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Learning and trying to be kind and living my life as fully as I can stand it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A dress

Last Monday I gave a seventeen-year-old friend of mine an evening gown. It is dark purple and floor-length and has never been worn. I remembered that I had it when I took her to pick up her prom dress which had just finished being altered. We picked her dress up, then came to my house where she tried mine on. It fit perfectly and she liked it. It's gorgeous and looks great on her. She asked when I bought it, trying to figure out why I had it or how long I'd been holding on to it. "A few years ago," I said. I think she expected a different answer.

A little over four years ago to be exact, though I had to think about it. It was down in LA, at Divine Design, an annual shopping trip extravaganza I used to go to with my friend Maria. We went three years in a row and the third year, four years ago, I was extremely fit and thin and bought an evening gown. For no real reason other than:

-It was way, way on sale.
-All the money went to charity (Project Angel Food--a program that provides meals for home-bound patients with AIDS or cancer)
-I wanted a reason to wear a gown, so buying a gown seemed like a good start.

Four years ago I had just met and started dating my now-husband. I was doing Weight Watchers, which I'm almost positive I started before I met him but I can't for the life of me remember because my brain has completely turned to mush with the arrival of my four children. I hope it returns someday--there are a lot of good memories in there somewhere. The important point is I definitely didn't do Weight Watchers for him. I can say that with certainty because that is not something I would do, then or now.

He and I met and lived about an hour away from one another. We went on lots of fun, funny dates--like a one-woman play called Phone Whore (our second date) and a roller rink, an hour away from each of us. We also started going to bikram yoga together. I love yoga although I do not love bikram yoga. I did like seeing how strong and lithe I got though. I liked being able to push each pose a bit farther every class. I did not like the carpet or the heat or the smell or the total lack of mindfulness that I love so much about other styles of yoga. Though as I write that it occurs to me that the point of mindfulness is that one can work towards it anywhere. I digress.

All of this is to say that four years ago I bought a gown and last week I gave that dress to someone who is twenty-years younger than I am. I don't feel sad about this. I do feel. . .curious about what my body wants to be like now. I didn't bother trying that dress on because I knew it wouldn't fit and I was pretty sure it will never fit again. It fits her now and she has a reason to wear it--good enough for me. I want to be fit and healthy. I want to feed myself good, tasty food that gives me energy and fills me up, body and soul. I want to taste different flavors, textures, parts of the world and conversations that flow in the wake of certain meals. I do not want to waste my time wanting my body to look different--it's too important to me that I appreciate my physical self now, today. That has always mattered to me, no matter how much I weighed. All that said, it's nice to know what clothes to wear. Clothes that are comfortable and well-fitting and sometimes sexy. It won't be that gown. What will I put on?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Food, a history

I'll start in the middle. Or more like close to now, which is not the end. My colitis was back in my life like a raging volcano of pain and disaster a few years ago--2011. Though I got diagnosed when I was eleven, it had been mostly quiescent since then. It wasn't something that I managed and it wasn't something I thought about much--the liver transplant and the infertility were the big health experiences in my life. Colitis was mostly forgotten. I went to El Salvador the summer of 2011 and came back with what I thought was an inhospitable gut bacteria. It stuck around though and turned out to be a huge colitis flare. Which comes with abdominal pain, to the point of doubling over or lying on the floor of the bathroom weeping and begging for anything else to happen. Vomiting as though I had food poisoning. Blood in places you don't want or expect blood to be.

I made an appointment with my lovely and amazing friend Christine. We had met at my favorite coffee shop, Piccino. Introduced by Brian, the barista. A word that does not even begin to describe the role he played in my life. Both of these people deserve posts of their own.  Anyway, Christine was my morning coffee gift and she was also an acupuncturist. Still is. She specializes in fertility and we'd talked about my coming to see her some day. When I went it was with the goal of calming down the inflammation in my body, getting the colitis under control with a longer term goal of preparing me to get pregnant. Among other things she put me on what we called my inner circle diet. It consisted of broth, chicken, avocado, bananas, rice and lamb. Maybe one or two more things but I've blocked some of it out. The idea was to calm everything down inside of me and then slowly start introducing things to see what my body reacted to.

I went into a rage. A grief, rage tornado. Not at the thought of doing it--this was my dear, trusted friend who was trying to help me take care of myself. At the actuality of doing it. One day I had to walk out of the office and walk around downtown Oakland, trying to get myself together because the hunger and emptiness and overall rawness of emotion I was feeling made me want to tear my skin off. All from the act of feeding myself a banana chip--which was probably pushing it anyway because I'm not sure that type of processed banana counted as inner circle. Putting my diet under such tight control seriously pushed me over the edge. 

Being hungry made me feel panicky. It made me feel out of control. I also felt like Christine was doing this to me. When I'd eat something I shouldn't, I felt like I was messing up. That I should hide it from Christine. Because I was also at a time in my life when I was working to be as authentic and honest as possible, I recognized that desire to hide as a cue to actually tell on myself.

Do you see the language there? None of it is about me feeling like I was taking care of myself. None of it felt good or loving towards my one precious body that had been through so much. I was doing it because someone told me to and because I didn't want to get in trouble. For the record, neither Christine the friend nor Christine the acupuncturist would ever tell me or treat me like I was in trouble. This was all me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Counting points

We didn't get movers. For the past few days I've thought about writing that sentence as a segue from the last post to the this one. Except now that I'm here with a few minutes to write, I'm thinking of other things. Namely food and feeding myself. Feeding my children. Feeding my family. Not as in "how will I find the money to feed myself and my family?" We are very lucky in not having to worry about that at the moment. Hopefully ever. More in the "How do I choose/buy/prepare healthy, yummy food in the limited free time I have and how do I introduce these young babies to eating well?" sense of things.

Today I started Weightwatchers for the fourth time in the last several weeks. So far, so good. Today. Before yesterday, after starting and only making it a few days before going on yet another cereal binge, I was this close to saying forget it. Now is not the time. It felt good to have reached that decision, even as I bemoaned my pants not fitting and my mom belly and sides reaching out between shirt bottom and waistband every time I sit on the floor. I've been grabbing food and stuffing it in, a second bowl of cereal for a snack even as I already feel full. Another slice of pizza. Nachos. Carbs and cheese and comfort and quickness and more and more and more. I haven't felt good about it; I've felt shame. And yet also relief to put yummy, rich food in my mouth when I've had the chance.

The lay-off and the change from having full-time Stephanie to part-time Stephanie has resulted in very emotional kiddos. Clingy. Needy. Fighting over my lap. And I have felt good and clear about the job ending, glad and strong to be home with my kids taking care of them, and totally burnt by the end of the day as the house collapses around me with piles of dishes, food, dirty clothes, diapers, crumbs and blah. So much. I couldn't make myself and feed myself healthful food at the same time. It was just too hard. And the hormones, gah. Gah! They are just. . .a lot.

Writing about food. There is a lot of material here, which in some way surprises me. I never saw myself as someone with food issues or someone with body issues. But when it comes down to it, I find it very extremely challenging to care for and feed my body in a way that feels good to me, physically and emotionally. And tastefully. Mouthfully.

I'm about to go to bed. I started this post this afternoon, just before the kids woke up. Now it is several hours later. I have kept within my allotted 36 daily points. I walked almost three miles. I can tell you that one tiny inch-square Snickers bar is worth 1 point in the WW world.

More later on why I decided to try again. On all or at least some of the many thoughts I have about food.