Sunday, November 21, 2010
Losing her has been one of the most difficult times in my life. She was a writer and would have wanted me to speak about her at the funeral, especially if I wrote it, so I did it for her. It was the most difficult writing I ever had to do. How do you adequately express how truly amazing someone is and pay tribute to 87 years in 2 pages? I did my best and part of my journey to being the person I have wanted to be all this time has been sharing my good times and bad times with all of you. So here is my reading. If you don't like that I posted this please do not comment. Thank you.
Reflections of the Eldest Grandchild
By Ashley Robin
When I began writing this my intention was to talk about Nan, the woman who was my grandmother. These past 4 days I learned who was Robin Foster and I realized I am not only my mother’s daughter but my grandmothers’ granddaughter. As we sorted through thousands of photos and read through her memories I uncovered a thoroughly modern woman.
A woman who told me she once had someone tell her she was “fortunate to marry a successful man”. A person who could make such a statement didn’t really know Robin.
A woman who struggled to balance her desire for adventure and knowledge with being a 50’s housewife and mother.
A woman who attempted to reconcile her faith with her analytical brain.
A woman who doubted herself and worried about her skills as a mother.
A woman who strove to feed her desire for knowledge while taking care of her entire family.
She voraciously consumed any information she was able. In every book and drawer in the house we found notes, news clippings, and letters. She dated and catalogued all of our lives
It made me realize how much I am like her and that is something I wish I had known years ago. Whenever we came to visit, she always had a lesson for us to learn and even in her death I believe she desired to teach me lessons about life.
• Family is the most important thing
• Material possessions do not make you who you are
• Hard work makes you a better person and is a reason people will respect you
• Honesty is a virtue
• Love is worth waiting for across years, continents and wars
• Learning is a life long process and is never finished
• Stop your busy life to admire the flowers, mountains and nature
• Have adventure in your life. Souvenirs will be lost and broken but the memories you make and the albums of photos you create will live on forever
• Keep a record of your life and family. After you are gone the people you love will find joy and comfort in your words
• Continue to grow in my writing. In the last year I found increasing comfort in putting my thoughts down on paper and I learned so did she.
• Life is what you make it so be the best person you can be.
• Forgiveness will set you free
• Don’t wait to appreciate loved ones until after they are gone.
As the first grandchild I had the privilege and honor of knowing Nan the longest. I looked forward to summers spent with she and Grampie at their house in Elgin. She always indulged our love of animals and the outdoors. I have very fond memories of saving compost scraps for the rabbit in her garden and lining up blueberries for the chipmunks. When they returned to Ipswich I looked forward to holidays with the family, Audubon camp, summer road trips to Mt Washington, the Red Jacket Inn and Harpswell. She encouraged my love of cooking and I remember many days of standing beside her in an apron rolling out whole wheat pie crust. I realize only now she was green before it was fashionable, she saved and recycled everything. I opened my freezer last night and spied my own bag of whole wheat flour and smiled. She believed in clean, healthy eating long before doctors where touting its benefits. I didn’t fully appreciate this way of life until my early 30’s. She tried to share with me her love of writing, language, and grammar. As a teen I was too busy with more important things to listen. Now that I am ready to hear her, she is gone.
When she told me she had been diagnosed with cancer I burst into tears. She made me promise not to be sad and that she was ready to see what lay ahead for her and she was ready to be with her beloved George. I tried not to cry when I saw her each visit because that was her wish. She studied death in her final years and I believe it was to help prepare her family in handling their own grief. Her final words to me were “be the person Grampie wanted you to be” and “we shall meet again”. I very much hope that is true.
A friend sent me this poem and I knew as soon as I read it that Nan would appreciate it so I will close with this…
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there
I do not sleep
I am a thousand winds that blow; I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain; I am the gentle autumn’s rain
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft star that shines at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there
I did not die
Sunday, November 07, 2010
This has been on my mind for the last 20 lbs as I am finally starting to feel normal for the first time in 14 years. My whole entire adult life I have been big. If you haven't read in my past blogs I was not a fat child. Three days before my senior year of high school I was in a car accident and suffered a spinal injury. I went from working out 2-3 hours a day 6-7 days a week to being in a body brace and bed ridden for 6 months. To say that was an emotionally traumatic event is putting it lightly. When you work out that much and are blessed with youth you don't really have to think about your nutrition and in retrospect I wish that a doctor had said to me "your life has completely changed and you need to drastically alter your food intake". The shock to my body and my psyche was completely devastating and I went into a serious depression. I saw a lot of doctors and psychologists. All of them made empty promises of curing me and tried to put me on a slew of drugs. I completely lost faith in all doctors and one day just refused to take any of the drugs. Not only was I not losing weight, they felt that antidepressants would make me stop emotional eating, but I was like a zombie all time. As the weight piled on I just felt so desperate, so lost, and so completely alone. I remember one day my mother telling me "why don't you put on some makeup and care what you look like anymore." I clearly remember the urge to punch her in the face. Here I was drowning and she was worried about what I looked like. Pretty typical for my family. Be pretty, smile and pretend it is all ok. Doctors told me that I was staying fat to spite them, maybe I was, but it was more than that. I was lucky to have met my first husband in high school and he supported me through all of this. I really do owe him so much because when I didn't even love myself he stood beside me.
For the last 14 years food was my escape and the resulting fat was my protection. It was like a shield, a prison. It protected me but it kept me frozen in time. Never moving forward, always staying unhappy, searching for that thing that could snap me out of it. I was never one of those obese people that was convinced I had medical problem or denied eating a lot (before you attack me for that statement, really think about it, may people NOT ALL are very much in denial how they got there). I accepted then and still do now, that I made myself that way. Nothing about my behavior was normal. Normal people do not go home from work and eat half of a tiramisu cake and drink a bottle of wine or order 2 meals at a chinese takeout place and go home and eat both until you feel like you can't move.
The point of this blog is now that I have finally faced down my emotional issues and jumped over many hurdles I can proudly say I have changed my life. When I was driving my fiancé to work this afternoon I said to him "I am never going back, I have seen the light of good health and I can never go back there" and I mean it with every fiber of my being. Now that I have reached a point where I look average and not obese I realized I don't know who I am anymore. Some people feel they aren't any different, just have a different body, but that isn't the truth for me. I was the none threatening fat friend. The girl you brought to a bar so all the guys hit on you because who would want her. Yes, I knew some of my "friends" felt that way about me and no they are not in my life anymore. I was the woman who was great at selling events because I am none threatening to other women. The woman who other women trusted around their boyfriends because I wasn't a threat, nobody would ever hit on me.
Do you remember at the end of Titanic when they show all the photos of Rose with all the amazing adventures she had, riding a horse, flying a plane, (gasp) wearing pants (it was a long time ago lol) and that is the woman I want to be. I want to take life by the horns and stop settling for the safe job, the safe vacation, the easy way out of things. I have always had these dreams in my heart but was afraid to make them my reality. Afraid to draw attention to myself. Afraid of the ridicule.
Who am I without the fat?
I am the person I wanted to be. Strong, powerful, in control, a leader, an adventurer, an athlete, a world traveler and my recent decision... I will be a business owner. My fiancé and I decided that after the wedding we are going to start looking for our own restaurant and I AM SO EXCITED. I want to own the kind of neighborhood place that serves up good food at reasonable prices but features interesting local dishes. I want to source everything from small local farms and bring healthy food to the people around me. How many nights have you bought KFC because you were exhausted and just don't have time to cook. If you had a local place you could stop and grab dinner for your family or just yourself that you knew was made with your health in mind wouldn't that be awesome? It is more work to make food taste good without the ease of butter and fat but it is something I believe in.
This blog turned more into stream of consciousness ramblings than the concise statement I wanted it to be but I am ok with that. This blog is my therapy and getting all of this jumble out of my head has really helped me move forward and deal with my emotions in a healthy way.
I am no longer the fat unhappy girl and I am excited for this new phase in my life. As my fiancé and I drove past a local boat house today I started thinking about all the photos I am going to be able have of my own (my big goal is to be able to go kayaking this summer) and I can't wait to be able to be active and do all the amazing things I have always wanted. This January/February will be the first time I have been on a plane in 7 years because I feared not fitting in the seats and being humiliated in public and I will finally be able to meet my inlaws and start planning our wedding in Colombia. I am finally living the life I was meant too.
Friday, November 05, 2010
I realized something last week when my 4 month sparkaversary came and went and I totally forgot, this is my life now. I am not TRYING to eat healthy, or work out, or change how I see things. I am doing all those things and it is because I want to do them. MAMADWARF wrote a great blog the other day about how she can't even binge right anymore because she really has changed her life. (If you don't know her, check her out, she is hysterical and one of my most treasured friends I have found on here) I totally agree with her. I NEVER thought at 345 I could do this. I remember telling a friend in tears that I couldn't even imagine myself as a thin person, that I didn't think she was in here. Every single time I would drive by a fast food place I would miss my old life and I would have to force myself to drive past. I couldn't have any sweets in the house because I would eat them all. Basically I had to isolate myself in my own house from all food temptations. Luckily I have a very supportive fiancé who doesn't eat junk food anyway so I had the luxury of a healthy food only house.
The last few weeks I have had a whopper junior on the brain and I know I can have one if I want one. They actually are only 360 calories BUT I just haven't actually wanted to eat one. Whenever I say ok I am just going to get it and enjoy it something inside me tells me. "Ashley there are much healthier uses for those calories that will provide much better nutrition for your body". Then I look around the car like "who the hell just said that?".
I don't have the binges inside me anymore and I really can't say there is one specific reason it has changed. My life has gotten so much better since I have lost 75 lbs and I think the fear of going back has really helped me stay so focused. No, weight loss is not the sole reason I got happy. I have a good life and it was the change in my attitude that accompanied said weight loss that did it. I still don't look in a mirror and feel beautiful but I do see all I have accomplished. Sometimes I think about the fact that I have 98 lbs more to lose and it is a little depressing but I can easily turn it around and think, but I already have lost this much, I can do it again. The shear joy of being normal is amazing. To not feel like people are staring at me about my fat. They stare now but it is admiration. I can see the difference in their faces. In general I am a VERY good read of body language and it was a strange shift to witness. Last week I was sitting in traffic and I looked up to see the man on the other side staring at me. When he saw me look at him he gave me this "hey baby" smile and said "hey, how ya doin". The girl in the car with him punched him, hard, and started yelling "what are you doing?". He laughed and smiled at me again. I immediately averted my gaze and thought "why is he making fun of me?". My friend laughed and said "he was hitting on you, not making fun of you". As I thought about it I realized, yes, he was hitting on me. This was a person who knows nothing about me other than what he sees and he was admiring me. I should feel good about it. He was actually cute too so even more flattering. It made me realize that this is the next stage for me. Learning to see myself as I am, not as I was. I decided to remove all the old pictures from my facebook that make me feel bad about myself and fill it with new ones. This is who I am now and I am going to celebrate it. Six months from now I will be celebrating yet another new me and I can't wait. It is like I am shedding my old life that held me prisoner for so long. It is strange to walk into a room and not feel judged. The shift into self confidence is a pretty wild ride but let me tell you. It rocks. When I see ladies on here now who are just starting out I see so much of what I went through in them and I want to reach out and hug them and tell them I am living proof that this is possible and IT IS SO WORTH IT. Every single struggle and set back is worth it. It is hard to get healthy but it was harder to stay morbidly obese and unhappy. When I look at it like that, it is an easy choice to put down the candy and walk away slowly.
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Sorry I didn't get this up last night as promised! People are finally starting to plan their holiday parties and yesterday was nuts at work. Here it is!
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons ice water
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
To prepare crust, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle surface with ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time; toss with a fork until moist and crumbly (do not form a ball).
Press mixture gently into a 4-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap; cover with additional plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, to a 12-inch circle. Freeze 10 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed.
Remove 1 sheet of plastic wrap; fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Remove top sheet of plastic wrap. Fold edges under; flute.
Preheat oven to 425°.
To prepare filling, beat 1/2 cup sugar and next 5 ingredients (1/2 cup sugar through eggs) at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add milk and pumpkin; beat well. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove pie from oven); bake an additional 50 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.
Calories 267 (25% from fat)
Fat:7.5g (sat 4.1g,mono 2.2g,poly 0.5g)
This is a cooking light recipe. If you aren't already a fan of the magazine/website. Check it out. It is awesome.
Feel free to post your own favorite lightened or healthy holiday recipe! Let me know when you do! Lets make this a healthy and happy holiday season.
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