Saturday, May 28, 2011
The iris on my page are my sister's garden. Our grandmother used to keep a similar garden after grandpa died. Grandpa was the real iris afficianado, and she kept them in his memory. Every year on Memorial Day, Dad would drive us to her house, where we would harvest the iris breeds he had been working on when he passed away. We would take her out to the cemetery where we'd place them on his grave.
Then we would return to the house and go through the old photo albums of relatives who had gone on before. The war stories would come out. Especially the one about Grandpa coming home from WWI to read his own death certificate that was sent to his family in error - he was not dead, but taken prisoner, and they got word of his survival shortly before the death certificate arrived. His brother, however, did lose his life in the same battle. This is the story of service men and women: all gave some, some gave all. My thoughts are with all those serving today, as well as with honor to those who have served in the past.
In any case, this time of year the iris are generally in all their glory, so they make a great Memorial Day flower. The lilacs often are in bloom around the same time. And my nose becomes a faucet... but that doesn't stop me from loving them anyway.
Age of Innocence (1952, Historic variety)
Friday, May 27, 2011
Two years on a Friday afternoon I walked into my local Jenny Craig center, to "support" my daughter in law in her choice to try this program out. I was a complete skeptic. If you've been around the blogs a while you've probably seen the reference to multiple efforts over decades to get weight under control.
What I said to the manager of the centre was: "Nothing you have to offer will help me if I choose to go out and buy quantities of food not on your program and consume them. Grocery stores exist. I have a credit card." Which is a truism.
She just smiled and said something to the effect that my knowing this was a predictor of success (or at least that's the way I heard it). Being a good sport, I followed the program, "mostly", and the end result is that here I am, two years later, with considerable success under my belt.
But the success is not because of the commercial weight loss program. Not to bash JC, I have become a believer... it's a great tool in the battle. However, that is the thing about any of them: they are tools. I continue to use them. Just as some readers here use Weight Watchers or any other group in addition to Spark. And I've used many of them over the years.
The key is not the specific tool set: it's inside myself, it's deciding I'm worth a nurturing choice. It's avoiding the trap of thinking the glazed donut is a reward or a consolation prize or something. It's avoiding the further trap of compounding the initial mistake of taking in something that triggers a binge by piling on guilt and continuing it.
"Taking in something" is more far reaching than a food or a bite... what one takes in that triggers a binge is often a thought or a feeling taken to heart. "I'm feeling (fill in the feeling... lonely, anxious, angry, sad)... food will make me feel better."
This morning I observed that breakfast *did* make me feel better. The minute I savored a bite of my steel cut oats with banana and cinnamon and nutmeg, my palate lit up and said, "Yes!" My tummy said pretty much the same, and the lights went on in my head: "I feel better (emotionally)!" And when breakfast was over, I felt satisfied and enlightened. And I was able to say confidently, "this is enough for now."
Eating mindfully... and moving mindfully... and breathing mindfully... not a bad life. The storms can be weathered. Somewhere in this mindfulness is the me that is meant to be. Sometime with this mindfulness, I will find her.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The big life question: who am I and what is my purpose on this planet?
Huge question, huh? What does it have to do with Spark?
Spark is disguised as a place to work on nutrition and fitness and healthy habits (which it is)... really is a place to work on LIFE. One of the first things the book "The Spark" has a person do is figure out WHY he or she wants to ... "lose weight" or "eat healthy" or "get more active". That has to do with what is personally important.
What is personally important is all wrapped up in the subject question: "Who am I?" "Why am I here?" "What do I hope to get out of this?"
Spark encourages us to examine our values, our deepest sense of what's important to us. The hardest times in life (for me) are when I question my own assumptions about myself. I don't know about the rest of the world, I'm only one woman. Maybe some people never ask that question.
For me: the large questions and doubts have to be faced at some point, and re-examined from time to time. I have choices about how I handle these times of doubt, same as anyone else. I can choose to numb the thought process for a time: and my usual tool to do this has been food. As I work toward an athletic goal, I can defer the thought process by giving myself a "substitute" goal (like completing a 5K, or the half marathon). Weight loss can be a "substitute" goal or an intermediate one, as well. So can attaining a certain level of physical health. Why? Because they are steps on the path to achieving our purpose in life.
When an intermediate goal is reached, we get back to the big questions of life: Who am I and why am I (still) here? My mom once asked a spiritual adviser this question, and received this answer: "You have something more to learn, or something more to give."
It has been three and a half weeks since the last "finish line". I have kept myself busy, and I have had some little(?) emotional tantrums during this time. For the most part I have weathered them without heading down the road of relapse, but I've felt physically lazy, and emotionally stressed.
I've kept on Sparking. I've blogged or posted status. Because I've learned this: it's important to keep nurturing me physically while I figure out the other parts!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
There is a lot to be said for the desire to be better than we are at any given moment. It's part of the stress that moves us to actually *do* something about it.
There is something also to be said for looking at the moments in our lives that we regret, or even the patterns of behavior that disappoint us. Without looking at it, how can one even begin to formulate a plan of change, training, or improvement?
But there is little point in staying there in the place of regret for too long. The past is the past and cannot be changed. The future is an unfulfilled promise. We have only this moment... but if we have a plan, a strategy, a goal to go with our desire... this moment can lead to a brighter future.
Yesterday's sadness was a good part regret over my own behavior and certain behavior patterns over my lifetime. I'm a slow burner, people. I appear to be so laid back and tolerant (to myself) and then out of the blue, something will trip my trigger: usually associated with a perceived injustice toward other people that I have chosen to care about. Definitely if anyone questions my motives! And once in a great while when I'm just plain tired of always being the dependable one.
I had such an episode on Sunday, and I found myself lingering over the analysis of it Monday and even into Tuesday, when it settled with this horrible cloud of sadness over my own inadequacy! And when one is already focused on how inadequate one is (and we all fall short, so says the Bible)... it's easy to pile on more and more as your day and the normal pressures of life occur.
In "the old days"... this kind of thing would lead to days, weeks, months of self-abuse with food. Which allowed me the pattern of transferring my disgust with ANYTHING ELSE to disgust with my overeating!
How much better to let the real issue come to the surface, be faced, accepted, a plan for it brought forward... and soothe myself in ways less self-destructive or abusive. When you read that sometimes the people who most need love are those who seem the least lovable? How about we start applying that to ourselves?
I am pleased with how yesterday turned out. I hope to move forward loving myself, warts and all, and accept that the desire to be better is mother to the ability to do it.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Because it was a work day, my food was packed and structured for me. Habit is our friend in this regard. Despite that horrible cloud of "sad", I packed it.
I was feeling pressure and anxiety associated with work, and the sad combined with that... but work is a great tonic... because you are *doing something* about the feelings. I made sure to take my break walks, during which I consciously breathed, paying attention to the fight/flight response to the feelings. Breathing is a good thing... in for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for eight. Very calming.
Feelings *do* fade over time. When I got home, I "did something" about one of the sources of the sadness... once I figured out what it was. And I decided to cut myself some slack for being human.
I'm on my way to being "me" again!
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