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Great American Smokeout

I just heard that today is the annual Great American Smokeout — the national day to encourage smokers to quit.  I’m not going to preach at those of you who smoke.  I’m also not going to judge.  God knows I spent 53 years in the grips of an eating disorder, wrecking my health with obesity.  I have no room to judge.

I am, however, going to tell you a story about a wonderful woman.  This woman was a sweet, loving, compassionate, fun, caring darling.  Everyone who knew her loved her and she had a gift for loving them back and making everyone feel special.

She was born in 1925 and when she was in her late teens and 20s, the world didn’t really understand how horrible cigarettes are, the damage that smoking them does to our bodies, and the diseases and conditions that smoking can cause.

This woman, like most of her contemporaries, smoked for decades.  Oh, as time went on and we learned more about the health risks of nicotine, tar and the other nasty crap in cigarettes, she tried several times to quit.  She’d have brief periods of success but always went back.  In the 1970s, she developed peripheral vascular disease.  Plaque built up in her leg arteries and it hurt her to walk distances and began to impact her ability to play tennis — an activity that she loved and participated in several days a week.  She eventually had to have bypass surgery on her legs.

She was a beautiful woman but smoking took a toll.  Her skin began to thin.  Between that and the blood thinner medicine she needed to take to fight the plaque build up in her legs, if she even slightly bumped her leg, the skin would tear and she would profusely bleed.  She’d bruise on almost a thought.

But this wasn’t the worst of it.  Back in the early-to-mid 1990s, she actually managed to quit smoking for a few years.  Unfortunately, it was too late.  In 1997, she developed a cough that wouldn’t quit.  She thought it was a cold that developed into bronchitis.  I remember telling her that she needed to see a doctor and get treated so it didn’t progress into pneumonia.  A week later I got a call from my brother.  Mom had called him from Florida.  She’d begun to cough up blood and was at the hospital.

I flew down the next morning.  Within a couple of days of testing, we learned that she had a malignant tumor in her lung — a squamos cell carcinoma.  Ten days later, when she went to the hospital to get the port put in for chemotherapy, she suffered a stroke.  Her carotid arteries were severely clogged.  They “rotored” them out.  The stroke left her aphasic.  She had trouble sometimes connecting what she wanted to say in her mind with the actual words.  It also cut her vision field off to the right.  That quickly she went from a completely independent woman to one who could no longer drive her car and needed physical therapy to build up her muscle and motor skills.

This was all in January of 1998.  Over the next several months, amid the chemotherapy treatments and radiation therapy, she suffered one or two additional strokes and developed a seizure disorder that required a cocktail of medications.  We made seven or eight emergency trips to the E.R., all of which required additional hospitalizations.  She spent six weeks in the rehab facility getting back on her feet from a stroke.

We learned in August that the treatments had worked and the tumor in her lung was gone!  This news gave us great hope and we knew we could deal with everything else, if she could continue to live cancer free.

In September, the doctors discovered a tumor in her brain.  We were going to try a then-new treatment of pinpoint precision radiation.  Before that could happen, Mom’s body had had enough and different systems began to slow.

As difficult as it was to accept, we knew that there was truly nothing more that could be done that would save her life or prolong it with quality.  We had to make the shift to providing her with as much quality of life as possible while easing her through the last months of her life.

My darling, sweet, wonderful mother died on November 13, 1998 at age 73.  There has not been a day since that I haven’t thought of her with love and missed her.  I’m crying now as I type.   You could say that she died from cancer and strokes.  I say Mom died has a result of a 50 year addiction to cigarettes.  Every thing that she experienced was a result of smoking.

So that’s the story.  If you smoke, I hope that you will consider quitting.  As difficult as it is, it’s possible.  I can testify to that.  I started when I was 16 years old.  This year marked the 26th anniversary of the day I quit.  I have never once picked up a cigarette since.  There are a lot of tools and programs that can help.  For the sake of your health, and the sake of the people who love you and will miss you if you die, please quit.


Gratitude Attitude

Every day this month I’ve posted something for which I’m grateful.  This process really helps me look at my life with an eye toward appreciation.  Starting and ending each day with reminders of gratitude illuminates my spirit in countless ways.

I’ve done the daily posts on my personal Facebook page.  (I’m horrible about keeping up with my “author” page.)  Even though all of the friends on my personal page are actually people that I know/am related to/went to school with and so on, there are still some things that I don’t discuss in status updates.  For example, I’ve never once shared there that I had weight loss surgery.  I mentioned having surgery.  Actually, it’s more accurate to say that I posted that I was out of surgery and back in my room but, honestly, that was an accident.  Note to family: No matter how reasonable and “with it” I sound, do not give me back my iPhone until I’ve been out from under the influence of anesthesia and heavy painkillers for a minimum of 12 hours.

Long story short, when I returned to Facebook a few hours later, I was mighty surprised that I’d posted about an operation and had to do a little bit of apologizing and reassuring to those who didn’t know beforehand.  The onces who did know where sort of congratulatory in their, “Hey, you must be feeling great if you’re already posting on Facebook” responses.

But I digress.  I don’t know why I haven’t talked about weight loss surgery on FB.  Clearly I’m not hiding it, since I’ve written more than 200 blog posts here under my own name.  However, since I haven’t, it feels weird to jump in and post certain topics.  I’ve put up pictures from events, but not comparison shots.  I wrote a generic update one date about being grateful that I chose to change my life and health for the good, but that’s it.  I think at this point I’m going to continue the way that I’ve been going on until I finally hit goal weight — whatever that is.

In the meantime, I have a gratitude thing to talk about that will be hard to put up with the others without too much explanation.  So, since this blog is the place where I let it all hang out — physically, emotionally and mentally — what better place?  (Have I said lately how grateful I am to have this place to share about all of this?)

Tonight I am incredibly aware of how lucky I’ve been over the years.  I am grateful for my body’s resilience.  Even though I have physically abused it with a hell of a lot of excess weight for a lot of years, it has stood up to the challenge.   Is my right knee weaker than the left and does it often click funny and hurt?  Yes, but it’s a lot less painful and awkward now, thanks to the weight loss.  A year ago, I couldn’t walk more than two blocks without gasping, now I’m good for a couple of miles or an hour of Zumba.  I have friends who are not so fortunate.  They’re a few years older than I am and experiencing a great deal of pain.  Happily for them, they’re on their way to losing weight now and I know things will improve.  If they don’t, at least the weight loss will enable them to have joint replacements.

I’m waiting to get my knee medically evaluated.  I don’t think I’m at the point where I need a new one but if I do, then I know that I’m a candidate because of my weight loss.  That would not have been the case 125 pounds ago.

When I think of all of the ways that my body could have crumbled under the weight, I want to raise my hands and shout, “THANK YOU” at the top of my lungs.  In recent weeks, I’ve felt a little twinge in my lower back.  It doesn’t happen all of the time, but I notice it now and then.  Usually some stretches, a soak in the tub or a little ibuprofen alleviate the pain.  When I think of what could have been if I’d not lost weight, a little shaft of fear shoots through me.  What if I’d seriously hurt my back before and, at my most obese, there had been no way to relieve the pain?  Again, I am incredibly grateful to not have experienced that condition.

I don’t want to focus on imagining all of the ways that being so heavy could have added misery.  What if I’d broken my leg ever or suffered some other injury that made it difficult for me to stand, to walk, to get in and out of bed?  What would I have done?  I’m grateful that I didn’t need to find out.

Tonight I did an hour of Tai Chi and I was aware of the great easy of movement and the various ways that I can bend, twist, shift my weight, push up, balance and turn.  Tomorrow I’m going to a Zumba class and will smile while I keep up with the samba, salsa, cumbia and other dance steps.  This weekend, I’m visiting the Everglades.  Part of the trip includes a mile and a half walk.  A year ago, I would have stressed out over the thought of going that distance and hiding from everyone else how much effort it would take me.  Tonight, I’m smiling and thinking how much I’m going to enjoy seeing nature under my own power.

There’s a huge, wonderful difference in being aware of my body because it was huge, awkward, and always uncomfortable and the way I feel today — enjoying my body because of the way it moves and the way that I feel in all of my activities.  I don’t ever want to forget this change.  I hope that I remember to celebrate it every day.



Weapons in the Arsenal

There are a lot of ways for me to think about my journey through weight loss toward a healthy, more fit life.  I just said one — that it’s a journey.  I use that many times.

I also think of it as a battle.  I’m in a fight for my life.  I like considering myself a warrior for my own well-being.  It makes me feel like I’m powerful and strong.  Building on my last couple of posts and also thinking of the personal story Pink Pelican shared in comments, I think I’ve geared up for a fight.  Who’s the opponent?  I am or, at least my old self and lifetime of disease and poor eating habits.

Nobody can go into a battle unarmed and expect to win.  I’ve got a number of different weapons in my arsenal.  Despite a lifelong history of yo-yo dieting with great weight loss followed by great gain, this time is truly different.  My number one weapon is my weight loss surgery.  A severely restricted stomach is a great tool.  There’s a definitely limit to how much I can eat. and that’s enormously helpful.

The second weapon overall is my earnest desire which fuels my willingness.  Recovery from super obesity and eating disorders is hard work.  We truly need to be willing to go to any lengths to achieve recovery.   I have that willingness even when the old diseased thinking tries to suffocate it.

The third weapon is a good food plan.  If you don’t have a plan, a strategy, how can you even go into battle and not get creamed?

The fourth weapon — my commitment to exercise.   Keep moving, no matter what.  I am not digging in to defend my position.  Instead, I’m on the march, taking the fight to my opponents of laziness and immobility.

Weapon number five is knowledge.  I’m knowledgeable about what I need to do and how to do it.  I’m not flying blind.  Whoever said “knowledge is power” knew their stuff.  Now I do too.

Weapons two through five are super important, make no mistake.  They’re the things that I need to deploy into combat and they’re mighty soldiers for sure.   However, without the stomach surgery and the sixth weapon, the other tools on their own are not enough.  They need something else.  That’s why I think that weapon number six is the one I really need to keep active in my arsenal if I’m going to have long term success.

That tool is self-awareness.  Denial of what’s really going on can undermine the best effort.  It will torpedo the steadiest ship.  Not being mindful of my own behavior and my past habits can lead to the entire strategy falling apart.  It can defeat me regardless of any other thing I try.  I work really hard to stay self-aware and to dig deep into my history and previous habits.  This blog is a fantastic tool for helping me process everything and build onto my self-awareness.  The more that I know and understand about my disease and what contributed to past failures, the more prepared I am to not fall victim to those things again.   Self-awareness shores up everything else and makes the other tools that much more effective.

I’m in it to win it.

So, that’s my arsenal.  What weapons do you stockpile and put to work in your challenges?



The Uh Oh Moment

I’ve been thinking even more about my mind set and reaction after Friday’s doctor appointment.  Thank you for your comments.  They helped me with the process.

This morning I realized that underneath the upset/concern/disappointment of not losing weight faster the last month or so, lurks fear.  It isn’t the weight loss rate that’s really bothering me.  I’m really still terrified that, ultimately, I’m going to screw up the whole process and eat my way back to super obesity.

For all of the hard work and great progress I’ve made with my diseased thinking, compulsive eating disorder, and messy emotions, the fear doesn’t really disappear.  It goes away for awhile or lies dormant, but eventually returns.   It’s like Haley’s Comet, periodical cicadas and the chicken pox virus that later manifests as shingles.

My fear that at some point I will lose my battle against my disorder, stop eating healthy and according to plan, stretch out my stomach sleeve and eventually gain back all that I lost is not inconceivable.  I’ve been a yo-yo dieter all of my life.  Over the years since I was a young girl, I’ve probably lost more than 300 pounds — not counting the current weight loss of almost 125 pounds.  50 pounds here, 60 pound there, 100 pounds in the early 80s . . . I dieted off big chunks at a time, only to eventually gain them all back with extra for good measure.    There’s precedence.

That’s what the slow down signalled to me.  Instead of an “Ah Ha”, I had the big “Uh-Oh” moment.  Worry and fear seized me in their suffocating grip and refused to let logic and reasonableness breathe.  Immediately after, this triggered an almost overwhelming desire to gorge on carbohydrates — the very food items that I’d just been told I needed to scrupulously restrict.

Honest to goodness, this process sometimes makes me want to act in the most unreasonably destructive ways.

Thankfully, amid the moderate freak out, I remembered that I always have the power of choice.  I can want to do any number of unhelpful things, but “wanting to” and “acting on” are vastly different.  I can want to overeat and choose not to.  I can want carbs and eat protein.  I can want to lie around like a hybernating bear and still choose to tie on my fitness shoes and move.

Yesterday I woke up still feeling emotionally rocky.  I knew a workout would help so I went to Zumba class.  I already had some wonderful spa services scheduled for later in the day.  The timing could not have been better.  I came home after Zumba to shower and ate some Greek yogurt before heading to the salon.  Once there I gave myself over to the complete pampering of a manicure, reflexology treatment, facial and pedicure.  What was great for the body was incredibly great for my mind too.  I came home relaxed and more at ease in my emotions.

I took it easy for the rest of the day, ate reasonably, and went to bed early.  Today I had my fear realization even before I got out of bed but I was able to ponder it without freaking out even more.  I got up and dressed and took the dogs for a morning bridge walk.  (Today for the first time we made it a full two miles.  Nat and Pyxi are now, pardon the pun, dog tired.)

All in all, I feel much better.  I’m not going to give into the fear to the point where I sabotage myself.  I’m going to be loving but honest with myself in my food plan.  I want weight loss more than I want extra carbs.  The most important thing for me to remember is that I am not at the destructive mercy of my eating disorder.  I have the power to stay healthy and never go back to the super obese person I used to be.


Facing Facts

I had another follow up appointment with my surgeon today.  Overall, it’s hard not to consider the visit a downer.

Disclaimer:  Even though I’ve come a long way and made a lot of progress resolving the negative impact of diseased thinking, sometimes the thoughts still rally.  I need to process this out here on the blog.

Anyway, in the last month and a half, the rate of my weight loss has slowed.  I’m still losing, but not as rapidly as before.  My body is changing for the better, as evidenced by the amount of inches I’ve lost and the increased muscle tone.   I’m wearing sizes smaller than I’ve worn in nearly 30 years.  My BMI has dropped more than 12 points.

Even the doctor told me that I’m doing a fantastic job. . . but the weight loss has slowed.  I like the doctor.  He’s warm, open and honest.  He doesn’t scold but he does tell it like it is.  I’ve done great so far but I still have a big chunk of pounds to go and it’s going to get harder as time goes on.  The first year of losing after surgery is easier than the second.

We went over my food plan and what I’ve been eating.  I still focus on protein first.   Yes, I’ve added in some small amounts of carbohydrates here and there, but I honestly am not gorging out on bread, potatoes, rice, crackers and other empty carbs.  I don’t go out and drink wine every night.  Once every few weeks, maybe, and even then only a glass if that much.

I thought I was doing really well.  Goodness knows, I’m eating less food than ever before and what I eat is healthier.   Apparently I can do better.  According to the doctor, I could be rigorously careful about my food intake, have a single glass of wine, and slow whatever progress I’d made for the week.

While waiting for the doctor, I picked up a magazine in the waiting room.  An article for bariatric surgery patients by a nutritionist talked about the honeymoon period.  I guess my particular honeymoon is over.  Not that anything about the process has been easy, but it’s time for me to accept that it’s going to be harder than it was for the first seven or eight months.

So, here’s the plan.  Keep accentuating the positive parts of what I’m doing.  Eat quality protein and make that the priority of every meal and snack.  Remind myself that the small amounts of carbs that I occasionally eat need to be even smaller and less frequent than occasional.  Continue exercising.  (My doctor was honestly impressed about the different things I’m doing — Zumba, Tai Chi, bridge walks, etc.)

Also important is to not beat myself up about the current slow down.  It is what it is, or should that be it was what it was?

I know that I could keep going the way that I’m going but, to be honest, I want the weight to come off quicker.  Maybe that’s greedy, but I’m on a roll.  I want to get to goal sooner rather than later.  That’s my plan.  That’s my choice.

Rereading what I just wrote, I feel better than I did when I left my doctor’s appointment.  Call it a gut check, but it was important for me to go over everything in my mind and, pardon the pun, weigh the different factors.   This falls under the heading of something I learned in OA — this is a program that demands rigorous honesty.  If I don’t clearly look at everything and honestly assess my choices and behavior, I’m not going to be successful in the long run.

This isn’t just about what happened today or last week or over the last nine months.  This is about the rest of my life.  One day at a time, that’s going to go on for quite a while.  I want it to be the best that it can be.

On the drive home from Miami, I was listening to the all Springsteen station, E Street Radio, on Sirius/XM.  The evening host invited listeners to call in and share their favorite lyrics from Bruce songs.  I could play that game all day.  For my own entertainment I called the number, retrying several times.  Suddenly, instead of a busy signal, the phone actually rang.  A production assistant answered, asked me my name and where I was calling from and what song I wanted to talk about.  He then asked me to hold.  It’s a good thing that I have unlimited minutes because I was on hold for about 40 minutes.  This gave me a lot of time to listen to good music and think about the lyrics I would talk about when the host finally came on the line.

My all-time favorite Bruce song is Thunder Road.  It’s the song that made me a Springsteen fan back in 1975 when I was 17.  The lines I focused on are, “So you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young any more.  Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night.”  I realized that when I was 17, that song and those lines were an invitation.  They urged me to gather my courage and jump into the adventure of life.

Today, I’m closing in on 55.  The song that was once an invitation is now a reminder to continue to be brave and jump into the adventure of life.  Maybe I’m not that young any more but I can, and should, still live my life to its fullest.

That’s my plan.  That’s my choice.


Helping Out Your Happy

This is not a post-election commentary.  I’m happiest that it’s over and am actually holding out hope that all of the elected officials commit to working together to solve issues instead of putting out roadblocks, obstacles and gridlock.  Okay, maybe it’s a teeny bit of commentary to lead into my main musings for today.

A couple of months ago, I reached my saturation point on the nastiness spewing out of my television set and on my Facebook page.  I got fairly good at tuning out the tv campaign ads.  It was harder to skip posts by friends and acquaintances.  It got so bad that I finally made the decision to unsubscribe from the people who posted one vicious, negative thing after another.  I didn’t “defriend” them; I just adjusted the settings so I didn’t see their posts.  Maybe by doing so I missed out on other fun stuff, but in the long run, this was a wise choice.  I was much happier.

Today there appears to be even more nastiness making the rounds.  I unsubscribed a few more people.  Taking this action felt a lot to me like I was helping out my own happiness.

It strikes me that we don’t protect our happiness often enough.  This doesn’t mean being selfish, grabbing our happiness at the expense of others.  I think there is plenty to go around.  I also believe that happy begets more happy, so by protecting ourselves to foster joy, we actually till the ground to grow more.

With this in mind, I’m going to be alert for additional things that I can do to help out my happy.  It might mean making time to catch up with a friend on the phone, or shutting off the tv and taking a relaxing bath.   On days when I have a lot of errands to run or other responsibilities, I can make sure to schedule in “me” time and indulge in something that makes me smile — like sitting on the porch hugging my dogs for a few minutes or going for a walk.  One of the local florists sells a $5.00 weekly special bouquet.  It’s always a gorgeous mix of flowers.  That’s a great happy-boost.

Just like I already know to guard myself from getting too hungry, angry, lonely, tired or stressed (H.A.L.T.S.) in order to avoide compulsive or distructive eating,  protecting and nurturing my happiness caids my daily recovery.  Setting boundaries for how much icky crap infiltrates my life qualifies.  I support everyone’s right to their opinion and political views.  I also support my right to ignore it when negatively expressed.

What can you do to help out your happy?

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The Broken Tooth Whine

I broke off half of a tooth today.  Whine.

It doesn’t horribly hurt but I get twinges of pain when I suck in air or let anything hot or cold hit the spot.  Whine.

Apparently a lot of people broke teeth over the weekend.  I didn’t break mine until 10:19 a.m..  They beat me to the phone.  There are no openings at the dentist’s office until Thursday!  Whine.  Whine.

I just paid for the rest of my trip to Hawaii.  I have mentioned that I’m going to Hawaii in February, right?  Gonna cross that one off of my promise list.  I’m counting the days and am so excited.  No Whine.

But I just paid for the trip and now I know I’m look at a charge of at least $1000 to fix my tooth with a crown and even more if I need a root canal.  I don’t even want to think of the way the costs mount up if he can’t fix it with a crown and I need an implant.  WHINEWHINEWHINEWHINEWHINE.

Sorry for all of the whining, but there’s a silver lining in this whimpering cloud.   If I’m writing out my whines here, I’m not eating  over the situation.

Bottom line — it is what it is.  The tooth must be fixed and I’ll deal with whatever must be done to achieve the repair.  I’m not thrilled about the unexpected expense, but it’s not like I’ll have to ration Nat and Pyxi’s dog food to make ends meet.

Thank you for listening!


Thinking Before Acting

First I hope that all of you who are dealing with the aftermath of Sandy are doing okay.  If there’s anything you need that you can’t get at home, let me know.  I’ll find it and ship it to you!  In the meantime, know that the rest of us are thinking of you and sending supportive energy.  I donated to the Red Cross yesterday for their Disaster Relief for Sandy.  Many years ago I worked with the Red Cross Chapter in the Central Jersey area.  That chapter is no doubt working triple overtime right now.  I know that some people knock the organization, but when I handled their account, their record was excellent.  Ninety-six cents of every dollar donated went to service (Relief, aid, educational programs, etc.).  That meant that only four cents went for administrative costs which is an excellent percentage.  Okay, enough of my PSA.   The Salvation Army is also a good organization to give to for getting help to those who need it.

Okay, enough of my public service announcement.

The dogs and I just got back from a morning walk on the Old Seven Mile Bridge.  I almost have them up to two miles, although Pyxi was far from enthusiastic today.  She lagged and wanted to turn around at the half mile mark but soldiered on.  Not that she had any choice unless she flat out lied down on the bridge and refused to move.  We got in a good 40 minutes at a good pace.  I feel great!  I also reflected on the simple joy and pleasure of being able to walk without extreme pain and of walking two well-behaved dogs.

We have issues brewing in the neighborhood.  The guy that bought the house on the corner about a year and a half ago is pretty much a nice guy except for the fact that he’s lousy at keeping an eye on his dog, a young boxer.  He lets her roam around our little neighborhood, doesn’t watch to see if/when where she poops, and doesn’t clean up after her unless one of the rest of us says something.  Even then, he’ll make a show of carrying a bag for a while but his vigilance always slips.  The woman who lives with him, who he made a point of telling me is not his girlfriend, is a cranky beyotch who gets particularly pissy when I point out that the dog just crapped on a neighbor’s lawn.  Okay, so that’s issue number one.

About four or so months ago, another couple moved into the house, along with their large yellow lab.  They also let the dog roam and don’t clean up after him.  I have mentioned this to them and to the homeowner and they “swear” they’re looking out.  Maybe they’re looking out, but they aren’t doing anything.  The older woman who lives next door to them has an eight by 40 (approximately) stretch of grass between her home and their fence.  The two dogs play in that area every day and I know they roam it because I’ve seen it.  Yesterday, she got a note from her lawn maintenance service that they will no longer mow and tend the yard unless she does something about the dog droppings.  She is a dear, sweet person but congenitally unable to confront anyone.  She’s afraid to say something.

I’m a dear, sweet person, but I’ll be damned if I let this continue.  Other snowbird neighbors arrived yesterday.  They’re not going to keep their mouths shut either.

Now for issue number two.  The yellow lab has always appeared friendly enough, but three times this week he has rushed other people in the neighborhood and then intimidated them.  This happened to the friend who stayed with me for two weeks.  The dog ran up and blocked her from moving from her car to my house.  Yesterday, he blocked the newly-arrived neighbor from returning to her home.  I love dogs but I don’t care how friendly a dog normally appears to be, if it charges and then blocks you from moving, that’s aggressive behavior that could escalate if you challenge him.

I’m pissed off.  I’m fed up with constantly needing to remind these people that our neighborhood is not a freaking dump and that they need to have respect and courtesy for our properties and clean up after their damn dogs.  I will absolutely not tolerate an aggressive dog being allowed to roam free.  I will 100% not stand for my sweet neighbor’s quality of life and pleasure in her own home being compromised by the thoughtlessness of others.

My initial instinct was to go right over and challenge the people, but I know that’s not the way to go about it.  My newly-arrived neighbor was ready to start a petition and present it to them.  I thought long and hard about the situation and reflected on the things I’ve learned at work from our coach the last couple of years.  I decided that it is important to think before launching into action.

There was a time when I would have been totally reactive.  The ongoing inconsiderate behavior would have lit my fuse.  I believe now that it’s better to invest the energy to consider what is the best, most effective way to approach the problem and negotiate a resolution.  Okay, I always believed that but didn’t always act that way.

Here’s my plan.  I’m going to wait until I see the homeowner on his own and ask him if we can talk for a few minutes.  Without being abrasive or harsh, I’m going to lay out the facts of the two issues.  Then I’m going to ask him how he thinks we can resolve these issues.  I will explain with all sincerity that we would like to solve the problem cordially as neighbors and that  none of us wants this to escalate to the point where we need to involve law enforcement and animal control.

I think this sounds reasonable and that it could be effective.  What do you think?



A Month of Gratitude

I was reminded yesterday on Facebook that last November I participated in a month of gratitude.  Every day, those of us who took part, posted about something for which we’re grateful.

I’m a big believer in the power of gratitude.  Finding things to be thankful about, even in the worst times of my life, has helped me cope and get through the trouble.  I started doing this in 1998 when my mother was terminally ill.  She had lung cancer, then suffered a couple of strokes.  The stroke damage triggered a seizure disorder.  The cancer metastasized to her brain.  When that happened, we knew that there was no hope that she’d survive.  In a phrase, it royally sucked.  Sometime during the year, I heard about Sara Ban Breathnac’s Simple Abundance and the technique of keeping a gratitude journal.  Every night before I went to bed, I searched for five things from the day about which I could be grateful.  Sometimes I really had to dig, but I always found things.

The process kept me from falling into complete despair.  I knew that I had to keep going.  Mom needed me to be strong and take care of her.  Holding gratitude in my heart for blessings large and small kept hope alive.

So many years later, I have a full, wonderful, happy life.  I still remember to foster gratitude and to thank my Higher Power daily for blessings large and small.

For November, I’m again going to post daily about the things for which I’m grateful and pick something different every day.  If you’d like to join me, it’s only the 2nd.  There’s time to catch up.  🙂  I’ll include my daily gratitude item here in my daily posts.  Feel free to leave your post in the comments.  If you decide to do this on your own blogs, please let us know.

Yesterday I posted that I was grateful to enjoy a walk with my dogs on a bridge with a beautiful view.  (I’ve never posted on my personal FB page about my surgery.  All of you here know how significant it is that I can actually enjoy walking anywhere.)  Today I posted that I’m grateful my loved ones are safe and their homes were spared in the storm.  They’re dealing with inconvenience but it could have been so much worse.  I’m also grateful that I live in a country where we will rally and help those whose homes and towns were ravaged.

What are you grateful for today?



There’s no understanding how or why a mood or attitude can change so quickly for the better.  Somewhere between the storm anxiety, a mini-meltdown over being behind in my progress for class and the eventual upswing, thanks to lots of consideration and talking things out here, I set myself up for success. Getting through emotional upheaval without succumbing to compulsive eating was a victory.   I woke up this morning feeling downright invincible.

I want to bottle the feeling like fine perfume so that I can spritz myself with it every morning.  (Note to self, Google perfume names and see if someone’s used Invincible already.)

I have just as much work on my plate as I did before; just as many commitments.  I haven’t figured out how to add five more hours to the day or get by with less sleep and still be effective.  Yet, I’m handling it all so much better than I did last week.  To some extent, I attribute this to fewer hormonal fluctuations (I never got a period, by the way.), and an over all better, stronger, more determined attitude.   I deal with the pressures differently than I used to, without running to my “drug of choice” to indulge in false comfort.

I’m going to nurture myself like I would build a fire.  I struck the sparks by choosing to eat to my food plan.  Each time I stay on track, I’m feeding my little flame.  I’m breathing on it to help it gain strength and grow.  Getting in my exercise is akin to stoking the fire with more substantial fuel so the flames can build, sending out even more light and warmth.  I don’t need to go over the top and mass combust or rage out of control.  Steady input keeps me burning bright.

For today, I’m strong and powerful.  I’m invincible.