Peace and Quiet in the Upstairs Room

So my first event went off without a hitch last night.  Food was amazing.  Service was superb.  Decor was dazzling.  I even managed to get some flowers for my desk and my home.  Hey…they were on the table and we already paid for them soooooo….

After I had assured myself that everything was perfect and I had made my way around to the attendees and had a chance to briefly chat (small talk – ugh) with them, I had a moment to sit quietly and observe.  It was nice because not only did I observe what was going on around me but I took a moment to recognize what was going on internally as well.

Here’s what I found.

I am infinitely happy that I am not where these kids are right now.  They are young and eager to be hired (they are interns for the summer) and so they have to be “on” all the time.  They are ready and willing and oh so happy to be here but oy!  I was so glad it wasn’t me.

It also brought back memories of my training days…when I was a “newbie”; trying to impress everyone and let them know just how damn lucky they were to have me.  I mean…I was the shit! 

Um…not so much.  I was actually very cocky and it came off as confidence but I was sure that one day they were all going to figure out that I was a fraud and didn’t know what the hell I was doing.  I prayed no one asked me any real financial questions because I was sure I didn’t know the answers and would look like an idiot and they would fire me on the spot.  Of course I did know the answers but it would be many, many years before I figured that out and a few more before I realized that it was okay to say, “Gee, I don’t know but I can find out and get back to you.”

I also watched these kids drink and I noticed something else.  I was an alcoholic long before I acknowledged it.  This is not news to me but every once in awhile I find myself in a situation that reminds me of that fact and I am grateful. 

I remember that feeling of being so preoccupied with how much I was going to drink, how much I had already consumed (was I slurring?  are my eyes droopy?  am I making sense?), and where we could go after the event to continue drinking, that I was barely paying attention to the small talk being made.  Maybe that’s why I hate these functions so much, because I’ve conditioned myself to think of them as getting in the way of a good drunk.

My brain has always functioned that way and that’s why I know I was an alcoholic from the time I took my first drink.  But since I could hold down a job, show up on time, be a control freak and a type A personality it took me a long time to recognize it for what it was.  Only when it began to impact my family did I finally say the words out loud (and then I could only say problem drinker – it was a long time before the word alcoholic left my face).  I’m a stubborn, stubborn woman.  I’m a Taurus…’nuff said.

I then sat back and decided to take a minute to check in with myself.  How was I feeling NOW, in this moment.  Here’s the wonderful part…all I felt was peace.  A quiet head.  No one chattering about how much I was or would be or had been drinking.  No thoughts about whether or not I was good enough or had done a good job.  No cravings for a glass of Chardonnay (I didn’t even recognize the vineyard…that’s how long I’ve been away).  Just peace and quiet in the upstairs room.

It was lovely.  I hope it can stay.

Dedicate yourself to the good you deserve and desire for yourself. Give yourself peace of mind. You deserve to be happy. You deserve delight.   ~Mark Victor Hansen 

Insanity Reigns

This has nothing to do with the post…it just makes me feel good.

Lots of craziness going on at work so I only have a few minutes to post the next couple of days.  For today, a quick gratitude list will suffice.

Today I’m grateful for:

  • Not killing anyone yet today.  I hate it when I have to kill someone…it just ruins the whole day.
  • Flats.
  • Interns.
  • Pepsi Max.
  • Yoga, meditation, Ojai breathing and Pranayama (which is precisely why no one has died yet)
  • A good Caesar salad (minus croutons).  Note to Self – Work functions make it difficult to stay on 20 grams of carbs or less per day.  However, I’m smart enough to know the difference between a carb and fat AND I’m smart enough to know the difference between a good carb and a bad one.  It’s all good.
  • Oil blotters.
  • Clean sheets and a comfortable bed when I finally get home tonight.
  • A family who will be happy to see me.
  • The blogosphere which allows me to make a gratitude list and thereby experience a much needed attitude adjustment.

Namaste people.

Hangover

I fell off the sugar wagon this weekend…okay…I didn’t exactly fall…I jumped.

Notice I said sugar and not carbs…this was definitely a sugar fest.

The boys asked for two things for their birthday treat.  #2 son asked for Dirt which is crushed Oreos, Cool Whip, Cream Cheese and vanilla pudding.  If you’ve never had it – don’t try it.  It’s amazing.

#3 son asked for my special carrot cake and cream cheese icing.  I didn’t have time for that so I made the next best thing, Oreo Truffles and Cake Pops.

Oh. My. God.

I was BLTing all over the place (Bites, Licks, Tastes) and I finally broke down and ate some Dirt and a couple (okay more than a couple) of cake pops and truffles.  And then I was full so I didn’t eat much of anything else even though I know for a fact that eating protein with carbs will help to slow down digestion and somewhat minimize the sugar surge.  Idiot.  Stupid addict idiot.

I woke up with a headache that would have rivaled any hangover headache.  AND I felt like crap.  I had a sugar hangover!!!  I was wrung out most of the day, tired, cranky…you know the drill. 

It was facinating and I loved it.

This was just the affirmation that I needed.  This stuff is poison to me.  If I can’t do it in moderation (which has already been established) then I just need to stay away. For good.

And here’s the real thing…it didn’t taste as good as I thought it would.  I mean, don’t get me wrong…it was GOOD.  What’s not good about Oreo’s and cream cheese smushed together, rolled in a ball, and dipped in chocolate?  But it wasn’t as good as it should have been.  It didn’t sit on my tongue like I thought it would and it didn’t give me the ahhhhhh that I thought it would.  Strange.

So now I’m back on the wagon and I think I’m going to drive it for awhile.  I’m sticking with the Induction Phase of Atkins for another two weeks.  I need to refine the phase, take away some, not all, of the fat and add some exercise (now that I have the energy).  Once I’m through this two weeks then I’ll move on to Phase 2 which allows a whopping 5 extra grams of carbs a week until I find my optimum carb level.  We’re talking good carbs here people…vegetables, some fruit, some whole grains…mostly vegetables.

I’m okay with that.  We had a cookout yesterday for the boys, and I didn’t even miss the bun with my grilled chicken.  I only ate a couple of tortilla chips which I loaded with salsa and guacamole to get my fill.  I’m not missing French Vanilla creamer in my coffee as much as I thought I would because I have energy and I don’t even need coffee the way I used to (ugh…I HATE ending a sentence in a preposition but sometimes I can’t help it).  After my headache, sugar can go pound sand…even Atkins Endulge Bars don’t sound good right now.

I guess it’s like any relapse…we come back stronger and more committed than ever.

Double Blessings

On a Saturday morning in 1995 I decided to tell a lie.  I decided that I had carried these two little boys around long enough and that it was time for them to get the hell out of my body.  #2 son had been trying to escape since 28 weeks and so I spent 8 weeks in bed holding in him and his brother.  They let me out of bed at 36 weeks assuming I would go into labor…two weeks later the little suckers were holding tight.

Our hospital was on the other side of the Washington, DC Beltway.  My greatest fear was being trapped in rush hour traffic when these guys decided to make their world premier.  If you’ve ever been to DC – you know that this is not an exaggeration…it really was a possibility.

So I woke up that Saturday morning on Memorial Day weekend and said, “Let’s go honey.  Time to have some babies.”

“Are you in labor,” he asked.

“Um…no,” I replied.

“Then why are we going to the hospital?”

“Because I’m over this.  It’s a holiday weekend which means there is no traffic and we’ll get there quickly.  THEY don’t know I’m not having contractions and I can lie like nobody’s business.”

Miraculously, by the time we got to the hospital and they got me hooked up to the monitors I had no contractions!  But since I was 38 weeks with twins, they decided to keep me and break my water.

A couple hours later at 9:21 and 9:42 (both were vaginal deliveries), I was the mother of two beautiful baby boys with 9 apgars and weighing in at 6 lbs 4 ozs each. Two of the greatest accomplishments of my life.

Those little scrawny ass baby boys are 17 years old today.  They are 5′ 11″ inches tall.  They are broad chested and handsome like their dad.  They are kind and loving and always reaching out to help without a thought about themselves.  They are highly intelligent.  They are compassionate.  They are talented. They carry a deep faith within their hearts.  They have never caused me a moment of real disappointment or anguish.

They have brought nothing but unbounded joy into my life.  They’ve taught me that my heart can expand exponentially with love – that it’s not limited.  And, like all of my children, they’ve taught me what unconditional love really is.

They are identical but are as different as night and day.  One is very much like his father and one is very much like me.  They lead individual lives but are as close as you’d imagine identical twins to be.  Their bond is a little spooky sometimes.

Like when we’re driving in a quiet car and they both start singing the same song…at the same time…in exactly the same place in the song…yeah…goosebumps.

When I used to venture out with them people would always look at us and say, “Uh-oh…double trouble!”  To which I always replied, “Maybe, but I get twice as many kisses and twice as many hugs and a double dose of love.”  (Even when one was screaming for something, the other was crying and their older brother was thinking, “Why did we bring them?”  And then #2 son would take off in one direction while #1 son, finally fed up, socked #3 son and sent him to the ground on his butt.)  Good times.

So on the occasion of their 17th birthday I’d like to offer this birthday wish:

I wish you a life filled with love and light and beauty because that is what you have brought into my life. 

You are my miracles.

Beach Envy

Ocean City, Maryland looking north. The photographer sold this photo to ABC and it appears on the wall in a police station, in an episode of Criminal Minds, season 6, called “J J”.

A long weekend will begin about half way through the work day for me today and, of course, it has me remembering other long weekends. 

Long weekends in the summer meant a trip to the beach with all of the other insane people in MD.  We looked like lemmings heading to the sea, who changed our minds and decided to park it on the sand and stay awhile.  In spite of the insanity of it all, I’d give just about anything to be headed to the beach this weekend.  Uh-oh…I think I just made myself homesick.

I never visited the ocean when I was a kid because my parents were a train wreck and driving in a car for 90 minutes together would have meant a lot of arguing and fighting and beer drinking on my dad’s part.  Plus it was expensive. So our “beach” was the shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  I loved it and still do.  But there’s something about the ocean that calls to me and renews me and brings me peace.

Sigh…

The hubs introduced me to my ocean and early in our relationship we headed to the beach at every opportunity.  That’s where I first told him I loved him.  That’s where I discovered how beautiful a sunset could be over the Bay and how you really shouldn’t mix sun and booze if you want to go out to dinner later.  That’s where I always had to buy a sweatshirt because I could never remember that after you’ve been in the sun all day, it’s cold as hell in the evening at the ocean.

We didn’t go to the beach much when the kids were really little because I just didn’t want to deal.  But after they got a little older, we would rent a condo for a week or a long weekend and take them every chance we got.  They still remember those times as some of the best of their lives.  I remember that too.  I also remember that the hubs and I would sit on the balcony or the porch and talk for hours.  I really miss talking to him like that.

Another sigh…

Then we moved to the shore and my dream house and we avoided the beach in the summer like the plague because who wants to hang with shoebies when you can head there anytime?  Result?  We hardly ever went to the beach.  Sad but true.  But it was nice to be able to get there quickly in the spring, fall and winter. And we would pop up there for date night, or lunch with the boys or to just walk on the shore. No crowds, gorgeous, uninterrupted sand, cool (cold) wind in the face and then maybe hot chocolate later.  Mmmmm….

Big inhale…sigh…

So this weekend, which coincidentally is my twins’ 17th birthday, I will be landlocked.  It’s my 5th year landlocked and I think it’s starting to get to me.  The first two years I drank away the weekend and so I don’t really remember missing my ocean.  The last two years I was hanging on by my acrylic nails just to get through the weekend without jonesing for a drink – so I didn’t think too much about my ocean.

But for some reason, this weekend has me REALLY wanting to get to the shore.  I just need to breathe some salt air and listen to the waves crash at night with the windows open.  I need to feel the breeze (wind) in the evening when I walk on the beach and pick up shells.  I want to see my kids on the beach again and I want to see if my dogs even like the ocean.  I want to see what sober beach loving is like.  I think it will be amazing.

So if I hit the lottery between now and Monday, you’ll know where to find me.

“Come walk with me, take off your shoes, let’s walk the beach with only the moon to light the path and the waves to hear you tell me you love me.”  ~  J. Hensen

Being Still

Yesterday was a bad day.  Not an all mind-blowing, go home and get under the covers and don’t come out till morning bad…but it was close.  I wanted to just go home and get in my closet and be quiet for awhile.  I wanted to pray.  I wanted to just be still.  I didn’t do any of these things because #3 son had a baseball game and I was responsible for #1 and #2 sons’ dinner.

And yes, I could have taken the time to do all those things before dinner AND the boys are certainly old enough to figure out dinner on their own but that’s not how I work.  I don’t have them for many more years and since no one ever bothered about my meals most of my life, I have this obsession about making them healthy meals.  PLUS – knowing they were hungry and waiting for me means I would never have been able to be still.

My reaction to yesterday was a clear indication that I am not spending enough time communing with God.  Usually I can shake off days like yesterday without another thought – I can be Zen like that.  But yesterday is still sitting with me like a pit in my stomach.

I am actually feeling a strong need (craving) to be alone and be quiet and hear His voice.  I guess I miss Him?  I don’t know.  I remember when the hubs and I first started dating and would sit at work and count the minutes until it was time to leave and see him.  I remember going back to work after the kids were born and counting the minutes until it was time to leave so I could see them.  That’s what this feeling is.

I actually need some God and Me time.  It needs it to be quality time too.  Not my normal morning prayers, in the shower, where I get distracted thinking about what the day will bring.  Not at night, before I’m drifting off to sleep when I have a tendency to nod off mid prayer.  But a full on “search for God’s voice meditation” that sometimes leaves me a little weepy but always leaves me feel refreshed and calm and renewed. 

He’s actually calling to me and I’m paying attention enough now that I know when He needs me.

Damn – this is cool and scary all at the same time.  I’m not gonna lie – I’m freaking out a little here but it’s a good kind of freaking out.  It’s kind of a Zen freak out.

So here’s a heads up to any of the members of my family that might be reading this, if you can’t find me this weekend I’ll be in my closet.  Don’t bother knocking.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
~Psalm 46:10

Still craving…sigh…

I love Calvin and Hobbs.

Oh for the love of all that is holy – when will these damn cravings stop!  I promise that I’m excited about this journey…I really am but…seriously?  These cravings are killing me! (Atkins said they would leave after 4 days…Lou said 4 weeks…guess we know who’s NOT blowing smoke up my ass.)

I’ve been feeling REALLY good since last Friday.  Lots of energy, renewed focus, no hunger (in fact I have to remember to eat), no crashes, no yawning and getting sleepy during the day, and only a few, breathe deeply and they go away, cravings.  I didn’t even mind the scale doing it’s little yo-yo thing instead of going down everyday.  This ain’t my first dance with the scale…it’s just a number.

And I am almost completely out of pain for the first time in probably five years. You have no idea what I’ve been through with my body (okay – maybe you have a little idea since I tend to bitch about it here from time to time).  The alcohol and carbs actually created a Rheumatoid Arthritis scare a few years ago.  The inflammation in my body was so bad I could barely move.  I can remember sitting in bed trying to pick up a wine glass and having to use the wrists of both hands to pick it up and drink it…um…yeah…that was  hard to admit.  I saw lots of doctors and got lots of pitying looks.  I Googled the hell out of every symptom.  Eventually the really bad symptoms went away as fast as they came.

But even after it passed and I quit drinking, I spent two more years dealing with pain.  I wasn’t sleeping because my hips and legs hurt so bad.  Advil and Advil PM became my best friend…not to mention my old standby Excedrin. 

I thought I had fibromyalgia.  The doctor’s mentioned Lupus.  When I learned I had Psoriasis, I concluded that the pain must have been a Psoriatic Arthritis flare.  (Told you I was Googling.)  No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t keep up any kind of exercise routine (not even yoga) because the recovery from just one day was too much.  I was so depressed because I couldn’t figure out what was causing it so I couldn’t make it stop.

Two words…sugar…booze. 

I am now virtually pain free with energy.  Cardio here I come.  I’m dusting off all my Kathy Smith and Karen Voight DVD’s (and tapes…yes I still have tapes) and I’m going to SWEAT.

If I could just stop the CRAVINGS… They came back yesterday with a vengenance and it’s pissing me off.

I’m working on 20-25 carb grams a day for now.  It’s REALLY low because this is the detox phase.  I only have six more days in this phase.  This is the part where I usually quit.  This is the part where I start second guessing why I’m doing this.  This is the part where I start rationalizing. 

This part and I have met before.  We are well acquainted.  We used to be best friends.  We are now mortal enemies. (And I do mean mortal cause this shit is going to kill me.)

Recognizing it and knowing it doesn’t make the fight any easier.

Sigh…I’m done whining for now.  I only have one more thing to say.

Fuck you carbs.  (That’s for you Lou…and me.)

What Lies Within

Driving home from work last night I had a sort of epiphany.  Well…maybe it was more of a realization – I don’t know.  But it kind of knocked my socks off so it counts as something.

It was a lovely summer evening.  Slightly warm, a tad humid but with a soft breeze that makes the humidity more than bearable.  As I was driving, I let my mind drift (don’t worry, I’m a very good driver).  I started thinking about what I was going to do when I got home and I realized that I didn’t have a plan.  I always have a plan.  I have to have something to look forward to.  If I don’t…well…what’s the point?

For as long as I’ve been in charge of my own destiny, I can remember always having a plan for fun.  Always knowing what the next fun thing was going to be.  Always having something to do.

Let me give you some examples…

Before kids we ate out a lot (because I had this rule about not drinking at home).  I would spend most of the day thinking about where we were going for dinner and looking forward to it like it was Christmas.

When the kids were little I just looked forward to getting home to them.  That was enough for a long time.

Then I started looking forward, all day, to that glass of wine.

Then that tub o’ chocolate I would eat.  Or the tub o’ popcorn.  Or the tub o’ Goldfish.  Whatever – it was all just a substitute for the wine anyway.

And when I say I was looking forward to it, I mean it was the focus of my day.  When I thought about it, a feeling of calm would come over me no matter how crazy, or awful, or wonderful my day had been.  And if, for some reason, I didn’t get my (insert substance or activity here), my evening would be ruined.  I wouldn’t just be dissappointed – I would be devastated.

So as I was driving home, I realized that there wasn’t any (insert substance or activity here) waiting for me…that I didn’t have anything to do.   That’s when the epiphany jumped up and bit me on the ass.

For the love of all that is holy, what is wrong with me?  Why do I need something external to make me feel right internally?  Why can’t I get that from inside my own heart?  Which Lego is missing from the tower?

Okay – if your a normal person you’re probably thinking, “This chick is one crayon short of a full box”, because normal people don’t even think about this crap.  They are either happy or they aren’t.  They don’t analyze the hell out of their lives and dissect each and every thought.

But I am not normal.  I’ve been self-medicating in one form or another for as long as I can remember which makes it impossible for me to function in the real world without a lot of self-analysis. 

ANYWAY…

I have no idea what I’m going to do about this but it feels so good just to be aware.  I came home last night feeling lighter and happier and with more energy (okay that might be the detox…actually I think it is) than I have in years.  It’s a good thing.   It’s a relief.

A relief to know that I don’t have to search outside of myself for fulfillment or happiness anymore because I know…and I mean I KNOW…that it doesn’t exist out there.  It exists within my own heart.

“What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.”  ~Emerson or Thoreau (depends on who you ask)

Doesn’t matter.  I like miracles.  I think I’ll make some happen.

Hittin’ On All 8’s

My first car was a 74 Chevy Malibu Classic.  2 door coupe, 350 engine (8 cylinders), light green with a white landau roof.  It was my baby.  Looked a lot like this one.

We’re coming into our busy season at work and I am in HEAVEN.  I love it when I’m doing a hundred things at once, juggling a lot of balls in the air AND doing it high heels and a suit.  It’s when I’m at my best.

Part of the reason is that I’m a woman and we multi-task the hell out of everything we do.  It’s how we’re built.  While the men are out killing the woolly mammoth (being VERY single minded), we’re back at the cave wiping noses and butts, making dinner and keeping the wolves at bay.  Translated into today, it means I can do a million things at once and make it all look effortless.

Another part is because work has always been an escape for me and the better I do it the better I feel.  I started working at 14 as a babysitter and as soon as I turned 16, I had a part time job after school.  I needed money for myself (that car up there was expensive) and I needed money to help out at home (to keep the wolves at bay).  It was also the absolute best way to get out of the house – away from the loony bin so that I could try to figure out who I was without the crazy people at home.

I also learned the most important skill I have ever used in my career – how to compartmentalize.  Men do this without a blink because they are single minded.  Women?  Not so much.  We tend to bring our work selves to our home selves and bring our home selves to our work selves.  We make our “selves” nuts.

Because I was trying so hard to escape the crap that was going on at home, I learned to turn off that part of my brain and emotions when I was at work.  I would get in the car and immediately switch to work mode and not think about it again until I was back in the car on the way home.

I’m still that way.  The kids put a slight chink in the armour when they came along because they are ALWAYS on my mind…but other than that, it’s still working pretty well.

It also worked while I was drinking – and it’s likely the reason no one would have EVER guessed that I was a drunk.  I think some of my work friends may have had a clue that I had a problem on business trips because I always drank more than everyone else, but, being the good alkie that I was, it never impacted my work.

But I digress…

I’m just very excited to be getting into this season of busyness when I’ll be working 14 hour days and “hittin’ on all 8’s” like I used to say…back when cars had 8 cylinders and if they were hittin’ on all 8’s and the timing was set perfectly, you could really haul some ass. 

And I’m grateful that I’ll be doing it sober – cause getting up at 5:30 to be to work at 7:30 would be a bitch with a hangover.

Now shut up and let me get back to work!

These are the times…

It’s early Sunday morning and I’ve been up since 7:00 am thanks to a beagle who, when she goes outside in the morning, things she’s “on the hunt” and yelps like a fool.

It’s really okay though because it’s a beautiful day and since I only have two days a week off, I don’t want to waste any of it.  The weather here is cool, with little or no humidity (unusual in the Southern US).  Today it will get to 80 but it will be an “open all the windows and turn on the ceiling fans” 80 degrees.

These are the times when I am especially glad that I’m sober.

These are the times when I thank God that I didn’t stay up till 3:00 am drinking all the wine in the house and then checking to see if there’s any rum or Jameson in the cabinet over the stove.

These are the times when I pay homage to the Universe because I’m not sitting here, in this chair, with a splitting headache, a sour stomach and droopy eyes because I didn’t sleep well because you NEVER sleep well when you pass out.

I’m not sweating either – I’m enjoying the cool, beautiful weather in my fluffy white robe (the windows are open) and my fuzzy slippers.  I used to wake up and begin to sweat out the alcohol almost immediately and so it was very difficult to get comfortable until later (much later) when I finally got motivated to take a shower.

These are the times when I can’t believe it got that bad.

Honestly, this isn’t a big deal once in a while – if you’re NORMAL.  You’ve had a big time Saturday night and you wake up with a hangover.  No biggie.  You remember (or you will after you’re up and fully awake) that you had an amazing time with some amazing friends and you vow that it will be a looooooong time before you do THAT again.  You get some Advil and some water (because you have those little sweaters on your teeth) and smile.  You text your friends to make sure they got home okay and to reminisce.  You may even call one to say, “OMG!  Was that fun or what?  And the BAND…oh, you’re not alone?  You go girl!  Call me later.”  That is normal.

Waking up that way every day without any good memories – hell who am I kidding, without ANY memories, and a bone crushing remorse and guilt that you carry until it’s acceptable to open that wine bottle again.  You cringe when some little snippets of memory come to mind.  You get some water and some Advil and you sigh.  You wait for the teenagers to get up and when they do you hold your breath until you’re sure that they’re not going to say, “Mom…what was wrong with you last night?”  And then when you finally manage to get it together so you can move through your day and prove to yourself that you’re okay…that everything is FINE, you make a lame excuse to go to the grocery store in the next state (we live right on the line) so you can buy wine on Sunday.  You won’t drink it, you just like to have it in case people stop by.  And anyway, if you have any it will only be one glass – two at most.  That is alcoholism.

These are the times that I am grateful for my beautiful family and home and weather so that I can sit here on this glorius morning and be grateful.  No excuses, or remorse, or guilt, or pain.  Just a wife and a mom in her fluffy robe and fuzzy slippers, who needs to get her sober ass in gear and get the day going.

Namaste everyone.