walls. I don’t know why I didn’t write it down as I was retelling it. I tried to recall it yesterday and came up with only bits and pieces. I will devote some time today to quiet contemplation in the hopes that I can recall it. Always have a paper and pencil handy a friend tells me, one never knows when these gems will appear. I have rarely been able to remember a dream so I have not invested too much effort in the paper and pencil idea. That is about to change.

I spoke with my young friends yesterday and they have worked out a schedule where they are spending at least one day a week together, recapturing the stage in their marriage when they had less obligations and more time. It is a bit of sunshine in these often dark times. Love is always the answer.

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A good week of healthy eating.

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I am not a vegetarian but the picture of this happy one made me smile and I thought I would add it to today’s blog post.

I have made my way through almost a week of successful healthy eating. I find myself away from home with many fruits, vegetables and single-serve options at my fingertips. This availability of variety makes it so much easier to stay focused and on plan. It has long been my contention that if one has a chef and people to do the every day tasks so one can devote oneself to creating, painting, writing, thinking, there would be no need for dieting. Alas how many of us can really do that? How many of us would really want to? I suppose the novelty would wear off just as it does for everything. That’s life.

My current geographical location is somewhere in the U.S. I know where I am but since I am not sharing that information with every person in my life, I would rather be low key. Suffice it to say that I am enjoying being a bit off the grid for a while while I devote myself to the long-neglected novel I began last November. I am currently procrastinating getting back to it by writing blog entries and reading lots of colorful, entertaining fashion magazines. Who would really wear these outrageous clothes? Let’s be real, who in my circle could really afford them?

I have been examining that whole “secondary gains” idea. I think that one of the secondary gains is that I can now find stylish clothing that fits me whereas in my younger days, anything that fit me was designed for frumpy older women who were not coquettish the way I have always been. In my youth, I had to re-design and sew my own stuff. Now, there are plenty of designers who are smart enough not to turn their noses up at the buying power of that demographic. Not having to spend my time sewing is a secondary gain. Yesterday I went shopping and found a nice pair of (extra-stretchy) jeans that I only had to hem. They were a “perfect” size 16! I chuckle as I write that, what’s “perfect” about a size 16, old me would ask sarcastically? These days, it feels perfect to me. I hemmed them this morning, ironed a complimentary blouse and voila, ready for the day and night. It feels good and if I don’t look great, at least I look presentable and that is no small thing.

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How boring it can be!

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When I was looking for an image to add to this post, I searched “boredom” on bing.com. The first image that caught my eye was this tired, lifeless woman who seems quietly desperate to be elsewhere. The caption reads “souvenir seller”…my goodness, who would buy anything from her? It is the perfect image to add to this post, as I am bored of the same tired subject of weight loss.

I just finished reading a simple, free PDF book by Brooke Castillo called “If I Am So Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight?”.  Ms. Castillo is frank about not being a doctor or nutritionist, just a successful entrepreneur who managed to lose 70 lbs. and maintain it. In my book, that lends a lot of credibility to her pitch. I read the book quickly once through as she suggests, and will probably go back and print out the exercises, etc. There are a couple of things in the book that are different from others of its kind. For example, Ms. Castillo does not suggest we get rid of the temptations (junk food) in our cabinets or the scale in our bathroom. She insists they have a place in our life if we are to successfully and once and for all get rid of the excess weight that is keeping us from living our best days.

My “boredom” with everything related to my weight issue is hopefully the beginning of a once and for all permanent weight loss. No matter how long it takes (hopefully not beyond 2019), it is my intention to be rid of the 30 excess pounds on my small frame and never have them coming back to me. Intellectually, I know what to do. It is all about calories in and out. There are thousands of programs out there, for nutrition, for exercise, for inspiration…but everything really has its roots internally. At my age (63), I have read and tried everything. My problem is that I have secondary gains from this weight or I wouldn’t hold on to it.

That is where I am this morning: cogitating the secondary gains. I know they are there and serve some purpose. Today my goal is to be kind to me as I navigate my day from meal to meal. I have just enjoyed a delicious, lovingly prepared squash and cheese omelet, two strips of bacon and one half of an English muffin. I had eaten a banana earlier and I am finishing my second cup of black coffee. This substantial breakfast will hold me for several hours. I can honestly say that I rarely feel real hunger. I snack healthily every couple of hours. My problem comes at night when, after dinner, my husband and I enjoy watching television together and we like to have a cocktail or two and a couple of chocolates. If I reduce what I eat during the day, these “empty but delicious” calories would be no problem. If I increase how much I exercise during the day, the same would be true. But I don’t do either…so my weight either remains the same for weeks on end or (if the indulgence is greater), I gain a pound or two. Like many permanent dieters, I fight with the same few pounds for months at a time.

After childhood obesity, I successfully lost 35 lbs. when I was 19. I maintained that normal weight for decades. A medical emergency in 2000 caused me to gain 6 lbs. in the hospital due to a high calorie diet ordered by my doctor to protect my organs from the strong medication to treat my condition. But 6 lbs. is not 30 lbs. I no longer have any medical conditions (except some knee pain due no doubt to the excess weight) but there has to be some mental reason for this inability to get rid of the weight. I owe it to myself to stop making excuses and delve deep into my psyche. I think this is the big takeaway I got from Brooke Castillo’s book: I owe it to me, no one else is going to do it for me. I can and will succeed.

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A visit to the doctor

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I accompanied my 90 year old dad to the doctor today. Nothing to worry about, just a routine follow-up visit that had been scheduled months ago. My dad is not your typical 90 year old, although these days there seem to be more and more atypical ones around. Just look at Betty White still going strong at 98!

As I sat in the doctor’s office, I noticed that he kept looking at me, asking me questions about whether or not I had yearly check ups and all that. He happens to be an exceptional human being, and is renowed for his laporoscopy surgeries, many of them dealing with extremely obese clients who opt for gastric surgeries.

Every time I go to his office with my Dad (who has never been overweight in his life), I feel that the doctor would like a few minutes alone with me to suggest me going under the knife for such a surgery. I am not extremely obese and it is probably all in my mind but it does give me pause. Fortunately since the last time he saw me, I have managed to lose a bit more thaan 20 lbs. I wonder if he can tell. He, of course, looks terrific.

I fell in my shower yesterday. A blow to the ego but also some damage to my never-great knee cap because I had to figure out a way to get up and had to kneel before being able to grap the shower handles to raise myself. It is a terrible feeling, in that moment, I felt like such a dumbell and I could anticipate the swelling, the tightness and the overall discomfort in my immediate future. I knew I was going to have to let my husband know because limping was going to be the order of the day. The reason for the fall was that I washed my hair and the conditioner is super slippery but the reality was that if I had put down the shower mat, I could have avoided what I am powering through today.

My knees have never been great. I am not sure why that is but I can recall that even when I was thin, if I walked too much or danced the night away, there was always inflammation and discomfort the day after. I took a pain pill (no real remedy that I can feel), and right now I have made myself an improvised bandage. Luckily, the strain has not interfered with my ability to drive so that’s good.

In keeping with my calorie counting, yesterday I also noted the food I ate in my WW log and was happy that at the end of the day, I had not exceeded the points allowed for the day. I feel a bit hungry right now and realize that all I have had to eat today was a hard-boiled egg…the first one this week…and some fruit. Lunch is coming up, not sure what it will be but at this point, everything will be welcome.

 

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