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The mystery: Chapter 6 - Is the grass greener?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chapter 6:

I cannot even begin to write Chapter 6... in this chapter, Helen Heroine tries her hand at being a stay at home mom and organizing her house. This is the job she was so critical of Harried Husband not doing the way Helen thought it ought to be done.

What Helen found out was that it wasn't as simple as her mother made it look. Harried wasn't coping well with the burdens he had been given, either. Eventually he had to have his sister and her son step in to finish the job of selling their mom's old house.

Helen's family leave was extended; she got really anxious about finances, too. Her attempts to find the villain from the first chapter, who was stealing her energy had stopped. She kept listening to Reuben Resentment, although Debbie Denial was also a strong voice in her ear. Polly Perfectionist was "out". Helen was doing all she could to just get through the days. She sullenly told herself she was on her own. Harried was no help. She had to be the one to "fix" things.

Six months after the leave began, Helen was working from home, part-time. Six months after that, she started traveling again. Yet another six months, and she began to hear rumors that her company was bidding on a job back in her parents' home town.

Debbie Denial was joined by Penny Pinkclouds and a fantasy formed in Helen's mind. If she could work her way onto this project, she would relocate her family back to Hometown; everything would resolve itself. In this fantasy, Harried would find a job: he always said he wanted a job, it was a major source of his unhappiness and lack of self-esteem, Debbie argued.

In this fantasy, Salvador would also have more opportunity: it was a bigger town, with good schools, after all, Helen went to school there. And also in the fantasy, Helen would have the family and church support she used to have as a child.

Helen begged the manager for the opportunity to work on this bid. She was given the chance, and excited to see her dad and sisters, she climbed on an airplane bound for Hometown!

... to be continued ...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REJ7777 11/20/2010 9:37PM

    What happens next??? emoticon

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PATRISNA 11/19/2010 7:27AM

    emoticon this is very interesting.

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SWEETMAGNOLIA2 11/19/2010 5:41AM

    What happens next? If you want to find out you'll have to check out the next installment of "The Mystery". Will be looking for it!

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PENNYAN45 11/19/2010 2:38AM

    Looking forward to the next installment.....

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LJCANNON 11/19/2010 12:59AM

    A very exciting, and intriguing story. emoticon

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MSLZZY 11/18/2010 9:29PM

    The plot thickens..can't wait to read what comes next!

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The mystery: Chapter 5 - Craving normal

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chapter 5:

Helen Heroine, Harried Husband and Salvador Son drove a U-Haul truck and their battered old car 1000 miles back to the old house, arriving at Thanksgiving. They felt truly thankful for and hopeful about this new beginning. They pulled off a traditional feast, praying and thanking God for this resolution of the difficult past two years.

Salvador had been away from Oldtown for a school year and a quarter. He missed all of fourth grade, attending in Jobtown, and the first part of fifth grade. When he went to school back in Oldtown things were strange. Kids he used to know and he would see one another in the hall and suddenly realize who the other one was… “Hey… I know you. Didn’t you move to Ohio?”

Helen had accepted the new job sight unseen, with only a telephone interview, and she had flight reservations to her first day on the job. She and Harried had looked up the company at the library, knew it to be a solid one, but those first day jitters hit everyone. She got on the plane, flew to Boston, met her new boss and filled out paperwork. Things were a little disorganized; this was a consulting job. She would be flying from client to client, a new city every week. The beauty of it was that she could still live in Oldtown, in their old house.

Harried would stay home and care for Salvador, as he had back in the days when Helen worked locally. Helen quickly adapted to what was needed for the job. She learned whole new skill sets related to travel: how to travel light, for one thing. The first trip was a disaster… she quickly learned NOT to check bags. She learned to sleep on airplanes: snoozing by the time the wheels went up, waking when they hit the tarmac again on the other end.

Helen already had one skill set: people-pleasing. A-student from grade school on, she would kill herself to “get it right”, sacrificing her personal time to complete assignments, working late at the hotel on her laptop.

Still, she knew she wanted to get her fitness back. She sought out the hotels that had swimming pools and fitness rooms in the hopes of using them: but she didn't always find the time. She was tired of the professional programs, even of the self-help book based programs. She wanted to write her own journey. After all, she did know how this nutrition and exercise thing worked. It had worked for her before. She could do this. And it was worth doing.

On weekends, Helen flew home to Harried and Salvador. Things were honeymoon-like at first. They had so little time together that they cut one another a break. The issues between them were deep, but Helen had discovered a new friend, Debbie Denial, and latched on to her. Helen was pretty happy with the traveling. Harried took a lot of energy as Helen willed him to be happy. Helen was tired. All she really wanted, she told herself, was to be normal. But she wasn’t sure how normal would work if she didn’t have those airplanes to escape on.

Six months into the flying consultancy even larger family events impacted the precarious arrangement. A phone call from her mother in law while Helen, Harried, and Salvador were at church one Sunday started the collapse. “It’s your brother,” she told Harried. He had died of a heart attack, mowing the grass. Harried’s mom was devastated. Harried needed to spend time with her.

They took Salvador out of school, a week before the term ended, because he could not be alone with both a mom and a dad on the road.

Half a continent away, Helen's parents were facing issues as well. The day after the funeral, Helen flew to visit her ailing mother for a weekend, and three weeks to the day after the loss of her brother in law, Helen’s mother succumbed to organ failure. Three more weeks passed quickly, with a flight for another funeral, and those career responsibilities crowing in.

At this point Harried’s mother suffered a stroke. Helen had to keep working, but her head and heart were spinning. She continued almost robot-like, flying back and forth, hanging as much together as she could, until the current assignment ended, a full eight months later. She knew she needed what she got from eating right and moving, so she incorporated walks at noon, and she asked her client to support her moving into an apartment, since this was a long-term gig. This enabled her to eat groceries. She was back on a healthy program, as best she could be.

When the assignment ended, she took family leave time from her employer. Helen was feeling good about the change. She would have time at home with her son, time that Harried needed to spend taking care of his mother's affairs. This was Helen's first extended period of time away from work since Salvador was born, 12 years prior! She was pumped for the chance to be "normal", to put her house in order, and she would worry about making a living again when the 12 week leave was up.

… to be continued …

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REJ7777 11/20/2010 9:30PM

    Can't wait for the next installment! emoticon

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WALKINGANNIE 11/18/2010 3:48PM

    With respect and admiration to Helen. She had to cope with a lot of conflicting demands and stressful times.


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PATRISNA 11/17/2010 3:04PM

    emoticon emoticon

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SWEETMAGNOLIA2 11/17/2010 10:16AM

    I FELT your stress. It's amazing what the human body is capable of when one has to keep on keeping on no matter what! You are an awesome writer. I so admire that! emoticon

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BZYBOYSMOM 11/17/2010 9:29AM

    God bless Helen!~ emoticon

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PENNYAN45 11/17/2010 8:35AM

    Lots of STRESS!!! What an enormous job Helen had -- keeping the ship afloat.

emoticon emoticon

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MSLZZY 11/17/2010 7:48AM

    What a life's story! HUGS!

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The mystery: Chapter 4 - Dark Days herein

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chapter 4:

Cue the music to The Empire Strikes Back (Star Wars).

Helen Heroine had just been hit with huge life changes, after five years of see-saw maintaining. She'd become fast friends with Polly Perfectionist, perhaps teetering in the direction of Opal Obsessive. Under financial pressure, she allowed Carrie Careerwoman to sign her up for a demanding promotion, and now this: alone with Salvador Son, who had never in his life needed to go to day care... until now.

Salvador's day started at 6 a.m. when Helen dropped him off before school, and Helen collected him at 6 p.m. on her way home from work. The time she had lavished on herself while working away from their old town vanished when Harried Husband took off. Harried was supposed to be selling the old house and getting the furniture packed up to move, but Helen felt abandoned. She was fully committed to her son and her career. She turned to her bff Polly for advice.

"Well," Polly said, "You need to be a perfect mom and career woman now, too." Rachel Rebellion stepped in with more advice: "Salvador hates what you eat... and you can't let him starve. Besides, you don't have time to cook. You'll just have to eat what he eats." Reuben Resentment added a jibe or two, "Just look what Harried did to you! If he'd only do exactly what you want, things would be perfect, just like Polly wants."

Over the next months, Helen's energy was seriously compromised, and her health with it. Salvador got sick a lot, too. Helen did not make the connection to the high fat, high sodium diet of fast food. She left Earnie Exercise behind more and more often. She started hanging out with Salvador at the local movie theater, or playing video games.

Harried Husband came back in time for the holidays, but he had failed to do any of the things Helen had asked him to do while away. He didn't sell the old house. He didn't move furniture out so they could live comfortably in their little apartment. Harried and Helen argued entirely too much, with Reuben whispering in both their ears.

Poor Salvador Son! He knew no one in this new town, his parents were fighting, and he was getting sick. Seems the murderer wasn't just after Helen! Harried came and went for weeks or months at a time.

Hannah Hopeless moved in next door, with her roommate Dora Depression. Freddie Foodbinge offered comfort to Helen, and she accepted. It was impossible, she thought, and she decided that Polly Perfectionist was right. It wasn't even worth trying, since she couldn't do it perfectly. Besides, if she had food in her mouth, it stopped her from saying things to Harried that she would regret... or so she thought.

The scale showed alarming gains in that year, as Helen gave up the battle of maintenance. A full fifty pound gain was showing by the time Helen decided to stop trying to control what Harried did, a year later. Helen was truly terrified.

Helen remembered what it felt like to be fit. She wanted it again. She wanted Harried happy, Salvador well, and some space to work on her own health and fitness. With determination and hope, she waved goodbye to Dora and Hannah.

With help from Carrie Careerwoman, she applied for and got a new job. The new job would allow them all to move back to the old town, but Helen would have to travel for a living. Financially it was clearly the right thing to do, since Harried did not work, and they could not afford to pay for both places. But adding this new twist would have its own challenges, as well.

... to be continued ...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REJ7777 11/20/2010 8:58PM

    It's really interesting to be reading about your story in this way! emoticon

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MSLZZY 11/16/2010 6:01PM

    I feel like I am part of the story, not just reading and looking in the window. I
am hooked, for sure! HUGS!

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WALKINGANNIE 11/16/2010 3:56PM

    The plot is very strong Barb - just like your commitment and determination.

You should be very proud of your writing and all the subject matter.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SAMI199 11/16/2010 11:39AM


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SWEETMAGNOLIA2 11/16/2010 9:57AM

    I LOVE your writing style. Reminds me of the characters in Pilgrims Progress. Can hardly wait til the next chapter. emoticon emoticon

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JHADZHIA 11/16/2010 9:25AM

    Nothing like life getting in the way of a healthy lifestyle..
Keep on trucking!

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SUNNY332 11/16/2010 8:39AM

    Oh yea, Pat, I am hooked on this story too.

You definitely should think about a book.

Hugs, Sunny

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PATRISNA 11/16/2010 7:52AM

    I am really hooked on this story. Thanks for writing writing your blog.

emoticon emoticon

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The mystery: Chapter 3 - maintenance tight wire

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chapter 3:

When we last left Helen Heroine, she was ten pounds from her "formal" goal, the one chief detective Wendy Weightwatcher said she should meet. Only at this point, Wendy had changed the plan of action, and Helen's bff Polly Perfectionist was throwing a fit.

"What works has to be ONE specific plan. It can't change all the time!" Polly sniffed. Rachel Rebellion took a pot-shot at Polly, "You know, I was getting bored with that same old plan, anyway, but I'm not sure I like the new one, either."

Poor Helen, none of her advisers were being very helpful at this point. She decided that the goal was unachievable as she watched a few pounds slide back on over the holidays. After all, she rationalized, she was entitled to celebrate with her family, wasn't she? They were getting cranky about her rigid food plan anyway. Harried Husband kept saying, "Just this once" wouldn't hurt anything. Reuben Resentment wanted to blame Harried, but underneath, Polly Perfectionist blamed Helen for the holiday mishaps.

Still, Helen went back to Wendy and brought all this up. Wendy was OK with Helen wanting to maintain at this level, but it would make the price go up. Helen fired Wendy's agency, and decided to go it on her own. She would have Earnie Exercise to keep her company. And he did.

The arguments among her friends and advisers continued for quite some time, but Helen hung on by her fingernails. She clung to the rationalization, a year later, that while she'd gained ten pounds back, she was, in fact, in a smaller clothing size. She was "maintaining".

This struggle, rationalization, and slippage went on for about five years. There were times when Polly and Earnie worked together. Other times, Polly berated her, or Earnie would take a hike and not come see her for a while. New friends joined in the battle as Helen looked for another detective agency that might have the final answer to who was taking away her energy and motivation! The weight went up and down, by as much at 25 or 30 pounds, but the justification was present: she hadn't gained it ALL back. She was still determined she'd NEVER go back there!

After a period of prolonged harmony between Polly and Earnie, at the end of five years, Helen was in a dress size she hadn't seen in her adult life.

Helen was proud and confident. It would never happen to her again. But then Harried Husband decided he couldn't take care of Salvador Son any more. He dropped Salvador off in Helen's new work city and disappeared back to the old town. Helen was now a single mom with a career, and poor Salvador, now in 4th grade, was going to have to adapt, as was Helen.

... to be continued ...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REJ7777 11/20/2010 8:44PM

    I'm glad to be getting to know Helen a bit better. emoticon

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SAMI199 11/15/2010 7:38PM


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WALKINGANNIE 11/15/2010 5:23PM

    .... a cliffhanger!

looking forward to the next chapter!

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PATRISNA 11/15/2010 1:49PM


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SUNNY332 11/15/2010 9:23AM


Keep the installments coming.


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PENNYAN45 11/15/2010 8:41AM

    Wow, major life changes happening!


Looking forward to the next installment...

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MSLZZY 11/15/2010 8:01AM

    Quite a sotry-keep it coming! HUGS!

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BUGGYS 11/15/2010 7:51AM

    Love it! emoticon

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SLENDERELLA61 11/15/2010 7:45AM

    Keep it coming! Fascinating!!

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The mystery: Chapter 2 - early success

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chapter 2:

Armed with her new tools (tracking and a list of foods), Helen Heroine went home to put the plan into action. She was not at the moment looking for the suspects, she was just going to stop the plot to kill her in its tracks by protecting herself with these tools. She'd worry about blame in a while.

Her bff Polly Perfectionist stopped by that very first week. "You can do this," Polly assured her. "Not one bite over. Measure everything. You can only succeed by being perfect." Helen listened and followed Polly's advice. The next week at the meeting, the scale rewarded her: 10.5 pounds lost!

Helen was elated, and hooked on Polly's plan. She continued to follow Polly's advice for several months, and by the 4th of July (this all began in February), Helen was looking and feeling pretty great. But then Harried Husband helped with the holiday cookout. Their relatives, Prudence and Patrick Portly were coming, and he wanted to make a good impression. He was not sure which dessert would please them, so he bought four or five different kinds, just to be sure!

At the picnic itself, Prudence asked Helen about her weight loss. Helen proudly extolled the virtues of Weight Watchers. Prudence picked a hole in her pride by commenting that she had once been on that program herself, but as soon as she went off it, it all came back. "But I will say for them, it won't kill you to keep eating that way for the rest of your life." Polly Perfectionist ate it up... "You see," she told Helen, "you have to be perfect for this to work. Look at what happened to Prudence when she wasn't perfect."

In the days that followed the event, Rachel Rebellion brought Freddie Foodbinge and Reuben Resentment over for a visit. "Look at all this leftover dessert," Polly told them. "It is the enemy. It was wrong of Harried to bring it in the house." Reuben suggested, "You've told him you needed his support. Go ahead and eat it. Get fat again. That will show him!" Rachel chimed in, "Besides, you've been good for Polly for so long, you deserve a little treat now and then!" That made sense, so Helen tried a bite... and it was soooo good. Only Freddie then took over... "come on, just a little more..." until they were... all... gone.

The next morning, Earnie Exercise woke Helen and took her out for her training run. Helen was miserable and hung over from all that fat and sugar! Polly chimed in her ear: "You see... you can NEVER do that again!"

And Helen pretty much didn't. All the way 'til October. Polly ruled her life, dictating what and when she must eat and how much and when she should work out. Helen thought Polly was a good friend. How little she suspected.

By October, Helen's success at the scale amounted to 80 pounds lost. She was very happy. But storm clouds were gathering... she had ten pounds to go to her goal, but the stresses at work were increasing and the financial strain of paying for those meetings... and then in December, they CHANGED the PROGRAM, and Polly went completely nuts!

... to be continued ...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PENNYAN45 11/15/2010 8:35AM

    I have been there with Helen - at those WW meetings, and with Polly P.
I've even binged on leftover desserts from a shindig.

I am so impressed with your talent!


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WALKINGANNIE 11/14/2010 3:55PM

    This is such a great series Barb. You're a natural author.

Helen's story is individual but most of us recognise her struggles and the other characters that she has encountered along the way. We also know how very sinister and dangerous some of them can be.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JWADDELL2 11/14/2010 11:16AM

    Love it!!! We are certainly all Helen - but I wonder if she need new friends!!! Makes one think.... great job!

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SAMI199 11/14/2010 10:49AM

    emoticon emoticon

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JHADZHIA 11/14/2010 10:42AM

    Inventive and fun way to chronicle your weight loss journey! Well done!! Keep up the great work!!

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JUST_TRI_IT 11/14/2010 9:46AM

    This is like those chapter books printed each month in LIFE magazine or the like. I can't wait for the next installment.
emoticonWill Helen's resolve survive the visitors?
emoticonWill her resolve over ride the gossipy tales from Polly?

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PATRISNA 11/14/2010 9:11AM


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BZYBOYSMOM 11/14/2010 8:22AM

    Bravo! Go Helen go!

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SUNNY332 11/14/2010 8:21AM

    Poor Polly Perfectionist!

Thanks for the post. I am loving it!


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MSLZZY 11/14/2010 7:27AM

    I'm hooked! Can't wait for the next chapter! HUGS!

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SLENDERELLA61 11/14/2010 7:21AM

    Fascinating! I've got to go back and read yesterday's. I skipped a chapter in this saga, and definitely don't want to miss a word. Keep it up, Barb.

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1000PENNIES 11/14/2010 7:17AM

  Cute! emoticon

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