Thursday, September 06, 2012
Yesterday afternoon I felt like I was making real progress again. I was fantasizing about being thinner and toned after attending a core class and finally getting some strength training in. I ate well and was planning for success at my nephew's birthday dinner last night. And then I was presented with fresh baked dinner rolls and birthday cake and ice cream and I pulled the rationalization out of my pocket. It all happened so quickly: "well, it's a special occasion, and there's really no reason I shouldn't enjoy it." Now, it wasn't all bad--I did decide not to have an alcoholic drink, and I split an entree with my SIL. But on the way home I thought again about something I thought about a lot when I was closer to my goal weight: How can someone like me, who loves food (especially carbo-intense food), who uses food as a comfort and for celebration and for socializing, expect to make the type of lifestyle change required to maintain a healthy weight in the long run? I don't have an answer today.
I woke up this morning, and the memory of last night's birthday cake lingered. I was craving a tasty morning baked treat. Currant scones, perhaps? And then I spent some time thinking about how I would eat almost the whole batch today. That would not be prudent. And I decided to stick with the usual--a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter. Small steps, celebrating good choices!
Friday, May 11, 2012
Iíve been noticing something about myself lately. Maybe itís the same for you. I spend a huge amount of time with my head down. I sit at my desk 32 hours a week looking down at papers or my computer screen. I sit on the train 2 hours a day looking down at my book. I sit at home on my couch each night looking at my smart phone or at my computer. My perspective is so limited during these times. I feel closed in, dissatisfied, constrained. Everyone once in a while during the week, I break away. I head out for lunch or walk from the train to my office. If Iím really lucky, Iíll hop on my bike for a brief while or get together with my friends. During these times, my head is up. Iím taking in the world around me, noticing how beautiful and how ugly things and people can be. It feels great, like Iím learning and growing. The effects are both physical and emotional.
The past two years have been ridiculously hard. It was at about this time two years when my mom started feeling crappy. The doctor said she had Lyme disease and gave her antibiotics. She didnít get better. The doctor said she must have gotten Lyme disease again and gave her more drugs. And she still didnít get better. Oh, gee, I guess itís terminal cancer! So my head was down as I devoted myself to supporting my mom. After she died, I put my head down to tend to her estate. There were papers to deal with and the massive job of cleaning out her house. I thought maybe things would ease up when we sold her house 9 months after her death. Itís been harder than ever. Her house being gone means that sheís really dead. Oh, and did I mention I look at that house every day because my mom was my neighbor? So my head is down a lot of the time as I wipe my eyes and nose with an endless quantity of Kleenex. I also spend a fair amount of time looking down at the roll of fat around my waist. After two years of emotional eating and limited exercise Iíve gained about 30 pounds.
I think Iím finally ready to lift my head up. I want to live a life where having my head up is the rule and not the exception.
Step 1: I gave notice at work that Iím leaving in mid-June. Iíve never really enjoyed my job and have fantasized about quitting for a long time. And I canít afford to continue having it drag me down. Iím done. So there!
Step 2: I have retained the services of a life coach. Over the years Iíve gotten a much clearer picture of what works for me and what doesnít. I just donít know how to turn those into a satisfying vocation. Iím hoping an impartial observer can help me get there.
Step 3: I told my boyfriend Dan that we have to figure out where our relationship is going. Weíve been dating four years. So are we going to move in together or are we going to move on? I need to know so I can figure out my life. Weíre starting that discussion in earnest this weekend.
Step 4: Iím ready to take care of myself again. Not working will give me time to take care of three big things that are a drag on meómy lack of exercise, my poor food choices, and the clutter in my physical environment.
Iím not fully there yet. The grief Iím dealing with constantly tugs at me. But I think having my head up will help me deal better with it. The sun is shining right now, the lilacs are blooming and my head will be up for the rest of the day. And for many days to come.
Friday, September 16, 2011
I remember my grandmother telling me that she always felt like she was 18 years old in her head no matter how old she was. I definitely understood where she was coming from, as I'm sure many of you do.
Lately, I've been feeling exactly my age--44.
I have a the job of a 44-year old person. I sit at a desk in a cubicle in the city after commuting in on a train with a bunch of people like me.
My life as a suburban homeowner involves issues 44-year-old persons deal with: septic pump issues, hurricane preps, basement flooding. I'm very lucky to live in a lovely home on a lovely property in a lovely town, but it's a place where the average age of people is probably 44 and they're focused on earning a living to support their family.
Dealing with the sickness and then death of a parent is something many 44-year-olds face. I had to take on serious matters of making treatment and end-of-life issues. I now spend much of my personal time dealing with estate logistics: selling the house, getting rid of mom's stuff, and dealing with finances. That my boyfriend (who's all of 3 years older than me) is dealing with issues of a similar import (divorce of a sibling and placing a parent in a nursing home) reinforces my own age.
Younger people (20- and 30-somethings) bug the crap out of me. They just seem so frivolous and naive. And they're totally unfamiliar with so many of the cultural references of a 44-year-old, like Bo Derek and Bruce Jenner!
I feel like I no longer exercise for the joy and accomplishment of it, but rather because it's what people who are my age do to prevent the spread they've allow to creep on from expanding even further.
I do know that much of this is just a phase. My mom's death was a super big event in my life and it takes time to work through the emotional and logistical fallout. The issues my boyfriend is dealing with will settle down too. I will at some point renew my interest in my fitness activities and a healthy lifestyle. And I will live in a place where I can more easily access the activities and people that bring out my younger self and earn my living in a way that is a better fit.
For now, though, my 44-year-old self is slogging away and looking forward to that time when I'm young again in body, mind, and spirit.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
One of the reasons I wanted so badly to reduce my work schedule from 5 days a week to 3 was to make sure I would have more time to dedicate to my fitness. I then set a goal--I would exercise each of my four days off.
I'm now several weeks into this new schedule. I work M-W and am off Th-Sun. And each week, Thursday comes around and I have trouble drumming up enthusiasm to exercise. When I feel that way, I remind myself of the goal I set and that 1) I'm foregoing income in large part to exercise and that I'm darned well going to do it and 2) I'm not going to increase my fitness level if I don't actually exercise.
I'm not a big goal setter as a general rule, but I have to say that it's working!
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
My mother died last Tuesday night at home. It is the end of her life on earth and certainly the end of the most important relationship in my life. But itís also a new beginning for me. Bear with me while I unburden myself.
Last September, I largely dropped off the Spark planet when my mother was diagnosed with extensive stage small cell lung cancer. This is one nasty cancer. Itís not curable and the average person diagnosed with this cancer lives 10 months from diagnosis. My brothers and I knew this, but my mom chose not to. She was also a very private person. As a result, I felt I needed to keep her ďsecretĒ to myself. Iím a person who tends to tell it like it is, so I tried to avoid talking about it rather than telling people things that were less than completely true. And I grieved. I knew that focusing on an uncertain future wasnít productive, but it was impossible not to focus on what was almost certainly going to happen. My mom was going to die and she was going to die fairly soon. I feared for her, and I feared for me.
My mom has always been a huge presence in my life. She and my dad ran a farm and were always home when we were growing up. We worked together at the family business, they came to our sporting events, visited me at college and in the various places I lived after school. We traveled together, went to shows, museums, etc. My dad died in 1994, and six years ago I moved back to my hometown. I lived with my mom for two years while I built a house next to my momís on land she gave me. During those six years, my mom drove me to the train every day, cooked me meals each night, helped out with errands and chores, lent me things, attended events with me. In many ways, my mom was like a spouse to me. She was SO generous. With my mom at my side, I was never lonely.
Things werenít always perfect, of course. There were times (many times, in fact) that my mom would drive me crazy. She could nag and criticize with the best of them. I often found her to be one-dimensional.
When my mom was diagnosed, what I felt more than anything was that I didnít want her to feel alone or afraid. I attended as many of her medical appointments as possible. She didnít have much interest in learning about her cancer or treatments, so that role fell to me. I researched the treatments and asked the questions of the doctors. I questioned whether we were pursuing treatments aggressively enough. I agonized over whether she should undergo preventative brain radiation (involving irradiating a healthy brain to prevent the spread of cancer to it). This allowed me to give back to my mom some small measure of what she gave me over the years. This process brought out the best in me, especially with regard to patience and compassion.
I also felt so privileged that my momís treatments went so well. She only felt nauseous one day in six months. We had an amazing Thanksgiving and Christmas. We went to Vegas together with a college friend of mine in January. I was hoping for a last vacation this springóto the beach, where we all have such a great time with my brothers and their kids.
My mom turned 70 in March. I decided we should throw her a big birthday party. I knew it would likely be her last, and I wanted her to have the chance to see her closest friends before she died. We had it at her house on April 9, and it was spectacular. She was tired, but did great. It was especially poignant for my brothers and me because we learned on April 8 that the cancer in my momís liver was causing it to fail. For the past three weeks, she was totally exhausted. The doctor told us to expect worse and expect it quickly. We feared the end would come within the next couple of months and that it would be very tough.
The Monday after my momís party, she called me at 6 am saying she needed to go to the hospital. She was clearly in very bad shape. It was pneumonia, and it was quite bad. The doctors ultimately told us they couldnít really do anything for her. We brought her home on the 15th and set her up in the living room where she could be in the center of things and have a view of the farm she worked so hard to make thrive. During this time, we were able to tell her how much she meant to us and how much we would miss her. As she slipped away over the next four days, I grieved more. IT WAS SO HARD. I was sleeping on an air mattress on the floor next to her bed when she died the night of April 19. I think she wanted to die when we werenít hovering over her like we had been at other times near the end.
Over the last week, it has been SO amazing to hear what people felt about her. She was larger than life to so many. She was active in our community and passionate on so many matters, like art, knitting and supporting local agriculture. I think we understood that on some level, but not to the extent weíve been hearing. Itís like looking at my mom from a totally different perspective.
It still doesnít feel to me like sheís gone. I go to her house and itís like sheís away for the weekend. I donít know when it will truly hit or what it will feel like.
Iím going back to work on Monday. Iím going to reduce my schedule to three days per week so I can tend to myself and to the business of her estate. And my future will likely include some big changes. I will have the means to be less dependent on a ďreal job.Ē And my mom is the main reason I live where I do, so I may move on. I have a super tough time imaging living here without her. Moving on may involve moving in with my boyfriend, something Iíve never done before. He has been AMAZING through this last stretch. I will also be able to bump up my fitness activity again. I would really like to be super fit again, and Iíll be more free than ever to do so. Even when my mom was healthy I felt somewhat constrained due to the time we spent together. So Iím feeling a bit conflictedóat this time when I should be drowning in sadness, Iím feeling liberated. Thereís a lot to think about in months to come.
Iíve missed you all in recent months. I hope you now have a better sense for why Iíve been gone. I look forward to reconnecting with you all as I begin this next phase of my life.
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