Weighty Matters

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Step by Step, Day by Day

Lots and lots of stress surrounding me right now.  I and my co-workers need to get through the next 10 days and then we should get a little relief.  It is a challenge to deal with this day after day, along with the extra work that comes with it.  I’ve had nights when I wake up around 2:30-3:00 a.m. to use the rest room and stress-motivated thinking intrudes.  This creates insomnia and I’m fortunate if I fall back asleep before 4:30 a.m.

The situation caused some strain between a co-worker and me in which we definitely did not communicate well and got into a pattern of escalating tension.  Thankfully, I thought to reach out to her on Friday with a verbal olive branch.  I said that we had not had the most shining week and that it definitely was not representative of how we usually work together.  I owned my part in it and asked her if we could take a couple of steps back and regroup.  I’m happy to say that she received the outreach in the spirit with which I intended.  She agreed with me and together we agreed that we’d meet again on Monday and resolve the rest of the situation.  I had the best two nights sleep that I’ve had since returning from my trip to Vegas.

Yikes.  I never posted here that I was going to Vegas, did I?  I went out to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention to hang out with friends, see Vegas for the first time in 47 years, and have some fun.  It was indeed fun, although somewhat exhausting.  I was happy to be there and also happy to get home.

Unfortunately, I was not good with my food plan while away.  This convention does not supply many meals and there wasn’t enough time during the day to sit down and have meals at the restaurants, not to mention the big expense since Vegas is not cheap.  I ended up consuming too many carbs, too much sugar, a few drinks.  Blech.

However, I am committed.  It’s been hard to get back on track, but I’m being kind and loving to myself and making the effort step by step, day by day.  From mid-week to now I’ve done much better with cutting out the junk carbs.  I’m still struggling a little to totally give up white sugar, but I’ve made some improvement there, too.  I’ve stopped bringing it into the house and am building up my resolve to say no to it when it crosses my path elsewhere.

I’m also getting back into my exercise routine.  I’ve recovered almost 100% from that injury.  We walked a lot while in Vegas and I did get up one morning and workout at the gym.  Last week, I returned to rowing classes and Tai Chi.  I paid attention to my body and found the balance between getting benefit from the rowing workout and overdoing it.  I felt the trouble spot start to twinge during one of the workouts so I backed off a little.  I also didn’t do three classes.  This week, I’ll try going back to three classes and see how it feels, but I won’t go crazy like I’m a hepped up wonder woman.  I’m also paying attention to the recommendations of my massage therapist — more hydration and stretching before the workout and making sure I stretch after the exercise sessions.  If I want to continue to improve my physical conditioning, I also have to proceed in an orderly, step by step fashion, instead of trying to jump over several steps and rush my body before it’s ready.

Class by class, workout by workout, walk by walk, Tai Chi routine by routine — it’s all positive progress.

Each time I don’t give in to cravings, whenever I say no to a compulsive urge to eat, when I turn away from a junk carb or sugary treat, I am taking the steps that I need to in order to continue to recover and live a healthy life.




Cruise Day Three – Snorkeling and Spirituality

Needless to say, after getting to talk with Larry Gatlin, I carried a glow with me throughout the day. We docked at Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos on a beautiful, sunny but breezy day. I’d lugged my snorkeling gear and a wetsuit with me from home and looked forward to a trip to the reef. I am such a water girl, as we’ve established before, so it made perfect sense to disembark a huge ship to board a smaller one for a few hours.

I always enjoy snorkeling, but I have to say that I think our reef in the Florida Keys is prettier with more varieties of coral and many more species of fish. That said, I still had fun. I also saw some sizeable “flag” yellowtail that my fishing friends and I would be happy to have hit a hook back home.

After an enjoyable few hours, I returned to the ship a salty, sticky, happy mess. I cleaned up and hit the buffet for lunch, putting together a nice, healthy salad. My attitude and approach to food and eating were so great while on my cruise that I wish I could package them and access them whenever and wherever I need to make a food choice. Only a couple of days into the cruise and I began to think that I might be able to surpass the goal to not gain weight and actually lose some. I was incredibly willing to keep eating right and be as physically active as possible. That thought stayed with me every time I walked up several flights of steps to the upper decks for a meal or different activity. (Going down is, of course, a no brainer.)

Lunch completed, I walked upstairs to the Gatlin Brothers’ interview. They are blessed with a great gift of beautiful voices and rich harmonies. During the interview they spontaneously broke into a rousing rendition of America the Beautiful and had the entire room (A hundred or so people, I estimate) singing a long. Later on, they sang a gorgeous hymn.

This brings me to the second part of this post. I’m not sure if it was thinking about Larry’s long ago personal ministry to the people at Ashley, the joy of the Gospel Hour, or hearing so many different artists on the cruise profess their faith, but I found myself thinking a lot about God, faith, spirituality and where I am with all of it. The 12th Step of AA/NA/OA talks about spiritual awakening. I’ve always believed that means different things to different people, depending on where we, or they, might be in their lives.

I was born and raised Roman Catholic but once I aged past 16, my regular practice of my religion and attendance in church have been sporadic. I used to go through periods where I’d attend church regularly but the years of not going are far more numerous. Yet, I believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, even if I couldn’t tell you exactly what I believe the Holy Spirit to be. An essence, perhaps, but not a personage. I’m not much for the rules of the church, but when I go I behave in accordance with them. For example, I grew up learning that Catholics do not take Communion without first going to Confession and doing penance.

I pray. I try not to ask God for too much beyond the Serenity Prayer pleas for acceptance, courage and wisdom. I ask Him to help me in my efforts to be a good person, to do good in this world. If friends or family of friends are sick or need support, I’ll say a prayer for them. Most of my prayer time is devoted to being grateful for all of the blessings and lessons in my life. That’s something that I started doing the year that my mother was so sick and dying. Every night I found five things for which to be grateful. No matter how bad the day had been, or what challenges we faced, I was determined to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Doing this got be through the worst days and helped me sleep with more ease, then get up the next day at least able to put a foot in front of the other and keep moving.

So with this spiritual awakening on the ship, I found myself wanting to connect to something greater than myself and to be part of a bigger picture. I saw on the daily schedule that Mass was scheduled for half an hour before dinner. I haven’t been to Mass in years, other than for a funeral, but I felt called to go. It was held in the Northern Lights room which I’m pretty sure is usually some sort of lounge or private party room. On the ship, this room was located near the casino. Before they closed the outer doors, the bells and clangs of slot machines came through. Strange or not, I wanted to be there. My heart felt full and I felt more connected, as I’d hoped.

The 12th Step talks about carrying the message of the steps to others and to practicing the principles in all of our affairs. I thought about what that meant to me. The spiritual awakening I experienced on the cruise showed me that I can continue to work on being a better, kinder person. Not that I don’t already try to be good and kind, but I know there are times when I am impatient, snarky and selfish with my time. I resolved to keep practicing the life lesson I got more than 20 years ago and be more generous in heart and spirit to others.

It’s a good goal and one that rewards even while it engenders more giving. When I first went to OA, there were a lot of us who didn’t understand how the 12th Step helped us with eating disorders. I’m not sure that I can make a point to point correlation, but I believe it goes back to the larger connection. Overeating is often an attempt to fill empty spaces, to make up for something that we feel is lacking. Expansion of spirit, in whatever way it happens, fills empty spaces from within. The 12 Steps are good guidelines for living a life of honesty, integrity, and kindness toward ourselves and to others. Working on those principles leaves a lot less room for the diseased thinking to take hold and manifest itself in diseased behavior like overeating.

For what it’s worth, I’d like to keep this spiritual awakening awake for as long as possible.

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Making Amends

There are steps in the 12 Step programs that talk about taking inventory of ourselves and our actions, admitting them to another person, and then making a list of people we’ve harmed and making amends where possible.

It’s a daunting and humbling process to study one’s self and one’s actions so objectively, take that personal inventory, and then suck it up and make amends. I think a lot of us would just prefer a do-over and skate by on the promise to do better in the future.

It doesn’t work that way — not when we’ve harmed others and definitely not when we’ve harmed ourselves. I am far better at apologizing to someone else than I am at making amends to myself. I’ve hurt myself a lot over the years — emotionally, mentally and physically.

I’ve thought badly of myself and really treated myself in awful ways. Seriously, if I treated others the same way it would be justifiable for someone to declare me a hateful, mean person. If someone else tried to treat someone I loved in the same way, I’d bitch slap that someone across the room.

So why was it acceptable to be rotten to myself? How did I learn to be mean, or at the very least, completely unsupportive to me? I wish that I had the answer.

I’m working on being a whole lot better to myself these days. I can’t undo the past, but I can apologize to myself, forgive myself, and resolve to not repeat the crappy, hurtful behavior in the future. I think that making amends to myself, truly being loving and forgiving, is essential to my recovery.

One way of repairing the physical abuse is to continue to be diligent with my exercise. I’m making my body stronger and healthier. The mental amends? I can work on them by cancelling negative, derogatory or judgmental thoughts if they pop up. Emotional amends? Loving myself, nurturing my needs, being as good and kind to myself as I enjoy being to others, goes a long way.

How do you feel about the ways — good and bad — that you treat yourself? Can you give yourself a hug today?