Natural High

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After I posted last night, my friend Ann from NOLA said she was in the process of quitting sugar, too. My former boss commented that he and his wife are doing Whole 30 right now. In that one, you only eat whole foods which means ALL the good stuff – booze, sugar, grains, dairy and legumes – is out the door. I salute them on that challenge. That’s a whole new level of discipline. One of my coworkers at Whirlpool did it in January. The other day I asked him if he kept any of the habits. “I still eat,” he said.

I’m so lucky that my friend Ann here and my sister are both trying to make positive changes in their eating habits and lifestyles, so we are all supporting each other in the journey. Last night, Ann and I chose a restaurant that would make it easy to make good choices and then took a long walk. Today was a gorgeous sunny day, so I texted her again and asked her if she wanted to join me for the sunset and another walk.

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We chatted enthusiastically about our new eating plans and how much better we felt and even laughed about our day’s temptations. But I’m happy to say we both got another 24 hours under our belt and even exercised to boot. I feel so good when I’m eating right and exercising, but it’s so hard to keep on keeping on. It really is a “one day at a time” gig, and the challenge is always to keep dusting yourself off and starting over. It’s like ice skating. The first thing they taught me in my lessons was how to get back up. “If you are going to learn to ice skate, you are going to fall,” Mindy said. Falling is not a matter of if …. it’s a matter of when.

The sunset on Lake Michigan was amazing but fleeting tonight. And the cool breeze, lovely river and great company put me on a natural high. Who needs sugar when there is such sweetness in life? At least for today, not me.

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Here are the sugar stats for today:

Energy: The slump after lunch disappeared today. My energy stayed pretty steady from the time I got up until now. I’m actually not even beginning to feel sleepy yet, and that’s unusual. When I’m eating sugar, I’m usually exhausted by the end of my workday. But tonight I was totally energized. I did yoga and went for a walk without any resistance.

Sleep: I slept all night last night. When I woke up, it was 10 minutes prior to my alarm set time. I felt rested and didn’t even really need a caffeine boost right away. (I had one anyway, but I could have done without it.)

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Cravings: I had some bad cravings this afternoon around 2:30. I am tracking on Weight Watchers, so I decided that I was going to learn something and make a better choice this time. I took my phone so I could use the barcode scanner and went to the little convenience store downstairs. I checked items for sugar first and realized I’d have to go savory. Even somewhat healthy-looking snacks had sugar. I found a bag of jalapeno tortilla chips that didn’t have sugar. They were baked, so they were low points when I scanned them. I ate them, and they were actually delicious. I felt like a rock star. I navigated that with ease.

Mood: I was grumpy when I got to work this morning. I was irritated by every little thing, and I finally realized it. I’m sure it was the lack of sugar. It always makes me more irritable. I had some green tea and that seemed to help my mood.

Brain Fogginess: No difference from yesterday. I was pretty clear-headed.

Joint Pain: I did yoga tonight, and while my muscles were tight, I did not have any pain in my joints.

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Body, Heal Thyself

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Okay, I’ve decided I’m committing to 30 days without sugar. I was telling my friend Ann tonight that I really need to develop this attitude about sugar that has a more positive slant. It’s not that I want to give up sugar. No one wants to give up sugar. It’s delicious, and when I eat a bunch I feel like I’ve taken a wonderful drug. Who wants to give that up?

What I really want to do is to take care of my body. I spent so many years eating loads of sugar in response to negative emotions and being bored that I have done a number on my system. It was not unusual after my second divorce to go an entire day eating nothing but chocolate. One of those big bags of Dove chocolates was a single serving on too many occasions. Somehow my body coped with it, but eventually I developed hypoglycemia. Now even a little sugar sets me off on a blood sugar roller coaster. My eating habits have damaged me.

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So, I want to approach this as an amends to my body. It got me a long way despite my abuse. I would love to commit to a 6 month hiatus to give my body a chance to heal and rest, but I don’t know that I can commit to that. I’ll do it for 30 days. If I’m feeling good enough and want to continue, I’ll do it. Who knows, I might develop some new habits that I enjoy more than eating sugar and certainly more than dealing with the aftermath.

I am now on Day 3 without sugar, and I’m feeling pretty good. I didn’t have any cravings today after two days of really strong ones. I’m eating a lot of fruit to keep my sweet tooth at bay. I know that fruit has natural sugar, but it also has lots of healthy nutrients, too. If I feel like I later need to cut that out, I will. But for now, it seems to have no negative effect. I slept really hard the last two nights, and I’m sure I’ll sleep good tonight too. And, without sugar ramping up my adrenalin, I don’t have an issue with coffee. So, that’s a perk! (Pun intended.)

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April 4 will be my Day 30. I’ll use this as a journal, so if you don’t want to read about my quitting sugar you may as well take a Midlife Moments vacation. If you’d like to join me, please do so. I know … I know. But it might be good for you! As for today, I’m feeling good. I’m going to measure my progress by detailing the following:

  • Sleep – I’m sleeping harder and waking up less. I’m still a little groggy when I wake up, but I wake up early. And I have great, crazy dreams!
  • Energy – Not very energetic today. I got up at 4:30 to workout. I did workout, but it was pretty painful. I was so sleepy after lunch that I had to stand up in a meeting. But I had plenty of energy after work to meet a friend and go for a walk. It’s 9:18, and I’m getting sleepy but am not super tired.
  • Joint Pain – I’m achy today. I worked out my legs this morning, and they ache.
  • Mood – I laughed a lot today. I mean I really laughed a lot.
  • Brain Fogginess – I was foggy this morning, but I was engaged at work and able to think through things until I got sleepy after lunch. It was hard to rebound even though I drank some matcha.
  • Cravings – I was hungry but was not necessarily craving sweets. I ate a good deal of fruit for snacks.

Goodnight y’all. I’m so happy to go to bed so I can sleep and then drink coffee in the morning!

Channeling My Inner Icelander: Longings

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I spent another day yesterday riding the sugar roller coaster. “Just stop eating it,” you say. “It’s bad for me,” I say. “It’s poison,” say the books that proclaim sugar as the downfall of our health as a country. “It’s an addiction,” say the psychologists and substance abuse counselors. “It keeps you company when you are lonely,” says the addict on my shoulder. “It hugs you when you are scared,” says the devil. “And it’s just so, so sweet,” says my addicted, pleasure-seeking brain. Sugar’s energy sucks the life out of me. Its initial calming effect leads to an unrelenting anxiety. No matter what, I always end up laying awake at night in the middle of a blood sugar crash cursing myself for my dependence.

Today, I vow, will be different. For some people, I assume sugar is not what it is to me. But, for many, I can see that they struggle with the need to eat it for stress relief and comfort. I can see it because it literally shows up on us in anxiety, inflammation and weight gain. As stress levels rise during this time, you can literally see people “puffing up”. I feel helpless in my own spiral. But I know that it is not hopeless. I have been here before.

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Yesterday I read an article in the Atlantic about the stunning success Iceland has had in breaking the cycle of drug and alcohol abuse in its teenage population. When the country became alarmed at the addictive spiral of its youth, the country decided to get to the root of the problem instead of trying to manage symptoms. You can read the article here, but the goal was to teach teenagers to handle stress in proactive ways by working with their bodies’ natural body chemistry. As humans, our body chemistry helps us relieve stress if we “lean in” instead of “numbing out”. Some of get stress relief by increasing our energy and soaking in our endorphins. Others need to slow down to quell anxiety. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Meditation works as well as dancing all night long. It just depends on who you are.

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I actually know what works for me. It’s a combination of meditation, exercise, eating right, real connection with others and reading spiritual material. So, when I got up this morning I made my tea without sweeteners and cracked open Ronald Rolheiser’s book Holy Longing. In the introduction, he talks about this longing that we have inside us as humans that is never really satisfied. This desire drives us. It drives us to seek God. It drives us into an anxious state when we are unoccupied. It drives us into all kinds of addictions and modes of escape. We are always in a state of unrequited desire. We have moments of peace. We never have a lifetime of it.

Twelve step groups say addictions of all kinds are an attempt to fill a God-sized hole with something else. We just keep trying and trying to find comfort but it never works. We need more and more to keep that elusive peaceful feeling. We all have different “solutions” to our anxiety. While I pound sugar to get that “high” I like so much, another engages in angry arguments to help them feel smarter than others. A credit card buys all of the things that comfort others. A momentary comfort is experienced in the numbness of substance-abuse. The credit card bills come due, our relationships unravel from the arguing and substance abuse, and my blood sugar crashes from the sugar. We are always left with the remorse and the emotional fallout. Peace – from those things – is elusive.

Writing helps me reframe my thoughts, and I think I’ll approach today differently. With the awareness that I’m feeling a God-sized hole right now for a variety of reasons, I’ll fill it with time with Him and engage in my spiritual practices. I’ll abstain from sugar and let the withdrawal take me. I’ll find a way to connect with others tonight and express my true feelings. I’ll eat something healthy for breakfast and do a yoga nidra… BEFORE reading the news. For today, I’ll pretend I’m an Icelander and deal with the root of the problem.

 

Whatever Happened to Kindness?

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The other morning I got up to do yoga. My yoga space has a small window that looks out into the street. It’s on the third floor, so I get a bird’s eye view of the area. I was standing in Tadasana, and I saw what I first thought was a dog. I realized in horror that it was a deer. It was walking down the sidewalk in my neighborhood headed toward the street. What is happening to our animals? And why doesn’t anybody care?

I feel really sad this morning. It’s the first morning I’ve woken up in tears in a long time. I thought of the deer walking through my neighborhood. Tucked in my bed with my animals, I thought of the animals on our planet. In all of the hiking I’ve done in the last few years, the animals seem to be gone. There are few birds twittering. A sighting of an animal is now a complete rarity. Sure, in Louisiana there was evidence of wild hogs, and I see squirrels here. But where are the animals that I used to see with some regularity?

I texted one of my friends in Memphis yesterday. She admitted that she was worried about herself because she is so depressed and crying all the time over the state of the planet and, in particular, the political scene. She’s even thinking of seeing a counselor to help her deal with it. Another one said her anxiety is at an all-time high, and she doesn’t know what to do about it. All of my closest friends are struggling with fear about the state of the world, and I am, too. My only advice is to grieve the loss of what we think it should be.

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I feel this huge sense of loss that people really don’t care about human rights, the wilderness, animals and – most of all – kindness. Somehow we have lost the desire to be kind. Maybe that desire was never there, and I was just oblivious. That’s the major reason I got off Facebook. I don’t like the disrespect and meanness that is surfacing. I can’t stand to look at it. I never could watch violent movies, and I feel like our society has turned into one. It hurts, and when I say it hurts and saddens me, I get insulted by insensitive people who see kindness and sweetness as a weakness.

I’m further confused that this behavior is somehow getting lumped in with Christianity. Christ is so different than that. He held people accountable, but his overwhelming teaching was about love and kindness to others. And it seems so ironic that this “majority” wants everybody to become Christian, but this need to politicize their agenda turns people off the Christian religion. I just don’t believe that cramming a belief system down people’s throats does anything for attraction.

Words like sadness and kindness and compassion are treated with disdain. Fear and anger have become synonymous with strength and power. Name-calling and bullying are encouraged, and arguing is now a favored form of entertainment. For empaths like me – and there are many of us – words like torture and bans and power and gag orders hit our bodies with the effect of violence. And nobody cares.

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Our political system has become reality television. For 8 years, we watched as one party dug their heels in like 2-year-olds and wouldn’t play even though this country badly needed their assistance to pass policy that would sit with everybody. The scene now looks like a bunch of incompetents who don’t know how to do anything but grab power for themselves. Who is caring for our constitution? As long as we can have our guns, we don’t need the First Amendment anymore. We’ll just shoot the dissenters. If the law doesn’t suit us, we just change it so we can slam our policy in place. Power is the new black. Billionaires are the new public servants. And kindness and respect have been deemed useless.

I don’t know what’s going to become of us as a society. I am very fearful of what is going to become of our animals and fellow creatures that are struggling to survive. I am worried about the carelessness with which we regard our planet. I am totally confused about our culture’s willingness to mock and set aside the poor and the disabled. I am saddened with the way people are discarded or treated with disgust because they have different beliefs and viewpoints. The losses I’m feeling right now are overwhelming.

I don’t want to be on a soapbox this morning. I just want to ease this huge gaping hole of pain. I’m tired of being called names because I want to see a world filled with kindness. I want to live my life in compassion helping others realize their dreams. I want to enjoy nature and make a decent living. I don’t want to be rich. I don’t want to take advantage of other people. I want to leave the world a better place than I found it. I crave safety for everyone. And I’m afraid that dream – just like democracy – is just a fantasy imagined by fools.

 

 

 

Change is Good

 

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I’m still making it Facebook-free! I think it’s been a week.. or more maybe. I don’t know how long it’s been, and I don’t care. I just know that I don’t miss it at all. I’m finding ways to stay in touch with most of my friends by now in other ways, and that feels really good. Yes, I sort of miss knowing what all is going on in everybody’s lives, but, I don’t miss knowing what’s going on in everybody’s head. Besides, maybe there is something to be said in reaching out to someone instead of lazily stalking their life with no real connection.

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I started using Instagram. I have to admit it doesn’t have the addictive quality of Facebook, but it does offer cute cat videos. I’m calling it the softer, gentler social media outlet. This weekend my friend Cy and I were playing with some of the features. He’s a friend from Louisiana, and he’s sick of the BS on Facebook, too. When I told him about Instagram, he was a little hesitant but thought he might try it. Next thing I know, he’s posting update videos from Livingston of his daily goings-on. He’s becoming an Instagram super user!

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There is a new feature on Instagram called My Story. Apparently, the idea was stolen from the popular Snapchat, but since I never have gotten into Snapchat, I don’t have any judgments. You can upload pictures to My Story, adorn them with text, add the temperature and location and decorate with funny accessories. As the day goes on, My Story grows, and your followers can view it like a slideshow. After 24 hours, it disappears! I had fun on my adventure this weekend chronicling all my stops with videos and pictures. I had a few followers sharing in the fun. They say a picture paints a thousand words, so Instagram is an efficient way to get a point across.

I’m also meeting different people on Instagram. Some of my friends are on Facebook and Instagram, but many of the ones on Instagram are not on Facebook, so I haven’t been “socializing” much with them in years. It’s nice to see my friend Amy’s kids growing up and catch up with a couple of my runner friends in Memphis. It’s just a bit of a different experience, and I don’t find myself obsessed about being on there. I actually have time to read and cook and exercise.

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I subscribed to the New York Times, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. When I was on the News app on my phone, all I got was stories on politics and tragic happenings. Now that I have the Times I try to go in and read some of the features, scour the book reviews, devour the articles about history and occasionally read about politics. The writing is so good. Articles are well researched and actually have a real story behind them. I feel so much better about the world. Yes, there’s drama going on at the White House, but the rest of the world seems to be moving along quite normally.

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My Virtual Boot Camp is almost over, so I’m trying to decide what I want to do next for fitness. I really do miss the heart-thumping cardio from running, so I’m considering getting in shape to run again. I did my first 30-minute run/walk tonight. Injuries have plagued me the last few years every time I got started, but I’m hoping if I take it slow enough I’ll get back into it. I’d like to keep the distance at 5k or 10K at the very most because I want to continue my yoga and strength-training, too. I think marathons are in my rear view mirror. I’d rather be hiking!

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Will I ever get back to this again? I miss my runs.

I’m continuing to follow Weight Watchers’ maintenance plan, and the accountability has helped me stay on track and actually lose a few pounds the last few weeks. Tonight I made some delicious butternut squash soup, and finished it off with smoked trout from Lake Michigan and some homemade bread with goat cheese. It was delicious! I feel so much better when I’m eating right. I’ve been tempted a couple of times this week to indulge in the crap that is out at work, but I’ve stayed on track due to the “rails” I have in place. I even ate pretty healthy over the weekend while I was out of town. I’m sort of proud of myself.

I head to Chicago this weekend to stay with my friend Nancy. I’m looking forward to being in the city. We might go ice skating, walk around downtown and will probably just hang out and laugh a lot. Meanwhile, I have to get through Thursday and Friday at work. It’s only Hump Day, y’all! Friday’s coming…

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Day 2: A Little Bit Unexpected

 

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So, today I was pleasantly surprised that I felt more connected to people than ever – no Facebook needed. I got emails from several friends, texts from others and have even gained a couple of new blog followers from Instagram. One even sent me an email to tell me her story. It seems that life after Facebook is … well …. pleasantly social!

Tonight I went to dinner with some old friends. I felt the urge a couple of times to take pictures of my food and post, but I realized that it wasn’t necessary without Facebook. I suppose I could have posted to Instagram, but you really can’t tag people so it’s just not the same. I like a feature that Instagram offers that’s called “My Story”. I can post pics and videos all day to “My Story”, and people can view it as a slideshow. In 24 hours, it disappears. I’ll give that a try on one of my adventures. It’s not the same as a Facebook photo album, but I can make photo albums on Google Plus, and, of course I can post them on here.

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It spit snow all day but nothing ever stuck. It’s supposed to snow the next few days but it doesn’t look like much accumulation. It’s really weird. The winter has had a few cold spells, but I always remember there being snow on the ground most of January and February. I guess it’s getting warmer up here, too. It’s just been foggy and dreary with rain for the last two weeks. My friend Laura in Louisiana said the azaleas are already blooming down there. It’s like we had winter for 3 weeks in December, and then it stopped. All I know is I will not have to suffer in July anymore! Yay!!!!!!

 

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A little present from Louisiana arrived on my doorstep today. My friend Michael bakes King Cakes every year, and he sent me one. I was so excited to receive the colorful sweet bundle. King Cakes are served in Louisiana during Carnival season, and they are served in offices, at parties and anywhere people are gathering. My Facebook feed has been full of photos of people at Mardi Gras balls for the last few weeks. It is one of the things I miss. Even though we still have Christmas lights lit up here, there will be no festivities until Memorial Day. But in Louisiana, they are dancing and eating and socializing like there is no tomorrow. The normal holiday season is just a warm-up for Mardi Gras.

My friend Laura’s comment about the azaleas reminded me of one of my favorite days in Louisiana. A friend of mine came into town from Memphis, and we went to Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge. It a small bar in a small Cajun town that has a Zydeco breakfast on Saturday mornings. This is no quiet brunch. It’s an all-out dancing party at 8 in the morning. On the way out, we spotted some blooming potted Camelia bushes. It was my first winter in Louisiana after many, many years, and I was so delighted to see flowers in January.

I felt the same delight today when so many people were contacting me. I’d opened up a little space for something new by letting go of Facebook. The Universe gave me a little gift for trying something new – a confirmation that this could be good for me. Maybe it would bring new people into my life that have been living in other social circles. Perhaps those that have just been on the sidelines of my life might now make more effort to stay really connected. And maybe I would work a little harder at staying in touch, too. It was as unexpected and as pleasant as seeing flowers in January.

 

Day 1: Freedom

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So, yesterday was my first full day without Facebook. I took a break for several months years ago, but this was the first time in awhile that I didn’t check posts, post my thoughts or spend time scrolling through a news feed. It felt really good, actually. I do miss my Virtual Boot Camp group, and I guess I’ll have to text them to give my updates, but overall I’m happy with my decision.

I explored Instagram a bit and even interacted with a few friends that have long been absent from Facebook. I read some blogs, and I did some research on some issues that concerned me. I even had time to talk with my friend Laura on the phone. I should have taken my dog for a walk, but I didn’t. I just wanted to relax and create some new habits. The world, all of a sudden, feels like a nicer place to be.

I want to get out of town this weekend. I was booked for a winter camping trip with a Meetup group, but after someone posted on Monday that the camping area was really wet, I decided I didn’t want to drive less than 25 minutes from home and camp in a mud-hole. I’d save it for a better time. So, I’ve been asking around for good places to go for the weekend. I can’t decide if I want an outdoor adventure or if I want to go somewhere that has some great coffee shops and shopping just for a change of pace.

I talked to my friend Effie from Baton Rouge last weekend. She said it looked like I was really loving it up here. I confirmed that I was, but I feel the urgency to build my community and hate that I don’t have a group of best girlfriends yet. She said that maybe I should just take time to enjoy the quiet. “I think God gives us times when it is quiet so we can just relax,” she said. I felt the sweet comfort of God’s word filtering through the noise to land in my ears.  Ah, yes… I think that’s exactly what I will do. With all the struggle of my time in Louisiana, it’s time to enjoy a time of peace. The job is good … the house is perfect for me … my 401K is growing rapidly … Michigan is drop-dead gorgeous … I feel good physically … and it’s going to snow again today. Life is good.

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I pulled the Eagle card this morning in my Medicine Cards … AGAIN. The fox was my ever-present messenger in Louisiana. Now the Eagle seems to be hovering in my sphere. “Focus on the broader view,” she urges. It’s so easy to get caught up in the details and the challenges and my “to-do” list.

What is the bigger picture? To focus on that, I think of the concepts of expansion and elevation … expanding my sphere, elevating my perspective, and opening my heart and soul. As I write those words, I realize how different that energy feels than the energy in isolating, building walls and closing doors. The Eagle asks me to shift my energy in opposition to the current pull. I see an Eagle on a Great Lakes perch, eyes blinking, scanning the horizon. Freedom is her domain.

Eagle asks you to give yourself permission to legalize freedom and to follow the joy your heart desires.

~~Jamie Sams and David Carson in Medicine Cards

 

Seeking A Better Place to Hang

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I have had enough. I deactivated my Facebook account today. I’ve been thinking about it seriously since the summer. Although there are people on there that I love to follow, I just can’t do it anymore. No matter how many people you unfollow or hide or block, some angry idiot always finds you to slap you in the face when you post.

I’m not the only one. My sister left Facebook the day after the election, and my friend Nancy has been on and off of it regularly. I had minimized my friends list to people that I would call my real friends – you know, the ones who actually have interacted with me instead of just stalking me on Facebook so they can talk about me behind my back.

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I’ve tried to focus on going to pages that inspire me and post uplifting and positive messages, but the trolls rip those people apart. I come away angry and disillusioned all over again. What has happened to people? It appears that the world has given way to the 7 deadliest sins: greed, lust, pride, wrath, envy, gluttony and sloth. I’m not going to provide the proof because I just did a yoga practice on stillness, and I don’t want to get riled up again. Jesus has to be shaking his head.

I actually don’t believe anything has happened to people. It’s always been this way, and hateful thoughts were just well hidden. With very little interaction where people felt free to speak their minds, we really didn’t know anything about others except the shiny, polished exterior. One of the reasons I love recovery is that I’m around people who don’t hide behind that polished image of who they want to be or even worse – who they think they SHOULD be. But they don’t just show their ugliness, they are on a path to get their insides to match their outsides. We need to have an election recovery group.

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I’m going to focus on Instagram. I may even try Snapchat. Perhaps I’ll learn how to use Pinterest to share my blog. One of the main reasons that I stayed on Facebook was to share my blog, but it’s just not worth it anymore. My attitude is being affected, and I’m going to make a choice to hang out in places where people don’t feel the need to insult people.

When I was growing up, Momma was insistent that I would become who I hung out with. She was right. I find myself turning into the worst of the offenders. Luckily, I restrain myself from actually typing what I really want to say, but then I have to eat those words. And when I eat nasty, unkind, angry words, it makes me sick. You are what you eat.

WordPress has a blog community with thousands of writers. They actually give some thought to the things they write, and they are supportive of one another. I have my choice of poetry, prose, news, health and fitness articles and even photography essays. And there are ways to build my community here. If you are interested in exploring blogs, check out Freshly Pressed. It’s the best of the best on WordPress.

I’ve also fallen in love with the integrity and wisdom of Dan Rather. He has a website with all kinds of content that is inspiring, interesting and thought-provoking.

New and Guts

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And I think I’m going to subscribe to the New York Times and limit my news consumption to a few unbiased news outlets. I know which ones are credible and which ones are marketing to a certain group. Besides I like good writing. I grew up in a newspaper family. While all news has some inherent bias, there are some out there that are pure propaganda. I am making a conscious choice to ignore those.

I’m going to have to create some new habits. But I’m sort of excited about it. I want to get back to a world where I’m steeped in the integrity of intelligent and compassionate people. In AA, they say that you should seek out people who have what you want. I certainly don’t want what I’m seeing on Facebook. They can have that. Karma is real.

Doing What We Do:Women’s March

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Photo from USA Today

Yesterday I had previous plans that were important to me, and I missed the women’s march in Chicago. Let me say right off I REGRET IT!!!! Dammit! I had the once in a lifetime chance to march in what turned out to be one of the greatest showings of solidarity and support among women around the world, and I missed it. I will never get that opportunity back.

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For most people I know, Friday was a gloomy day. “I can’t bear to even look at the news,” said one of my friends. Another said she tried to read the speech but just got so irritated she had to shut it down. I felt nauseated most of the day and grappled with my fear and acceptance of this person who violates most of my personal values leading this country. But, for all, we are swallowing our feelings and moving on, trying to make a difference in our own ways. As for my women friends, we are the peacemakers, the lovers and the fighters.

But yesterday was a day of hope. As I watched post after post of my beautiful friends who attended marches and rallies post of the positivity and loving energy produced yesterday, I felt more hope. I spent the afternoon with a woman who is a recent single Mom of three talking about the struggles and triumphs of being a divorced single homeowner and making it on our own. The thing is …. we SUPPORT each other. We CHEER each other’s successes. Women, while we have our weaknesses, are rock-solid when we bond together.

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Photo from New York Magazine

One-third of women in this country live in poverty or are right on the line. 80% of single-parent households are run by women who make 70 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. Many find that their men are their adversaries not their helpmates. We are talked over in meetings, interrupted as we speak, have our ideas stolen and are criticized on personal attributes more than our performance – and that’s just my personal experience. But we have each other. We complain to each other, cry over the unfairness of it all, wipe each other’s tears and  urge each other to get back in the game. Men have told me that they wish they had the support that women had for each other. The irony is that all you have to do is give it to get it. It’s not a gender issue. It’s a character trait.

So, this Women’s March – and there were many men in attendance as well – of yesterday is not surprising to me. It’s what we do. There are naysayers, and I don’t imagine Mr. “I’m giving America back to the people” will even consider us the people. It truly doesn’t matter. We know how to get through tough times without the support of the establishment. We have always been the underdog. There was a time not too long ago that we didn’t even have the opportunity to vote. Our strength does not emanate from what we are given,  it is built from exercising the muscle that we have.

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People Tell You Who They Are

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Yesterday on a social media site a young woman posted a question to her “followers”. She had gotten back together with a boyfriend after she had lost some weight. She wasn’t at her ultimate goal, but she was on her way. She was enjoying being back in his arms, but he got honest with her about the reason he broke up with her in the first place. He told her he couldn’t deal with her weight problem. She wanted to know if she should overlook this since she was losing weight AND she really thought they got along together on so many other fronts.

One of the things that has most surprised me about dating is that people really do tell you who they are. They will especially tell you who they are when you are first getting to know them. I’ve had guys tell me they were “pricks”, emotionally unavailable and workaholics as if this was some moniker that would cause a woman to be drawn to them. Or maybe with the problems they have, they were trying to push me away. It’s hard to know what’s in someone’s head, but I know that they very clearly tell you who they are.

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After I divorced and was in counseling, I decided to go back and read my journals. In my mind, we’d had a good stretch and then it gradually turned really bad. I found a different story entirely from the strokes of my own hand. The picture I painted of the man that I eventually married was the exact image of the man I came to know. But a different woman excused every message that was inherent in that image. I was stunned to see how I took ownership for his sarcastic insults. “Maybe I need to be more forgiving and less sensitive,” I’d write. I laughed when my words excused his inability to be concerned about my needs and feelings because he’d had a rough past. And I felt really sad when I penned comments about how I needed to eat my feelings in order to make this relationship work. He not only told me who he was, he showed me in spades. Love is most certainly blind.

These days I listen to what people say about themselves. We have this tendency to “correct” people’s stated assumptions because it makes us feel like they are being hard on themselves. “I don’t take care of myself” is met with “YES! You do!” followed by a litany of things that we see them doing for self-care. It would be better to listen to them and realize that in some area of their lives they may not take care of themselves. I like to ask for more information. They may be itching to talk about it. I don’t want to shut them down.

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The inauguration speech yesterday told us what our new President thinks of America. I laughed when I read it. It’s not the America I see at all, and his speech says more about him than it does the actual state of the country. Just read one fact-checking article to discover the truth. I know that he’s telling us who he is. And he’s been telling us all along. I’ve been listening, and I’ll continue to listen. But I’m also listening to the America I know and love. She is speaking loud and clear that we may be flawed, but we are a great country that has all along been making great strides in making it a great country for all citizens. I can’t go back to the woman who ignores the very real message when a person tells me who they are. And I pray that this country can’t go back to where we came either.

A counselor once told me that I have a responsibility to tell people who I am. They shouldn’t have to guess. I had never thought of it that way. I wanted them to look for it. I wanted them to see through my silence and my hurt feelings to understand how I felt. I wanted them to make room for me instead of realizing that I had to make room for myself. I was a stewing angry victim. This was a thought pattern that kept me stuck in every relationship and interaction that had any meaning in my life. I did not develop the courage to stand up and say who I was. Hell, at some point, I don’t think I even knew who I was. How could I say it? Telling people who I am is a great gift for me and for my relationships. It saves us all time and energy. And it helps me own my power.

“Thank him for telling you who he is and move on,” I responded to the social media post. It is a gift to know now rather than live with it later.