Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wow, Long Time!

I can't believe it's been a month since my last post! Lots has happened, at least internally. I injured my back and was seriously out of commission for several days. Thankfully a teacher suggested I visit a chiropractor, and during my first visit he made me feel 80% better. I returned the following day and was back at 100%. I've been considering alternatives to typical western medicine (e.g. family physicians, prescription drugs) and my experiences so far with the chiropractor confirm that I'm on the right path. He actually spent time with me, assessed me by really looking at me and feeling around to find the troubled areas, then he healed me with his bare hands. That's how health care should be for the most part.

I went to my old PCP because I had hurt my arm through repetitive motion at work. He didn't touch me, didn't ask me to raise or twist my arm to get an idea of where the pain originated . . . nope. After being in the room for less than a minute he started to write me a prescription. I spoke up and asked if there was something I could do besides medicating the pain, like stretches or exercises. He was surprised and said, "Yes." I also started rotating jobs at work so I wouldn't re-injure my shoulder. Meds would've only covered the pain, and if I had continued working the same position throughout each work day, it would've most likely gotten worse.

Another good thing is that I'm really seeing great improvement in managing my anxiety. The real test was Thanksgiving. Typically I am a wreck every holiday (although I didn't really notice until now), especially when I'm hosting a holiday meal. I've hosted Christmas breakfast for more than 10 years, and every year I am freaking out for the last couple of hours of cooking and the meals are never ready on time. Would you believe that this Thanksgiving I only got upset once (when I was having trouble with the home-made bread) AND the food was ready almost an hour before guests arrived? That has never happened. Let me really stress this important point: THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED! I see it as another sign of how volatile my relationship has been with my family. This time I was relaxed and calm, and I even got started late. I'm still amazed :-D

As for other stressful areas of my life, I have an overwhelming amount of work and school projects due a.s.a.p. that were put on the back burner in part because of my back injury (I was in the least amount of pain lying down; sitting in chairs was not an option) so I had to clear my schedule last week in order to bust tail and catch up. It really sucked that last week was Thanksgiving because I literally lost two full days of work because of it. Normally I'd freak out (and actually, just typing this, I can feel my bp and heart rate increase *sigh*). It is the hardest thing in the world for me to stop working because my attention has to go elsewhere. It makes me feel guilty and helpless all at the same time. However, in spite of feeling this way, I cleared my schedule as much as possible and stuck with the tasks. This is a very big deal because typically I shut down and avoid it all because it increases the anxiety.

Things are definitely getting much better :-D

LL xoxo

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween!

I love Halloween! I've thrown some really elaborate parties in the past, mostly outside where crunchy leaves, cool air and a night sky become the backdrop to some fun times with the right amount of creepiness sprinkled in. This time of year also marks nearly 7 months of freedom from my family so it's time for an update on how I'm doing.

My anxiety is almost gone, I just have a couple of areas that I'd still like to work on to get to where I'd like to be emotionally. I am so amazed at how quickly I've been able to knock out my anxiety once I realized that is what I had. I am so much calmer now and even if something gets my heart rate up, I'm still able to control my reaction, to maintain control when before I would just lose it. It's so hard to admit that I've been like this for 20 years, and I've hurt so many people because of it, expecially my daughter. I've had to forgive myself so that I COULD change, but I have such deep regret for the unstable childhood I created. Whether it's my fault or not, the fact is that an innocent person was deeply affected by it and for that I AM responsible. It seems though that maybe I have also passed along some of my strength and determination to fight to be a better person because I see these same things in her. I will never rescind my offer to give emotional and/or financial support if she should ever need counseling for this. It's not her fault but the burden of reversing the damage unfortunately lies on her shoulders, but I will be there as much as I can (and as much as she wants me to be) in order to relieve some of the burden.

On a weekly basis I'm doing what I can to prioritize my reponsibility while also balancing my wants with my needs. I haven't been on a date night in a couple of weeks because I've been so busy, which I'm O.K. with, but for the sake of my relationship I will have to do something next weekend because we need to spend some time simply being with one another. Speaking of the fiance, we are doing well, we just need to get the results of his tests so that we can begin therapy to learn how to work together as a married couple. I'm doing the best I can right now, but my best is not good enough. I still fight and complain about the things his autism causes him to do. I feel like a caretaker far more than a partner, and with my personality that is fine to some degree, but not all the time. So, we are working on that.

A week ago I started eating a much healthier diet which consists of about 90-95% fresh produce, 5-10% protein from lean chicken and seafood, no dairy and no sugar. I am feeling so much better, which I will write about at a later time because right now, my 6-month-old boy kitty is crawling all over me and the keyboard for attention . . .

LL xoxo

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On the journey . . .

When does a journey start? When we are conceived or born? On a Monday? January 1st? Are our lives made up of many different journeys or is it all one journey that just goes different directions?

I have been on a self-improvement journey since I was about 13-years-old. I am 40-years-old now and my goal of being a better person, a calm, relaxed, happy person is not far off. I've spent 27 years surviving and then trying to undo those survival techniques that now just hurt me and others in my life. For the first time ever . . . let that sink in because it is not an exaggeration . . . until now there has never been a time in my life when I wasn't suffering from anxiety issues. I've battled my family all of my life, begging them to just love me, but I finally realized that it would never get better so I cut them from my life. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Just look at what has happened since then: I lost 20 pounds, my anxiety is nearly gone, I take much better care of myself and I've become a much better friend, mother and significant other (even got engaged). The proof is in the pudding.

I've spent the past 6 months learning as much as I can about the effects that food has on the health status of a body. I lost 20 pounds over 2 months by adhering to a low-carb diet. I stopped because I plateaued (although I didn't realize it at the time) but I didn't continue because it was just too difficult to maintain. I am not able to cook every meal, and it takes a lot of time to prepare so much in advance. When I did, my daughter and her boyfriend would often eat it before I had the chance. I'm not one to deny someone food, so I don't feel badly about that, but it did add to the challenges.

Three years ago I attended a workshop about raw food and was very impressed with what I heard and tasted. However, it was not the right time for me. It's not a cheap way to eat, and when I tried it for a few days, my daughter fended for herself making mac 'n' cheese and other junk food because I was too busy preparing my own stuff.

I've read books and articles and watched numerous documentaries about food since then and have made some changed along the way. I rarely eat at a fast food place and when I do it's either a sandwich shop or Jack in the Box (their burgers just seem more real than the other places). I mostly eat at restaurants that make food from scratch, so even if what I eat isn't very healthy, it wasn't premade a year ago, frozen, and then dropped in a fryer when I ordered it. Finally, two months ago I decided that I'd like to use my money for things other than dining out. After bills, the majority of my money has always gone to dining out, hundreds of dollars each month. I've always worn unflattering cothes because I couldn't afford any better, however that has changed. I've spent a few hundred on clothing lately in order to build my professional wardrobe (I'll be job hunting very soon) and I've learned a few tricks to stretch my food budget (and it's not by buying the cheapest ingredients).

I signed up for an online cooking school two months ago and it has really changed how we eat at home. For one, it has made it much more enjoyable for me because I feel confident about what I'm doing. I get excited about trying new techniques and recipes, and my family sees it as a treat now, not a poor-man's substitute to more exciting meals at restaurants. I use fresh ingredients, never anything that's processed aside from a bit of flour to make sauces.

All of this has led up to my next food venture: a plant-based diet. I don't believe the transition will be too difficult because I've already stopped eating fast food and have learned to cook with fresh vegetables. Yesterday I watched the documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead." It's about a man who wants to turn his health and life around and does so by sticking to a strict juicing diet for 60 days, after which he has lost nearly 100 pounds but better yet is no longer sick. He meets a man with the same health issues but who is much bigger at 429 pounds. He helps this man who follows the same diet and has the same results. Both now travel and speak about the wonders of a plant-based diet and how it flushes the body of all the crap (literally and figuratively) and rebuilds it to become its best self.

I suffer from depression and frequent fatigue. I am not excited to get up in the morning and I am having memory problems. My activities are limited by the size of the seats at different establishments (there are booths with large bench seats at restaurants for all the fat and growing butts and guts, but tiny seats at theaters and on airplanes) and it's hard to move around sometimes because I bump into things and people. In just 7 months I will finish school, start a new career and get married, and I want to do it all with me at my very best, so I am going to start a 15-day cleanse next Monday (October 24). This means I have 6 days to prepare. I've put together a checklist for this week and will gradually begin to eliminate certain things from my diet in preparation for the cleanse. As of today sugar & caffeine are off of the menu, tomorrow it's dairy and Thursday it will be meat, poultry and seafood. This sounds radical but I'm actually looking forward to it. I feel great about this, which is a sign that I'm ready. There is going to be all kinds of food all around me at all times--I've already accepted that. I will take my own food with me or have whatever I can from a menu. "A" and I can still dine out, I will simply choose salads, steamed vegetable plates and fruit plates just like I would at home. Speaking of "A," I told him a short while ago about my plan and he's in complete support; he even said he'd like to try some of my food :-D I knew that would happen LOL

Weight loss is honestly the last reason why I want to do this. Being thin is nothing if I don't have the energy to live, and that's what I want, emotionally I am ready to live, now I just have to bring my body up to speed.

Wish me luck!

LL xoxo

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ugh

Not feelin so great today and I'm not exactly sure why. I had a great day yesterday, full of energy and fun, but today has been a complete 180 from yesterday. I started to have a panic attack but I did what I could to push it away.

It did not take full force, however it was very challenging to deal with because I was also dealing with "A" constantly asking me if I'm O.K., if I needed anything, constantly wanting to touch me (hugs, etc.) and even brought up having sex. He's been pushing the issue off-and-on for a couple of hours, even insisting that he "knows" that he's done something wrong and just wants me to talk to him. No matter what I said he wouldn't leave me alone. Finally, I stopped talking or even looking at him. I received a few wonderful moments alone while baking in the kitchen and even felt badly for him. He may have Asberger's (still waiting for the results) so I understand that it upsets him when I'm not feeling really well. I was trying to calm myself down enough so that I could give him a bit of attention. Unfortunately, when he came into the kitchen he started back up again telling me that he knew it was him. I lost it (but on a very small scale, no screaming or throwing him out of the house). I told him a couple weeks ago that he would rather I scream at him than remain quiet, and it's true. I reminded him of this. I told him that, just as I'm learning how to handle his Asberger's, he needs to learn how to hande my bad days. I'm human, I have bad days. I don't do what I did when I had PTSD (throw things, confine myself to my room) which is so great, but I'm still learning how to deal with bad feelings in general. I've tried everything I could today and it hasn't worked (took a nap, took a break from working to have a snack and watch a T.V. show), so I've accepted that this is an off day and I'm keeping quiet.

How am I supposed to take care of myself the best way I can (in this case by keeping to myself) while also taking care of him (which would be the opposite of what I want and need right now: hugging, CONSTANTLY reassuring him that everything's O.K.)?

I just want this day to end so I can start all over tomorrow.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Success, One Day at a Time

Woke up an hour early this morning and laid in bed trying to squelch the panic that was trying to take over. I got up and told my roommate that I was fighting some anxiety over not having enough time to do everything I need to do in the next 5 days. I said that I had been trying some breathing exercises but that they weren't working. He said he's done that too and that it can take a while to work (a while as in many tries or a while as in 10 minutes? I didn't think to ask then).

I was up and moving and decided that I would not go to work so that I could focus on school. Then I realized that I COULD go to the main office (I had planned on working offsite today) to finish up a project that needs little of my attention, just some oversight. I've been here all day and the project is almost complete and I've completed the first step of an assignment that's due next week.

I told "A" that I'm tired and would like to chill at home alone tonight, and he was cool with that, so in a while I'll be heading home. Oh, a bonus to my day was a free dinner I just ate. There was a conference in a room near my office and they had lots of leftovers from their Italian buffet lunch, so I helped myself :-D Two kinds of pasta and tiramisu for dessert. Yummy!

So, not too bad for a day that started out looking rough.

LL xoxo

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Feelings

Went to therapy this morning and it was a mild experience yet I have some very raw emotions hanging on and I'm not quite sure where they came from or why I'm feeling this way at all. I usually cry throughout my sessions but this time I didn't cry at all until I shared a couple of experiences about my mother. Yes, it seems that was it, but why now? I've shared these things with folks in the past and I didn't react this way.

I had scheduled myself to work today but felt drawn to my fave coffee house instead feeling that I want to be alone. At the coffee house, like in many crowds, I am left alone therefore I am in essence alone; I don't have to put on a happy face for anyone. However, it's bright and sunny here, there is folksy music playing, lots of trees to see and the sounds of the city flowing inside. It's vibrant, alive, and I need that right now too. I would go nuts sitting at home alone.

My mother reared her ugly head last weekend but used my daughter to try and get to me. Under the pretense of wanting to visit her, my mother instead talked about me to her. My daughter was very upset by this. She doesn't want to be involved, and I don't involve her. I didn't even tell her that I had stepped out of the family until she asked about it. Her life has been hard at times because of my relationship with my mother. I wish I had been stronger two decades ago in order to prevent hurting my daughter, but I have to forgive myself and be grateful that I'm gaining strength now.

I'm learning to appreciate who I am and forgive myself for things I've done. I take responsibility for things I've said and done, but I recognize that I wouldn't have done such things if my life had started out better. I try to find meaning in all that has happened to me and then why I survived it all. I've attempted suicide multiple times and never succeeded. Although broken, I am actually very strong and deeply compassionate. I wish, so much, that I was filthy rich so that I could help people all over the world. I feel the pain of people who are hungry, who are abused because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, who are targeted to be victims because they were born with certain body parts, skin tones or in a warring country.

I don't know if I'm looking for reasons to be sad or just need to learn how to control my compassion, but I do know that I am focusing some of that compassion to myself. My friends have great things to say about me but I always push away the compliments, making excuses that they don't know who I really am and that if they did they wouldn't say such nice things. Today we discovered that there is a pattern to my responses to compliments: my mother has complimented, but then when my guard is down she attacks like a snake. About 15 years ago I was walking with her through the house she had just purchased when out of the blue she said that if I hadn't been "so money hungry" the abuse I suffered from a boyfriend when I was 17 would never have happened. We weren't talking about boyfriends, abuse or my past, she just attacked me. That's another message she's always sent me: that I am responsible for the bad things that have happened to me. I've always felt that she can't handle the responsibility she has for everything that has happened to me, so maybe this is her way of deflecting it from herself--blame me and therefore she won't need to blame herself.

I am the one child of hers that she's always dumped on. When I was a child she told me in anger that she would have aborted me if she had known she was pregnant, but that by the time she realized it, it was too late. I was shocked when I found out I was pregnant and I wasn't sure what I would do. I couldn't fathom abortion but if I had considered it there is no way I'd tell my daughter that. Being a mother has been tough at times but I've never wished she wasn't in my life. I don't know. My mother is a bad person, plain and simple. She needs me in her life so she has someone to beat up (figuratively) but I'm not going to be that person for her anymore. Not her, not anyone.

I've asked her for years to please treat me better, to love me, to appreciate me, to show some remorse for her choices/mistakes, but she has always refused. I don't know who reads this, but I'm making it clear that I want nothing to do with her or my sisters ever again. They've all made me small and unimportant even though I've fought and begged for better. Not one of them has attempted to contact me (my brother has, which says so much about him), so it's clear there is no love lost. If I die tomorrow, my mother and sisters are not welcome to the funeral. If any of them dies I will not attend theirs. I don't believe in being fake just because someone dies. If I'm not good enough for them in life, then so be it.

I'm getting stronger, but it's not always easy. That is where I am today. So I'm taking care of myself until I feel better. I love me and I'm worth it. I'm awesome damnit!

LL xoxo

Sunday, October 2, 2011

So How'd I do on Those Goals?




Here's the list of goals I set for myself May 14 (4.5 months ago) and whether or not I met them:

  • Attend "Bye Bye Birdie," the last show of the summer, at the Muny. I did not do this. I stopped losing weight and, even though a friend said that the paid seats are bigger (there are free seats and paid seats), I didn't want to risk it.

  • Attend a show at the Fox Theater. We didn't go this summer but there is a show coming this month that I think "A" would enjoy. The only thing holding me back is money.

  • Take two out-of-town trips. Went to Branson in June and had a great time. Unfortunately had to cancel the trip to Colorado because of money.

  • Do a bit of yard work. I just did this one yesterday! LOL

  • Spend some time with friends. Of the seven friends I listed, I spent time with three of them. I would say it was due to my schedule (which is true) but I'm just now learning how to manipulate my schedule so that it works FOR me and not against me, and that's the real issue of why I didn't see more of my friends. --> On a side note, I spent time with a friend I haven't seen in a year because she stopped including me in her life (no emails, stopped asking for help with things, etc.). We emailed a couple of times after that but I didn't get a response to the last one. Truth is, I don't miss her. She (like all of us) has changed and we aren't in the same place. I think she's become much more rigid in how she lives her life and she doesn't seem interested in having me be a part of it. It's hard to admit but I'm really O.K. with this. I've debated whether or not to inviter her to the wedding and I've decided not to. It's time to move on.

  • Read. I did this! I read a couple of leisurely books and when time permits during the school year I'll continue to do this.



  • LL xoxo

    Quick Update (depends on your idea of quick I suppose) LOL

    Wow, what a month September was for me. Rather than ramble on for an hour, I'm gonna write with concise, direct bullet points to make it easier to catch up :-)

    • Weight: doing very well actually. I lost 20 pounds last spring and I'm sure I put a few back on, but my increased activity level lately has brought it back to the 20-pound-loss mark.
    • Diet: for practical reasons I had to abandon the low-carb diet. My life is chaotic and fast-paced, and it's impossible to follow this diet every second of every day. Also there's the issue of my budget. I have lots of pasta in the house that can be combined with inexpensive grocery store purchases to make meals, so that's what I've been doing.
    • Money: I have far less left over from my student loan refund than I had planned, but amazingly I DO still have a wee bit. I've been doing very well with it so far and will hopefully not have to touch it.
    • Schedule(s): I've finally worked out a fabulous schedule for myself that balances work, volunteering, school and . . . wait for it . . . free time! Last semester and all summer I had to work most weekends in order to get all of my hours in, but this is now the second weekend in a row that I've not had to do that. Next week I'll actually get all of my hours in by Thursday, so I'll have Friday off. Did you catch that? I'll have a 3-DAY WEEKEND!! I'll probably spend Friday doing schoolwork at my favorite coffee house, so I'll combine a responsibility with a fabulous treat! :-)
    • Family: My brother reached out to me, so we spent some time together. We haven't been close since we were children, so it was awkward but also nice. He said that he doesn't get involved in what's being said by our mother and sisters and that he really just doesn't care. We haven't talked much since then, but it's good knowing that he cares.
    • Daughter: She's doing so well. She left home for about a month (typical teenage rebellion) but she's back and has been respectful ever since. She's asked me to join her on two shopping trips, and she's talking to me, sharing parts of her life with me, like she used to, oh, 6 years ago (yeah, it's been that long). She has two jobs and is a full-time student. I worry about her but am so proud of her at the same time. She, like myself, is also learning to budget her money better and make better choices. I'm beaming!
    • Cats: I have six now. I adopted the last two that I was fostering. This has been their home for months and I honestly was concerned about them having to readjust somewhere else. They are a part of our family.
    • Roommate: My bff is renting a room from me and it has been an adjustment but, after 6 weeks, it's all falling into place. I enjoy having the extra activity/life in the house. :-)
    • School: Doing well
    • Work: Great, terrific, awesome as usual :-)
    • Home: I've been making efforts to keep it clean, which means getting off the couch and doing some work. Some days it's frustrating but mostly it's great.
    • Fiance: Just cuz he's at the bottom of this list does not mean he's last on my mind. We are doing so very well. He's been tested for autism and it has been suggested to us twice that he may have Asberger's. Final results aren't in yet, but it's so helpful knowing what's going on. Friends and family are being very supportive and we're learning a lot about how to work together.
    • Wardrobe: Yes, I'm talking about my clothes. I never, ever put myself first with anything, so buying clothes is a BIG deal. Of course it's not just about doing something for myself but to prepare for my future career. I have to dress for the job I want and that's what I'm doing. I actually have 3 career jackets! When I dress for work now, I feel like a professional :-)
    • Bills: all paid (can you believe it?)
    • Physical activity: As previously written, I'm much more active than I've been in the past. I've been getting up and doing more things, like yesterday . . . I did some yardwork and made the outside look as good as the inside.
    • Therapy: It's going VERY well. I realized for the first time that I have anxiety issues. I've always thought of it as stress, and that is what causes the anxiety, but stress is less controllable than anxiety. Stress has led me to feeling anxious and having frequent anxiety attacks (again, something I've never noticed). Realizing this has helped me start learning how to overcome it. I feel it coming on and I'm able to take a moment to push it away and calm down. In the past I'd feel it coming on and just freak out, but now I see that I don't have to let it take over, that I am strong enough to handle stress. Part of this is putting myself first and accepting that as a human I have limitations. I expect great things from myself, I still have high standards, but I've made them more realistic. It's all good man!
    • Depression: It's still here. Last week I was caught offguard for a couple of days, but I worked my way through it. Honestly, I still have my "plan" if I ever need it. Knowing it's there is a great comfort for me because it lets me know that I am not a victim, I am not stuck or trapped in this life. I have another option. However, just knowing that has made living my life and facing the bad stuff much easier. My thoughts have gone from, "This sucks, I'm forced to do a, b and c" to "I can handle this. This is my life and it's O.K." In other words, knowing that I have a backup "plan," a.k.a. another option, makes my current life also seem like an option, a choice, as opposed to something forced upon me. Does that make sense?
    • Marriage: I'm really looking forward to being married to my man. He is wonderful, has put up with a lot from me, and yet he loves me to death and does anything I ask him. I don't do yardwork alone. Heck, I am never alone if I don't want to be. He is amazing and I'm so grateful that he chose me to be his woman and life partner. <3
    So I'm just gonna keep plugging away and doing what I need to do to feel good about myself and my life.

      Sunday, August 28, 2011

      What to say, what to say . . .

      The past few weeks have been alright. I felt some depression kicking in again (although not as bad as the time before) and I started to notice a pattern to what triggers it, so I made an appointment with a therapist to help me work through it. It's been almost 5 months since I stopped interacting with my family, and that distance has allowed me to really learn about who I am. I actually feel very good about this because I believe that I'm getting close to the end of dealing with the past and therefore being able to, for the first time in my life, enjoy the present and look to the future with a big dumb grin on my face.

      I met my therapist last week and I love her! She's much younger than me, something I've never experienced, but it's part of me getting older. As I get older, bosses, doctors and other professionals will just get younger. I wasn't sure if this young student would be able to help me, but she's wonderful (thank you powers-that-be!).

      Much has happened in the past few weeks, far more than I can or want to write about, but it's mostly been good. Even the not-so-good has been part of the bigger picture of "good."

      :-D

      Thursday, August 11, 2011

      Things are going well. Let me clarify--my outlook on the chaos in my life is going well. I have a busy, full, chaotic life and it's normal for me to rush around in order to leave the house on time, or to forget something from my huge, ever-changing to-do list, and this week has been no different. What has been different is my attitude towards it.

      I'm also learning how to prioritize for me. I have a friend who is always getting involved in things--volunteering with: a cat shelter, community theater and a crisis hotline; attending various events, participating in yoga classes, etc. I asked her recently how she does it all while taking care of her adult responsibilities because for me, the adult responsibilities never allow me time for much else. She explained that she would go nuts if she didn't balance her life with things outside of work and home. She admitted that her house is pretty cluttered most days, and I admitted that I spend a lot of time trying to keep my house clean, that I can't stand clutter. She said that I need to find what's important to me and not be concerned with anything else.

      That was a few weeks ago and I've just started putting it into action. About 2 weeks ago I decided to spend a few hours cleaning (even dusting which I NEVER do). I thought about what I was doing as I did it and noticed that I feel a connection with myself when I clean. My home is me, everything in it is a part of me, so caring for my home is in actuality caring for me. I feel so good when I walk into a clutter-free, clean home--it's inviting and feels like open arms welcoming me in. Like life, I sometimes have to purge what's no longer working, letting go of things that I've needlessly held onto for too long. When I toss these things into the trash, my spirit is lifted. A few months ago I had to toss away cetain family members that were weighing me down, and my spirit was lifted then too.

      One of my biggest mental poblems is thinking of all that I'm not doing/getting done while doing something else (not doing homework while gocery shopping, not cleaning while doing homework, etc.), and wondering how what I'm doing will be accepted in the world (i.e. clean house but fat body). We live in a world where everything is seen and judged. We can't watch a commercial without being told we aren't good enough. I see photos of celebrities with gogeous culs in their hai and I feel small because my fine, staight hair won't hold curls. The other day I realized that my hair is fine the way it is. I can wash it, brush it, and let it air dry, or I can blowdry it in five minutes and add a bit of body to it. Because I CAN'T spend hours at a time styling my hair, I'm freed up for other things (plus I can drive with the car windows down on a nice day).

      This has been sort of all over the place, but this is where my mind is right now too, so, yeah . . .

      :-D

      Monday, August 8, 2011

      So how is life? It's messy, in every sense of the word. I cleaned my house from top to bottom a few days ago, and you can't even tell. No matter how much I plan for things, all I can expect is the unexpected. The past few weeks have brought many challenges, but I've handled far better than expected. I sank into depression for about a week and felt suicidal but pulled myself out of it (again). My cat was dying and I made the choice to euthenize him, through which I discovered that the "hard choices" really aren't so hard when love is the driving force. Exactly one week later one of my other cats broke his leg at the hip and had to have emergency surgery. I've missed a week of work and stayed home to play nursemaid, and he seems to be doing pretty well.

      I graduated with my 2nd of 3 degrees on Saturday and family and friends were there (family = my child and fiance's family). I had a great weekend actually. After graduation we all went to lunch and then toured the site where the wedding will be. The next day I went rafting with the fiance and best friend (haven't done that in over 10 years). There have been challenges but nothing I couldn't handle. I'm in the process of rethinking how I handle things, some of which I'll write about at another time. But for now, my life is messy which means it's far from boring.

      LL xoxo

      Monday, August 1, 2011

      Where to Go from Here . . .

      The past few weeks have been challenging, to say the least, but the important part is that I have worked through it and come out stronger on the other side. During this, however, I really began to question the purpose of life. Join me on this thoughtful journey of one of humanity's oldest questions.

      Does life matter if no one sees what you're doing? Is life meant to be completely experienced alone (e.g. your experiences are your own), and if so, what is the point? Whether there is life after death or not, what is the point of even being here?

      Sure, I can have children, design or build bridges, write novels, crossbreed plants to make better fruits and vegetables, but again, for what purpose? We talk about leaving a mark and making things better for the following generations, but those people are going to die someday too, and their experiences will also cease to matter.

      I know this is pretty abstract, but stay with me for a minute. If I read a book a week for the rest of my life, what purpose does it serve? I learn lots of things, my mind expands and begins to view certain ideas differently. But then one day I die and all of that learning dies with me. There is no guarantee that I'm going to share what I've read with anyone. I don't have a job where my thoughts about the books' topics will matter. I read because I like to, building up decades of intelligent, critical thought, but then it goes away with my last breath. It seems no different than spending decades collecting anything, anything at all, just to have it all completely and instantly destroyed. That is the point--anything we do, no matter how well we do it, makes no difference in the end. Maybe it does to other people for a while, but they will die too and will lose whaterver benefit they received.

      We can say that bringing joy to a person while alive IS the point, but isn't that just killing time pleasurably? I'm here by accident, I didn't choose life, and I certainly didn't choose THIS life (the year I was born, the family and country I was born into, the wealth or poverty level I was born into, etc.), but the fact is, I am here. Now what do I do?

      Two weeks ago I was feeling so low that I planned the perfect suicide, quick, relatively painless, and away from everyone so a) I couldn't be stopped and b) no one would have to pay for a funeral. I had reached one of my lowest points having been rejected by my last family member and doubting I could ever trust another person very close to me. I decided that I was tired of fighting, that I had given it my best and a good, happy life was just not meant to be. I'm going to die someday anyway, why not just move up the date and do it on my own terms?

      When I hit this point, I felt very peaceful, very hopeful for the first time in a while. It felt right and it made complete sense. So why did I change my mind? There were some logistics involved in my plan which included going very far from home to a place no one would ever think to look for me, but that meant having the money to get there. Getting there meant traveling, finding places where I could sleep and eat along the way. I would have several thousand dollars and, as I mentioned earlier, I couldn't take it with me, so why not spend, spend, spend . . . live lavishly for my last few days? Death row inmates receive their perfect meals just before execution, so if they can do it, why couldn't I?

      Along this line of thinking, I realized I'd have enough money to live lavishly for several weeks. My dreams of what I could do in my final days grew in a couple of ways. First, I could visit places, taste food and feel things that I never had (and probably never would if I worked and planned for a future, thus saved money more than enjoyed it). But second and more importantly--and this is the thought that led me to choose life--if I'm willing to die and leave everything behind anyway, why not live a bit longer and do the things I would otherwise never do? Instead of living lavishly for a month, take the money and live in Europe for 6-12 months. Death is always within reach so I can do it any time, a month from now or a year from now. Either way, I wanted to treat myself to things I would otherwise not have given myself permission to do.

      I know this has been a bit long and may have been hard to follow, but stay with me because there is a point to all of this. I am a very logical person, to the point of having lost my sense of humor and ability to really laugh over the past few years. What I've explained thus far is pretty logical, yeah? So here I am, imagining my life in Europe before The Big Day. I see myself waking up with nothing but time on my hands. I can get up early and welcome the sunrise as it stretches across rooftops and city streets. I saw myself walking to the local bakery or coffee shop where I'd sit peacefully (peacefully! A key word here because this is something I NEVER feel), calmly eating a small breakfast item while sipping coffee. I'd walk all day, slowly, not fast like I usually do. I'd visit historic places, take long rides on buses, and even spend time in the countryside with the many shades of green that are found in the innocence of nature. The importance of this dream is that no one, no one at all, would know what I was doing. Therefore, for the fist time in my life, I'd be doing something JUST FOR ME. There would be no thoughts of, "I can't wait to tell him about this!" or "I can't do that because it will cause them to talk down to me even more."

      This brings me full circle to the things that put me into a suicidal frame of mind in the first place. I've never been allowed or encouraged to simply enjoy my life and to be satisfied and proud with whatever I choose to do. I've always reached for the big things believing that my life doesn't matter unless I make it matter. It would not be enough to have a clean but dusty house. It would never be enough to read books just for the sake of reading them. It would never be enough to raise a child with a smile on my face and in my heart; there has to be misery involved. And it certainly would never be enough for me to survive my past, I'd always be reminded of it, one way or another (or because someone would callously bring it up to me). Why would I have to end my life to enjoy my life? Why do people change when they see the end is near? Why not change anyway, whether death is today or 50 years away? Apologize now, eat now, live now. That is what I have decided to do. Let it all go so that I can live with my heart more than my head.

      So what is the meaning of life? I am no closer to understanding this than I was two weeks ago, but today, right now, I am choosing life over death. Knowing that death is a very real option, one that I can turn to at any moment, has renewed my drive for life. Why? Because being alive is the choice I made, today, right now. When life becomes a choice instead of a punishment (which is what it has felt like for most of my time here), it becomes more enjoyable. I've always loved eating at buffets, not because they are all-you-can-eat, but because I have choices. A regular meal is decided (i.e. preset) for you with either fries OR a baked potato, but with the buffet I can have both. Of course I can always choose more chicken if I'm not in the mood for starch; again, something you can't do with a regular dinner.
      For now, death is off the table. I want to see where my life will take me, or more accurately, where I will choose for my life to go. Living in Europe is still a consideration. I feel that the world, the entire world, is now open to me and that I can do what I want regardless of what anyone around me says. I've shaken myself free of the dead weight (haha, no pun intended) and I'm not looking back.

      Anyone who doesn't like it can just kiss my ass ;-)

      Friday, July 22, 2011

      Things are getting better in some ways and worse in others, and of course the "worse" wins in the emotional tug-of-war. My fiance broke my trust again and I didn't see him for several days while I thought through the possibility of this relationship surviving. I told him that we've been together too long for this to still be an issue, and that we should be focusing and working on other things than this in preparation for our marriage. I've taken on a lot to be with him, compromising and settling in many ways. I did this all in the name of companionship and love.

      I've never seen him so upset. It was like the reality of his choices really hit him in a way I've never seen. It hurts me to see him this way. For the past 14 hours I've tried forcing myself to find a way to be with him, but my heart isn't in it. I worry that in the name of self-protection I'm losing the one thing I've never had: someone who really, truly loves me.

      Unfortunately, love does not always win personal battles. A person can love someone with all his/her heart and still choose to do things that will hurt the other. At this point though, the price of having his love is not trusting him. I've been concerned that at some point in our relationship he would leave me for someone else; it's possible that I took matters into my own hands and ended the relationship before he could get the chance to. I hope I made the right decision.

      I'm tossing around the idea of writing a book--I've already got the title and premise in mind. If my tends-to-bore-easily Gemini self can stick with it, it could be really good, a book that I would pay to read.

      Saturday, July 16, 2011

      Not exactly sure what to write about but I feel I must make some sort of contact with the blog so that the most recent post isn't about how badly I was feeling last week.

      Tuesday was not a good day, but I've been feeling better each day since then. I'm feeling a renewed sense of interest in one of my big work projects, and although this next week is jam packed with appointments and meetings, I'm looking forward to the business. I'm a very task oriented person, so these things can be very good for me.

      I found out that C left home the same day I did but didn't bother to tell me. The animals went without food for nearly 2 days. I can't even find the words to describe how wrong that was. Disrespecting me is one thing, but abusing animals by not feeding them is something entirely different. We communicated a bit via texting Thursday night and it was clear that C believes I'm wrong and is nowhere near prepared to apologize. I said that it is time for C to move out, and the response was "But I don't have a car, so I have to live there until I get one." I asked what living in my house has to do with not having a car, because my car is off limits until C does the things I wrote in Tuesday's note (sincerely apologize and agree to do the things I ask on the actual days that I ask them [as apposed to never or days later]). I haven't heard a word since. Can you believe it? The stubborness? it baffles me that C is that much against being a decent human being.

      I spoke with C's father and he agreed that tough love is the only recourse. I was married to C's dad at this age, working, caring for a home, paying bills . . . one time we were almost without any food, and no one could or would help us. We struggled, but we survived. I don't wish that on anyone, especially my own child, but this flat out refusal to give me the respect I deserve has pushed me too far.

      For now, the house is quiet, but I'm not completely relaxed because I know that at any moment C can call or walk in through the door and unravel the peace that currently (mostly) fills this house. It's sad to feel like this about your own flesh and blood. However, I've spent the past few years pulling back emotionally because I don't want to fall apart when C makes bad choices. I can't be concerned about C's safety, not at this point. I won't be walked on and disrespected. C will always have a home here, but it is no longer unconditional. There isn't a single human being I would allow to live in my home who treats me this way. C has been, but no longer is, the exception.

      Tuesday, July 12, 2011

      I have sunk into a depressive state and am not doing well. I will not share everything that's going on in my head, not here or with anyone. Some thoughts must be heavily guarded . . .

      I have lots of trouble with my child regarding selfishness, as bad or worse than what I imagine other parents experience. I reached my breaking point this morning, so I packed up my stuff and left. I am far too depressed to explain any of this right now, but I saw last night that C is no better than my anyone else in my family. I explained very kindly to C last night that it hurt my feeling when C didn't do anything to recognize my 40th birthday and Mother's Day (yep, both days). C's response? "Why would you tell me that? Now you made me feel bad. I already feel guilty but now you've hurt my feelings." Not only do I deal with C's lack of appreciation and respect, I now know that, like my family, it doesn't matter what someone does to me and how it makes me feel--what matters is that I keep my mouth shut or else I get punished.

      I'm sorry, but fuck that! I am hurt and I am angry, so I packed up and left. Right now I'm sort of frozen and very tired (I believe that this type of fatigue is a coping mechanism that I acquired when I was 12-years-old and dealing with an abusive father), so I'm going to take a nap.

      Right now, one of the things that's running in my head is to take my refund checks and just run. Leave the house (it's a rental) and everything in it, and just go. I don't feel there is very much here for me, not enough to counteract the pain anyway. I'm just so ready to go . . .

      Friday, July 8, 2011

      It's Friday!

      I didn't eat any sweets at all yesterday, and almost no carbs. I went to sleep after 1a.m. but woke up just 6 hours later. I slept fairly well and have been pretty energetic all day. I've been thinking of peanut M&Ms all freakin' day though, but I'm avoiding them. I keep thinking of the next 20 lbs I want to lose and how the "I'll get back on track tomorrow" at some point has to start today. I have better paychecks coming so I'll be able to purchase smaller sized clothes, and I've got my food money today so I can purchase what's needed to get back fully on track with the low carb diet.

      I've maintained a low level of stress all week, mostly because I've been focusing on the here-and-now instead of freaking out over everything else. I have yet to touch my paper, but I made my choices this week in addition to dealing with some serious fatigue, so I'm not upset. After I post this I'm going to attack this paper. I have a feeling it's not going to be difficult at all. The only real work I have is to redo some of the statistical analysis.

      We discovered a FABULOUS wing restaurant last night, so I think we're going back tonight to pick up dinner and take them to a nearb lake where we can eat and then walk. It's GORGEOUS here today, and it's Friday, so I want to take advantage of it :-D

      Love to all!

      LL xoxo

      Thursday, July 7, 2011

      Need to Make Adjustments

      251!!!!

      I was stunned to say the least when I stepped on the scale yesterday. I've wandered from the rules of this diet quite a bit, but apparently the efforts that I HAVE made were still effective. Yay! This is giving me some momentum to keep moving forward. Only thing I don't understand is, why did my weightloss stall when I was being stricter with it? It was way too soon for a plateau . . .

      This week has not started off very well. I'm stressed about earning a full paycheck because of having July 4th off (no holiday pay for students) and I'm freaking out about getting my final research paper completed before graduation. A and I took the week off, but it's a short week, and Tuesday and Wednesday were useless because I've been so tired. I actually was alseep before 10pm the past two nights. I've had mild headaches and have been absolutely exhausted. I have to wonder if this is because I've been indulging in carbs, particularly sugar (cold ice cream cones on hot, steamy days, oh yeah! LOL). I haven't had this many carbs at once since early April.

      Let me clarify exhausted: A and I went on walks through the neighborhood Monday and Tuesday (he stopped by to pick something up Tuesday and since I was too tired to work I thought a walk would help--no such luck) and both times I was dead, really forcing myself to take the steps.

      So let's recap: I'm getting enough sleep but have been eating sugary treats; I have headaches and am super exhausted all the time. I think it's time to give up the sweet treats and signigicantly pull back on the carbs. My guess is that within 2-3 days I'll be good as new.

      As for my paper and work hours, I will just do the best I can. It looks like I may have to give up this weekend of free time to focus on getting this all done.

      One day at a time, right? Works for everyone, every situation, not just alcoholism.

      LL xoxo

      Monday, July 4, 2011

      One + One = Me!

      The prior two posts are about how I've been working on myself to be happy, content, satisfied with myself and my life. I've let my family go, a tough choice, but one that led me to where I am now--giving myself permission to be human, to be simple, to be me. These two things have led me to so much more, all of which is taking place at my job.

      I started a new campus job in January and little did I know just how much more beneficial it would be than just a paycheck. I don't even know where to begin, so I'll list it out:

      • My boss:
        • He compliments me all the time. He knows I don't take compliments well, so last week he explained why he does (because I'm a wonderful, intelligent employee, one of the best he's ever had).
        • He explained last week that I will be successful in anything I choose to do, because I am a hard worker, caring, and attentive to details. He said if I go on to get a PhD. that I will do very well. No one has ever, ever said these things to me. I've had a hard time with the compliments, but I'm listening now.
        • I'm learning so much academically, professionally and personally. I get one-on-one that other students don't get. I get opportunities to pick his brain. Last week I asked how he balances work and home and he admitted that it's still a struggle.
        • He involves me in meetings and projects that expand my experiences, knowledge and networking.
      • My main job:
        • It involves doing something that most students have to pay to learn (through a classroom setting), and I'm getting far more experience and time than I would in a classroom setting. 
        • I can take these new skills and start my own company.
        • My job introduces me to many new people through which I'm learning interviewing skills, listening skills and how to talk to older adults. This will benefit every area of my life, for the rest of my life.
        • The people I meet also touch me personally. I learn more about myself with every interview. Again, something that most students will never get to experience.
      I am so happy to go every day. I love being there. I'm getting more from this job than most other jobs I've had. This is a catalyst to the rest of my life, and I'm taking full advantage of it. I am counting my blessings daily, hourly, for my very good fortune.

      LL xoxo

      Family Update

      It's been a while since I've written about my feelings regarding my family. I've spent the past 3 months working through some interesting feelings which I think coincide with the stages of loss (anger, denial, etc. etc.). The day that I stood up to my sister had me on the brink of a panic attack. The next day I woke up feeling very good about life, free. This lasted for a few days. It was unexpected. It was during these days that I realized just how bad it has been for me, how controlling my mother and other family members have been of me. I realized that I truly had made the right choice.

      Then one day I woke up angry. There was a fury in my head that I couldn't shake. I was not prepared for this, but I accepted it. Although surprised and caught off guard, I handled it well, mostly because I didn't fight it but rolled with it.

      I've also had days when I would wonder what was going on in the lives of my family members. I'd look them up on Facebook to see what, if anything, they had posted. It didn't make me feel better, but I believe that it served a specific purpose--it gave me the opportunity to sort of transition them out of my life. It's always hard to quit something cold turkey, especially people.

      I've just now stopped being curious. I no longer care that they are outwardly loving to one another. I no longer think about the cost of it to me. I've stopped wanting to pick up the phone to call my mother (a habit from times when I'd be in the car and wanting to chat with someone). I have imagined what I'd say to my other sister if she ever contacts me and asks why I've done this. Until recently, I've imagined that I'd respond with hurt and anger, both verbally and emotionally. This week I imagined it very differently, that I would be calm, honest and distant. I see that I'm coming through this ugly thing to a peaceful place where I'm happy to be.

      LL xoxo

      Rebuilding from My Foundation Up

      253 (17 lbs lost)



      I've spent the past week really focusing on managing my time better and cutting myself a LOT of slack. I sort of let go of just about everything in an effort to strip it all down to the bare bones to start rebuilding myself. My first priority was to repair my foundation--sleep. I did my (almost) best to be in bed by midnight each night, regardless of any excuse I could make otherwise. One night I was standing at the kitchen sink filling it with soapy water for a needy stack of dishes. It was midnight. I initially felt bad about myself because a) I should have done them sooner rather than veg on the couch, and b) I "had" to do some housework before bed, therefore I'd be up late again, therefore this is my punishment for vegging on the couch. I then suddenly decided that the dishes could wait while I could not, so I walked away and went to bed. I haven't regretted that choice.



      Each day I've arrived at work between 8a and 9a and I've stayed for a full 8 hours; no going home early with the lie that I will do more work at home. Working at home, well, it doesn't work for me. Too many distractions, real and self-made. Doing this meant that I was free each night to do what I wanted, and what I did each night was veg on the couch, guilt free. I needed this. Mentally and emotionally I needed to experience giving myself permission to let go and to not chastise myself about it later. There wasn't one night that I felt guilty, and that is huge.



      I spent about an hour or so one evening cleaning the kitchen--washing dishes, cleaning out the fridge and scrubbing the stove. I typically would freak out because, rather than focus on what I was doing, I would instead think about alllll the other things that needed my attention. I would then kick myself into high gear with the thought that "My gosh, I've got so much to do and so little time. I HAVE to move fast and bust my tail!" Again, more punishment. This time, however, I continually reminded myself to focus on all that I WAS doing and getting done. I reminded myself that I am one person and I'm doing a great job. I thought about how I would praise someone like me for doing such a great job and how impressed I would be by this person. I also thought that no one was watching me, therefore no one was judging me. I finally let it all go, and I went to bed with a clean kitchen (this too was a huge mental change, from thinking of all that I had NOT done to thinking of what I HAD accomplished).



      I also accepted that I haven't lost more weight than I have at this point, and I also accepted that we are in a financial bind at the moment with barely any money for food (it's OK, we're not starving) and that I couldn't afford my diet right now. So you know what? I ate a banana. That's right, sugary banana, only allowed in small doses. I have no idea how many carbs I've eaten, but I've avoided them as much as a) possible and b) my will would allow. I enjoyed biscuits and gravy a couple of times as well as some sweet treats. Apparently I haven't done too badly because my weight is lower than it was last time I braved the scale.

      Finally, I have decided that, for the time being, I'm not going to make lots of plans or schedule my life to death (hmm, life to death, sounds odd ya?). Instead I'm really focusing on one day at a time, one task at a time. I've spent the past decade constantly thinking about what's to come and it has really messed me up. I can't slow down if I'm constantly running to catch up.


      So what are my plans for the week? Well, I HAVE to get my paper done so that I can defend it before graduation (which is in 4 weeks!!), so I told A that I can't see him for a few days. I will continue going to bed at midnight, taking care of what I can/want to before then. I'm going to do what I can to avoid  sweets cuz I'm craving them now LOL. I will return to my diet as much as possible. As for exercise? I don't know. That is something I will take a day at a time. Probably won't this week, but if I feel like it, I will.

      LL xoxo

      Monday, June 27, 2011

      The Morning After

      Last night I made a point of getting to bed by midnight so that I could be at work by 8a.m. After three nights of the best sleep I've had in months, I thought I would just continue the same at home. Insert LOUD gameshow buzzer here! No way. I've been fostering an adult cat and some kittens for the past month, and the adult has to stay in my bedroom because she's afraid of my adult cats. True to her species' nocturnal nature, she's up all night making noise which in turn keeps me awake all night. There was also a storm that woke me up (geeze, what's with the storms this year?!), so I got dressed and ran outside to make sure the car windows were up (they were). I read for a few minutes and went back to sleep, but not for long.

      I finally put the adult foster cat out of my room because it was clear to me that there is nothing wrong with me, I'm not a freak who just can't sleep. There are things at home preventing me from doing so. Unfortunately it was already too late. I tossed and turned and the overcast morning made it seem earlier than it was. I got out of bed an hour after I wanted to be at work. It's only Monday and I already have 2 hours of work to make up. *sigh*

      I told A last weekend that of all the areas of my life where I'm falling short, getting enough sleep has to be the priority. When I'm tired I'm late to work and have to work weekends to make up the time. When I'm tired I don't have the energy to plan/shop/prepare healthy meals which of course has stalled my weight loss. When I'm tired (and working weekends) I'm not able to exercise, and I desperately need to exercise (more on that later). So if I'm going to get on track I absolutely MUST get enough good sleep.

      The other factor that's negatively affecting me is how broke I am. No matter what I do, how much I plan, or what I give up, I never have enough money. It costs money to eat well, even bottom-of-the-barrel eating well. Although my weight loss has stalled, I've lost enough that my pants don't fit, but I can't afford new ones. I sprang for a cheap pair of shorts last weekend, but I had to return them last night so that I could buy cat food for the kittens and deoderant for my child. I'm not even joking.

      I emailed the director of the fostering program and explained that I cannot afford to do this right now. I don't feel good about this, but I do feel good about taking a stand. Fosters are told that the only expense is food and litter, but my gosh, these kittens still won't eat dry food regularly, and their appetites are growing along with their little bodies. I was told last night that I need to buy supplies to treat all the cats for ringworm. Um, that was not part of the deal. What makes it worse is that I have to treat alllll of the cats, including mine, but who's going to pay for my cats' meds? Yep, it's up to me. Again, I didn't sign on for this. I told the director that the only way I can continue this is if someone else buys all of the supplies for the fosters.

      This morning I wrote a letter to my child explaining that a) I'm broke, b) there are things we need that I can't afford (such as food) and c) the guinea pig has to go because he eats about $10 worth of produce each week (add this to the needs of my cats and the foster cats and it comes to $35 per week).

      So this is why I haven't been posting regularly--I don't want to dump a bunch of negativity on anyone. However, this is life, this is real. I'm struggling right now in just about every area of my life right now. No one has died, no one has cancer. I am grateful that it's not worse than it is, but it's tough to remain positive when putting forth sooooo much effort only to keep falling behind.

      LL :-(

      Sunday, June 26, 2011

      Where to Go Now?

      low-to-mid 250s

      As I stated in my last post, I've been frustrated lately with my inability to manage my life. Even though I'm quick to share internal feelings with friends, I typically work things out internally, letting my thoughts simmer over a few days or weeks until I've had the chance to look at all the options and possible solutions. Unfortunately it didn't work for me this time, so I just sort of gave up; not in a defeatist way, but in a let-it-all-go way. I can see now that it's exactly what I needed.

      A and I went to Branson for a few days of R&R, our first getaway in 18 months; our first getaway alone in nearly 2 years. I slept like a log, a LOG I tell ya, all three nights. I was in bed before midnight each night and almost immediately sank into a deep sleep. No drifting or slipping off gently to a sweet slumber. I crashed, hard, each night, and when I woke up, I was awake and ready to go. A said I snored which is a sign of how exhausted I've been. There are many signs that one has become an adult, and one of them is when one uses vacation time to do nothing in order to get the rest they don't get at home (whereas younger folks don't sit still).

      So as of this moment I've kicked the insomnia I've suffered for the past couple of months. My mind is clear (not racing with thoughts of everything I'm NOT doing) and I'm completely calm and relaxed. I feel absolutely nothing pressing on me, and it's wonderful.

      As for my diet, there wasn't a carb I said no to, and I don't regret it. My diet has been an added stress, mostly because it's so strict. Unlike a low-cal diet where you can indulge for a meal or a day without serious repercussions, I've found that the low-carb diet is much less forgiving. If I eat pizza for dinner, it'll be a full week before I see more weight come off. It sucks! It's not realistic. It's summertime and it's hot, and I'd like to have a scoop of low-sugar ice cream from my favorite family-owned frozen custard shop every so often, but no chance if I want to see the numbers on the scale continue decreasing.

      Here's the thing--I've lost weight before with no trouble by doing low-cal/low-fat. It was super easy too because I could pack premade granola bars in my bag for on-the-go snacks, have low-cal popcorn while watching a movie, etc. Problem is, I've mentally bought into the low-carb diet, so I'm not sure what to do. Actually, I am sure. I'll have to adjust my diet to fit my lifestyle. I can still stay away from bread, white pasta, white potatoes and processed food, but I shouldn't feel guilty about eating a banana (a SUPER easy take-along snack) or some popsorn.

      So that is what I'm doing this week--I'm going to take it a day at a time and figure out the best way I can do this. I am tired, and I am tired of constantly reading, planning, running, preparing and scheduling every little detail of my life, especially my food.

      Wednesday, June 15, 2011

      Don't Stop Till You Get Enough

      I am realizing that I have a very hard time managing my life. The struggle is between doing the things I want and need to do and having the time to do them.

      It dawned on me today that I am falling short in every single one of my endeavors. My weight loss has stalled, I eat healthy MOST of the time, my house is not quite clean, my paper has yet to be completed, doing fun things and visiting friends rarely if ever happens, I get to work late all the time, I'm always struggling to get the last few hours in before a time sheet is due, and I don't even get enough sleep.

      A told me a few nights ago that I do too much, and he's right. However, what is the alternative? I cried as I told him that the only things I can cut out are the things that only benefit me (weight loss, healthy eating, schoolwork, visiting friends, etc.), and that I'm tired of denying myself. The alternative would put me right back where I've always been--busting my ass to get everything done and being miserable while I do it. I'm so done with that, but what am I supposed to do?

      A third of the way through summer, I've made little progress toward my summer goals. I need to feel something, excited about something. I am bored with everything but work, but even that's not enough to get me out of bed at a decent hour in the morning. I need something, I just don't know what yet.

      Saturday, June 11, 2011

      No Title for this Post ;-)

      I find that that blogging has become a source of support for me, whether anyone is reading or not. The past few weeks have been a bit challenging as far as sticking to the diet is concerned. I've also been feeling so good about the weight I've lost that I'm surprised when I look in the mirror and still see an overweight woman. Huh? I can pull my pants off without unzipping them so clearly my bum is shrinking, so why do I still look like this? That may be confusing to read so let me clarify that I'm not upset about how I look, it's that I feel really great. Mostly anyway LOL.

      The newness has worn off. I was excited about the new meals I was making, the changes to my diet, and I thought the time-consuming aspect of researching, planning and making meals would go away. Because the excitement has worn off, so has the drive to put so much effort into this. Unfortunately this is reflected by the numbers on the scale. I have not gained any back because for the most part I've stuck to the plan. For that I'm very happy. However, I need to lose weight at this point, not maintain. Therefore, I need to accept that the hard work of losing weight. I thought that "hard work" meant I'd have to make sacrifices, put in the time at the gym and spend more time cooking (and thus cleaning). But in order to be successful I have to continue finding new recipes, and planning meals and snacks a week at a time. of course the other challenge is doing this on about $5 a day. *sigh*

      Tomorrow I will put together a plan for the week, hopefully without having to buy too much stuff from the store.

      Also, I've been craving exercise all week but haven't indulged once, and I'm not really sure why. Last Sunday I actually jogged on the treadmill, and since then I've been thinking about how good it feels to move and and use my body in ways that I used to do every day as a kid. It's not normal for me to do things I want, only things that I have to do, so maybe that is the issue here. If I have to exercise, I will, but if I want to, I deny myself because it's all I know how to do--but that's a different topic for a different day.

      So in addition to preparing my meal plan for the week, I'm going to treat myself to a trip to the gym. Right after I treat myself to a discount morning movie, at an actual movie theater, something I haven't done in months.

      Also, I've relisted my summer goals--which are also rewards--as a reminder of some of the things I'm working toward.

      LL xoxo

      • Attend an outdoor theatre show
      • Attend an off-broadway show 
      • Take two out-of-town trips
      • Do a bit of yard work
      • Spend some time with friends 
      • Read

      Monday, June 6, 2011

      No More Dating My Food

      254.2 (6 lbs & 17 days from Vacation milestone goal)


      What I've done these past two months is redefine my relationship with food. I used to date my food. Nothing serious, just fun get-togethers. It was always a party. Like a hot date, I was always excited to spend time with food. I actually looked forward to my alone time with food. There were nights when I'd have the house to myself and I'd pick up a meal from somewhere and have dessert too. I'd select the perfect thing to watch on TV, get comfy on the couch, and the date would begin. I'd be in heaven. It was my perfect escape. Food was the key to what I thought was happiness.


      Like many hot dates though, the excitement would wear off and I'd have to deal with the consequences. My stomach would hurt from overfilling. I'd have heartburn every day and take 2-4 antacids (no joke), and at night, well, we all know that nighttime is the worst when a hot date has broken your heart. The food would come back to haunt me. I'd fall asleep and shortly after wake up coughing and choking because I had aspirated food into my lungs. The sheer overload of food and the weight that pressed down on my stomach created a potential deadly threat. Dating food was going to kill me, directly or indirectly.

      It was time to stop dating food. I had to look at the relationship and get serious about what I wanted from food. I had been looking at immediate gratification but decided to look at the long term. I didn't want to have heartburn, stomachaches or suffer late-night aspirations. I didn't want to miss out of fun times because I couldn't fit into the seats. What I did want was to feel energetic and free to choose whatever fun activity sounded good. I recreated my relationship and made a long-term commitment with it. I got serious with food and it got serious with me. No more quick fix, no more picking up the first cute thing that caught my eye. Instead I went for cleaner items, food that had matured over time in a field rather than mass produced in a few minutes, brainy food over drug-filled food.


      Just two month later I feel better. I'm happier, less stressed and sleep better. The aches and pains of dating are gone and in their place is a relationship based on mutual respect--what I do with food and what food does for me.

      LL xoxo

      Saturday, June 4, 2011

      YAHOO!!

      254.4

      That's all I'm gonna say right now . . .

      ;-)

      Friday, June 3, 2011

      The Incredible Shrinking Woman!

      255.6 and going!

      I really look forward to mornings now because it means I get to step on the scale, which now is usually a great start to the day. It reflects my efforts in the prior days which motivates me to continue with those efforts.

      A took me to dinner last night using a Groupon he had for a new sandwich shop. I was very concerned because a lot of times the salads at these places are tiny and seriously lacking substance and flavor. Lucky me they had a gyro salad, two sizes, so I gobbled down the large and was quite satisfied.

      After dinner we walked around a part of a lake that is very popular in this area. It was just a leisurely 1.7 mile stroll but the alternative was to sit on the couch. We both wanted to get outdoors too, so this was terrific. There are nearly 10 miles of paths around this lake, and we took part of one that neither of us had been on before (turns out we've only touched on the same 2 miles our entire lives) so it felt like a vacation. We saw a bog and imagined we were in Florida swamplands, then walked near a very tall highway bridge that was so surreal we felt like a T Rex might come around one of the legs at any minute! It was fun, relaxing, creative and fun.

      The milestone goal I'm working toward right now is 245 by June 23, 20 days from today. It is possible but I think I'll miss it by a couple of pounds. I am more than O.K. with this because hey, I will be in the 240's during this time, more than 20 pounds lighter than when I started this. I am so excited!! I'll get to do some shopping for better fitting clothes then too :-D

      That's all for now. Hope all are well.

      LL xoxo

      Thursday, June 2, 2011

      Gettin' Bored but Pushing Through

      Not sure what I weigh today. The scale is still at 256.2 but I'm retaining water; can't WAIT to see those lower numbers!

      I've been tempted to eat some off limit carbs like cake and french fries, but I pushed past the temptations each time. I've really got it in my head and heart that I have goals I want to reach. At 2-lbs per week (a modest rate for me), I would be 233 when school starts up again (a total weight loss of 37 lbs). If I do more I could dip into the 220's. By the holiday break I'd be below, maybe well below, 200. It has been more than 10 years since I've weighed less than 200.

      So anyhow, I'm bored and tired of all the preplanning, shopping, preparation that takes place even before a workday morning when I have to figure out what to eat all day. A few weeks ago. However, in spite of feeling this way, I'm determined to stick to it. I've hovered at the same weight for about 3 weeks now because I indulged (which I do not regret) so I'm determined to get this moving again.

      Any suggestions? My biggest thing is being excited about food, which I'm not right now. I don't even want to eat but as I explained in an earlier post, skipping meals leads to pigging out on lots of bad carbs, so for this reason alone I'm forcing myself to eat.

      I'm tired today too, so I'll end here. I hope all are well.

      LL xoxo

      Tuesday, May 31, 2011

      Mmm Hmm

      Milestone Goal: Vacation, June 23, 245 (11lbs & 23 days to go)

      Before bed last night I wrote how I typically don't take a 2-lb weight gain too seriously because I tend to retain water, etc. So a day or two ago I weighed 259. It sucked, I won't lie, but the day before I weighed 257. Today however I weigh 256. Yeah that's right, I've finally broken through the 257 mark! And it's gonna keep getting better because a) I'm still retaining water, and b) it's that time. So yeah, it's all good.

      LL xoxo

      Monday, May 30, 2011

      Well That's a Relief

      Every so often I see my weight jump up about 2 lbs in one day and stick around. I typically cut myself some slack because a) 2 lbs isn't a big deal, and b) the body does what it does. But I have to say, women have one bit of relief that men don't when this happens: the wonderful monthly visitor. :-) Days like today when this turns out to be the case, I jump for joy (figuratively; read yesterday's post), not just because I know where those 2 extra pounds came from, but also because I will see a nice little reduction on the scale in about 5-7 days.
      So unless I dip below 257, I'm not going to post my weight until next week. Here's to hoping for a loooow number!

      Sunday, May 29, 2011

      Can you say "Out of Shape?"

      Instead of heading indoors to a fitness center, A and I decided to take it outdoors by walking through one of the city parks. Fate was definitely involved as we quickly came upon a workout station (the first of several) and I literally jumped right in to the challenges.

      The first one was a row of 6x6's and the challenge was to hop over each one, preferably without stopping. Well, I didn't realize until I tried this that, hey, I don't jump! Not anymore. It was really hard, but I did it, one at a time. A was able to do them faster but he also weighs 90 lbs less. We took a walk around the neighborhood later after dinner and I jumped over a few curbs. It was amazing that just one jump increased my heart rate.

      The other stations were for leg lifts (yeah, right, did 2 or 3), step-ups (like what we do with step aerobics; each post was a different height though, so it progressively got harder), and a couple of arm exercises. A and I were a bit worn out when we finished. Even though I did very little, what I was diong was a LOT for me. There is an ache in my arms today, so what does that tell ya? I am waaay out of shape.

      It also tells me that walking on the treadmill is only going to do so much. I want to get strong and sculpt my body a bit, and this will take resistant training (which I loathe).

      That's all for now. Gonna keep it short and sweet for once LOL Hope all are well.

      LL xoxo

      Psghetti Squash and Chicken Salad

      As promised, here are a couple of low/no-carb recipes. The recipes in this post come from Allrecipes, my most favorite recipe site. Not only can you look up recipes (what I did for the chicken salad), you can search for recipes containing certain ingredients (which is what I did with the spaghetti squash). I HIGHLY recommend that you check this site out. To make this even better, users like you and me are able to upload recipes, and every recipe has numerous user reviews which is great because folks recommend changes they've made and what they liked best and worst about the recipes, so by the time you make it it's almost foolproof.

      --> Clicking on the names of the recipes will link you to the actual recipe on Allrecipes.
      Can you handle it? Can you handle all this yummy goodness?! :-D



      that's spaghetti squash in the bowl. Not shown here are the cooked ground beef, onions and green pepper. Every ingredient is fresh aside from the dried herbs and spices and cheese.


      I sauteed a diced green pepper, half an onion and garlic in olive oil.


      Then I mixed everything together (herbs and spices, onion, green pepper, beef, diced tomatoes and cheese), transferred to a greased baking dish for 20 minutes and Voila! A pasta-free Italian casserole!


      It doesn't look very appetizing in the picture, but a young friend of the family devoured his share. One thing I'd recommend from the original recipe is to double the seasonings for more flavor; the current measurements make it a bit bland. On the other hand, I was able to enjoy the full flavor of the veggies since there wasn't a sauce or tons of seasonings to cover them up.




      I had never made chicken salad at home but instead always purchased it from the deli of local grocery stores. Love that deli chicken salad. But one night I decided I'd try it myself, so off to Allrecipes I went and found a recipe that 161 users had given 5 out of 5 stars and nearly 13,000 people had saved to their Allrecipes recipe boxes. The key to this is the use of dried onion. The recipe calls for minced onion but I use onion powder. Wowee is all I can say!



      We mixed the seasonings with the mayo in this bowl, then added cubed chicken that I had boiled while working on another dish. I cooked up some turkey bacon, and threw that in too.  I didn't have water chestnuts or celery, but it didn't matter. Since this was intended for low-carb, we just ate it like a side-dish. It could also work in lettuce wraps.


      So this was dinner. Might seem sort of odd, but what I'm finding is that there are no rules, especially when removing a key item from traditional American meals (the starch). The hands-down winner was the chicken salad, everyone agreed, but we all really enjoyed the casserole too.


      Give these a try and let me know what you think! :-)

      Saturday, May 28, 2011

      Check Out the Efforts on Her ;-)

      Milestone Goal: Vacation, June 23, 245 (12lbs & 26 days to go)

      Question for readers: what do you do to stay on track or get back on track with your personal goals?

      Surprise, surprise I'm retaining water, but it's not as bad as yesterday (then again, I just got out of bed). I've had too many carbs lately, and not the good kind. In my last post I explained how I need to refocus, and I'm happy to report that yesterday was much better.

      The first thing I did was get about 7 hours of sleep to give me a better start to the day. I then cooked my lunch and prepared a salad for lunch and snack. A few days ago I started fostering 5 kittens for a local non-profit, and the first thing I do each morning is feed them, clean them, and clean out their pen. It takes about an hour to do this and I get pretty dirty in the process. I have an adult cat that I'm fostering as well, plus my own kitties and a guinea pig (surprisingly, my house neither looks nor smells like a zoo; visitors can't even tell I have all these animals, thanks to my super organizational and cleaning skills LOL) that need attention as well. I decided that the kittens would just eat in their pen and would have to be cleaned later so that I had time for ME, to prepare MY food :-) Later I called my child and explained that the kittens would need bathing, feeding and a cleaned up pen; I'm so prepared for an argument that I avoid passing on chores as much as possible (that's another topic for another day). Moral of the story is that I took steps to put my health first and it paid off.


      I knew I was taking A out for a belated birthday dinner to one of our most favoritest Chinese restaurants, and the dish that I always get is Thai Style Shrimp (oh, it's heavenly!), which is tossed in a flour mixture before frying. Flour is a general no-no, however, I am allowed a small amount of carbs now, so I adjusted my eating throughout the day accordingly to allow some wiggle room. Again, very proud of myself :-D

      This morning A and I are going on a hike to get a great start to the day (he's getting up at 9a (which he never does). In my refocusing efforts, I'm also going to put together a menu for the week as well as a flexible workout schedule. When I did that a couple of weeks ago it made a HUGE difference in how I ate. When I was at a loss for snack and meal ideas, I'd look at the chart I put on the fridge for some ideas. You know what? I'm going to put that in my blog post tomorrow :-D

      Thursday, May 26, 2011

      Refocusing

      Milestone Goal: Vacation, June 23, 245 (currently 257)

      I've decided that instead of showing my current weight and weight loss, I'm going to list my next milestone goal, which will help me stay on track.

      I seem to have lost my focus and have been finding exceptions for not following the plan. It's sort of weird how I am--I don't want to have a strict schedule, but if I don't have some sort of schedule there almost always are negative consequences. I am the type of person who likes to be busy but needs downtime so that I don't get overwhelmed. Right now I am lacking direction and have spent the past 1-2 weeks sort of flying by the seat of my pants, as they say. The result is that I feel very disorganized and that many things are suffering because of it.

      I think part of the problem is that I'm still afraid of becoming overwhelmed. I have a history of either taking on too much or simply having too much to handle, both of which lead me to falling aprt and I hate that feeling. I'm also concerned about being to rigid with my schedule, but I really shouldn't because everyone who knows me understands and is perfectly fine with it. They know I have a busy life, and right now they all know how important it is for me to lose weight. What I need to do is regroup. In the past two weeks I've only lost a pound. I was O.K. with it last week, but not now.

      My chaotic schedule is getting in the way of me taking the time necessary to plan and prepare meals and snacks. I'm going too long in between eating which has led to making bad meal choices. I'm bored with the quick meals and snacks because there isn't any variety. I like to read in bed but I've been going to bed much too late and therefore I haven't checked out any new recipes to try. I don't even look forward to eating at home right now.

      So the first thing I need to do is remind myself why I'm doing this. I made a list of milestone goals recently so I'm going to start focusing on each one as it comes in order to stay on track. My next goal is 4 weeks from today when me and A go on vacation. I am 14 lbs away from that goal so I already know I won't make it because the most I have ever lost is 3 lbs per week. However, if I modify it to reflect the fact that I was 2 lbs from making my last milestone goal, the adjustment would put me right on target.

      I also need to spend less time on the computer. I'm sure I have some sort of mild addiction because once I'm on I don't want to get off. Almost every morning I spend an hour or more doing nothing of value. That has to stop.

      Additionally, I have so many things to do in the morning that lately I've just stopped doing them. When this happens, I don't go to work or I go late. I have work I can do from home but instead I avoid it (and all other responsibilities) when I waste time online.

      I've written about what hasn't been working, so here is what I will do to make it all start working again:
      • Prepare for my day the night before to ease the burden of a busy morning. Start doing this at 9p so that I can . . .
      • . . . be in bed by 10p to get enough rest--the best start to any day
      • Plan my menu for the week and put a printout of it in the kitchen.
      • Exercise three times a week. In between trips to the fitness center, do a few exercises at home, such as crunches and squats.
      I looked back and found my Goals for the Summer, and I need to be reminded of what they are:
      • Attend "Bye Bye Birdie," the last show of the summer, at the Muny.
      • Attend a show at the Fox Theater.
      • Take two out-of-town trips.
      • Do a bit of yard work.
      • Spend some time with friends.
      Wish me luck!

      LL xoxo

      Tuesday, May 24, 2011

      40 Years Old Today: Mid-Life or the Start of a Second One?

      257.0 (13 lbs lost)



      So, I'm 40 today. This is a milestone birthday. Time to reflect on the first half of my life and look ahead to the second half.

      Compared to turning 30, turning 40 is a piece of cake. We all think that we'll have life figured out by the time we are 30 which is why so many of us live wildly during our 20s. However, maturity doesn't magically appear. I turned 30 and felt like I was 20, like I was no further ahead than a responsible teenager. So my 30s turned into a time when I struggled with choices. I chose the wrong man. Everyone knew it but me. I was standing in the middle of my own life and I couldn't believe what I was seeing, but didn't know how to stop it. I knew so much was wrong, but felt completely helpless.

      Why? Because I had always been helpless in my own life (which is probably why my heart and actions go to people who have suffered helplessly). My birth was not a happy one for anyone in my family. I always felt this but was explicitly told when I was just 10 years old. For the most part, how I've been treated has depended on how a person felt at the time. In need of a lunch companion? Everything's good, kind words and actions are received. In need of proving loyalty to another, or to redirect anger from the actual offender, reminders of how unwanted I am are hurled my way (or even worse, am ignored while they act as if I never existed).

      Because of this, I've never truly enjoyed my own experiences; if I was caught enjoying them, severe punishment was a guarantee. Good feelings were ripped apart and bad things that happened to me were always my fault. In an effort to disuade this as much as possible, I learned to think ahead several steps and act accordingly, however, as bad people go, they will do what they want regardless.

      This has all clouded my judgement; I wasn't working with a normal mind in a normal world. I was working with a dysfunctional mind to survive my dysfunctional world. Unfortunately it also created dysfunction. One of the negative side effects has been my 26-year crutch to overeat. What you see are layers of decades of pain, and I've been afraid to let it go because of what would happen: I would become strong and happy, and as I've explained, being strong and happy are personal invitations for my family to treat me badly.

      Many people don't know all of this about me because, unless you are very close to me, I am an expert at hiding it. I learned how to do this at the age of 13 when I'd go to school and excel, covering up what was the worst year of my life taking place at home. However, what people see is not a total lie. It's another part of who I am and also who I want to be: happy.

      Which brings me to the present. I have finally realized why I've made bad choices. I couldn't forgive myself when I was 30, but at 40 I have. I take responsibility for my actions and will continue to apologize and make things right for others' who have suffered because of them. What I don't do anymore is beat myself up because they weren't really "my" choices. Under different circumstances I would have done much better.

      So what does the 2nd half of my life have in store? I graduate in a year and will start a brand new career. I strongly suspect that I will be getting married around the same time. My child might be ready to live independently from me after earning an associate's degree. I will be at my goal weight, giving me the energy to live my life and the hips to do it (i.e. will be able to fly and attend theater because I won't struggle to fit in the seats). I will learn to smile more, and more genuinely. I'll laugh honestly. I will reach for the things I want and not care that someone may feel intimidated. I will excel because I enjoy the challenge and personal growth and won't think twice about how uncomfortable it may make people. However I will still be compassionate and will stick to my belief that bragging is an ugly trait (which is very different from sharing good news). I will travel and will learn that it's O.K. to keep my earned money for myself rather than feeling guilty that I have more than someone else (which always causes me to spend more money on other people than my own self). I will enjoy the rewards of this money. I will travel, buy nice clothes, and maybe even a car that doesn't have holes in the bumper or in the dashboard where the stereo should be. I will allow myself to feel love from other people and not block out compliments. I will learn how to do what is good and right for me, even if it doesn't fall within the ideally accepted American dream (like Leonardio DiCaprio's character in "The Beach--I really envy that). Heck, maybe some day I'll move to an island. Why not? :-D


      I may not have been wanted, but I am here and I intend to make the best of it.

      LL xoxo