Category Archives: musings

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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The Journey Towards 65!

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In one of my early posts of 2015, I featured the above scale as a grim reminder of how much weight I had been steadily gaining in the last few years. It is 5 years later…I have lost 15 pounds since then but I am still not at a weight I feel happy with.

What is going on? I ask myself that every Friday as I get on the scale. The last two years have essentially shown very (truly very) modest changes in the scale in either direction. In other words, I have become a master at maintaining. Maybe I need to accept that this is as much as I am willing to do  right now.

My knees feel good (thank you Glucosamine?), I have no aches and pains anywhere, I take no medication and I will turn 65 (God willing) in September. Tomorrow is March 1st. We are in Lent. I practice a smorgasbord Catholicism that allows me to eat meat on Fridays, except that I do observe Good Friday and won’t eat meat then. I have decided (maybe?) to abstain from alcohol for the remainder of the Lenten season (I’ve been imbibing since Ash Wednesday!) and perhaps that will allow me to see a modest to large weight loss.

I joined WW more than 2 years ago when I saw pictures of myself at my son’s wedding. I couldn’t believe it was me. In 2014, I had quit the on-line WW because I was paying but not following. I gained weight but was never hungry! I thought I could accept myself.

It is boring, isn’t it? Reading the blog of a person who really hasn’t come to terms with what she wants for her body. I love dieting, that’s the truth. If I plan ahead, I am able to do it. To my great disadvantage is my husband who has gained weight along with me, loves food, and finds me attractive (or so he says) at any weight. These are not motivators to losing weight. I don’t really enjoy cooking, choosing to do just about anything else if I can help it. Again to my great disadvantage, my husband does not mind cooking and is a very good cook. He plates the food beautifully and I don’t want to hurt his feelings by not consuming everything he puts on my plate. Oh poor me!

As I said before, tomorrow is March 1st. Time for a new beginning but that does not mean that today has to be a complete disaster. So far, I have eaten a hard boiled egg, fruit, coffee for breakfast. Ceviche with crackers for my lunch, a healthy dose of water and a handful of chocolate chips. The day is going well. There is no wine or rum for me at home and I am planning a nice fish dinner.

Here’s to motivation and perseverance!

 

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Social Media Is Getting Old!

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In the wake of how nasty our world has become, I have decided to put a time limit of 30 minutes per day for catching up on my Instagram and Twitter feeds. Naturally, almost every day the five minute left reminder comes up and I comply and do something else until the next day. I find that 30 minutes is enough to get a gist of what is trending on a day, jot down a few notes and then go into my browser to get a fill of whatever that day’s topics are. It works for me and keeps me from wasting precious time that I would rather use for reading, writing or generally living my life.

It is depressing to read about how our day to day existence has come to rely on social media. All those “influencers” do not convince me for one second that their lives are better or more fulfilled than my own. I rather pity them and their constant need to rack up followers and the stress it must be for those influencers to have to come up with daily doses of interesting posts or pictures to comply with the hiring policies of their employers. I wouldn’t give up my freedom for anything in the world. Then again, I have already lived many more years than these young influencers.

It occurred to me yesterday, as I beheld a small infant who is not related to me, that I am living my last decades. As hard as it is to accept that, it has also been strangely motivating and liberating. I am motivated to live my best life and liberated by knowing that I have much control over how I want to live that life. Do I want to continue to volunteer precious free time to causes that will take decades to show improvement? No, I think those days are over for me, and I don’t feel a bit bad about it. I suppose that is the great thing about getting older. It is not that I don’t care, it is that I don’t care enough to continue to spend my time doing work that will be benefitting people whose needs I might never know. Selfish? Well, personally, it is about time I became a little selfish.

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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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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

November Musings…

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I have been participating in NaNoWriMo and decided to write my memoir. It is amazing how the writing flows when the story has already played out. What I am most surprised about is the various segues that occur when writing about events in the past. I notice that my older sister comes up in my life so often I have to ask myself if I am writing her story or my own.

My sister’s behavior towards me starting in our childhood looms over me as I write. She passed away a year ago, unexpectedly at the age of 65. I feel like I had already grieved her passing because we had been estranged for a few years and I never expected that we would make peace, we were just so different, it was a difficult relationship for me. The funny thing is that I don’t think she ever saw it that way. In my writing yesterday, I was able to see that I had been emotionally battered by her all my life and that being a victim of emotional battering by several people was just a pattern I developed and felt comfortable with. I hope those days are over for me as I begin living my 65th year. I am a senior citizen now, writing is my current passion and I know that I need to start saying “NO!” to a lot of things so I can fully investigate and honor this creative side of my being.

My children seem to be thriving, that is the one big worry that is always in the back of my mind. I know that I need to trust that all the tools their father and I and their education have given them are enough to navigate the current chaos we live in but I still think it would be great if we could be physically much closer than we are currently. But we have all made our choices and fortunately we have a strong family connection that makes it possible to communicate often.

Writing in November in this structured way is a wonderful jump start to a lot of people hoping to write their novel. Why not believe that it is possible for me too?

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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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Time is personal

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Time is Personal

I’m currently reading a mainstream NYTimes best seller. It is very enjoyable and the author is or has recently been on a tour to promote her two books and working on her third. I can’t really remember how I happened to catch the title, really, and when I went on Amazon, it was a bit costly so I didn’t buy it. Then I remembered that through my library I am able to “borrow” books electronically. I searched for the title and reserved it for at least two months. When the library informed me last week that the title was available, I promptly downloaded it into my app and began reading. I am finding it entertaining but I do notice that I am reading with an editor’s eye, rather than just enjoying the book for what it offers. It is a terrible thing.

My ambition is to write a mainstream novel this year. Whether or not it gets published is not really important to me. Getting it down on paper (well, in my case in Scrivener!) is what I really want to do. I spent the month of November 2018 participating in NaNoWriMo and got about 90 pages done, or more or less 30%. I did not “win” because I did not complete 50,000 words in that month, but I did write almost every single day. I have not written very much on the novel since December 1st. I find it hard to believe how the days and weeks just fly by.

Someone told me recently that “time” was personal…whatever that meant. Today I kind of got his message: I spend at least one hour every day on personal grooming. I try to make it go faster but by the time I shower, apply body lotion everywhere, comb and style my long, curly hair, find appropriate clothing that is clean, pressed and fits for the day, and then put on my makeup, an hour has gone by. Then I try to spend at least 40 minutes practicing my guitar, another 20 minutes watering or tending to my plants…right there are two hours that my friends who have short hair and wear t-shirts and jeans and no makeup, have no musical hobby or plants save…so I guess he is right.

My weight loss journey continues. I am pleased to say that I have been following the Whole-30 pretty closely although I have given myself a couple of “cheat” days and then begin anew. I am in a different space, at +60 it is no longer appropriate to be wondering if anyone is going to scold me for being overweight! I feel really good though and have lots of energy despite not eating any bread or added sugar. My problem has and will always be portion control! Each meal is an opportunity to practice, that part is fun, watching myself as if I were a stranger!

 

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