Patterns – Christmas

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” ~ Robin Williams

As I look inside at what’s happening in my head (that sounds redundant), what dance we’re dancing if you will, I’ve identified a few patterns that I think are important to at least explore.  I mean if I’m not going to go deep, why bother?  Just sayin.  JK – I have no idea how deep I’ll take this but let’s at least give it a shot.

Pattern #1:  Empty Nesting (see my post of the same name – no need to bore you (or me) again here).

Pattern #2:  Christmas

Christmas seems to be a real trigger for me in terms of tossing me into a months long depression.  At first I thought if I traced it back to when the last of my chicks graduated from high school I’d have solved the problem.  Au contraire mon ami.  When I think harder I remember that Christmas was never an easy time at my house.  I have fond memories of Santa but they’re tainted with other things that make me think maybe I’ve colored those memories in pink rather than look at the dirty gray they actually were.

First up has to be the fact that my father was an alcoholic and blind so he couldn’t escape added to the fact that my parents probably should have never been married and you get a clear picture of what holidays were like (or ANY day for that matter).  He would be drunk and arguing with my mom the entire time we were cleaning  and decorating.  My mother had to have a spotless house for Christmas and even as a very young child I remember being tasked with getting the house clean enough to decorate.  We were told that Santa didn’t visit a dirty house.  Really mom?  Cause the neighbors down the street have a filthy house and yet they actually like each other and Santa visits them every year!  But I digress.

I used to think he complained and argued because he didn’t like Christmas (his childhood was crap) but as I think back, maybe he was just pissed because she insisted we work as hard as she worked.  Now that I’m a mom I see the literal insanity in those actions on her part.

Then there’s the fact that my mother, being a classic narcissist, wasn’t as much interested in our Christmas as she was in how our Christmas appeared to others, in particular her family.  She was always trying to impress and shared all of those feelings with me under the guise that this was all for us.  Even as a little kid I knew when to call bullshit on that.  But imagine the disconnect between what I was seeing on the Carol Burnett, Andy Williams or Perry Como Christmas special (or the neighbors with the dirty house) where they talked about the holidays being about family and love rather than material things and there my mother was trying to out shop, out cook, and out decorate everyone else to prove we were as good, if not better, than everyone else.

I remember one year when someone donated toys to us because we were short on cash (she said it was someone at work).  She got me out of bed to look at the toys to make sure they were okay because they weren’t new, and then cried because she couldn’t afford to give us the Christmas she wanted.

I was like 9 or 10.

And not for nothing, those toys and gifts were da bomb, in perfect condition and we never would have known!

Then there’s the 800 lb gorilla taking up space in my head which is the fact that while we were young my grandmother would come for Christmas accompanied by her completely disgusting, pedophile boyfriend who would fondle us in front of my mother and grandmother (remember, my dad couldn’t see and as a result he never knew) and NO ONE DEFENDED US.  I was told to “stay away from Mr. Hughes” and keep him away from my sister.

I’m sorry…what?

This is the part where I say none of this was their fault because my dad was likely depressed, my mom and likely her mom were molested (raped) by their fathers so they were damaged and didn’t do conflict well and blah, blah, bullshit, blah.  I’m tired of making excuses for them.  It was wrong, plain and simple and I am not to blame nor should I be embarrassed.

See, told you my therapist helped me.

Really?

Then why did my face burn and my stomach turn over when I typed that paragraph about that vile man?  Sigh.  Another post for another day I guess.

Anyway…no wonder I have baggage with regard to Christmas!  Let’s keep unpacking shall we? (You can stop reading here if you’re bored…I won’t judge.)

When I first met the hubs and began to see that I could make my holidays anything I wanted, I spent a lot of time on outside stuff rather than working on what was going on inside.  So in the early years there was a lot of decorating (a LOT of decorating), a lot of extravagant gift giving, a lot of entertaining and a shit ton of drinking to fill the hole that nothing could fill.  In other words, I had become my mother without the narcissist tendencies. {{{shudder}}}

After kids I did the whole overbuying thing which I believed was for them but, in reality, was all about fulfilling my desire not to disappoint.  I couldn’t bear to think of them waking up Christmas morning and being disappointed by anything.  I didn’t want them to be disappointed the way I was.

What I forgot (actually I don’t think I ever knew until the writing of this post) was that my disappointment wasn’t about the toys and the gifts and the decorations, it was about not being loved and nurtured the way every child needs.  It was about waking up to a family where my needs came second (if at all) to a can of Schlitz and my mother’s bottomless pit of want.  Coming second to anything is not what a child should ever feel (even though many do…everyday…everywhere).  Apparently, my parents began digging this hole in my soul from day one and no amount of toys and gifts, donated or otherwise, was (is?) going to fill it.

Bill and I raised our children to be first always and they know it.  I love when they talk about some show on TV where the parents aren’t putting their kids first and they call it out.  It means they know.  It means that the hole we dug for our kids may be a lot smaller than the hole my parents dug for me.  Maybe it doesn’t even exist.

Ha!  We all screw our kids up at least a little.

Bottom line is that I totally missed the fact that as long as we were all together it was a good Christmas.

What. A. Fucking. Idiot.

So now that everyone is grown and essentially on their own and no one needs me anymore – and before anyone says anything I know I’m “needed” in the way that moms are always needed but the fact remains that if I were to disappear tomorrow to a beach somewhere, all my chicks would eventually be just fine because I did my job – I think each Christmas I’m feeling that deep hole (and all its icky, infectious green and yellow goo) beginning to surface again.  Which is fine but for the life of me I have no idea where I put the Neosporin and how I am going to apply it to this massive crater.

Then again, that’s why I’m writing again.  Amirite?

Namaste

Advertisements

The Shore

“if
the ocean
can calm itself,
so can you.
we
are both
salt water
mixed with
air.”
― Nayyirah Waheed

Sometimes I think it’s odd that someone born under the sign of Taurus (the bull) who is so connected and rooted to the earth should get so much from being at the shore.  There is something life affirming (we all know this – I’m just stating the obvious here) about being there.  Listening to the gulls (after they steal your fries and poop on your head), watching the tide come in and then go back out, taking in that briny, salty smell that is uniquely ocean.  I often find myself physically pulled to that seaside spot.

And so it is that last weekend, in celebration of our 36th anniversary, the hubs and I took a couple of days and went to a sweet little beach on the Atlantic seaboard.  Surfside Beach is a charming little community just south of Myrtle Beach (which I would NEVER describe as charming) filled with cottages and huge beach houses, families and old people (us being of the latter category).  It was perfect.

When I say I love the shore I mean just that…the actual shore.  I don’t especially love what we’ve done to the area around the shore.  I don’t like all the hub bub and the putt-putt and the amusement parks and the calabash seafood buffets (which, if you don’t know, is just a fancy way of saying, “we fry everything”).  Don’t get me wrong, when the kids were little I was very grateful for all of that because of course their attention span was that of a gnat (on a good day), and when I was in my 20’s I loved the restaurant and bar scene, but my real love is, and always has been, right next to the waves.

Notice I say next to the waves.  This is where the bull in me comes out.  I seldom actually get into the water.  I’ll cool my feet.  Stand by while the kids play.  Wiggle my toes into the sand.  But the fish and I have an agreement – they stay in the water and I stay on the land.  Plus I hate being wet and especially hate being wet in Lycra so…there you go.

But I can sit by the shore for hours provided I’m well shaded.  This is why my favorite time at the beach is fall/winter and early spring.  I actually like the brisk (okay cold) weather.  I’ll bundle up and huddle down and just watch the waves and listen to the roar and let my mind just do whatever it wants to do.

In a word, meditate.

So that’s what I did this weekend.  I sat by the shore for several hours.  I sat on the balcony for several more.  I positioned the sofa in the condo so that while I was watching TV I could still watch the ocean.  Bliss.

And a crazy thing happened (she said with her tongue fully in her cheek), as the waves rushed in, I imagined all my own negativity rushing back out when they left.  I imagined peace rolling in and depression rolling out.  And I feel better.

I’m not sure how long this peaceful easy feeling will last but I’ll ride this particular wave to the end.

Namaste

Empty Nesting

I started a post on the patterns I’ve discovered that lead me in and out of depression when I landed on this…empty nesting.  As soon as it popped into my head I knew it was it’s own post. (Perhaps more than one?  Probably a book.)

I’m not sure what I hate most about empty nesting, the not being needed or no longer connecting with my husband the way we used to or being bored without a thousand things to do or making dinner no one wants to eat or…you get the picture.  I guess I just feel exactly the way I’m supposed to feel – empty.

Here’s the thing, I never found anything that I was truly, TRULY good at until I became a mom.  I spent my life with a couple of narcissists who insisted on dragging me down to build themselves up so no matter what I did and how much I professed to be in control there was always that little tiny voice in my ear that continually chanted, “You’re not good enough.  You’re not good enough,” and of course I believed it.  I mean after a while you’ll believe anything that’s pounded in your head day in and day out unless of course it’s positive.  Then you deflect the praise until you convince yourself once again that the voice is right.

Or is that just me?

But then I had a baby.  It didn’t happen when I was caring for my sister’s two kids although I could PLAINLY see that I was better at parenting than either my mother or sister would ever hope to be but they weren’t mine and my sister delighted in handing them over only to snatch them back simply because she could.  It didn’t happen with Lori because she was 12 when she came into my life and though I felt an immediate connection with her, I was trying so hard not to step on anyone’s toes or do anything wrong that I don’t think I relaxed until the kid went to high school!

But when William came along I knew, down to the marrow in my very bones, that this, THIS was what I was put on the earth to do.  Raise kids and love them unconditionally and the best part was that it was retroactive so I could then love Lori and Michael and Theresa with the same ferocity.

And it came naturally.  God knows I was flying blind but I didn’t need any instruction. (I needed constant validation but no instruction.) It was like my entire being had just been preparing me for this moment, this child, this life.  I never felt so complete in my whole life than I did when I brought William home, laid him on my bed and promptly burst into tears.  This was it.  This was me.  (Wait – isn’t that a line from The Greatest Showman?  I love Hugh Jackman.  Sorry…veered off there for a second.)

Note:  this did NOT happen to me in the hospital or when I first looked into his little face.  I was so goddamn scared that I was going to screw him up and traumatized by giving birth that I walked around in a fog for the first 24 hours.  Plus I was so wound up about making sure every I was dotted and every T was crossed so that we could get out of there and begin our family that I couldn’t focus.  I tried to feel that whoosh of maternal love.  I waited for it – but it didn’t come.  I actually thought something might be wrong with me.  That maybe I wasn’t good enough.  In fact, maybe I was defective.

Until we got home.

For the rest of my child rearing years I operated in a blissful world of just being.  Soaking up every moment with those stinky little boys.  Wiping tears.  Cleaning up puke.  Listening to stories about school and baseball and computers and video games and, eventually, girls.  I made lots and lots AND LOTS of mistakes and I beat myself up but good for them but overall, I was content and very, very happy.

Now the little shits are all grown up and moving away.  Not necessarily in the literal sense because two still live at home – one because of his eyesight and the other because why in the world would you move out and pay exhorbitant rent until you absolutely have to?  I’ll admit that I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of my house but I find it so wonderful that the remainder of my kids aren’t in a rush to get out and start paying for life (don’t worry – they pay plenty of rent – THAT part of empty nesting I don’t mind.)

But they are doing the perfectly natural act of moving away.  Conversations don’t always involve me now.  They are making some big life decisions with just a cursory nod to our parental nosiness (and to throw me a bone from time to time) while they consult with each other, their peers, their bosses, their mates and all of those others in their lives that mean so much.  It’s SUPPOSED to be this way.  This is what Bill and I worked so hard to prepare them to do and they are DOING IT WELL and we couldn’t be more proud.

But fuck if it doesn’t suck for us…or at least for me.  I’m not really sure what Bill thinks about it because even though we’ve tried very hard to keep our relationship on the forefront – and we have (36 years on Saturday) – going through life changes you over time.  I find myself looking at him now with absolutely nothing to say.  Not because I don’t want to talk to him but because I feel like it’s all been said (I’m talking about deep shit here – not the everyday stuff).  We know each other better than anyone else on the planet so what’s left to say?  It’s gotten to the point where I can think about what I want for dinner and damn if that isn’t what he’s making when I get home – a little freaky if you ask me and not in the good way.

And what do I DO now?  I have zero motivation to do anything but work and redecorate the house and look at other’s houses.  People tell me to travel or get a hobby (what the actual fuck is a hobby anyway and why would I want to spend time doing it – if someone could tell me I might do it) or volunteer or…lots of things…and I’ve tried.  I tried to volunteer with the local humane society but they’re so disorganized it drove me batshit crazy so I only went once.  I swore I was going to learn Spanish this year and while I’m still slowly working at it, I lack the motivation required to get it done.  In fact, I lack the motivation to do anything.

Traveling’s not an option because the dogs have one foot in the grave and Bill won’t board them so we can’t go long or far.  BTW – did I mention the dogs are dying?  They’re 12 and 14 so OF COURSE THEY DYING WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME I’D HAVE TO SAY GOODBYE TO THEM BEFORE I WAS READY?  I have to admit – the blind one is so cute when he runs into things that I think I love him even more this way.  I could do without the beagle peeing everywhere but I hope when I’m their age and I’m peeing everywhere someone is there to treat me as kind as we treat her.  But I digress…

I’m empty.  I have a hole in my soul that, thankfully and blessedly, I no longer fill with wine but that I still try to fill with food (which will be yet another post because it’s all wrapped up in depression) and sometimes shopping, and my depression is rearing it’s ugly head more and more frequently and fucking with my “wellness”.

And I swear to all that is holy if one more person mention “self-care” I’m going to rip off their heads and spit down their necks.

Too much?

Anyway, I’ll close by saying I miss little boy hugs and late night conversations with Lori.  I miss shopping for prom dresses and going to Little League games. I miss snuggles and baby necks (and baby feet and baby everything) and Christmas morning when Santa still visited (I do NOT miss the Easter Bunny – that is one creepy mother fucker). I miss high school plays and watching Nickelodean and talking about who did what to whom and who is dating whom and trips to Target.

I miss it all.

And missing it sucks ass.

Namaste

On Depression

Depression
Whoa.

tap…tap…tap…is this thing on?

If you’re out there than hi!  I’m writing again!  We’ll see how long it lasts and whether or not it makes me feel better but for now, if you’re there, I’m here…and even if you’re not there I’m here because after all it’s all about me (but you already knew that).

For those of you that know me let me just say that yes, I’m still sober and very happy with that decision.  I don’t know what label I prefer (alcoholic, problem drinker, dual diagnosis with my depression) but I do know that I don’t want to feel that particular More Monster ever again.  I say that particular More Monster because, of course, I have several more which is why I’m back…that and because I can’t afford therapy in the traditional sense.

All I know is that I feel a pull to the keyboard that I haven’t felt in a VERY long time.  A need to remove my thoughts and put them somewhere where I can properly arrange and re-arrange until I can make some sense of what is rolling around in there.  A need to PROCESS what is becoming a constant, and very boring btw, dialog about myself and how inadequate I am as a human.  In other words, my depression.  I’ve ridden this rollercoaster for so long now (almost 25 years) and I’m so bored with the whole process I could spit.  I’m so tired of hearing my own voice in my head that I just want her to shut the ever-loving fuck up – and that feeling scares me.  It feels like giving up on myself and accepting what is and that is not what I do.

I do not give up.

I was taking steps to find and see a therapist and I was about to pull the trigger when I realized how much it was going to cost me, out-of-pocket, to go and talk to a stranger about things that could just as easily be typed out in a blog for a others (or no one) to read.  It worked so well while I was getting sober why shouldn’t it work again?  In fact, while I was praying the other morning, the thought just popped in my head – WRITE.  Never being one to ignore a God moment I thought, “Well okay then!”

So this will likely start out with a long stream of consciousness that will essentially be gibberish until I have the time to sort it all out.  Fortunately the published versions of that gibberish will not actually BE gibberish as I’ve learned how to save things in draft to return (or not) later.  I hope that I can retrain my brain to vomit my thoughts all over the page again since that seems to be the only way for me to truly process what’s happening.

I may take this blog private depending on what I have to say or I may leave it public.  There are a few souls out there who I once trusted that I may or may not trust any longer and therefore with whom I do not want to share even more intimate details.  Then there are those that I actually NEED to hear from (you know who you are and even if you don’t, I’ll reach out to make sure you do) and even if I go private, they’ll know how to get to it.  Then again, I really love when random souls stumble on my writing and take away something.  It’s like I’m repaying the Universe for all those bloggers who loved me until I could love myself again.

But for now I’ll just say…

Namaste

Come on in…have some tea

chakra_poster

Last night I decided that my yoga practice would be one that focused on balancing my chakras.  Balancing chakras promotes wellness and healing in the body.  If this is all too woo-woo for you, know that you don’t have to practice its literal interpretation to get the benefits; just focusing on the centers and what they mean to you can help bring awareness to issues and may help you to heal them.

I tend to focus on the literal and last night was no different.  I was feeling fantastic and productive in my practice until I reached my “third eye” chakra.  This is the one that governs wisdom, intuition and awareness.  As soon as my teacher said intuition I thought,  “Mother’s intuition.” which then took me directly to my failure to recognize how sick Brian was when he had pneumonia several years back.  I’ve written about this ad nauseum so I will not bore you here.  Suffice to say I let my concern for money and lack of medical insurance override my mother’s intuition which said, “Hospital NOW!”

The guilt and shame washed over me like a tidal wave.  My first instinct was to push it down and tell myself to get over it because that’s what I’ve always done which led to “Oh yeah…how’s THAT working for ya?”  So I took a deep, cleansing breath and the next thought I had was, “Tea.”

A few years ago I found an amazing therapist who taught me a few things about dealing with my baggage and old shit that rolls around in my brain.  One of those things had to do with what to do when those feeling of guilt and shame came knocking on my door.  He said I should invite them to tea.  Invite them in, tell them to have a seat, pour them some tea and then just…be.  Those feelings are a part of me just like my green eyes and annoying optimism.  They exist and let me tell you from experience…they refuse to be silenced.  If you ignore them or stuff them down, they will manifest in other ways (drinking, eating, spending money to name a few) and bite you in the ass every time.

So I invited them in and I sat with them.  I actually visualize them as big blobs with names on them like Shame and Guilt and we all sit around a children’s play table with a proper tea service.  (Yeah…I know but that’s what’s in my friggin’ head.)  It wasn’t long before another, bigger and stronger feeling surfaced…FEAR.  That motherfucker gets me every time.  Again I just wanted it to go away but realized that it was just too big.  It took up most of the room.  So I invited it in and we all sat and just were.

Slowly but surely those feeling began to shrink and leave.  I repeated the mantra, “He’s fine.  God had your back.  He’s fine.” and they just faded away and were replaced by…maybe it was peace?  Acceptance?  I’m not sure but I felt a helluva lot better after that little exercise.

I know that incident will never leave me and that these feelings are likely to continue to pop up from time to time and that’s okay.  The great thing about good therapy is that it even after you stop going, you have tools that will help you the rest of your life if you choose to use them.

So, to my incredible therapist who may or may not be reading this, from the bottom of my heart…thank you.

Namaste

Time

clock_collection

Something happened to me last year that has set in motion a deep thought process the likes of which I’ve never seen.

I turned 55.

There is something about that number that has me thinking about time.  All of a sudden, the time I have left on the planet has become finite.  What’s more, since my husband is 13 years older than I, his time is even more finite.  Let me go on the record as saying that I do not like this feeling.  Not one little bit.

Yes, yes I know that no one is promised tomorrow and that anything can happen to anyone but I’m talking about that feeling of, “I have plenty of time to do that!”  All of a sudden I started to think, “Ooops…maybe I DON’T have plenty of time to do that.”  Of course there is nothing in particular I want to do that I all of a sudden can’t do.  It’s more the feeling that time is running out, that it’s no longer on my side.

I think about when I was a kid and time had a way of standing still.  Christmas would NEVER come.  I would NEVER graduate and get the hell out of school.  That guy would NEVER ask me out and then once he did, the day would NEVER come.

As I got older it began to speed up, but only a little.  It wasn’t until I had kids that time took on lightening speed and after I turned 50 that Mr. Sulu took me to warp drive.  Now I blink and five years has sped by and I’m left thinking, “Wait.  What just happened?  I want a do over.”

I feel this urgency to get things done before that last grain of sand runs through my hour-glass (those are the Days of our Lives…sorry…couldn’t resist).  I want to get a post-graduate degree.  I want to write a memoir (doesn’t everyone).  I want to learn Spanish.  I want to travel to Europe and Alaska and Asia.  I want to be at the beach more.  I want to get and stay healthier each year so I have a better chance of extending my time.  I want to spend every waking moment possible with my kids and their kids so I’m ingrained in their memories (I know that’s morbid but isn’t that what I’m talking about here?)

I know I’ll do at least some of the above before I go anywhere, it’s the urgency that has me anxious.  It’s like Father Time is breathing down my neck more and more often these days.  (And yes I know that Father Time is a man…how else do you explain why women get old and men get distinguished?  Just sayin’.)  I wish that old fart would get off my back and go bother someone else.  Someone in their 90’s…just not Betty White or George and Barbara Bush okay?

Of course when I’m in my 90’s I’ll be requesting he vacate the premises and go bother some Tibetan monk who’s 110.  Old is always 20 years older than you are at any given time amiright?

For now I’ll just have to learn to sit with these feelings, maybe ask them in to tea.  We can sit together and get comfortable and maybe move toward acceptance of the fact that time does, in fact, move on and we move with it.

But I don’t have to like it.

Namaste

 

 

Well This Just Happened

tasha-marie-2015
Contentment is not getting what you want…it’s thanking God that He brought you through the bullshit so you can appreciate what you have.

Sitting here at work (it’s slow this time of year) when I look up at the calendar and realize that last Saturday I was sober for seven years.

 

And I completely missed it.  How weird is that?

Part of me feels really good that the event just rolled on by like any other day and part of me is pissed because I missed out on cake!  Most of me is just content to be wherever I am whenever I am as long as it’s sober.

Not gonna lie, there were moments during the holidays when I was nostalgic for the occasion of drinking.  Having a glass of wine with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile.  An Irish coffee after Christmas shopping in the cold.  Sitting at a bar decorated with dark wood, fireplaces and deep leather chairs sharing cocktails with the hubs.  Those are the things that come to mind.

Until I follow the drink to the end where I don’t know when to say when.  When right after that first sip I feel the pull of “more”.  When I wake up the next morning with a sour mouth and a sour stomach and I have to think really hard to determine whether or not I made an ass out of myself…again.

Then I remember that most of my friends don’t drink anymore (we’re old – that kind of shit slows down for normies as they age) and it’s not cold in the South at Christmas time and I do ALL my shopping online and wine in bars like that is way too expensive for me with two kids still in college which once again returns me to the contentment I mentioned in the above paragraph and all is right with the world…again.

So happy seven years to me but an even happier “it’s just another day”.  That fits me so much better these days.

Namaste

Word of the Year 2017

grace

Happy New Year everyone!  Ha!  I write like I think there’s still anyone out here.  No matter it’s still going to be a Happy New Year!

Oh my goodness what a 2016 it was.  Between the election and other general malaise, I actually had to sign off Facebook for about six months.  I just couldn’t take the negativity and ugliness any longer and I’m not talking about random politicists and journalists; I’m talking about so-called friends.  People I’d known most of my life were saying things from behind their computer that just broke my heart and rather than add to the vitriol I just decided to step away.

Best thing I ever did.

I stayed on Instagram to see the grandchildren and children and tried to learn Snapchat (still working on THAT one) but I didn’t touch Facebook.  I’m back now but only in a very limited capacity and I’ve discovered that you can hide people instead of unfriending them.  That way they can see your stuff but you don’t have to see theirs.

Genius.

Onto the Word of the Year.  For some reason over the last 3 or 4 months the word “grace” has been floating around in my head.  That’s not a word that was common in my vocabulary excepting the occasional Seinfeld rerun so it was a little unusual for it to be in there.  I thought about it for awhile and then decided to take it as a sign that I should choose it as my WOTY.  So there it is…

Grace.

I have no idea what the hell I’m going to do with it yet but it has been chosen.  Dum dum duuuuuummmmmm.

Webster’s defines it as:

Definition of grace

  1. 1a:  unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b:  a virtue coming from God c:  a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace

  2. 2a:approval, favor<stayed in his good graces> b archaic: mercy, pardon c:  a special favor :privilege<each in his place, by right, not grace, shall rule his heritage — Rudyard Kipling>d:  disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency e:  a temporary exemption :reprieve

  3. 3a:  a charming or attractive trait or characteristic b:  a pleasing appearance or effect :charm<all the grace of youth — John Buchan>c:  ease and suppleness of movement or bearing

  4. 4 —used as a title of address or reference for a duke, a duchess, or an archbishop

  5. 5:  a short prayer at a meal asking a blessing or giving thanks

  6. 6pluralcapitalized:  three sister goddesses in Greek mythology who are the givers of charm and beauty

  7. 7:  a musical trill, turn, or appoggiatura

  8. 8a:  sense of propriety or right <had the grace not to run for elective office — Calvin Trillin>b:  the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful

Looking at all of these (who knew there were so many) there are a few that I can extinguish immediately.  I definitely do not possess grace so number 3 is out.  I’m not a member of nobility so number 4 is bye-bye.  While we do occasionally say grace that one isn’t going to last me all year.  While I love Greek mythology I can definitely say that this one does not apply.  I don’t even know what number 7 is.  Number 8 is not enough to satisfy my requirement.

That leaves – drumroll please – God’s grace and the last part of number 2 which includes my favorite word ever uttered…kindness.

I have said many times in this blog (and to anyone that will listen) that I have been blessed with an abundance of God’s grace.  The Big Guy loves me and I am truly honored to be His child.  He has graced me (see what I did there) with so much and I’m grateful every day.  I will definitely carry this in 2017 the way I’ve always carried it, seated firmly in my heart.

So what to do about the other part…the part where I behave with grace.  Honestly I try to always do that but for 2017 I want to try harder.  I would also like to find grace within myself and provide it to myself.  Basically I’d like to learn to cut myself the break I cut other people.

So there you have it folks, the official WOTY for SoberMom.  Grace.

Hope 2017 finds you all happy, healthy and filled with grace.

Namaste

Weighing In

At the beginning of this year I joined Weight Watchers for the fourth time. The first time I joined I did meetings but it didn’t work because I was still drinking and there are a crap ton of calories in a bottle (or two) of wine every night. Add to that the empty calories consumed once my inhibitions were lowered and I might as well have flushed the monthly payment to WW down the proverbial toilet.

The second and third time I joined I did the online version of WW which was moderately successful. I lost about 10 lbs. each time and then gave up and gained it back.

Sigh…

So at the beginning of the year I decided to give it one last college try. Oprah had just invested in WW and was all over TV hawking the company and vowing to lose weight with me. Since she’s had such success with losing weight and keeping it off (yes…that WAS sarcasm) I figured I was bound to be successful right? Of course!

I signed up online and decided that if I was going to do it I would need some accountability so I signed up for the package that included in-person meetings. I dusted off my food scale and became familiar with my new app and jumped into the pool.

And was pleasantly surprised.

First of all, after a gazillion years they changed the way the points are calculated. Instead of Points or Points Plus, now they have Smart Points. In a nutshell, it forces you to eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and protein and low in refined sugars and other carbohydrates. Since all the research says that’s just about the healthiest eating plan going, I saw that as a positive. Not everyone was feeling that way however – apparently there were a LOT of pissed off people when they found out that their “snacks” that used to fit into their plan were now loaded with points. The thing I was always discouraged by when it came to WW was that they let you eat pretty much anything you wanted as long as you stayed within your points allowance. That meant that you could have chips or candy or a loaf of bread (don’t judge) as long as you were within the points. There was no education about how to eat better to sustain the weight loss, just a focus on the weight loss itself. It just rubbed me the wrong way.

Now there’s a focus on eating healthy for life and actually learning what is good for your body and what isn’t. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose more weight or any weight at all for that matter but at least you can’t get away with stuffing your face with crap and then wonder why you gain all your weight back as soon as you move to maintenance or go off plan.

Next was a new meeting format. The old meetings had a leader in the front of the room with a tired flipchart trying to teach about the week’s topic. Could be tips for getting through vacation or how to lower the caloric intake of BBQ foods but it was mostly a talking head telling you what to do. Now they’re run more like AA meetings. Everyone sits in a circle and talks about their week and the leader is more a moderator than teacher. Since I’ve BEEN to AA meetings that really resonated with me. I felt immediately comfortable and even shared a few times! That’s a miracle for this introvert.

Between the end of January and the end of April I dropped 15 lbs. It was slow, about 1 – 1.5 lbs. per week but it was consistent and the more weight I lost the more committed I became to the program. That is, until work got crazy and I started traveling…that’s when it went to hell in a hand basket. Since April I have struggled to get back to my meetings and even cancelled my membership for about a month, convinced that after the crazy time at work ended I’d be able to continue the weight loss all by myself. Because…you know…I have been SOOOOO successful with that in the past.

HA! Oh…sorry. That made coffee come out of my nose.

I realized pretty quickly that, like most things in my life that require discipline, I was going to continue to need help. Blessedly and with diligence I have maintained the original 15 lb. loss but I knew that if I didn’t do something, that wasn’t going to last much longer. I signed BACK up and began to, half-heartedly at best, track my food again. It’s not hard for God’s sake. The app makes it simple stupid. What’s hard is committing to counting the chips I eat for a snack each night and saying no to that afternoon cup of Dunkin coffee with real cream and sugar (10 points!)

Now I find myself at a cross-roads.

1. Do I fully commit and jump back into meetings and regular exercise and hope that I begin actually losing again?

2. Do I wait until the end of September when our feeding frenzy of a busy season is officially over (just in time for the Holidays to roll around)?

3. Or do I accept this new place my body has found and learn to be happy?

Since numbers two and three made me snort with laughter and my co-workers are now looking at me – I’d say it’s number one.

Namaste

I See You

I was in San Francisco last week for work. Long time readers know how much I freaking love that city. The weather (fyi – It’s cold there in the summer – go figure), the people, the sights/sounds…just everything. What I don’t really love is the homeless. The homeless here are an entity unto themselves. San Francisco seems to have an unusually large portion of homeless who have mental health issues. I guess it’s the weather that brings them and has them stay. They mumble to themselves and each other and anyone else who they think is listening. They walk naked down the street. They smoke crack in the doorways and alleys. They are everywhere.

And they make me uncomfortable.

Every city has its homeless population. I grew up in and around Washington, D.C. which has a large homeless population. They live on the streets and sleep on the grates in the sidewalks and roads and, in the winter, the city scrambles to keep them from freezing to death. It doesn’t always work but at least they try. The population of homeless here in Charlotte is a lot smaller than that of D.C. or San Francisco. They are also not as aggressive as those in larger cities. Maybe it’s because the city is so much smaller or maybe it’s southern manners. Whatever it is, it’s a little less uncomfortable here.

But it’s still uncomfortable.

Over the years, I, like a lot of others I know, appear to have become desensitized to them. I know not to give them money but, if they’ll let me, I’ve been known to buy them food. I ignore them if they shout obscenities at me when I walk by. I’ll step over them or detour around them but seldom do I make eye contact, smile or even nod. Mostly I just cast my eyes downward and keep walking, seemingly oblivious to their situation. I assure you that could not be farther from what’s actually going on inside of me.

This post isn’t meant to debate what’s going on in our cities and why these people are subsisting on the streets. That’s an entire dissertation and a simple post would not begin to scratch the surface of this issue. The only thing it was meant to do was to say to that population…

…I see you.

Even when I walk down the street and fail to make eye contact…I see you. When you yell at me or try to engage me in conversation and I keep walking…I see you. When you ask for money and I say no…I see you. When you ask for food and I offer to buy you some and you say never mind and curse me…I see you. When you stand with your children and beg and I DO give you money…I see you.

I see you but I don’t engage you. I don’t engage you not because I think I’m better than you because, let’s face it, we’re probably all just a paycheck away from being right where you are; I don’t engage you or make eye contact or even acknowledge you because it’s painful.

It’s painful for me to see you struggle with your reality. It reminds me of my grandfather who was locked away for being senile and brings to mind the fact that my own mental health can be tenuous at times. It’s painful for me to see you succumb to your addictions because I know how difficult it can be to battle those particular demons. It’s painful for me to see your poverty because I know, in a country this rich, there should not be poverty on this level. At the same time it’s painful for me to know and understand that you may have chosen this life and not want to lead a conventional existence because I know how beautiful life can be under the right circumstances.

So I cast my eyes away.

But I see you.

Namaste