Day 2 Post Sinus Surgery


It’s not that bad, really. Not when compared to other surgeries I’ve had. It does, however, still suck. I have splints sutured in each nostril. I don’t know what they look like at all, but my nose feels completely closed up and is swollen. I swing from feeling somewhat energetic to crashing hard and being in pain. I cannot eat too heavily at all. My dinner tonight consisted of a bowl of my yummy gazpacho followed by a bowl of pureed pumpkin mixed into my Greek yogurt (with pumpkin pie spice and artificial sweetener). This will be my lunch tomorrow. Breakfast is Gjetost cheese melted over chopped apples. I’d like some homemade chicken nuggets for dinner tomorrow, if I have the energy to put it together.

I am missing work and my coworkers. I am missing my work projects. I haven’t looked at my Python exercises since Christmas week. Maybe after the splints are removed on Monday I’ll feel like revisiting my RosiePy7 persona.

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My sweet son heads back to school in Denton on Sunday. I will miss him very much. He is now preparing to head to Spain for a summer semester. I’m so proud of him.

I haven’t even written in over a month. I need to revisit my NaNo novel. I met with my InSaNoWriMo buddies last Monday. We are planning to meet each Monday night. They are such a fun and inspiring group.

Nothing much more to say right now that I’m recuperating. More as things progress.

When I Put Myself Down In Front of My Kids…


When Your Mother Says She’s Fat

Wow. This is an incredibly powerful message, and it hits so very close to home for me. My daughter and I have had discussions about my own self deprecation. My daughter is the spitting image of me when I was her age. My high school friends often remark on how much she looks like me. My poor baby girl finally told me one day how much it hurts her when I put myself down “Because mom, you tell me I am beautiful and people say I look just like you. How can you be fat and ugly but tell me I am beautiful and perfect just the way I am? It hurts my feelings when you put yourself down.” That was a huge lesson for me. I have never felt beautiful, ever in my life. But when I look at pictures of me when I was young I realize I was so lovely. I still suffer from terrible self image. I am working on it. Knowing how my self-deprecation has affected my daughter makes me realize we are responsible for loving ourselves unconditionally.

NaNoWriMo – InSaNoWriMo


This year I am actually participating in NaNoWriMo, that crazy opportunity for would-be novelists to crank out a novel (50,000 words) in 30 days (November 1 through 30). I have been aspiring to this endeavor since 2000. Today is day 12 and I am keeping up (20,206 words). The only mistake I’ve made so far is that I should not have stopped to read my novel. IT SUCKS. My fellow NaNo novelists are so incredibly supportive. Mike says “You can always revise and rewrite later, you’re doing great!”  Warren says “Sucking is okay. Better than choking with no words at all.” God bless them!

I am really focusing on the 50,000 word goal. I am not giving much thought to whether it is good or bad. I just am so glad to be writing regularly, something I have not been able to do in years. I am determined to hit the mark. I can’t help but notice the timing of my NaNo participation and the fact that both my kids no longer live at home. Does one have something to do with the other? I don’t see how in the sense that, when they were living at home, my kids have been quite independent for sometimes and have been involved in their own lives for quite some time now. Now that they don’t live with Michael and me anymore, it’s different, but not in a huge way. I think the difference for me has been more psychological than logistic. Somehow their departure from the house seems to have affected a change in my priorities. I have had a writer’s block for almost as long as I’ve had the kids.

Oh my God. Am I a terrible mother? I love my kids! It’s not their fault that I haven’t written much in the last 26 years. i mean, if one wants to write then one writes. Right? Right.

I have had a lot of fun getting to know my local NaNo participants. Last Saturday we met up for a group picture in front of the Alamo. Sunday we met up at the Olmos Bharmacy for a 3-hour write-in. Participating in the group activities suddenly made me feel like I can actually accomplish this craziness.

I’ll definitely do it again this year. I am hoping we InSaNoWriMo’ers can meet up during the rest of the year too. I highly recommend NaNoWriMo participation.

Ciao.

Grief, pain, food, love, and intermittent fasting


The impetus for my learning to fast (and it is definitely a learning process) began when I started studying the efficacy of the roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery. Two friends of mine underwent the procedure. I was able to observe the results of one of my friends quite closely as I saw her more often. Suzanne topped the scales at well over 300 pounds, was being treated for severe diabetes, hypertension, and obstructive sleep apnea when she decided to undergo a Roux-en-Y procedure. All non-surgical attempts at weight loss had failed. The surgery went well and she had no complications.

I observed Suzanne closely after her surgery because I was seriously contemplating having weight loss surgery. I wanted to know what to expect. She lost the majority of her weight within the first year, more specifically within the first 6 to 8 months when her surgical site was healing. I remember visiting her in the first weeks after surgery. In those early days she was, by necessity, living on very small portions of sugar-free gelatin, sugar-free sports drinks and vitamin water, and bottled water. She later progressed (under her physician’s supervision) to small tablespoons of cooked ground beef, soft scrambled eggs, and other mild and soft foods, each serving amounting to only a spoonful at a time. This was because her post-surgical stomach was fragile, healing, and could not tolerate more. With this very extremely scant feeding regimen, Suzanne’s body drastically. Suzanne was also taking a daily multivitamin.

The whole process essentially amounted to surgically-enforced fasting. The post surgical healing rendered Suzanne physically incapable of eating the way she had before. With time she was able to increase her food intake and eventually, within 2 years, she was eating normal portions and eventually progressed to larger than normal portions. One day she stated that her surgically-created “small pouch” had stretched. Her safety net was gone. Her rate of weight loss slowed with time and with the addition of calories. She continued to struggle to control her intake, and she was never able to achieve a body weight under 200 pounds. While her doctor expressed great disappointed that she didn’t lose more weight, Suzanne was satisfied with the goals she was able to meet. She had lost enough weight to cure her diabetes, hypertension, and obstructive sleep apnea. She is happy with her current size, though she has never actually become thin.

The Roux-en-Y procedure was not the magic bullet Suzanne had hoped for. Her struggle with compulsive overeating was not resolved by the surgery. She continued to overeat, although not as severely as she had pre-surgery. Her weight loss plateaued. The orthopedic problems she had experienced before her surgery continued because her body mass was still a stressor to her skeletal system.

Two years later I accompanied a family member to an information session at a local surgical weight loss center. I learned that in order for most insurance carriers to cover the procedure, a patient must have a body mass index of 40 or greater along with a major co-morbidity, such as sleep apnea, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension. I have met this criteria for 18 years. I also learned that candidates must begin to make significant lifestyle changes six months before their surgery, including a minimum weight loss of 5% of total body weight (to demonstrate motivation and also shrink the liver), and have strong motivation and commitment to make dietary and exercise changes. The presurgical “last meal syndrome” is also forbidden. To sum it up, before Roux-en-Y surgery I must lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle including exercise. If I do this, I can then qualify for surgery.

I left that information session with the firm decision never to undergo bariatric surgery. It was evidently clear to me that if I could accomplish the prerequisite lifestyle changes then I would not need to undergo the surgery. After watching Suzanne resume overeating when she had recovered from surgery, I knew that I needed to start digging deeper to find a better answer. I resolved to learn to eat healthy foods and smaller portions. This was easier said than done, and I continued to gain weight. I tried more diets, all failed.

Of course it has taken years of trial and error. Somewhere along my journey I learned about my appestat and how it is supposed to work. I knew for a fact that my appestat was broken or completely missing. Some people are born without limbs or eyes. I was born with a defective or completely missing appestat. I could not be trusted around food. I habitually have eaten large portions. I love food. It is my drug of choice. Needless to say, I have felt defective all my life.

Here comes the part I was not planning to write about. Sometime in the early 90’s I discovered the books of Geneen Roth. I read them all. She revealed to me a different way of thinking about my overeating. She wrote about compulsive eating and yo-yo dieting as having spiritual and psychological components. In her books she shared her own past pains, her own disordered eating, and her own journey to healing. She said that she learned to trust herself, to trust her body’s innate wisdom. She wrote that she stopped dieting, started trusting herself, and eventually achieved a natural healthy weight. I wanted what Geneen had, but try as I might I just could not get down to the heart of the matter. I could not resolve my overeating issues. I gave up on Geneen for many years.

So here I am on September 29, 2013. With pain comes wisdom, if you’re so inclined. I am so inclined. Getting to the root of my emotional issues has been the key to overcoming the need to eat constantly and eat large portions. I have known all my life that I eat for emotional reasons. I eat to cope. I eat to soothe myself. I eat to numb myself. Despite therapy and counseling over the years, I could not control what I consider my most detrimental habit. I have not been able to stop eating. I began seeing a therapist again this year, and I had said I was through with therapy. I was tired of revisiting the same issues time and again. Never say never. A chain of events began in my life this year, and the result was that I felt the need to find someone to talk to about it all. I committed myself to my therapy and recovery once again. I have begun working on issues I never had the courage to face before.

The death of my father is the single most important issue I have ever dealt with in my life. It was the cataclysmic flood-earthquake-hurricane combination that had to occur for the contents of my inner self to be rearranged. I have been working intensely to deal with the overwhelming grief I still feel. I am learning how to face the issues that have emerged in his absence in healthy ways. Some days these issues prove too much for me, but I am lately having more good days than bad.

In my therapeutic work and outside reading and learning, I have started learning to trust myself. I am trying to stop punishing myself. I am trying to be nice to myself. I am trying hard to learn to love myself. This last task has been the most difficult part. I have always considered myself unworthy, not good enough, weak and undisciplined. I continue to perform some painful but important psychological housekeeping. I have had to be more honest with myself than ever before and have had to admit what is not working in my life. I cry a lot. I write a lot. I get a lot of hugs and I-Love-You’s from my husband and children. My job is far from over; in fact, I haven’t even scratched the surface of this iceberg.  I have revisited Geneen Roth’s ideas. They make sense to me now in a way they never did.

Back to the subject of overeating and my decision against bariatric surgery. In the deep part of this learning process, I watched a BBC documentary by Dr. Mosley. It dealt with the issue of intermittent fasting for health. I liked the things I learned and decided I had nothing to lose. I always wanted to learn the discipline of fasting, a spiritual practice I always aspired to but could not sustain. Fasting by Dr. Mosley’s definition involves eating a 500-calorie meal on two fasting days a week, and eating normally the reset of the week. It was the kindest, most loving thing I have ever done for myself. It took only one fasting day to jump-start my appestat and convince my psyche that I would not DIE by fasting, and that 500 calories is enough to get me through a day. This is a miraculous for me since I never deliberately miss a meal.

I now can eat to a point of satisfaction without overeating, without having to “weigh and measure without exception” as one of my former eating plans advised. I am learning to estimate my portions and know what a healthy serving looks like. On my non-fasting days I average between 1100-1400 calories a day. I am losing weight steadily. My clothes are loosening up. I have not eaten a large meal in over a month. I feel energetic enough now so that I actually WANT to exercise. I am only just starting this journey of intermittent fasting and inner healing. The IF part is not a painful or difficult regimen to sustain. The healing is harder and more painful than I imagined it would be.

I realize now that I have lived my life with a fear of being empty, being hungry. I have associated hunger pangs with impending doom for most of my life. Through intermittent fasting I am learning that my world will not end if I miss a meal; on the contrary, my body continues to thank me.

Caution: Nuns at Work


Quidnunc

We are often asked: What do nuns do all day?

Our answer: Just about everything.

Especially now that we are on foundation, we really never know what new thing we’ll find ourselves doing. For example, one of our proudest accomplishments:

Repair nun at workThat’s right, we replaced the seal and bearings on our front loading washer. The repair man said it would cost $800 – $1200 to repair our washing machine, which was just out of warranty (of course). Some kind soul, (Jarrod, you have our undying gratitude and prayers forever!) had posted a video online showing how to repair this very thing, and he sold the replacement part, too – for only $40! He said a couple of hours is all the time it takes to replace the seal and bearings, after which you will have a washer that runs like new. How difficult could it be? The video looked like a…

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Time Flies


The story was in the news this week of a couple married for 65 years who died within a mere 11 hours of each other. Coincidence? The romantics say not. With the divorce rate as bad as it has always been, it’s a surprise to see these stories. In the present age, it is a spectacular feat to achieve a marriage of over one decade, let alone a marriage that lasts many, many decades. Six decades is a lot. I haven’t read any of the stories in detail, so I don’t know the reasons for the death except, I surmise, old age and the remaining living spouse pining away for the deceased spouse. I don’t know if it’s true. I’ll have to research this and verify my assumptions.

It is almost sappy in this day of independence, equality, political correctness, and progressive idealism, to think of one spouse dying for lack of the other. It just is not done in our world anymore. One does not die for love or lack of it. If a person loses a spouse – slash – life partner, the modern thing to do is to use whatever resources one has in one’s emotional-spiritual-physical survival kit to heal, get over it, and move on.

“She died because she could not bear to live without her true love? What is this, the Victorian era?”

“He kicked the bucket because the (air quote) love of his life (air unquote) died and he was left alone? What a geek.”

We have therapists, Dr. Phil, the Dalai Lama, crystals, and our neo-family tribes to get us through these sad times. Nobody dies over losing love anymore. With humans living longer than ever before, new love is easily found in the later years of life, so it is never too late to find another true love.

The story of this couple dying within hours of each other after a long marriage brought to mind the very first time I ever contemplated living my life without my husband. It happened when my father died. Sometime during the aftermath of the funeral, it occurred to me that if my husband died at 67 as my father had, then I had only 20 years left with him. I went into a panic, and I sobbed on my husband’s shoulder telling him that 20 years more together was not enough. I was reeling with sadness over the loss of my father, an event I had not foreseen and had not expected to deal with for at least 10 more years (I am an optimist). My husband comforted me and told me he loved me. He assured me that though he could not guarantee he’d be around longer than 20 years, he’d certainly give it a try. Better yet, he promised to do his best to make the years we did have together as happy as possible. That wasn’t enough for me. I had just lost my father, so the idea of losing my husband in 20 years was devastating to me.

What I find ironic is that I remember when I was a newlywed at age 19, how I looked down the avenue of our future together and thought way back then that hitting the 20-year mark would certainly be a coup. The number twenty seemed so huge. I knew without a doubt that 20 years was more than enough time to fit everything important into a marriage. With this confident thought, I forged ahead into wifedom and motherhood.

Fast forward 29 years. As I give the matter of 20 more years together some serious thought, I can only say that the past 29 years has not been enough, and certainly 20 more won’t be enough either. I love to wax poetic, to bring on the sap. It’s just how I’m wired. I have the ability to be very melodramatic if I choose. I am a sucker for romance (a la Paula McFadden in The Goodbye Girl), and I am prouder of my marriage and my husband now, and grow even more so with every passing year. It’s not because it has been an ideal life. It’s because it has NOT been an ideal life. It has been a bumpy ride of raising two kids and trying to keep our heads above water. As a couple, we survived the vomit and high fevers of our children in the middle of the night, and fighting over who was going to use the slowly dwindling sick time or vacation time to take the sick child to the doctor (we couldn’t afford a vacation anyway). We survived that middle time when we weren’t even sure we liked each other anymore, when each pet peeve grew into a rampaging rabid dislike or worse (I won’t say it). We survived the era of saying we were over and couldn’t go on anymore in the middle of every fight (I stopped saying it first). We survived this, that, and the other thing. Oh so many other things.

And then one day we woke up and our kids were out of the cootie danger zone. Our vacation and sick time started accumulating again. We were able to begin paying attention to each other without distractions for longer periods of time (baby steps at first). A dinner alone here, a movie and drinks there, we started remembering we were a couple. What was more, we started remembering what we liked about each other to begin with all those years ago. One night I looked into my husband’s eyes over a tequila sunrise at the Riverwalk and I saw that the 17-year-old guy who brought laughter permanently into my life all those years ago was still here, sitting right in front of me. His hair is grayer, but his smile captivates me more now than it did way back then. The tequila sunrise had nothing to do with it (okay well maybe it had a little to do with it), but I realized that we have built an incredible history together, and the icing on the cake of our life is our two amazing twenty-something kids. And believe me, we fought more over raising them than we fought over anything else. The thought that came after that moment was even more solid. It dawned on me that we had grown up together.

Together. That’s what it’s all about. I never could relate to wives who complain that their husbands are underfoot and in the way. If the point is to be alone, or always with the girls, why bother getting married? Given my propensity for writing and the solitude that it requires, this is a bold statement.

It’s not for me to know how long a shelf life I’ve got on this earth. That information is kept under lock and key by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (so sue me, I went to Catholic school for 13 years). I only know I love my husband more than ever after 29 years. I love everything about him. I even love the things about him that irritate me to no end. I wouldn’t trade our life together for all the vacation time in the universe. My lesson in this craziness? Be happy and don’t keep count.

Playing with blue plums – First Post


These are my personal keys to happiness. So far I have narrowed them down to five, which is a very manageable number, and it makes them easy to remember. They work for me and it helps for me to write them down every so often. Today as I worked through the inspiration process, I decided I needed to revisit my five keys again.

– Commitment

– Accepting uncertainty

– Embracing failure

– Disregarding critics

– Facing fear

Commitment. It is necessary to stick to a cause, a passion, a talent, a journey, an endeavor all the way to the end, whether that end is good, bad, or indifferent. It is the journey that yields the greatest reward. The outcome is irrelevant. I am one person at the beginning. I emerge a completely different person at the end. The process is what shapes me, strengthens me, refines me, or destroys me.

Accepting uncertainty. Nothing worthwhile in life can be completely controlled. Beauty and perfection is the outcome of chaos. To strive to attain absolute certainty is to chase a mirage. It doesn’t exist except in my own mind. To wake up without knowing exactly how the day will end and to forge ahead anyway, that is my definition of true courage.

Failure is my greatest teacher. I do not trust trust straight line people, straight line paths, or straight line dogmas. The most profound education comes from trying, failing, and getting up and starting all over again. Experience is the outcome of the process. It will be necessary to fail at many things, many times in life. No one ever truly succeeds unless they have failed a sufficient number of times in their life. How many times is it sufficient to fail? That will not be known until it is known. For myself, I only see it in retrospect. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, hindsight is truly 20/20. To be my best self, I need to be willing to fail in order to learn. I accept failure as a necessary part of building my strongest character, digging my deepest well of wisdom, and forging my most assured path to freedom. Each time I experience failure and its accompanying humility, I learn better how to empathize with those who suffer, how to truly forgive, and how to love unconditionally.

Disregarding critics. The more important the endeavor I pursue, the more critics I have, and the more vocal those critics are. They serve a purpose in my life, and that purpose is to strengthen my resolve. I now consider my worst critics as my best and most important cheerleaders. The louder they criticize, the stronger is my resolve.

Facing fears. When possible, I tackle my biggest fear first by: 1) staring it down, 2) finding out what makes it tick, 3) learning where its sharpest teeth are, 4) what feeds it, 5) what makes it roar. After I know this, I set about dismantling it. It is not necessary that I embrace or like what I fear. I find it is sufficient to face it, demystify it, and conquer it. Mostly I fear the unknown; more specifically, I fear that part of me that I don’t know. The dragon-slaying part of my character did not begin to emerge until I learned to stand up and face the dragons I feared the most.  I consider it my very greatest blessing to be confronted with that which I fear the most. I don’t like it. I have felt it would destroy me, that I would crumble for sure. Even knowing what I know now, I still tremble when the dragon appears. The difference is that now I know dragons are seldom permanent, and the ones that are can be tamed.