Tuesday, March 3, 2015

When I Get My Wings

I've been restless lately. It's 2 months in, I'm steadily taking off weight (down to 335 this week, 5 lbs ahead of schedule for my goal)I tell myself, "Don't get cocky or over-confident, stay humble, stay teachable, stay disciplined and strong. You have a very long time to go and a very big mountain to climb. You've only begun to make a dent. Keep your head down and just focus on the work." I think of a caterpillar, sitting on a leaf, fat and furry, watching all the butterflies lilt past. "Will it really happen? Is it really true? Will that ever be me? I'm fat and homely and stuck down here, but one day, I have faith, I will soar, when I get my wings." It's 4th grade. My best friend at the time is named Kirstin, and she has to go. She has ballet class. Kirstin is lanky and lean. I am short and chubby. I dance all the time. I am incapable of walking from the kitchen to the living room without waltzing. I want dance lessons too. My mom says, "Dance lessons are expensive." "I have to work, there's no way to get you there." I explain that Kirstin's mom can drive me. Finally, "You're never going to be a ballerina." She's right. Still I hound Kirstin after she comes home from her lessons: show me what you learned. I want to try. She shows me the foot and arm positions. She teaches me the dance they've been doing. I even do the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker play at school. I am a dancing teddy bear. Chubby and short but I dance with joy, I feel the music move me. It has been many years since I've danced around my house. I don't even remember when I stopped. My body started hurting and it just finally fell away. When I get my new body, I am going to take lessons. I am going to dance around the kitchen again. I'm going to be free and move as the Spirit moves me, when I get my wings. I'm in junior high/high school/college and I see my best friend Holly/Debby/Stephanie meeting guys and feeling confident and pretty. I am the sassy funny one, the fat friend that makes the pretty girl even prettier. They go on hay rides and camping and dancing and hikes, or a thousand other fun but physical outdoor activities. Sometimes I try to participate and I am scary red faced girl who huff and wheezes. Other times, unable to keep up, I stay behind. I make dang sure to not let anyone know if I think a guy is cute. It's better not to want what you don't think you can have. One day, I will dare to be vulnerable. One day I will be fit and go camping and canoeing and kayaking and hiking. I'm going to splash in the ocean and play in the mountain snow. I'm going to do it all, when I get my wings. I'm a young mom and I'm taking my kids to the water park. I want to play too, but I don't dare. One day, I will dare, when I get my wings. They're a little older and I take them to Disney. I am afraid that I won't fit on the rides, so I don't try. One day, I will try, when I get my wings. I watch my kids take tae kwon do. I want to do it too, but I'm afraid. I will be brave, when I get my wings. I will ride bikes. I will explore new cities. I will go to a club and dance till dawn. There are so many things I missed out on, being a caterpillar. But one day, I will get my wings...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Gung Hay Fat Chow

That's happy new year, if you're Chinese. I'm not, but a whole lot of very many people are, and to them, I wish a joyous and prosperous year. But what I really want to think about today is money. Being a first-time home buyer, this was the first year that I did my taxes with the assorted credits one benefits from when you sign your name on that deed. I had anticipated having a lot of money to pay in taxes because I had taken an early withdrawal from my retirement account in order to purchase my home. (I think this was a smart thing to do and I think more people should do that if they have the opportunity to buy a house, even if you have to pay taxes on it. Your tax credits will cover what you owe many times over, believe me.) So anyway, fearing a horrible tax bill, I had an additional amount held back from my checks and that, combined with the lovely tax credits, resulted in about a $5,000 refund. So yay! What I want to do with that refund is buy the best used car I can afford for said $5,000 and drive it till the wheels fall off, avoiding a car payment altogether. I am leaning toward a 2005 Honda Civic. I also like Toyota Corolla. I think I should test drive a few cars. Anyway, that's an option. The other option is to use the $5000 to pay off all my bills, or to do some combination and buy a cheaper car (yes, there are cheaper cars) and use part of the money to pay off some of my bills. I really, really strongly desire to get out of debt this year. Romans 13:8: "Owe no man anything but to love one another." I have a free to me car to drive (my parents' handicapped van) until the end of June. I've already paid off one account, so I'm doing that snowball thing where you pay off one account with the highest interest and then use the payment you used to make for the account that is now paid off to make double payments on the next highest interest rate until that is paid off, and so on. The only problem with that is that it is slow. I want this debt off my books now. (I don't regret incurring the debt, by the way. I used it to take myself and my 22 year old daughter around Europe and it was a fabulous trip that I am so happy we did.) Still I hate paying interest and I hate knowing that I am in the hole. So I'd like to get those accounts paid off, and then I could take the roughly $500/month I'm paying out in payments and use it to make an emergency fund. I could get $10,000 in 20 months with discipline. And after that? I could start saving for vacations again. I could pay someone to clean the house and mow the lawn. I can get new furniture once the pets are all gone. One thing I know? I will never go back to wasting it all on clothes I don't need, restaurants where the food is consumed and forgotten, assorted crap for the home that ends up getting donated to charity...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Progress Report and Lent

So when I renewed my commitment to restoring my health and reducing my weight on January 1st, I think I weighed about 361 lbs. Does that shock you? I probably shouldn't tell you that my highest weight was 436 lbs at my 5'1" height. It's documented in my medical chart. Not surprisingly, I felt like I was dying. I probably was. So fast forward to now. January 1st I gave up sugar, flour, gluten, processed food of any kind, meat, and dairy. I still eat an occasional egg from happy chickens (my neighbor's hens.) Of all those things, sugar and processed food are without a doubt the hardest. If I want beans, I need to make them from scratch. If I want to make a tortilla out of leftover green smoothie and flax seeds, I need to make it and dehydrate it. And sugar? Sugar is ubiquitous. It is in every product and every recipe. I struggle to find a salad dressing or any condiment that doesn't have it (thank goodness for carrot-ginger dressing! It's already really sweet from the carrot.) I can use dates to sweeten things but I have not done so much because I want to lose the taste for concentrated sweetness. I have also avoided restaurants (saving money plus so hard to find places I can eat) but my sweet sister has treated me to a few vegan meals out. I really love A.N.D. Cafe on Burnside. Cons: it's tiny and you have to wait for a table, and the wait to get your food is really long too. Pros: the food is awesome and they have lots of gluten free options. Anyway, it's been 48 days since I started again. (Yes, I started again. I will always start again. I will never give up.) I weigh in on Mondays and I was 338. This puts me ahead of my goal, which is to take off 10 lbs or more per month. At that pace, I will reach my ultimate goal by Christmas 2016. That will be quite a Christmas present! Since January 1st, that would be about 23 lbs, so right on track with time to spare. It hasn't been easy, but I'm extremely determined. I stayed on track during Valentine's Day. My sweet daughter sent me sugarless gum instead of chocolate, bless her! So that brings me to Lent. I have a theme for this Lent and that theme is Enlightenment. Really, that is my theme for the year! I want to enlighten my body (quite literally!) and lighten up in my possessions and in stress and worry. I am lightening up in debt (they're going DOWN, just like the scale.) I am also going to redouble my commitment to my job that I LOVE and I am so happy and lucky to have. Quite simply, I need to focus on working while I'm at work and not being distracted by checking email,etc. So no non-work related internet period. Truthfully, this should have already been happening but it slipped away from me. I am going to make that my Lenten sacrifice, along with t.v. shows I don't think are pleasing to God. I am going to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. So for the possession enlightenment, I am getting rid of 40 things every day of Lent except the Sabbaths. I will try to sell some at my estate sale, and what ever does not get bought will be donated, but it is on it's way to new homes. This is probably going to be very hard for me because I tend to cling to possessions. But the truth is, if you don't let them go, your possessions will possess you. I have a wonderful friend, salt of the earth (I need to call her, actually!) and she has so many neat things that she has gotten at thrift shops or inherited or bought, but her house is so overflowing with things that you can't appreciate any of it. She has beautiful china that is dirty all over the house and linens that are dirty on the basement floor. She just has one son but they have enough clothes for 10 people. She is not a wealthy person. She is on food stamps and barely getting by. And yet she has wasted money on these treasures that have become burdens. In the past, that was me, too. I had every craft, but no time or place to do it because my house was full of junk. Cleaning anything took 50 times longer because I had to move and arrange so much stuff. My parents passed away and I am tasked with going through their things and getting rid of most of it and keeping a small amount of the useful and the beautiful and the things that just remind me of them so much that I can't bear to part with them: my mother's art, my father's carefully amassed record collection. Getting rid of their things feels like losing them all over again. It is just. so. hard. I have failed miserably at it so far. Now it is imperative that I make substantial progress and get it done. I am working at it every Saturday until it is done. Maybe my plan is too ambitious. Maybe I will fail spectacularly. But I want big results so I am making a big effort. Like my food plan: no one can say that is easy. But I already feel better. I can walk farther. It's working and the pounds are coming off. Through the grace of God I am sticking to it. So I am going to work to make this Lent substantial and meaningful. Bring on the enlightenment.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ibuprofen Withdrawl

I have taken the anti-inflammation drug Ibuprofen since I was a teen who learned they were magic on the abysmal menstrual cramps I used to get every month like clockwork. So began my love affair with the NSAID of my dreams. See, the thing about being a person who has grown too fat for her own skeleton to support is that there is a ton of pain associated with severe obesity. I got migraines; I'd take ibuprofen. It was always in my purse for the back pain, foot pain, knee pain, or any other kind of pain I would have. I would take 600 mills and always with food. But I did this close to daily for 30 years, give or take. Wow. So is it any wonder that I woke up in the middle of the night a few weeks ago with what felt like a heart attack: chest pain, nausea, upper back pain that would not go away. It started at 3 am. When it had not stopped by 5 am, I had my sister take me to the ED. Luckily, it was not my heart. Sadly, it was a hole in my belly and another in my esophagus. Just like that, I had to break up with my beloved of 30 yrs, Ibuprofen. I have tried all the anti-inflammation foods and spices. I take Ginger and Turmeric and eat avocados and pineapple and a whole host of other things, including an Omega-3 supplement. I have glucosamin and condroitin and MSM for my joints. I have eliminated sugar and gluten and grains, any other inflammation causing foods. Still my knees swell and ache, sill my back wakes me up every day in the middle of the night and robs me of sleep. The only thing that will help is taking off the weight. I know this, and I am doing it. In the mean time, all this pain is super depressing. I hobble like an old lady and waddle like a penguin. It is super embarrassing. So here's to feeling better in every way in the new year. Keeping the faith that as I shrink, so will the pain.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Chugging Along

I forgot to post yesterday. Oh well, it's not about perfection it's just about building good habits again. yesterday was good and I went to the park and walked farther than usual with my doggy. I ate very well but I keep getting gluten on accident so I don't have the relief from pain yet. I am going to be super vigilant reading labels and just avoid anything packaged. The truth is I only use meat analogs when the kids are here, and they're going back to school today. For food, I had an avocado with fresh salsa for breakfast and some organic grapes. I just put a whole load of delicious root vegetables in the crockpot- organic red potatoes, organic sweet potatoes, organic sweet onion, organic carrots, and organic celery. I just tossed it with a little olive oil and Mrs. Dash. Plus salt-and-pepper because I'm a rebel. Take that Mrs. Dash! I'm reading the Daniel Plan on my Kindle and having it read aloud to me. It is weird to hear the robot lady. I like it though because I can knit while I listen. So far, I am very impressed with The Daniel Plan. I had sworn I was never going to buy another healthy lifestyle book. What could they possibly say that would be different from all the other ones I have read? And it's true that the nutrition stuff is the same. But I really like the spiritual aspects and the scriptural support for taking care of your body. I need to get together a small group to do it properly. I at least have my sister and brother-in-law on board and that is the most important since they live with me. I am also going to start going back to church. My sister found a good one and I want to check it out. They are very service focused which I like. I was going to go today but there is too much to do with the kids going back to school and me getting ready to go back to work tomorrow. It has been a lovely vacation and I'm sad to see it end.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Temptation Already

I feel a lot more prepared after my sojourn to the temple of health known as Trader Joe's. I got all kinds of lovely vegetables and fruits. I made a really hearty vegetable stew. It passed muster with the kids so it must've been okay.I forgot how much I enjoy an avocado with salsa on it. It is probably my very favorite simple meal. i've forgotten how many pit falls there are at every turn when you've decided to eat healthfully. I am trying really hard not to think about the strawberry ice cream in the freezer and I don't even like strawberry best. I am also trying not to think about that Hersheys kisses that didn't get used in Christmas cookies. The thing is, I don't even think that I could be convinced to actually to indulge in these treats, but the very fact of their existence is torture. The Grateful Dead said it best the first days are the hardest days. But I am committed to writing and so this is what you get. I got Laura's car fixed today. Thank God for Stanley my amazing mechanic who only charged me 80 bucks. I am super tired and pretty cranky, which is classic withdrawl for me. I went to do my walk and a mean nun wouldn't let me in the park which is connected to a Catholic school. Hope McPuppypants and I just walked around outside the school but it hurt my feelings. Okay now I am depressing and annoying myself so I will sign off and try to have a better attitude tomorrow.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

On this first day of 2015, I am feeling renewed optimism and hope. I believe in New Year's Resolutions. I know that most people don't keep them, and I am no exception. But if we never take the time to reflect and make goals, how can we ever expect to achieve them? In that spirit, here are mine: 1. HEALTHY LIFESTYLE: I decided to look into The Daniel Plan from Rick Warren at The Saddleback Church. I've always liked his take on personal change inspired by faith and backed up by scripture and positive thinking. I am going to look for a church here in Portlandia that is offering it. As for the diet plan, I am certain of a few things: no meat, no dairy, no sugar or grains for me. Whole foods, organic, no gmo's. So basically, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds for sure. But I also want to enjoy some baked sweet potatoes, a little bit of beans, hummus with raw veggies, and other cooked foods. I will never abandon my juices, smoothies, and salads. I don't want to hurt animals, and I don't want to pay anyone else to hurt them for me. For exercise, I am going to step up my walking, and I got some nordic walking poles to try. Walking is the one thing I will do no matter the weather, no fancy equipment needed, and I can easily adjust it for when I feel ill, etc. I have been walking for exercise for years, never missing a day, and I credit it for maintaining my health even as I have lost and gained weight. I am going to keep a day count of how many days I have on track: 1 day! Better than no days. 2. SAVE MONEY: I need to buy a car this year, so this is a necessity, not a pipe dream. I intend to be super strict: I am not buying anything but food and gas! I mean this. No more eating out. (That can only help me with my health goals anyway.) I have already warned the kids that I am going into uber frugal mode. Basically, I buy a lot of crap that I don't need, and then I have bills. It clutters up my house and my closets. It is a poor use of environmental resources. If I truly need something, I will try to get it free or second hand. I will set a firm limit on gifts. My goal is to save $5000 by June. To make a game out of this, I am keeping a day count of how many days I have: 1 day. A good place to start! 3. WRITE: I am going to blog every day, or close to it. This is the year I write a book and a screenplay. I have the plots and characters in my head; now I just need to get them on paper. Days on track: 1 day 4. CLEAR OUT AND SELL MY PARENT'S CONDO: I can't believe I have not done this yet. Procrastination ends now. I am making this my job every weekend until this is done. I also have tons of paperwork I have not done that I desperately need to. Today I am going to make an assessment of all of what that entails and get started and make a plan. I am giving myself a deadline of my mom's birthday to get this done: January 29. 5. FLOSS: I dont't, and I need to. Note to self: Buy some dental floss! Just a quick moment of reflection on 2014: Last year, I achieved many of my dreams. I visited Europe and saw London, Paris, and Rome. That has been on my life list since I was a child. I bought my first house, all mine. I never even dreamed I would be able to do that. I keep my house clean and decluttered. I never thought I would conquer that. I pay my bills on time. These are all things that give me hope. Yes, I am a food addict. Yes, I am a compulsive shopper. I get overwhelmed and just procrastinate and hope it will all go away. But I can overcome these things. I can do hard things! With God all things are possible. Here's to doing the possible in 2015.