The Day I Finally Knew

So much of my life has changed this past year, so much of my life has changed during these past five years, and in some ways I’m tired of changing. I’m exhausted with all the effort it takes, yet, yet, I sit here plotting more change!  Why? Because I want more out of this life. I KNOW I am so much more than my mind would have me believe. My heart, my spirit tells me this clearly and definitively.

As I sit here this morning, New Year’s Eve 2013, I’m creating and planning more definitive and, dare I say, drastic transformations in my life. I’ve watched myself and my emotional eating behaviors over these past few months. I’ve engaged in more comfort eating than I’d care to admit. I’ve observed the fast food cravings that would hit me with a force that would make 80mph gale force winds seem like romantic caresses from Mother Nature. I resisted them sometimes but not all the time.

On more than one occasion, a small or medium French fry from McDonald’s filled my heart with love the way nothing else could. It’s been months since I had one, but I can soooo easily recall the soothing embrace of a chocolate dipped cone, also from McDonald’s. The reasons, the moments, the incidents that brought forth these seemingly necessary culinary medicinals—I can recollect in detail, but this post isn’t about that.

This post is about my continuing metamorphosis, my lightning fast transformation into a healthier individual, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Riding that spin cycle on Sunday instilled in me the desire to take the next step forward in my journey. To take another, a deeper look at my food. I know the triggers. I know the situations. I know. I know when, where, why I’ll want to eat food that doesn’t work in tandem with my goal. But I needed to get to  a place of greater emotional strength before I tackled this part of my food journey.

Thankfully, I’ve reached that pinnacle, that fork in the road. For the next three days I will be doing some serious work with food. I’ll be going to stores: Whole Foods, Sprouts and a couple of regular stores. I’ll be buying AND exploring. Looking for healthy foods and snacks I’ll enjoy eating because if I don’t enjoy the taste there’s really no point.  For dietary changes to be permanent I have to enjoy what I’m eating—I am, after all, a FOOD ADDICT. 

Any foods I buy will need to be separated into serving sizes.  Seriously folks, who amongst you can eat just one serving out of a potato chip bag or a bag of nuts? This way I’ll be able to just grab a snack to keep with me and if I DO happen to eat it out of emotion, I’ll know what I’ve eaten, and it’s the KNOWING, really KNOWING that is more than half the battle with me.

But it’s not just the food, I have to create a clean nurturing space in my apartment where I can just be. I have spaces where I meditate, but I’ve fallen off the wagon of keeping my spaces as clear as I’d like, and this is so important because so often these past few months I’ve found myself feeling overwhelmed, feeling as though I have no time, feeling like I can’t breathe.

And shoes. This girl needs shoes for her new cycling habit (do you see how I’ve already decided it’s going to be a habit!:)

This is my task then for the next three days. This is what I’ll be doing. This is what I’ll be focusing on. Food. Clearing Space. New shoes.

I’ll be skipping yoga on Wednesday. I’m not going out on New Year’s Eve. I’ll be getting some exercise, but it’ll be interspersed with the work I’ve set out to do. These changes aren’t about having New Year’s resolutions. These changes are about me deciding I’m worth working on. And that’s something I can be excited about………………………………….

I’ll be detailing some of my journey on facebook, so please feel free to be a part of my journey, if you’d like:

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have some shopping and cleaning to do!!!

Here’s a poem that inspires me to keep working on me!  

The Journey by Mary Oliver (with thanks to Joey for posting this recently and reminding me of its power!)

One day you finally knew 
what you had to do, and began, 
though the voices around you 
kept shouting 
their bad advice—
though the whole house 
began to tremble 
and you felt the old tug 
at your ankles. 
“Mend my life!” 
each voice cried. 
But you didn’t stop. 
You knew what you had to do, 
though the wind pried 
with its stiff fingers 
at the very foundations, 
though their melancholy 
was terrible. 
It was already late 
enough, and a wild night, 
and the road full of fallen 
branches and stones. 
But little by little, 
as you left their voices behind, 
the stars began to burn 
through the sheets of clouds, 
and there was a new voice 
which you slowly 
recognized as your own, 
that kept you company 
as you strode deeper and deeper 
into the world 
determined to do 
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.



My Adventures in Cycling: Part One

My Adventures in Cycling: Part One

I say part one because I’m sure there will be a part two, three, four, five, and so on. I’ve long thought about trying a cycling/spin class, but didn’t for a variety of reasons: cycling is for skinny people (actually, everything is for skinny people), I won’t last one minute on those bikes, my butt will go numb along with other parts, people will look at me (and not in a good way) because I’ll be the only big person in the room, and the list goes on………. I often allow my perception of my body to limit my activities. Hey, as much as I do Bikram yoga I think some days that yoga is for skinny people. Those are the days I tire of having a different body type.

These past few weeks I’ve been looking for a way to shake up my life. My father’s death has affected me in ways I’ve not expressed, but the resulting effects have me seeking ways to shift my path, change my life for the better.

A couple of weeks ago I decided I’d just bite the bullet and go my gym and try cycling.  Really, what’s the worst that could happen? I’d hide in the back and slink away if need be. Once I made the decision I kept putting it off, but a few days ago I just felt this strong pull to try the 9:30a.m. class at the 24 hr fitness in Simi. The 24 hr in Thousand Oaks is closer, but I felt this nagging pull to go to Simi. When I tried to shut the voice up, it just kept getting louder and louder and louder until I had no choice but to obey it; although, Mother Nature did her best to stop me. Saturday night winds howled so loudly that I couldn’t sleep for most of the night. I ALMOST talked myself out of going due to exhaustion, but that voice just kept screeching in my ear.

So I got dressed and headed out to the gym a little later than I planned. They limit the number of people in a class so I figured if all the spots were gone then I was safe!  Of course, there were plenty of spots, so I went in the room and marked my bike in the back corner and went off for a nervous pee.

Just before 9:30a.m. the instructor came in the room, and I knew in an instant exactly why I’d been drawn to this class. You see, I figured the instructor would be skinny and have a “perfect” body just like all the people who go to cycling/spin classes (this is NOT reality; this is merely how my mind works). The instructor was overweight with awesome red hair and funky tattoos.  I knew then. I got it. She was the reason I was drawn to THAT class. I had perceptions and life just handed those perceptions to me upturned  on a platter.

I could tell from her commanding presence that she knew her craft. She asked if anyone was new to cycling, and when I raised my hand she came over and made sure my bike was adjusted properly. She had me do some rotations so she could see if the height worked for my knees and she told me how to adjust the intensity of the bike and that I’d need to make sure I had resistance for when I’d stand up. I felt fairly certain at that point that I was in good hands.

Much to my giddy surprise I could stand up on the bike pedals without a problem. I’d tried standing up on the pedals in the bikes in the gym and couldn’t do it so I never imagined I’d be able to do it in a cycling class.

I do confess that once the class started I did look at the clock and started doing a mental count down. I wanted to make it through the class.  That’s ALL I wanted. However, once I realized that I could stand up on the pedals and FOLLOW the instructors I became somewhat giddy.  “Wow!” I thought to myself “I can stand up straight. I can stand up AND push my hips back. I CAN DO THIS!”

My mindset shifted. I started to feel excited, exhilarated, happy, and I knew in that moment that I had found a renewed purpose. I’d focus my energy on being an athlete. This thought came to me from above. I know this because I felt it as strongly as I heard the voice that told me to go the 9:30a.m. cycling class. I didn’t and don’t feel any doubts about that objective. Find my athletic purpose one moment at a time.

Sometimes I feel sad/bad/lonely because I feel like I do a fair amount of my athletic activities alone, including that 10K I seem to be propelling myself toward, but the very same voice that told me to focus on athletic activities, told me that as long as I had myself I wouldn’t be alone. Also, I do have an awesome support system.

Back to the class. As the clock neared the 10:30a.m. hour I felt so high!!! So happy!!! I’d done it!!! AND I’d excelled at it!!!! I say excelled in the sense that I completed the class without stopping while being able to follow almost all of the instructor’s directions.  BUT, the universe wanted to play with me. The instructor wanted to keep going and going and going and going. She told people they could leave if needed to, but I’d come this far! I wasn’t about to quit early!! I wasn’t going to give fat girls a bad name!!! Besides, then I could wear a badge of honor and tell people what I accomplished! 

I figured she’d stop at 70 minutes. People started leaving. I kept going. 75 minutes. She kept going. I kept going. Finally, at 80 minutes we were ready to cool down and stretch.  Phew!!!  I’d made it. I went over to thank the instructor, who told me how happy she was that I’d made it through the whole class. My efforts impressed her!  I asked her what other times she taught.  It turns out she only teaches on Sunday mornings!  Ahhhhh, then I understood the absolute determination of the voice that told me I HAD to go to THAT class!  The universe wanted to make sure I’d go to cycling again, so it gave me an awesomely exhilarating experience that would make me want to go back again and again!  And I will. Of that I have no doubt.

The voice that led me there was my father. I know that for certain. His voice told me to be an athlete too. He wants me to be happy. To live as I’m meant to. And there’s a certain happiness that comes with the release of endorphins.

So, here’s to more cycling!  To life! To new adventures!

And now, observations from my first cycling adventure:

1)      Resistance when standing seems key to healthy knees. One time I forgot to add resistance when I stood up and my knee almost flailed.

2)      Shoes matter. So do socks. I just grabbed a pair of old new balance running shoes.  The tops of my feet, my toes were not happy. My toes also didn’t appreciate the rubbing. I’d just put on a regular pair of socks—not smart.

3)      Hydration matters (I know this from yoga). I brought a small water bottle with me but quickly consumed that. Fortunately, for me the instructor went around to the students and offered to fill their water bottles if needed.

4)      Yes, I feel it in the nether regions but it’s not as bad as I thought.

5)      I’ll do it again.

6)      Unlike Bikram, in cycling the fans ARE your friend if you want to feel cooler.

7)      Like Bikram, wiping just distracts you from your purpose. Don’t wipe. Want to be cooler? Place your bike near a fan. I did. Not on purpose but by cosmic designJ

8)      I look forward to my future cycling adventures; although, I reserve the right to change my mind if I can’t walk when I get up in the morning…………….



How Seeing Saving Mr. Banks Saved My Christmas

“For every laugh, there should be a tear.” – Walt Disney

I’m a lucky woman. I’ve had more than my share of laughs in this lifetime. I’ve also had my buckets of tears.

I spent most of yesterday (Christmas Day) alone, by myself, by my own choice. I’ve known and planned this for the past couple of months. It didn’t feel right to me to be with others, not this year, not now. I wanted to feel my sadness, feel my grief and not inflict it on others. I’ve long heard the only way out is through, and I’m going full steam ahead through the emotions that will rise up in me during this first year without my father.

Don’t get me wrong. I never planned on curling up underneath my Christmas tree with my father’s ashes and crying (well, okay. I did THINK about that!:)). I had this thought pop into my head that I’d go to the movies, that I’d take myself to a local luxury cinema (, where they have giant easy chairs and where waiters bring dinner, drinks and popcorn to your seat, so you can dine on delicacies while watching the movie.

When I heard Saving Mr. Banks would be playing on Christmas Day I knew exactly which movie I’d be seeing! To top off the serendipity of the occasion when I went to buy my movie ticket on Christmas morning, only one seat remained, in the top row middle!! Perfect location!!

I had no idea about the topic of the movie. If I’d known, maybe I wouldn’t have gone. You see, at its core, Saving Mr. Banks is about a woman coming to grips with her father’s death. I wanted to see the movie because I thought it was about Walt Disney and Mary Poppins—that had to be a happy movie, right?

The story centers around P.L. Travers (aka Helen Goff, aka Emma Thompson) and her reluctance to give Walt Disney (aka Tom Hanks) the movie rights to Mary Poppins. As the movie unfolds it becomes apparent that her attachment to the portrayal of Mary Poppins’ has much deeper personal implications.

You see, Mr. Banks isn’t just Mr. Banks, he is, in reality the father of Mrs. Travers. The very alcoholic father of three young girls. The movie makers reveal this part of the story in flashbacks. We bear witness to the pain Mrs. Travers feels as a little girl in Australia, watching her alcoholic father become so engrossed in liquid libations that he loses the ability to care for himself, for his wife, for his daughters, for his job……..and the list goes on……

As a mature woman participating in the writing of the screenplay (Mrs. Travers has insisted on final approval of all parts of the movie), the beloved author of Mary Poppins finds herself uncontrollably reliving the beautiful, the sublime and the searingly painful youthful moments leading up to her father’s death, a death too soon.

As I watched this grown woman unharness her grief, held in for far too long, I cried. I felt sad. I couldn’t believe I’d chosen THIS movie to see on Christmas Day!!!!! I THOUGHT I’d be seeing a HAPPY movie about Disney!!!!

But as the movie progressed, I started to see, to realize happiness did exist within the grief. My father somehow drew me to this movie and not just through his love of Disney.

My dad never talked much about his childhood. I know he had a tumultuous relationship with his own dad, an alcoholic like Mrs. Travers’ father. He (nor his two siblings) ever had friends over because they could never predict how his dad would behave because of the alcohol. Watching the movie, I could feel my dad next to me, in my heart.

Watching the movie, gave me a deep glimpse into his childhood. I feel so much closer to my dad having seen Saving Mr. Banks. I understand now. I understand why there are only a few pictures of my dad as a child. I get it. Everyone, including his mother, had a preoccupation with my grandfather’s alcoholism. In those moments, I gave my dad the biggest ethereal hug. I could feel him, his heart beating in mine.

I also heard Walt Disney’s words about living a life not dictated by the past. We learn a little bit about Disney’s dad in the movie, but I won’t say too much about that here.

Create the life you want through imagination. Create the future in the imagination of your dreams. “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.”

I BELIEVE in the beauty of my dreams. I BELIEVE I’ll work my way through my grief. I BELIEVE I’ll have the life I deserve. I BELIEVE when I wish upon a star all my dreams will come true. I BELIEVE.

The movie left me with those thoughts and more—Grief isn’t about letting go. Grief is about taking the sadness, taking the tears and integrating those thoughts and emotions into the strength of my dreams. By doing this I’ll always have my dad with me.

Walking out of the theatre last night I felt moments of lightness. Moments of hope as I sat for over an hour looking up at the divinely lit Christmas tree. Yes, moments of sadness too, but, along with that, the thought that I alone had the power to imagine, create, and, yes, LIVE, my dreams. One moment. One breath. One thought at a time.

Walt Disney created magic. So can you. So can I. All you have to do, all I have to do is BELIEVE.

See the movie. There’s much more to it than I have revealed here. Do yourself a favor. See it. Believe it. Believe in YOU!

I Can't Find Any Pics of Me and My Dad at the Magic Kingdom, but I Did Find this Pic that My Dad Took of Mickey!

I Can’t Find Any Pics of Me and My Dad at the Magic Kingdom, but I Did Find this Pic that My Dad Took of Mickey!

The Christmas Tree Outside the Theater where I Saw Saving Mr. Banks

The Christmas Tree Outside the Theater where I Saw Saving Mr. Banks

Me and My Dad Shortly Before He Died

Me and My Dad Shortly Before He Died

The Look of Love

Before you read this, I want you to know that I know how very lucky I am. I have amazing people in my life to love and support me, and I am so very very very grateful for each one of them.

I haven’t written on my blog in a bit because, well, I’m depressed. I just am. I love Christmas, but not this year. I love dressing up, but not this year. I do it anyways, but my heart isn’t in it. My Christmas tree is up with my father underneath it. I miss my father. I’ve come to realize in so many ways that he provided me with emotional stability. He just did.

Without him I’m not sure of so many things anymore. I’m not sure where I belong. I’m not sure what I’m doing.

I know more than anything I want to be loved. I want to feel loved. (Please understand—I know people love me. I do know this, but I still have a hole in my heart.) I want to feel it in my heart. And I don’t. I’ve put up a wall around my heart for so long that I’m not trusting what’s there.

And I guess in some ways, that leads me to the core of my eating disorder. Food=Love. It really does. Food is always there for me. To comfort me. To wipe my tears away. To make me feel better. But I know that’s not true. In my head I know, but in my heart I don’t, and I feel like a giant f**k-up for even admitting this, but it’s how I feel.

So many times these days all I need is a really big hug, but I don’t ask, ‘cause I don’t want to seem needy. I worry about that sometimes. I worry about being too intense and too needy and too this and too that. Gee. I think I worry too much. Actually, I think I think too much.

I can’t wait for this Christmas season to be over.

I bought some Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s the other day because I wanted to feel better. Sure I like the taste but it’s more about the feeling, but this time having a couple didn’t make me feel better and didn’t bring my father back. Nothing will.

So what do I do? I keep going to yoga, even on days I don’t feel like because I have to keep showing up for life. The day I don’t go to yoga something will probably be wrong. I wear my Santa hats and Christmas jewelry because that makes my father happy in his ethereal home. I’m going to the mall today to play at the make-up counters because I don’t do make-up that much and it’s something different for me to play with and I need new and different right now.

I saw a grief counselor a couple of times, but he didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

One moment at a time. I’ll be okay one moment at a time.

And the next time you see me, if you feel like it, you can give me a big bear hug—it’ll feel better than a dozen boxes of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s!

The Look of Love