Fat Lady on a Bike: My Journey to Peace and Fitness

Join me and my wonderful Electra Townie bike on my continuing journey to inner peace and both inner and outer fitness.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Peter Pan and the Lost Boys

On Sunday afternoon, we took Alex (age 7-1/2) and Emma (age almost 6) and their parents to see an amazing, in-the-round production of Peter Pan.  It was a wonderful, magical way to introduce kids to the experience of theater, and we all enjoyed it a lot.  They particularly liked the flying against a 360-degree panoramic projection of London, while I favored the crocodile -- a huge puppet on wheels propelled by the feet of two strong young men, ticking and roaring in fine fettle.

Thinking about the play itself, however, left me feeling a lot less delighted.

The usual qualms about Peter Pan and its author have to do with whether Barrie had an unnatural interest in little boys, but that isn't what bothered me, at least not primarily.  As I watched the story unfold, what struck me was every character's yearning for a mother, even the pirates, and Barrie's apparent urge to turn all little girls into mother figures, with a corresponding lack of understanding that little girls also yearn to have mothers, not just to become them.

As someone who lost my mother at age 13, I could empathize with the lost boys and their stories of being literally "lost" -- abandoned on the street by mothers (where are the fathers?) who in some cases seemed unable to care any longer for their beloved sons and in others simply threw them away.  In Peter's case, he returned home from his imaginative flight only to find the window barred against him.  Interestingly, in this time period, when death in childbirth was one of the main causes of mortality among young women, no mention is made of the even more likely scenario of being barred from a mother's loving embrace by death.  Barrie's issue seems to be all about being rejected.  I can empathize with that, as well.

In Peter's (and Barrie's) world, what does motherhood consist of?  The main duty of the mother seems to be telling enthralling bedtime stories, followed closely by imposing the order of a bedtime ritual.  These seem kind of trivial, until you think about what they represent.  The bedtime ritual is fairly obvious, as it represents the safety of having limits set and the physical nurturing from which those limits stem.  The story-telling is a little bit more subtle.  I think it represents nurturing of the spirit, encouragement of imagination, adventure and fun -- in other words, all the things that being a boy means to Peter.

What place do fathers have in this world?  Clearly, they (as men) represent all the things that Peter hates and fears:  growing up, getting a job, being responsible, as well as setting more disagreeable limits, such as making Nana sleep outside instead of in the nursery where the children -- and their mother -- want her.  But there is an even more sinister implication in the fact that in most productions of the play, Mr. Darling and Captain Hook are played by the same actor.  Hook is Peter's arch-enemy, someone who is always trying to kill him, as Mr. Darling is the arch-enemy of his children, always trying to make them grow up and be responsible.  He, like Hook, feels he doesn't get any respect and is humored by his family the way Hook is humored by his men.  The difference is, of course, that Hook controls them through fear of injury and death, while Mr. Darling is pretty much completely ineffectual, yielding all control of the household to his wife.

One of the ironies of the play is that, despite the focus on girls as mothers, each of the female characters except for Mrs. Darling (the actual mother) saves Peter's life.  While you could regard the fierce protectiveness of Tiger Lily, Tinkerbelle and Wendy as maternal instinct, in fact they each behave in ways that are as physically heroic as Peter's own actions.  And certainly, Wendy gets to enjoy flying around London as much as either of her brothers.  In the strange and wondrous world of Neverland, girls may be mother figures, but that doesn't seem to mean simply waiting on the sidelines waiting for the boys to come home. 

On the other hand, it does seem to mean that girls spend all their energy taking care of boys. I would worry about that being the message my granddaughter took away from seeing the play if I weren't convinced that the things she's most likely to remember are the flying and Tinkerbelle's rude behavior! 

Still, as a lost girl myself, I find myself feeling sad for all the lost children and wondering what made Barrie so sensitive to that need for nurturing.  Perhaps we all need to learn to be our own "mothers" and find ways of nurturing ourselves and providing ourselves a structure in which we can function happily and productively.  I know that's what I'm working on.

And who says the theater is not relevant?

A hui hou.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Sister's House

I am sitting in my sister's house.  We came down here to Fort Myers, FL for Thanksgiving, as we did last year, only this year I stayed on for a couple of weeks to have some extra biking time in the warmth.  For the past week, I've been here on my own, as my sister and brother-in-law travelled to Chicago.  So I've been here by myself, eating at my sister's table, watching her tv, doing laundry in her washing machine, driving in my brother-in-law's car, and generally making myself at home in her world.

This may not seem like such a big deal.  Siblings visit each other all the time, and even borrow each other's dwellings.  But when I think how my sister and I were lost to each other for 35 years (for the whole story, see The Story of Princess S), my sitting here in her house is nothing short of miraculous.

Though we have been back in each other's lives for almost three years now, and though I have felt lots of feelings about all aspects of our shared and unshared histories, evidently I can still be sandbagged by anger and grief.  Last week, before she left on her trip, my sister and I spent a day hanging out together, talking about everything in our lives, and as it almost inevitably does, at one point the conversation turned to the past.  I heard again from her how she had been told that I was the one who chose not to have anything to do with my family, not once, but twice, when in fact I had been twice disowned.  We shook our heads sadly together at all the wasted time, and I thought that was it.  But I spent the first two days of my solitary sojourn in a fog of depression and emotional eating.  It was only on the third morning, as I rode my bike on the beautiful, exotic John Yarbrough Linear Park trail , that I realized that I had been ambushed by grief for all the time we lost and anger at our father and stepmother for their selfish, hurtful actions. 

When we talk about the past, my sister often tells me how grateful she is that our reunion has given her back some positive memories of our mother.  She's three years younger than I and managed to keep less of the good parts even than I did, in my total blocking out of my past.  But since we've reconnected and shared our memories, she's been able to connect also with our mother in some very healing and beautiful ways.  She told me that as she finally came to feel some peace with those memories, she started seeing dragonflies everywhere, and the dragonflies reminded her of the sparkly rhinestone jewelry that she loved to look through in our mother's jewelry box.  She added that seeing dragonflies now makes her feel at peace and loved.

As I rode along the bike trail in the sunshine and realized that I'd been grieving for my mommy and grieving for the years I did not have my sister in my life, I looked up and there was a beautiful, iridescent green dragonfly above my left shoulder, moving along with me.

I burst into tears.

And so I sit here in my sister's house, or drive around in my brother-in-law's car, feeling at peace, and loved, and very grateful that I have my sister and brother-in-law in my life now.  And that beautiful dragonfly is dancing in the sunlight.

A hui hou.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On Turning Sixty

As I mentioned yesterday, this is a reflective time of year in the Jewish calendar, and I've certainly been in a reflective mood since my birthday at the end of August, on which I entered a new decade.

On August 29, 2001 I turned 50.  To celebrate, Carol and I brought all the people whom I counted as my family (having been discarded by my birth family long before) to Hawai'i for a week-long celebration, an opportunity for them to get to know each other (some had never met) and also get to know my very favorite place.  It was an amazing time for all of us. 

As I approached the 10-year anniversary of that occasion, I realized that my whole life is almost completely different now.  9-11 was still two weeks away.  I had yet to acquire my first 78rpm record.  I had no grandchildren and only one of my three stepchildren was married.  I was still performing with the Wholesale Klezmer Band.  I had not yet been to Green Mountain at Fox Run or met the wonderful teacher/counsellor/friend who has helped me through so much of what I've chronicled in this blog.  For that matter, I had not ridden a bicycle for over 20 years.  I was just starting to work on my first KlezKamp as Associate Director, and had just returned from the very first Aloha Music Camp (and the Mohala Hou Foundation was several years from coming into existence).  I had never painted a watercolor.  I had not been in contact with my sister in almost 20 years.  I had never met either of my nieces and in fact didn't even know of the existence of the younger one and had never heard of my now-beloved brother-in-law.  I had never played the 'ukulele or lap steel guitar or studied Hawaiian.  I had never been to Madison, Wisconsin or spent much time in Vermont.  I had never meditated or done strength training, never bounced on a fitball, and had pretty much stopped dancing.  I was not (and could not be) legally married, and had not yet met two of our now closest friends, who came to us as a result of our marriage. 

In short, almost everything that occupies my energy now and many of the people and projects closest to my heart were nowhere in the picture.

I am extremely grateful for all the changes of the past decade.  Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

A hui hou.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On the New Year

Last week we celebrated Rosh Hashono, the Jewish new year.  I've always thought that celebrating the new year at the same time, more or less, as the beginning of the new school year made a lot more sense than starting in the middle of winter, but on the other hand, it seems kind of odd to be starting up just at the time when the growing season is over.  I suppose the best time to celebrate a beginning might be in the spring, but after the summer is over, there is definitely a sense of getting back down to business that makes Rosh Hashono feel, to me, like an appropriate starting point for the year.

Though the Jewish new year is, in pretty much all respects, a much more serious affair than its secular counterpart, the one aspect the two holidays share is that sense of starting over with a clean slate that leads to resolutions.  In the Eastern European Jewish tradition, there's an actual ritual for that process, called tashlikh, which is Hebrew for throwing or casting away. On the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashono (or any time before the end of Succot, in some traditions), we go to a place of moving water (rivers or oceans) and cast bits of bread, representing our sins, into the stream so that we can be cleansed of them.

This was not something my family did when I was a child.  In fact, I first encountered it when I attended services at the place where some of my stepchildren were going to Hebrew School.  It seemed kind of fun, and a good excuse to go on a frequently sunny afternoon and be by water, which is something I always enjoy, and sing one of my favorite songs, but I can't say it felt particularly meaningful.  In more recent years, when we've celebrated the days of awe in Hawaii, going to do tashlikh led us to discover the beauty of Ala Moana Beach Park, which we had previously seen only from the road, and spend a quiet time with the surf and sea life.  But the best iteration has been what we do with some of our grandchildren.

We believe that a big part of our job as grandparents is to weave a connection between the newest generation and the traditions that we love, and the best way to do that, at least while they are all still so young, is to create fun and interesting experiences that they will associate with us and with the Jewish holidays.  For the days of awe, which abound with seriousness, the choices for fun and child-friendly activities are rather limited.  Apples and challah dipped in honey are always a big hit (our youngest, this year, discovered that he could use his apple slice as a scoop for the honey), and shofar (ram's horn) blowing is another fun activity.  But the casting out of sins?  That seems a little heavy for their innocent little souls, even if the river and the bread-throwing part seemed like they could be intriguing in the right sort of way.

While the concept of sins didn't seem appropriate, we figured that all kids over the age of 1 understand the notion of bad behavior, or behavior that  makes mommy and daddy upset.  Over the last few years, we've thrown away whining, not cleaning up the playroom, pushing siblings and a variety of other pre-school "sins."  This year, the kids threw away "bad behavior," being messy, and nightmares. And I threw away impatience and despair.  It felt very liberating.  As I watched the chunks of bread float merrily down the stream and listened to my grandchildren shouting with excitement over something they had found in the water, I felt peaceful and content, and happy to be starting this wonderful new year.

May we all enter this new season full of peace and a sense of adventure.

A hui hou.

Friday, September 9, 2011


For the past few months I've been thinking a lot about support -- what it is, why we need it, why not having it is so painful.  One of the things I've realized is that though there are many different kinds of support, they all seem to have a couple of things in common.

Financial support, clerical/administrative support, emotional support, even the physical support provided by things like sports bras, jock straps and orthotics -- in each instance, what underlies the support itself is acknowledgment of a need, a lack or a place of pain, and what the support does is address that need, fill the lack and say "I know that hurts.  I know that's hard."

Support around an issue is not the same as fixing a problem.  Just before setting out to write this post, I reread my last entry, which contained a reference to the traditional Jewish mourning practice of sitting on the floor during the week of shiva.  The part of that practice that I did not previously mention is that those who come to comfort (ie, "support") the mourner are instructed to come in quietly and sit there, waiting for the mourner to speak or not, as s/he needs.  The task is not to make small talk, not to make the person grieving feel better or move past grief, but to acknowledge that grief and give the mourner an opportunity to share memories, to cry, or simply to rest in the company of people who understand.  When I was sitting shiva for my father, many friends and colleagues came to be with me, most of whom did not know about that traditional practice.  While I appreciated their love and concern, I got the most comfort from the few who simply came in and sat silently on the floor next to me.

Using mourning as an example is particularly fitting, as what I've been going through lately has been very much about the lack of true support I experienced after my mother died.  There was so much focus on getting on with life and the need to be "strong" that no one ever acknowledged that the bottom had just dropped out of my world.  At the age of 13 I was, in essence, told to be an adult and take on whatever responsibilities were thrown my way without question or protest.

For the past two weeks, we've been living in chaos caused by household renovations, and I have been totally thrown by how disconcerted I've been.  Part of me is dealing with it,as I must, but another part of me wants to curl up with a blanket over my head.  Part of me wants my mommy.  Since that is never going to happen, I have to learn to sit quietly on the floor with my self, acknowledge my feelings and give them -- and myself -- space to breathe.

The other day, when I posted on Facebook a brief comment about feeling overwhelmed, a bunch of friends from all areas of my life posted comments essentially acknowledging what I had said, and it was actually kind of astonishing to me how much better I felt after reading them.  How different would my life have been if, 47 years ago, one of the adults in my life had sat next to me, put a hand on my shoulder and said, "I know how sad you are and how scared, and it's okay to feel those things.  Life is going to be different now, and maybe it will be hard for a while, but eventually you'll start to feel better.  That doesn't mean you didn't love your mommy or that you don't miss her, but you'll start to feel better because life does go on and is full of wonderful experiences"?  Would I have avoided needing to be always competent?  Would I have avoided stuffing down emotions with food?  Would I have had an easier time asking for help?

I don't know the answers to those questions, and in a way, as interesting as they are to contemplate, the answers don't matter.  I think that my task, now, is to say those things to my self, to my young self and to my current self, until I come to believe them.  I have to be to myself the loving adult who was missing from my life all those years ago.

It isn't easy, inhabiting these deep places of pain.  It isn't easy to sit quietly in the face of grief.  But I'm very glad to be here.

A hui hou.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers' Day Musings

Today is Fathers' Day, and Facebook is full of warm and loving tributes to all kinds of fathers, both living and dead, as was the Sunday newspaper.  As I read the interesting and often heartwarming tributes, I found myself suddenly catapulted into the dark place I inhabited after my father died, 20+ years ago.  In Jewish tradition, a mourner "sits shiva" for seven days after the burial, and it is customary to sit on the floor or a low stool -- not for punishment, but as an outward indication of internal discomfort.  I sat on the floor that week and tried to figure out how I could deal with the liturgical presumption of honor and love for a parent when I felt neither of those things for the man who had sired me.  I finally figured out that while I felt nothing but anger and bitterness towards my father, who had betrayed me, I could genuinely mourn my daddy, who had given me life, taught me values he couldn't live up to himself, and encouraged me to be myself and stand up for what I believed.

My daddy was a loving man, quick to hug, who loved to play.  We spent hours in the back yard, playing catch or badminton, and he seemed to enjoy helping me with school projects.    He was funny and outgoing, and loved to argue about ideas with me.  He believed that I could do anything I set my mind to accomplish and that the whole world was open to me, not just the parts officially labeled "for girls." He taught me always to tell the truth.  He loved me unconditionally, or so I believed.

My father was a weak man, whose supposed principles were subject to considerations of expediency.  He had great ideas and intense passions, but never followed through on them for very long.  Our basement was littered with remnants of his previously all-consuming projects.  He seemed to value a peaceful life above justice and fairness.  Under the influence of my wicked stepmother, he stole from his parents.  And he disowned me, not once, but twice.

Thank you, Daddy, for giving me life and helping me become the woman I am.  On this day of reflection and remembrance, I miss you more than I can easily express, torn away as you were not by distance or death, but by your own misguided choices.  I wish I'd had you longer in my life.

A hui hou.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Road Trip!

Tomorrow, I'm leaving to drive 1300+ 78rpm records out the the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where they are going to be the centerpiece of the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture.  This represents a small fraction of my total collection, so this is only the first of many such drives, I suspect.  I've gotten the records loaded into the car (bless MiniMoves and More for their willingness to do such small jobs -- small for them, huge for us!) and all the electronic files safely stored on an external drive.  Now all I have to do before leaving tomorrow afternoon is get all my personal stuff together.

I love road trips.  Since I was a child, taking pride in helping my dad navigate, following the AAA Trip-Tik and keeping track of the family's expenses, I've loved the feeling of anticipation and adventure of setting out in the car.  I could sit for hours (and did), looking out the window, trying to imagine what life was like in all the places we passed.  When I became an adult, I loved doing the driving, especially the ability to leave the designated path if something interesting caught my eye.  In our travels, Carol and I especially love going to the ends of roads whenever we can.  There's something very satisfying about that.

During my younger years, driving also became a supremely comforting activity.  During the tumultuous years before Carol and I got together, I would spend hours driving around New England by myself.  I'd turn on the radio or listen to tapes and follow the most circuitous, scenic pathways I could find, barely stopping to eat or take care of bodily functions.  This was, in fact, pretty much the only time I successfully comforted myself regularly without food.  I don't know exactly why it worked, but it did.  Then I became a gigging musician, playing with the Wholesale Klezmer Band, which was based in Western Massachusetts, so I had to do a lot of driving for both rehearsals and gigs.  While I usually enjoyed the drives to the venues where we performed, the drives home were less thrilling, especially in the middle of the night, and driving kind of lost its charm.  Since I quit the band, most of my driving has been strictly functional, and the fact that until last month, our cars were both aged and kind of uncomfortable didn't make the prospect of taking to the roads very appealing.

But now, I'm filled again with that early excitement, and a brand-new, comfortable car with incredible amenities (XM radio, a fully-functional iPod connection, adjustable lumbar support) increases the likelihood that my imaginings will resemble the reality of the ride.  I look forward to the long hours by myself, free to listen to whatever catches my attention in a moment, or to be still and think, or not.

In my younger years, when I hit the road, all I had to do was throw some clothes in a bag and walk out the door.  Things aren't so simple now.  Somewhere along the line I became incredibly high maintenance!

I have to pack all my medicine and nutritional supplements, enough for the  whole time I'll be gone.  I have to pack my CPAP machine and mask.  I have to pack a fairly comprehensive selection of food, since my recently uncovered sensitivities make eating at the roadside service areas, or even most convenient restaurants, next to impossible.  It will probably take me 10 minutes to pack my clothes, and 2-3 hours to get everything else ready.  I guess that is one of the consequences of aging.  I'm trying to feel grateful that I can take care of myself so well on the fly, rather than weighed down by all the restrictions and imperatives.  But whatever I feel, tomorrow afternoon, as close to 2pm as I can make it, I'll be behind the wheel, heading west.  And I'll be grinning my head off.

A hui hou.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spiritual Geography

Yesterday was amazing, meteorologically.  I was awakened in the morning by a tremendous clap of thunder, and my bedtime was delayed by one of the loudest, brightest thunderstorms I can remember and some serious concern about the possibility of a tornado.  Then this morning dawned clear, sunny, breezy and mild, a perfect early summer day.  It was peaceful, pleasant and perfect.

As I drove around doing errands and enjoying the sunlight and the breeze blowing through the window, I found myself musing about how the storm and its aftermath were a great metaphor for the upheavals and accomplishments of the inner work I've been doing.  So often it feels as though when I go through the really hard times, the interludes of soul-baring, acknowledging painful feelings and the like, it's like the violence and power and, yes, grandeur of that huge thunderstorm.  But when I'm through the soul-baring and the pain, I expect the clarity and sunshine and peace to follow.  Often they do, but only for a little while.

In geographical terms, it feels as though the storms of Massachusetts should be followed by a permanent move to the perfection of Hawaii.

Unfortunately, the sunshine and peace never last.  Already this afternoon clouds rolled back in and the temperature dropped 15 degrees.  And it seems as though the struggle and the learning are never done, either.

The real question is, much as I love Hawaii, would I be happy living there all the time?   I enjoy the occasional bluster, and the deep clarity of a cool, autumn day, and the changing leaves.  I enjoy the transformation from the bleakness of winter to the blossoming and budding of spring.  I enjoy the occasional violent thunderstorm (though in fairness, I have to point out that this year we had a few of those in Hawaii as well, not to mention an annual tsunami warning). 

Anyone who has ever been an English major, as I was, is familiar with William Blake's ideas about innocence and experience.  Experience, with its harsh reality, always seemed to me preferable to the blandness of innocence.  If my journey takes me through the occasional bout of howling darkness, I can embrace that darkness because of what it teaches me.  Still, I love waking up every morning in Hawaii knowing that 99 days out of 100 the sun will be bright and the sky clear.  And knowing that it will cloud up mid-afternoon, only to be bright and clear again in the cool of sunset.  I would love to have that kind of certainty about my life and health right now.

In the end, I guess my two homes suit me very well, both physically and spiritually.  As I love them both, perhaps I can learn to be happy whatever my internal climate brings me.

A hui hou.

Where, Oh Where Has My Little Blog Gone?

You may have noticed that I haven't been writing much of late.  I've noticed that, too.  As I've thought about why that is, I realized that it's mostly about shame.  At first I thought it was about that famous river in Egypt; certainly in the past, I've avoided dealing with unpleasant things, difficulties and challenges by choosing, either consciously or unconsciously, not to acknowledge their existence.  But the fact is, in the two months since we've been back from our winter home, I've been very much aware of what's bothering me and actively working to try to make life better.  Denial was really not a factor.

And then it struck me that I didn't want to be blogging about what is going on with me for the simple reason that I was mired in shame.  During the period this winter when my CPAP mask wasn't functioning properly, I lost the ability to recognize and respond to cues about hunger and fullness and ended up gaining some additional weight, which was not enough to affect me while I was still in warm weather attire, but catapulted me into despondency as I made the transition to long pants and tee shirts.  The physical discomfort I was feeling in those clothes, many of which I couldn't wear at all any more and the rest of which were all elastic, overwhelmed me and cast me back into a state of shame and guilt and paralysis that I didn't expect to experience again on this journey.  And feeling that shame made me loath to write, which gave those horrible negative feelings all the more power.

You wouldn't think that there would be much I could be ashamed about, given all the feelings and situations I've share in this blog.  Clearly, it isn't about the feelings and situations themselves, but how I feel about them, and about myself.  The fact is, I wrote the preceding paragraph with a light heart just now, whereas last week I was unable even to look at the bookmark for this page on my browser toolbar.

What changed?  I bought some new pants.

This seems like such a small thing to do, a small practical task.  But it actually was so much more than that.  It was a conscious step away from self-flaggelation and towards kindness to myself, towards acceptance of who and what I am in this moment. 

And so, I am back, with much to share and process and celebrate.

A hui hou.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I've been thinking a lot lately about transitions, probably because my life seems to be fraught with them right now.  For a start, there was the shift from Hawaiian Standard Time to Eastern Daylight Time, which has been brutal.  But that's not the only one; it seems as though every other area of my life, except my family, is currently in a state of flux.

In the work realm, KlezKamp is moving from Living Traditions, Inc. to the Mayrent Insittute for Yiddish Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  My other major professional involvement, as a board member of the Mohala Hou Foundation, is also changing, as we take over the administration of Aloha Music Camp in the aftermath of some major personnel upheaval.

In the physical world, diffiicult transitions abound.  Moving from wakefulness to sleep, and from sleep to wakefulness, continues to be difficult for me much of the time.  And lately, the transition from lying down or sitting to standing has been painful as well.  There is also the sometimes elusive transition between hunger and fullness to deal with.

Psychically, things are no better -- I continue to struggle with the transition between the hope I have of accomplishment on any given day to the reality of what I am able to do.

Transitions are difficult. Energetically, the law of inertia applies:  it is way easier to keep doing what we have always done than to do something different.  Specifically, I seem to need to know where I am and what I am about in order to feel comfortable in the world, and clearly, that is not always possible.  Learning to tolerate the ambiguity of flux has been one of the challenges I've been working on as part of my journey towards health and inner peace.

Tonight Passover begins, and at the first seder we sing a hauntingly beautiful song called Karev Yom,which is about the coming of a day which is neither day nor night.  I've always loved that song, partly because it is so beautiful, partly because you only get to sing it one night in the whole year, and partly because the imagery is as haunting as the melody.  But even beyond the beauty and mystery of the lyric is the psychological rightness of the metaphor.  At this hour on this day, our kitchens are turned over from every day to Passover use; the khometz (products made with the five prohibited grains: wheat, rye, oats, barley and spelt) has been either thrown out or segregated for our last non-Passover breakfast, and the special passover foods are waiting for the holiday to begin.  We are in the moment which is neither Passover nor not-Passover.

The discomfort of such a moment is both practical and spiritual.  In practical terms, there is the huge question of what do we eat for breakfast and lunch.  Traditionally, since khometz is allowed until 10am, we always leave out one non-Passover place-setting to be washed and packed away after a normal breakfast, whatever that might be. It is also traditional not to eat matzo until the seder, so we have usually lunched on a bit of chicken from the soup I make for the seder, maybe with some kosher for Passover potato chips and carrots, washed down with a side of Dr. Brown's black cherry soda.  But spiritually, it is not a comfortable day, and that is not only or even primarily due to the pre-seder frenzy.  The sigh of relief and peace that for me always accompanies the moment we sit down at our seder table is partly because all the work is done but also, I think, because at that moment I once again know where I am and what I am about.

May all of us, whatever we celebrate, find those moments of certainty and learn to live more comfortably with the times of transition.

I wish all my Jewish friends and family a zisn, koshern pesakh (a sweet, kosher Passover).

A hui hou.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ghrelin and Leptin and Sleep, Oh My!

One of the most interesting classes I have taken at Green Mountain at Fox Run was one that discussed the "hunger hormones" and how they intereact with insulin and what we eat to regulate hunger, satiety and, ultimately, body weight.  I had naturally heard a great deal about insulin over the years, with the threat of diabetes always hovering in my background, but leptin and ghrelin, the two primary hormones that govern hunger and satiety, were totally new to me. 

Basically,ghrelin is produced in the stomach and tells the brain that more food is needed, while leptin, which is produced in fat cells, sends the signal that we are full and all is well.  When you have too many fat cells, you have too much leptin, which seems to make the receptors insensitive to the signal to stop eating, especially if you have too much insulin floating around and the whole system gets out of balance.  (Apologies for gross oversimplification!)

The simplest and most obvious way to regulate this important hormone system is by making sure to eat regularly and include a good balance of foods, especially fiber, fat and protein, at every meal. But quite a lot of recent research has suggested that getting adequate sleep is a huge factor in maintaining hormonal equilibrium.  This may be the mechanism by which sleep disorders contribute to obesity.

This week, I experienced strong anecdotal evidence in support of that theory.

A couple of months ago, I started feeling as though the quality of my sleep was getting worse; I was feeling tired again despite spending adequate hours in bed, and felt sluggish and sleepy throughout the day.  I wondered whether my CPAP mask was leaking, but I didn't notice anything, at least when I was awake and checking.  Yet I had a feeling that the seal of the nasal pillows in my nostrils wasn't as good as it had been and suspected that that might be the source of the problem.  I tried using the second set of slightly larger nasal pillows that had come with my mask, and that seemed to help with the sleepiness, but they were too big for my face and I was waking up with a very sore nose.  So I contacted my sleep center and asked them to send me a new set of nasal pillows (evidently insurance will pay for a new one every three months, even though my respiratory therapist had assured me that every six months should be fine).

The new mask arrived on Friday, and when I went to swap out the old parts, I noticed that indeed, the slightest pressure against the side of the nasal pillows pushed it out of the tubing, thus creating a huge leak.  This was actually very exciting to me, as it gave me evidence that I hadn't been imagining the change in sleep status and offered the promise of good sleep again. And for the past three nights I have indeed enjoyed much better sleep, waking earlier and feeling ready to get moving right away.

One of the other problems I've been experiencing this winter has been an evident inability to eat mindfully.  While I have managed very well at continuing to eat only those foods that sit well with my body, I've been unable to stop eating, most of the time, at the moment when I first feel satisfied, which is usually also the moment when the food stops actually tasting good.  I thought I was just facing another instance of a previously established "corner of the blanket" flapping up as another was dealt with, and wondered what was going on.  Was it emotional eating?  Was I stuffing down some other deep-seated emotional morass?  It was perplexing.

Then, on Saturday, I noticed that I didn't eat everything on my dinner plate, for the first time in a very long time.  I thought that was strange, but figured maybe the additional meditating I was doing was having a calming effect.  Sunday, the same thing happened, twice.  Moreover, when I couldn't fall asleep that night (due to physical discomfort), I felt hunger, ate a small snack, and then stopped eating, which is exactly what I had not been able to do during the previous couple of months.

Suddenly, a light bulb went off -- surely it was no coincidence that the return of my ability to respond to internal signals about hunger and fullness came at exactly the same time as the return of undisrupted sleep.

This realization felt huge.  First, it gave me incredibly convincing evidence that I am, in fact, very much in tune with my body and its signals to me.  If I wasn't getting the message to stop eating, that was because it wasn't being sent.  Second, it meant that my difficulty with eating was not due to some sort of moral failure -- it was simply my body being out of whack.  Once the balance was reestablished, I could (and can) make sensible and healthy choices without even thinking about it. 

If I hadn't been a total believer in CPAP before, I would surely be now. 

A hui hou.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Get Thee Behind Me, Strength Training!

So there I was yesterday morning, up bright and early and having given myself permission not to worry about strength training till I get home so that I could concentrate on meditating and getting done all that I need to do, and I had a huge urge to lie right back down on the bed and do my lower body routine.  And so I did it.

I think I can safely say that I have never felt that kind of intrinsic motivation to do lower body before.  Never.

When I first went to Green Mountain at Fox Run, practically the first piece of information I internalized was that strength training is one of the secrets of the universe -- it's the only means of improving our metabolic rate as well as perhaps the most effective way to stave off osteoporosis.  And for several years, I kept up a religious routine of alternating upper and lower body, six days a week.  Often, that was the only thing I could manage to do in a day.  Upper body wasn't so bad, because I could control the amount of weight I used.  But lower body, which used my own body weight for resistance, was a killer.

It never seemed fair -- with upper body, when you are least fit, you use the lowest weights.  But with lower body, when you are least fit you have the most to move.  For a long time, doing lower body was aerobic exercise for me -- it would regularly get my heart rate into target range, despite assurances from the fitness staff that that would not happen.  Eventually I learned to limit my range of motion to make the exercises more doable.  Yet still I dreaded it, every single day. 

At some point, a couple of years ago, I broke my routine because of illness, and I was never able to get back to it again.  The demons of lower body, especially, loomed large, and my energies were focused elsewhere.  Every so often I would start up again, either because I revisited Green Mountain or because I had a rush of external motivation (ie, a feeling that I ought to be doing strength training because it was good for me), but in a few days or weeks I'd be making excuses again.  Even after my long bout with H1N1 and pneumonia, when i knew that strength training was the best way to get back the core strength I had lost (and was sorely missing, "sorely" being the operative word), I couldn't make myself stick to the program.

Then, after all my improvements of this past summer and fall -- the thyroid supplements, elimination diet and CPAP -- I was feeling pretty healthy in a lot of ways that I hadn't felt for a long time, and I decided to make strength training my top priority for this winter.  As I had been taught at Green Mountain, I carefully considered the possible obstacles to successfully implementing a regular regimen and strategies I might use to overcome them, and i was able to figure out that the first thing I needed to do was lower the threshold for beginning.  When I visualized myself doing alternating upper and lower body, as I had done for all those other years, I was getting stuck in dread and discomfort.  That did not bode well.

I had a sudden flash of insight that proved to be the key to getting back on track.  I remembered that a couple of summers ago, I had dragged myself to two classes a week of whole body resistance training, and that had been enough to make me feel significantly better.  Which meant that I could divide the whole routine into three parts, rather than two, and hit each muscle group twice per week.  When I thought about doing upper body one day (six exercises), abs plus glutes, calves and shins the next (six exercises) and the rest of lower body the third (five exercises), it suddenly all seemed possible.  I was actually able to start up after only a few days of settling in.

There was still one problem facing me, though.  When I did that first session of lower body, trying for the two sets of 15 reps we do at Green Mountain, it was so hard that I burst into tears when I finished.  Carol, ever my staunch support, wisely reminded me that there was nothing sacred about the number 15, and that in fact, the guidelines say that you should do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps with the goal of keeping good form and feeling the burn for the last few reps of the second and third sets.  By those standards, I was actually overtraining, so it was no wonder that I hated doing the exercises.  I spent my next sessions figuring out exactly the right number of reps for each muscle group, which varied from 2 sets of 8 for quad lifts to 3 sets of 11 for hamstrings, and all of a sudden, I wasn't dreading strength training any more.  And imagine my excitement when after a couple of weeks I was able to increase from 8 to 9 quad lifts -- by trying to do more than my body could handle, all those years, I had totally deprived myself of that type of small, yet invaluable, success.

And so, for two months, I kept up my routine, doing it right on the bed most of the time because my knee issues made getting up and down off the floor difficult and painful.  Then we had some company that got in the way followed by a painful medical condition that made strength training impossible for a couple of weeks, and I started to get that sinking feeling of dread again.  Only to my surprise, when I became able to get going, I did, without much fuss, till last week when my nieces' visit took precedence.  And, as I discussed in my last post, I pretty much decided that I wouldn't worry about getting back to that routine for these last two weeks, knowing that packing is a very physically demanding process and that we had a lot to get done.

And then the miracle happened, and I heard my body crying out to do strength training.  And it was lower body specifically that it was requesting.


So yesterday morning, I gave my body what it needed.  And today I did it again.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring.  I don't know if this state of awareness and ease will continue.  But I'm a firm believer that if you can achieve something once, however fleetingly, you can achieve it again.  And again.

A hui hou.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Next Steps

My break was a bit longer than I expected when last I wrote, and involved spending a glorious week introducing my nieces to Hawaii.  We had a wonderful time, and it was fun being pretty much totally on vacation, something that I rarely allow myself to do -- most of the time, even if I'm not actively doing responsible things, I'm worrying about not doing them!  And one of the additional benefits of that recreational time was that I realized I may be entering a new phase, particularly with respect to eating and gut health.  And that got me thinking about what that might mean and what I need to do to move ahead towards my goal of getting healthy.

As we traveled around the island, we ate out at restaurants more than I have since I began the LEAP protocol last July, and I did fine.  I was fairly careful in my choices and definitely felt the limitations caused by the still fairly long list of foods on my reactive list, or those that were not yet tested.  But in fact, the only thing I needed to ask about was soy, which made the whole process feel kind of normal.  It felt really good to be able to be fairly spontaneous (though I did check menus online for places I did not know well), and clearly no one suffered because of my limitations (including me!).  I also learned that I can tolerate small amounts of challenging foods (wheat, asparagus, corn) pretty well, while still needing to avoid them in quantity.

Apart from that realization, I've also been feeling, these past few weeks, as though my intestinal tract has become healthier.  Call it a gut feeling (backed by physiologic details I REALLY don't need to go into here), but I'm getting a sense that the huge imbalances that plagued me may be resolving.  I also have become aware of feeling much stronger in my core -- it no longer kills my back if I stand while cooking a meal or looking at a museum exhibit.  My ankle still limits my mobility, big time, but at least I'm back to where I was before I got H1N1 and lost the ability to stand upright.

On the down side, I don't feel as though I'm sleeping as well as I was a couple of months ago, and that's significantly affecting my ability to be active and feel energetic and good.  Could be that my CPAP needs adjusting, or possibly my thyroid dose; fortunately, I have appointments to have both of those things checked right after I get back to Massachusetts.  Having experienced the return of energy, I'm not willing to stand its absence again.

So, what next?  We have entered our final two weeks here, and I'm a little overwhelmed by all that needs to happen before we leave, as usual, and by all the things I didn't manage to do while we were here -- also as usual.  This is perhaps not the best time to spend my energy trying to reestablish a routine that will almost immediately be broken. 

The key is mindfulness.  I've gotten away from intentional meditation, which was the main tool that got me started on this journey, and I need to take it up again.  I need to give myself the time to be focused and grounded, the time to be quiet, and the time to notice where I am, not where I ought to be or where I was.  I want to let go of worrying and fretting in favor of appreciating.  If I can do all of that, I hope I'll be able to take joy in a little movement and get the most enjoyment I can of these last days (for now) in my beautiful home here.

Excuse me while I go out to sit on the lanai and listen, mindfully, to the ocean and feel the cool breeze on my face.

A hui hou.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

T/Making a Break

When I was last heard from, I was feeling kind of low, mired in feelings of guilt and unsure how to move forward.  Then came the tsunami, and somehow, in the aftermath of the fear and confusion of evacuation and a lost night of sleep, I became unmired.  Not that anything substantive has changed, or that I now know how to move ahead on my journey.  But the tsunami gave me the chance to break the cycle of negative thoughts that I was in, and when we drove back down the slope of Mauna Kea on Friday morning to our beautiful (and, thankfully, untouched) home, I was filled with a great sense of well-being and happiness.  and I've been feeling pretty cheerful ever since.

Perhaps it was the threat of natural disaster putting things into perspective for me.  Perhaps it was just the break in time and energy.  But there was definitely something about inserting a pause into what was going on inside me that changed things for the better.

It's all too easy to get trapped inside an endless cycle of misery.  Carol calls it mental highjacking, and I think we all do it.  And it's always negative -- nobody ever seems to get caught up in an endless round of happy thoughts!  Unfortunately, though it may feel as though dwelling on the bad stuff is useful, it never is.  Never.  Not that I advocate denial -- been there and done that, and it isn't helpful either.  But beating yourself over the head with your alleged shortcomings is likely only to give you a headache.

This is all related to the importance of self-love and self-care.  If you've ever been to Marineland or Sea World or the like, you've heard the presenters at the dolphin and whale shows say that the reason they put on those shows is to get people to care about the whales and dolphins, because humans are only likely to try to take care of things (and people) they care about personally.  We care about our family and friends, which is why we can be kind to them and supportive of their efforts to change, even when they slip and slide and lose their way.  But we are not so forgiving of our own slips and slides, suggesting that perhaps we don't truly love and value our selves as much as we value those close to us.

This lesson is so simple, but so hard.  I am not the enemy.  My body is not the enemy.  Maybe there isn't even an enemy, only challenges to figure out, one at a time.

When we left Puako, in the wee hours of Thursday night, we left the windows open in our house.  Our thinking was that if the tsunami generated really big waves, it would be better to allow them to wash through the house than to give them no place to go, since that resistance could end up with our house washed away rather than simply flooded.  It strikes me now that that's a really good image to keep in my mind about the futility of resistance and negativity and the value of being open to what washes through.

A hui hou.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I've been trying for over a year to write a letter to my little self, the self before my mother died, the self before psychic and physical pain conspired to slow me down, and I just can't do it.  I know how important it is that I write it, as part of the therapy arc first suggested by my reading of Toxic Parents.  I know how much my physical and emotional health depend on being able to let go and stop judging myself, and blaming myself for surviving horrible circumstances in the best way I knew how.

Somehow, knowing all of that isn't really helping.

How could I have let things get to this state?  How could I have done this to myself?  How can I try to take good care of myself when I know that I've spent years making things worse?

I feel paralyzed by guilt and unable to get passed it.  I know that I have to rip through the guilt to get out more anger and sadness and who knows what else, in order to heal, but I just can't move right now.

I know that if I were talking to any other friend or family member -- or even a perfect stranger -- I would urge forgiveness and kindness, but I can't muster it up for myself.  I know that by being so judgmental I am almost compelling the type of bad decision that I feel guilty about, but I can't seem to stop.  I sit quietly with my feelings and sense the space around me grow dark and agitated and can't find my way back to the light.  One of my friends, responding to my previous blog post, reminded me that there are a lot worse coping mechanisms I could have chosen, alcohol, painkillers or street drugs, and she's right; any of those things would have hurt the people I love as much or more than they hurt me, and I wouldn't have the years of productivity and good relationships behind me that I do have, and for which I am very grateful.

I know all that, and yet my heart knows nothing. 

So what do I say to my little self?  How do I apologize?  How do I move on?  I don't know yet, but I'll keep trying to figure it out.  I do trust that if I keep true to my process, I'll get there eventually. 

A hui hou.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

In the Dark of Night

In my telephone counseling session last week, it became clear that the feelings of constriction about my current dietary requirements and the sense I have that all the corners of my blanket are flapping in my face indicated a lot of frustration.  It also became clear that the frustration seemed to be related to very deep, very old feelings from childhood, though I couldn't quite figure out what those were.  So my assignment for this week was to give myself the space and the stillness to let those feelings come up, and to pay attention when they do.

Unfortunately, I'm also dealing with some major pain at the moment -- nothing serious, but bad enough to impinge on both my activities and my joie de vivre.  Though I can manage to stay somewhat comfortable during the day, the minute I get into bed, it feels like all hell breaks loose, which means that sleep has been somewhat elusive these past few nights.  Last night was particularly difficult.

So there I was, attempting for the third time to fall asleep, lying in the dark listening to myself breathing into my CPAP machine, and I suddenly felt an onrush of incredibly strong emotion.  The feelings were so intense that I could barely hold myself still, though at first I didn't even know what I was feeling, only that I was feeling something powerful.  I fought the urge to get up (and the associated urge to stuff something into my mouth to try to regain equilibrium) and let myself be there with whatever it was, and after a few moments the usually still, small voice inside me started to yell (silently), "Why can't you take care of ME for a change?" and "I'm tired of always having to take care of myself and everybody else!"

I don't know who I was addressing, but it's pretty clear that my recent awareness of how burdensome it feels to have to be so continuously vigilant about my food choices etc. is related.  And then there was the dream I had the night after my session -- a classic frustration dream involving my stepmother, KlezKamp, and my not running through fields, unable to find the place where I was supposed to be teaching until long after class was over.  Nobody ever accused my subconscious of being subtle!

What have I learned from all of this?  One is that I think I'm making less than optimal food choices from among the "safe" foods perhaps to kick against the fact that I do have to be so vigilant.  I have, in the past, also stopped taking my asthma steroids on occasion when I felt overburdened by the need to take medicine for the rest of my life (an obstinacy which, thank goodness, does not seem to have affected my compliance with any of the medicine I'm currently taking for blood pressure, thyroid or gout).

The second thing I've learned is that I seem to have a deep-seated sense of neglect, in some way.  I know that I've always been a pretty strong and self-sufficient person (I'm an oldest child), and people have always assumed that I can take care of myself just fine.  The one time I ever had a melt-down during my young years was a few weeks before I left home (for good, as it turned out) to go to England.  Everybody in my family was very busy with other issues, and no one was paying any attention to the fact that I was about to travel 3,000 miles away to an entirely different continent.  When I got hysterical, the response was that it had never occurred to anybody that I might be having a problem with that.

Well, here it is, 35 years later, and I no longer have any trouble admitting that I need help, which is good.  But I believe that much of my current angst revolves around feelings that I didn't take very good care of my young self, and yes, perhaps guilt about being the cause of my current health problems.

I don't know how to get through that, right now.  But I'm sure I'll learn.

A hui hou.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Living on Borrowed Time

Living with someone ten years older than I am has caused me to spend more time than I like contemplating mortality in recent years, as have my own increasing health issues.  But even contemplating mortality feels distant and abstract in the face of the sudden death of a contemporary.

One of our co-grandmas, our daugher-in-law's mother, failed to wake up the other morning.  She was a lively woman, with a big personality and a lot of energy, and about my own age.  It was deeply shocking to hear the news, and very sad.  But it also intensified the feeling I've had lately that I am living on borrowed time.

I am an extremely patient person.  I can read a book to my grandkids five times in a row without more than a token protest, and I listened to my grandpa's stories over and over and over again his whole life.  Since I began this journey towards fitness, I embraced Green Mountain's teaching that if you do the things you need to take care of yourself -- eat mindfully, move your body joyfully and safely, replace inner judgment with compassion -- weight loss will come as a welcome side effect.  And most of the time, I am content to keep working at those goals, trusting that weight loss will, indeed, come along in time.

But then the sound of the mortality clock ticking becomes louder and louder, and I start to feel afraid that my body is going to weigh down my spirit before I ever get the chance to experience all the benefits of true fitness and health.  It's ticking pretty loudly today.

One of the wisest things anyone ever said to me, spoken by one of the behavioral specialists at Green Mountain, was that anxiety is the future (or the past) intruding into the present.  Her point was that if you can truly stay in the moment, you can reduce a lot of stress in your life.  In this particular moment, I can truly feel the value of that advice, as it also eliminates that looming sense of fear that I'll run out of time.  If this moment is all that really concerns me, then all I can do is make the best choice I can, and continue to make the best choices I can in each subsequent moment.  Some of those choices will inevitably be less than optimal, and I will have to live with those as I live with the better ones.  Certainly, I am much better off and much healthier (though no lighter) today than I was a few years ago.  And that is the best that I can do.

I feel especially sad when I think of my grandson, Jake, who will now have such a huge hole in his life without Grandma Andrea.  I need to do what I can to try to make sure that he has his Grandma Sherry for a few more years.

A hui hou.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Deprivation ReDux Again

Back in September, when I was a couple of months into following the LEAP protocol for dealing with food sensitivities, I wrote a post called Deprivation Redux, in which I  talked about how I was feeling pretty fine about eating only those foods that don't hurt me.  It felt at that moment as though the deprivation corner of my blanket was firmly pegged into the ground.

Since I've been in Hawaii, though, I've been hit in the face more than a few times, but in a slightly different way.  It's not that I'm feeling hard done by because I can't eat whole wheat bread, chocolate, cheddar cheese or popcorn -- in fact, I'm generally finding very reasonable substitutes for all of those flavors.  And I've been able to add some of my very most favorite Hawaiian foods, without incident:  breadfruit, macadamia nuts, taro, opakapaka (pink snapper) and sweet potatoes.  Though I did feel sad on my first trips to the grocery store or Costco, seeing all the usual foods that cannot at this time be part of my fare, there have been plenty of other things to provide variety and interest (the Asian snack isle is a wonder of corn- and gluten free choices).

Still, I've been having more and more trouble being really mindful about my food, making poor choices among those that I can eat, eating when I'm not particularly hungry, and not stopping when my palate becomes jaded or my belly is full.  In contemplating why that might be, I've considered the very real possibility that I am subconsciously resenting the limitations on my choices (after spending several years learning to give myself permission to choose freely from among all foods and thus depriving them of their power over me); I could be eating more of what I can have to make up for not being able to have some other foods that I really love.  And while I do acknowledge that possibility, it doesn't resonate right now.  I really don't think that's the answer.  The only food I had been seriously longing for was bread (so I could eat a simple tuna sandwich), and a couple of weeks ago I found spelt hamburger buns in the local health food store that taste just like real whole wheat bread, and I tolerate them just fine.  On the other hand, that tuna sandwich was probably the single most mindfully consumed food item in my recent past, so maybe there is more at play behind the scenes than I know.

The other possible explanation that has occurred to me is that I am living in a culture here where not only am I faced every day with the limitations governing my food choices, but where those limitations make it next to impossible to be normally "sociable."  Hawaiian contemporary cuisine is very much Asian, and Asian food is dominated by soy, which is one of the few foods that make me frankly ill.  This means that we can't eat out (except in one restaurant that neither of us finds terribly appealing), that we can't go to the many day-long festivals without a lot of prior planning, and that if we have guests, I have to cook three meals a day, every day. 

In the great scheme of life, none of that is a horrible hardship.  I've been enjoying all the cooking I've done, especially when we've had guests, and I can't say I've particularly missed going out to eat.  I do miss being able to use soy sauce and ginger in my stir frying, but I can live with that.  Still, handcuffs are not particularly enjoyable or comfortable, even if they are lined with fleece. I suspect that the chafing is getting to me, and I don't know what to do about that.

As I write all of this, I realize that none of what I'm talking about is rational.  Put me on the rational plane and I can do anything.  It's the emotional netherworld that trips me up, every time.  I don't know exactly what the lesson is here, only that I clearly haven't learned it yet.

A hui hou.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blankets in the Wind

Have you ever had the experience of trying to spread out a picnic blanket or beach towel in a high wind?  It's not a pretty sight.  You manage to get one or two corners down and just as you go for the third the wind picks up and messes up the whole arrangement.  So you patiently get that third or fourth corner set and go back to re-establish mastery over the first two.  You may even find yourself spread-eagled across the whole blanket in a vain attempt to get all four corners down at once.

Sometimes, dealing with a blanket in the wind is a perfect metaphor for what it feels like when you try to change your life.  You deal with one issue, then another, then another, and just when you think you're finally getting it all under control, the first issue pops up again and you are hit with a face full of blanket.  Only with life changes, there seem to be many more than four corners, so that even the clumsy possibility of spread-eagling is not an option.

This has been my life over the past year -- actually, ever since I first went to Green Mountain.  First, I put physical activity back into my life. Then came a couple of years of miserable respiratory health that finally got the better of me. Then I dealt with the ravages of deprivation.  Then I learned to deal with the stress in my life.  Then I dealt with the deep-seated feelings of anger towards my father.  Then I faced the reality of the toll of my recent life on my body.  Then I dealt with my feelings about my mother.  All of that made the need to be active flap in the wind.  Then I dealt with food sensitivities, which I think have gotten the deprivation issues all roused again.  Then I got my CPAP machine.  Then I started doing strength training again with great regularity, and the need to eat mindfully has flapped up again, rather violently. 

Sigh.  I really believe, perhaps naively, that if only I could all the corners of the blanket to stay put for even just a little while, I could actually lose some of my excess weight and experience the benefits that would bring.  But the wind is gusty and the flapping is so loud it's sometimes hard to hear anything else.

Still, what can I do but keep on trying?

A hui hou.

Another Day, Another Two Months Gone

Unbelievably, today is the first of March, and it has been another two months since I last posted.  Gaps like that are potentially fatal for bloggers, but I am hopeful that those of you who read this will forgive me the lapse and continue to accompany me on my sometimes convoluted and difficult journey.

I have a tendency, when things get difficult, to withdraw into myself and neither seek help nor share my struggle.  Since the whole point of starting this blog, just over a year ago, was to do both those things, it has been totally counterproductive of me to turn away from writing just at the time I need it most.  But in the spirit of self-compassion, I am acknowledging that and letting it go.  What was, was.  What will be, I hope, will be regular posting again as I start moving forward once more.

Thanks to those of you who have told me that you've missed my posts, and that you value what I have to say.  I appreciate that deeply.

Imua!  (Forward!)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011!

Looking back, it is astonishing to me that I last posted here mid-October.  I guess that these past two months, I have been more involved trying to live my life than even thinking about it.  During that interval, I stepped carefully away from the LEAP food sensitivity protocol to begin to add additional foods back into my diet (with limited success:  still can't eat wheat, though spelt is fine, and I can't quite tell about green beans), I made good friends with my CPAP machine and feel as though I've gotten my sense of self back, and my overall health is sufficiently improved that when I do get colds (such as the one I came home with from KlezKamp), they are just colds and not major illnesses.  These are all wonderful signs of progress.

On the negative side of the balance sheet, my ankle, back and knees still hurt when I walk or stand too much, I have yet to get back into a strength training routine, and I still turn too quickly to food for comfort.

I'd say that the positives way outweigh the negatives.  And that is a very good thing.

So here, on the cusp of this new year, I know what to work on next and have more energy to do so than I can remember in recent history.

I am grateful to all of you who have followed my story so far and expressed support and compassion.

May we all have much love, laughter, and interesting adventures in 2011.

A hui hou.