Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Talking to God

Have you ever heard a song that seems like it was written just for you, expressing how you feel in such a perfect way? I wanted to share these lyrics with you. They are so beautiful.

"Show Me"-John Legend

I realized as I lay down to sleep
We haven't spoke in weeks
So many things that I'd like to know
Come have a talk with me
I need a sign, something I can see
Why all the mystery?
I try not to fall for make believe
But what is reality?
Where do we go?
What do we know?
Life has to have a meaning
Show me the light
Show me the way
Show that you're listening

Show me that you love me
Show me that you walk with me
Hopefully, just above me
Heaven's watching over me

Guess it's funny how I say thanks to you
For all you've given me
Sometimes the price of what you gave to me
I can't stop questioning
O God of love, peace, and mercy
Why so much suffering?
I pray for the world, it gets worse to me
Wonder if you're listening
When people go
Why do they go?
Why don't you choose me?
But someday I know
I'm gonna go
I hope you're waiting for me

Show me that you love me
Show me that you walk with me
Hopefully, just above me
Heaven's watching over me

Maybe we'll talk
Some other night
Right now I'll take it easy
Won't spend my time
Waiting to die
Enjoy the life I'm living

Show me that you love me
Show me that you walk with me
Hopefully, just above me

Heaven's watching over me

Friday, December 21, 2007

If only I could watch more TV than it might seem worth it.

My Christmas tree is only half decorated. This is because I have a string of lights I need to put on the bottom before we can finish putting the rest of the ornaments up. Only I keep getting interrupted by all these other things I have to fix first-things I can't put off fixing- like my car, my bank account, my body, & our TV debacle that has been going on since 2 weeks before Thanksgiving.
What is even more strange is that like clockwork, our TV service always goes on the blink just as we sit down to watch our favorite comedy series. So after about 2 hours of troubleshooting on the phone with the technician (as I simultaneously tried my hardest not to act like an asshole & simply surrender to the fact that we do not have TV) we fixed it.
The funny part was right before it was fixed, my husband had to follow my instructions according to what the guy was telling me over the phone. It was something like me saying, "Look on the back of the TV, find the wire coming out of it & follow the wire, then take that wire & plug it into the box." after which my husband replied quite happily, " Oh really, no shit- thanks for the tip, because I didn't know that's how I would find it-making my son laugh heartily. I thought I was just being real clear about my instructions. Apparently the technician found it funny too-because he heard all this & I heard him trying real hard not to laugh. The thing is, I didn't let on that I knew he was trying not to laugh because I don't know if you have ever been in a situation where you are really tired & you know if you start laughing you just won't be able to stop & I just couldn't risk that- because I needed my TV fixed. Have you ever had a plant outside in your garden & it looks small in the garden & then you bring it inside the house & it looks gigantic, barely fitting on the bench you sat it on last winter? This is what happened with our rosemary plant this Fall. It's so big I wound up putting it on the floor instead. The same thing that happened with the rosemary plant happened with the Christmas tree we just purchased last weekend. It's not just hitting the ceiling either. You actually have to go all the way around it to get around it. This makes it almost impossible not to bump into it as you are walking by causing hundreds of needles to fall off it. So we are all trying our best not to disturb the tree for this very reason.

Priscilla & Sylvia don't seem to mind the needles all over the floor at all though.
Priscilla seemingly unaware of the Christmas tree, the TV debacle or the giant Rosemary plant.

Sylvia waiting patiently for me to finish my Christmas cards hoping I will soon be having some pretzels with sour cream. If she acts like a statue, I may not notice her-so when I leave the room she can lick every last bit of sour cream from the bowl.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I had a dream early this morning...

my sister-in-law Mary and I & many other family members were entering my brother-in laws apartment, only it was in Montauk instead of Long Beach. We were unpacking food Mary had cooked. In the dream I was greeting everybody as they were just arriving. When I turned around I saw my brother-in law Paul sitting in a chair looking up at me & smiling. I was so happy to see him. He looked just like he did in the last dream I had. He was wearing a chamois colored shirt with a white t-shirt underneath & jeans, & he had the color red around him. When I turned away to tell everyone that Paul was here, I looked back at him & the chair was empty. I walked away feeling like I was going to cry because I realized he was still gone. I wasn't sure if I should tell everyone in the room about what I saw.I didn't want to upset anyone because I knew they were struggling in their own grief over losing Paul.

My bereavement counselor says we grieve the way we live. I didn't really know what she was talking about when she first told me that. Now as time is passing I am starting too. When someone plays such an important role in your life it is impossible to forget them. I still hear his voice in my head when I remember things he would say to me. Like when my husband & I drove him to college twenty something years ago with all his stuff packed in my car- I had gotten a new haircut & he kept calling me Joey Heatherton. Paul is still making me laugh every time I think of that. I think of Paul around Christmas time & how excited he would get as he shopped for his loved ones. Paul would call me up at least twice talking about what to buy for our son Ian. He always made a big deal over what to buy for him. It always had to be something special. Then Paul would talk about what he was buying for everyone else. It was very important to him to give of himself-he had true Christmas spirit. I hear his voice again when he used to call me up on the phone. The first thing he would say before anything else is, "How's my boy?" I will never forget that. Paul made sure his brother & I and especially Ian knew how important we were to him. Paul was like that with everyone he cared about. I also think of the small favors he used to ask me for & how happy that made me feel doing them for him. It made me feel like we were true friends. These are just a few of the day to day memories that have accumulated over all the years of knowing Paul. Other memories come back unexpectedly. Some make me laugh out loud. Others make me cry. Either way I am grateful for them & treasure them enormously.

One thing I am starting to realize is that life will never be the same without Paul. When I think about it, why would it be?
Who wouldn't miss knowing someone like Paul?

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye."-Antoine de Saint Exupery, from The Little Prince-

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Anything that's dificult to do builds your self esteem."

"I am constantly talking to myself building up my self esteem, I'm worth it, I can do this, I am going to keep doing it until I get there."
-Eileen, my weight watchers leader-

This is the main message I gleaned from my meeting in the wee hours of this morning. Oh yeah & tools too. In fact, my goal for this week is to follow the healthy guidelines according to WW. There are eight of them.
1-consume whole grains,
2-limit sugar & alcohol,
3-Take a multi vitamin-mineral supplement,
4-make sure you get enough protein,
5-drink at least six glasses of water a day,
6-Eat at least 5 fruits & vegetables a day,
7-include 2 servings of milk products a day unless you are over 50, a teenager, nursing mom, or over 250lbs., then eat three,
8-Eat two teaspoons of healthy oil per day.

So I didn't lose this week & I didn't gain. Though I do actually feel thinner, more confident & more energetic this morning & for me that counts for a lot.

I believe what Eileen says about doing something difficult. Losing weight happens to be difficult for me. So as long as I am either losing or not gaining, I am accomplishing something that is difficult. Eileen talked about how when we begin to achieve our weight loss goals we build our self esteem & it starts to transfer over into other areas of our lives. We start to feel better about ourselves. We think thoughts like, if I can do this, I bet I can do this other thing that's not so easy too.

I also feel that is what starting running has done for me. I never liked running. The day I started running I was looking for an attitude adjustment. I wanted to feel better mentally. Luckily for me it worked immediately. Looking back on it now, I believe it was the positive action of taking better care of myself (another difficult thing for me) that made me feel just as good as the endorphins did.

Now I am starting to see how one positive action begets another, encourages another, & empowers another. Yesterday afternoon I planned to run 3.2 miles, & walk 1.6. I hadn't run all week & was starting to miss it-not the actual running part, but more so what it does for me mentally & physically. Dreading the run, I noticed about 5 minutes into it that it wasn't as hard as it usually is. By the time I realized I was nearly finished running the 3.2 miles I knew I could easily run the 5th lap-so I did & I surprised myself. The funny thing is, just about a week ago I was complaining to my husband about how I wish I was excelling more at my running. I thought I would be a little faster by this time. I've been running since October 3rd. He encouraged me saying as I lose weight, it will get easier & I will get quicker. I am thinking my 5.8lb. weight loss must be helping me with my running. I think my smart hubby may be right!

Please pray for me as I continue my journey to wellness and know that I will continue to pray for all those in need of love & support too.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What I ate one Sunday...

To say food is very important to me is an understatement. Based on my own personal experience I believe if people paid more attention to what they ate (now, try not to laugh) we would have world peace. Proper nutrition is one of the most essential parts of life. We all should be fed-God knows there is enough for everybody-& we all should be fed well. If people are hungry or malnourished I have noticed they either get sick, or act crazy. Again, my opinion is based on my own personal experience. In other words, when I eat well, all is right with the world.
I often wonder what other people consume on a daily basis so I thought to myself, why not document a days worth of my own food consumption. First I had some coffee-my favorite beverage of choice, & always with 1/2 & 1/2 & sugar. It's just like dessert. I do have to stop having this first thing in the morning though. I need to drink warm water with lemon ala Deepak Chopra when I wake up & shortly after have a piece of fruit instead of coffee. I have done that in the past & I feel like I have much more energy with less cravings later in the day.
Then there is our traditional Sunday brunch. 4oz of 100% OJ for me, with an English muffin. Thomas' has one now that has 8 grams of fiber & it only costs you one point for weight watchers. I love this because I can put just a pat of butter on it with a little sugar free jelly & I only use up 2 more points- if that. I always use organic eggs, they are so much fresher & taste delicious & better for the planet too. These eggs are also high in omega 3 healthy oil making them the ultimate brain food. I make sure Ian has them for breakfast when he has a test in school. I use a zero calorie healthy oil cooking spray & made this omelet with organic American low fat cheese that does not remotely taste low fat. It tastes just like regular processed American cheese-very American.

Trader Joe's dark chocolate-the ultimate healthy chocolate. Perfect for when you need that little bit of sugar after a meal. Yes it has some sugar, but it is so rich in quality dark chocolate with lots of riboflavin & only 70 calories, just a little more than one point for one square. I like to savor it slowly. It has a wonderful after taste & I personally don't get heartburn like I get from cheaper milk chocolates that do nothing for me in the way of good health like this brand does.

Low fat fresh ravioli from Fairway. I can have eight of these & it is only 300 calories. Trader Joe's has a tasty inexpensive organic basil (my favorite herb) sauce. I love topping this with Costco's flavorful shredded Grana Padano Parmesan at only 20 calories per tablespoon, so 3 tbsps. only equal 1 point. & salad is a perfect diet food because you can eat as much as you want provided you go easy on the dressing. I don't worry about the dressings fat content as much as I care about how much I put on. For me, this just requires that I MEASURE my dressing. I find if I put on just two tbsp. of pretty much anything I like, it really is enough for the flavor I desire. I also don't care for most store bought zero calorie salad dressings. They just have way too many unpronounceable chemical names. I'd rather eat real food-just less of it rather than eat a chemical on my salad. & though I keep it at a minimum, I have enough chemicals in my diet soda!
& last but not least, dessert! Who doesn't like to eat at night while watching their favorite show? The two just go together perfectly, comforting yourself while totally spacing out in la la land, the perfect escape. Most of the time I don't eat at all at night anymore because I really want to lose ALL of my weight that I want to lose. Suddenly & I must say by the grace of God it is way more important to me than holding onto bad habits. That doesn't mean I still don't enjoy my dessert with TV on occasion. I like watching Sally Field in her show Brothers & Sisters. I like large families, it's like having instant friends. It is no wonder that my childhood best friend has 11 brothers & sisters & my husband has 7. So I make sure I watch this show on Sunday nights. I had lots of points left over( I exercised that day) so I was able to have the weight watchers cookies & cream ice cream bar that night while watching Sally. & then another one too. Oh, & I had lots of water!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I owe it all to Sylvia...

Saturday morning was not a good morning for me when I woke up at 6AM for my weight watchers meeting. I was still very tired when the alarm went off & wanted nothing more than to sleep. Only I thought if I did go back to sleep & I didn't in fact lose any weight last week & didn't find out exactly what my weight was at the meeting, then I most likely wouldn't do well this week. So with that thought in mind, I was motivated to brave the cold winter like morning.

Actually, that's not really how I got to the meeting. I truly did think all of those smart thoughts but I was still thinking of going back to bed anyway...until I remembered the cat was out all night & I started to worry she was frozen. By the time I let her in & fed her, there was no turning back. Even after Sylvia threw up all the breakfast she inhaled-like she hadn't eaten in days. I wish I could say it was the cold that made her eat like that, but sometimes she does the same thing in the summer too.
So off I drove, hoping & praying for a one pound loss or a zero gain at the least, & guess what?
I lost 2 pounds! I was so surprised, ( & happy) I asked the lady who weighed me if she was sure she read the numbers right. I had one bad day last week where I didn't write all my food down & I felt very bloated so it just didn't seem likely to me that I could have felt like that & still have lost weight. I am now a total of 5.8 pounds lighter. & thankfully I have been measuring myself so I can also say I have lost a total of 8 inches.

Thank you God for gracing us with Sylvia. I need all the grace I can get.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Lots of people talk to animals....Not very many listen, though....That's the problem.

Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Our dog Priscilla knows how to communicate with us to get her needs met. It's usually one of five things, she is hungry, she needs to go out, she wants to play, she wants a walk, or she wants to go to bed. If I am upstairs working, she will make little crying noises at the bottom of the stairs to alert me. I'll go downstairs open the door & she goes out. Saturday she did this, but when I opened the door she wouldn't go out. Wondering to myself what her problem was, I realized it was her lunch time. So I looked at her & I said, "Are you hungry?" & I kid you not, she very distinctively looked me straight in the eye & nodded her head up & down.

Last Sunday we had our first snow. My husband burst through the door, "Get me the camera!" & this is what he photographed...

This last one is my favorite.

Friday, December 7, 2007

"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players.They have their exits and entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts..."

As you can probably tell by now, I love William Shakespeare. The above is from As You Like It.
I find whenever I am searching for meaning in- whatever, all I have to do is read a little Shakespeare & everything becomes clear.

Yesterday my son Ian found out that he didn't get into Regis High School- a school he so very much wanted to attend. Before he opened the letter I told him I knew how he would feel if he was a semi-finalist, but how would he feel if he didn't get in? He stopped & thought a moment & then he said, "Then it wasn't meant to be." Thank you God, I thought to myself-this kid has got it going on.
As I looked over his shoulder reading the letter with him, he came to the part where they wrote, "I regret to..." he let out a small sound of disappointment that breaks every parents heart when they hear it. Then he finished reading their long thoughtful letter of rejection-which was very kind of the school to take the time to write.
Afterwards we hugged & we talked.

We knew we would hear from the school by December 7th. At some point in the last couple of days we would think, we may find out today & then we'd get excited when the mail came. I could tell how disappointed he was. What a great feeling it would be to be picked as one of the 230 semi-finalists out of the approximately 800 that tested. The application process was long & involved & Ian went through it entirely on his own. After reading what he wrote on his application, & watching him exit the building after the entrance exam at Regis, my husband & I were hard pressed to think of a reason why he wouldn't at the least, make it to the semi-finalist stage. Ian is a model student with first honors & academic performance certificates since he started school. When he was home schooled he tested post high school. He also has a long list of community service to his credit & is an excellent violinist. So it's fair to say we kind of had our hopes up. But he didn't get in. & as much as I felt like he would have learned so much in what seemed like a magnificent learning environment, I can't help but feel Regis really missed out. Of course I am his mother so I know what you are thinking-but that' s OK, I wouldn't expect otherwise after writing a statement like that-but I also know that what I just wrote is absolutely true.
& Ian, if you are reading this, please know how proud of you I am for trying your best. You are always brave in that way, you are never afraid of uncertain outcomes. You inspire me as I watch you living your life to the fullest.

& like any anticipated event, it's a letdown when it's over-even if it's just as far as the parents are concerned-kids seem so much more resilient. The good news is, now we can be excited about what is in store for this bright young man. If he wasn't meant to be at Regis, a school my son, my husband & I thought would be a perfect fit-that must mean there has to be another place, a place where he truly belongs. & if Regis is all we think it is, than wherever Ian winds up will be even greater for him. That is just how it works, you know? Sometimes a power greater than ourselves gets to decide what we will be doing. Actually I think that is always the case-only sometimes he lets us believe otherwise.

Dear God, please guide us as parents by helping us encourage our son to follow the path he is meant to take in his life. Help us not to bend your will, but accept your will and do so in complete faith.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Hatred For Tulips

While perusing the new book section in my town's library, I came across a most intriguing title, A Hatred For Tulips. Who could possibly hate tulips I thought. I love tulips-there has to be a good reason why someone would hate them. Then again, who could hate a young girl named Anne Frank? After reading this book I found it isn't about hatred as much as it is about what happened in wartime Amsterdam.
The book is a quick 182 pages & written by Richard Lourie, a writer & well known expert translator. If you are at all interested in this subject, I encourage you to read this fictional account of who betrayed Anne Frank & her family & why.
When I finished reading this book I felt very grateful to be alive at this time in this country. Stories like this prove to me that despite our current circumstances in the world, it is up to each & every person to create peace in whatever way we can.

"Every act of love is a work of peace, no matter how small." -Mother Teresa

Saturday, December 1, 2007

It's more scary NOT changing...

Your future is more scary when you are not changing & growing. It's like enslaving yourself, keeping yourself from truly experiencing what life has to offer." This is what I heard my weight watchers leader say this morning. She also said that some reasons why people don't change are because they are still holding onto negative thought, thinking they don't believe in themselves, they don't deserve it, or they don't feel they can achieve whatever it is they are trying to achieve.

Some things in life tend to come easier to me than others. When I think about it, it's kind of lame of me to just pursue those goals in life that are easier. Two months ago when I started running, I hated it. It was hard. It took me 20 minutes to run 1.6 miles & I had a 5 minute break in the middle of it. It is now eight weeks later & yesterday afternoon I ran 3.2 miles in 36 minutes & then walked .8 miles to cool off. (OK, so maybe it was more like jogging!) That small success didn't happen overnight & it wasn't easy to achieve, but I'm doing it. The point is, achieving something I never imagined I could do feels so good- & those endorphins are a major plus!

I know I tend to think I just won't be able to achieve my total weight loss goal, so why bother? I have more important things to do I say, (in my head) convincing myself this is true. Right now I'm thinking, what could be more important than my health or God forbid, my self esteem?

I remember the one other time I was in weight watchers I lost 23 lbs. For about 8 weeks after that achievement I couldn't "seem" to lose anymore weight. I developed a bad attitude making up reasons not to go back to WW- like I couldn't pay for it anymore if I wasn't going to lose anymore, blah, blah, blah, blah. So I stopped going to WW & gradually I gained all but 11.6 pounds back. I never got to feel what it was like to achieve that goal.

This morning when I got on the scale at the WW meeting I showed a total weight loss of 3.8 pounds since November 8, 2007. It may not sound like a lot, but it is huge to me. I feel like every ounce of those 3.8 pounds were worked off of me for good.
Thank you God for this new found willingness to change & grow. I am really looking forward to achieving another difficult goal. It isn't easy & it may take awhile but I know for me it will be an amazing accomplishment.

This picture is a good reason for me to continue to take care of myself...

Person of the Week Randy Pausch