Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mind-Body Challenge 2010! Update and Others

First off - I lost 1 pound this week.  I know this 'should' be going faster, especially when I have so much to lose, but I'm struggling with doing what feels good and what just sounds good.  French fries sound good, but a tossed salad or baked cauliflower feel good.  I just don't think at this point, I'm able to pit cauliflower against french fries.  I'm just too addicted.  So sorry.  But I'm reading a great book by Mariel Hemingway which I will share very soon.  Finally I found a book that looks at more than just diet or exercise, but looks at life values and gentle shifts to come to a place of peace.  It's not a new book - I think it was published in the '90's.  I found it for $3 in a used book store (that I will also share with you soon).

On the home front, my sons attended a 'pink' dance at their school to raise awareness and some funds for breast cancer research.  I believe they raised in total over $800.  No to shabby for a bunch of young whipper snappers!  Here are the boys ready to go boogie:

I am happy to say the stomach flu has left the building.  However, a head cold has once again landed in my elder son's body, making this the 4th week of illness in our home.  I have been wondering if my dishes are getting clean enough with the new dishwasher detergent... if the dishes still have germs, then we will keep getting sick... right?  So I have decided to do the un-green thing and turn on the extra hot water for the next few cycles to see if there is a difference.  I really don't want to go back to using the toxic gel.  I wish we could open the windows to air the place out, but it is too ----- cold.  I think down around 10 degrees (F) is a bit too chilly to welcome the winter air in to do what?- invite pneumonia?  No thanks, we'll wait until spring.  Until then, we'll keep the homeopathy handy, and more chicken soup!

And about the lunch detention... well, it apparently went like this:
My son's version:
My son received detention early in the day.  He ended up going to lunch, having forgotten that he had detention.  Once he remembered, he arrived about 10 minutes late to the library for his detention, to see 3 other kids there as well.  No teacher.  He sat down and waited.  While he waited, one of the kids left.  

The teacher's version:
The teacher gave the detention to my son on a day she had lunch duty.  On those days, her associate takes the detention.  The associate was in the room at the start of lunch, and gave the 3 kids the instruction to eat their lunches, going so far as to check to make sure they all had their lunches.  Then she left to get her own lunch.  When she returned, all 3 kids were done eating (she assumed because they were no longer eating) and she had them help put chairs at the tables and then told them that detention was over.  

Ok, so we see a merging of experiences here - the teacher clearly did not know my child to notice that he came late, nor did she recognize that the 3 students in her room were not necessarily the 3 whom she left in the beginning of the period.  My son, having remembered the rule that there is no eating in the library, had tossed his (very good and nutritious) lunch in the trash prior to arriving at the library, not knowing the rules had changed.  Oh yes-  they have changed the rules so you can now eat in the library.  I can now let go of my anger - and you can too.  judging from the comments I received, this hit a sore spot with everyone!  

Lisa (left) and me

And last, an update on my wonderful sister, Lisa.  She is recovering from her recent thyroid surgery, glad to have that removed.  She is now getting ready for a new course of chemo and scans to keep a close eye on additional hot spots picked up by her latest PET scan.  I am planning a trip to visit her in California as soon as I can.  Never before has 2500 miles felt so very far away.  Again, I am acquainted with the sense that I am powerless and afraid.  All I need is some meditation to bring me 'round to that place of peace and understanding that I found during her previous battles.  If you have some extra positive energy lying around, perhaps you could send it her way one of these days.  I betcha she'll feel it!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mama's 'Make Me Feel Better' Soup

We have had the stomach flu at our house for the past 2 weeks.  First one member got it, then another as the first healed, then the third.  I was able to skirt it so far by taking the homeopathic remedy for flu 'Inflluenzinum'.  Each time my boys were able to stomach anything, I made this soup (at their request).  Somehow, chicken noodle soup really does fix the sickest child!

Make Me Feel Better Soup

I list only general amounts of ingredients, as this soup is really a 'whatcha got in the pantry' sort of soup.

Over medium heat, saute a chopped onion in butter (or olive oil).  Add chopped celery and carrot, potato, parsnips, etc.  When onion is translucent, add chopped or ground chicken.  When the chicken is cooked, add stock or water to desired level.  

I wanted to make quite a bit of soup, so I added about 6 cups of water.  I added dried basil as well, and salt and pepper to taste.  Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  When boiling, add noodles of your choice.  I added plain ramen noodles.  When the noodles are cooked, the soup is done.  

Bring to your patient with loving patience, then go take a few moments for yourself - it might be a long night!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Can You Keep Food From A Child?

Ok.  I have a rant to share.  My 12 year old son came home and declared at dinner, "I didn't get to eat the lunch you sent me to school with".  Upon digging into his scholarly endeavors for the day, we discovered that he had misbehaved in a computer class by attempting to show a friend a fun site he found online as part of his class project for the day.  The teacher saw him talking to his friend and assigned detention.  At lunch.  Lunch?  Well, ok - maybe that's how she does it.

So my son goes to the detention, but it's in the school library.  Now everyone knows you can't eat lunch in the library.  So my child diligently sat for the lunch period in the library for his detention.  Oh yes... and if that doesn't make you mad yet, think about this:

The teacher never showed up.

So this got me to boil of course, being the hot-headed Scorpio that I am.  I began an angry email to the teacher, explaining my views on her discipline for my son.  Before I finished it, I did a major search for something of status - you know - something that I could quote, some law that I could refer to to make sure she knew she was really wrong.  Bad teacher.  Bad.  No no.  But you know what?  There IS no law against withholding a student's lunch for disciplinary reasons.

I am flabbergasted.

Why in the world not?  There are all sorts of laws for hospitals and psychiatric programs.  But nothing for schools.  And this is not exclusive to Massachusetts, either - it's all over the US.  Now go figure.

So I finished my angry letter to the teacher, and all I could add was something about each student shall receive a 30-minute lunch period each day from the parent handbook.  Hardly as strong as I wanted, since of course I wanted to 'throw the book at her', but it'll have to do for now.

How does this make you feel?  Are you comfortable with having a child not able to eat his lunch for ANY reason?  I don't care if he tried to light the school on fire - you don't withhold food!

Feel free to join my rant or share your perspective in the comments section.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Just Like Pamela Says

It's Amazing!

A few years ago, I tried this gluten-free bread mix at my mother's house.  Being that several of us are gluten free in our whole family, she took great pains to feed us food that was safe the whole time we visited.  One was this incredible bread made from Pamela's Wheat Free bread mix.  The whole house smelled of a yeasty, wheaty bread the whole day.  I was certain someone was trying to torture me with that scent - fresh bread is something I yearn for to this day.  You can imagine my frustration when I returned to the East Coast and could not find any packages at any of my local haunts.

Just Friday at my local Whole Foods, I found the package - just one.  As if it was just sitting there waiting for me.  Oh wow, did I grab that package fast and get to the checkout!  Considering a loaf of rock-hard, frozen, gluten free bread costs close to $7, and lasts us about a week, I was thrilled to pay the $4.99 for the bag.

Last night I had the opportunity to make the bread mix.  We had our very good friends over for game night, and I served gluten-free/dairy-free lasagna and herbed pork chops.  They brought french bread for the glutinivorous folks, and I needed something to satisfy the rest of us.  I opened up the cupboard and I swear a light shone down onto my little package of Pamela's bread mix.  I made rolls within just a few minutes, let them rise and baked them into the sweetest little breads you can imagine.  In fact, they were so wheat-like that my husband (also gluten-sensitive) avoided them for most of the dinner.  I had to say - "Go ahead, honey.  They're safe."  He was smitten after the first bite.  An added plus was that they held their shape without crumbling overnight (oh so common with gluten-free foods), and turned out great for breakfast with jam and honey.

I think I need to go back to the store and stock up.  It would be crazy not to.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mind-Body Challenge 2010! Update

Well, it was bound to happen.  I gained 1.5 pounds this week.  Actually, I'd be wondering about my scale if I didn't gain weight this week.  I had a very stressful week, with announcements at work that didn't thrill me, and a sick child all week long with the stomach flu.  That translates into more emotional eating for me virtually due to the fact that I was home more with things on my mind.

I've been thinking about this whole idea of extra weight.  How does it serve me?  How does wearing my anxieties, fears and emotional abundances on the outside serve the purpose of who I am?  Why, when I know how to eat and nurture myself, do I choose the opposite road?  I have a friend who has a chronic illness.  She knows exactly how to care for herself, as she has dealt with this illness for several decades.  She routinely knows how much sleep she needs, the proper nutrition she needs, the triggers for her flare ups.  However, I have, over the many years I've known her, watched her sabotage several of these known cares, which of course land her in bed with a flare up.  Why?  She doesn't know why.  Why isn't proper care for our selves important enough to keep us on the right path?

I am always in awe of thin women - because you know as a large woman, I idolize thin women...  but anyhow, I watch them at gatherings surrounded by creamy and rich foods that I feel like I could dive right into and swim to oblivion.  But no - it's just food to them.  UGH!  Just food!?!?!?  How do you NOT eat everything in sight?  It just isn't very important to them - being with people and enjoying themselves is key to their happiness in that moment.  At least with the few I've had the nerve to question.

Clearly, I am just starting to uncover some of my hang-ups over food, emotions, how other people live, and how I can care for myself.  Luckily, I see this as a long, nurturing road with ups and downs of weight and feelings.  I don't feel angry at myself because of the weight gain and I don't feel like I failed - I do hope I keep on the right track, though.  I suppose that's my deep-down fear - that I won't ever get this weight off.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Money Saving Tip

Just a quick stop in to share a very inexpensive way to wash your dishes in the dishwasher.  Not only are dishwashing detergents expensive, they are filled with harsh chemicals that harm our environment.  I switched to gel detergents a long time ago because the powders kept sticking in the little compartment in my dishwasher, and the dishes were covered with specks of detergent - not fun to place in your mouth!  But the gels are expensive, and honestly - don't do a very good job.

I've been looking at making my own laundry soap (a story for another day) and took some time to locate the ingredients for that.  It didn't really take much effort, but I had to look a little harder in my local store, since I was not accustomed to using them.  The ingredients just happened to be the same main ingredients for the dishwashing detergent:

Washing Soda (not Baking Soda)

Just a tablespoon of each in the little dishwasher detergent compartment will do the trick.  I then put plain white vinegar in the 'jet dry' spot to make sure no residue is left on the dishes.  Amazing.  It works.  The dishes come out clean and have no spots.

I figure I spend about $5 each 3 weeks or so on detergent.  Now, after spending about $3 on the two boxes of ingredients which will last a lifetime - well no, about a few months, I will be spending about 4 cents per load versus 23 cents per load.  Maybe not a ton of money, but the fact that I'm not putting phosphorus into the ground water makes me feel pretty smug.  Those lucky fish!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Learning About Trust

I have dropped all 'diet' aspirations.  I will not 'diet' for the rest of my life.  I have never, ever, lost weight with a 'diet' and kept it off – Have you?  Kept it off forever, I mean.  I have been wondering about my lack of self-trust.  Why have I been unable to trust that I inherently know what is best for my body, and ultimately, myself?  Why is it so much easier/better/more acceptable (choose one) to follow what someone else feels is ‘best’ for our bodies?  Why read the next greatest diet book and follow their plan, without taking time each day to check in with our own voice inside telling us exactly what to do?  I have mistrusted myself for such a long time that I have forgotten what that voice sounds like.  All those diet fads send us the strong message of ‘We know what you need.  You don’t.  Trust our research.  We’ve done the work so you don’t have to.  Dieting is all about willpower.  You don’t have enough, so you are fat.  Stop eating X (insert any food of your choice) and you will be free of fat.’  Blah blah blah.  No thanks.
You know what makes more sense?  Tossing those books and programs aside and learning to trust our bodies.  I have spent the past 2 weeks getting back in touch with my body, asking it what it needs, and carefully listening to the voice that says ‘I’ve had enough, thank you’.  I am learning that I can eat what my body is telling me to eat without overeating.  I am learning that there are so many other things to do than count calories, carbs, figure out my balanced meal, that make me feel fed.  And I am beginning to shed the body fat that has kept me ’safe’ from so many emotional pains all these years.
Looking at why I tend to overeat is the key to my excess weight.  I eat when bored, excited, anxious, tired, sad, angry.  By reminding myself to stay focused and present, I have been somewhat successful at redirecting that binge behavior into more constructive activities (mostly, just becoming aware of the feelings).  I say somewhat successful, as this is new for me, and I have moments when completely overwhelmed by stress and find myself eating before becoming aware that I am actually eating.
The other thing I have been trying that seems to work is eating slowly, counting my chews.  By doing this, I am able to really concentrate on the nourishment I am sending down to my belly.  It is important that I not be reading, watching TV or having an in depth conversation while eating, as I get caught up and eat much more than I need in one sitting.  When I eat at work with my colleagues, I have a hard time eating and following the animated conversations at that same time!  I have noticed a very subtle change in my focus when I get full.  Learning when I have had enough of something has been tricky.  I have eaten from head hunger for so long, I thought I wouldn’t be able to find my belly hunger.  But, lo and behold, there it was.  And I am able to feel just how fast I get full.  Amazingly fast.  In fact, I fill up before I finish a sandwich!  How many times have I gulped down my lunch to then want more food – and of course, go get more food and shove that down.  Then I would spend my afternoon exhausted as my body tried to deal with that brick of food crammed in my stomach.
I went out to eat with my husband last night.  I ordered the curry chicken.  It was fabulous.  It was so creamy and yummy – exactly what I wanted.  I was starving because I had not been very hungry at lunchtime and ate very little.  By dinner, I could have eaten a large building.  When the plate of chicken came, I jumped right in.  Whoops.  Stop and think, girl.  Count your bites, do anything to refocus your eating.  Ah… that’s better.  I came to a stopping place midway through.  Then, just because I am a compulsive eater, I ate a couple more bites.  No.  STOP.  I asked the server to box it up for me.  Now I have dinner for tonight in my little doggie bag.  Awesome.  I am amazed at the copious amounts of food I have eaten in the past.  I marvel at our food bills from the past several years.  Might I bring down some of our monthly food costs by eating more mindfully?  I think so.
The best part of learning about trusting myself is that if I really listen to my body, it really does tell me what it needs.  I have to get out of my own way to trust it – to really trust that it is full, or hungry, or that I will not have to eat now for hunger that will rise in 2 hours.  I have to trust that I will never be without the ability to meet my needs.  I have to trust that I know how to care for my body better than the diet books.  I would never trust raising my child to a book, so why do I look to books to tell me how to take care of me?  I have the answers, deep inside.  And I can figure this out as long as I listen to my inner voice that only wants to be loved and cared for.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lightening Our Hearts

Meet Oscar.  He is our newest member of the family.  I'm not really a dog person, though I do like dogs.  Growing up, we almost always had a dog - usually very big dogs, in fact.  We lived on a gentleman's farm and the dogs could roam all over the property without needing to be walked or cleaned up after.  My dad was the one who took care of them for the most part, so dog ownership was pretty easy from my perspective.

Getting married meant I adopted an Akita - my husband's love of the furry kind.  Sweet dog who was quite protective, but sadly had to be put down due to hip displaysia.  As our children grew, we wanted them to know what it was like to have a dog, so adopted a variety of shelter dogs: first, a dog with a broken leg who, when he had his medical cone off, bit my 4-year old.  The second was a little puppy (read - tons of work) which we called Zoe, who after about 8 months had to go back to the shelter after she chewed through every piece of wooden furniture and learned to jump the fence.  After Zoe came Tieyo - a stray hound mix from Virginia who we loved for a year.  He also loved to eat our home, and after many hours of training and many dollars of personal assistance, we had to return him to the shelter - he really needed a farm to run around on.

So several years have gone by, and now we wanted a dog for the holidays.  But I insisted on a few points first:  It had to be free - no high-priced re-homing fees for us.  It had to be small - no 5 x 60 minute walks to get him tuckered out would work, sine I figured I'd be the one doing all the walking.  It had to be good with kids and cats - I refuse to stress the cats out with an annoying dog.  I looked and looked for the 'perfect' new pet.  Finally, I found Oscar - 3 years old, needing a new home, free and sweet as could be.

It's been almost 6 weeks since Oscar joined our family, and I must say that he has brought light and love to our hearts.  None of us in this household can look at him and not smile.  We have all become silly and energetic around him, since he loves to play and run around.  He has a great personality, and also loves to lay in our laps for a snooze.  This is the dog-ownership I was looking for all along and not getting.   And as it turns out, everyone in the family chips in to walk him - what a treat!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mind-Body Challenge 2010! Update and Bubble Tea

Well, it's Saturday, and weigh-in day once again.  I was pretty nervous today, because I was not particularly careful with my diet, and barely exercised at all.  But as it turned out, I had hormones working in my favor, and I ended up

down 1.5 pounds!!!

So that brings my total lost to a whopping 4.5 pounds!

I started looking into returning to my neighborhood gym today.  I'm paying for it, might as well go.  I wish they had a class specifically for people like me - not a couch potato, but close to it, and pretty new to exercise.  Well, pretty new to actually wanting to exercise.  I brought this idea up to a trainer I used a while ago, and she was only slightly interested.  I personally see a huge need for a class for 'newbies' to get into the gym with a sensitive trainer - maybe a total body workout class that moved gently.  A 6-week program that would ease folks into working out - teach them all about the gym and how to use the machines, etc.  Why don't they do that?  There could be side classes on nutrition as well.  At my gym, you have to figure out how to use the machines on your own, or hire a trainer.  I used my membership for about 5 months, then stopped going.  I had no motivation because I couldn't keep up with the 'gentle' yoga classes - I had to do about 28 downward dog poses in rapid succession.  Yikes.  By the time I got into position, the class would be far ahead of me.  If I could find a way to develop a class for new, overweight and only slightly motivated people, I think many others would be bound to stick with their New Year's resolutions a bit longer.  I'll look into it.

On a totally different topic, I tried Bubble Tea for the first time today.  My eldest son purchased a cup of iced tea with large tapioca pearls in the bottom.  I wasn't really very Bubble Tea savvy when he gave me a sip from his extremely large straw (to accommodate the tapioca) and of course choked dramatically, ruining my whole first try.  Not his, though - he sucked and then chewed the whole cup down in a few minutes flat.   A very interesting experience, bubble tea.  I may try it again.  Who'd have thought to put tapioca in the bottom of an iced tea?  It's like a meal and drink in one.  Have you ever tried this?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Very Good Reason to Purchase Beautiful Things

Hello Again, Everyone!

My friend Barbara, over at Second Surf is full of creative and wise ideas.  Today, she announced that from every sale of her sweet little fat heart beads which she will unveil tomorrow, she will send $10 to Doctors Without Borders, located in Haiti.  This establishment met with horrific damage during the recent earthquake, and needs our support.

Please stop by Second Surf and send your money to a good cause while benefitting from a beautiful bead handmade by Barbara at the same time.  You'll be glad you did!

Chocolate... The Root of All Evil? Or Saving Grace?

I have this funny relationship with chocolate.  I think many women do - and possibly men as well.  I give chocolate a whole personality in my head.  It speaks to me.  It tells me what I want (usually more chocolate).  And it seems to run my life some days.  I can be incredibly organized and prepared for food cravings (one of my biggest challenges with weight loss endeavors), but once chocolate has arrived, forget it.  He (and you KNOW it's a HE) saunters in and swishes his little tail, and makes some ridiculous remark like, "Hey Beautiful, like what you see?" and there I go - gotta have a bite.
This is all to say I had some chocolate last night and feel weird about it.  Trying hard to be 'careful' of what goes into my body and how I treat it, I was fighting a major craving while working on my computer last night and I guess I gave in.  I was fully conscious of the decision, it wasn't a sudden awareness like, "Oh wow.  I just ate half a football field of Reese's".  I fixed myself a small bowl of mini chocolate chips and sat back down to enjoy them.
Those chips were lovely.  They weren't really what I wanted (probably the Reese's would have done the trick), but I was able to get beyond the craving by having this small amount.

What is it about chocolate?  Why can't I crave pistachios?  Or how about cabbage?  Split peas?  Oh I know... Ground beef?  No.  Nothing else will do when chocolate is called for.  I get a high from sugar that you'd probably be concerned about if you saw me.  I'm a pretty low-energy kinda gal and after chocolate I get pretty happy.  Ohhhhhhh.  There's a clue.  Mr. Chocolate is my happy pill?  Hmmm.
Ok.  Note to self - look for ways to bring on happiness BEFORE chocolate enters the room!  If I'm already happy, perhaps I won't feel the same pull from the beast, or can be happy with the tiniest of tastes.

Great.  Any idea how I can now work with Ms. Fatso Potato Chip?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Needle in a Haystack

In our home, we turn to homeopathy for medical care whenever we can.  Homeopathy is the art of treating 'like with like'.  Developed by Samuel Hahnemann 2 hundred years ago, Homeopathy uses small pillules of multiply-diluted plant-based medication to treat the very symptoms that the plants themselves cause, if ingested in their full form.  For example, one remedy for nausea and vomiting is Ipecac - something we know to cause nausea and vomiting.  However, the Ipecac used for homeopathic remedies is really only a very minute amount of the material - the very essence of it, you may say - just enough to kick the body into gear to heal itself.  If you want to know more about this fascinating medicine, go here or here.  I realize many people consider this type of medicine 'quackery'.  I however, do not, as I have seen firsthand, so very many times, how it has healed my family from some pretty tricky ailments that modern, allopathic medicine has missed.

I love homeopathy, and have studied it for many years.  Our youngest son tends to respond to the remedies quickly when he has an ailment.  No two ailments seem to be alike for him, so I often have to go to my homeopathy books to look up his symptoms and find the 'right' remedy.  This is a bit easier now that he can tell me.  It was a bit challenging when he was a baby.  But even so, there are so many remedies, and so many symptoms out there, it is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.  A trained homeopath has rubrics at their fingertips, typing in symptoms, and the program spits out a remedy.  But until now, I had to do it all by hand.

Today, I was lucky to find a good resource for my complaint.  ABC Homeopathy has a remedy repertory that walks you through the symptoms, asking all sorts of questions, then making the suggestion as to which remedy might be the best.  I know some folks might feel uncomfortable with this type of diagnosing, but I feel pretty confident in my abilities to find a good remedy, and to cross-check anything that the computer program suggests with what I know about each remedy.  I also know that if I do not hit on the correct remedy, my son will not suffer.  These pillules contain such a tiny amount of medication that I get it wrong, all I notice is he does not get better within a small frame of time - say 2 hours or so.  If I get it right, he begins to get better pretty quickly - the color returns to his face, he is smiling more, wanting to eat, etc.  Then, if I give one dose too many, his symptoms return.  I stop giving the remedy, and he feels better - back on the road to health.  His body is supported, and he is able to take over the healing process.

The program suggested Phosphorus for our son who is dealing with stomach pain, a sore throat and general exhaustion.  Phosphorus is made from amorphous phosphorous, and suits those people who tend to feel nervous, hate exams, like to be in the limelight and tend to be very sensitive to the atmosphere around them.  Physical symptoms include nosebleeds, headaches, respiratory symptoms and nausea.  Constitutional indications of this remedy tend to be for those folks who are intelligent, gregarious and artistic.  I love how this method of medicine really takes the whole picture into account for each patient.  Another plus is I can find many of the low-dosage (appropriate for colds, flus, sprained ankles, etc) remedies at my local health food store for a small price - around $6 gets me a tube with enough remedy to last for quite a while.  No prescription is needed for remedies at these low dosages, though seeing a professional Homeopath is highly recommended for those who need extended care and medical support.

I know I'm not doing Homeopathy justice by my little lay-person's description.  I encourage you to check out the homeopathy websites if you are interested in more information.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Will You Try Something New In 2010?

Just thinking.  This feels like such a different year.  Just a few days out from 2009, and already I feel like so many new things are possible.  The potential for growth steps this year seems endless, but perhaps that's just because it's January.  Do we all feel this way at this time of year?

Many people make resolutions at this time of year, only to drop them a few short weeks later.  I know this occurs for me when I have made a resolution to change something that isn't quite right for my lifestyle.  But I typically want to make things change too fast, too far, and after a few weeks of struggling to make it work, I let the whole thing go and call it a bust.  Many of my blogging friends have introduced one word resolutions, or more like mantras, to carry with them throughout the year.  Words like 'trust', 'acceptance', 'joy' top the charts for folks looking to focus their insights.

I was thinking about what new things I could try this year and a funny word popped into my head.  Exercise.  This feels odd because the very thought of the word usually makes me shiver with intense fear and loathing.  But lately, I've watched runners as they navigate the slippery slopes which is our New England existence at this time of year.  I wonder how long would I need to lumber along before I could run with ease and grace.  Running?  Me?  No way.  However, I do think I might try it this year.

Something else I want to try is to push my creativity.  I work hard creating music for other people in my job every day during the week.  I work with children, and love what I do.  However, much of my work is 'in the moment' and not recorded, written down or in any other way secured.  After my music sessions, I can't go back and look at all the work and say, "I did that".  I'm usually ok with that - it's the nature of my work to be in the moment and something I have worked with for many years.  But what about the music I want for myself?  What about recording?  What about the art I treasure just for me?  In my work with children, I have come across some new ideas that could possibly be published into simple musical stories.  Already, my mother in law, an accomplished visual artist, has agreed to illustrate for me.  Something new for me this year, taking me way outside my comfort level, would be to publish my first musical story.

What will you do to push your limits this year?  Are you satisfied with the 'same old/same old'?   How could you bring a new twist on your daily grind so you expand your horizons?  Have you ever thought of doing something, going somewhere and never moved to make it happen?

Will this be the year you finally listen to your inner being 
and follow through?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I Have House Envy

Uh Oh.  This can't be good.  I've been working on being happy with what I have - you know, developing some contentment and all.  But last night, we visited our good friends at their new home for dinner.  Oh, such a lovely evening.  And such a lovely house.  It's a victorian (as is ours - but theirs is nicer) and has these gleaming floors, beautifully painted walls, and nooks and crannies everywhere (what I love about these old houses).

So what's wrong?  Well... I have house envy all over again.  I get it around September and December - times of new beginnings.  I made it through Dec. with just slight pangs of wanting a farm, wanting to be out west, wanting something new.  I thought I was turning a new leaf with how easy I came through the month, and hadn't even looked at Realtor-dot-com once!

You may recall we were looking to sell our home.  We worked very hard to get the house ready for realtors a few months ago.  Everything looked amazing: clean, neat and sparkling. Then we heard how little our house was worth, and decided to wait for the spring market to see what that would bring.  After that, we found Dave Ramsey (See Saturday's post), and discovered that it's not our house that is causing our financial woes, but all our credit cards.  So we may just decide to stay here - the house just won't bring enough to warrant buying another in this expensive town.  The median house price is around $500K here.  Hmph.

So what does one do with house envy?

I turned to a great book with a ridiculous title - 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zen Living'.

We bought this book for our 14 yo son for Christmas this year.  He has been quite interested in Buddhism and we thought it would be an easy introduction for him.  Turns out, it's a pretty good intro for me as well.  What I read calmed me down from my pining for a new home.  The passage talked about the fact that in Buddhism, a messy house is NOT the sign of a messy mind... it just IS.  This means that just because my house is not quite right, that doesn't mean I'm not quite right with the world - it only means my house may be cluttered, even dirty at times.  It means dishes pile up during the day waiting for the evening clean-up.  It means laundry gets done when it gets done.  It means the landscaping will eventually measure up to what I have planned for it, even if that takes a few more years.  It means digging in a little deeper and finding what comforts and rescues us in this home.  Why do we turn to our abode when needing a little extra warmth and kindness?  What is it here that welcomes us to let down our guard yet again?

Good questions.  Do you ever get house envy?  What gives you comfort and love at your home?  What is it about your home that speaks to you - beyond being full of your things?  Do you have a particular connection with something in your home that brings you a feeling of centeredness?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Body Challenge 2010 Weekly Update

I have chosen Saturdays as my weigh in day - not just for the scale, but also a check in for how I feel, how my clothes fit, how my behind fits in theater seats ;).  Not your usual day for a check in, as who wants to be bothered by all this on a weekend?   I typically overeat on Friday night to relieve the stress of the week.  I come home on Fridays around 2pm from work and begin with a late lunch, then snack until pizza dinner (homemade and gluten free) followed by a treat of some sort.  But I chose Saturday for this particular reason.  I really want to keep my urges in check.  Yesterday, it worked for the most part.  I still came home around 2, needing a lunch and starving by that point (note to self - pack food to eat between music sessions - duh!), but once I ate, I reminded myself that the next day was a check in point for me, and I needed to be mindful.  And mindful I was -  with no snacking, only a small bit of pizza and no 'treat' after (as I was full and not really needing it).

So with a bit of trepidation, and quite a bit of wonderment, I got on the scale - and... drum roll, please...

I lost 3 pounds!

Wow.  Here I thought I was making all the wrong choices, but I suppose I was doing alright.  What I have been doing is listening to my inner hunger.  You know, that voice that says (screams) "I'm really hungry" when it's really saying, "Feed me some love".  I've been trying a mish-mash of a few different philosophies: a little from Geneen Roth (Feeding the Hungry Heart), Diana Schwarzbein (The Schwarzbein Principle), and Ann Louise Gittleman (The Fat Flush Plan).

I appreciate each of these programs for what they offer because I am primarily rule-bound and like to follow a plan (Never say 'diet'), but also feel I need a combination of ideas to satisfy the part of me that hates rules.  Combining these approaches has also helped me be a little kinder to myself, gentler with the criticism (there's no falling off the wagon, here) and hopefully will keep me going for the long haul.

Another part which is so tremendous is the support I get from family and friends.  For the first time ever, I have shared with people (and now the public) how much I weigh, and what my weight loss goal is.  I have forever kept it hidden for fear that people will judge and dislike me for my weaknesses.  Well, people will judge.  That's what we do, whether we know or not.  I stand on line at the grocery store and look at what other people are buying - don't you?  At the library, I look at what books others are checking out - do you?  You can say it's all information gathering, but I know a little judgement goes on in my head - not proud of it, but there it is.  Happily, what I have found with my announcement (online and in person) regarding my plan to lose 100 pounds is that people are supportive and loving.  Thank you my friends, for being so wonderful.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snowflakes Are Falling, But Not From The Sky

I have become a new follower of Dave Ramsey and his financial program, "The Total Money Makeover". This is an incredible plan to spend less, live on less than you make, and pay off ALL debt.  That's right, ALL debt - not just your cards, or a loan.  All debt including your mortgage, credit cards, loans, cars, etc.  And with this plan, you can pay things off within years, not decades.  I love that.

So, over the course of the last 3 months, my husband and I have paid off 2 credit cards that thought they were in our pockets until death we did part.  We paid them off and said 'sayonara' to 2 whopping monthly finance charges.  Since then, we have paid for everything in cash (or debit card) - even all 4 of our birthdays (we all come within 6 weeks of each other!) and Christmas.  It has not been easy.  Not in any way.  But the rewards are starting to tumble in in the form of no additional credit card payments due because of overspending over the holidays.  We won't have to face several months of additional worry about how to pay for all those great gifts we found on sale - that never end up on sale after all the interest.

Through being a member of Dave's site, I came to know this great book buy-back program called Cash-4-Books.

First, you go collect all those books you don't read anymore - you know, the ones laying around collecting dust.  If you punch in the ISBN's of your unwanted books on the site, you can see what, if anything, they will offer you.  Then you send the books in and Voila!  The money shows up in your PayPal account (or through the mail).  It's a win-win, and I love win-wins!  It's not a ton of money - but I did get an offer of $33 on a book I only paid $29 for!  Most payments are in the $1-5 range - at least for my books.

But why sell our books?  I love books.  I literally have a visceral reaction when I walk into a library or book store.  I love the smell.  I love the idea that new information is there to be found.  It's like walking into a fairyland, waiting for the next adventure to begin around the next stack.  I can find information on anything in books.  Yes, internet is nice, but I love to feel the weight of the book in my hands and turn the pages that I assume no one else has yet turned.  But books also collect dust sitting on the shelves.  These books, which will not be read again, could benefit someone else.  I could donate them - certainly that would be easier than punching in all those tiny ISBN's, carting up the books and dragging them to the post office.  However, Dave's plan talks about selling everything not bolted down until your friends call you weird and the kids think they're next - just to get the bills paid that much faster.  Money earned this way is called a snowflake - typically (but not always) smaller amounts that are unexpected income.  The money I get from the books will go toward our 3rd credit card that will most likely now get completely paid off next month.

We won't really sell Everything.  However, have you ever looked around at some of the cool stuff you have laying around and wondered how much you could bring in to support your income?  I know many folks make a steady income on Ebay.  I couldn't do it, but it does intrigue me that it can be done - all from things you have lying around useless at home.

Dave's site has a membership, but you can check it out for free for a week.  If you do decide it's for you and want to become a yearly member, if you pay the full price up front (versus monthly), he sends you his Total Money Makeover book - so don't go out and buy one and end up with two.  The day mine arrived, I was literally on my way out the door to get a copy at the library.

Oh... but if you do end up with two... I know where you could sell it!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Staying the Course

I know how to eat well.  I know how to eat to lose weight, even.  What I struggle with is balancing major emotional crises with the urge to eat - usually something not good for me.  When hit in the face with a familial argument, I want M&M's.  Or ice cream.  Or potato chips.  When I have a huge deadline looming ahead, I would rather drown my frustrations in smooth dark chocolate or a thickly-creamed, hot mocha.  What is it about emotional eating that is so hard to stop?  I recognize the problem, yet have a hard time stopping in the moment and therefore, stopping the habit of eating improperly.  I really want to lose weight - it has nothing to do with the desire to be healthy.

But it has everything to do with how we nurture ourselves.  I read a great book called, "Self-Nurture" by Alice Domar many years ago.  She talks about how we as (mostly) women find so many other things to occupy our nurturance except ourselves.  We leave ourselves to last when we dish out the caring energy.  Oh sure - there are those of us who know how to balance work, family or friends and life in general without eating our feelings.  But I can almost guarantee that if you show me an overweight woman, you will find someone who has forgotten how to care deeply and carefully for herself.

I used to have these things called 'betterments' where I would do one thing just for me.  They didn't have to make any sense to anyone but me.  Some of my 'betterments' were taking a walk in the woods, getting a pedicure, going to a movie, sitting quietly, playing music, going out with a friend, going shopping.  Perhaps it's time to bring back those 'betterments' in order to place less emphasis on feeding my feelings, and more on feeling them, and basically, just enjoying myself sometimes.  You know, I got so good at this in the past, I was actually finding a 'betterment' to relish every day...!?!?!

Do you have any 'betterments'?  What can you come up with that feeds your soul instead of your belly?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's IRIE, Man!

When we were in Jamaica for our (2 week!!) honeymoon, about 18 years ago, my husband and I happened upon the local expression of 'Irie, Man'.  Our closest expression nowadays with our kids is 'that's cool, man'.

Tonight, we were able to go out to dinner as a family - a very rare treat - with a gift card to a local vegan restaurant from very good and kind friends.  We had to wait for a long while for a table, though it's Tuesday, and the restaurant is relatively new.  Sensing our disappointment, the server offered us Jasmine tea.
Oh wow.  Talk about deja vu-  one sniff (I like to smell stuff) and I was brought to Nirvana.  I remembered this particular smell of jasmine tea from a small tin of it that we were given as a gift.  Funny thing is, that tin sat on our shelf for ages.  One day, we opened it for something warm to drink, and I was whisked away to some far off exotic place.  Being such a small tin, we drank through it pretty quickly.  I then set about trying to find that perfect jasmine aroma and flavor, looking in all the tea shops in Boston, Cambridge, and surrounding towns.  Everything I found let me down - not as floral, not as vanilla-y, just not right.

Until tonight.

Oh wow - I'll say it again.  We finally found it.  The brand is Irie, distributed out of Providence, Rhode Island.  And the best part?  It's organic!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mind-Body Challenge 2010!

 Happy New Year!
What a great day to get started on weight loss and fitness! I know, I know… jumping on the bandwagon yet again just like everyone else. But, for some reason, this year feels different. I have much more motivation and reason to make major changes in my life, and feel ready to go.
I have 100 pounds to lose to get healthy and live my long-intended life. I have a host of conditions directly or indirectly related to obesity, which I would like to alter or completely reverse altogether with weight loss, nutrition, and getting to know a part of me that is trapped under 100 pounds of fear, loss, anxiety and hunger.
So I have created the Mind-Body Challenge 2010!

My program will include the following:
  • I will use eating programs that I am familiar with, but will not shut out those I will learn about along the way.
  • I will take incredible care of my body and my mind.
  • I will learn to listen to my inner voice as it speaks of hunger, requests and feelings I may not typically want to know about.
  • I will use an online support system through this blog and others, to reach out to others and accept support along the way.
  • I will learn to support the positive, not focus on my shortcomings or term mistakes as failures.
  • I will find ways to satisfy my social life without needing food to carry me through.
  • I will discover and create new, healthy recipes which will be posted to be shared on this blog.
  • I will explore the fear other intense emotions that cause me to turn to food for comfort, and find other ways to nourish myself.
  • I will not Give Up.

This should be interesting!  Look for regular updating posts to log my progress!  Feel free to join me if you feel you need to jump start your level of mind-body-nurturance.  Just leave me a comment, and I will send you a blog button announcing your participation.  I will also start a list of folks joining me, so we can invite more support and encouragement!
Here's to a Healthy 2010!