Anxiety, Appreciation, blogging, Building self-confidence, cats, enjoying family, Exercise, fitness, Food Addiction, losing weight, love, Maintaining Weight Loss, marriage, setting goals, weight loss journal, Wisdom, Writing

Snowy Sunday

We’re under yet another winter storm warning, but I’m not complaining.  I think my husband and I need a day to relax. I’ve realized, since my weight loss, that I’ve become quite accustomed to my days being filled with a constant flurry (no pun intended towards the falling snow outside my window) of activities.

In fact, with my birthday being a month away, I was mentally comparing my life now to a year ago:

  • Nearly a year ago today, I was excited to be wearing a brand new pair of size 18, skinny, jeans to my birthday party.  This was a welcome change from the size 24 pants that I’d worn to my first weigh in at the bariatric center.
  • As only a  three-month veteran of my weight loss program, I cautiously approached every sip, or bite, of food that I ingested and monitored every calorie I burned at the gym.
  • My self-confidence was a newly burgeoning entity experiencing so much for the first time.
  • My main goal was to get healthy and stay that way.

Now, my life is vastly different.  As a fit and healthy person, I look at life through new eyes, seeing every bright possibility.  It’s not just because my body is fit, it’s because my mind is clear and my soul is free of the baggage of anxiety and food addiction. I love my life and the people in it so much.  I quite honestly never imagined being so happy.

I think the secret to life is as simple and pure as the snow gently drifting in my driveway; see life as a series of possibilities and believe that the odds are in your favor, because they are. Take care of yourself. Feed and exercise each part of your body, mind, and spirit with good things, because that’s exactly what you deserve.  Practice kindness, caring, patience, and love daily. It just feels right, and you’ll mostly always get each in return.

Deep thoughts on a snowy Sunday! 🙂

Hope everyone is having a phenomenal day! 🙂

My kitty says, "It's time to relax!"  (Photo by me)
My kitty says, “It’s time to relax!” (Photo by me)
Appreciation, beach, blogging, Exercise, Having fun, love, Maintaining Weight Loss, marriage, weight loss journal, Writing

I’m Back!

We saw this little guy right before we left the house for the last time. (photo by me)
We saw this little guy right before we left the house for the last time. (photo by me)

Last night, my husband and I arrived home from the land of swaying palm trees, menacing alligators, lounging lizards, magical Spanish moss, and good, old fashioned Southern hospitality.  Unfortunately, as mentioned in my previous post, we were in Hilton Head, South Carolina taking care of things after the death of my father-in-law.

In spite of the dreary task of clearing out, cleaning, and preparing the home for sale, we managed, during our long work days, to seek out the good.  In fact, everything we set out to accomplish was completed, not only with the best of intentions, but with fate placing the best of people in our paths.  Here are some of the highlights–not in any particular order:

  • Spending one on one time with my husband, and confirming how well we get along and work together.
  • Unexpectedly ending up with the nicest, quietest room in the hotel we stayed at.
  • Our hotel being located right beside of the Okatie Ale House–they have the best food in town with lots of healthy choices (even though I didn’t always make the healthiest of choices)!
  • Picking and eating the last orange on the backyard tree.  Delish!
Right from the tree to our tummies!  Yum!! (photo by me)
Right from the tree to our tummies! Yum!! (photo by me)
  • Meeting, and getting to know, the new neighbors who lived beside of my father-in-law.
  • Finding the many letters and family pictures that my in-laws had saved. (Oh, my goodness, my husband was a cute baby!)
  • Visiting Beaufort, SC in between appointments, on our last day in SC.  What a quaint, artsy, beautiful city!
Could Beaufort, SC be any cuter?  The Spanish moss makes you feel like you're in a fairytale! (photo by me)
Could Beaufort, SC be any cuter? The Spanish moss makes you feel like you’re in a fairytale! (photo by me)
  • Finally getting a picture of one of the alligators residing in the neighborhood lagoon.
  • Seeing two anoles on the day we said goodbye to the house.
  • Getting lots of meaningful exercise while cleaning, climbing ladders and lifting boxes.
  • Eating ice cream at least 10 times while away and not gaining ANY weight!!
  • Discovering that everyone in Hilton Head dresses up and finding amazingly great sales at White House/Black Market (I’m talking $100 dress pants for $14.99!).  (I’d packed very quickly, and completely wrong, for the weather and area–now I won’t have to shop for Spring!)
  • Encountering lots of interesting, fun, quirky, and extremely polite people everywhere we went.
  • Coming home to my gorgeous family and sweet kitties!

Now, I’m off to finish unpacking and organizing the things we brought home.  We decided to each choose a special thing to keep from the house as a memory.  My husband chose some wooden carvings of sea creatures that were in his home from childhood.  I picked my mother-in-law’s everyday dishes (I’m not a fine China kinda girl!).  I’ve always loved them, and they certainly make me think of family dinners and good times at the beach.

I thought these would be a nice memento of good times shared with my in-laws.  (Photo by me)
I thought these would be a nice memento of good times shared with my in-laws. (Photo by me)

 

I hope everyone is doing well.  Thank you for your kind messages and well-wishes while we were away. 🙂

Finally, a shot of that elusive gator!  Can you see how well he blends in to the environment?  (photo by me)
Finally, a shot of that elusive gator! This is the smallest one.Can you see how well he blends in to the environment? (photo by me)

 

 

Appreciation, love, marriage, memories, Writing

Why the Disappearing Woman Disappeared

My father-in-law’s sudden passing has caused us to be temporarily situated in a golf and beach community in South Carolina.  I’d love to share that we’ve been gallivanting about, via  golf cart, wearing funny pants, and attempting to be under par, but we’ve not. I’d, also, like to tell you about sand between my toes and shells in my beach pail, but I can’t write about that either.  We’ve been doing the sad task that many 50-somethings must do after their last parent passes; settling an estate.

My husband is the only surviving sibling, so the two of us have been handling all arrangements, attending to all legal matters, and sorting through the home that is proving to be a time machine into my husband’s past. I’ve seen has birth announcement, hand written by my mother-in-law 58 years ago.  I’ve read a letter from his sixth grade teacher, telling of his kindness and brilliance.  I’ve held the picture that won him a beautiful baby contest; a story my mother-in-law often referenced when bragging about how good looking her son was–and still is!

Though this task is in its beginning stages, I’ve sorted through what feels like a million papers and boxed up a plethora of things for donations, sale, and haul away.  In spite of the sadness, there’s been a measure of  joy in getting to know another side of my in-laws.  I’ve read ancient letters from friends, throughout the years, who complimented their ability to laugh and find fun in nearly every situation.  I’ve viewed photos of them in their late teens through their early 80s, taken at the various homes they lived in and  places all around the world that they visited. No matter the scenery, their smile and their loving gaze was a constant. I’ve shuffled through business plans and product prototypes to discover that they were brave risk-takers.  I’ve held my mother-in-law’s wild costume jewelry earrings from the sixties up to my own ears and tried to imagine the crazy parties that she may have wore them to in her younger years.

Oddly, there is a healing in this unavoidable process and a deeper wisdom. In the end, there are things that remain that will tell our stories; most are simple pieces of paper with words or pictures marking milestones, successes, failures, events and memories.  There are other things, silly things, like favorite sweaters and worn-out slippers, or eye glasses near a favorite book, or even half eaten bags of potato chips that remind us that we’re all so damned human and habitual.

Love the people you’re blessed to have in your life and reach out to those around you.

We may be down here for another week or so, tying up loose ends before we head back to the cold weather of West Virginia.  One of the many silver linings of this entire trip has been enjoying weather in the 70s in February.  I wish I could ship some of the sunshine to my northeastern blogging buddies!

As for my disappearance from WP lately, please don’t give up on me!  I plan to reappear as things settle down.  Hope everyone is doing well. 🙂

 

 

 

Bipolar II, blogging, emotional eating, enjoying family, losing weight, love, marriage, Medical Weight Loss Program, memories, mental illness, optifast, Self-Soothing, setting goals, weight loss journal, Wisdom, Writing

To Dispel the Shininess of the Aha Moment

Years ago, Oprah Winfrey popularized a nearly century-old phrase first coined in a 1939 psychology text-book; the “aha moment.” By 2012, this locution had became so popular that it was officially entered into Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as:

 “a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.”

I somehow pictured the great epiphany of the aha moment to occur in a flash of terrific fanfare and deep connection with the Universe.  Little did I realize that my aha moment would occur in the small hours of the morning, in the pitch-dark of my bedroom.

It was November 12, 2013, and I couldn’t sleep, though I certainly didn’t lack the general feeling of exhaustion. Every joint in my body ached and the only thing more pronounced than the rapid pounding of my heart in my ears, was my labored breathing.  At nearly 230 pounds, I was the heaviest I’d ever been.

The past decade had brought a barrage of changes and strife that began with appearance of my youngest daughter’s bipolar symptoms; psychosis, depression, hypo-mania.  Because she was too ill to attend school and had to be constantly supervised, I took leave from my job of 16 years to care for her. For six months, other than for medical appointments, I only left my home, once every two weeks, go to the grocery store.  There, I would fill up my cart with an oxymoronic combination of extremely healthy foods for our meals, mixed with a plethora of high calorie sugary snacks for me. In those horrible days, food was my replacement for all of the pleasures that it felt like life had taken away; sanity, personal freedom, healthy relationships, and general happiness.  In truth, my youngest daughter seemed like a stranger and my oldest was acting out. She’d shaved her head, pierced her tongue, and even threatened to quit high school.  My husband, who, at that time, had limited understanding and experience with mental illness, was constantly out of sorts.  Add the financial burden from me no longer working, my unexpected isolation as an extrovert, and a family history of addiction into the mix and it’s no surprise that I reached for food as my drug of choice to numb chaos of my situation.

Eventually, our tribulations passed.  My daughter was properly diagnosed and medicated.  Within two years she was back to her old, sweet self. Looking back it seemed that in the blink of an eye she finished high school, then college, and found the perfect job.  She also found a terrific guy.   My oldest, thankfully, decided to stick out high school, then college, and finally medical school; in five months she’ll graduate to be a family doctor. Last year, she married her high school sweetheart.  My husband and I joined NAMI (the National Alliance for Mental Illness) and attended their support groups. The hub became much better educated about mental illness and its effect on the family.  He’s not only one of my daughter’s biggest cheerleaders, he’s my complete partner in our happy marriage.

With the deviation of my tale passed, I return to the night of my epiphany with the thought that perhaps the old adage is wrong.  Perhaps things don’t feel brighter after the storm has passed.  Maybe the storm tosses us about a bit too long and makes us confused about who we are, and what we want, because on the night of my aha moment, I was certainly at rock bottom.  I tried one last time to finagle the mound of pillows behind my head, only to find myself unable to breathe from my suffocating neck fat.

“I hate myself. I can’t live like this anymore!” I mouthed in the dark, as hot tears exited the corners of my eyes and pooled in my ears. I covered my face with my hands to stifle my sobs. I wiped my eyes with the sheet and grabbed my tablet from the bedside table to type this:

THINGS I MUST DO TO CHANGE MY LIFE:

  1. Lose 95 pounds
  2. Regain my health
  3. Find something I love to do

The next morning I called the bariatric center to register for an informational session about Optifast on December 12, 2013.  After that session, I took their first available appointment.

January 16, 2014,  my very first day on Optifast, was the beginning of my new life.   The days, weeks, and months that followed were full of work, discovery, and living.  Nearly a year later, my days are exponentially as filled with happiness, harmony, and health.

My aha moment didn’t occur on the day that I’d won a great prize, or made a deep connection with the Universe, as I’d once suspected it would.  It happened under the shroud of night, on a pile of tear-stained pillows and twisted covers. In spite of my lofty visions of enlightenment, crushingly uncomfortable neck fat was my tipping point, my catalyst, and my spur.   I realize now that aha moments aren’t often those that sparkle.  They’re messy, dirty, gritty, painful, and even, fat. It’s that split second directly after an epiphany that life begins to twinkle, and once you set your change into motion it begins to shine.

Have you had an aha moment that’s changed your life for the better?  If you’ve lost weight, what was the catalyst that set your loss into motion?  Tell me about it in the comments below. 🙂 

 

 

 

blogging, cracker barrel, enjoying family, love, marriage, TMI, Writing

Just Call me “Party Girl!”

Warning:  This post may contain a few TMIs! 

Greetings all!  My surgery (D&C with Novasure procedure) yesterday went very well and I’m spending the day resting in my comfy fleece pajamas.  I’m just slightly sore, with only the need for some Tylenol every 4-6 hours. While I feel a little down that I’m banished from the gym for one week and the pool for three weeks, I must admit that I’m thoroughly enjoying having my wonderful husband here with me today, treating me like a princess, as I rest.

Before my surgery, I was warned that I could experience some unusual effects from the anesthesia, like waking up agitated or crying.  Though I remember very little of yesterday, apparently, my reaction to the anesthesia was the exact opposite as confirmed by these texts that I sent to friends and family:

“Woo Hoo!  I’m all done!  It was fun!  Wooooooooooooo!”

“My vagina good with stars!!  Wooooo!”

“It went great and I high!”  Wooooooo!

” Ima all done!  I did great!  I can’t use heavy machinery, but I’m going to Cracker Barrel for pancakes!  Wooooooo!  Hooooo!”

“I’m high as a kite!  I can’t use heavy machete (sic)  right now, but everything is good!”

While waiting for me in the recovery room, my husband could hear me being wheeled down the hall, as I high-fived the staff and yelled “Woo Hoo!” to the top of my lungs.  Before I was brought in, a laughing nurse approached my husband and said “We’re bringing ‘party girl’ back to you!”

I then proceeded to laugh throughout the nurse’s usual post-op warnings to not sign legal documents for 24 hours, drive, or operate heavy machinery.  My husband told me I went through a litany of different tools, asking if I could use them:  “Can I learn to drive a Bobcat?  What about a forklift?  Can I at least use my Dremel to sand glass?”  I also managed to drop the “f” bomb while describing how great the cocktail of drugs was that the anesthetist had given me.

After post-op instructions, the surgeon (who happens to be a good friend of my daughter) came in to check on me.  I reminded her that we’d all just “had a party at my vagina.” We high-fived and she and the staff hung around for a bit being silly.  Once I drank some water and ate a few saltines, and was acting less like I had just been the star attraction at a  frat party, I was allowed to leave.  Of course, there were hugs all around from the staff, and my nurse told me that I’d made her day.

As promised, my husband took me to Cracker Barrel for pancakes and bacon after my long pre-surgical fast.  By this time, I was only slightly drowsy and fully able to behave myself in public.

Have you ever had surgery?  Did you behave yourself post-op, or did you turn into party girl/boy, like me?

 

 

Bipolar II, blogging, Building self-confidence, enjoying family, Food Addiction, Having fun, learning, marriage, mental illness, Thankfulness

Gratitude: I’m thankful to be the best me I can be!

 

Life is awesome, and so is coffee, in moderation!  Yes, my hair really is that big! LOL!
Life is awesome, and so is coffee, in moderation! Yes, my hair really is that big! LOL!

Though I’ve had my share of  struggles, I’m a very fortunate person. Life has given me the privilege to meet, get to know, and live with several distinctly different versions of myself as an adult. The first version of me was the wild 18-22 year-old college student who often made terrible decisions based solely on what made the pain of a dying mother go away. Those decisions often involved rather risky behaviors and very little positive cognitive processing. If it felt freeing, fun, or dangerous, I was doing it with little thought of consequences.

My wild years, ushered in the next phase of my adulthood which reigned from 23-30 and involved the birth of two gorgeous daughters, one marriage followed by one divorce, and the joy of living below the national poverty level. (I’m not using the word joy in a facetious manner; an explanation is coming)

Next, came my years of single motherhood from 31-36. These years were marked with fun, adventure, frustration on many levels, loneliness and continuing poverty.

My single years ended when I met the man that I’m now married to. From 37-40 all of our lives became significantly better, fuller, and richer with love.

Then, just when things seemed to be flowing smoothly, my younger daughter’s first depressive episode surfaced when I was 41. Though my daughter was properly diagnosed with Type II Bipolar Disorder within two years of her first episode, and though she was properly treated and doing well, my years from 41-48 were dark. Anxiety and isolation were the central themes of my existence and I spent most of my time compulsively eating to quell my anxiety and waiting for the next episode to happen.

Now, at 50, the past two years of my life have been an incredible period of growth for me. I have two wonderfully healthy daughters and a fabulous stepson. I am married to the kindest man in the world. I have the freedom to be the person that I want to be and I’m finding that the true person that I am is loving, patient, kind, giving, caring, calm, healthy, at peace, and very awake to the possibilities that life has to offer. The amazing thing is, that I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without the contrast of the past “me(s)” that I’ve been. Had I not had a “wild” period would I have been naïve to what my teenaged children could have been up to?  Had I never experienced anxiety, would I now recognize peace? Had I not lived in poverty, would I now appreciate the little things, like having a dishwasher, or my own washer and dryer? Would I have figured out how to make something fun, or useful out of the limited resources that I had? I don’t think so. Had I not witnessed illness, I could now take my own health, or the health of my loved ones for granted.   Had I not known loneliness and lack of family, I might not hold my husband, and the family and friends that I have, so dear.

The suffering that I experienced in my past is only a memory that I can chose to dwell on, or learn from. I’m certainly glad that I’ve finally reached a point in my life that is no longer dictated by the past. Goodness is now and the days ahead are what I choose to create. Do I wish that I could have figured this all out sooner? Of course, but I think we all figure things out in our own time though our own life experiences.

What experiences have you learned from and have  made you appreciate the life you have now?

Bipolar II, blogging, marriage, mental illness, setting goals, Thankfulness, the law of attraction, thoughtfulness, Tips fot weight loss, weight loss journal, Wellness Center, Writing

Using The Law of Attraction to Lose Weight and Other Good Things

 

As a life-long avid reader, I loved to raid my mother’s bookshelf when I was teenager.  Trapped in a crummy marriage and riddled with health problems, my mother had an array of self-help books .  Fortunately for me, a good majority of them were about love and positivity.  Though I remember my mother as an extremely humorous and loving person, positivity and unconditional love from my father were elements that were often lacking in my dysfunctional household.  Because of this, I held the words in purloined books like Dr. Leo Buscalia’s,  Love, and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s, The Power of Positive Thinking, especially close and dear.  While my classmates were devouring VC Andrew’s latest offerings, (which I’ll admit to  also reading), I was a 16 year-old with a stack of  bedside books by two older men who wrote about God, love and positive thinking.  Being only slightly deeper that most other 16 year-olds, I’m not sure how much of their messages stuck with me. However, these books were  written proof  that all men weren’t Troglodytes and that there were people whose lives were changed by simply making the choice to love others, love ourselves, and to think positively.

I’m not sure what happened to my mom’s copy of Love, but sometime after her death, I managed to get her copy of The Power of Positive Thinking and it was often the book I fell asleep to during challenging times.  At times I’ve thrived on Peale’s suggestions of visualizing success and replacing negative notions with positive ones.  Other times, like all humans, I’ve put these thoughts and teachings to the wayside.

Back in 2006, a big deal was made on The Oprah Winfrey Show about Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret.  I usually love Oprah’s book suggestions, so I bought a copy and skimmed it.  2006 was a chaotic year for us, with my daughter’s illness still not fully under control.  The Secrets’ message of using positive thinking and the law of attraction to manifest the things you want in your life sort of seemed impossible to me at the time.   My copy of The Secret was soon hidden away among my massive book collection.

Then, a few years ago, while scrolling through Netflix, I noticed the movie version of The Secret and decided to give it another chance.  While parts of the film were a little campy, the basic message of positive thinking attracts positive elements in our lives reminded me of Dr. Peale’s teachings.  I tend to be a positive thinker, by nature, and the film compelled me to not only gratefully reflect on the wonderful things that I already have in my life, but to visualize the things that I want as if I already have them.

My now 81 pound weight loss is proof to me that positive visualization and thinking puts the law of attraction into play.  Before I even began losing, I began to see myself at a healthy weight.  Day and night, I visualized myself easily climbing stairs and stepping lightly wherever I walked.  I pictured myself not winded and my joints not aching from carrying my excess poundage.  In my mind’s eye I was trim and svelte.  I found clothing easily and when I put it on, it was flattering and comfortable.  While exercising,  I’d imagine that I looked fit and confident and that I was someone who inspired other people at my gym.  Often when I found myself growing tired with still minutes to go on a machine, I’d inwardly recite my mantra, “I’m feeling fit, healthy, energized and beautiful,” over and over until it was all I was focusing on.

My positive outlook with regaining my health, attracted the teachers and people that I needed in my life:  a supportive family; a wonderful, dedicated bariatric doctor; a caring weight loss counselor, and an awesomely positive trainer and gym environment.  Now, when I look in the mirror, I see the person that I visualized all those months ago. When I run up and down stairs and workout at my gym, I feel the health and vigor that I once convinced myself that I had.  The realist in me says my success isn’t a result of “magical thinking.”  It was my own hard work at sacrifice that’s gotten me to my goal weight.  That may be true, but without m positive attitude and approach, would I have lost my weight so easily?  Would I have encountered so many awesome people?  I don’t think so.

This past weekend my daughter and I decided to further test the law of attraction by making vision boards to help give focus to the things that we want in our lives.  I began my board by making a list of “I am” statements that reflect the elements that I’d like to attract.  Using an “I am” statement, puts things in the present and shows that you’re living as if you’ve already met your goal.  It might sound a little silly, but it puts lots of good thoughts in your head to replace any negative ones that might attempt to slip in.

Here are my “I am”  statements:  (They’re not in any particular order of importance)

  • I am blogging several times each week and writing for pleasure and profit.
  • I am enjoying continued physical, emotional and spiritual health.
  • I am enjoying eating healthy foods and exercising.
  • I am a loving, giving partner in my happy and fulfilling marriage. (this one’s already very true!)
  • I am showing compassion to others and making a positive change in my family, community, and world.
  • I am living a life of honesty, and am able to freely express myself.
  • I am earning more than enough money to enjoy life and responsibly take care of our needs and wants.
  • I am keeping a balanced budget and spending wisely.
  • I am finding ways to continue my education, both formally and informally.
  • I am using my creativity, talents, and people skills to have a stress-free career that feels like a hobby.
  • I am living in a 3 to 4 bedroom, 2 to3 bath home, that is at least 1,400 or more square feet, with a pool, in a safe flood zone, in the Outer Banks of NC.
  • I am surrounded by the beauty of nature.

After completing my “I am” statements, I created a board with pictures and memorabilia that reflect my words. Morning and evening, I read my statements out loud and imagine myself in each situation.  I’ll wrap things up with some pictures of my board.

What would some of your “I am” statements be?  What would you like to manifest in your life?  Do you believe in the law of attraction?

05visionboard
Put the things you want in your life on your vision board! (Photo by me)   
(Photo by me)
Reflect positively each day on the things you want. (photo by me)

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

01vision board
Imagine that these things are already true for you! (Photo by me)