Category Archives: Inspiration

From 55 to 65!

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Today is my half-birthday. I cannot believe that in 6 months I will turn 65! It seems to me, I just turned 55! Well, we all know that time gets away from us all. I am going to review what the last 10 years have been like for me. Bear with me, I hope it isn’t boring!

When I turned 55, I celebrated with friends and family in a trendy café in one of our malls. We were enjoying laughter and good food and I was feeling especially happy and young. To be honest, I don’t feel a day older. It was 2010. We took lots of pictures with whatever camera was available at the time, and when I reviewed the pictures, I felt as if they had been taken in a studio where I was a talk show host. It filled me with such delight that I decided I would revisit the idea I have always had about being an entertainer. The camera seemed to love me. I looked poised, relaxed and ready to interview a guest.

At the time, I was just ending my presidency in our local Chamber of Tourism. I was feeling elated about having more time to devote to the things I really wanted to do without so much responsibility. I was also heavily involved in writing articles for our local expat magazine. Although I had no idea what the future held, I was very optimistic. I officially left my position on the Chamber of Tourism but unofficially I was still quite attached to everything that involved it. I loved my community and although I could see that a Chamber of Commerce was more appropriate, I continued to work in the sector as tirelessly as I always had been. Later that same year, the editor of the local expat magazine told me he and his wife were going back to the U.S. and begged me to take over the magazine. It was quite an undertaking that I wasn’t sure I wanted but I have always been unable to say NO when I feel no one else could do the job. I kept working for the Chamber until 2013. I edited and wrote articles for the expat magazine until I decided to end publication in March 2017. It seemed like a good time and the right thing to do.

In 2014 I challenged myself to become a radio host (the next best thing) and I had two weekly spots for 6 months. I also decided to take up playing the guitar. I don’t know what I was thinking. By that time, my mother was in the last (long) stage of Alzheimers and it took its toll on me and the rest of our family. She passed away in January 2018, followed by my older sister 9 months later. It was all so bizarre.

After my mother passed away, I decided to take a step back to breathe and I began to explore the idea of writing her biography. It has been more than two years and I have not done a very good job. Every day I sit and ponder but I rarely sit and write. Yesterday, I had sudden inspiration and wrote a lengthy post about her cooking. I am hoping that it will spark other equally motivating stories that I can compile for my children and their cousins.

I have stopped all volunteering except one which will conclude in June 2021 unless I can find someone to replace me this June. I continue to take guitar lessons, interrupted when I travel but advancing nicely. I no longer have my radio shows but I am as committed as ever to explore the talk show host idea.

So there in a nutshell is the last decade. There is more, so much more but that will have to wait until another time. In the meantime, let us all continue to take care of ourselves, be present for those who need us and remember that time flies whether you do something with it or not.

 

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How Many Chow Chow’s Do I Really Need To Follow on Social Media?

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The outcries on opinions from some of our media icons (think Oprah’s nod to American Dirt) has actually prompted me to unfollow the handful of celebrities whose Instagram and Twitter feeds I enjoy(ed). Martha Stewart was one of my favorites back in the 1990’s when I became a happy stay-at-home mom.  I was eager to make my home welcoming; my food tasty; and my creations unique. I enjoyed every one of her tips and even her stint in prison didn’t change the fact that the woman had a good product. In recent weeks, I have noticed that her posts are no longer making me happy. I think it’s great that she finds passion in everything she does, but honestly, how many times can I see her dogs, her turkeys, her many homes and other possessions before I begin to think there is something wrong with me for (1) not having them and (2) not really caring? I unfollowed her too, something I have been thinking of doing for weeks. Does she care? Probably as much as my next door neighbor who has never heard of her or me!

My point? I think I need to get back to the life that is mine. I say I am a writer. If two or three hours of my day are consumed by my social platform viewing, I think my manuscript will never come to pass.

Am I off social media forever? No, I still follow relevant things but I am now curtailing my time with the phone screen and changing it for the computer and my book. I am working on 2020 being the year I lose those 20 pounds and finish writing, editing and publishing that book. Who’s with me? There is so much negativity in social media anyway, who needs that?

 

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Lasting Impressions

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I was probably in my early 20’s when I finally realized the connection between calories and weight. It happened one lunch hour. I was standing at the Take-Out counter of a diner waiting for my order behind a woman, perhaps a few years older than I, who was dressed to perfection. Her dress was form fitting, but not vulgar. She was stunning and more importantly, she didn’t seem to notice she was! I don’t think I have ever been as happy to be waiting for my food as I was that day. I had no place to run and discreetly taking notice of her style didn’t cause anyone any harm. If iPhones had been around, I might have taken a picture! I could not see what she ordered, but I know it was not a plain salad! That’s when I began to really, really think about calories, exercise and weight. I wondered if she was one of those lucky people who was “naturally” thin but I know that those people are usually very aware of how much fuel they need to keep their bodies in perfect condition.

It was 1975. I had lost a lot of weight quickly which I promised myself I would not gain back. I always had been chubby prior to that and although a lot of people teased about thyroid problems being the cause of my bulk, I knew it was a combination of eating too much and not moving enough. Still, I managed to lose weight (slowly usually) so I never blamed my thyroid. After the weight loss, I restricted my meals and although I love the taste of food, I loved being able to buy ready-to-wear clothing more, that was my incentive to keep my figure.

My weight fluctuated 5 lbs. either way for decades. When I was pregnant with each of my two children, I was very careful about what went into my body (more for safe births than vanity) and after their birth, I quickly rejoined WW and went back to my normal weight. I don’t really know when I began the slow but steady loss of discipline that has resulted in this chubby senior citizen! Perhaps living in a country that doesn’t have the same prejudice has encouraged this laxity, perhaps just getting older and knowing no one would dare criticize me now. It would be elderly abuse! I cannot say.

Yesterday, I was waiting in line at the Post Office behind a man in his 30’s. He was average weight, build and height. Nothing special about him except his clothes. His shirt was crisp, the pleats of his trousers were neatly pressed, his leather belt was fashionable and his shoes were comfortable and shiny. It reminded me of the young woman I saw more than 40 years ago. For some reason, looking at him and remembering her has prompted me to get back to work on cooking and eating healthfully. I know it’s calories in and calories out. It is not easy, it never has been easy, but it is doable and ready-to-wear clothing has never been more beautiful.

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What Are We Bringing To The Table?

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Here we are past the midway point of the first month of 2020! I am sure I am not the only one who has become very aware that time just gets away from us whether we are using it wisely or wasting it. My resolve and determination to follow my WW plan (Go Purple!) has been taking some effort because there is always a friend dropping by with goodies, children visiting who request that I make them favorite (non-dietetic) foods or community meetings that come with coffee and dessert. What to do? I try to simply do my best every day and remember when I get on the scale that the number is guide, just something to remind me that I have come this far and that with steadfastness and attention I can become as inspiring and the many WW people who have lost and kept off their hundreds of pounds.

When I was a young girl, other people’s obsession with my weight always entertained me. I didn’t really understand why they were so focused on me when their own lives, whether they were thin or fat, did not have anything to do with my weight. It wasn’t like they were purchasing my food or my clothes, or feeling the discomfort that I had when the tight(er) pants began making marks on my body or when my feet were just so tired from walking with the extra weight.

I eventually became an adult, got my weight under control and kept it that way for a very long time. The fact that now, as a full-fledged senior citizen, the excess weight seems like a permanent thing in my life, the only thing I want is to be healthy and live a long long time. I think my best solution is to relax, accept that the number (for now) will remain a little higher than I like but that I can and will finally reach a point where three sizes in my closet is a thing of the past. For today, I will track and plan the meals I will eat and go about the rest of my day with a positive attitude and an optimistic viewpoint.

Imagine a world where our size is no longer an interesting part of our personality? I do and try my very best to bring other things to the tables I frequent.

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Bye 2019, Welcome 2020!

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I’ve been involved with WW (formerly Weight Watchers) since about 1970 when my mother took me to a meeting because she wanted to lose weight and didn’t want to go alone. Don’t get me wrong, I needed to lose weight too but I didn’t really feel like going on a “diet” again. I was 15 years old, about 20 lbs. overweight (though I was made to feel like I was 200 lbs. overweight!). I didn’t have the wherewithal to refuse her.

My father, always slim and never one to comment on anyone’s physical appearance, used to drive us to the church that had the basement where the meetings were held. I suppose this readied me for the many (future) years of sitting in 12-step meetings and town-hall community gatherings. I learned a lot about nutrition at those meetings and I was very inspired by our leader, a tall, funny many who had lost over 100 lbs. My favorite of all his “pep rallies” where the ones where he told us the Jean Nidetch (co-founder of WW) story. I think I might have at some point been present at some event where Ms. Nidetch spoke but I cannot say if this is true or just some fantasy of mine.

I, like millions of other people, have gained and lost hundreds of pounds in my life. Today, I am getting ready to close out 2019, not as heavy as I was at the end of 2017 but heavier than I thought I would be at this time. I am disappointed but I do not feel like throwing in the towel. I just watched an old clip of Ms. Nidetch accepting the Horatio Alger award in 1989. I am newly inspired by her words and will pretend that I am going to be a Horatio Alger award recipient in the future and need to lose weight for the occasion. Everything and nothing works, this too, I know.

So as we start the new year 2020, let us begin with optimism, accompanied by all the tools that are available for us to have success. Ms Nidetch’s story is certainly worth reading about.

Best wishes, may all your projects come to fruition in the new year.

Picture of book my own

Enter December!

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I’ve been on the WW plan for almost two years now. I have lost almost 20 lbs. which is better than gaining but certainly nowhere I thought I would be two years later. It is not the plan, it is definitely me! But today is a new day and WW is nothing if not supportive. It does not matter that it is a business and wouldn’t survive if we were all successful but I cannot worry about other people’s weight journey, I can only “control” to a certain degree what goes into my body and what movements I do to use the calories. As I have always thought, the reason why I am not extreme in dieting is because my weight (matronly but still somewhat shapely) does not stop me from doing things. I am outgoing, simply move into a larger size when things start to get tight, etc. but when I see pictures of me, they do not look like what I see in the mirror or the image I have of myself in my head.

I live in the tropics but my children live on the East Coast of the US where it is cold and snowy. I have been looking up recipes to try with my diet and all of them are calling for “cozy foods” that will warm us up…hey, we have overweight people in the tropics too, no recipes for us?

The month of November was given over to NaNoWriMo. I do write quite a bit anyway but November is specifically designed to just write, write, write. I did not make the 50K mark but I did make it to 40K and that was a very great milestone. Not only that, I did begin the memoir that I want to leave my children. Writing it now and letting them read it allows them to ask any questions while I am still able to remember stuff.

Heck of a ride I am in for as I continue all the end-of-year projects. I hope the days go slower than the year has gone.

 

picture of snowy NY my own

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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All I want is to heal

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I am currently reading Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss. It is my second time around with this book, the first time I read it, my motivation was not strong and the weight I needed to lose was more modest than currently. I was in New York and found myself in one of those bookshops that buys college textbooks to sell second hand and has a section where limited copies of current best sellers can be found for a fraction of what they would cost at a proper bookstore like B&N.

My interest in everything to do with weight loss has always been high even when my need to lose weight has not been the all-consuming affair it has become in the last couple of years. Of course, my weight has never been as high as it is now…well, that’s not entirely true, last year I was at my heaviest which is 20 lbs. more than it is today.

I joined WW in December 2017. It is important for me to get all of this in a blog. If it never gets read by anyone, that is fine, at least I know I have done what I needed to do and that is to get it down. Okay so, after joining WW in December 2017, my mom passes away on the first day of 2018. My mom was always after me in my youth to lose weight. By the time I was 20 I was slim and remained that way for many, many years. I got married, divorced, remarried, had a couple of kids, raised them and off they went and my weight fluctuated maybe 10 lbs. which was easy enough to get off my body quickly.

Menopause happened and I began to see the weight go up a pound or two every year. I did not panic or worry about it, until 2017…when I saw a picture of myself that I didn’t recognize. Panic set in, I had to admit to myself that I was more than 50 lbs. overweight. I have a very small frame, I cannot continue down that path. I worked with the new WW model and had great success. My weight loss has always been slow but by August 2018 I had lost 26 lbs. I went to New York to visit my children. I don’t know what happened…I cannot blame the variety and deliciousness of the food in NY, it still baffles me. I was unable to stay on track and I have gained at least 6 or 7 lbs. which I have not been able to take off. Add that to the remaining 30…it seems overwhelming sometimes.

I have lots of literature in the house on weight loss. Indeed, I am an expert. I could have written the books I read on the subject, I am that knowledgeable. Alas, I have not written the books and I have not taken off the weight. That is the difference between me and Marianne Williamson, between me and Geneen Roth whose books and workshops on weight loss I have also purchased. I guess I just have to commit…this time for what I hope will be the last and permanent time.

One thing that I have learned from both Marianne and Geneen is that I really, really, really need to be kind to myself. I need to stop chastising myself for overeating or for being stuck in this place which I just don’t understand. It is not easy, I feel humbled and sometimes a little scared that I will never come out on the other side, but I have to try again.

 

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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!