Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 30

If you think about it, all of life is about perceptions and often, the perception we have of ourselves is not the same one shared by others. It's also possible that the many different people that we know and meet in life have completely different perceptions of us based on their own circumstance, age, life or even opinion of themselves. So, it could be that it is all together possible to change our own perception of ourselves by changing ourselves, our lives and starting from the inside out.

When we built our home, we moved in with it only partially finished with the intention of finishing it ourselves. A fellow that I worked with at the time told me that it would never be done. I promised him a steak dinner as soon as we finished the house and he joked that he'd start sharpening his steak knife. Years later and right before I left that business to work on my own, he said to me that he had already worn out two steak knives and was working on his third. The house still wasn't finished, at least not to my satisfaction, and where in the early years of our marriage, we'd had guest over ever weekend and often through the work week, we now rarely invited anyone and often cringed when they arrived unannounced or invited themselves as a several friends from Chicago did.  For years, we were jokingly referred to as "the half way house" because we were half way between the colder Northern states and our friends' vacation destinations South of us in Florida and the Gulf states. That first visit however sent me into a panic. I rushed around for a week trying to make my place presentable and guest ready. The first morning after they arrived, I was standing at my kitchen sink looking out the window at the woods that started not twenty feet from my backdoor and noticing how over grown all of the undergrowth was and brush and vines that had taken over the bare part of the hillside leading to the woods. I was embarrassed to the point of mortification thinking how horrible this must look to my city friend when she walked up behind me and said, "How lucky you are to wake up to that view every morning. It's beautiful." What had appeared ugly, overgrown and neglected to me was beautiful to her.

Several years later, my father passed away after a lengthy illness. I'd been the one who stayed with him and cared for him during the nights. Even after he died, I still was unable to sleep at night. I had terrible insomnia for months and then suddenly developed what seemed strange phobias. My doctor suggested that I see a therapist to work through the issues that were at the root of my problem. I'd been seeing her for several weeks when I had an appointment right after a weekend when we'd had a wonderful time biking in the mountains. The therapists asked me about the weekend and in describing our days of mountain biking to the top of a mountain for hours and then the exciting descent (always the best part) which never took over a few minutes, I happened to mention a couple that we'd passed on the trail. I described them as "beautiful people." She asked me what I meant by that. I said, "You know, people who are perfect, whose life you just know is perfect, who have everything going for them, and are the envy of everyone who sees them." She started to laugh and I, a bit offended, asked what was so funny and then it struck me. "You aren't saying that I'm one of those people are you," I asked in total astonishment. "You'd be surprised," she answered, "just how many people think of you in that way." In my wildest dreams, I never imagined myself as having a perfect life much less being perfect myself. In fact, in my entire life, I always saw myself as being "less than" everyone else. To even consider that someone might envy me is just astounding. My entire life, people have seemed drawn to me and that also surprises me. I wonder, what do they see in me that I don't see in myself. I certainly haven't ever seen myself as lovable or pretty or even passably cute most days.

Over the past few years, I've shut myself away. I've just felt inadequate when I'm out in public as if I stand out like the proverbial sore thumb because I see myself as so fat, so unattractive and so old. I see myself as being down right repulsive and I always perceive that as how others see me, too but still, people seek out my friendship, my companionship, my council. Maybe they see something I don't? I keep thinking, if I could just lose enough weight, I'll start living my life again. If I could just finally finish this house, I'll start having people over for parties and cookouts again. If I can just get in shape, I'll start riding my horses again and take up kayaking or some other challenging sport. If I can just, get my office pulled together, I'll start creating again and utilizing all of those ideas I've put aside until.........If I can is holding me back. One day is holding me back. I'm too this and I'm too that is holding me back. The image of me I see in my mind's eye is holding me back. I'm fifty-five years old and I've waited too long to live the life I imagine. I can't afford to wait another day to start living. It's like the way I've used every excuse in the world to say I'm going to start this diet and exercise program tomorrow and then tomorrow comes with its own excuses to put off the rest of my life. I'm going to try for a while to see myself through the less critical eyes of my friends and loved ones. My friend Huston said to me a few weeks ago, "I don't care what size you are or how much you weigh, you'll always be just fine in my book." That touched me so that I nearly cried and I realized that until I start loving and accepting myself with that same unconditional love, I will never lose the weight, get in shape, finish my house, start riding again, start creating again, start living again. I've decided that I'm going to be Lazerus; I'm rising from the dead. You can just lay down and die or you can decide to love yourself enough to live. I'm choosing to live and also to love myself more. I am "as much" as everyone else and I'm beginning to think I'm a pretty super person.....if I do say so myself;-)!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 28

Menopause....ugh! I was late coming to this stage of life. Come to think of it, I've been late coming to every stage of life. It was on my forty-fifth birthday, standing in a dark hotel room in Boston at 1:00 in the morning and staring out the falling snow while I quietly wept that I suddenly realized that I wasn't a kid anymore. I'm sure that this is a realization that most people reach around twenty-nine or sooner but like I said, late bloomer. I guess that's why it was no surprise that I didn't start the menopausal stage of my life until I was nearly fifty-five, ten years past the age my mother and sisters began what most consider the final stage of your earthly journey. Although it has recently struck me that the next step is truly old age, I still haven't lost my youthful hope for the future. My sister once told me that once you hit menopause or at least fifty, you life is basically over. Gee, I sure hope not since I feel that I still have a lot of living to do. I've not only not given up on my dreams, I'm coming up with new ones every day. Most of my dreams have to do with either my work, my home or my beloved horses but I also dream of being fit and slim by this time next year...and being able to invest in an entirely new wardrobe, one that reflects the youth I know I'll feel. No, I don't intend to by any skinny jeans, mini skirts or midriff bearing tops but I would like clothes that make me feel good about myself again instead of the matronly cover ups I've been trying to hide behind for years. Going back to the subject of this post, I disagree with doctors who say that menopause itself has no effect on a woman's weight, ability to lose weight or how she feels over all. In fact, I disagree vehemently! True, part of the reason that we gain weight or find it difficult to lose weight at this age is that we usually aren't as physically active and although I know that thanks to computers, I personally live a more sedentary lifestyle than I did fifteen years ago, I also think that a lot of the problem is lack of energy. Whether it is because menopause seems to skew our sleep cycles or just the lack of hormones, I am so low energy on some days that I really don't want to get out of bed and then I sleep walk through my days just accomplishing what absolutely has to be done and not much else. Some days it takes effort just to walk a short distance much less even consider exercise of any kind. Still, in the back of my mind is that still flickering memory of how great I felt when I was fit and active. So, even though I feel like David facing Goliath, I'm determined to fight against the "symptoms" of menopause and do my best to regain the health and vitality that I had fifteen years ago. Maybe that seems like the impossible dream but remember who was the victor in that David against the giant battle. I think I can do this.....of course then there are those unusual cravings that occur whenever the hormones go on a rampage but one battle at a time. After all, I'm only human ;-)

Oh, and as if I don't have enough to do....or enough that I'm not getting done,lol.....with my art, the magazine, the house, and this blog, I've decided to start a new blog which highlights the work and shops of other artists (and occasionally my own new work--it is my blog! :-) from Etsy.com and around the web. It's called Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe and I post seven or eight new shops/pieces each Saturday. If you have the time, check it out; it's lots of fun and has a broad range of prices and styles.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 27

The good news is, I'm finally back on track with my diet. The bad news is, I was like a run away train for over a week. I missed posting yesterday and I think the crazy, out of control way I've been eating is to blame for that. I've felt physically ill for two days. I've discovered that my diet truly does influence the way I feel, not only physically but emotionally, too. During the two weeks that I carefully monitored and controlled what went into my mouth, I felt energetic and happy. The past two weeks, I've not only eaten what ever I wanted but way too much of it. Some days, it felt as if I was constantly eating because nothing was satisfying the hunger. Even when I felt so full that it seemed I was bulging at the seams, I was still hungry. I've been dealing with quite a few emotional curve balls during the past ten days or so and I think that upheaval is what sent me falling back into old habits. This morning, after finally getting a good night's sleep, I feel positive again. I started my day not with pancakes and syrup but with blueberries, cottage cheese and granola. For the first time in at least ten days, I'm enthusiastic about my day and the tasks at hand so I'm hoping that I accomplish a lot today. One of those tasks is cooking up the chicken breasts and broccoli that I bought when I was out on Wednesday. I thought I'd have that done by now but two days of feeling absolutely miserable kept my activities at the minimum, have to be done jobs like caring for the horses and Sadie the dog. I'm not so certain that I did those tasks well even though I did manage to throw in a much needed bath for Sadie which she of course wishes I hadn't. I've been feeling over whelmed and hopeless for a while but today, I can feel a flicker of that old light of enthusiasm and I'm ready to start moving forward again. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 25

I'm still off kilter. I've had quite a bit of digestive track upset for the last few days and I'd imagine it was something I ate. I don't know if it's anything in particular or just the fact that I've been skipping meals....and not just the extra ones scheduled on the RTN program.....and then starving and eating everything in sight. It seems to take a lot more to make me feel full and satisfied when I eat like that and so I eat more and usually foods that aren't very good for me. I don't know what has caused me to spin out of control like this. Not any progress on my diet today but I am doing my best to get my entire life back in balance. Today's project is cleaning out this office space not only getting our finances back in order in the process....taking a break from working on the books to post this update......by finally filing a years worth of receipts that were packed into a large, overflowing basket but also  just sorting and straightening so that I can finally get the new furniture painted and moved in here. It is a lot bigger task than I first thought. One problem is, I moved into this space...somewhat, I've been living out of boxes, bags and baskets.....six months ago and I'm finding that many things were just tossed into random boxes with the intention of sorting it out later. Well, judgement day has come and I'm playing the judge and deciding what stays and what goes in the trash can. I know that I'll feel so much better once this is done. I'm also sure that I'll be ready to tackle another task, another room and possible my diet and exercise program next. But right now, I'm still knee deep in unfiled and unrecorded receipts and I'm not feeling very enthusiastic especially as the day is rapidly slipping away from me and I don't feel as if I've made a lot of progress. Then again, progress is progress but still having work to do will mean that tonight's dinner will be the second pizza that I picked up yesterday (on sale 2 for 10 so how could I resist such an economical and quick meal?) I'll try to throw in a salad, too, just to pretend that we're eating a healthy meal. I'm sorry that I've seemed so discouraged lately and that I've not only not made any progress but seem to have slipped back several steps. I still have faith in myself though and I knew that trying to change my entire life would not be easy. Today, I've taken an important and rather large step in taking on the mess in this room. Once this is done, I know that I'll feel like I've taken a huge leap forward in getting my life pulled together and that is sure to offer me the encouragement and enthusiasm that I need to keep moving forward. Today's already part of my history. I can't change or correct anything I've done, right or wrong. All I can do is consider just what I've learned and build from that. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 24

That night time demon insomnia has returned. I was up until nearly 2:00 this morning and my alarm goes off a little before 4:00. I did try going back to bed after Steve left for work but then I got up and ate! I dozed for about 45 minutes before the phone woke me and then I ate again. I'm not even going to tell you what I ate but it was not good.....Ok....aaah, this makes me so sad and a bit angry at myself but I resorted to my usual low energy, quick fix but quick to revert to an energy drop solution...sugar and fat :( .....First I had a peanut butter and dried cranberry sandwich on whole grain bread. At least that choice was somewhat healthy if high in fat and sugar. Second "breakfast" was whole grain blueberry pancakes with too much butter substitute and too much syrup even if it was sugar free. Well, at least it was whole grain. This was all before I got a morning energy and spirit boost from my pals in the RTN group, Over Fifty and Still Reshaping. These strangers are fast becoming my good friends and they all know exactly what to say. In many ways, I think they are really more supportive in my diet and life style changes than my family and friends. I've shared a lot with them including how down and depressed I've been over the past week and most of the reasons why. Being down has also led to me disappointing myself by indulging like I did this morning thinking that somehow, the food would make me feel better. Well, it actually does but only for a moment. Then the moment of contentment and well being passes and I not only feel emotional down but physically ill as well. All, I can hope is that I've learned a valuable lesson over the past week that will eventually change my life. I'm going to do something a bit different today not only because I've got an appointment in two hours and the horses aren't fed, the breakfast dishes aren't washed, the laundry isn't started and I am not dressed and ready to head out the door but because I want to share with everyone just what a great group those Over 50 and Still Reshaping folks are. I adore them and I can show you how supportive they've been as well as share a bit of what's been bothering me for the last five days or so by pasting a few of this morning's posts from the group here:

  • GrayHorse
    GrayHorse Sorry that I've been so silent for the past week. I have been checking in and reading all of your inspirational posts every day. Hope everyone has a good Wednesday as I try to get back on track. I've had a few days of feeling defeated not just with my diet but many aspects of my life. I've given in to feelings of self doubt but it's just been a temporary lapse. I'm going to the grocery store tomorrow and stocking up on healthy food again. A few stressful days and I fell back into old habits but I have learned a lot, too. It's too late to go into it all now but there was an incident that I didn't put into my blog because it involved my professional life and comments from others in the same field of work. Instead of leaving me feeling defeated, I decided to stand up for myself for the first time in my life. I've finally decided that I can't please everyone even though I've tried for 55 years. I may be getting a late start but it is time that I pleased myself. I'm taking care of myself and my needs, my dreams and I'm not letting anyone else with their own selfish agenda tell me that I can't!
    August 24, 2011 at 1:06am Delete
    • imhistory@gmail.com
      imhistory@gmail.com You are one strong woman Grayhorse, you can do it! Canadian, I love the coconut reference (maybe we will all be bananas one day...oh what, that means crazy :-).
      August 24, 2011 at 10:48am
    • karolynmarie
      karolynmarie I believe one of the tougher things in life, is learning how to deal wth negative, i.e. selfish, people! You are dealing with them Grayhorse! What a leap towards gaining your goal(s)! :-)
      August 24, 2011 at 11:00am
      • Username
        GrayHorse You all will never know how much your support means to me. I think intimidation is just the adult form of bullying. For most of my life, I've let people manipulate me into doing not what is best for me but what is best for them. Then I watched them either leave me sitting in their dust as they sped ahead or else sitting there with them while they continued to whine and complain about what life had done to them and holding me back at the same time. Oddly, I never felt sorry for myself. I think part of that was not feeling that I deserved success and when it came to me unsolicited, between my own low self esteem and friends telling me that I was selling out, I sabotaged my good fortune. This time around, I think I've gained enough self awareness that I recognize manipulation and intimidation when it's happening to me. I have another business opportunity and I asked the wrong peoples' advice. They once again told me that I was selling out and devaluing my work and theirs. Well, I don't see it that way and this time, I'm doing what's best for me and only listening to people who give me positive reinforcement.....like all of you wonderful coconuts, lol.....thanks for that image, Canadian and imhistory, the banana reference does very much apply to me. I've alway been a bit quirky and cuckoo ;-)