The Not so Nice New Normal

I heard it once said the English were not as demonstrative as other cultures.  At the time I wondered if it was the result of the great plagues that were endured there and great loss of life.

I was reminded of that thought with what we are experiencing today with the COVID-19 pandemic and what will change for us in the future.

I thought of how life has changed in my lifetime following pivotal events and tragedies.  My first memory of one such event was the Tylenol scare. The Chicago Tylenol scare were a series of deaths resulting from package tampering and replacing product with poison.   Following this event was a sweeping change of how seals were incorporated into product packaging.  To the post Tylenol population, it’s a non-issue.   However, there is a little memory that resurfaces when I open my bottle of ibuprofen that now has a cover, a seal, and the familiar cotton ball.  There are many brands and products that were unaffected by the tampering, yet precautions were put in place to relieve worry and worse case scenarios.

The most significant event and tragedy in my life, as with many my age, was 9/11 when four commercial airliners were hijacked and crashed purposely in an act of terrorism.  A short month later the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was established forever changing the way we would travel across the globe.  No longer would you be able to walk to a gate to send off or greet your returning travelers.   A flight now requires extra time to check in and make your way through the long lines of security checks.  This year we will now need a special identification license or passport with which to travel.  It’s the “new normal” as they say.

The “new normal” is being said quite often these days as the result of precautions to stay safe from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The new normal is one of many phrases we have added to the popular lexicon as with the phrases “non-essential”, “social distancing”, and “flattening the curve”.

So, what happens next?  What will change for this generation either briefly or permanently?  Will we no longer greet people with handshakes? Or will the loss of social contact cause us to embrace even stronger and longer?  Will we reach for a face mask at the very onset of a sniffle; or “fight it off” because any common head cold will be “child’s play” compared to what we lived through?

As I sit here in semi-confinement, wearing my mask outside as I make basic errands and wondering if the person next to me without a mask is giving me germs, I want to break free from all of it.   I want to go outside as if the world was just scrubbed clean and look into the eyes of every person I see with gratitude and kindness.   I have missed people, people I know—and those I have yet to know.  I have never been demonstrative (it must be from my English roots), but I would like to welcome embraces and have mine be welcomed back.

I don’t know what the “new normal” will be, but I hope it is nice.   God bless and stay safe!

Social distancing

 

The Power of One

The current COVID-19 pandemic has crystallized the message of “The Power of One”.   I am awestruck that the world focus is the result of one action by one person.   The globalization of the world has created the condition for widespread permeation from a single source.

This current power of one has been tragic with insurmountable loss and anguish.  Profound grief that I have never experienced before.  It is unlike past tragedies such as 9/11 and others in that they were single events with response, recovery, and a grieving process.   This pandemic has been ongoing and fluid.   We hope for an end, but we are dependent upon each individual for the cure.   As Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated, “the virus isn’t moving, people are moving the virus”.   The power of one is perpetuating our condition.

While the power of one has caused pain, the power of one can also cause promise.   With the power of one we may achieve greatness and good.   If people can “move a virus” they can also “move a kindness”.   Think of those great heroes of the world who have made a difference.   I think of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, and so many others.

One does not have to have the intention to make positive change on the entire world.  Start with the power of one.  It is a blessing to have lived a life that made an impact on even one individual in the world.  I have been blessed by being the benefactor of much kindness in my life by mentors, role models, and influencers.  Be that one person who “moves a kindness” and makes a difference.

Who has shown you kindness in the world?  Who has been your “power of one” in your life and your community?  Let them know and honor them by being a power of one.

God bless you and stay healthy and safe!

92760074_2626812667642249_2796523957421867008_n

 

 

 

My Pandemic Perspective

Now more than ever I need to focus on my health.   It’s not easy for someone who is a “stress eater” and likes to self-medicate and pamper myself with unhealthy food and binging.   It’s usually times like these that I give up and it’s a “free for all” in terms of eating.

I have some challenges and events that are testing me.  Here is my rundown:

I have been working weekends to help our property company do an “abandoned inventory sale” due to a retail tenant that decided to give up on their business and walk away.   This left our company with a broken contract and several months of lost rent.

While working I received a call that my brother-in-law suddenly and unexpectedly passed.  He was to celebrate turning sixty in just a couple of months.   It has been completely devastating to my entire family.   We cannot even grieve “normally” and with others during the restrictions surrounding the pandemic.

My job as operations director for the property company also includes a restaurant.   The restaurant is struggling with only doing take-out and I had to take myself off getting a paycheck.  I have filed for unemployment.

I am also caring for my elderly parents.  My mother who is 82, has dementia.  My father who is 87 and caring for my mother has proclaimed he is ready to die.  Seeing his wife deteriorate and having to listen to her childlike repetitive dialog has left him weary and depressed.  It is heartbreaking to watch a woman who was brilliant walk into a room with a cup a detergent ready to consume, and a man who could run circles around men half his age decide he is done living.

So, yes, I’m a little stressed.  I keep reading Facebook posts of people taking walks in their neighborhood and having lovely conversations from across yards.   They are reporting how they are making the most of the situation.  The was another post from a woman who showed her large box of toilet paper stock with her son perched on top with the message “make me an offer”.   It was meant to make light of the situation but it is difficult to laugh when you see posts of the elderly standing before empty shelves.

They say to “meet people where they are” and I get that.  We are all experiencing this emergency coming from different places.   Some panic, some use humor, some try to look at every situation with a positive spin.   I am trying to catch up with that spin.  More importantly, I am trying to stay physically healthy so my body can stay strong for the emotional impact.   My mind is currently in the state of being “unwell”.

To keep my health, I made sure I had my go-to items such as protein bars, dried fruit, and yogurt.   I have lots of water and I continue to take one tablespoon of Fire Cider every day as well as a vitamin.  The gyms are closed so I pulled out my Jane Fonda workout video from the 1980s.  It still is a great full body workout with cardio.  I started journaling, catching up on my reading and my dining room is filled with craft projects.  There is so many things I can’t control so I will focus on those I can.   It starts with taking care of me physically and mentally.

My sincere well wishes to everyone around the globe to make it through this emergency.  However you may be impacted, please do the best you can to make it through to enjoy the glorious celebration yet to come when it has passed.  God Bless.woman's hands hold the sun and its energy

Read Repeat

I have read countless self-help books.  The one thing that I noticed is their message(s) are repeated throughout their writings.  In one book the author actually  lets you know that he will repeat his messages.  As he explains, it’s to reinforce the importance of the message as well as help you remember.

I’ve listened to influencers who do this as well.  One influencer responded to someone telling him he repeats himself by saying, “I only speak about what I know.  I only speak about what is true.  I’m not going to talk about things I don’t have knowledge on.”  I believe this response to be refreshing and brilliant.

I had worried that after blogging for a year I might sound repetitive.  However, I am only telling you my truth – what I’ve done – what I think.   I do not want to give guidance that I have not tried myself or do not believe in for the sake of filling a page and gaining an audience.

I have read so many inspiring books and their messages do overlap.  I appreciate these messages because it reinforces to me their effectiveness and my hope is that they will always be in the forefront of my mind.  I am always in search of those who inspire.  Sometimes, I’ll hear just one new word that clicks and have everything make sense.

It’s hard to listen to words of wisdom and let it really sink in and resonate.  It’s even harder to start with negative thoughts, recognize them and pivot to more positive thoughts.  Furthermore, it takes work for the mind to pull up that wisdom and let it influence your actions.

This is where the read repeat comes in.  Training your brain to remember to pivot to positive as immediate as possible, have it become rote, if you will.

You can find inspiration everywhere, in music, in social media sites, and being around like-minded people.  Below are some of my favorite influencers that I have learned from throughout the years.  Look them up to get more information.  Please feel free to share yours.  I love new sources that either give me new insight or reinforce what I know.

Dr. Wayne Dyer was my first source of inspiration.  When I was 18, I read “The Erroneous Zones”.   The late Dr. Dyer has many wonderful books of which I have read and been inspired.

Gabrielle Bernstein.  I’m reading the “Super Attractor”,  and just finished her 21-Day Manifest Challenge.

Natasha Hazlett.  I’m doing the “Unstoppable Influence” challenge and she is the author of the book with the same name.

Gary Vanyerchuk.  Has authored books but I follow him on Instagram.  Love him!

Mel Robbins.  “5 Second Rule” .  Just starting this book and already learning.

Katy O’Neil Shea.  Daily Facebook post “Soul Shine 365”.  Love this daily read!

87936255_523703888527278_3845977479369981952_n

Choose crEATe Over EATing

Did you notice the double entendre in the title?  This is deliberate in that I want to encourage you to try working on a creative project over grabbing something to eat.  In addition, I am hoping with a creative distraction it will keep you from “overeating”.

Truth is my mind is in constant thoughts about food, but I love the creative process so much it’s probably one of the few times I’m not thinking about it. I have learned that when I’m working on a creative project I get lost in the project and forget about eating.

As I mentioned in previous blogs it’s not the food itself, it’s many things.   One of those is the presentation of food.   I tend to really appreciate something made well and plated beautifully.   I guess you could say I like to “eat art”.   In art I love color, textures, designs, the emotion, the message, the memory evoked, depth, sometimes aroma and scent – I like to take it all in.  With food I’ve realized I respond similarly.

Over the holidays I found myself ramping up on the creative projects, not just decorating the tree but creating flower arrangements, ornaments, etc.   It was an uplifting season and rolling into the new year I vowed to keep the creative momentum going.

You don’t have to “break the bank” working on projects, it can be as simple as penning a letter to someone using your most flowery cursive lettering.  You could even rearrange furniture in a room.   Anything that brings out that creative mindset and beautiful distraction.

I have been sharing my thoughts about my food issues for one year now.  I appreciate all those who have followed along.  It’s still a battle but I am still learning new things about myself and finding new sources of inspiration to stay the course.

I’ve decided to change up my blog somewhat and post shorter thoughts on my Facebook Page.  The posts might not all be inspiring and at times frustrating.  However, it will be my truth as someone obsessed with food and the day to day victories and struggles.  You will never read that I’m giving up because I never will.  Never.

82048973_3200718293275984_315730832704667648_n

Stock Your Toolbox

It’s no secret that you need the proper tools to get the job done.  This is true whether its construction, carpentry, or you’re an artist creating a painting or sculpture.   It’s even true having the right software program to execute a project or a mechanic repairing a vehicle.  Think about any profession and you will think about the vast number of tools that are required to perform the job.

Apply that same principle with being successful with eating healthy and dieting.  Last week I was without my tool bag and not a single tool to be found.   I had been laxed at going grocery shopping.  On the positive side I was so focused on other projects and really didn’t think about my next meal.   However, I also didn’t make time to go to the store.  Consequently, I let the cupboard run bare… or I should say run bare of anything healthy.   I was home sick and emotionally feeling that need to pamper myself as well.

I rummaged through the cupboard and found a jar of Cheeze Whiz.   So… that’s what I ate.   Yup, as my father would say, “that’s the worst thing you can eat”.   It wasn’t pretty, actually pretty disgusting, and it sunk like a lead balloon in my belly.   I could feel the calories just ooze through my veins.  Yet, there I was slathering the Cheeze Whiz on yet another slice of bread.

It was almost immediately afterwards that I realized I didn’t have my tools.   I didn’t take time to buy my healthy staples – my go to, easy “don’t have to think about” foods – my tools.    I was too busy with projects and didn’t make time for balance.  I can’t say I didn’t take time for me because the projects I was working on were fun.  But as they often say you need to balance!

The other tools in my toolbox are the emotional and intellectual tools – the self-talk.  I allowed myself to feel sorry for myself for being sick and didn’t find another mechanism to pamper myself.  Lesson learned – stock up on the good stuff and remind myself every day of my strength and power!   Affirmations and apples, baby – that’s how to roll!!

Sending healthy wishes!

red tool box with food in top tray

Crush the Course

My blog is to help others to keep going and my tips that have helped me. In a previous blog (The Diets, 02/14/2019), I listed all the diets I had tried that did not work.   However, a couple of years ago I had heard of a new method of weight loss called “Intermittent Fasting”.  I was in a slump and thought to truly be able to speak about the best method for weight loss maybe I should give it a try.

This diet requires you to pick two days within the week, not consecutive, and limit your calories to 500.  The other six days of the week you eat whatever you want.

When learning about this diet it stated that most people end up eating less overall on the non-fasting days.   When I read that I thought… well not me.  If you tell me I can eat, then I will definitely eat and eat very well.  So that’s how it started.   I did great on the fasting days and ate very well on the off days.

Here’s what I noticed…

  • On the fasting days I had planned meals that I knew I would like that stayed within the daily goal of 500 calories.
  • I didn’t have to think during the day what I was going to eat – I had it already mapped out.
  • I got through those days knowing I could eat anything the next day. I just needed to hang in there for those days.
  • On the non-fasting days, I was elated, tickled that I could eat anything. It was as if the diet “burden” was lifted.  I started out doing exactly that – eating whatever.
  • I noticed weight loss fairly early on, albeit slight, but it encouraged me
  • I had a new perspective on the calories I was consuming on the non-fasting days.
  • I started cutting back on the non-fasting days. Partly, because I didn’t want to undermine my results, and because that “thrill” of eating anything had worn off.  I really didn’t “need” to eat all those things I thought I would love eating.  The excitement wore off.

Fast forward, it was very successful but low and behold I was in slump mode again.  I came upon an app that was for the fasting method of weight loss.   I wanted to try something new, especially an app to stay current with society.

This app was a little confusing, not intuitive as I had hoped, or perhaps it wasn’t a great app.   My one take-away was that I would get little reminders during the day… “your fasting will start in an hour”, or you’re doing great, your fasting will end in an hour”.   It’s not that I like the focus on eating.   That part was a negative to me but what I did like is the little pop up communication.

I decided to use my reminder feature on my phone that I already had to create my own notes of encouragement.  At first, I started with “don’t eat…”.  But then I decided that it was better to stay positive and not focus on the eating.   I changed it to “Stay the course”.   Then, I decided that was boring and changed it to “Crush the course”.

I’m having fun with this reminder feature.  It can be anything you want it to be.  It can be something funny to make you laugh during the day or it can be a reminder to take a break and meditate for 5 minutes.   The objective is to encourage you and, in a sense, remind you that you are your own best advocate and cheering section.

So, go out there and CRUSH IT, HAVE FUN, BE HEALTHY, BE STRONG… AND LIVE!!!

74340397_523626851517518_9052386429568548864_n72691104_433385930714594_6516575409444749312_n.jpg

I’m Still the Same Person

I jumped on Facebook the other day and received a notification that I had been tagged in a photo.  My first thought was “where was I recently that someone tagged me?”  Hoping it was a fun memory I had forgotten about.   I went to the post and much to my chagrin was an old photo of me from high school.  It was a photo of me when I was at one of the lowest points in my life as far as self-esteem.  I remember those times vividly.   Overweight, not finding clothes to fit.   Feeling like a laughingstock.  Feeling invisible, or perhaps hoping I was.

The pain flooded back as real as if it were those almost 40 years ago.  I immediately removed the tag “incriminating” me.  I was so embarrassed and hoping the tag was removed before anyone could see it.   I don’t have many photos of me overweight, so I took a screen shot of the photo and sent it to my daughter. My daughter knows my struggles and I wanted her to understand why I’m obsessed with my weight.  Her response was “you’re not that person anymore”.

Her statement made me pause and reflect on that.   The photo was from a performance when I was part of a singing group called “The Madrigal Singers”.  I loved singing back then and I still love to sing.  I loved art back then and I still love art.  I was kind and smart.  I am still kind and smart.  I had an amazing family and I am blessed to still have my family.

Does it make me a better, more likable person because I lost weight?  Have I changed or has society treated me differently because my outward appearance changed?  I believe it’s a combination of things.

I didn’t like myself the way I was.  This caused me to be introverted.  That said, society did play a role in that.  Being made fun of for my weight told me that being overweight was a bad thing and a sign of weakness.  When I lost weight, people treated me differently.  There was a marked difference in people’s interaction, and it was unsolicited.

As I lost weight, I physically felt better and was able to move more easily.  I could shop for clothes in the girls’ section instead of the “moms” section (back then clothes were not made over a certain size).  I wasn’t afraid of people thinking I was a “freak of nature”.

So, even though internally I feel like the same person, what has changed is my self-esteem and not caring what others think.  I’m focused on what I love to do and all the things that make me who I am.

When deciding to write this blog I wasn’t going to include the photo from high school.  It is still too painful to look at.  However, I thought by not including it and was becoming like “society” and thinking that girl should be invisible.   That girl was a kind, amazing girl and she deserves to be known!  I love her!  It feels so good to say that!

I also wanted to include a photo of the same girl who worked hard to be stronger and self-confident.  If you are struggling to lose weight, do it to focus on you and not society.  Focus on all that you are and what you love to do.  Be healthy so you can continue to be you for a very long time!

file23167942_1929145107099982_7206199535463068601_n

Scale is Life

SCALE

For as long as I remember I have been obsessed with the scale.   It’s a morning and evening ritual and I am hard wired to respond to the number of the scale. Most times it’s not necessary for me to check because I can usually look at my waist and know exactly what the number will be.   On the rare occasion I am surprised by the number I have been known to throw my arms up in the air in jubilation or drop to my knees with chagrin.

They say never to look at the scale and that you should know how you feel and judge by how her clothes fit.   That always terrified me because I never wanted to gain so much weight that my clothes were no longer comfortable.   To me it was like going a full semester in school with only one final.   No do-overs.

All of this said, something happened to change how I look at the scale.   For the VERY first time in my entire life I did not see a number and think of how my daily strategy would be.   I saw life.  I felt alive.   I was aware that the scale reflected a healthy human being that was taking up space in the world causing a response from the scale.  I was grateful I registered presence on the scale.  I am alive.

The reason for this new perspective was the passing of a wonderful person.  Someone who lived a great life – a kind-hearted soul, lover of the outdoors and epitome of a family man.  The passing came after what I consider a brief illness.   It makes you shake your head in bewilderment and you can’t accept it.  Often with the passing of someone you pause and appreciate life and how quickly things can change. What changed in me was how small and embarrassed I felt worrying about weight.  Worrying about how I looked.  Worrying about clothes I was wearing.  Letting my thoughts be consumed with what was in my cabinets that I could eat.

The morning of the funeral I did what was rote for me and got on the scale.  I didn’t deliberately tell myself to appreciate life and not be concerned with the scale.  But that morning I didn’t go into strategy motion, or celebrate, or beat myself up.  Because the scale moved, I felt alive.  I felt healthy.  I felt strength.

I will continue to exercise and eat healthy, and yes, weigh myself.   But I will be grateful, and I will be motivated to do those actions that help me to have energy to keep living life.  The scale is my reassurance that I am alive and have choices and have been granted one more day.

Thank you for reading.SCALE

Feeling Fraud

I started and stopped writing this edition of my blog many times.  It is difficult to write.   At this point in my life I thought I was successful as someone who conquered the weight loss issues, the food addiction issues.  Yet here I sit struggling, not happy where I am.

I have been much lower with my weight, approx. 9 pounds lower.   I knew when I was there it was pushing it and was content to gain a couple of pounds.  I gained those couple of pounds and then fell victim to too many carefree weekends and holidays and moved up to a plateau where I have resided for the past year.   I was okay with that.  However, the problem is that when you’re obsessed you spend every waking moment worried.

I know everything there is to know about losing weight.  I truly do.  But there are moments that I literally shake for wanting to eat something.   I lose the ability to redirect my thoughts to anything else.  Something else takes over and my breathing is accelerated, and I snack and can’t stop.   What has helped me from packing on pounds is that I am at the gym every day.  But to work that hard at the gym to stay at the same weight, and even gain a pound here and there is exasperating.

I hit an emotional low and just wanted to sleep and make the obsession go away.  The next day I started again.  However, this time I had the day off and just did those things that made me happy.   I gardened all day and organized my home.  I skipped exercise which normally gives me terrible anxiety, but I just wanted to be happy and focus on what I love.  I ended up skipping my exercise routine for an entire week!   That was the first time in a dozen or so years that I have done that.

The outcome was awesome!  I actually lost weight!  I was so focused on doing what I loved that I wasn’t thinking about my next meal.  I didn’t expect to quit exercising because I recognized that I had the energy to accomplish so much because I was in good shape.  When  I did decide start exercising again, I couldn’t wait.   I usually listen to music and podcasts while I exercise, and I was looking forward to hearing new content.

I am always learning new things about diet and myself.  Many times, I lose it and want to give up but every – single – morning I start again.  I am hard wired to need to be in shape.  Too many formative years of associating negative emotions and pain to being overweight.  While I can understand where I am and who I am that is something that will never go away.

As I said this was difficult to write.  My intent with this blog was to share what I have learned and my success.  However, admitting to struggling every day made me question if I should be sharing.  Do I have the answers for others?  Why should they listen to me?  Am I a fraud?

I came to the conclusion that I am not a fraud.  I am someone addicted to food.  Don’t know why – just am.  I start every day to work on myself and this blog is for those with similar struggles who get it.   They get it and my hope is that they never give up.  Start every day.  Try everything.  When something doesn’t work or did but doesn’t now, try something else.

This is my truth.  Thank you for listening.

29799356_l